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 .
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.
Life is on hold while the weather is hot as to be outside I do not, wish to be and instead stay indoors where it’s cool and my head can work on things I like to do like reading and writing and listening to Audiobooks with stories so fine written by Authors whose words are divine as the plots unfold one by one leaving me guessing right up to the end who was the bad guy and who the friend and then when I am really bored I jump in my truck and take a drive with no particular place in mind just out in the beautiful countryside the forecast shows we have one more week of one hundred degree weather to bear and then hopefully we will have our share of cooler weather and then life unfolds as back out on the trails will be my goal walking in places so lovely to see taking pictures of things so beautiful to me and then coming home to write some more about what I saw on the trails before along with the pictures I took today to share on my blog in a positive way so that others may view the beautiful scenes while I am happy fulfilling my dreams.
I was looking hard for something to do to pass the time on this day it was way too hot to go outside or take a hike in my usual way I’m already blogged out for a month ahead at two a week which is my goal so what is it I can do instead to keep me busy and fill the hole I could clean house but that is a chore not something that is my usual way no interest in that sort of thing guess I’m not the housework king a typical batchelor you might say I could go to the gym but that sounds like work this time of a different kind to push and shove and grunt and groan I think I’ll leave that for a different time I’m running out of ideas fast can’t think of anything that will last long enough to pass the day until this evening when it is time to turn on the Tele and watch a match between the English football teams to cheer on my favorites of which there are two sometimes they win and sometimes they lose and I really have to pick and choose to see which game that I need to watch first and at the end of the day it makes no difference who beats who I spent an hour this afternoon listening to 2Cellos as they played sometimes they play with a wonderful sound easy to lose oneself in this way and others they lose control on the stage and the noise they produce stimulates the soul and gets to the very depths of the mind fast and furious of the rock and roll kind for the purists definitely way overboard for those of us with an itch in our pants going crazy with them with hardly a glance at anyone else watching them perform knowing full well it is only an act and the next time you see them they will be back to playing straight in a beautiful way and listening to them will make my day well I managed to fill an hour writing this poem so what to do next I guess I’ll just have to jump in my truck and go for a drive a very long way listening to Audiobooks as I drive in awe of the authors whose stories I buy and wonder how they can write what they do such talent and such wonderful minds me I do not have a clue as poetry is the best I can do I do not have a devious mind and can only think in the usual way and so without a story of any kind reporting the facts is how I pass my day.
Here in Texas, we expect it to be hot. It is a part of who we are and has a lot to say for how tough Texans are. As with Nature, no two summers are alike and this one, for us so far, has been pretty good. It’s been hot but nothing that that we cannot put up with.
However and finally, the really hot weather is upon us as here in Austin, we have reached the 100 degree mark. It’s been close a few times over the past couple of months but has not quite reached that “magic” number. The day before yesterday was different as we breached that with the temperature at my house at 101 degrees. Add in the humidity and were looking at 104-105 degrees, hot enough to fry the proverbial egg on the sidewalk.
That has continued and is forecast to hang around even longer and to go as high as 104-105 which by anyone’s standards, even ours, is bloody hot. Even though we say we are used to it that is not really true as though the body may tolerate the heat, one is never really comfortable in it.
I had an incident a month or so ago hiking at McKinney Roughs when the heat gave me some pretty serious problems. That is all I can think of as the reason that I came light headed and a bit disoriented on a walk that I had done a couple of times before and had not been affected then.
When I first arrived in Texas in 1977, I came down from New York State where it was hot when it reached 85 degrees, with the explicit purpose of working construction as a Project Manager building new schools in the Round Rock School District in a time of real productivity for the area. The first summer nearly did me in but I stuck it out working alongside the men who had no options other than to brave the heat. We covered our skins, put on suntan lotion, wore hats and sunglasses and drank a lot of water and although I would not like to say we got used to it, we were able to tolerate it. One thing you learn to do in these hot conditions is to keep an eye on your workmates not to see if they were working hard but to see how the heat was affecting them. Those that showed signs of faintness or dizziness were immediately attended to and sent to rest until they could continue.
After nearly four years of that job and three schools later, I was hired on at the University of Texas as a Planner and eventually as the Planning and Scheduling Manager out of the sun for the rest of my working life. I retired from there twenty two years later.
That is not to say that I never went out in the sun again as I can remember playing soccer in Dallas at a Tournament with the temperature at 108 degrees and another time in Houston where it was equally as hot. Normally, players can’t wait to get in the game but in both of those tournaments, when anyone came off needing a sub, the chances were the team would be playing short as no one wanted to take their place. Those were the good old days.
Nowadays, I have the luxury of picking and choosing if and when I go out in the heat other than appointments and such. I try to get any outside work done early and then spend the rest of the time writing stories for my blog. Needless to say, hiking has been put on a back burner until it starts to cool down. I like to listen to Audiobooks and usually spend the afternoon driving around enthralled by some story or another written by Authors that really know how to write and keep me in suspense.
My truck stays very cool and comfortable although the miles are mounting up and I know every square inch of all of the local roads and lanes….
