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 



McKinney Falls State Park 9-30-2017

Jeff Price-12

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.

Jeff Price-49

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.

Jeff Price-50

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.

Jeff Price-52

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.

Jeff Price-51

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

Reimers Ranch 1-21-2017

dsc_4792-panoI hadn’t been walking for a while due to the cold snaps that we had plus the fact that I needed to devote my time to cleaning up the yard after those winter freezes. With that out of the way and a rise in temperatures back to my comfort zone, I decided to take a walk at Reimers Ranch.

I arrived there and chatted briefly with the Ranger at the gate and then made my way to the first main parking area which was pretty full. My intent was to walk the big circular loop around the entire park, a distance of about 5 miles.

Following the usual preparation with the addition of putting on a pair of hiking socks that I was trying out, I added boots, hat, backpack, camera belt and camera and grabbing my trusty walking poles, set of by crossing the road and then following the Multi use trail to the SW. After walking this trail several times before, I already knew which was the easiest way to go so that the big hills were down and not up.

The first thing I noticed was that the the Park Crews had been doing many controlled burns to lower the undergrowth which really consisted of tall grass in most places. We had had some rain showers since the burns so the smell was no longer in the air. Some of the big oaks showed signs of the burns and I hope they will come back in the Spring. Not all of the park had been burned as the area that the Wild Turkeys are supposed to be in was still OK as were some of the main trail further along. Even without the black scar of the burns, the remaining Park had a very brown wintery look to it.

As I walked this trail, the houses on the opposite side of the Pedernales River were visible. Must be a great place to live with a wonderful view and high enough above the river to not be bothered by any flooding.


I took the Turkey Loop in the very forlorn hope of actually seeing a Turkey but to no avail. I probably would need to sit down for a while in a bird blind in order for the Turkeys to be brave enough to show themselves. Maybe one of these days…

I met several people out on the trail including two ladies on horseback who I stopped and chatted to for a bit. The horse on the left was a very friendly guy and kept nudging me to rub his neck and make a fuss of him.dsc_4813

I also met another couple who were willing for me to take their pictures. A couple of cyclists also passed me and as I don’t ask them  to stop, all I get are pictures from behind as they disappear into the distance.

I took several pictures of the different animal prints that I saw in the dirt with the hope of identifying them but could only positively identify one which is the White Tailed Deer

It looks like there could be several different animals in this group including Bobcat, Racoon, Coyote, Skunk, Deer and Opossum. The tracks were not fresh and had dried out making it not only harder to get a good picture but then to identify them.

When I reached the Kelly Prehn Trails, I decided to forgo that diversion and instead, kept on walking past Johnny’s Homestead taking the multi use long trail. In my view, this is the prettier part of the walk especially when the trail runs close to the stream which actually has water in it. The last time I walked this trail a couple of months ago, it was pretty dry. As  I was walking along, I could hear talking from behind and turned to see another young couple who were making good time as they walked. We stopped and chatted for a bit and I got their picture and found out there names were Moira and Reuben. They walked off and I was amazed that even though they were walking at a normal pace, they literally left me in their dust. I must really walk slow nowadays. Good job I walk alone most of the time as it is probably very frustrating for anyone that might walk with me. Taking pictures is only part of the excuse. I really am slow…


They disappeared into the distance and I diverted from the main trail enough to get close to the stream and take a couple of pictures and then walked back on along the trail. This part of the trail does have an uphill climb but it is not too bad. I eventually made it back to the parking lot a very happy and tired hiker. I can tell that the weather is warming up as my “T” shirt was soaked requiring a change. If I didn’t wear a backpack, I would probably be OK but I carry extra camera stuff besides a first aid kit, a snakebite kit and additional clothes and wet weather gear not to mention snacks. It’s a good job that I am prepared as I had a problem with one of the additional parts that is attached to the camera and allows me to clip it onto the special belt that I have. Digging into my pack, I found the proper wrench to tighten up the loose part saving me a lot of headaches down the road. Like the Boy Scouts motto, “Be Prepared”.

I knew all of those years I spent in the Boy Scouts would pay off one of these days…

Riemers Ranch 1-20-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Fixing the Bubbler…


Showing the Bubbling Urn. This is the highest the water has ever reached. The wires in the picture are to deter my Heron friend who has a habit of landing on the Bubbler.

