Retired from the University of Texas and too old to play soccer anymore. Now, in the twilight of his years, time is spent writing in this blog, hiking and exploring Texas Parks, photography, working out, gardening and tending to the five ponds he built .
I went walking with my friend BJ at McKinney Roughs which is located very close to Bastrop in Cedar Creek. BJ lives in Bastrop so only had a short drive. I gave her directions to the Pope Bend Parking Area as she had never been to that one. It is located West of the main entrance and is used a lot by the horse trailers.
The hardest part of the walk is at the very beginning for about a half mile or so where the trail is on top of a hill and in fact Yaupon branches off to take the high road. We, on the other hand were going down to the flats on Buckey but as is generally the case, the trail does not go straight down. It winds about with an equal number of climbs before hitting the low ground. This was the only part of the trail that was made up of rocks and loose stones making it hard to walk on. There seemed to be an equal number of climbs in both directions both in and out and like I said, they all appeared to be up.
We were planning on taking Buckeye and then Pecan Bottom trails which brings us past the biggest tree in the park. This is a giant Pecan tree and is more than 12 feet in circumference and over 200 years old. It is beginning to show wear and tear over its long life and has lost a couple of its big branches. It is still pretty impressive though.
We continued along Pecan Bottom and it eventually brought us to Deep Sandy which as the name implies is just that, sand. This also brought us to the river which looked a little low on water. Not surprising as we have not had any real rain in a couple of months with just the odd thundershower here and there.
There were still a few flowering plants showing off their beauty.
From there, we took Coyote Road which brought us back onto the original trail past the Large Pecan Tree and back along Buckeye to the parking lot. We passed three people on their way out and exchanged greetings. As they hadn’t stopped, I had to be content with a rear view picture.
We sat on a bench in the parking lot continuing with our conversation which had pretty much been non stop for the entire walk. We covered a whole realm of items and solved a few of the Worlds problems while we were at it. Interestingly enough, not once did we discuss the Pond Society, which in the past, has been the topic of many conversations.
BJ took her leave and drove off and I sat there for a while thinking about our conversations and the walk we had just completed. I gloried in the beauty of Mother Nature and the pleasure she brings to people like BJ and myself. Even though it was hot with the temperature hovering around 95 degrees, there was so much shade that it was not too uncomfortable. Altogether, we covered almost 5 miles of a very enjoyable few hours spent out in the woods.
I was reading about some well known folks
whose lives made them famous in years gone by
all of them living in the past
they never knew the reason why
today we read about their feats
and wonder what made them the way that they were
what drove them on against all odds
with no thoughts of any retreat
Will I go down in history
I doubt very much if that man is me
as I am not famous in any way
and have accomplished nothing to say
to the rest of the world take notice of me
for I want to be part of history
so what can I do for the world to see
the next famous man is going to be me
Fame and fortune are not my lot
content and happy with what I have got
my house and a little piece of land
enough to make my life grand
my pets for company who wants more
no one knocking on my door
food on the table and a truck to drive
making everything great just being alive.
Two weeks ago, we were still at 100 degrees, last week it dropped to 80 and overnight it dropped to 35 degrees with a high forecast for today of 45.
We did get about 2 inches of rain but that is far short of what we need. Creeks and ponds are totally dried up and it will take a lot of water to bring everything back up to normal levels. Even the Pedernales River at Reimers Ranch is just a trickle.
At least I haven’t come across any sun bleached bones of human or animal skeletons on the trails… yet.
The weather has cooled down just a little to where, by starting early, it is possible to take a short hike as long as one gets done by early afternoon. I had wanted to go back to Buescher State Park now that I knew that the trails had been reopened after the fire and so I opted to do just that.
I had called my hiking partner, BJ and she was willing to walk with me as she has never been to this particular park even though it is only 15 or so miles from her home. We arranged that I would pick her up at the Walmarts not far from her house and on Highway 71, the main road to Smithville where the park is located. For once, I was actually on time and as we drove off, she admitted to not remembering the time we were supposed to meet and had arrived 30 minutes early.
We drove around a bit to look at some of the buildings built back in 1933 when the park was created under the CCC program when thousands of men and women were put to work during the Great Depression. For more info, use this link. We then took Park Road 1C which actually connects to Bastrop State Park and parked in the Overlook Parking where the trail we wanted to take, starts.
