The Flowers in My Garden, November 13, 2017


DSC_1354The weather here in my part of Texas has cooled down considerably and has even got to where I need a sweater on some days, it is still not cold enough to kill off the flowers that abound in my garden. I have taken the liberty of putting together a video to music of the pictures that I took on November 18, 2017. By the time you get to read and watch it, it will be the very depths of winter for many of you. I hope that it brightens your day and gives you something to look forward to. Spring will be on the way soon, I promise as it routinely comes every year at least for the next few years anyway. Enjoy.

My Garden in November 13, 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Written 11/13/2017 

 

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The New Year


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I wrote a poem the other day
that was pretty gloomy in it’s own way
it was not really my intent
but that is the way it came out bent
on announcing to the world
just like a flag getting unfurled
that time is passing and with every breath
that is one less that we have left
what I really wanted to say
that with every passing day
we have a chance to make things right
for what we have done in our previous life
and the way that we have lived
good or bad what did we give
did we honor our neighbor and not be a schmuck
or the homeless man down on his luck
give to charity or just a plain helping hand
did we even think or try to understand
that this world is really a beautiful place
and that can be said for the whole human race
basically everyone wants to be friends
and we have our differences but in the end
we can work it out no need for a fight
and the sun rises each morning such a beautiful sight
and the dawn breaks and brings on the light
and we say Hi to our neighbor to make things right
and tell them to have a wonderful day
as we both go our chosen way
and we give the homeless man a buck
it’s not his fault he is down on his luck
and the sun shines on another great day
it’s good to be alive you say
to make the most of the time we have left
who knows how many breaths we’re bereft
and it really doesn’t matter the count
make the most of life before it’s closed out
chase away those gloomy thoughts
and enjoy the life that you have brought.

Written 1/6/2018
Use this link to the previous poem

McKinney Falls State Park 9-30-2017


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A view of the trail

With the recent rains, I knew the trails would be muddy in places and I wanted to walk on something more solid. I opted to walk the Hike and Bike trail at McKinney Falls as it is a 3 mile circular trail that is very nicely blacktopped and made for easy walking. It has one very steep place where there is a sign that bicyclists should get off and walk although I am sure that most  of them view this as a challenge more than a warning. It would get a little hairy if any hikers happened to be on the trail at this exact point as there is a blind corner that you can’t see around until too late…Come to think about it, I have yet to see a biker anywhere in this park probably that except for this one spot, the trail offers no real challenge to them.

Picnic area at the Upper Falls

A five picture panorama of the picnic area

I broke all of my rules today as normally, I very rarely get out to the Parks because of the numbers of people that use them on the weekends. It’s not that I am anti-people but I like to hike for the solitude amongst other things and that can be difficult with crowds of noisy families each with at least a dozen kids per family all talking and running at the same time. Mckinney Falls also has swimming facilities which is another attraction for these families and large groups of people.

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Another 5 picture panorama from the reverse direction

I parked in the lot by the Upper Falls and geared up in my usual fashion. I’m sure that I make quite a comical sight with my two cameras and binos strapped to my chest, my camera bag with a couple of other lenses on my back, my two walking poles in my hands and topped off by my wide brimmed hat complete with added kerchief around my forehead to soak up the sweat. Oh yes, add two water bottles to that strapped to my waist. I probably am carrying at least 20 pounds of gear, great for my muscles and cardio but awful tiring.

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A panoramic view of the Upper Falls

I walked past the Upper Falls and the throngs of people into the park area that is set up with picnic tables and firepits and is very nicely maintained. Onion Creek runs off to my right and I wandered over to take a look. The water was a muddy brown color from the recent rains and not very appealing so I got back onto the trail proper and started to walk. I took several shots of the park area and of a couple of the very large trees on the trail and have turned them into panoramic shots. I met several people on the trail and conversely, several passed me going in the same direction. None were families with kids as they preferred to be at the Falls area. Although I heard birds, I didn’t see any to take any pictures of. I passed an interestingly shaped tree and took a couple of pictures of it besides various flowers. The pictures below also include views of the trails.

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This tree is made up of 5 different pictures in order show the whole thing. I wonder how old it is?

 

Arriving back at the Falls, I chatted to a few people and took several pictures.  There was a photographic class going on the park area which broke up as I was taking pictures of the Falls.  Not sure what the subject matter of the course was about.

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There are 8 pictures in this pano

Altogether with my additional wandering around, I covered a little over 4 miles. I noticed that my old body and legs were nowhere near as tired as when I walk the regular trails. Must be that this much flatter blacktop trail is much easier to walk and for that I was extremely grateful.

Written 10/3/2017

The Downside of Age…


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This tree is made up of 5 different pictures in order show the whole thing. I wonder how old it is and if it ever got angry?

