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.


Thoughts on Texas


At last, I thought, the heat has gone
finally Summer is cooling down
time to get back on the trails again
and walk and walk without feeling so hot
and having to drink so much water a lot
but then this week the heat returned
and yesterday was one hundred degrees
and although it is starting to cool
I’m feeling more like a bit of a fool
again and once more Mother Nature played tricks
lulling us to think the heat was gone
and this year at least it had sung its swansong
where other parts of the country are cool
and already their leaves are starting to turn
in Texas our climate here is such
that another month will go by without much
change or cooling down that we note
and even longer before a coat
the beauty of living in this hot State
with its blistering temperatures that we hate
is that winters are mild as compared with elsewhere
and we play outside for all of the year
with only the very occasional day
when the weather is too cold outside to play.

I love living in Texas hot weather and all…


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.


Walking Pedernales Falls 8-25-2016

DSC_3703-PanoI got up early with the intentions of going to Pedernales Falls State Park which is about an hour away from my house. I packed breakfast and coffee to consume on the way which got me out at least twenty minutes sooner. After checking the ponds and feeding the animals, I was on my way.

I listened to NPR on the way and then switched over to the latest Audiobook that I have been listening to. It gets very  addictive listening to these stories although I generally restrict them to use in the car. My current story is Dead Level by Damien Boyd which is very British and the narrators have the accents down to a tee. Almost makes me homesick until they talk about the rain and the wet weather in the book. Brings back too many memories of cold and wet days.

I came over the top of the hill and immediately had to come to almost a screeching stop as there was this little brown and white Terrier struggling up the hill and walking on the center line in the middle of the road. He must have a sore paw as he was definitely limping badly. I pulled up alongside of him and got out of the car. You never know with dogs how they will react and whether he would just run away or come to me. Luckily for both of us, he chose to trot over with his tail wagging looking up at me as though to say, “What took you so long”? He jumped in the car just as another car stopped and asked if everything was OK. I explained about the dog and he drove on his way probably figuring that I had the dog so he didn’t need to do anything.

The dog had on a collar that had two phone number printed several times around it. I have never seen a collar like that before and I was impressed.  I tried to call but could not get any cell service from where I was and chose to drive on to the top of the next hill. On the way, I drove down a couple of driveways to other peoples houses but in both cases, no one was home. I could hear dogs barking from within the houses which pretty much told me that the one in my car was not lost from either of these places.

When I reached the top of the hill, I pulled over and tried the phone numbers again. This time, I was able to make contact with a woman who said that “Yes, this was one of her dogs and that he was fifteen and a bit senile and was prone to wandering off”. She told me she lived on a ranch named “The Fiddlers Rest” and the name was on the gate and “Could I just leave the dog, whose name was Bo, at the gate and he would find his own way down to the Ranch House”. She was very thankful and appreciative that I was so concerned. I rang off, turned around and headed back over the low water crossing the way I had come. I remembered passing the ranch entrance as with a name like that, who wouldn’t.

All this time, Bo had been sitting on the consul between the seats very interested in my actions. He was a very nice little dog with a pleasant personality. He was obviously old at least in his demeanor as he just sat there quietly watching out the window as we drove.

I arrived back at The Fiddlers Rest and helped Bo get out of the car and carried him over to the gate. He slipped between the bars, triumphantly marked his property although a bit unsteady as he balanced on three legs, turned around and gave me a final look and trotted down the road to the Ranch House which I couldn’t see. He certainly knew where he was going. I called the lady back and told her that I had just dropped him off and that he was trotting down the driveway. She thanked me again and rang off. After he was gone, it occurred to me that I should have taken a picture of him. Oh well, too late now.

