Losing Another Pet


Ginnie has been with me for 12 years

Once again my heart is heavy with grief. Not for any of my human friends or acquaintances but for another of my furry buddies.

This time my oldest living dog and the one remaining survivor from the original pack of eight, a female mini dachshund by the name of Ginnie, has joined Big Girl, Manley, Mini, Abigail, BeBe, Richie, Pete and Gizmo at the Rainbow Bridge where one day, we will all be reunited, never to be apart from each other again. Ginnie was with me for twelve wonderful years and was a couple of years old when she joined our family making her about fourteen or so.

I acquired her from a Veterinary friend who knew that I was looking for another dog at the time. She moulded into the household full of dogs and cats and although a bit standoffish, more than held her own when she needed to. Ginnie remained a bit of a standout her whole life never really making friends with any of the other dogs. Because she was the smallest, more than once she had to stand up for herself and did so very well. She had this remarkably soft coat which felt like velvet when you stroked her. At night, she had this habit of sleeping with her back touching me and I was always aware of her presence besides feeling her warmth on cold nights. Even though she was small, she would not take any crap from any of the other dogs and could sound quite ferocious.

I will miss her as she was always glad to see me and always made a fuss of me whenever I came home. It’s so sad when we lose our pets and they are never with us for very long. Just when you are used to having them around, they up and die because their lives are so short. Ginnie died from complications with pulmonary lung illness within three days of the symptoms and did so in her own way. She had been on the bed, her usual spot, and I watched as she pushed her way through the doggy door as she had done thousands of times before. She went out onto the deck and barked a couple of times and sat there looking around. Then, she moved onto one of the lower flower beds by the two ponds and lay down and passed quietly away as I watched, with tears streaming down my face.

I buried her along with all of her other buddies next to the big pond where she will spend the rest of her days. There are now ten dogs and two cats in that area all sleeping their final sleep together.

I should point out that my most recent adoptee that I have had for almost a year is another dachshund by the name of Buddy Holly, shortened to Buddy who is half blind, mostly deaf, has no sense of smell and more than a little senile. But, he gets about just fine and takes walkabouts out in the garden and is living out his life with us. His estimated age is twelve but I believe that he is probably a couple of years older so he and Ginnie were about the same age. I was hoping when I got him that he and Ginnie would become best buds but Ginnie, being who she was, just wouldn’t be friends.

Will I ever get another dog not to replace her but to fill the void that is left? Probably another rescue is the answer…

My thanks go to Dr Donop and all of the staff members at Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital who as usual, did all they could to help Ginnie. It was just destined not to be…

Written 12/5/2019

Lake Bastrop North 10-11-2019


Storms moving in over the lake

Along with my friend BJ, we decided to walk the other half of the trail between the LCRA parks, Lake Bastrop South and Lake Bastrop North. We had already covered almost half of the trail from the South end and we were left with about 3 miles of the trail to cover from the North end.

The weather had taken a decided change as it was no longer sunshine and a 100 degrees but rolling storm clouds with rain in the air and a temperature of around 75 degrees. We pulled up in front of the trailhead and sat in the truck debating as to whether it was going to rain and if so, should we continue with our plans to walk.

In the end, we both decided that as we were already there, it did not make sense to not walk and if we got wet, so be it. I hustled into my backpack and camera belt and checked to make sure that I had a poncho with me to cover the camera if it came on to rain and we set out along the trail. It was very overcast with the dark clouds piling up and as the lake water was warmer than the air temperature, there was a fog rising from the water giving the lake a very eerie effect. We were about halfway through the walk when it came on to rain, well a slight drizzle which continued pretty much through our entire walk.

The mist rising from the lake.

It is really a great trail to walk on with only the occasional stoney conditions underfoot. Most of the way it is sand or dirt making for very pleasant walking and it was not raining hard enough to turn things muddy.

We crossed a couple of small bridges that spanned ditches that in rainy times would hold water and then we came to the Floating Bridge. This is a bit of a novelty as it moved up and down as we walked across. It really is a floating bridge and is built to rise and fall with the level of the water in the lake. It even has small, for want of a better word, alcoves with benches installed for people to sit and admire the view.

We continued walking and came to yet another bridge with signs that indicated we were 1.5 miles from our starting point or 3.0 miles from the South Shore entrance. We were still about 1.5 miles from where we hiked the other time out and as the weather was getting quite miserable with the rain and wind, we decided that we had walked far enough for one day and did a smart about face walking back the way we had come.