One of the many things that happen as I grow older is that it is much harder to control my aggravation when things don’t go according to plan. I’m a pretty level headed guy most of the time although I have had my moments when my temper got the better of me especially on the soccer field in my younger days. One thing I do have is infinite patience when it comes to computer related things probably because I see that as more of a challenge than say tying my shoelaces.

I generally show my annoyance in several different ways the first of which is to fill the air with the “F” word. Generally, this makes me feel a whole lot better and I am able to return to the aggravating task to give it another try. Like I say, generally I have infinite patience so when it doesn’t work a second, third or fourth time I keep on swearing and add “Oh Sh*t” to the swear words to give them more strength. If it still doesn’t work, I will give up for the day and tackle it again in the morning. I figure that overnight, I have built up the required amount of patience that I am ready to have another go at it.

I’m kidding of course although I do bust out in the occasional cuss word. What I have found as I grow older is that I do get much more aggravated much quicker than I used to. There is a sharp reaction of anger when something doesn’t work quite right after several tries and I feel like throwing the computer through the window. Luckily common sense prevails and although I could use a new computer,  I don’t want to replace the big picture window as well. Anyway, those sort of temper tantrums are for little kids and I am definitely no longer one of those.

Wait a minute here, I wonder if having enough temper tantrums will make me younger? Maybe I should follow that train of thought for a while and see where it leads…

Written 12/18/2017

Reamers Ranch 10-29-2017


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I went for another walk at Reamers Ranch this time to get in a good walk and to take a few pictures along the way. I still have hopes of seeing the Osprey again but am no longer just concentrating on it’s location although to be truthful, my walking plan did include the area I had seen the Osprey before. I planned to walk along the Multi Use Trail towards the North end of the Park and to go all the way along Confluence Trail until the trail ends at the boundary of the Park Property. I have walked this several times previously and always have the hope that I might see deer or a turkey as I have before although much too slow with the camera to get the pictures. Along the way, I found some flowers that were absolutely covered with bees and butterflies.

I tried something new by only using one walking stick so that I could carry the camera in the other hand, just in case. Even though I was ready this time, the animals and birds obviously did not get the message as none appeared to have their picture taken on the first part of the walk to the end of the trail.

I cut back through the lower trail which the Parks people have spent some time on and now it is much better walking as you can see from the pictures above and followed right alongside of the Pedernales River with a good view of the water and the opposite bank which is all private property. Some of it is well maintained as the Panorama below shows. I kept my eyes open in the hopes of catching a view of the Osprey but all I saw were buzzards.
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I continued along until I came to the area popular with the rock climbers and took some pictures of them on the wall. Better them than me as it is not my idea of fun.

I carried on walking along the Lower Trail until I reached the exit to get back to the third parking lot. This too is a difficult climb to get out. I met a young lady who was coming down and we chatted for a bit about the trails.

When I got to the top, I headed north along the gravel walkway towards the last parking lot known as North Bank. Along the way, I met a young gentleman and we exchanged pleasantries as we crossed paths. I noticed three buzzards in the tree in front of me and at first, couldn’t make out what they were up to. Then I figured that they were a female and two males and were going through a mating ritual of a sort I guess for the female to make a choice. I managed to quickly change settings to video and got this very short one. I would have thought that it was too late in the season for mating but maybe these are younger birds finding their first mate. I stood and watched them for a bit until they flew off. You never know what interesting picture is around the next bend.

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I arrived back to my car tired and happy and changed into some dry clothes and sat for a while eating an apple.  It is so quiet and peaceful there and it is very easy to slip into a state of reverie and just letting the world pass on by. Altogether, I covered 6.5 miles, not bad for a day’s stroll in the park with the added bonus of a lot of pictures.

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Written 11-10-2017

Looking and Hoping. Cheerful pictures for a winters day…


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After my recent encounter at least from the viewing perspective of the Osprey, I made another trip to Reimers Ranch in the hope of spotting it once more. I wanted more pictures and hopefully this time, a video that in my excitement the last time out and not wanting to miss a single moment of the display the beautiful bird was putting on for me, did not try to change my camera’s settings.

I was all prepared this time and even brought a tripod with me ready to go but someone, somewhere forgot to tell the Osprey about our appointment. Consequently, no Osprey shots as it wasn’t there at least at the same time as I was.

I wasn’t about to waste the opportunity for another camera shoot or a hike. I had parked in the next to last parking lot, known as River View Parking Lot that had access to one of the climbing areas and there was only one other vehicle in the lot besides mine. As per my usual routine, I slipped into my gear, grabbed my water bottle and walking poles and set off on the gravel trail that follows the Pedernales River from the very top of the gorge towards parking lot number three known as River bend Parking Lot.  The gravel trail does not necessarily keep close to the river bank and in some places the trail is probably up to several hundred yards inland.  There are a couple of spots where it is close enough to actually see the water and I spent some time taking pictures of the far bank with its cliffs all in the hope of spotting the Osprey.

