Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Soon upon turning onto the road which leads to the Wichita Falls Prairie Dog Town I came upon multiple Prairie Dog Puppies playing in the road.
By the time I got my camera pointed out the windshield all but the two Puppies you see here remained on the road, whilst the others had retreated back to the protection of their Mama.
We will see that Mama later in a photo and via video.
But first I got photo evidence of why the Wichita Falls Prairie Dogs seem to be so tolerant of their human visitors.
The above lady was with her kids, tossing food to the Prairie Dogs. I asked what she was throwing at them. Carrots was the answer. She said they eat just about anything. If you look closely you can see that the burrow receiving carrots is near some playground equipment. Let's look closer at that.
Prairie Dogs have built a Prairie Dog Town suburb quite close to the ladder which leads to a curving slide.
Another Prairie Dog Town suburb has been built near a row of swings. Clearly the Prairie Dogs like to live near where their human friends play.
Below is the aforementioned Prairie Dog Mama and a couple of her babies.
I got too close to the babies and their Mama, which had Mama scolding me and sort of waving her upper arms at me as she stood up. I think the scolding may have been Prairie Dog barking. You can see this incident in the video below, along with a look at the wall which surrounds Prairie Dog Town...
Monday, May 23, 2016
Multiple lightning strikes so close the flash and boom were simultaneous.
When morning dawned I looked out to see my abode surrounded by water, a virtual moat. I need wading boots to get to my vehicle.
In the picture you are looking at the stormy view through my kitchen window.
The deluging has abated, somewhat. Have not heard thunder boom for about a half hour. This storm has tapered off a couple times, only to come roaring back.
There will be no climbing Mount Wichita today....
Sunday, May 22, 2016
Previously we learned how the Falls part of this Texas town's name came to be. That being that way back in the 1800s, when Wichita Falls came to be a town, there was a short drop of about three feet in the Wichita River which the locals thought was a waterfall, which a flood destroyed before the 1800s became the 1900s.
Hence the Falls part of the name, even though there soon was no falls, til a new artificial waterfall was made late in the 1900s.
I assumed that the Wichita part of the Wichita Falls name was an Indian tribe, long forgotten, not etched into the collective memory like the more well known Comanche or Apache or Navajo.
Well, I assumed wrong.
When one drives or walks around Wichita Falls, no matter where one is in the town, one sees directional signage which is very well done and very useful. I will make further mention of this in a subsequent blogging in the near future.
As one nears the downtown Wichita Falls zone the directional signage starts to have Wee-Chi-Tah Sculpture on the list of what one is being pointed towards.
A couple days ago I followed the Wee-Chi-Tah directions and eventually found what you see above.
To get to the Wee-Chi-Tah Sculpture one is directed to cross the Wichita River, out of downtown, to what appears to be a past its prime industrial area.
Eventually the signs get one to a parking lot from whence one walks a short paved trail to the Wee-Chi-Tah Sculpture, overlooking the Wichita River.
One then learns that this sculpture is one of the biggest in America honoring our Native Americans. The sculpture depicts a Comanche family crossing the Wichita River.
This Comanche family crossing the river is based on a Comanche legend, from whence Wichita Falls derives its full name.
A Comanche squaw, her child, a pair of Comanche braves, their horses and one colt were wanting to cross the river. The squaw wades out into the river to test its depth, then hollers back that the water is waist deep, a concept which when expressed in Comanche is "we-chi-tah."
The Wee-Chi-Tah sculpture depicts all aspects of this Comanche legend.
But, I must point out that that Comanche squaw must have been testing the river's depth during a drought period, because if she was testing its depth on a day like today she would find the water way deeper than waist deep.
I wonder what the Comanche word is for "water too deep"? Had this Comanche crossing of long ago been made when the water was deep the town would likely not be Wichita Falls....
Saturday, May 21, 2016
Since they were on my way to my intended destination I dropped into their town to see if the Wichita Falls Prairie Dogs were receiving visitors.
Leaving the Prairie Dogs I turned right where I usually turn left to climb Mount Wichita, and headed north to find the Wichita Bluff Nature Area.
When I reached the nice new entry to the Wichita Bluff Nature Area with its equally nice and new parking lot it was soon obvious that this was an under construction work in progress. I came to this conclusion when I saw the trail you see above was blocked with a fence and a sign which said something like "For Your Safety Proceed No Further Construction Work In Progress." I could see some buildings under construction. Likely modern restroom facilities and picnic pavilions, since those seem to be the norm in all Wichita Falls parks, just like such is the norm in most modern American towns.
So, with communing with nature at the Wichita Bluff Nature Area not available I continued northeast a short distance to Lucy Park where I had myself a mighty fine time along with a lot of other people.