We ended up in the parking lot with the truck immediately in front of us and we were still the only people in view with the exception of one of the park employees who was busy emptying the trash bins. The season must really be over but in all fairness, it was a weekday… Altogether, we covered 4.5 miles of very enjoyable hiking rain and all. I plan on going back to hike the bit we missed to complete the entire trail.

Written 10/19/2019

Buescher State Park 9-29-2019


The Lake at Buescher Park

With the weather finally cooling down albeit, not by a lot as it is still in the mid 90’s in the afternoons, I decided to get up early and drive the hour that it takes to get to Buescher State Park located in Smithville which is 55 miles from my house. I grabbed breakfast to go at the first Starbucks that I came to and listened to Audiobooks for the hour spent in the truck, on the road.

I planned to walk the rest of the trails that BJ and I hadn’t covered a couple of days previously and pulled up into the trail parking area on Park Road 1C which was my starting point. I crossed the road to get onto the Pine Gulch Trail and was immediately inundated with a large number of wildflowers of several different varieties. Absolutely beautiful and so unexpected as we had not seen any on the other side of the road or on the other trail.

A young lady passed me going in the opposite direction only she was running and I could tell it was a part of her workout routine. Hers must have been the other car in the Parking Area when I left. She was the only person that I saw on the trails. This side of the road was just as burned as was the other side although, Nature is pushing hard and there is a lot of new growth. Shade was hard to come by except here and there, where the Oak trees were growing. It looks like they had not been affected by the fire as everything around them had been burned. The Pine trees that had been replanted were growing well and in 10 years time, should become just as tall as the ones that are now just tree skeletons and strong reminders of the past. Hope I am around to see that and still walking.

There is a small pond on this trail but it too is low as it lacks water because of the drought. I remember it from a few years ago before the fire when I walked this trail. At that time I took a picture of the trees reflecting in the water. This time, not only is the water low but the trees are no longer there having burned in the fire.

Following the trail, I had to cross the Old Antioch Road for the last mile or so and then eventually meeting up with Park Road 1C where the trail ended. At one point, I came across a brand new bridge that crosses one of the many streams in the area and the construction person in me could only think of the logistics in getting the material to build this bridge to this particular area, as the trail is not very wide for any sort of vehicle. This last part of the trail is not used much and is heavily overgrown although somebody had been working recently with a weed wacker to trim a lot of the growth. I had the option of turning back and covering my tracks or stay on Park Road 1C back to where the truck was parked. Either way, the distance was the same so I opted to stay on the road for the easier walking. Several vehicles and motorcycles passed me and we exchanged waves as they sped on by.

A video of the trails and the beautiful flowers.

I arrived back in the parking area and sat for a while just relaxing and cooling down. It was a beautiful day and I felt so happy just to be out in it. Altogether, I covered 5 miles of walking. On the way back, I stopped at the lake although it is showing signs of feeling the drought that we have been having this summer as the water level was down a bit. I took pictures of the Oak trees with the Spanish Moss hanging from them, not something you see every day.

Spanish Moss

The drive home was uneventful as I happily drank my Starbucks Latte and listened to Audiobooks to be welcomed at the door by four small and very excited dogs. At least somebody loves and misses me…

Written 9/30/2019

What to Write About


Mikey

Sitting here at Covert Ford
waiting for my truck
just a routine service call
and with any luck
I will be out of here real soon
on the road to home
back to the happy little dogs
whom I had left alone
they will be pleased to see me back
with waggily tails for greeting
and I will make a fuss of them
and show them how I’m feeling
happy to be back home
to do my normal things
tend to the ponds and feed the fish
and calm all their misgivings

Written 9/12/2019



My Ford Truck-Another Service


Once again I find myself back at the Ford Dealership getting my truck serviced. I have routinely and I might add, faithfully brought my truck back here to get it serviced every 5000 or so miles. Now, there is 30,000 miles on the clock and we are at a major service with a lot of stuff having to get worked on.

The Dealership is Covert Ford which is also where I originally purchased the truck a couple of years back. They have always treated me with respect and the service has always been good but it is still a hassle every time I bring it here. They service on a first come first served basis for the normal type of services that most vehicles require. Consequently, it is a bit of a free for all when first arriving as it doesn’t matter what time I get here, there is always a long line of cars and trucks in front of me.