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When I reached the third parking lot back towards the park entrance, I made my way down towards the river. Both this entrance and the one by the fourth parking lot are difficult climb downs even though they do have semblance of steps. I took pictures of the climb back up at the fourth parking lot where I had parked to give an idea of the difficulties at least to old men like me. Maybe not so much to younger and much fitter people with a far better sense of balance than I currently have.

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After having safely making my way down, I took the lower trail which actually takes you along on the river bed. At this time of the year, the water level is low but it is still a bit muddy in some places. I came to a large rock that did not have a way around without getting wet feet that I could see so I scrambled back up the bank until I hit the middle trail and made my way along it towards the fourth parking lot where I had parked my car all the while looking for the Osprey.

I finally came to the trail leading up to the exit and as I climbed, I took the pictures shown above. As soon as I got back to my car, I changed out of my wet clothes into something more comfortable and was sitting and enjoying a piece of fruit when I heard voices and the clink of metal which I guessed to be from the occupants of the other car in the lot. Sure enough, two guys appeared followed by a young lady bringing up the rear all carrying their climbing gear.  The clink of metal was from the pitons that the guys carried on their climbing belts. We exchanged pleasantries as I continued to pack up my gear.

What to me seemed very odd was that the young lady was dressed only in the skimpiest of bikinis. The rock face is some distance from the river so I did not think she had been swimming and there was not enough sunlight under the trees for her to work on her tan. As usual, it was difficult not look at her as she and the two guys horse played around a bit. I wanted to ask her if she had been climbing wearing only a bikini but didn’t have the nerve and was left wondering. Seems to me that the rock face could be awful painful on her body and although regular clothing is not very protective, it at least help prevent the scrapes and cuts. This turned out to be the mystery of the day that is along with the non appearance of the Osprey.

I jumped into my car, taking one last look at things I can only dream about and drove off. I pulled into the second parking lot where I had noticed some yellow flowers that were covered with butterflies and bees and took some pictures.

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I made my way home after having covered a couple of miles on this hike. As I was there for the purpose of getting more pictures of the Osprey, I was perfectly content with the small hiking numbers. After all, it doesn’t always have to be about the walking and the fitness. Most of the time it’s about the pictures and the opportunity to take them.

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These are all panoramic shots made up of several pictures.

Written 10/28/2017

Austin Pond Society Meeting – January 2018


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So starts a New Year for the Austin Pond Society. What will it bring, I wonder? We usually follow the same pattern every year. All of our meetings are set up to incorporate different things and we pretty much stick to the same items year after year. The Speaker that Barb Lenhardt, our Programs and Special Events Board Member had originally set up for this meeting had to withdraw at the last minute. This meant that we had to improvise which, as it turned out was no problem as we spent nearly all of the meeting discussing our lack of a Pond Tour Director and what to do instead.

But, I am getting ahead of myself. The meeting was attended by thirty members and as usual, Steven Monfrini, our Hospitality Volunteer put on a spread for us to enjoy. This time, we had many choices in which to make our own sandwich or in some cases, sandwiches. Our members absolutely outdid themselves with the choices of deserts and there was a whole table just loaded with goodies. I was torn between a sandwich or desert and resolved the issue but having both.

Keith and Locations Jan 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

As is normal for the start of a New Year, we had a couple of new faces in the Board positions. Actually, that is not exactly true as Margaret Boeneke is our Librarian and was temporarily sitting at the Welcome/Sign In table due to the untimely death of Keith Neuse and the resignation of his Partner Rodney Lewis. Both will be missed. The Austin Pond Society wants to install a permanent memorial to both of them in the form of each of them having an engraved brick in the walkway at Zilker Botanical Gardens. We passed the hat around at this meeting for which the Members donated $210.00, enough to purchase the two engraved bricks. Thank You Members, you always come through for us.

2018 Pond Tour Discussions from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

What this means is that we are short two Board Members as Margaret is only sitting in the Welcome chair temporarily, so if any of you are interested in joining the Board of the Austin Pond Society as either Secretary or Membership, please contact Jeannie, our President at this link. For information on the duties of each of these positions, use this link.

More Discussion Jan 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

For not having a prepared agenda, we did really good at filling up the time that would normally have been taken up by a Speaker. We had several items of interest among them, Tribute to Keith and Rodney, major discussion about our lack of a Pond Tour Director, a discussion on cleaning out the ponds at the Hyatt Regency at Bastrop, our annual budget upon which we needed to vote and which incidentally without a Tour, will put us in the red for this year.

Finally as per usual, we ended with the drawing for two door prizes both of which were cute (if you like that sort of stuff), Fishy things to use to hold letters, pictures and other similar stuff. I was fortunate enough to win one of these “things” but turned it back for a redraw as I had no use for it. I already have enough stuff.

The meeting closed around 8:45 pm.

The next meeting will be on February 19, 2018 at Zilker Botanical Gardens starting at 6:30 pm. Check the website to see who the Speaker will be.