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 got to thinking the other day after many long years of living alone just what is it that makes us this way with nobody else to share our home history shows that things went well in the first few years of married bliss but then as time did tell things started to come amiss and all of the love of those early days could not withstand in so many ways the pressures that life brings to the fore and loved walked out of the open door leaving behind a broken heart and the price to pay is living apart three attempts at trying to find love in a marriage and a happy home each one ending just like before with me being shown the door and finally choosing to live alone rather than try to do it again as a broken heart is not easy to mend and it’s much easier to just be friends after twenty five years of living alone with many pets that I chaperoned I do not wish to share my life or have any other form of strife and the remaining dogs get along just fine and the quiet life is so sublime they give me love and affection too and sense when my moods are blue they cheer me up with cuddles and wags and lots of kisses if I get too close these are things that I like the most so instead of a wife my life to share I have the love of my pets that are in my care there have been a lot of pets in that time as their lives are short beyond compare new ones fill the holes left behind each special in that moment so dear they ask for nothing and in return I give them love and caring too and together we will see the end when that final moment comes due…
I wanted to walk and as I had just been to McKinney Roughs, decided to go to Reimers Ranch, again…Being a Sunday, I expected that there would be a lot of people out and about taking advantage of the beautiful weather and maybe there were earlier but not while I was there. I should correct that by saying that I parked in the very last parking lot known as River View Parking No2 and although busy, the lot was not full by any means. The other lots did look busy as I drove by. This is also one of the lots where the Mountain Climbers park to pursue their dangerous and very difficult hobby. Rather them than me. I included a few pictures of some of them in action as I had the opportunity to watch them for a while.
The entrance to the lower trails at RiverView Parking No 2 is by no means easy and it requires negotiating a set of stone stairs made out of the natural rocks laid in a pretty haphazard fashion. A young fellow was just completing the climb up and was blowing hard as he reached the top and we exchanged pleasantries. I normally do the walk I had planned, in reverse and end up coming up these stairs, not going down and I found it to be a challenge requiring a lot of effort and concentration. No handrails to help but I made good use of my walking sticks. The pictures do not show all of the steps as they go on for at least another 20 yards or so downhill.
Even with all of these rocks, Nature still has a way to make things beautiful.
Having safely made my way down to the Lower Trail which I have hiked many times before, usually going in the reverse direction from today, I started along towards the end of the Park. Going the other way, I had a whole different view of things and was able to take a lot of pictures, looking from the other side, so to speak. A couple of years ago, the Park Staff worked on the Lower Trail and completed it to the end of the park making it a nice trail to walk. I finally came out at the end and before turning up onto the Multi Use Trail which would take me back to the Parking Lot, I sat on one of the benches in the shade and admired the view. It was quiet and peaceful just to sit and become one with Nature.
Then I noticed a beer can and a potato chip wrapper and was brought back to the reality of the world and modern day people, some of whom have no concern for the beauty of Nature and can’t even be bothered to carry out their trash. I picked it up and stowed it away for later disposal and started the walk back the first part of which was up a short and sharp upward climb. This part of the Multi Use trail is wide enough for the Park vehicles to use so the trail was in good shape.
It was a beautiful day with the temperatures in the low nineties which is bearable even when walking. Lots of sunscreen and a good hat and in my case, walking sticks and I was all set. I tend to perspire a lot under normal conditions and when I go hiking, I am usually soaked in the first few minutes of the walk. I took over seventy pictures nearly all of them of the trails which in some cases, were getting pretty grown over with weeds and vegetation. This has been an extraordinary year for growth of every variety and the wild flowers have been extra beautiful some of which were still in bloom. Reimers is a wonderful Park in which to walk and if it has any faults it is the lack of shade along the trails. It is a Multi Use Park with Horses, Mountain Bikers, Rock Climbers, Birders and regular hikers. It even has its own swimming area in the Pedernales River which is well used in the Summer months. A great place to enjoy Nature at her best.
Even though the weather is beginning to warm up, I decided that enough was enough and it was time to get out on the trails once more. I debated as to where to walk and settled for my favorite place, McKinney Roughs which has a lot of shade trees on most of the trails. Another reason although it has very little to do with hiking is that there is an Exxon gas station almost across from the park entrance that sells the gas for at least ten cents cheaper than anywhere else and I always make a point of filling up when I am out in that direction.