I attempted to bring the truck in the day before but a series of events prevented that from happening. Well, actually, that is not quite true. The first thing that happened is that I slept through the alarm not waking until an hour after I had set it at 7:00 am. I scurried around and got on the road only to run into the normal rush hour traffic as the commuters wended their way to their various jobs. The traffic was stop and start and when it did move, crawled along at a snail’s pace until coming to another stop. I feel really sorry for the people that have to face this every day. What a hassle and nightmare both to get to work and to get home. When I was a working man, I faced the same traffic problem but not anywhere near as bad as it is nowadays. We moved into the house that I currently live in 34 years ago and it used to take me 30 minutes to drive to the University of Texas where I was employed. By the time I retired 17 years later, the traffic had increased so much that it took me an hour to make the same trip. Goodness only knows what it would take today.

But I digress. I attempted to drive in although much later than I should have and got stuck in this traffic. I went a few miles at a stop and start and then decided that I was wasting my time and turned round and went back home with the idea of delaying the trip for an hour or so hoping that the rush would slow down to a somewhat more normal flow.

I tried again an hour later and made it to the Dealership in a more normal time only to be told that it would take all day to complete the work and that the best thing I could do would be to bring the truck back in the morning as early as possible. The next day, I set the alarm close to my head so that I would hear it and got up at some unearthly hour that I didn’t know even existed since retiring. I rushed around and got on the road by 6:30 am and even then, traffic was beginning to pile up in places. I made it to the Dealership by 7:00 o’clock and there was already a long line of vehicles in front of me.

My Service Agent, an older gentleman by the name of James, wrote out a long list of items that needed to be checked or replaced at the 30,000 mile service and rattled off a few numbers which represented the dollars it would end up costing me. I could tell from what he told me that this was going to be a lot of money. I handed over the keys and found my usual seat in the lobby, got out my computer and started writing…

A couple of hours and a couple of blogs later, another gentleman came in to tell me that my truck was ready and I could go home. I paid my bill which was not unreasonable considering the amount of work they had to do and hit the road. This journey was much quicker than the one coming in. My homecoming was noisy as 3 little dogs greeted me at the door with waggly tails and noisy barks as they jumped and cavorted looking for attention.

At least I have a truck that should be good for another 5000 miles before I have to do it all over again. The next service will be at the 36000 mile mark when it goes out of its factory warranty although I do have an extended warranty that I purchased which will cover me for any of the large items that might require attention in the future.

Written 9/26/2019

Reimers Ranch 10-26-2019


It was just one of those sort of days.

Reimers Ranch is located a few miles from my house and sometimes I will drive out there just to either take a short walk or even to just drive the roads within the park. It is quiet and peaceful and is never so crowded to be uncomfortable especially on the trails. A lot of people come for the Pedernales River where they can enjoy such things as swimming, fishing, boating and even birdwatching. The Park is also very popular with the crazy daredevils that enjoy rock climbing as a hobby. Rather them than me.

Hopefully not waiting for me to break my neck or die of thirst…

I decided that a short walk was in order and from past experience chose to park in the River Bend parking lot and walk as far as the River View lot and then get back up onto the gravel trail that overlooks the river for the return walk. Sounds pretty simple and for most of the way was very easy walking. A couple passed me and as I approached the River Bend lot, there were several people enjoying a picnic at one of the many tables that are spaced around the river. At this point, I had the difficult, for me, climb up and out of the gorge. These rocky “steps” at this and the next exit are a bit tricky requiring a lot of concentration and attention so as not to miss a footing. Thank goodness they are short in distance with not too many steps.

After safely making the climb up and out, I walked the gravel path which is on top of the river gorge for the entire length of the park. It does not always have views of the river as sometimes it is set too far away but there are enough to make it interesting. This path is very easy walking except in the hot summer as there is no shade for its entire length of about 4 miles.

I made it back to the River View lot and there were still a couple of cars and several people using the facilities. Some were just finishing and others just starting but all with the same purpose, to be out and and about in the fresh air getting some exercise.

The Pedernales River is very low as we have not had any serious rain in nearly 3 months

Altogether, I covered a little over 2.5 miles and as the intent was to just get out and enjoy the day, I succeeded in that.

Written 10/28/2019

McKinney Roughs 9-25-2019


Pecan Bottom

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.

The Big Pecan with BJ standing in front of it.
The top of the big Pecan Tree.

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.

Other hikers

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.

Written 9/26/2019