Reimers Ranch 12-21-2018


A panoramic view

I took another walk at Reimers Ranch just to get out and about in the fresh air and the beautiful sunny weather. Hard to believe that it is winter time with the temperatures hovering around 70 degrees. Even so, Mother Nature, in all of her glory, has on her winter coat at least in my part of Texas. Everything is a drab brown color except for the Evergreen Oaks and of course, the Cedars with the occasional Possumhaw Holly showing its red berries.

Possumhaw Holly

I decided that I would walk the other half of the Multi Use Trail that I didn’t complete on one of my earlier walks on the Northern end of the Park. I parked in the Mountain Bike Parking Lot which had several cars in it. I noticed as I drove past that the Horse Trailer Parking also had several trailers in it so there was some activity and on a Friday to boot. A couple of bikers came in as I was getting ready after having completed their runs chattering away and quite obviously having enjoyed it very much.

Oh, to be young again.

I changed into my hiking boots and decided on just one camera as I set out taking the trail that leads to Johnny’s Homestead which, by the way, is nothing but a standing chimney as the rest of the building disappeared in a fire several years ago. It still serves as a map marker. I passed a young couple going in the opposite direction and we exchanged pleasantries. As I hit the Multi Use Trail, I turned south. This trail is very easy walking and only at the very end, does it get rougher going. I managed to get a picture of a Pine Warbler which for me, is quite an achievement as I don’t see many birds. Probably because I am too noisy as I walk along and also because I don’t have the patience to sit and watch. When I do get to see one, I have to rely on the zoom lens to bring them in close and then hope I can crop the pictures to get them even closer and with color.


Pine Warbler

This end of the Multi Use Trail also brings me close to the stream that marks the boundary on this end of the park. It runs roughly north/south and tends to dry up in the very hot weather. This time of the year, it has a nice steady flow and as with a lot of the streams and waterways around here, has dug itself quite a deep ditch/canyon to flow through. I walked over to the closest spot and took a couple of pictures but was not able to convey the depth of the canyon very well which is about 50 feet at this point.

Stream

The trail eventually veers away from the stream as it makes the turn to bring me back to where I started. The posted markers indicate that the complete loop is 4.7 miles. I am not sure how they measure it as both of my pedometers always show more distance. At this point, the walking gets a little harder as the terrain turns rocky and also with a grade increase both up and down. I met a horse and rider who were just starting out from the Horse Trailer Parking Area and we exchanged pleasantries and joking about her six legs of transport compared to my two. I finally made the turn back up the road and into the Mountain Bike Parking Lot and to my truck. The lot was quite a bit emptier as many of the bikers had already left as had most of the Horse Trailers when I walked by their parking lot.

View from the parking lot.

Altogether, I covered a little over four miles of pleasant and easy walking on a beautiful sunny day in Texas in the winter. The slideshow below is made up of the still pictures that I took.

A collection of photos

Written 12/24/2018

Reimers Ranch 12-13-2018


The far bank

With the weather so great, I just had to get out and take a walk. It was really a spur of the moment decision as I had not really planned on it. So, I grabbed my cameras and filled my water bottle and headed to Reimers Ranch. I had no specific plans for any particular trail and ended up at the River Bend Parking lot. This is the one that leads to both the swimming areas and to the river trails which is where I opted to hike.

The River Trail

I walked along the river trail taking pictures of the wonderful views including the Pedernales River. The walking is easy although there are a couple of places where the trail gets a little tricky like climbing up and over the rocks. The plan was to walk to River View parking No 1. at which point, I would make the difficult climb up and out of the canyon and take the gravel path that runs along the top of the bluff back to my truck.

The climb out
Quite a climb

As usual, exiting the river trails at River Parking No 1 was a challenge. This requires literally climbing up rocks that are placed in the form of a very rudimentary set of stone steps, easy enough for the young and agile but challenging to old people like me. I safely made it out and then started to walk back along the gravel path. This is easy walking although it too has washed out in a few places and needs some maintenance work. I could see the storm clouds off in the distance and wondered if I would beat them back to my truck as I didn’t fancy getting a soaking although I was more concerned for my cameras than for me. As it happened, I beat the rain and made it back with time to spare.

Thunderclouds building
Almost back to my truck before the rain.

I covered a little over four miles and as usual, took a lot of pictures and have put them together in the form of a slideshow set to music. Enjoy.

Written 12/23/2018

McKinney Roughs 12-15-2018


I had the hikers itch and so grabbing all of my gear, I headed to McKinney Roughs just to get back out in the fresh air and spend some time with Nature. The weather was gorgeous with the temperature around 65 degrees and just a few light clouds in the sky, perfect weather for being outdoors. 