This whole incident had taken thirty minutes or more but I decided to continue with my plans and go walking. It took me about thirty more minutes to reach the Park and I was the only car in the lot although a couple of cyclists who I had passed earlier, pulled in at the lot while I was there. I spent time chatting to the young lady behind the desk as I asked questions about a trail named, “The East Boundary Trail”. It was one of those trails that dead ends and the only way back was to walk Pedernales Falls Road or backtrack. I dislike backtracking and will only do that if there is no other option so I chose not to walk it. Instead, I chose to walk the Madrone Trail going East from the Parking Lot on Pedernales Falls Road. I came to a spot where a couple of trees had come down blocking the trail although it was possible to walk around that spot and made a mental note to report it when I got back.

I crossed the road and continued on the Madrone Trail until it turned into the Juniper Ridge Trail. I don’t know why this trail was named that as the entire park is nothing but Juniper with a few Oak Trees thrown in here and there. The hiking on this part of the trail was not easy as most of the time, it was either very rocky with big slabs of limestone or just plain difficult with lots of loose limestone. In fact, it was tiring walking this path.

I eventually came out on Windmill Road which I knew from a week or so ago was  just a plain long uphill walk back to the Equestrian Camping Area. I stopped here to eat one of my apples and sat in the shade of a big old live oak whose branches swept down to the ground to make a perfect hideaway. The two water bottles that I had brought with me worked out just fine even accounting for the water I had shared with Bo. Luckily, it was not as hot with the temperatures hovering around 91-92 degrees.

I got back to the car and went through my usual routine for this time of the year by stripping off, toweling down and changing into dry clothes. I called the office to let them know of the fallen trees and the same young lady answered the phone. She recognized my voice and wisecracked about not getting lost this time. Seems I have a reputation at this park. Altogether, I covered 8.5 miles and had to admit that the rocky trail had really taken it out of me. I made the long drive back relishing in the feeling of tired and sore muscles.

There was not a lot to take pictures off. I missed my chance with Bo and there were no wildflowers on this trail. I have had to make do with views of the different trails. There are three pictures showing that someone had taken to time to protect plants close or on the trail by surrounding them with rocks. The pictures below are panorama’s made up of two or more pictures joined together.



As with all of the pictures, if you click on one of them, it will enlarge and then you can use the side arrows to move along. Hit the “Escape” key to get back to normal


boy_writing_with_tongue_out-300x270When I sit and try to think
of words to write to pass the time
it is pretty clear to me
that words don’t come that easily.

I need something to focus on
before the words will finally come
and sitting and waiting here in line
is not a very productive time.

People rushing in and out
all with something on their mind
trying to do what they need to do
to justify how they spend their time.

Sitting here as I patiently wait
wondering what will be the fate
what will they find is wrong with the car
hoping it is nothing bizarre.

Or not cost a fortune
or break the bank
those sort of problems
I can do without.

All I can do is sit and wait
as they determine the car’s fate
hoping not to spend all day
wasting time in this way.

Turned out to be a simple fix
did not require any special work
no parts to buy or to replace
just a mechanic with egg on his face.

He had forgotten to torque the nuts
after checking the brakes and measuring the wear
nothing dangerous or cynical here
a simple slip up I do fear.

They sent me merrily along my way
come back and see us another day
were the parting words from the friendly guy
who had helped me as he waved goodbye.


New Cars


I spent time looking at cars today
while waiting for service to the one I have
I had this thing inside my head
that new is what I need instead

My car is a 2014 Ford
with a fancy name of Titanium
and has 35000 miles on the clock
and had a few things needing done.

I wandered around the car parking lot
and looked at the ones that interested me
I wanted to get another Escape
and it was hard to get my thoughts to reshape

I read the stickers attached to each car
and looked inside them from afar
and checked the layout of the things inside
the exact image of the one I drive.

Nothing had changed as far as I could see
everything appeared the same to me
their might be improvements to things out of view
but what I wanted was something new.

I looked at the stickers and had a shock
to get something the same as what I had
was going to cost several thousand bucks
much more than I wanted to pay.

I wandered around thoughts crossing my mind
Did I really need another new car
The answer of course is no I don’t
the one I have is perfectly fine

I went back to the waiting room once more
feeling good about the decision I made
no spending of money for something new
when the one that I have will certainly do

I promised myself that what happens next
is to get mine cleaned and waxed like new
and be proud to drive my two year old car
wherever it takes me both near and far.