After putting it off for a couple of days, I bit the bullet and went about fixing the Bubbling Urn in the big pond. I was reluctant to have to get in the water but I realized that it is only going to get colder so why put it off any longer. I had another job to do in this pond as well as repair the bubbler and that was to cut back the very large Thalia plant that has been there for several years. The worms got at it and stripped it of all of its leaves and as they don’t grow back again, there is nothing for it but to cut the entire plant back.

So, I donned my waders and put on my water shoes after making sure that everything that I might need was close at hand. This included all of the necessary tools for the repair, cutters for the Thalia and finally, the skimming net that I use to clean up the dead leaves that are always dropping into the pond. Actually into all of the ponds.

The water wasn’t too cold and I quickly got used to it as I went about my business. It had been many years since I had actually worked on the Bubbler other than to re-connect it not very long ago and I had forgotten just how I had hooked it up the first time around. I had a length of one inch corrugated rubber pipe to which I connected a reduced piece of the same material all the way down to half inch as the Bubbler has a half inch connection on it. I don’t like re-using this material if it has been in the water for too long as it gets brittle and loses any of its elasticity and in fact will snap completely in half with very little pressure but I opted to use this particular two foot piece as it was already set up on both ends. I had to struggle to get the Bubbler back up on the concrete blocks that it currently stands on and of course, managed to get wet in the process. I forgot to mention that the Urn is almost totally filled up with solid sediment that it has gathered over the years making it very heavy to manipulate. I eventually achieved it and laid it on its side while I reconnected the half inch coupling which I already had connected to the one inch pipe, the end of which was on dry land.

I then had to struggle the urn to an upright position taking great pains not to break the half inch pipe and level it up before turning my attention to the piece of pipe on the side of the pond. This was just  a simple connection to the 1200 gph motor which I then put inside a screen bag and back into the water. I turned it on by plugging it back in and the water jetted up from the Bubbler for about a foot. Very impressive.

With that out of the way, I turned off the pump again as I will not get in any of the ponds with any of the pumps running…just in case and turned my attention to trimming the Thalia. This was a simple enough job as even though the stalks are thick, they are comparatively soft and cut easily. Next job was to dredge as many of the dead leaves off the bottom. I hate doing this as it stirs up the dirt and releases Nitrogen into the water but it is better that leaving them in to really contaminate it. While I was at it, I trimmed the large umbrella plant and the canes that grows on the side.

The fish seem to be used to me as they just move quietly out of the way without any panic except for the one that I inadvertently picked up with the dredge net. Now it did panic and also made me jump with memories of the dead fish I uncovered the last time in the water.

Satisfied with my work, I clambered out of that pond and turned on all of the pumps and everything was working just fine. A couple of hours later, the new Aquadine filtering system was already cleaning up the water which prior to my stirring it up, had been crystal clear to where I could see the bottom of the pond plus everything in it.

I cleaned up my mess dumping the cut Thalia onto the compost, put away my tools, patted Richie on the head for a job well done and drove to Starbucks to claim my reward. Now when I go on the next hike, I won’t feel guilty about taking time off from the ponds.


Showing the cut back Thalia in the foreground.

A walk at Reimers Ranch 11-27-2016


A panorama of four pictures of the view at Lookout Point.

The day was cloudy but rain was not in the forecast so I decided to take a walk back at Milton Reimers Ranch. This will be my third time back here in a week or so and will probably be my last for a while as I do like variety even if I do keep going to the same half dozen Parks. I try to rotate them in order to keep them somewhat fresh.

I had already decided that I was going to walk the Gravel Path which is what the upper trail is called that stretches from the first parking area to the last. This is a  man made trail and apart from a couple of areas that need some maintenance work is very easy walking. It follows the river but at time, veers inland away from it and at others, is almost on top of the bluff.

As I walked along happily snapping pictures of anything that looked interesting, I contemplated on the differences in the actual countryside to this Park and say McKinney Roughs. This, with its wide open spaces and long grass and a limited number of trees has a much more of a Fall/Winter look to it and is more brown than green. This is obvious from the pictures although it does have its own beauty in the coloring of the leaves as the trees change. Not exactly the Lost Maples but close enough. There were several butterflies still active and I got one picture. I had to wait my moment as this one after settling on the ground, kept getting blown sideways although not leaving the ground, in the strong wind.dsc_4625

I didn’t get to see very many people and only passed a couple of elderly ladies going in the opposite direction. When I reached the last parking lot, I contemplated going down and taking the lower trail next to the river to walk back but as I had walked that a few days prior, decided against it and backtracked along the Gravel Path. The Park has a series of signs that show the different animals, birds and plants that go to make up the Park and are very educational to the many people that were not raised in the country.


