Circle C Trails 9-9-2017


I wanted to take a closer look at the Circle C Trails as the maps showed them to be much more extensive than I originally thought. I had noticed people walking the trails that ran alongside Escarpment Boulevard and for some reason never made the connection. That’s what comes from having an old brain. More than a little slow sometimes…I didn’t realize that there were trails on both sides of the Boulevard albeit many are narrow bike trails which are also used by hikers and runners. I drove over to Slaughter Lane and Escarpment Boulevard and parked in the cinema parking lot and just decided to take my camera and walk a bit down the gravel trail. I went through my usual ritual of changing into my hiking boots and grabbing all of the normal “stuff” I carry with me including both cameras mounted on my double carry harness.

I knew that if I went off to the right, I would come to the soccer fields so I went left, under Escarpment Boulevard and discovered a whole host of different trails in between Escarpment Boulevard and Loop 1. I followed a couple of them and wandered around for a couple of hours taking many pictures of the wildflowers that are currently in bloom.  I walked along and managed to cover around 3.5 miles. The trails are of the usual variety and the main trail follows Slaughter Creek which is dried up this time of the year. This area is also a part of the Edwards Aquifer Discharge Zone so I might well have been drinking some of the water that soaks down through the rocks from the creek.

A view of the dried up creek.

Pictured below are some of the trails. Obviously, the wide granite trails are the main walking ones. The rest are bike trails so are not very wide. They also tend to twist and wind about as the bikers try to add various degrees of difficulty to their rides.

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There are a bunch of wildflowers this time of the year.

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and one Monarch butterfly

I passed a couple of runners and one guy on a bike but as it was a weekday, I didn’t really expect to see many people. I should probably say that the runners and biker passed me as everyone and their brother walks quicker than me nowadays. I had a fine old time and was glad to be back out on the trails again slow pace and all.

Written 9/18/2017

More Fish Rescues of the Easy Kind.


This past week, I received calls from two different people and an email from a third person looking for help with their ponds. As I am the website contact person for the Austin Pond Society, I get the calls first and then make the decisions regarding the outcome of the various and different requests after I have followed through and obtained the details.

Usually, it is a simple decision regarding the type of action and if it is something that the Pond Society can handle. Then I decide if it is too big for me in which case I pass it along to Jeannie, our President who also handles all of the larger fish rescues.

What is a fish rescue, you ask? Simply put, it usually is a cry for help from the public to assist them find a new home for the fish they have in their garden pond which for any number of reasons, they are closing down. In many cases, the Husband has died and the pond is too much work for the remaining spouse or in the case of one of the calls I received, the owners had sold the house and the new owners wanted to keep the pond but did not want the fish. In nearly every case, the owners are closing down the pond.

With the three requests I received, I quickly determined that the first was too big for me and was one that required both help with the rescue and then the ability to house 10-20 medium sized Koi until permanent homes could be found for them. As I am not setup to house any fish other than my own, I passed this one along to Jeannie so that she and her merry band of Koi Rescue Enthusiasts could make the arrangements to handle. I should mention that we try to find good homes for any fish we rescue by offering them among our members first as they always get first dibs. Then we turn for help among the general public and finally, we donate them to Mayfield Park here in Austin. The Park has 5 ponds that are big enough to house a substantial number of Koi and Goldfish and this year, both Jeannie and I have placed a large number of Koi, Goldfish and Carp into these ponds. The Carp were in error and were mistaken for large black Goldfish but they seem very happy in their new environment.

The second and third calls were both in the range that I could handle and so I called the owners and set up dates to visit with them and make the rescues. The first house was located not too far from me in an estate where all of the homes were so big, my own house would probably fit in them at least twice and probably more. This house had already been sold and the ex-owners were just completing the final clean out and catching up on the odds and ends. When I got there, I could see the pond behind the fence with the gate open and “Jim”, the ex-owner was already standing in the pond with his net, splashing around in an attempt to catch the fish. I said hello and introduced myself. We chatted for a bit as he tried to catch the couple of fish left in the pond. I suggested that I would hook up my pump to lower the water level giving him a much better opportunity in his task.

