A Beautiful Day


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It’s going to be a beautiful day
the sun is shining along the way
the rain has gone to a different place
and the day is now too good to waste.

I have sat indoors these past few days
watching it rain at a furious pace
but now the sun shines and there’s work to be done
to clean up the garden which sounds like fun.

Cut down the plants too damaged to live
clear the space new life to give
to the plants that remain behind
they will recover all in good time.

Storms and wind are Nature’s way
of changing things and have her say
the way she wants the world to look
as she turns the page of her open book.

We do not understand her ways
so powerful and violent on these days
and yet today there is just a faint breeze
rustling the leaves up in the trees.

And the sun is shining to greet the day
the warm breeze is blowing as if to say
come out and play with me for a while
and I’ll tickle your face and make you smile.

I open the door to venture outside
and breathe the fresh air no need to hide
for Nature has come through once again
the clouds blown away for me to begin.

Thinking About Life and Death…


sunset

How strange it is that truth be told
that when we grow so very old
our concepts and our outlooks change
just like we are playing out a game
there are no sides no choice to make
there are no winners for anyone’s sake
it matters not how you were born
man or woman rich or poor
or how you lived the life you had
whether good or sometimes bad
or if you had a God on high
somewhere up there in the sky
or if you ate the proper food
and exercised when in the mood
or took long walks to try to stay fit
even when you would rather sit
making the effort to prolong your life
staying clear of trouble and strife
and yet one day you will wake up dead
with nothing more that can be said
that you tried to beat impossible odds
that no one before even your God
has been able to do though many have tried
and history has proved and has not lied
that Man’s time on this earth is limited to
a few score years we know is true
and no one likes the bottom line
even over the course of time
our lives are over in the blink of an eye
we hardly have time to say goodbye
before a new life takes our place
joining as part of the human race
to lead the life that we once just lived
and in our hearts we must forgive
as the human life is a fragile thing
before our spirits start to sing
to live out our time within the wind
blown gently by Nature as she takes us in
the bottom line the truth be told
we are no different as we behold
we are a part of what Nature provides
no different than others who preside
here on this Earth that we call home
for a short while until we are done.

Another Year


dsc_4718This year has almost come and gone
and with it more time has passed on by
Time that is measured
in days and weeks and months
and not by hours.

Hours are for the very young
when time passes so slow
and any given day seems twice as long
as when you are old
and time is running out.

Looking back over the year
with so many good things
meeting and making new friends
going on long hikes and communing with Nature
spending time outdoors and in the sun.

Tending to the ponds and the garden
living close to nature even with her downside
of who lives and who dies
as she is not selective
in balancing the numbers.

What will the New Year bring
who knows as none can tell the future
but unless there is a world catastrophe
and man in all of his foolishness blows it up
things will go on pretty much the same from day to day.

This is not a bad world although
some people would like to make it so
but the majority are sane and caring
and want life for their sons and daughters
and the world will go on.

Measuring time in days and weeks and months
and not in hours.

Sit and Hear the Rain


Picture by …  504_1920x1080_gloomy_day

I love to sit and hear the rain
striking against my window pane
as Nature opens up her skies
to soak the earth and the waters rise
when things go dark during the day
we know that rain is on the way
how hard or how long we do not know
as we watch the water flow
from the skies onto the ground
raindrops falling all around
giving life to the earth
so that plants and animals can give birth
of more of their kind and all looking the same
as Nature plays her wonderful games.

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.

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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.

McKinney Again…


dsc_3889-panoI just had to get out and exercise so I chose to take a short walk at McKinney Roughs. I figured that the paths would have dried up after the last time I was there as it had been several days. I chose a route that I knew would not be muddy except maybe in one place close to the river.

I arrived around 10:00 am with the weather still cool. There were only a few cars in the lot for a Saturday and I would have expected more especially now that the weather is beginning to cool down at least, comparatively speaking. Believe me, ten degrees cooler is a lot in Texas.