Today is Saturday.. I think! One day is pretty much the same as the next at this stage of my life. I no longer look forward to the weekends as they are pretty much the same as any other day except there are more people out and about and any special events are usually held on the weekend.
Used to be, many years ago, that every weekend for me was taken up with soccer, football to the rest of the world. I was either coaching one of the several Youth teams assigned to me or was actively playing myself on a couple of different teams. Even in the summer, things didn’t change very much except the Youth teams were off and we older people didn’t run anywhere near as hard or as long and we drank a lot of beer.
Nowadays, when I get up, the first thing I have to remind myself is what day it is. Once I have that firmly fixed in my mind, I check the calendar on my computer to see if I have anything special lined up that I need to do like a trip to the Physiotherapist for my aching shoulder or my Doctor for a geriatric check up. If I didn’t keep track of things on my computer, I would miss half of the appointments at which my presence is expected. Apart from any benefits those visits do provide, I see myself as a piggy bank for all of the Doctors, Dentists and such that I seem to need in my old age. Thank goodness that I had the foresight and was lucky enough to work at the University of Texas at Austin for 22 years prior to my retirement that resulted in a pension and excellent health care.
After I have figured out what day it is and what important things I need to do, I usually fill the rest of my day on several other and no less important things like checking the ponds and the health and welfare of the couple of hundred fish that reside in them. There is usually something that needs my attention like a filter or a pump or maybe an improvement on something that I felt needed working on. I should state here that I don’t do gardening. At least not in the accepted sense. Of course I take care of the ponds and I do mow the outside strip alongside the road every couple of months and the area that grows wild at the very bottom of the lot as it is really a dry creek and only floods when we get the odd gullywasher. Other than that, all of the plantings not counting those in and around the ponds are all native vegetation that I allow to run wild except in the several walkways which I keep trimmed for ease of access.
I also like to hike a lot except the weather has been so bloody hot that it made more sense to sit inside rather than to bake in the 100 degree heat. At least, I have that to look forward to and as I only occasionally hike on weekends, I can hike any other day of the week to avoid the crowds.
So you see, that even though the weekends are relatively unimportant and I never know what day it is when I wake up, there is always plenty to do to keep me occupied and being a creature of habit, nothing much changes from day to day. One of my habits is to go grocery shopping later in the day and at the same time, treat myself to a Grande Non Fat Decaf Latte from Starbucks. This is my one serious vice as it happens every day and is not cheap when totalled up for the year at $4:38 a cup. Still, the way I see it, everyone is entitled to one vice as long as it is not harmful to oneself or others. It could be worse as I could also smoke and drink but I have never smoked because of my athletic prowess and it has been 10 years since I have had any alcoholic drinks.
Lets see now, it is almost 4:00 o’clock and now it is raining again, almost time for that Latte. So goes another day in my life…
Who would believe that to write about the weather other than any extremes, is blogworthy. Yet, here I am just picking away with my superfast two finger typing, what we in Texas decide is really newsworthy and that is that it has gotten a little cooler.
With any luck, we may be over our hot weather for the year. These past few days, the temperature has failed to reach the 100 degree mark albeit only by a couple of degrees but at least psychologically, it feels cooler. And, today, it is raining. Not a fully socked in real gully washer but at least an odd cloud here and there that is dumping rain on us in a steady drizzle. We’ll take it any way we can. What is more, the temperature has only reached 80 degrees and that’s at 2:00 pm in the afternoon. It is forecast to reach 97 degrees but it may not get anywhere near that high especially if it continues to rain.
As tough as we claim to be, eventually continuous 100 degree weather gets to even the most hardened of us. Even the native Texans, the ones who wear those big hats, get more than a little tired of the heat and are glad to see it cool down. I for one am especially glad as I have done very little outdoors over these past two months. My garden needs trimming and I have a couple of projects that I want to complete this fall. Nothing major but still needing my attention and not to mention that I haven’t been on a hike in two and a half months at least. If the Parks and the Trails have not missed me, I sure as heck have missed them.
I did get in the big pond the other day to join the fish in their habitat, not for their company but because I needed to work on a couple of the installations like a fish fountain and an in-pond filter system. I finished the fish fountain and it is working just fine but the filter system still needs some work. Still, I don’t mind that work as I am standing in the pond where it is pretty cool at least compared to the outside temperatures.
The only good thing that has come out of all of this heat and me staying indoors is that I have written enough blogs to take me through mid October at three a week and I know of at least two more that I will need to fit in with the Austin Pond Society meetings for October and November. Hopefully, I have not bored my few readers too much with my odd selection of subjects over these past couple of months.
Well, it has stopped raining, with any luck only temporarily, as we could sure use a lot more. As I have written in previous blogs, my garden is pretty much all native plants. I have not watered it at all this summer and although some of the plants are looking a bit heat weary, most of them are holding up well. When our one or two day winter arrives, the frost will knock down all of the remaining growth and I will have to spend a couple of days cleaning it up ready for the start of the new season. But that is next year…
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