The plan was to follow this trail aptly named Pine Gulch as it headed North on the left side of Park Road 1C and then cross over the road and head back down the trail on the opposite side but things didn’t work out quite exactly as we had planned. We reached the point where the trail crosses the road and had a lot of discussion regarding which way we should go from there. By then, I was completely turned around with my directions and BJ, being the cell phone nerd that she is, quickly pulled up the map of the trails on her phone and got us pointed in the right direction. Even though she insisted that she was right and that the phone could not lie, it was not until the truck and the Parking Lot came into sight did I start to believe her. We had decided not to walk the trail back but to stay on the road instead as it was a lot easier walking and the trail that we had just been on, had been a little difficult underfoot. This one is a real trail not much wider than a single person with vegetation on both sides. Unfortunately, because of the fires, there was not a lot of shade as most of the taller trees were gone.
We sat on a log for a while just chattering and cooling off before jumping back into the truck for me to return BJ to her car. Altogether, we covered about 4.3 miles and I thoroughly enjoyed it although I was a bit sore for the next couple of days. After all, I had not been walking for quite a while because of the heat which hopefully is now over for the year. I plan on going back to complete the rest of the trails.
As many of you that follow my blog may know, I live in the grand old State of Texas and have done for these past 42 years. I moved here in 1977 from Upper New York State where I had resided for the previous 10 years after emigrating from England. Circumstances in the form of a divorce, a marriage and a job offer are what led me here. That plus the very cold, very snowy and very long winters.
On the whole, life has been good to me in this great State although there have been a few ups and downs, the one major one that came in the form of yet another divorce resulting in my living the life of a single man for these past 27 years. Actually, in retrospect, I was more upset at the fact that we sold our 5 acres out in the Hill Country just to move closer to town and our jobs than I was at yet again, being a single man after only 5 years at the new place. Don’t get me wrong as I really loved that woman but I also loved that place in the Hill Country where I had built a house and a horse barn and fenced it all in and would never have agreed to move if I had only known what was in the future. How many times have you heard that one before? On the other hand, a few years later, both the barn and half of the house were blown away in one of the relatively infrequent times when a tornado touched down in the Hill Country.
Being the adaptable sort of a fellow that I am, after my ex had gone, I readjusted and turned this place into my own little piece of paradise by building and maintaining five ponds complete with Koi and Goldfish. To date, four ponds remain after I took down the smallest one which was only 350 gallons, earlier this year. The other ponds ranging in size from 6000 gallons, 5000 gallons and two of about 2500 gallons each are still flourishing although, as the reader can imagine, require considerable work in both upkeep and maintenance. They tend to keep me close to home. That and the four little dogs that live with me and share my life and who are my best and I sometimes think, only friends.
Time is passing by at an alarming rate and I am fast approaching my 84 birthday. Naturally, I have slowed with age and am no longer able to play soccer which I had done for many, many years. I retired from that game when I was 72 mainly due to having a knee replaced so it has been a while. For those of you that follow my blog, you know that I have filled the gap left by not playing, “the beautiful game” by hiking the local parks and then writing about the hikes along with a multitude of pictures. Which brings me to my latest chain of thought.
Recently, my mind has turned to the future and what may be in it for me and my doggy friends. I love this house and the ponds and have wonderful and caring neighbors but both house and the ponds are increasingly making demands on my time and on my aging body to where I have been having serious thoughts about the future. My mind is on a constant merry go round as to what to do. For one thing, the house is way too big and I have rooms that are storage sheds rather than anything they were originally designed for. Amazing the amount of “stuff” one accumulates over a lifetime and that is not counting the contents of my workshop and the two real storage sheds that are outside. All are filled with hand tools of every description as over the years, I have made full use of my skills and dexterity in using these wonderful items. Then there are the bigger items like the mowers and other mechanical gadgets that I have in my posession. I love tools…
That coupled with the fact that these Texas summers are becoming brutal and I can’t stand the heat like I used to. This year has been the worst in that respect and I find that unless I have an emergency requiring my attention, I keep putting off the normal day to day projects choosing instead to stay indoors and the air conditioning. I have barely gone hiking for fear of collapsing in the heat. For those of you that are not used to hot weather and anything close to a 100 degree heat, let me remind you that our summertime overnight lows are usually around 80 degrees which for many of you is hot and sometimes even the same as your highs, depending on where you live. Without air conditioning in both our cars and our houses, life would be unbearable. On the other end of the scale, it is true that in Central Texas around Austin, our winters are mild with only the occasional frost and sometime a few snow flurries and on the whole are very easy to put up with. A few years back, I painted the outside of my house over the week of Christmas and New Years without any fear of the paint freezing or of it being too cold.
