McKinney Roughs 7-8-2019


A panoramic view of the west end of the park taken from the top of the step area.

The weather was beginning to warm up when I started out but being the stubborn idiot that I am, I went anyway for a hike at McKinney Roughs, my favorite park.

Per my normal routine, I changed into my hiking gear, grabbed my camera, paid my $2.00 and was off this time taking the Pine Ridge Trail. I have hiked this trail several times before and knew the hazards that were in front of me in the form of steps, many, many steps. I had never had any trouble before and had no reason to think that this hike would be any different.

A gentle trail

The trail is good walking and only in a few spots were there loose pebbles as the makeup of the landscape changed underfoot. This trail heads in the area of the Zip Line system that has been built in the park and is operated by a private company. I reached the first of the several towers followed after about a half mile with the second tower which is located at the top of a bluff. The trail leads right past this tower and then descends down into the valley below. While I was in sight of the towers, there was no Zip Line activity although I did hear some on my way out.

Just a few of the dreaded steps

I started down the wooden steps which I have walked several times before counting them as I went. There are 81 total steps going down from the end of the trail I was walking and for some reason, I began to feel very tired and weary which has never happened before. As I was already more than a couple of miles from the parking lot and at the midway point of the walk, I opted to keep going even knowing that I immediately had 101 steps going up a rather steep incline. I felt weary enough to stop and rest a couple of times on the way up before finally making it to the top. Using the very English expression, I was totally “knackered” but still about 3 miles from home and had no choice other than to keep plodding on which I did taking various rests along the way. I came to a bench on the trail but it was out in the sun which is not where I wanted to sit. Also it was hotter than blazes and I couldn’t have sat on it anyway. I wonder why the Park people had not put the bench in the shade somewhere. Anywhere but in the hot sun which was probably at 95 degrees. I came to the Bird Blind which has been recently built and seeing that there were no people inside, decided to sit and rest for a while before going on even though I was probably less than a half mile from the parking lot. That helped a lot and I probably dozed off for a bit before making the final effort and to cover the last distance to the truck.

A view of the Pedernales River.

I changed out of my wet clothes and as the office was still open, went back inside to buy a bottle of water. I had exhausted my own. I also bought an ice cream sandwich which really put life back into me. I have no idea why I was affected this way as it has never happened to me before. I refuse to put it down to age or something that I ate so it was probably the heat. Lesson learned is to hike earlier in the day when it is a little cooler. Altogether I covered about 7 miles which is normal for me although these turned out to be very hard and exhausting miles.

The thirty mile drive back with the AC going full blast and I was cooled down very nicely by the time I got home. I didn’t even stop for my usual Latte. Can’t wait to get out on the trails again but got to stay away from those steps…

Written 7/10/2019

McKinney Roughs 6-22-2019


The wildflowers are still in bloom.

I had the urge to get out and about and as it is now summertime in Texas, hiking in the heat is one of the joys of living here. We don’t get much in the way of a winter in Austin but we make up for it in the summertime as we can guarantee that it is only a matter of time before the temperature hits the one hundred degree mark. From then on, it is anyone’s guess as to how many hundred degree days we will get. The record was set back in 2011 when there were 79 recorded 100 degree days. That was a hot summer.

Believe it or not, life still goes on even with all of that heat. We make adjustments and do things like hiking earlier in the day which is usually several degrees cooler. As the temperature rises, the body adjusts with it making it possible to hike. Most of us though, choose not to hike in the extreme heat of the day. I am one of those fortunate or unfortunate guys, depending on your point of view, that perspires a lot and at the end of any heavy physical exertions, am thoroughly soaked through requiring that I change my clothes before jumping in my truck to drive home. I don’t notice while I am walking as I wrap a bandana around my forehead and wear a wide brimmed hat with a neck cover that captures most of the sweat and stops it from dripping into my eyes. I take heed of my Dermatologist and slap on vast amounts of sunscreen otherwise she lectures me at my next visit. Like everything else, if we want to do stuff, we have to make the necessary adjustments.

Such was the case in my most recent walk at McKinney Roughs. It was already ninety degrees when I started out and I chose to hike a trail that is named Yaupon. One reason that I chose it is because it has a lot of tree cover giving me a plenty of shade which really helps. The guide says that Yaupon is two point seven miles long and I knew that it was an out and back hike as the trail that completes the loop has been washed out in a couple of places and is no longer connected. I don’t normally like to cover the same ground twice but as someone pointed out to me, you get to see the same view from two different directions which is true as several of the pictures show the same view from both directions.

The trail has had a lot of work done to it in several different places due to washouts and there were still a couple of wet areas requiring one to carefully pick the footing. Generally speaking though, it was good walking. I passed one gentleman who was heading back in. We chatted for a bit and he tried to convince me that there was more breeze up ahead but somehow, I doubted him although I just nodded my head and passed some remark. I had been following fresh horse tracks and wondered how soon before I would see the horse and rider as I mentioned before, this trail is an out and back trail. Sure enough as I rounded a bend, there was the horse and rider approaching me. Following the trail etiquette, I stepped off to allow them to pass calling out to the rider and asking her if I could get their photograph. As with most people, she was only too willing to pose and the horse just took it for granted that of course he should be in the picture. The horse’s name was Troy but I didn’t get the riders name.

