A Walk at Pedernales Falls State Park 11-27-2018


This Panorama is made up of 6 separate pictures

I decided it was time for a change from my regular haunts at McKinney Roughs in Bastrop and Reamers Ranch in Dripping Springs so I chose to go back to Pedernales Falls State Park that actually has a Johnson City address. I haven’t been there for a while and wanted a change of scenery. 

The Park is located about 35 miles from my house and is at the beginning of the Texas Hill Country as that area is known. This is a State Park so it cost me $6:00 to get in, always well worth it from my perspective. The line at the counter was short but the guy in the front would not stop talking and asking what I considered to be dumb questions of the lone Park Officer that was manning the desk. She was very patient with him, much more than I would have been. Guess it takes all kinds to make up this world that we live in.

I finally got to pay my $6:00 and hopped back into my truck and drove to the Parking Area for the Duckpond Loop. I have made this walk before and the last time, managed to take pictures of an Egret and a couple of wild boars so I was hopeful that I would get something today. I went through my usual routine but as the weather is now a lot cooler at around 65 degrees, only needed to change into my boots. I elected to carry two cameras, one with the 150-600 long lens and the other has the 18-400 lens on it. Both are telescopic. The 150-600 is very heavy at around 5 pounds and really needs a tripod but I can generally get some decent long distance pictures  without one. 

The Duckpond is about a half mile from where I parked the truck and I took a couple of pictures of the trail in this part of the Park. The Duckpond is really two separate ponds, one of which dries up in the long hot Texas summers. It was the first one I came to walking from my direction and I approached very slowly and as quietly as I could possibly be. I managed get a couple of pictures of the ducks on this pond before they took off and flew around in circles before heading off. Walking to the second pond was much easier as the pond was hidden from view by the trees. Along the way is a Duck blind only this one is for taking pictures and not for shooting the ducks. I hung around inside for 15 minutes but the main body of ducks did not re-appear but I got some pictures of the few that were left on this pond.

I moved on along the trail and opted to follow the Duckpond Loop which I knew would bring me back out onto the opposite side of the field from where I had parked the truck. The trail follows the West side border of the Park and the boundary is a marked by a six strand barbed wire fence. This fence line is remarkably straight and this border stretches for a little over 3 miles.

On the neighbors property, there were two deer feeders set up about a half mile apart with the deer blind set equidistant between them, obviously getting ready for the deer season which is only a few days away. Seems a little unfair to me to treat the deer so nicely by enticing them with food and then only to shoot them. Barbaric is probably a better word and personally, I can’t see the sport in that. When I lived up North in New York State many years ago, I and my friends would hunt deer in the Adirondacks. The difference was that we would follow them to hunt them and might end up walking several miles through rocky terrain, sometimes through the snow in the hope of spotting one. Then, if you were lucky, you had to drag it back out of the woods to wherever you were parked. At least, there was effort put into the hunt. I only ever had one deer in my sights and when it turned and looked at me, deliberately shot wide to frighten it off. I didn’t have the heart to kill such beautiful animal. I think I enjoyed the camaraderie of the guys more than the killing although most of them would shoot at a deer and anything else that moved.

Continuing on the walk, I managed to take some nice pictures of that part of the Park and eventually came out into the field where the truck was parked. The grass in the field was very long as it had not been mowed until I got closer to where all of the buildings are situated and that had been taken care of. 

On the way back out, I stopped at the Bird Blind that is located there. It has an interesting warning notice stating to be very careful to check that there are no snakes in the buildings, under the seats or in any of the storage containers. Such is Nature.

I wanted to get more pictures of the river so I drove off towards that parking lot. I parked the truck and walked down towards the river and met a lot of people along the way, most greeting me as we passed, some with comments. I arrived at the overlook that also has steps leading all the way down to the river itself but I didn’t want to make that trip. Instead, I opted to stay at the Overlook and take more pictures. It sure is a beautiful Park and the Pedernales when it is not in flood, is pretty to look at especially at the Falls. The rocks are very impressive. The pictures in the video are all panoramas and are made up of three or more pictures joined together.

This Park does not have a large variety of trees, mostly it is all Cedar but occasionally you come across something different as with the pictures below. These trees are showing off their Fall colors.

This Spruce is growing in the river bed.

I made a slow drive back and detoured into Dripping Springs for a Starbucks stop before making my way home. Another great hike of a little over 4 miles and it was good to have a change of scenery.