The deal was that I was to take an 8 inch Koi and the two largest goldfish and he would keep the much smaller remaining goldfish for his new home. He proudly showed off the Koi that he had managed to catch which was in a 5 gallon bucket standing by the pond. As if on cue as we watched, the Koi jumped out of the bucket and back into the pond. After we both recovered from the fit of laughter that this caused, I hooked up my pump to help him by lowering the water level so that he could catch the Koi for a second time. In no time at all, he had caught all of the fish. I bid him farewell and then made my way back home where I put the Koi and Goldfish in different ponds at my house.

The next rescue, a couple of days later was also another easy one. The owner, a very friendly lady by the name of Debbie met me and showed me the pond which was a circular one of about six feet in diameter and only a couple of feet deep. It was real close to the driveway making it easy to load out the trailer. I set up my pump which quickly lowered the water and I pulled out seven water lilies in pots as it was pumping. It was very easy to catch the twelve small Koi and Goldfish and transfer them to my container ready for transport. Between us, we bagged up the lilies and reloaded my trailer and in thirty minutes, I was back on the road again.

This time, I headed to Mayfield Park where I planned to put the rescued fish. This went by without any problems despite notices spread around the ground warning the public, “To not disturb the Peacocks and Peahens as they incubate their eggs or they might attack you”. I repacked my trailer and made my way back home. The water lilies made it back to my house and into my containers that house my surplus plants which are free to anyone needing pond plants.

Interestingly enough, this last rescue was one street down from where I used to live out in the Pedernales area thirty two years ago. On my way back, I pulled into the street that was my old home and drove to the end just for old times sake. It brought back very happy memories of my time spent living out there on my five acres and rekindled in me, the old longing to turn back the clock. Of course that is not possible but a man can dream, can’t he? There was a Realtor’s Sign for the property next to the acreage I used to own so I took down the number and gave them a call. Turns out to be a 15 acre lot with an unfinished house and the asking price was $425,000. When I sold my 5 acres thirty two years ago with a house, a large horse barn and paddock, aviaries and sheds and fully fenced, it went for $120,000. Go figure…

 

APS Meeting August 2017


DSC_0837The Austin Pond Society held it’s monthly meeting on Monday August 21, 2017 at the usual time, 6:30 pm and the usual place, Zilker Botanical Garden Center. For a while, the Board Members outnumbered the guests but as the evening wore on, there were around 30 people in the room. They were treated to a meal of Tacos and Salad plus desserts brought in by the membership.

The Speaker’s for the evening were Tom & Sherry Gringas and their subject was  “Enhancing your Pondscape with Metalwork and Sculpture”. Tom teaches welding and the art of metalwork at ACC and Sherry is the designer of his projects. She also put together the wonderful slide show of their work. The presentation is marred by the poor sound quality due to yours truly forgetting the camera mic. Apologies all around.

Following the presentation, Jeannie had a small amount of business to conduct followed by the drawing for the door prizes, which incidentally, she was the lucky winner of one.  She always tells us that she buys prizes that she would like and this time, her wish came true. Well done Jeannie.

The meeting closed around 8:30 pm. The next meeting is on Monday,  September 18 and the Speaker will be Jeff Price from Price Landscape .  He will be talking about  “Landscape ideas for your yard ”. For those of you looking to change or make your yard a bit different, I’m sure that Jeff will have some great ideas. Hope to see you there.

This video is of Tom & Sherry Gringas presentation. Again, apologies for the sound content.

Gingras Metalwork Aug 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

 
This video is of the Business part of the meeting. Same sound problem.

Business Aug 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

 

St Edwards Park 8-10-2017


DSC_0660LPI was trying to find a different place to hike as I have just about worn out my welcome at my regular hiking places. I located a new park called St Edward’s Park in Northwest Austin. It is not that big in the way of trails but it does follow Bull Creek for most of the way. Bull Creek is spring fed so it has water all year round even with our super hot summers.

The park is located off Spicewood Springs Road in a beautiful area of Northwest Austin that I had never been before. It was a pleasant drive as the road twisted and turned. I almost missed the Trailhead but managed to stop in time to make the left turn without causing an accident. There were several cars in the small lot and others were pulling in or leaving at fairly frequent intervals. I wandered over to the kiosk to take a look at the map as I had not been able to find one on the website and it occurred to me that the map was not oriented to the way I was facing. The complete reversal in fact so I had to re-imagine it in my mind in order to get my bearings. There appears to be a cluster of trails at one end and then a long trail that actually follows Bull Creek for a couple of miles. There is also another Trailhead further up the road a mile or so.