One beautiful horse.

They moved on and I continued until I reached the water tower which is about a half a mile or so from the trails end in Pope Bend Trailhead. I figured that I had gone far enough and turned back to retrace my steps. As with most hikes, those same hills were much steeper going back and the distance much further but I eventually made it back to the parking lot and my truck. I must have taken longer than I anticipated as when I got back, the Office was closed and the parking lots were pretty empty. That was a shame as on the last trip here, I had discovered that they carried chocolate ice cream on a stick and I had been promising myself I would treat myself to one. Oh well, I am probably better off not eating the stuff but darn, it sure would have gone down very nicely.

All in all, I covered seven and a half miles and was really dragging by the time I got back. I carry both an Iphone and a pedometer and they both said close to the same thing. I wonder how the Map makers measure the trail distances as I always walk more than the map says. Normally, I use the park’s restrooms to change but as they were closed, I had to get out of the soaked clothes so ended up doing a strip tease in the Parking Lot. Luckily for me, it was empty and there was no one around which was probably a good thing as if anyone had caught sight of my eighty three year old body, it would have turned them off the opposite sex for the rest of their life.

I drove back and was warmly welcomed by four anxious and excited little dogs. At least, they love me sexy and sweaty body and all…

Written 6/23/2019

Blessed Rain


btI7ns6

Today we are having rain
something about which we do not complain
as I have said many times before
in Texas it rains and we let out a roar
as a sign of our pleasure for so simple a task
more rain is something we always ask
to combat the heat with the temperatures high
looking for clouds to darken the sky
and hoping that rain will fall on the ground
and so doing will cool the temperatures down.

I took a walk around the yard
in between the showers so hard
to make sure that things were OK
and the ponds could handle the rain this day
I barely had time to make one loop around
before it started to rain on the ground
and I dashed to get in the house and the dry
as the rain continued to fall from the sky
and sat by the window to watch it fall
as the rain is at Natures beck and call.

Written 7/9/2018

What to do in the Hot Weather…


Top row is the current temperature at 2:45 pm.
Second row is the humidity,
Third row is yesterday’s high of 105 in the shade where the sensor is located,
Fourth row is the inside temperature and humidity in the A/C.

I looked at the clock and it said 11:20 am. Right alongside of it is one of those indoor/outdoor thermometer thingies and the temperature said that it was already 97 degrees. Out of curiosity, I checked on my computer to see what the weather forecast is for today and they forecast that it will be 101 degrees at 1:00 pm. You gotta love these Texas summers.

Obviously, not a good day to hit the trails or do too much of anything outside. I always check the ponds the very first thing when I get up so unless something breaks or one of the pumps quits working, we are generally good until the evening. Not that the evenings are much cooler as the temperature does not drop very much. Maybe a degree or two. Usually, overnight the temperature in the morning will read between 75 and 80 degrees. Thinking about it, our mornings are as hot as a lot of countries high temperatures. 80 degrees in England where I originate from is a heat wave.

Now we have concluded that it is really too hot to be outside at least with any degree of comfort, what does that leave. Several things spring to mind the first of which is already happening as I write this blog. The next is that my house desperately needs the services of one of those cleaning outfits that you see advertised like Rent-a-Maid or Clean-Your-House or something like. Trouble is, I am too much of a tightwad to have someone come in and clean so maybe, I could start on that today. Maybe. I could at least get the cobwebs down and wash the floors and clean the windows. No wait, cleaning windows involves going outside so scratch that idea. Actually, I am always washing the floors as that is where the dogs leave the most lasting impression as they come and go with their dirty paws. OK, scratch washing the floors.

I could at least pick up the things I have laying all over and try to find their proper place wherever that may be or if they even have a “proper place”. All too often, everything just ends up in the spare bedroom which is already beginning to get messed up after the last cleaning go round. Out of sight and all that…Anyway, what is a “proper place”. In a drawer somewhere or maybe a closet most of which are already full up with things from earlier cleanings that have all been assigned to their “proper place”. I’m running out of “proper places”. I could start putting things in the sheds but as I just spent a week cleaning them up, I hate to undo all of that good work.

It’s not that I like having a dusty house or that I care if the the spiders have found a permanent home. It’s that there are so many better things to do in the world than cleaning especially as it continually gets dirty. I blame the dogs for bringing in all of that dust. How else would it get as bad as it does. Certainly can’t possibly be me that makes it that way for I have no hair left to shake. I, at least, wipe my shoes off before I come in. Maybe I need to train the dogs how to do that.

So what does that leave? Nothing except the absolute essentials outside and maybe a little pick up and a light dusting inside? How about a nap? That always sounds good except I always feel guilty about wasting the time I could have used to clean the house and I never really feel refreshed afterwards. So scratch the nap idea.

I think that I will do what I usually do if I find myself at a loose end and that is to go for a long drive and listen to Audiobooks. I am getting to the end of another interesting story and would love to see how it works out.  Like I expect or is there a twist to the tale. Will the hero come through or will it be the villain who wins this time. Will my favorite character die  or will they win out and don’t forget the dog. Will it survive at the end. Or maybe the Zombies will eat them all…