Written 11-28-2018

Austin Pond Society November Meeting 11-19-2018


The Austin Pond Society held their last meeting of the year in the form of a Christmas Party. The theme this year was Mexican and the food and decorations reflected that. Members came dressed in gay colors, some wearing hats and the main dish for the food was Tamales along with all of the fixins’. Members provided more Mexican dishes plus a myriad of deserts.

For the second meeting in a row, attendance was down. The weather had taken a turn for the worse with a cold front so maybe that kept some people away. Altogether, I counted twenty seven members present. Blue Santa and Mrs Klaus had to drop out at the very last minute due to being stuck in Chicago so a couple of other gentlemen, David and Scott filled in, making speeches and receiving all of the donated toys of which there were two very large sacks.

There was no business to conduct so the entire evening was focused on food and good company. This was Jeannie’s last meeting as El Presidente and I and the Membership would like to take this opportunity to thank her for her past five years of serving the Members of the Austin Pond Society.

The Members enjoying the Christmas Party 2018
The Christmas Trees that the AAGC Member Clubs decorated this year 2018
Video of Christmas Party

So the curtain drops on another fun year. I wonder what is in store for 2019?

Written 11/22/2018

APS October 2018 Meeting


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The outgoing President, Jeannie Ferrier on the left with the incoming President Barb Lenhardt

Another month, another meeting of the Austin Pond Society held at the usual place, the Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin, Texas. As usual, we were treated to a meal provided by our Hospitality person, Steven. He is one of those who is giving up his volunteer position at the end of the year and we thank him for his contributions to the cause. Tonight, his offerings were corn dogs with  deserts provided by the members. As I am not into corn dogs, I made do with several cookies to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Due to the bad weather, our numbers were down by quite a bit and I counted only 22 people in attendance. We started off with Barb introducing our speaker, Alex Rabadan, a local pond builder whose company is named Oasis Water Features and Landscaping. He held a question and answer session which kept everyone occupied for 30 minutes or so.

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Alex Rabadan, Oasis Water Features and Landscaping.

This was followed by Steven Monfrini, acting in the absence of the chairperson Nancy Reinert and as one of the committee members, to announce the new Board members for 2019. All the positions were filled and required a vote from the Membership to appoint them which passed without dissent. To review the new Board who will take office January 1st, 2019, use this link.

This was the only major piece of business for this evening and with a little more discussion about other minor items, the meeting came to a close.

APS Speaker October Meeting 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

October 2018 meeting Business from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

 

The next meeting to be held on November 19 at the same location, will be our Christmas End of the Year Party. Blue Santa will again be in attendance so we are asking all of our members to bring a small gift preferably in the 12-14 year age bracket for the kids in Austin who do not receive much on Christmas morning. The theme this year will be Mexican and the food will also reflect the theme. Members can still bring along desserts or their contribution to the Mexican main meal. We are hoping for a Mariachi Band from one of the local high schools but that is not yet confirmed. Keep looking for more on this and we hope to see you there.

This will be the last meeting for the year as we do not meet in December.

Written 10/18/2018

What Day is It?


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Today is Saturday.. I think! One day is pretty much the same as the next at this stage of my life. I no longer look forward to the weekends as they are pretty much  the same as any other day except there are more people out and about and any special events are usually held on the weekend.

Used to be, many years ago, that every weekend for me was taken up with soccer, football to the rest of the world. I was either coaching one of the several Youth teams assigned to me or was actively playing myself on a couple of different teams. Even in the summer, things didn’t change very much except the Youth teams were off and we older people didn’t run anywhere near as hard or as long and we drank a lot of beer.

Nowadays, when I get up, the first thing I have to remind myself is what day it is. Once I have that firmly fixed in my mind, I check the calendar on my computer to see if I have anything special lined up that I need to do like a trip to the Physiotherapist for my aching shoulder or my Doctor for a geriatric check up. If I didn’t keep track of things on my computer, I would miss half of the appointments at which my presence is expected.  Apart from any benefits those visits do provide, I see myself as a piggy bank for all of the Doctors, Dentists and such that I seem to need in my old age. Thank goodness that I had the foresight and was lucky enough to work at the University of Texas at Austin for 22 years prior to my retirement that resulted in a pension and excellent health care.

After I have figured out what day it is and what important things I need to do, I usually fill the rest of my day on several other and no less important things like checking the ponds and the health and welfare of the couple of hundred fish that reside in them. There is usually something that needs my attention like a filter or a pump or maybe an improvement on something that I felt needed working on. I should state here that I don’t do gardening. At least not in the accepted sense.  Of course I take care of the ponds and I do mow the outside strip alongside the road every couple of months and the area that grows wild at the very bottom of the lot as it is really a dry creek and only floods when we get the odd gullywasher. Other than that, all of the plantings not counting those in and  around the ponds are all native vegetation that I allow to run wild except in the several walkways which I keep trimmed for ease of access.