I knew what trails I wanted to explore and parked at the Pope Bend Parking Area. I was the only vehicle parked there so had the choice of the shadiest parking spot. I went through my usual routine of boots, backpack, poles and camera belt along with the camera and set off along Roadrunner which would bring me to Buckey which is like a lowlands area with Pecan trees and fairly level walking at least after the first half mile which is either uphill or downhill depending on if you are on the way out or heading back in. Towards the end of any hike, everything seems uphill…I came to the Giant Pecan Tree which is the largest and maybe oldest tree in the Park and is almost twelve feet in circumference. I hadn’t seen the tree in a couple of years and to me, it seemed that it was deteriorating. Maybe that was just my imagination. I sure hope so. Continuing on, I soon was on Pecan Bottom which is a very shady area and great walking and then I hit Deep Sandy which as the name suggests, the trail is of a sandy nature and easy to walk on. Deep Sandy runs right alongside the river which was flowing strong and was very dirty from the recent rains. I had heard the very noisy sounds of a motor boat on the river which I knew to be the Hyatt Regency Hotel’s boat which is next door to the Park. They use it as an attraction to give their guests a trip on the river. I don’t know why the boat is so noisy but maybe that is a part of the fun. I had seen the boat before and was ready for it when it came across my line of vision and was able to get a picture, well actually two pictures of it before it was gone taking with it the sounds of the motor.
I noticed a group of three or four people sitting in the water trying to cool off. A bunch of friends I surmised enjoying the cooling river even if it was dirty. As long as you don’t swim in it, I guess cooling off is OK.
With that excitement out of the way, I got back onto Coyote Road and eventually backtracked onto Buckeye for the walk back. As I mentioned before, it is an uphill slog walking back out of the park and I was glad when I reached the Parking Lot and my truck. I passed one young gentleman on the way into the Park and we chatted for a couple of minutes. As usual, I heard a lot of birds but was not able to capture any of them. I did get a picture of a wooly caterpillar.
I even saw three deer but they caught me by surprise and my camera was in its carrier on my waist. I walk with two walking poles which I find to be of considerable assistance when it comes to the rough ground. As old and wobbly as I am sometimes, I need all of the safeguards I can get which means that unless I am actually taking a picture, the camera is on my belt and not in my hands hence never ready for those surprise shots.
I have learned that In order to be comfortable and not ruin my truck seats, I need to completely change my clothes before driving home as I tend to sweat a lot and am totally soaked by the time I am through. The camera belt and backpack all add to the sweat factor plus add additional weight. I did take the tripod and the really big long lens out of the pack which made is lighter by at least seven ponds but is still weighs in around fifteen pounds.
All in all, I covered around five very enjoyable miles and even decided to rewarded myself with an ice cream, purchased from the LCRA Office on my way out which was thoroughly enjoyable on the drive home.
The pictures are taken in sequence and are mostly all trail pictures. They do give a you an idea of the changing terrain from the first picture all the way through to the last one.
I took a walk at McKinney Roughs as I hadn’t been there for a while. It is one of my most favorite parks mainly because it has so much tree cover which here in Texas, is a definite bonus. The temperature wasn’t too bad just in the high 80’s but was beginning to creep up.
The parking lot was full when I pulled in due mostly to an OSHA Seminar going on in one of the many classrooms available for such things. Great place to hold a seminar. I checked in at the office to pay my $2.00 and write down my particulars as requested. I noticed that under the heading of Vehicle Plate Number, nearly everyone with the exception of one person, had written a short description, in my case Green Ford Truck. As vehicle plates are not used much for ID’s, no one remembers them. I have custom plates that I have had for many years always the same one used over and over and I have real difficulty in remembering it. By the way, keeping the same custom plate in Texas does not mean that you don’t have to pay an annual fee. You do and the plates are changed out every 2 years which also costs money.
I had already decided that I would walk the Coyote Road Trail down to the River and then walk along the River Trail and return back using the Riverside Trail. We have had quite a lot of rain lately and the trails definitely showed it with trail washouts and very uneven surfaces including standing water and mud, lots of mud. The sort that builds up on your boots until you feel that each foot weighs 20 pounds.
Coyote Road is a wide trail and leads down to the River. It is not steep but with the wet surface needed care to negotiate in some spots. It is about a mile long. I didn’t get to see much in the way of wildlife or birds but could hear them in the trees all around me. Probably laughing at my feeble efforts to take pictures of them.
When I reached the Colorado River, it was obvious that the trail had flooded in places which is not surprising as it is only 20 or so feet from the water which incidentally, was still high and running very fast. It was a real dirty brown color as it carried along dirt and debris from the recent rains. I negotiated the trail along the river sometimes walking through water and always in the mud, lots of mud and then turned up Riverside to head back to the parking lot. Riverside is another main trail and it too is pretty wide and in need of repair due to the recent rains. Lots of washed out areas but not much mud. Riverside is about 1.5 miles long and in my case, at least a mile of it going uphill with only the last half mile anywhere close to being level ground.