I went through my usual preparations, boots, walking poles, hat, water and set off taking Riverside which I knew to be a long wide open trail which as the name suggests, leads down to the river. The top portion of this trail is pretty level before it turns and takes a fairly steep downhill grade towards the river. While the upper trail is very easy walking underfoot, the downhill part is made up of loose stones that tend to roll under your feet making for tricky walking. At one point, a female runner and her dog passed me and it didn’t appear that either of them had any problems with their footing. Oh to be young again… I also met another couple each with a dog as they walked towards me on Riverside. They were heading back in and when I asked them, replied they had had a very good walk.

 

There is still a major trail washout where Riverside joins with Bluestein but it is still possible to take Cypress which also goes  close by the river. I took the walking trail which is kind of narrow and not too well used as there is now a much wider trail that leads to the River. As I was taking pictures, a whole group of horses and riders came down the wider trail and we exchanged greetings as they walked their horses into the river and then down stream for a little bit. The riders were all ladies. I took a few pictures of them before moving on. I could hear them for several minutes as they were obviously enjoying themselves. Not sure about the horses though…

I followed Cyprus with the intention of crossing over onto Pine Ridge and then to Bobcat Ridge. Somewhere, at the intersection, I took the wrong trail and ended up following the dreaded Pine Ridge Trail which would take me up and down many steps built into the trail. I purposely had tried to avoid this part but through my own stupidity, ended up taking it anyway. Oh well, at least I got much more of a workout climbing up and down those dreaded steps.

I had the opportunity to take a closer look at the Zip Lining Project that is currently ongoing in the Park. It looks to me that there will be several towers and several different lines and not all are interconnected. It will be interesting to see the finished product. Not sure if I will be brave enough to try it unless it is a quick way to get from one trail to another.

I managed to find a surprising number of flowers that are still in bloom compared to the last time I was here. Maybe that last shower had something to do with it.

I continued along Pine Ridge which is actually a nice walk as long as you are not climbing steps until I connected with Bobcat Ridge which I knew would pass close to the Parking Lot where my car was parked. All in all, it was a very enjoyable walk, much better than the last time when I had 20 pounds of mud on each boot. Below are pictures of the trails and other interesting things that I observed on this trip.

I covered almost six miles and as I usually do when I am at the Roughs, finished the day with a quick drive into Bastrop for a Grande Latte to help me while away the time as I listened to Stephen King’s  “The Talisman” on the long trip home.

The panorama at the top is made up of five different pictures. As with all of these groups, if you click  on any one of them, they will enlarge and you can move along by using the side arrows. Use the “Escape” button to return to normal.

 

Too Hot to Take a Walk but not Too Hot to Mow the Grass…


DSC_3831Every time I leave the house and drive past the area that the County owns outside of my fence, I think to myself that I really need to get after it and mow it down. I haven’t mowed at all this year mainly due to the fact that just as the grass started to grow this past Spring, Google had a crew come in to install the fiber cable directly in the area outside of my fence. At the time I thought it was great and was looking forward to a very fast internet but sad to say, they are not hooking up in my area yet but that is a whole separate story.

This gave me a much welcomed excuse to not even get close to the grass and totally ignore it even after they had finished, I kept ignoring the fact that the remaining grass that they had not run over with their heavy equipment was now two feet high especially with all of the recent rain we have had. I know just what I was thinking preferring to hike rather than mow the grass and maybe I was just being a little bit lazy. OK, I just hate to mow…

The mower in the garage

The mower in the garage, stupid thing…

In my defense, I have a mower and it sits in my garage most of the time. The reason for this is that when I had it out in one of the sheds with a cover over it, the rats built a nest in the motor and chewed all of the electrical lines which I was able to replace myself.