The trails on the Trailhead side of the creek are all well worn mostly dirt tracks with a lot of shade and I followed the Creek all the way to the waterfall where I was able to cross over mostly to take some pictures of the falls. DSC_0622I discovered that on the opposite side there is also a trail that appeared to go in the direction of the furthermost Trailhead so I opted to follow this one to save backtracking which I hate to do. This trail presented much more of a challenge as it climbed upwards sometime by log steps, other time by scrambling up the rocks. It levelled out towards the top of the hill and then ran in a parallel direction to the Creek only way higher above it. I couldn’t even see the Creek from up there. In places, the trail was not very wide as it skirted around the side of the hill with a pretty steep drop off to my right. A woman and her dog passed me as I was taking a shot of the horizon but they were the only ones that I saw except for a couple of guys way down by the Creek just after I started the climb.

This trail turned out to be a real challenge especially when I got close to the other Trailhead when I was trying to find my way down to Bull Creek which included a lot of scrambling and almost rock climbing in some places. After several false trails which required both carefully picking my way down and then back up again, I eventually made it to the creek where I crossed over at one of the shallow areas and then followed the trail back passing several people on the way. The trail that I had just left, the one that scrambled upwards and then back down to the creek is not marked on the map but it was well walked so many others must know about it. I arrived back to the dam and then back up the trail to my car where I very gratefully sat for a while before changing out of my soaked clothes to something dryer and more comfortable. Cars and people were coming and going all the time I sat there. The Park gets a lot of use.

I took lots of pictures and it was truly great to find a Creek that had water in it. Altogether, I covered around 3.5 miles although the hike on the far side seemed much longer than that as the degree of difficulty was quite high. It was a real workout.

As usual, here is a video of some of the trails that I walked.

St Edwards Park Trails 8-10-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Views of the Creek and the Horizons

Bull Creek at St Edwards Park 8-10-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

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Town Lake in Austin 8-6-2017


DSC_0580I hadn’t been out for either a hike or a photographic trip in over a week and wanted desperately to get back out again. One reason was to fill my mind with other thoughts as I grieved over the loss of my little dog, Richie and I had to get my mind back onto regular things. I didn’t want to take a long hike as the weather is still so hot and very uncomfortable so a short walk on the Town Lake trails seemed like a very good idea.

I opted to park in the lot next to the Zachary Scott Theatre Center off Lamar Boulevard and wander along that part of the trail as far as the bridge over the creek on Barton Springs Road. As it was a weekend, the trail was very busy with runners, cyclists, people with dogs, people without dogs, lovers walking hand in hand and families pushing young kids in strollers, the obvious end result of lovers walking hand in hand.

You name it and every kind was out on the trail.

Turning my attention to the Lake, I saw that it was filled with people in canoes of various types and on surf boards all paddling around in different directions as they enjoyed the Texas summer day on the Lake. Many of the metal canoes had the name of a rental company printed on them. Others were probably owned by the people paddling them. There were dogs everywhere either swimming alongside or actually in the canoes or on the paddleboards. Many of the people, especially those of the female gender were dressed in the barest minimum of skimpy bikinis with lots of flesh showing.  Many of the guys had their shirts off to catch the sun on their bodies and although I didn’t see any ladies in bikinis who shouldn’t have worn them, I did see many of the gentlemen whose portly shapes indicated to much good living and not enough exercise. Paddling a canoe around in circles barely counts as exercise and the amount of visible flab is hardly the way to attract the ladies.

I wandered along taking pictures and wishing that I had brought the camera with the telescopic lens with me as well as the one that I carried to zoom in on some of those long range shots. I reached the bridge where the trail crosses Barton Creek and took several pictures of the view into the city and back up the creek in the reverse direction. This part of the Creek was very popular with lots of people in canoes of all shapes and sizes and the inevitable paddle boards. I even saw a pair of swans who, apart from keeping a wary eye out, totally ignored all of the activity going on around them. The people were good to as most gave the swans a wide berth. Interesting how Nature eventually blends together given the right circumstances.

I passed one very hot looking policeman and chatted to him for a bit. When I said that it was a bit warm, he remarked that it was overtime so was worth getting a little hot. I agreed and moved on. I wandered back along the same trail to where my car was parked taking a few more pictures here and there as I went. All in all, an interesting afternoon.

The total trail length is 10 miles and can be broken into smaller segments by crossing any of the bridges to complete the loop and there are several different places to park to gain access to the trail. On any given day, there are always people out on this trail.