I pulled into the parking lot and there were a few other cars, hopefully all making the most of the sunshine and getting their exercise. I went through my usual procedures of boots and gear and decided to take only one camera with me. I must not have been paying much attention as when I got out on the trail, I noticed that I had brought the one with the smaller lens. The two cameras that I have are the Nikon D 7200 and the Nikon D 7500 with the latter a little more advanced with stuff that I haven’t figured out how to use. I wasn’t about to go back as I knew that I could still get good pictures with the 7200. It was equipped with a telescopic 16-300 lens.

All of the trails were open with the exception of the short piece on Road Runner that has been closed for quite a while. I planned on walking down Ridge and then complete the circuit on Bluff Trail Loop and finally ending up on Woodland and home. I met several people out on the trail and stopped to talk to a couple of young men, named Seth and Parker. They were very interested in the lichen growing on the trees and rocks and I never thought to ask them why. They are both holding a twig with lichen on it in the picture.

I met another older gentleman who told me that he was “turned around” and wanted to get on the Coyote Road trail. We were on Bluff Trail Loop at the time and I showed him where he would have to go if he stayed on the trails. His comment was that he was going to “bushwhack” it as he could hear his friends off to one side. I heard them too as without another word, he struck off in a direct line from where the sound was coming from sort of forging his own trail. Luckily for him, he was walking downhill making the going a little easier. “Good Luck” I called out to him as he disappeared among the brush. Hopefully, he made it to where he was going.

I continued on as I had before following the trails and taking a lot of pictures. Most of the greenery is gone with the occasional cedar tree still green and breaking the monotony. The panoramic picture below shows of just how barren everything is looking. It is winter here in my part of central Texas although by comparison to a lot of the USA, hard to tell it.

Winter in Texas

It was quite obvious from the condition of some of the trails that there had been a lot of rain  fallen in the past week or so as the trails were deeply rutted with many footprints. They were at the stage where the footprints from the walkers and had dried in that condition and it was going to take a lot of hikers feet to make the trails level and more comfortable to walk on especially as no horses were allowed on this particular trail.

I made my way back up Woodland heading back to the parking lot and passed an older couple sitting on one of the many benches placed on that trail. This trail leads directly back to the office and is designed for anyone to take a leisurely walk. It is fairly level with no hills to climb.

I arrived back at my truck just as a young lady was saying goodbye to someone who had dropped her off. She told him that she loved him and as we passed, I said “I like what you just said, There is not enough of it in the world today”. She replied that it was her uncle and I thought how sweet it was to belong to a tight knit family such as that. I thought about it as I sat in my truck relaxing after the walk and wished for a moment that I had a different life. Luckily for me, the feeling soon passed as we are talking of a life gone by and we can’t turn back the clock no matter how hard we try.

I headed home stopping at the HEB that I usually stop at and the Starbucks right next door before arriving home. Altogether, I covered a little over five miles including the HEB shopping. It all counts as exercise…

Below is a video of the nine panoramic views of the park.  Both videos are best viewed in full screen.

The video below is a slideshow of the many other pictures that I took. Both videos are best viewed in full screen.

Written 12/17/2018

The Rich and the Poor


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Human Nature is a funny old thing
with each of us as different as plants in the Spring
we are basically all the same
though some have a much better brain
we all are born with two arms and legs
and of course we have a head
the color of our skin may change
but basically we are all the same.

There are many religions in play
each to believe in their own way
wars are fought over which is the best
to the winners the price is the ultimate test
how many believers can they convert
and sustain their world without getting hurt
as the vanquished are never still
awaiting their chance the victors to kill.

People don’t all live the same
like the food on the table with different names
or speak in tongues only they understand
like the clothes they wear made for their land
even the landscape so different may be
forever changing the scenery
and the standards of living may be different for each
based on the wealth of each nations reach
less wealthier nations may find it best
to keep people happy to avoid unrest.

I live in the wealthiest of lands
with a standard of living that’s way out of hand
and yet even then in a land so rich
many people are poor and wish they could switch
all they see is the wealthy people succeed
as the top one percent have more than they need
and many of them are forced to stand
on street corners with their hat in their hand
looking for anything that may come their way
Please mister, Can you spare a dollar today.

The average American has a kind heart
and are ready and able a dollar to impart
others choose to look and have their say
and criticize the bum for acting that way
not knowing the reasons they are down on their luck
but ready instead to keep them stuck
in the circle of hardship they find themselves in
blaming instead on the bottles of gin
that in their minds the bums have consumed
which as far as they know could be far from the truth

If every rich person gave ten percent
of the wealth they accrue the money to be spent
on helping the homeless the poor and the sick
and the families who are finding it hard to pick
themselves up and turn it around
as sinking that low makes it hard to rebound
and with just a little help from the rich
would certainly go a long way to unhitch
and break the circle of poverty and help switch
to a better life for one and all
and the rich could feel good they helped stop the fall.