I thought about the human mind
convincing ourselves we need something new
and of course the reality is
that what we have we can make do.

McKinney Roughs 8-13-2016

DSC_3660After walking at McKinney yesterday with my good friend BJ, I really had the urge to get back out on the trails again. I was not feeling any effects from yesterdays hike so physically, there were no reasons not to go. I went thru my usual routines when I leave the house, putting the two cats in their own room so that Richie, the male Dachshund doesn’t tear them up which he has done a few years ago. He may be alright with them now but better safe than sorry both for the cat’s sake and my pocketbook. I filled my water bottles and grabbed a couple of apples, picked up my camera and was ready to go.

Then I noticed that the Chihuahua, Pete, our newest addition was giving me “the look” as though to say, “Haven’t you forgotten something”? They know that they don’t get to come with me on these hikes as I have enough trouble with my 80 year old legs without having to worry about two Dachshunds and a Chihuahua with their little legs, out on the trail. It would be very difficult to carry them all when they got tired especially with me being already tired by then. Then it clicked. Pete was looking for a handout which they usually get when I leave the house. I gave all three of them a chewy to keep them occupied, patted them all on the head and closed the door.


The drive from my house to McKinney Roughs usually takes me 40 minutes but there were major holdups with road construction just outside of Austin Bergstrom International Airport as they were doing a road changeover. The forty mile trip ended up taking 75 minutes. Even with stopped or snail pace bumper to bumper traffic, there are always some jerks that want to disrupt things. In this case, it was a black Dodge that wanted to drive on the left hand shoulder to beat the line. Needless to say, everyone and I mean everyone closed up nose to tail shutting him out completely until he came to an obstruction which forced him to jump the traffic into the opposite lane. I am normally a very considerate driver and allow people in when they are doing it legally but this particular idiot surely did not fall into that category. I never understand the thinking of these sort of drivers. They obviously do not care about others or even what others think about their actions and yet you see it all of the time. There is nothing worse than an idiot behind the wheel of a car. It can be a lethal combination.


We got through the road changeover and continued on with the traffic thinning quite considerably and I arrived at the McKinney Roughs Main Entrance. There were a lot of cars in the Parking Lot as they had another one of their weekend seminars ongoing but there was still plenty of places to park. I paid my $2:00 entrance fee, signed in and went back to the car to put on my hiking boots and went through my usual preparations. Five minutes later and I was on my way taking the Bobcat Ridge Trail to get me to Yaupon. My plan was to Hike Yaupon to the end where it meets the Pace Bend Trailhead and then turn around to retrace my steps along the same trail. There is still a major washout where Roadrunner meets Coyote Road and there is no way through so I could not complete the loop even if I wanted to. The road delay had cost me some time and subsequently, the cloud cover was burning off and it was warming up. I could feel that the heat was beginning to affect me even though I was drinking a large amount of water to stay hydrated so I had to make a choice of whether to persevere or to do the smart thing and turn back. I opted to do the latter swallowing my pride for not achieving my original goals. On the walk back, a young couple passed me and asked if they were on the right trail to the Resort. I set them right and they continued on their way as did I.

As with all of these slides, if you click on any one of them, it will enlarge and you can move them by using the side arrows. Use the “Escape Key” to get back to normal.

I arrived back at my car without any further incidents just as the seminar was turning out. The Parking lot was busy for fifteen or so minutes so I had to sit around until it cleared so that I could change into dry clothes. It was after 5:00 pm and the Office was closed so I couldn’t use the bathrooms which is what I normally do. No big deal.

I covered 6.2 miles by my pedometer with the temperatures hovering around the 95 degree mark. Cooler than the day before when it reached 102 but still very hot for hiking. I am really glad that I erred on the side of safety and turned back even though it hurt my pride to do so. Better safe than sorry.