The Wichita River is running a bit more water, due to recent deluging, than when I last walked beside it. The color of the water in the Wichita River reminds me of Utah's redrock zone. I rather like it. I did not see a single piece of litter floating in the river, unlike another Texas river I can think of named Trinity.
The redrock river color would not seem to be conducive to fishing, yet I saw several guys with poles angling over the water.
Way back in 2005 I was at a party at the next door neighbor of Samson and Deliah in Kent, Washington. I liked the color scheme in the neighbor's house. It reminded me of Utah. Sort of like the Wichita River color scheme you see above, Redrock orange, green, tan, brown. All that is missing is a dash of muted turquoise.
I have mentioned before that all the Wichita Falls parks I have been to have had a lot of benches. Many of the rocking sort. Along the paved trails which run all over town there are a lot of benches. And drinking fountains.
Below is an example of one of the swinging benches, strategically placed under the shade of a tree.
At one point later in my walk around Lucy Park I stood in one spot and counted 17 benches as I made a 360 degree scan of the horizon. I tried to get a photo of the plethora of benches but that did not turn out well.
World traveler, Mr. Galtex, travels the world seeking out comfortable benches and then has Mrs. Galtex snap a photo of him sitting on his latest bench discovery. Mr. Galtex would have himself a field day in the Wichita Falls parks. With no need to use his passport....
I first visited the Prairie Dogs on Tuesday, after a night of heavy rain. At that point in time the Prairie Dogs were in full frolic mode, as if celebrating that the night of heavy rain and thunder was over.
Two days ago I visited the Prairie Dogs a second time to find nary a Prairie Dog anywhere to be seen. The weather on that day was misty and foggy. Methinks Prairie Dogs are averse to any form of precipitation.
Today, with the return of blue sky, on my third visit with my neighborhood Prairie Dogs they were in full frolic mode, seeming to be having themselves a mighty fine time.
I think the Wichita Falls Prairie Dogs get a lot of friendly human visitors. The Prairie Dogs acted way less finicky than turtles and ducks I have visited in other Texas parks.
There is a thick enclosure around Central Prairie Dog Town. I assume this installed to try and keep some control over the size of the town.
However, somehow some adventurous Prairie Dogs with a pioneering spirit have migrated out of the enclosure and have established multiple suburbs, some a couple hundred feet from downtown Prairie Dog Town.
I have always found Prairie Dogs to be real cute and cuddly. Sort of the American version of Meerkats, which I also find cute and cuddly. Many of the Prairie Dogs in town today appeared to be puppies. Lots of little dogs.
Below is a short video I shot today of frolicking Prairie Dogs. The Prairie Dogs you will see in this video are some of the pioneer Prairie Dogs, building new towns outside of the incorporated Wichita Falls Prairie Dog Town....
Friday, May 20, 2016
They knew not.
I did not mention the pair are students at Midwestern State University, the college a couple blocks north of my abode.
This morning I did some Googling attempting to get an answer to that vexing Mount Wichita question.
Previous attempts to Google such were not successful. Today's attempt was successful, using the search term "Lake Wichita Park Hill". My first blog post about this subject shows up on the results, and when one looks at images of the Lake Wichita Park Hill, my first photo I took of the mountain, I mean, hill, is the first on the list.
From the aforementioned Midwestern State University's online school newspaper, in an article from way back on October 8, 2013 I read the following....
Residents visit the park for its running trail, dog park, disc golf course and a mound of dirt unofficially named Mt. Murphy after Jack Murphy, the city’s director of parks and recreation.
“The hill started about 15 years ago,” Murphy said. “It came as a suggestion when deciding how to use the excavated dirt from the bottom of Sikes Lake.”
Murphy said the hill is 83 feet tall right now. He said the plan is to build it up to 100 feet and turn it into a local attraction with perhaps a spiraling trail going up and a metal structure on top.
So, almost three years ago that which I call Mount Wichita was only 83 feet tall? With a plan to eventually grow the mountain another 17 feet?
Well, Mount Wichita, I mean, Mount Murphy, seems way taller than 100 feet to me. I don't think a 100 foot elevation gain would be as aerobically stimulating as is the climb to the summit of Mount Wichita.
Yes, I am sticking with the Mount Wichita name. Mount Murphy just does not work for me.
After learning how Mount Wichita came to be I saw the search results also included a Facebook page dedicated to Mount Wichita.
Except on the Facebook page Mount Wichita is called The Dirt Hill.
Reading the plethora of comments on the The Dirt Hill Facebook page I learned I am not the only one who finds the climb to the summit to be extremely aerobically stimulating.