Alas I fear it will never be
as most of the rich have no sympathy
towards anything other than their own
and it won’t be that very long
that the top one percent will be so strong
and the wealth they have will soon consume
the rest of the folks and keep them in tune
with what it is they have to do
to stay alive as they have no clue
and work at the jobs that the rich men provide
a mere pittance is all their work will derive

Luckily for me I have enough money saved
to see me through to the end of my days
nothing like the one percent
on whose money mine makes no dent
enough to keep me away from the ones
that stand on the corners looking for crumbs
and enough that one of those I can be
who hands out the dollars for those poorer than me
for at the end of the day if things hadn’t worked out
I could be one of those souls that this stories about.

Written 10/10/2018

 

A Walk at Reimers 4-4-2018


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My buddy George, who has been staying with me for a couple of days, suggested we should take a walk which I thought was an excellent idea. I chose to go back to Reimers Ranch as I like the long distance and panoramic shots that I can take there plus there is always the possibility of catching site of the Osprey.

Reimers Ranch has many trails including one that encircles the entire park, With the focal point of the Park being the Pedernales River, there are two trails close to the river that entails going down anyone of the four access points. The first one is located on the first parking lot  which is named the Rock Climbing Parking.  This is a favorite parking area for the Rock Climbers as they pursue their hazardous sport. This entrance is not for the faint of heart as it requires scrambling down a rocky trail and a certain amount of actual climbing over and around the rocks. Even when you have traversed the way down, the river trail also requires a certain amount of scrambling over very rocky terrain.

The second parking lot is known as River Bend Parking which is a lot more accessible to the river and the trails. It has a wide concrete road leading down to the swimming and lower trail area. Vehicles can drive down to unload but cannot park anywhere at the bottom and must drive back out to park.

The third parking area is known as River View Parking #1 and further along is the last of the parking areas known as River View Parking #2. Both of these have very tricky entrances to the river trails below as they are both on steep  rocky hillsides that have been crudely shaped with rocky steps. Both require considerable care in negotiating the trails and again, they are designed for the rock climbers who scale the cliff faces at this end of the Park. In the last three cases, once down on the river trail, it is a very nice walk with a little scrambling here and there and it is possible to go all the way to the northernmost end of the Park and complete the loop by taking the Wild Turkey Trail and then the Multi Use Trail back to whatever parking lot originally chosen.

There is also a gravel path that starts at the very first parking area on the top of the Bluff and leads all of the way following the river as close as possible and ends at the last parking lot.

We opted to park in the second lot, River Bend Parking, the one with the ramp leading down to the river and the swimming area and then took the lower trail heading towards the Northernmost end of the Park. We didn’t plan on walking the entire length of the trail but only as far as the last parking area.

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Both of these shots are panoramas made up of at least 5 separate vertical pictures

We passed several people, some with their dogs and exchanged greetings. Some stopped to chat with us whilst others just had a short hello as they passed. The River activity was really busy with several kayaks going in both directions and other people walking along the river bed. The weather was great and the sun was warm and it was obvious that people were just glad to get out and enjoy it all. Mother Nature was putting on a grand display as things began to burst forth. I really like the “new” green at this time of the year before the leaves and things begin to darken.

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On the opposite bank, I could see several large white shapes but could not identify them. I switched cameras and with the long lens saw they were cactus in flower. The flowers had to be huge as even at a distance, they are big. Below are the pictures I took.

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The spring flowers are beginning to show.

George suffers from vertigo and did not feel confidant enough in his ability to climb either of the two stone staircases to the last two exits to get back to the top so we decided to backtrack along the way we had come, finally making it back to the concrete ramp, which is also quite a steep climb and then back to the truck.

There is an interesting cave in the opposite cliff face and also the owners of the property across on the other side have built a stairway leading down to the river. That must have been a very interesting project.

As usual, Reimers did not disappoint and it was great to be out there walking again even on a weekend with lots of people around. Oh yes, no Osprey…

Written 4/7/2018

 

Meandering Thoughts


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Samantha, Fats at the back, Whiskey Bean, Manfried is the Maltese in front and then Ennery. plus two cats.

I just finished writing a blog
an exercise in thoughts you might say
as I had to remember back fifty years
when the first dog came my way.

In it’s own way it was fun
remembering back all that time
and the memories of all of the dogs
stirred other thoughts of a different kind.

Of time spent in the country where I was born
and the people there that I knew
the life I lived and the jobs that I had
and the wives of which there were two.

A childhood romance when we were young
not knowing what life was all about
bringing into this world two beautiful sons
before life filled us full of doubt.

Into another’s arms her love to feel
with struggle and strife along the way
and finally making it all worthwhile
as off to America a new life a new way.