One of the information boards that are all along the trails.

As late in the year as it was, I only got to take pictures of three flowers.

It was a beautiful day for walking, not too hot with intermittent sun shining through the clouds. It was not long before I had to stop and take off my overshirt which I then tucked into my belt. Needless to say, at one point in the walk, I managed to drop it and had to backtrack  for half a mile or so before I found it. Luckily for me, there was no one else on the trail although I am not sure that anyone would want my ratty old shirt.

Along with the intermittent sun, the wind was blowing  pretty hard at times and serenading me with its sounds as it swirled around me. It blew through the trees and grasses and whistled and moaned in a delightful way. It took me back to when I was a very young kid of about five or six, sitting under a door that leaned against the shed just listening to the wind. I have never forgotten that moment and I am as impressed now as I was back then. I love the sound and the feel of the wind.

Riemers Ranch 11-27-2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Altogether, I covered a little over 6.4 miles of really easy walking. I drove home a very contented and mildly tired old man to sit in the hot tub and get the aches out of the old bones and muscles.


A panoramic view of the rock walls on the other side of the river

Another Walk at Reimers Ranch on 11-24-2016


This Pano is made up of 7 different pictures.

I was checking the ponds as I do every morning just in case something occurred through the night and noticed that the large urn in the middle of the 5000 gallon pond was not working. I pulled the pump from the water as that is always the first thing to check and it was still running. Then I noticed that the 1 inch black corrugated pipe that connects the pump to the urn was literally broken and hanging together by a thread. I gave it a jerk, trying to break it apart and as I watched, the urn toppled over into the pond. It requires that I get into the pond to do any work on the urn which of course would now entail struggling to set it back onto the blocks that hold it up. I thought about it for a bit and said to myself, “What the hell” and went back indoors vowing to fix it another day.

So, instead of making the repairs, I got ready to take a hike as my arrangements for Thanksgiving had fallen through. I had already decided that I was going back to Milton Reimers Ranch this time with the full intention of walking the entire main trail. I packed an apple and a bacon and cheese scone I had bought from Whole Foods the day before for my Thanksgiving dinner out on the trail, filled my water bottles, checked out my camera and jumped in the car heading towards Bee Caves. It takes me about 30 minutes to get to this Ranch and this time, there was a different young guy on the gate. I parked in the first parking lot and went through my usual routine of boots, hat, backpack, camera belt and then camera and grabbing my walking sticks set off along the Multi Use Trail, heading northwest.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day for hiking. The sun had warmth and the winds were not chilled but cooling, a great combination. I set a good pace (for me) as the walking on these trails is very easy as you can see from the pictures and it wasn’t long before I reached the intersection of the Main Trail and Turkey Loop. As I had walked Turkey Loop just 3 days earlier, I decided to stay on the main trail. I noticed that the rubber visor that is on the camera lens was missing so I had to backtrack for about 200 yards or so to where it had come off the camera. I took several pictures and they show just how different this Park is compared to say, McKinney Roughs. This is much flatter and has more wide open spaces and way fewer trees. It was, after all, a working ranch in days gone by.

I continued walking making good time and came to the sign posts for Kelly Prehn Overlook and Pogue Canyon Trail and decided to skip them this time around choosing to stay on the main trail instead. I passed Johnny’s Homestead which is actually non existent, as it burned down many years ago. All that remains are the power lines and the Keep Out signs. From there, I bypassed the trail that leads to the new hiking trail named Hogge Trails which I have previously walked and continued on the main Multi Use trail.

