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.


Back to the Service Center


I had my car serviced just last Friday which I wrote about in “New Cars”. I noticed over the weekend that it was extremely noisy with the tires sounding much louder than normal and strange noises coming when I backed up or drove slow.

I knew that it was not like that when I took it in and it worried me enough that I decided to bring it back in this morning, today being Monday. I waited until the rush hour traffic had calmed down, at least as much as it does on Mopac and drove up to Covert Ford on Highway 183.

I was able to locate the Service Rep who had helped me last Friday and told him my problems. He wrote it all down and directed me to the Lounge. Me and the Lounge are getting to be old buddies, twice in 4 days.

While I was waiting, I like to put my time to good use and wrote one poem called “Thoughts” which will be posted in September and started to write this blog about my time spent here. Depending on what they found wrong would dictate the tone of this blog.

I had to wait a couple of hours and then my  Service Rep stopped by to tell me that they had located the problem and had it fixed. Apparently, when they had the car on Friday and had checked the wear on the brakes, the mechanic had forgotten to torque up the nuts which accounted for the drumming and squeaky brakes. There was no charge and of course they were very apologetic. I’m not saying that this is good but stuff happens and maybe the mechanic was having a bad hair day or had something on his mind. I thanked the Service Rep and went on my way.

As I have written many times, I like to listen to Audiobooks as I drive and I bring them in using my IPhone and Bluetooth to the car. It’s a great system and normally, pretty foolproof. Not today though, I stopped at Starbucks for a Latte and tried to get the stupid phone/radio/Bluetooth working and it would not connect no matter what I tried. Not being very far away from the Ford Dealer, I did a smart about face and hightailed it back up there and grabbed my Sales Rep and explained the latest problem.

As is usually the case just like every-time you go to a Doctor, the symptoms had mysteriously vanished. My Rep, sat in the car, took my phone, turned on the Bluetooth and it worked perfectly. I felt like an idiot and the Rep said he hadn’t done anything so neither of us knew why it started working again. I thanked him again very profusely and made the drive home taking my life in my hands with the increasing traffic and the notable idiots that make up 50 percent of the drivers in Austin.

Oh the joys of modern transportation…

Passing in the Street.

Neighbors Talking

How sweet it is this life we live
with things that happen from day to day
how many friends could we make
as we pass each other along the way
what tales we can tell as we pass the time
we are blessed with riches so sublime
the ability to think and reason too
and figure out what we need to do
to make our lives a better place
as we interact with the human race
love for each other as we share the wealth
of passions and feelings, sickness and health
to look out for your neighbor, the guy next door
that is what being a neighbor is for
if times are hard we should share the love
not trying to keep it all to ourselves
a pleasant smile a quick hello
“How are things today” you want to know
and even though it doesn’t seem much
what you have done adds the personal touch
as people who normally pass in the street
without as much as a glance or a greet
all feel better when you take the time
to look in their eyes and give them a smile
and to tell them in your own personal way
“Hello” and then, “Oh, by the way,
please have yourself a wonderful day”.


Why do we act the way we do?

In the words of the Simone and Garfunkel song, “Slow down, your going too fast”.

I was in the grocery store the other day, standing in line waiting to check out. It was a long line and was moving slowly. Eventually, there were just two people in front of me, a man of about thirty or so with just a few groceries and at the head of the line, a woman of about the same age. She did not have an excessive amount of groceries herself but when it came time to pay, she had apparently left her credit card in the car. A quick word to the cashier and she ran off to get it.

Meanwhile, the rest of us had to stand and wait as the cashier could not complete the transaction until she returned. I could see that the gentleman in front of me was growing agitated and all of a sudden, he produced his own card and told the cashier that he was going to pay for the other woman’s groceries which amounted to $32:00 and some change muttering something like “Life is too short”. He then checked himself out and his bill was less than hers by some considerable amount. As he walked out, there was still no sign of the first lady for whom he had paid.

I moved up to the register and commented to the cashier that I needed someone to pay for my groceries like he had. She said that she had never had that happen before and I believe her. I have no idea if the guy had any intention of getting the money from the other lady or whether he was so impatient that he was willing to blow it off. I collected my things and inserted my card looking at the person behind me who didn’t take the hint. The other lady had still not returned as I walked out of the store.

This got me thinking not just of this series of events but of our younger and middle aged generation as a whole. Both of the people involved in this incident were about the same age, one who unfortunately forgot her credit card and the other who did not have enough time to wait for her and went ahead and paid her bill.

Why did he do that? Was it because he was just being a nice guy or because he was so impatient, he didn’t have time to wait.  Did he have to be somewhere or was it just plain impatience?

Which brings us to the bigger question of our current generation who are always in such a hurry. If you happen to be in rush hour traffic or any traffic if it comes to that, which I can tell you from experience is NOT a good place to be as you are quite literally taking your life in your hands when driving on the roads in and around  Austin, Texas. You get cut off from both directions, speeding cars, tailgated, get the finger and the ever present honking of horns, cars driving on the shoulder and a general air of selfishness and bad manners and it all comes down to time, intolerance of the other guys on the road and impatience.

