McKinney Roughs 7-24-2019


I called my friend BJ to see if she might be interested in taking a walk at our favorite place, McKinney Roughs and was pleased that she said she would walk with me. It’s not that I mind walking alone but it is nice to have company occasionally and someone to talk to. She only agreed to walk if we kept it down to a reasonable distance complaining of tiredness from cleaning out her bog on one of her ponds and I told her we could do that.

I arrived first and per my usual routine, changed into my hiking boots and geared up ready to go. We met at the main office and paid our two dollars and with a quick look at the map, set out along the along Woodland which is one of the interior trails. It, in turn, linked up to the Ridge completing a short loop. There was a lot of shade as the pictures show and it was very pleasant walking and of course, having company really helped. We chatted about everything, the world in general, life, the Pond Society and the upcoming seminar that both BJ and Sam will be presenting at the next meeting. We talked about everyday events, our neighbors, bog cleaning and of course Trump. We both have the same opinions of him and common courtesy prevents me from writing what they are for fear of offending the readers.

The base of the tree

Along one of the trails, we came across what looked like two trees that had grown together. What made it more interesting was that we could not see that the smaller tree had any foliage but it was definitely very much alive.

The top of the tree(s)

After walking the above mentioned trails, we wandered around a bit and found ourselves back at the Recreation Area and I was telling BJ about the kids that were here the previous summer and all of the fun they had. I had fun too just filming them and their antics as they climbed ropes and slid down the zip lines set up for them. Oh, to be young again although I would not want to be a kid in this modern day and age. Too much of a challenge with nothing simple anymore not a bit like when I was growing up, World War 2 notwithstanding. This area was quiet today with no activity going on. The Red Bird of Paradise were putting on quite a show. We passed one group of flowers named Skeletonleaf Goldeneye but most of them are finished for the year

We wanted to get onto Foxtail but for one reason and another, we kept picking the wrong trails so we eventually gave up and headed back to the Parking Lot. We actually did OK as far as the distance that we walked covering 4.3 miles. The trails were easy with not too many hills, the trees shaded us from the sun with the temperatures hovering around the 90 degree mark and the company was good. Who could ask for more?

Written 7/25/2019

My Friend


I had a friend come and stay
with me just the other day
which really caught me by surprise
when the phone rang and his voice disguised
trying desperately hard to sound like a Yank
with his British accent it really stank
“George”, I said, “What are you doing here”?
as I heard his voice full of good cheer
He said, “I’m staying just up the street
maybe tomorrow we can meet
I can fill you in on the reason why
I left old England and said goodbye
for the second time in my life
leaving behind without any strife.
I stayed over there almost a year
living with friends which became very clear
was not working out the way that it should
as I could not settle or do anything good
the weather was wet with the usual rain
with little sun and no tan to gain
and I could not find a team
to coach, which really was my dream
so I hopped on a plane and made the short trip
from England to Texas the best place to hit
where I hope to pick up my former life
and maybe even find me a wife
so that I can settle down
no more to roam as I have come back home”.

I met with George the following day
and as he had no place to stay
brought him back to live with me
if only temporarily
until he can find that team to coach
he has a few leads and he has spoke
to one of his friends whom we met
at the fields, where else, who told George to “Get
his bag and to come home with me
to San Antonio and we shall see
about that team and a place to stay”
as they left to go on their way.
I hope things work out for my old friend
and that he lives his dream until the end
as growing old is both our way
always looking to see the following day
living our lives and chasing our dreams
our minds filled with improbable schemes.

Written 4/7/2018

Hiking McKinney Roughs 3-16-2018


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This Pano is made up of 12 vertical pictures

My friend B.J. called to see if I wanted to take a hike. I had been thinking about it and her call quickly made up my mind for me.  I had a Doctors appointment in the morning so we arranged to meet around 12:30 pm or so. She suggested McKinney Falls which has a nice blacktop pathway that circles the park. Easy walking seemed like a good idea. I arrived at McKinney Falls only to find a long line of cars that extended down the main highway. Quick to react, I texted B.J. to tell her to head for McKinney Roughs and that I would be about 25 minutes behind her. Neither of us like crowded trailways and lots of people around. Kinda defeats the purpose.