Sadly America was not the cure
for after ten years of married bliss
all of the dreams came tumbling down
my world fell into the abyss.

Another lady filled the void
with her life was full as it could be
after fifteen years of married bliss
once more back to misery.

I decided I was not the marrying kind
and spent the next twenty five years alone
except for the dogs of which there were many
everyone important as though to atone.

For the fact that I make a terrible mate
but a friend to the dogs is not very hard
and the love for a woman seemed not to be there
but I love all dogs with the highest regard.

If I could live my life again
there would be many things I would change
but there is one thing of which I am sure
my love for all dogs is stronger than before.

Wives would have no part of that life
as they only bring trouble and strife
instead my life would be full of dogs
with wagging tails and sloppy tongues.

And love so strong it is a shame
their lives are so short and sweet
but another is ready to take it’s place
with instant love as soon as we meet.

Written 1/19/2018

Link to the other blog here.

What is Wrong with the World?


DSC_5100What is wrong with this modern world? It is a question that everyone should be asking themselves.

The news we read or listen to every day is always about something horrible that has happened somewhere or to someone in this country or across the World. I understand that to make things newsworthy require some sort of sensationalism but it is very sad that so much of it relates to violence in one form or another that man is inflicting on each other. It is not just this country but many that are having this problem.

For better or worse, we are in an age of instant notification. If something happens that someone, somewhere deems as newsworthy, whatever it may be, it is broadcast around the world in an instant and becomes common knowledge to anybody that cares to read or listen to it. So, the question arises, “Was the world always like this and we just didn’t learn about it prior to the Internet and other forms of information sharing?” Because of the instant notification, is it creating a copycat instinct in people’s mind to be bigger and badder than the person they just read about?

When I was growing in England 70 years ago, life was so simple. There were no TV’s or computers. We didn’t even have a phone and our only form of contact with the world was by radio and the BBC. We would be glued to it listening to the news about the ongoing World War 11 and in the early years, wondering if jerry would cross the Channel and attack us. When the war ended, it took a long while before TV was introduced and with it came the first changes to a quiet way of living which would never ever again, be the same.

I came to America when I was 32 years old for the betterment of my family and myself mainly because I was given the opportunity. In the early years, life was quiet and reminiscent of the English way of life with an American twist to it and although there were personal setbacks along the way, I adopted this country as my own and became a citizen. Now, as time goes by, I am becoming increasingly aware that things are changing. Sure, I am an old man now and not much longer for this world but what I see going on around me makes me so very sad.

Parents no longer take or have the time to teach their kids about simple things like common decency and good manners and being polite and not so demanding. It is an uphill battle as the kids are bombarded from all sides with information both good and bad and they are forever to be found with their noses glued to their cell phones. I was in the doctor’s office the other day and these two kids came in probably around 16-17 years old. The girl had a recently broken nose which still included two black eyes and a huge plaster strip over it. They saw the doctor and came out with the girl leading the way. At the door leading out of the office, the girl opened the door and held it open to let the guy go out first. My immediate reaction was incredulity that she, the injured one would open the door for him and he never made any move to get to the door first or to offer her any help. Where were his manners or his concerns. Has he never been taught what manners are? I guess the bigger question may be that do the younger sexes consider themselves to be equal and things like good manners or treating the female sex in a special way are no longer important.

I see families walking around the Supermarket and the kids that are in their teens have their noses glued to their phones. There is no conversation within the family unless one of the parents asks one of the kids to get something and immediately following that, the noses are back into the phones. It makes you wonder what sort of a family life do people have nowadays.

Which brings me back to where I started. It appears that violence is on an increase and everything can become a lethal weapon. It is no longer just a gun or a knife although these are usually the weapons of choice but now the automobile joins the list of murder tools. What is really frightening is the lack of moral character that these individuals that commit these murders display. Whether the problem is drugs or alcohol or just a plain ole chip on the shoulder, this country and the world in general are becoming less and less safe.

Do I have a solution? I wish I could say that I did but I don’t. Sometimes there is a lot to be said for the good old days when life was so simple, comparatively speaking. Modern gadgets are supposed to help us and make life better and from many points, they have with the advances in medicine and man’s trip to the moon bringing with it modern technology. I guess there is a price to pay for all of this advancement and it is showing up in all of the violence. People are empowered like never before and when they feel like it, take the law into their own hands and only after do they realize the consequences.

Too bad as this country has so much potential but the quality of leadership is declining and along with it, the American Dream and the American Way of Life. If I was a religious man I should say, “God help us all” about now but I doubt that even he can do much to help a world that is turning on itself. Or maybe, that is a part of His plan given the way we treat the world. Maybe, we are reaping the rewards for all of our efforts to destroy the world through Global Warming. Are we being manipulated?