If anybody should be worried about time it surely should be us older people. After all, we don’t have much of it left compared to the people in those other cars that are still working. We should be the ones in a hurry to get places as every minute we can save, gives us one more minute on this earth to enjoy life. Instead, we accept the fact that all the hurry up in the world is not going to accomplish much except frustration and anger at the other guys all around you. Lets face it, feeling angry and frustrated is NOT a good feeling.

I wonder if the rest of America or maybe, the rest of the world are like this. Is it something that is common to our current generation? What has happened to good manners and respect for the other guy? Have we become so selfish and self centered that we believe that the whole world revolves around us? In some ways, I am glad that I am old and don’t have many more years on this planet as I personally don’t like the way the world is shaping up. There is a lot to be said for the good old says. Life sure was a lot slower and much simpler and most people respected and helped their neighbors if they needed it and not for the same reasons that the gentleman that we first wrote about. He was in too much of a hurry to wait…



Welcome to 2016, now slow down…

MP90042266111-210x210Slow down, you’re going too fast…

I wonder what this year will bring. I am too old to think in material terms anymore and besides, If I need something I buy it. No, I was thinking more in the way of life and death, good and evil and people at their best or heaven forbid, their worst.

For example, there were idiots still setting off fireworks at 1:00 am this morning in my neighborhood. While I bow to their freedom of choice to waste their money on fireworks and watch it go up in smoke, I do wish that they had more consideration of their neighbors who wanted to sleep.  1:00 am is bit much if you ask me.

Everywhere I go I see small acts of kindness and respect, just not enough of them. People holding doors open for others or picking something up that another person has dropped, all with a smile and a “You’re welcome”. I was struggling to get down something from a high shelf in the Home Depot just the other day and a voice at my elbow said, “Here, let me help you”. I turned and saw a very nice looking lady who happened to be taller than me (which is not unusual anymore) who calmly reached up and took down the item I needed. I thanked her profusely after I got over my first reaction of surprise and mentioned that the roles were reversed with her helping me instead of the other way around. She just smiled and pointed out that she was taller than me and that being a woman had nothing to do with it. Good answer.

It seems that good manners are getting to be a thing of the past and is dying out as the older generations pass on. Maybe, I am just out of touch with the world around me and not usually being in a hurry myself, am often reminded whether it is driving or just walking around a store, that others are and wish me out of their way generally in no uncertain terms. Even though they may not say anything, their words and action clearly indicate their displeasure that this old coot is moving so slow or taking too long or whatever it may be.

They may not realize that I am just as miffed at them for feeling this way. What happened to good old fashioned tolerance and patience. When did the world become a racetrack with people the cars all whizzing around and around and generally with no place to go but the need to get wherever it is in a hurry.

Life is too short to wish it by so fast. if anything, people should be slowing down to get more out of it just as I am. Whether by choice or old age, it takes me twice as long to get somewhere and even longer if I am working on one of my many home projects. Hopefully, by using my version of mathmatics, I will add  an additional extra couple of years on my life…

What is wrong with us, why do we grow so bloody old?

Sunset in Texas

Sunset in Texas

I look at all the old people and say how the hell did we get this way
all wrinkled and bent and shuffling along barely able to walk a straight line
with cane’s and walkers and all kinds of aids just to help us get through the day
with memories short or hardly at all trying to think of what was just said
as conversing about any subject so small is hard when you can’t think of the words you need
they are somewhere on the tip of your tongue but just out of reach again, every one
and as for names, forget they exist as they have this habit of slipping away
the minute you meet someone new and they tell you their name
you hope you will keep it at least for a while
but usually no more than a word or two and you are left without a clue
“Who was that”, someone asks and your mind draws a blank
and you have to admit that again and once more
your memory has failed to log in the name so that you could repeat it again.

One thing for sure there is no doubt we are the best outfitted of them all
with hearing aids and implanted teeth and replaced knees when they grew weak
and don’t forget a hip or two or maybe a pacemaker to make the heart beat
and if that doesn’t work replace the heart with one donated by someone else
who was not so lucky and was not saved by the miracles of modern medicine’s techniques
for all we do is buy more time and all of the money we may spend
for all the new parts, our body to mend
but in the end there is no escape and death will come our souls to take.

A word of advice to you young people out there who physically think you haven’t a care
just look around you and you will see that youth will not last for eternity
and in the space of a few short years you will look like us with just the same fears
make the most of the time you spend on this earth for it is so short with not much mirth
Enjoy it, kick ass and never lose track for “It’s hell growing old” is my final comeback.

You are born and then you die…

Rest in Peace whoever you may be...

Rest in Peace whoever you may be…

I gave in…

2014 Ford Escape Titanium

2014 Ford Escape Titanium

Well I did it. After months of speculation and denial, I bought a new car.

I know, I know, I shouldn’t have done it but I succumbed in a moment of weakness. That is my only excuse. Well that and the fact that my last bill at BMW was $1800 for mostly routine things like getting the front brakes redone and the replacing the rubber grease boots on the steering. Like all good repair shops, they always do an inspection to see what else will need replacing in the future and the list they gave me was fairly extensive so I know that down the road, I was looking at least another $2000 or so worth of work and that would be no guarantee that I would still not break down in the middle of nowhere. With 160,000 miles on the clock and with the constant feeling of mistrust, it was time.