The slideshow is of the different views of the Lake  especially of the people in the watercraft.

Town Lake 8-6-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Austin Pond Society May 2017 Meeting


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As it usually does, the third Monday of the month rolled around and with it the Monthly Austin Pond Society Meeting. This one was held for the wonderful sponsors to set up a table and Meet and Greet the members. Those that had goodies for sale, brought them along and set them out to tempt the most stringent of buyers. Those that sold services greeted the many people that attended and engaged them in conversation about what they had to offer. There were about 45 members attending and they got to meet the following sponsors.

Cory Ferrier 
Bloomers – Marcos and Jody
PrivateLabel Realty – Barb Lenhardt
Water Garden Gems – Shane and Alona
Taylormade – Taylor Miller
Amber Prosceno LMT – Amber Prosceno
Hill Country Water gardens – Jeremy and Emily
Texas Land and Water Design – Paul Lawrence
Honeycomb Fish Farm – Steve and Yvonne
The Great Outdoors – Al
Environmental Survey Consulting – David and Amy 

Each, as they were introduced, gave a brief description of their business. Several brought and sold their wares while others  contributed door prizes and in the case of Hill Country Water Gardens, an entire Fairie Garden to be auctioned off for charity. It eventually went for $140.00 to one of the members who bought it as a gift for his wife’s upcoming birthday.

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The evening was a huge success as members got to meet the sponsors. Intermixed in all of the excitement were several raffles and door prizes which always garners interest.

This video is of the Sponsor Meeting.

Sponsor Night May 5-15-2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

This video is of the several auctions and door prizes.

Auction at Sponsor Night May 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The food for the evening was Pot Luck and the members didn’t disappoint as there were many hot dishes and lots of desert. most of which was consumed by the Members. The meeting ended around 8:30 pm and a quick clean and straightening up of the Meeting Room was the final act of the evening.

The next event will be the Splash Party which is a private party for the Owners and Volunteers  where they can pick up their materials that they will need on the day. This will be held on Saturday, May 20th at Zilker Botanical Gardens. Then comes the “BIG” weekend of the Pond Tour, June 3 for the North Tour and June 4 for the South. Make sure that you have purchased your wristbands. Use this link, if you haven’t.

Austin Pond Society Meeting – April 2017


DSC_5179The Austin Pond Society held their monthly meeting this past Monday, April 17 at the usual place and time. This meeting was our Annual Plant Swap when members bring in pond or garden plants surplus to their requirements to swap out for those of a different kind that other members have brought in.

It is always a fun event and usually, there is always someone who brings in something different or exotic just as a change from the usual pond and garden plants. The meeting was well attended with around 55 members showing up. Not everyone brought in plants to swap out but as usual, there were so many that if they wanted to, everyone went home with something new and different.

Prior to the start of the swap, Steven Monfrini, our Hospitality person, treated us to hot dogs with all of the fixin’s with desserts of different kinds brought in by the members. As I am not a big hot dog fan, I made up for it with extra helpings of desserts especially those of the chocolate kind. While the members were enjoying the food, they were able to watch a video made by yours truly of the APS Website and some of the things available on it.

15 Minute Video from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Following the food and the video, Jeannie brought the meeting to order and went around the room for reports from the various Board Members. Nancy Hall talked about the upcoming Garden Tour and Ted Paone, Chairman of the Pond Tour, outlined the progress to date which he states, is is falling into place quite nicely.

At 7:15 pm, the swap started and although it didn’t appear so, there was some method to the madness with those that helped to set up going first to get the first dibs, followed by those others who had brought things into swap and finally by everyone else whether they had donated or not. It went pretty smoothly thanks to Barb and Darren who kind of kept an eye on everything. One of the rules of the swap is that if you bring it in and it doesn’t move, it goes back home with you. Not sure how much of that happened or whether everything found new homes.

Austin Pond Society Meeting April 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The meeting was over early around 8:00 pm as members lugged their new goodies out to their cars. The clean up crew tidied up the back porch and the Swap was over for another year.

Austin Pond Society April, 2017 Business from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The next meeting is on May 15 and this one is our Sponsor Night when many of our Sponsors will set up a table and share their wares with the members. This is always a popular event and is well attended. We are having a potluck dinner which is always fun as we taste other people’s cooking. Hope someone brings an apple pie…See you there.