Dredging is part of the Lake Wichita Revitalization Plan. Methinks it would be a good plan to take that which is dredged and make a couple more mountains, so as to then have the Wichita Mountains. I think a Wichita Mountain Range would make for a very good tourist attraction.
Another part of the Lake Wichita Revitalization Plan is to make a sandy beach near the base of Mount Wichita.
A mountain range with a beach. Seems like a good plan to me....
Thursday, May 19, 2016
But, around noon I drove to Mount Wichita anyway to have myself a walk in the mist, mist which today in Wichita Falls has been like a stereotypical winter day in the Western Washington zone of the Pacific Northwest.
Whilst walking around Mount Wichita I came upon a pair of college students who were engaged in a conversation about water moccasins.
I was not interested in snakes, but I did interrupt the snake discussion to ask if they knew the story behind what created Mount Wichita. They did not know. I then asked if they were in Wichita Falls during the five year drought.
He then said if he remembered right there was a lot of informational signage about the lake at the dam's spillway. I asked how to get there. He told me. By his directions I realized the spillway was closer to my abode than Mount Wichita. So, I left the mountain and headed to the dam spillway.
That would be the Lake Wichita dam spillway you see above, with water spilling over the spillway. Above that is the only informational signage I found, informing about the Lake Wichita Pavilion which used to exist over the lake at this location.
Via the sign I learned Lake Wichita was completed in 1901. Eventually the Lake Wichita recreation area included a hotel, vacation cottages, baseball fields, a swimming pool inside a circular building with a carousel plus the Lake Wichita Pavilion which included a cafe, skating rink and a dance hall. The pavilion burned down in 1955, with all that remains being piers sticking out of the lake which we will see in a moment.
But first I must make mention of something in the second photo above. Near the information sign is that water fountain you see in the foreground. I have seen several water fountains along the Wichita Falls trails. Quite a nice modern big city type amenity.
Continuing on, let's walk to the top of the dam.
As you can see a paved biking, jogging, walking roller blading trail has been installed on top of the dam. This trail extends all over Wichita Falls, including running right by my new abode.
If you look at the above photo closely you can see the aforementioned Mount Wichita in the distance, on the left.
Let's continue on to the dock we see below.
As you walk to the floating dock you can also see the aforementioned Mount Wichita in the distance. The bridge one walks across to get to the dock provided some pleasing rocking motion.
Looking south from the dock we see the aforementioned remains of the Lake Wichita Pavilion.
Do I need to mention that the Lake Wichita Pavilion appears to have been a real pavilion, unlike the imaginary pavilion America's Biggest Boondoggle has foisted off on the hapless citizens of another Texas town, called Fort Worth?
Currently Wichita Falls is in the process of building a new boardwalk type deal over the lake at this location, with a real pavilion eventually added. I suspect this will all be completed long before anyone sees anything worth seeing in Fort Worth's Trinity River Uptown Central City Panther Island Vision.
From the dock I zoomed in for a foggy across the pond look at Mount Wichita, looking like a snow-free mini version of Washington's Mount Rainier.
That concludes today's look at the scenery of Wichita Falls.
I have yet to find anything here that I don't like or am appalled by.
Well, the roads in some of the parks could use some upgrading. The road to the parking lot at Mount Wichita is a bit jarring with the bumps and potholes.
I don't remember if I got this example from the Seattle Times or the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
I have no idea what SIFF is, but can you imagine something in Fort Worth called SIFF featuring Fort Worth-centered movies though history?
Sleepless in Fort Worth?
A movie titled Sleepy in Fort Worth might be doable, featuring a famous panther napping in the sleepy town's mostly moribund downtown.
Can you imagine a movie industry magazine indicating Fort Worth to be among the best places to make movies?
I can't either.
Me actually thinks Hollywood is missing out on some rich material.
Like the Fort Worth Stockyards.
There is no other city in the world which has a twice daily cattle herd of longhorns ramrodded down a city street by cowboys and cowgirls.
Is there any other city in the world which encourages hordes of locals to float in a polluted river while drinking beer and listening to music at an imaginary island with an imaginary pavilion?
A Seinfeld type TV show would have a field day of material in Fort Worth. Mayors like downtown gun shooting Moncrief and pedal pushing Betsy Price. Embarrassments like J.D. Granger. And his mama. A plethora of corrupt courts and corrupt court officials. Epic eminent domain abuse. Businesses bragging about having indoor plumbing. City parks without indoor plumbing.
Fort Worth really is a one of a kind American city which Hollywood really needs to take a look at for some fresh material.