I also like to hike a lot except the weather has been so bloody hot that it made more sense to sit inside rather than to bake in the 100 degree heat. At least, I have that to look forward to and as I only occasionally hike on weekends, I can hike any other day of the week to avoid the crowds.

So you see, that even though the weekends are relatively unimportant and I never know what day it is when I wake up, there is always plenty to do to keep me occupied and being a creature of habit, nothing much changes from day to day. One of my habits is to go grocery shopping later in the day and at the same time, treat myself to a Grande Non Fat Decaf Latte from Starbucks. This is my one serious vice as it happens every day and is not cheap when totalled up for the year at $4:38 a cup. Still, the way I see it, everyone is entitled to one vice as long as it is not harmful to oneself or others. It could be worse as I could also smoke and drink but I have never smoked because of my athletic prowess and it has been 10 years since I have had any alcoholic drinks.

Lets see now, it is almost 4:00 o’clock and now it is raining again, almost time for that Latte. So goes another day in my life…

Written 9/29/2018

Texas Heat and Laziness?


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With the temperatures finally cooling down here in my part of Texas, you would think that I would be chomping at the bit to get out on the trails or outside in the garden. After all, the 100 degree heat lasted almost 3 months of which, I spent a great deal of time indoors in the air conditioning, only venturing out when the larder got low and needed restocking. I haven’t been out on the trails since my last hike at McKinney Roughs way back on June 8, 2018 and have only done enough in the yard and ponds to keep things running with the very occasional trimming to keep the paths clear.

Somehow though, I have gotten used to the lazy life of sitting around and even though the high temperature is only around 90 degrees on the hot days and getting cooler all of the time, I still find myself sitting in front of my computer looking out of the window at the yard instead of going out and getting stuck into all of the work that needs to be done. I suppose I can blame some of that on my increasing years but if I want to live for a few more of them, I need to bite the bullet and just go and get after it. I do have the excuse that my shoulder is sore, the one that I managed to wrench when I was loading the coins into the truck and I am going to Physical Therapy for it. I also joined a new gym just a couple of miles up the road from me but I am using the the same wrenched shoulder as an excuse for not working out. That’s even worse as the gym as you can imagine, has a brand new, state of the art cooling system.

What will it take for me to get of my arse, which, if I am not careful will start to grow to a much larger size unless I can convince my brain that I need the exercise. In truth, it is a mental problem more than a physical one as I feel fit enough. On the positive side, I know that I will overcome my mind and get outside and do what I do best and that is hard work as I have all of my life. As the temperature cools down even more, I will start working out and going on that hike? Honest, I will…

Such are the quandaries that I find myself in at this time of my life and what the Texas heat can do to a man…

Written 9/25/2018

APS September Meeting 2018.


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True to form as September 17th rolled around so did the Austin Pond Society monthly meeting held at the usual place, Zilker Botanical Gardens Clubhouse. There were about 34 people in attendance plus several of the Sponsors as this meeting was dedicated to them to give everyone a chance to meet them in person.

DSC_3425 John from Jet’s Pizza with Steven Monfrini

The evening started with a light meal in the form of Pizza with all of the fixins delivered by the owner John. Member’s brought deserts as they usually do which I for one am very grateful. About the only time I eat deserts is once every month at the Austin Pond Society Meetings.

Following the meal, the Business section of the meeting started with the President Jeannie, going around the room and taking comments and questions. The high spot of the evening apart from the opportunity of meeting the Sponsors, was the announcement and presentation of a list of names compiled by the Nomination Committee ably led by Nancy Reinert for the 2019 Board of Directors. Much to everyone’s surprise, this Committee had managed to find willing people to serve in all of the vacant positions which included, President, Treasurer and Pond Tour Chairman, the three most difficult positions to fill. There was some shuffling around as  people switched positions but in the end, all of the Officers and Directors positions had nominees. These need to be ratified which will happen by the Membership at the next meeting in November. None of these nominees are cast in stone and if there are any other candidates willing to run at that meeting, then the positions will be decided by a vote of the membership. There are still two other outstanding positions that are classified as Volunteers meaning that they do not have to attend Board Meetings and neither do they get a vote if they do choose to attend. Those positions are Hospitality and Librarian. The Hospitality position is the most popular person in the Club as that person is the one that feeds us every month. The other vacant position is the Librarian who brings the books and maintains the records of those that are loaned out. If any of you are interested in either of these positions, contact Nancy Reinert at parliamentarian@austinpondsociety.org