B.J. was already there when I arrived at McKinney Roughs sitting and enjoying the sun. As usual, it took me a while  to get all of my gear together and this time, I opted for just one camera with the Tamron 16-300 lens which is my goto lens for general photography work. I like it because not only can I get a good distance shot, I can also take close ups, almost macro’s.

We opted to take the trails that are within the center of the park and started off by walking down Ridge until we came to Bluff Trail Loop. As the name suggests, it is a fairly big loop with easy walking trails although a bit steep in a some places. Sometimes, it seemed like a lot of uphills. The completed Loop brought us back onto Ridge from which, we walked Woodland back to the Parking Lot. The entire loop was around 4.4 miles of very pleasant walking and lots of interesting conversation. At the very start of the walk, we passed a Live Oak that had a vine attached to it that had quite literally, grown into the bark that covers the tree as the picture shows.

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Along the way, we met several people who, like us, were enjoying the great outdoors. One lady stopped to talk to us and she had a couple of friendly Texas Cattle Dogs to keep her company. Both were on leashes and they were big enough to help going up the hilly parts of the trail.

When we arrived back in the Office and Garden area, we spent some time looking at the ponds and the new flower plantings that they have just done. One of the Park employees came over and chatted to us about the flowers. He was very interesting and knowledgeable and could even quote the Latin names of the plants. He directed us to one Mountain Laurel bush that had a lot of flowers and mentioned that they had spotted something like 20 different species of butterfly in the past few days but there were not any that I could take a picture as we stood there.

We walked back to our vehicles and chatted a while longer before we parted company, B.J. to go grocery shopping in Bastrop which is where she lives and me for the long drive home. Altogether, a very delightful hike.

Below is a video of the different trails that we covered.

McKinney Roughs 3-16-2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Written 03/18/2018

 

APS Meeting February 2018


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The Austin Pond Society held it’s monthly meeting at the usual place, Zilker Botanical Gardens  in Austin. About thirty members showed up and were treated to a meal of Pulled Pork with Coleslaw. There were a lot of deserts including a strawberry pie that was absolutely delicious. Thanks to the Members for supplying these wonderful treats.

The original Speaker for the evening, Kieran Docker, is a Pond Builder who had an emergency with one of the ponds he had built and had to attend to it causing him to miss the meeting. That left an empty space in the proceedings but Barb Lenhardt who is our Programs Director came up with a very innovative idea to fill the time. She presented to the group an idea she had to rebuild her pond and asked the group for opinions.  It was like opening up a floodgate with some very interesting  ideas and comments plus a lot of good humor. In no time flat, the hour had passed.

I am not sure that Barb ever intends to put any of the suggestions into practice but if nothing else, the rest of us, who incidentally think we know it all, had the opportunity to put forth our thoughts and ideas. We also learned from the others giving us all something to take away from the meeting. Continue reading

Austin Pond Society Meeting – January 2018


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So starts a New Year for the Austin Pond Society. What will it bring, I wonder? We usually follow the same pattern every year. All of our meetings are set up to incorporate different things and we pretty much stick to the same items year after year. The Speaker that Barb Lenhardt, our Programs and Special Events Board Member had originally set up for this meeting had to withdraw at the last minute. This meant that we had to improvise which, as it turned out was no problem as we spent nearly all of the meeting discussing our lack of a Pond Tour Director and what to do instead.

But, I am getting ahead of myself. The meeting was attended by thirty members and as usual, Steven Monfrini, our Hospitality Volunteer put on a spread for us to enjoy. This time, we had many choices in which to make our own sandwich or in some cases, sandwiches. Our members absolutely outdid themselves with the choices of deserts and there was a whole table just loaded with goodies. I was torn between a sandwich or desert and resolved the issue but having both.