So, I opted to go look at new cars. My timing was terrible as I had just paid for another year of registration for the BMW and I couldn’t get any of that back. I wasn’t sure what I was going to buy this time around so while my car was at the BMW repair shop, I took the opportunity of looking at used X5′ and even X3’s but the best I could afford was a three-year old model and even it cost almost $40,000  It didn’t seem to make much sense to pay that sort of money for another used car as I would only be gaining about 6 years of car life, 2003 for the old car and 2009 for the one I was looking at and could afford. So, very reluctantly, I decided that I had owned my one and only BMW and it was time to move on (or back) to something else.

1936 Austin 10

1936 Austin 10

I have owned a lot of cars in my lifetime starting with a 1936 Austin 10 (the year I was born) and in my younger days, it seemed I was always buying yet another different model. It was not until I was much older in life was I able to afford a new one so many of the used ones were not always in the best shape. I spent a lot of time under the hood and the benefits of that was that I had a good working knowledge of car repair and could usually get myself out of any difficult moments that came up.

That was until I arrived in America. The first time I lifted the hood of an American car and saw that bloody great V8 engine that filled the entire engine compartment did I realize that I was way out of my depth in terms of mechanical knowledge and from that point on, I left anything that required getting my hands greasy to the trained mechanics. I do the mundane things like topping up the radiator or putting in a quart of oil without too much difficulty and can keep the tires inflated and top up the windshield washer fluid but anything beyond that, I take it to the garage and let them deal with it.

But I deviate from the new car story. I was torn between what I should buy this time around as I knew that I had had my one and only luxury car so it was time to talk of more down to earth models. I am an avid gardener and very handy with my hands when it comes to building things or repairs around the house. I know that I will always have these interests as I have spent my entire life in construction and will continue to work on this stuff as long as I am physically able. What this meant was that I had three choices in terms of the new vehicle. I thought briefly in terms of a car but quickly put that idea out of my mind as not being practical. That left me with two choices. I could buy a pickup truck, either small or regular size or I could go the same route that I was currently at and this is with an SUV and the 4×8 garden trailer that I already own. I opted for the latter.

As there is only me most of the time, I do not need a full size SUV so that narrowed the search down to the smaller models. I had owned a Ford Escape before the BMW and although had not been 100% satisfied with that particular model and in truth, could not wait to get rid of it after a couple of years, I decided to go online and take a look at the current version to see what was different about the latest models. I knew what I was looking for as I have a friend who has just bought a new car with the most fantastic electronic gadgets imaginable and, like a little kid with a new toy, I had to have that stuff in anything that I was going to buy.

I was sitting outside one of the Starbucks with a friend when this lady pulls up with this very nice looking car. I had no idea what it was but it caught my eye. She was getting ready to leave so I approached her and she very willingly showed me her car. Turns out, it was a Ford Escape, the latest model and I was sold.

I had printed out the information I had found on the web on a particular model that seemed to have everything that I wanted and took it with me to Covert Ford on Research Boulevard. I had never had any dealing with this company before but I was lucky enough to have a very attractive and knowledgeable sales lady named Stefanie who found the car I was interested in and then walked me through the entire process of buying the car. We walked the lot and she showed me similar cars so I had a very good idea of what I was going to buy. My car, or should I say, the car of my choice was on a different lot and had to be prepared for sale. As it was getting late, Stefanie put me in an Escape loaner and my trip home was also my test drive. I was not disappointed.

I did have a bit of a scare as I was caught in the evening traffic on Mopac on the way home and I heard a ding from one of the warning signals and spotted that the little gas pump icon was showing telling me that I was low on gas. Not yet understanding the intricacies of the different things on the dashboard, I panicked and pulled off to put in a couple of gallons. I discovered the next day,  that it comes on when there are 50 miles of gas left in the tank. Oh well, better safe than sorry.

The next day, Stefanie called me to say my car was ready and we arranged for me to pick it up. We had already unloaded the BMW of my personal items and I had said goodbye to the car. It had been a very good car from my perspective and I had been more than satisfied and more than a little sad of letting it go after 8 years of service. But what the hell, out with the old and in with the new and besides, the new car has a lot of electronic gadgets to play with.

So, I am now the proud owner of a 2014 model Ford Escape Titanium in Silver Grey with all of its bells and whistles, turbo charged engine, flashy lights, warning signals, and back up video camera. If you wave your foot under the back tailgate, it opens automatically and the bloody thing is even supposed to be able to parallel park itself. Can’t wait to try that out.

I do have to go back next week to get the towing package installed but they have promised me a loaner for the short time it will take. I thought that the BMW was probably going to be the last car that I ever had need to purchase but I just proved that idea wrong. Still, I said the same thing when I bought my last pair of soccer shoes when I was 50 or so years old thinking my playing days were almost over. Turns out, I played until I was 72 and bought a couple of pairs of new soccer shoes in that time.

Funny old thing, life although I wouldn’t have it any other way…