Time was given to mix with the Sponsors to see what they had to offer and ask questions about their products. My favorite was Barb Lenhardt who is a Realtor as she had the best chocolates. Actually, the Sponsors who were in attendance or had representation at a table were as follows, the aforementioned Barb Lenhardt, Realtor, Water Garden Gems from Marion who brought several goodies that they offered for sale, Taylormade who builds ponds and Kirk Perry with Perry Aerial Photography.  Both Jet’s Pizza and Bamboo Bistro had tables but were not in attendance due to the calls of business.

The meeting finally came to a close with the business out of the way as it was time to turn attention to the other important part of the evening namely the judging of the pictures that will go into the Calendar. As Calendar sales have been dropping off with the advent of the internet and cell phones, this item will eventually go the way of the DoDo even though the Photo Contest will remain as an integral part of the organization with the pictures getting posted on the website, the modern way of showing off prints. There were a lot of pictures on display split into four different categories, fish, ponds and pond features, wildlife and pond plants. The participants were each given four stickies with a number that they affixed to each of their pictures. The voters wrote down their selection by number and the votes were tallied up and the winners announced. These winning pictures will all go into the Calendar and will be posted on the website usually as the heading picture for the month. This is always a very popular occurrence every year and regardless of the Calendar survival, will continue as an integral part of the Austin Pond Society.

Jeannie thanked everyone for attending including the Sponsors and for making the evening a huge success and called the meeting to a close. The next meeting is October 15 at the same place and the Speaker will be Alex Rabadan, Owner of Oasis Water Features & Landscaping (512-630-6786). Alex offers services such as Pond Installations & Monthly or Yearly pond & water garden maintenance.
This will be the last real meeting of the year as the November Meeting is dedicated to having fun and partying.

APS September Meeting 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

APS September 2018 Meeting Video from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

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Sponsor Night from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo


APS September Photo Contest 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo
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Hope to see everyone at the October Meeting.

Written 9/21/2018

Losing Pets


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Losing a much loved pet is very difficult for all of us and some of us grieve for a long time as we try to move on.  The same is not true, at least for me when I lose any of the big Koi that live in my ponds. Fish, by nature, are cold blooded things and don’t do well in the cuddle department. I know that some people do not share my views on fish but I find it hard to even come close to any form of grief when a fish dies as they are sometimes apt to do.

A couple of days ago, I lost a big white Koi which was the biggest fish I have ever had. She was one of the originals so probably close to 38 years old which is pretty good for a fish in an unprotected pond. She was well over three feet long and probably weighed close to twenty pounds. I suspected that she was  going to that big Koi pond up in the sky as she had been acting very lethargic the past few days and did not appear to be eating and sure enough, when I came out to feed them the other morning, I could see her laying on the bottom of the pond. It is my experience that these large Koi don’t float immediately and it usually takes a couple of days for them to get up off the bottom of the pond, I suppose as they start to decay and the gasses start to form.

After a real struggle on my part due to her size and weight as my net was hardly big enough,  I managed to get her out of the pond.  Close inspection did not reveal any outwardly visible signs of damage or disease so it must have been an internal problem of some sort. Anyway, dead is dead and after pulling on a pair of long sleeved rubber gloves, I carried her to the bottom of the garden and with some effort, tossed her over the fence for the vultures or other wild things to clean up. She was heavy enough that I managed to wrench the muscles in my left upper arm in the process causing me to light up the air with a few well chosen cuss words.

I have at least fifty or sixty Koi in three of the five ponds some of which are almost as large as the one we just lost. These are the second batch of Koi bought way back in 1980 following a refilling tap water incident which wiped out the original stock purchased in 1977.  I have one surviving Koi from that original 1977 group and he is definitely the oldest and is at least 41 years old but being a male, is not among the very largest ones. There are also a couple of hundred or so Goldfish in three of the ponds and it is hard to stop them from breeding especially in the ponds that are populated by Goldfish only. Koi do a good job of keeping the population down as do a couple of turtles that are in the other ponds as they eat the eggs and  young fry.

The occasional fish die off is not always a bad thing as it keeps the population manageable. I am glad though that I don’t have to make the choice  of who lives and who dies. I’ll leave that to Mother Nature…

Here come the buzzards,  Mother Nature’s cleanup crew and so the pendulum swings as it always does, in the grand scheme of things.

Written 8/9/2018