Currently Bravo TV is running a new Real Housewives franchise, The Real Housewives of Dallas. Bravo missed an opportunity for some good TV by not going 30 miles west to Where the West Begins to show America and the world The Real Housewives of Fort Worth.
Elsie Hotpepper would make for a great Bethenny Frankel of the South....
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
At one point lightning struck at the same time I was jolted by a concussive jolt of thunder. One of the loudest jolts of concussive thunder I had ever been concussed by.
Minutes ago I got an email telling me that the Facebooker who sometimes goes by the name of Layla Caraway had tagged me.
When this tagged me type thing happens it always causes me a moment of wondering what fresh hell is this going to be.
So, I go to Facebook and click on the tagged me link to see that which you see here.
A little blurb from the National Weather Service informing that "Lightning struck the green of the 15th hole at Champions Course at Weeks Park in Wichita Falls, TX, early Tuesday morning. Lightning spreads out along the ground in something called "ground current"."
What Miss Caraway does not know is that my new abode abuts Weeks Park and the Champions Golf Course. I look out my windows and can see golfers. Usually. But not right now because we are being a bit damp at this location, with the ground and grounds a bit saturated.
I suspect that that extremely loud boom and thunder boom I was jolted by on Tuesday was the one which made all those current fissures you see in the photo above.
I ended up leaving less in Fort Worth than I had originally intended.
Such as what you see here. I had figured I really did not need to haul this to yet one more location. I think this was among what originally came from Washington way back late in the last century.
The man you see standing in front of the woven basket is a Mexican puppet I got in Algodones, Mexico, I think in 1998.
For the transit from Fort Worth to Wichita Falls I stuck some stuff in the woven basket.
Upon installing the woven basket and the Mexican puppet in its new location, in my bedroom, I removed the extra stuff I'd stuffed in the basket in Fort Worth and discovered underneath the stuff was a silk-like sarong thing from Bali which Singapore's Wee Cheng had shipped to me whilst I still lived in Washington.
I took out the silk-like sarong thing to find myself being surprised to find a treasure trove of photos I had forgotten existed, including photos of my house in Mount Vernon under construction.
We won't be looking at those construction photos here, instead we will be looking at a couple things which both surprised me and sort of appalled me.
First up, below we are looking at the Goober Twins, Big Ed and Bigger Wally. This picture was taken at my abode in Mount Vernon, Washington, sometime, I would estimate, in the early 1990s.
It isn't just Big Ed and Bigger Wally which are surprising and appalling me in this picture. It's the picture between Big Ed and Bigger Wally.
As I sat in my new humongous bulbous green chair looking at the treasure trove of pictures I looked up on the wall to my right to see that which you see below.
The same picture hanging on my new wall which hung on my old wall in Mount Vernon. This meant this picture got hauled to Haslet, Texas, than a couple years later to Fort Worth and now to Wichita Falls. It is not like I have some sort of fond attachment to this wall hanging, so why am I hanging on to it and transporting it thousands of miles?
A couple minutes later among the treasure trove of newly found photos I found the one you see below. That is the living room of my house in Mount Vernon, looking sort of northeast out a bank of windows.
If it were daylight you would be seeing tall fir trees a few feet from the windows.
This location is where I experienced some of my most un-nerving earthquake experiences, back in the 1990s when a localized cluster of quakes epicentered at Big Lake a couple miles to the east. These were only 3 something Richter scale earthquakes at their shakiest. But due to being so close the shaking was severe. One of the quakes cracked my tile kitchen floor.
The scariest of these quakes occurred whilst I was sitting on the couch in the living room watching TV. The quake hit with a loud boom and roar. The windows flexed like they were going to burst. And the fir trees swayed violently.
In the below photo make note of the chair in the far corner and the pillow sitting next to it.
I saw that which you see in the above photo and then looked to the left from the vantage point of that aforementioned humongous bulbous green chair and saw what you see below.
That chair and pillow made the same multi-thousand mile journey as that picture above, ending up in Wichita Falls. The pillow is paired with a matching afghan. In the picture you can see another afghan pillow combo which also made it to Wichita Falls.
My Grandma Vera was an afghan making maniac. I think I had six of them with me on my trek to Texas. I believe three of the Grandma Vera afghans were transported to Miss Martha's during the moving mayhem. One may be at Miss Puerto Rico's.
I can understand hauling my Grandma Vera afghans with me, what with there being a sentimental value attached. But that chair? I bought a pair of those decades ago at Dania Furniture in Seattle. The pair made it to Texas. I delivered one of them to the Paradise Center in Fort Worth when myself and CatsPaw had our one and only visit to the Paradise Center.
If I ever leave Wichita Falls, and I am fairly sure one day I will, I won't be taking that chair or wall hanging with me. Just the afghans....