Keith and Locations Jan 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

As is normal for the start of a New Year, we had a couple of new faces in the Board positions. Actually, that is not exactly true as Margaret Boeneke is our Librarian and was temporarily sitting at the Welcome/Sign In table due to the untimely death of Keith Neuse and the resignation of his Partner Rodney Lewis. Both will be missed. The Austin Pond Society wants to install a permanent memorial to both of them in the form of each of them having an engraved brick in the walkway at Zilker Botanical Gardens. We passed the hat around at this meeting for which the Members donated $210.00, enough to purchase the two engraved bricks. Thank You Members, you always come through for us.

2018 Pond Tour Discussions from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

What this means is that we are short two Board Members as Margaret is only sitting in the Welcome chair temporarily, so if any of you are interested in joining the Board of the Austin Pond Society as either Secretary or Membership, please contact Jeannie, our President at this link. For information on the duties of each of these positions, use this link.

More Discussion Jan 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

For not having a prepared agenda, we did really good at filling up the time that would normally have been taken up by a Speaker. We had several items of interest among them, Tribute to Keith and Rodney, major discussion about our lack of a Pond Tour Director, a discussion on cleaning out the ponds at the Hyatt Regency at Bastrop, our annual budget upon which we needed to vote and which incidentally without a Tour, will put us in the red for this year.

Finally as per usual, we ended with the drawing for two door prizes both of which were cute (if you like that sort of stuff), Fishy things to use to hold letters, pictures and other similar stuff. I was fortunate enough to win one of these “things” but turned it back for a redraw as I had no use for it. I already have enough stuff.

The meeting closed around 8:45 pm.

The next meeting will be on February 19, 2018 at Zilker Botanical Gardens starting at 6:30 pm. Check the website to see who the Speaker will be.

Old Friends


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I ran into a old friend the other day
in the SuperMarket as we shopped
both bachelors so shopping was not hard
as we were both set in our ways.

Neither of us could remember the others name
as we had not seen each other in a while
so we awkwardly re-introduced ourselves
and laughed as we commented about our slow brains.

The conversation turned to soccer
as that is where we first met
playing on the same old man’s team
pretending to be young again like no other.

We had a good laugh as we shared a joke
and shook hands as we went on our way
knowing better than to say, let’s get together
of that there was no hope.

We had not  bothered to stay in touch
and our mutual interest was long gone
as age had taken its toll
and the game no longer held us in its clutch.

I resumed my walk around the store
thinking about the years gone by
of the games we played and the people we met
and wished there had been much more.

Alas time has dealt us a terrible blow
weak in body and mind as the years pass by
and all of the friends we used to know
not even a memory left to show.

Written 9/26/2017

Friends


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I recently just lost a friend
one I have known for many years
another Englishman like me
straight here from the Old Country
a funny guy with a quick dry wit
a story to tell that rolled off his tongue
the times together were never dull
and in conversations there was never a lull
a mighty athlete on the soccer field
he was paid to play the game we love
skilfull  enough to be a pro
which brought him here years ago
he retired from playing and became a coach
teaching young kids on how to play
with gift of the gab and his English wit
the kids just loved hearing him say
“bloody hell” his favorite expression when
one of them screwed up again
he had a minor heart attack
while out running on the track
and ended up with a stent
and a bypass with the intent
of making him fit and well to return
to the land of the living with no concerns
this was several years ago
and I am happy to say he lived a good life
and met a lady to spend his time
and even almost made her his wife
they lived together for a few years
sometimes even with a few tears
as they went through the usual unmarried woes
keeping each other on their toes
till finally just a few weeks ago
they had the most terrible fight
so bad that it turned off the light
of any remaining feelings they had
and left them both feeling mad
my friend called me to say
that he was flying out the next day
back to the land where he was born
and that I should not mourn
but to make the most of our friendship here
and to say goodby with good cheer
we shook hands and gave a hug
and said take care and stay in touch
but the truth of the matter as we well know
even email and smartphones all the go
we probably will never see
or even speak to each other again
I surely will miss my old friend
for his wit and humor dry as can be
as life goes on maybe we are apart
and his memories will live on in my heart.