I came to a spot where I had taken pictures of the large stream that flows through the property and decided to check the stream out but just as I had feared, it was hardly flowing. I returned to the main trail which eventually brought me back to where I had started. At this point, I met a couple of mountain bikers with them being the only other people that I saw on the trail. With the exception of a few birds, I did not see any other wildlife nor were there any flowers still blooming. The main trail has little sign posts that are posted every tenth of a mile and it shows that the complete circuit is 5 miles and 2 tenths.dsc_4584

I walked past my car and strolled over to River Overlook which is situated along the Gravel Path, a path that runs on top of the bluffs for the full length of the main park from the first parking lot to the furthermost one. That will be my next walk as I have never done it in its full length  yet. My pedometer showed that I had walked exactly 7 miles which included the extra backtracking and walking to view the Overlook. Altogether a very enjoyable walk for which I made good time (for me).


It was now past 5:00 pm and just as I thought, the Starbucks in Bee Cave was closed for the holiday. I drove home listening to Audiobooks only this time with no latte to drink.

A Walk at Milton Reimers Ranch 9-28-2016.

dsc_3999-panoWith the temperature dropping to a bearable level, I decided to take a walk at Milton Reimers Ranch. This is  operated by Travis County who have this great rule that people over 65 get to use the Park for free although I don’t mind paying my $3:00 at the State Parks which is almost free.

dsc_4024I wanted to hike the new trails that are on the East side of the existing trails known as the Hogge Trails. I have hiked them once before just after they opened and had an idea of the degree of difficulty the trails presented.

I pulled into the  Mountain Bike Parking Lot as I could get to the trail that lead on the far side of the Multi Use Circuit which goes all around the Main Park. This trail starts off as a bike trail but quickly opens up into a full width trail big enough for the Travis County vehicles. This brought me to the far side of the Multi Use Trail along where Johnny’s Homestead used to stand from where I turned East and headed along the trail that would lead me to the Hogge Trails.

I had asked at the Pay Booth if the stream that I knew I would have to cross had any water in it and the Booth Attendant mentioned that they had over an inch of rain in the last couple of days and was not sure if it had affected the low water crossing. The answer to that when I arrived at the crossing was a definitive “No”. There was no water in the stream at all. It was totally dried up. So much for thinking of wet feet. The part of the trail leading away from the stream is a steady up hill climb with steep grade in a few places. It is almost a mile long and you know you have been walking by the time the top is reached.dsc_4007

The Travis Park property ends and you walk through a five bar gate which is permanently open.  The sign indicates the trails of which there are two. The Inner Loop is 1.3 miles and the Outer Loop is 2 miles. By going in a figure of eight, it is possible to cover all of the trails by double tracking on the center trail twice which is what I planned to do. I took the right hand trail until it came to the spot where if I had taken the left trail, would have considered that the Inner Loop. There are some picnic benches located under a shade tree where I enjoyed a fifteen minute break eating one of my apples.dsc_4019

When I started back walking, I took the center trail, the aforementioned Inner Loop except that when I got to where it merged with the Outer Loop Trail, I turned right and followed it back around to where I had started under the shade trees. I then followed the center trail again except this time, I turned left where the trails merged all of the way back to the five bar gate. This way, I was able to cover both the Inner and Outer Loops.

The trek back down the long hill was no easier than when I came up due to the rough trail and loose stones and having this ongoing balance problem, I had to be really careful not to stumble any more than could be helped. I finally reached the low water crossing and took pictures of it and then made my way around the Multi Use Trail to Johnny’s Homestead. From there, I took the trail that intersects the Multi Use Trail back towards the Mountain Bike Parking Lot.

Just as I had started along this trail, I heard the sound of one of the park vehicles which pulled up alongside of me. We chatted for a bit with the Ranger wanting to know if it was my vehicle in the Mountain Bike Parking Lot. He was out checking the trails to make sure that no one was in trouble. We chatted for a bit and he asked if I was OK. I’m sure he would have given me a ride if I had wanted it but although I was tempted, I told him I was fine and had to finish what I had started.

I turned back up the trail and finished the walk back to my car where I sat for a while eating my last apple and resting my weary bones. Altogether, I walked 9.1 miles and felt re-markedly good. It is amazing what having lower temperatures and a cloudy day can do for the body. I only finished one flask of water and half of the other.


Altogether, a good day on the trails. I managed to find a few flowers and a couple of other things to take pictures and on the way back, found the Starbucks at Bee Cave to complete my day.

As with all of these pictures, if you click on anyone of them they will enlarge and you can move along by using the side arrows. Use the “Escape” key to get back to normal.