The only place I get to use the mower is, you guessed it, the side of the house alongside the road. I bought it several years ago when most of the backyard was a sort of lawn. I jokingly referred to it as a lawn but in truth, the grass didn’t grow very well under the trees, which incidentally, is why I built five ponds. I used the mower as a tractor pulling a cart when I built the ponds. I hauled rocks and gravel and even used it to tow several rail ties that I used at the bottom of the fence. I used the mower  a couple of times to cut the grass last year and that was after spending a couple of hundred dollars on it to get it to run properly. It sat in my garage all winter and I started it up a couple of times and it seemed to be OK. So, when I thought I would bite the bullet and mow the grass, I backed my car out so that I could get the mower out. I couldn’t even get the mower to turn over so I jerked the battery out and took it to the Parts store to get it tested which it did just fine. They put it on a quick charge and I took it home, put it back in and tried it again. Success, it fired up and ran like a charm for all of one minute and then it died. That is how it has been acting every time I have tried it since. There is obviously a blockage in the carburetor  as I have checked the lines and gas flows where it should. I can’t for the life of me figure how to get into the carburetor to clean it out and so now, the mower is just sitting there. I think the manufacturers have built it so that DIY fellows like myself can’t do our own repairs.

The old self driving mower

The old self driving mower

Not to be outdone by one stupid mower, I have two more. One is as old as the hills and is a self driving hand mower. I must have had it 30 years and yet it starts every time and usually on the first pull. I hit a rock with it years ago and bent the crankshaft  causing the mower to vibrate pretty badly but it still runs. I got it out of the shed, gassed it up and sure enough, it fired right up. I took it out to the street and started to mow and it died after about ten minutes. It would not start again so I took it back to the shed and got out my final mower which is actually a string mower on wheels. It too usually starts on the second or third pull and it fired up and continued to run. I changed out the plastic cutting strings which I cut to length off a big roll of the stuff and took it outside and started cutting the grass.

String Mower

String Mower

It worked just fine and I spent a busy two hours chopping down the grass. To say that I was mowing brings visions of the mower putt-putting along in neat straight lines cutting the grass to a couple of inches high and leaving a nice lawn effect. I have to tell you, that is not the case with a string mower. It does a great job of cutting down whatever is in the way including any flowers and small trees that might be foolish enough to wave their pretty heads and leaving everything in one disorganized chaos of cut grass laying in every which direction. I would need a hay baler if I had any thoughts of picking it up or clearing it away. Regular mowers can usually give a much better mulching effect because they will cut the grass several times as they pass over it. Definitely not the case with a string mower.  Cut it down once and push on.

The strings on the drum

The strings on the drum

Not only that, the mower is not self driven. All the motor does is to turn the head that the string is attached to and me and my poor body and arms and legs provided the traction. By now of course, this being Texas, the temperature had now reached the ninety degree mark and the sweat just poured off me. I have to explain that even on the riding mower and wearing shorts, the poison ivy of which there is quite a bit growing in this area tended to float around a bit after it was cut and did a number on me. This time, I dressed for it and had on blue jeans and a long sleeved shirt. No wonder I was hot and sweaty.  The going was not very even and I was fighting the terrain and getting jerked around all over the bloody place. This is why I hate mowing.

And then there is the string itself. The “string” is made of plastic and is probably .155 inch thick. You have to cut it off to length and follow the directions to thread it through the holders a special way. When it breaks, which it invariably does, you have to take out whatever is left and place a new piece in. I bet I replaced at least ten strings today because the grass was so long and  did I mention the rocks that the construction crew had not bothered to clean up? I either ran into them and had to jerk the mower around them or the “string” whacked one of the rocks causing it to break.

I finally got it all done and about the only thing that you can see is that the grass has been cut. It doesn’t look pretty but the weather forecast has some rain in it and knowing Mother Nature, it won’t be long before we have to do it again,  maybe next year I will have the mower repaired…In the meantime, a long soak in the hot tub to relieve my aching muscles.

Now should I bite the bullet and get the damn mower fixed? I swear it is a vicious circle, get it fixed, it stands all winter in the garage, spring comes, try to start it up and back to the repair shop….
Maybe I will wait until next Spring for the mower.