I passed a couple of guys with a big old Ridgeback Dog heading down towards the river and we exchanged greetings. This was followed by a lady and a young boy, Mother and Son I guessed. She asked how far it was to the river and I told her about a mile and half. Her response was that it was all downhill but I gently reminded her that she still had to come back and it was uphill all the way.
I arrived back at the Parking Lot and cleaned off my boots and changed my clothes before heading back home. Altogether, I covered a little over 6 miles and my old aching body was letting me know that we hadn’t been out on a walk in a while and we needed to do something about it.
I received a phone call today from a lady who was wanting to give away her turtle that had been her friend for many long years until in the end that although much love he received it was not fair she believed that the only thing in his life was a large glass tank and without a mate or even another turtle to spend time which would have made life much more sublime instead just him in his lonely life a perfect home for him with no strife a peaceful life to be sure but lonely with no company to endure and for twelve and a half years he lived in his tank when his caregiver called looking for a place that he could spend the rest of his days as nature intended in natural ways in a pond that he could swim and be free with other turtles for company she brought him over to take a look as I showed her around like an open book and even though it would be the very last game that she and Herbert for that was his name would spend together for in his new life Herbert could go and search for a wife she kissed his head and said so long and placed him on the bank of the pond where he slipped into the water and was gone but before he disappeared away he turned and looked as if to say thank you for the years that you cared and of the life that together we shared then slipped below the surface of the pond to explore his new home and he was gone I’m sure that Herbert and I will become friends although it has to be said that in the end I will not see Herbert an awful lot as with the others will be hard to spot unless he may bask in the sun on the bank of the pond where this new life begun and if Herbert was able to speak I’m sure his thanks to Alisa would be deep especially as she gave up her pet for the wild life of a turtle he will now get.
I got up fairly early (for me) and decided that it was time to take a walk as I haven’t been walking in a couple of weeks. By the time that I got out of the house, it was almost 11:30 am but I headed off towards Bastrop having already decided that McKinney Roughs was probably the best place as it had a lot of shelter from the sun.
I had not been following the forecast for the day knowing that it would be hot anyway I looked at it. It was not until I texted my friend BJ asking her if she wanted to accompany me did I realize just how hot it was going to be. She texted back to say that I really shouldn’t walk today as it was going to be almost a hundred degrees and the temperature could easily top the current record high of 97 degrees with Heat index values of 108 to 114. She couldn’t make it anyway which meant walking alone which is probably not advisable with the temperatures going that high.
That did it for me and as by now, I was already almost in Bastrop, I decided instead to drive around for a bit and as usual, listen to one of the stories from Audiobooks. So, I took off turning onto country roads that I had never driven before with a view to different scenery although to be sure, in Texas the scenery does not change very much over a short distance even if it is several miles. I did discover a lot of different areas around Bastrop that I hadn’t seen before before ending back up at my house. Along the way, I filled my truck at the gas station in Bastrop that is always quite a bit cheaper than anywhere else around and of course, a stop at Starbucks for the inevitable Latte.
In all of that, I only found one place that was putting on a show and worthy of parking. I got out of my truck and took a couple of pictures and then started to walk towards the center of the stream but almost fell ass over tea kettle as my feet slipped out from under me on the slippery surface. Luckily, my athletic reflexes came into play and I was able to stay on my feet but I gave up on walking to the center of the stream preferring instead to get back in my truck to take the pictures.
When I was young and just a kid I never thought of what I did I had no concept of time and would rise with the sun my life just fine I walked to school with my friends and then walked back home again learning in a class so big with a teacher that used a very big stick which she used quite frequently on troublesome students just like me I never complained to my folks as they thought it one big joke and said that she was probably right and was not doing it out of spite but to teach right from wrong to kids like me they had their own philosophy and in their eyes she could do no wrong and school is where I really belonged I grew up and I survived no worse for wear for the hidings I took but wiser yet in so many ways and the teachers name was Mrs Ray such was my life long long ago growing up in the country that I loved so but that was almost a lifetime in years as I was but a lad of with no fears and even though it hurt at the time I thank Mrs Ray for being so sublime as she did not know that in her own way she has shaped my life to this very day such are the memories I have to show from almost seventy five years ago.
Stories about family, faith, friends and funnies. Pull up a chair. Grab a cup of coffee and laugh, cry, ponder and inspire about ordinary events of this wonderful, ever changing, bubbling pot that we call "every day life".