But I digress. What do I want to do for the future is the question uppermost in my mind. I have a few choices included in which and in no particular order, are as follows.
I can stay here in this house until I am either to old and feeble to look after myself and then get shipped off to an Assisted Living Home. I don’t really care for that idea as I would probably have to give up my dogs. On the other hand, I could just stay here until someone missed seeing me around and upon closer inspection, discovered that I had died here in which case they can carry me out feet first as I won’t care. In these circumstances, I have already made provision for any remaining dogs to be taken care of. In any case, those are the two obvious options.
On the other side, I could close down the ponds (or not depending on the buyer) and sell the house which would give me the freedom to do any of several different things one of which is to move into the aforementioned Assisted Living, give up my dogs and become just another old fogy waiting to die. Not very appealing especially as I am still very active.
Another thing that I could do after or probably before selling the house would be to buy a Motorhome and fill it with whatever dogs are still alive and drive off into the wild blue yonder and follow the good weather where it is not too hot and definitely not too cold. I hate the cold more than the heat after spending 10 years in the Upper New York State winters. And, when I can no longer drive, find a place to park and live out the rest of my days as I wait for the inevitable.
If I get really desperate and or depressed, with a lot depending on next year’s Presidential Elections, I could just sell up everything and dump myself on my two sons in England. I am quite sure they would take me in with open arms. The problem with that idea is that the main reason for moving to America in the first place was to get away from the constant cold and rain and I don’t suppose that even Global Warming has done much to change that. Then of course, the dogs would have to be quarantined for 6 months which is almost half a lifetime for both them and me.
What to do, what to do? If I still had a wife, she would have made the decision for me whether I liked it or not. As it is, and as much as they try, the dogs can’t seem to communicate enough to give me their views and in all probability, they can’t agree either. So, as has happened over these past 27 years, I will worry and fret over it wondering just what is the best way to go and if I’m really lucky, may even find an answer or literally die trying.
The one obvious and constant fact of all of these thoughts is that I will eventually and certainly die, time and place and method yet unknown but definitely not yet. I still have a lot of living to do someplace and anyway, I need to work out an answer to all of these questions before I do….
Well we finally got some very welcome rain last night. Actually a lot of rain, at least two inches at my house accompanied by high winds. Lucky for me, the Spruce tree that is in one of the ponds did not blow over as it has done in previous high winds. We have not had any significant rain in over three months prior to this and on my drives around the countryside, stock ponds, small creeks and such are bone dry. It is going to take significant rain to bring everything back to normal.
It has been so dry that I have recently cut down almost all of the greenery in my garden, something I normally do following any frost that we may get in the winter. This year, it will not matter how hard it freezes as the only thing that will be affected are the plants in and around the ponds, at least from my perspective.
I even had to turn on the heat inside the house as the temperature indoors had dropped to 65 degrees, a little too low for comfort. Obviously, we are through with the air conditioning for this year. This is typical Texas weather where we go from 100 degrees to 90 degrees and then to 65 degrees all in the space of a couple of weeks. At least it is now great trail hiking weather although I don’t like hiking immediately following heavy rains as the trails are usually pretty muddy and tend to build up on the boots. I have enough problems in just carrying my body weight around without the addition of several pounds of wet dirt.
Maybe I’ll take that walk tomorrow or the next day and give the ground time to dry out a bit…
My previous blog about my wives,
Seems to have troubled many lives,
Some of the comments I have received,
Are both good and bad and some aggrieved,
The truth of the matter is, I am not sad,
Just sharing my life both good and bad,
If fate decrees for the rest of my life,
I shall never have another wife,
Please, understand that because I’m not sad,
and thank the Good Lord for the pleasures I’ve had,
with the three wives that have been in my life,
and the fact. there was little strife.
More than half of my life with these women I spent,
most of it, I was very content,
But again, I was still in my prime
and could handle their wishes most of the time,
I could adapt and readily did,
made adjustments that were not exactly the fit,
but close enough on the day,
for the way they wanted to play.
Nowadays it’s a different story,
I’m set in my ways and no longer the glory,
of having a wife to cause me a worry,
as I can no longer adapt to the flurry,
of wishes and demands set by a wife,
and that is why they are not in my life.
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