Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Tarheel Hunting In Walmart With Spencer Jack & Jason

 

Yesterday, after I blogged about Spencer Jack and his dad having had themselves a mighty fine time Space Needling and Monorailing in Seattle I emailed Spencer Jack and Jason asking a couple questions about a couple subjects.

Such as how is Spencer doing with the ongoing COVID school restrictions? And how was the Fidalgo Drive-In doing with dine in dining still banned in Washington?

Following those couple questions I told Spencer Jack and Jason how bad it is here in Texas, with restaurants packed with dine in diners. And that I am regularly appalled seeing deplorables mask-less in Walmart.

Mask-less with cases and deaths soaring in Wichita Falls and Texas, whilst Washington's and the Skagit Valley's COVID statistics are not nearly as dire.

Jason had texted me election night asking if Texas was gonna stay red, turn purple or actually wise up and turn blue. If I remember right I texted back saying that many are thinking if Tarrant County turns blue it will turn Texas blue. So, in this latest email I made mention of the fact that eventually Biden did win in Tarrant County, but this did not turn Texas blue. It did not even turn Tarrant County blue.

After lamenting Tarrant County still being red I lamented the county I am in now, what with Wichita County going 3 to 1 for Trump. 

Regarding restaurants here being open to interior dining and those mask-less fools in Walmart, and Trumpers being a big majority here, I lamented the extreme high level of ignorance here, saying "you just can not fix stupid by mandate here".

That is four times "here" in one sentence. Here, here, here, here.

So, Jason replied to this morning's email before Spencer Jack drove him out of town for a couple day getaway. The part of Jason's email about his Walmart experience with masks in the Mount Vernon Walmart was amusing...

I've only seen less than a handful of people not wearing masks in the last couple months.   Ironically, one was a grossly obese woman who Spencer and I witnessed walk into Walmart last night without a mask.   But that is rare sight.   Not an obese woman at Walmart, but an unmasked one.   I'm sure she was most likely from "upriver."  She was with her two daughters who also didn't have masks, but wore one of those small chin shields.   The daughters also had the upriver look--pajamas, t-shirts that are too small, no bras, each probably weighing 350 lbs, etc.

Seems like Jason is describing a regular sighting at my closest Walmart.

For those not from the Skagit Valley I must explain what is meant by thinking someone must be from upriver. As long as I can remember there has been an enclave upriver, meaning up the Skagit River, as in east, out of the flatlands, with that enclave being heavily populated by what locals refer to as Tarheels. 

Growing up in the valley I always thought Tarheel was slang for people from the South. But, now that I am older and wiser I think Tarheel is state specific, as in one of the Carolinas. The town of Sedro-Woolley's high school was known to have a lot of Tarheels in attendance, as did the town of Concrete's high school, further up the valley.

The Walmarts in Wichita Falls are each quite different. The one closest to my abode, a mile distant, is the one where I most often see mask-less fools, and Texans looking like slovenly Tarheels.

The Walmart which is about 2.5 miles northwest from my abode, seems to have a much different clientele. I have never seen someone mask-less there, including today. And way fewer Tarheel sorts.

The most distant from my abode Walmart is up north about 8 miles, near Sheppard Air Force base, and thus also has a much different clientele. That Walmart seems to be the most like Walmarts I have been in in non-Southern locations, like Arizona, Oregon and Washington.

During this ongoing COVID nightmare of reduced things to do, one of my entertainments is to go to my closest Walmart on a Sunday. I think this must be the day when people who live out in the country come in to town to do their shopping. I have seen so many disturbing things, and overheard so many disturbing conversations. 

I have said it before, and now I will say it again. Walmart is missing a revenue generating opportuning by not installing an elevated viewing platform, charging admittance and selling adult libations for viewers to imbibe whilst watching the People of Walmart...

Monday, November 23, 2020

1962 Seattle Fun In 2020 With Spencer Jack & Jason

Email arrived Sunday night from Spencer Jack and his paternal parental unit, my Favorite Nephew Jason.

The only text in the email was the subject line of...

"1962 Fun in 2020"

1962 was the year Elvis came to Washington to the Seattle World's Fair. If I remember correctly President Kennedy pushed a button in Washington, D.C. which somehow opened the big event in the west coast version of Washington.

I do not remember if President Kennedy and Jackie got around to visiting the Seattle World's Fair. I do remember that, towards the end of the World's Fair, JFK was preoccupied with this thing which came to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Seattle World's Fair dated its origins in the 1950s when the idea was floated of having a 50th anniversary of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, which if memory serves took place in the location of what is now the University of Washington.

By the late 1950s the Space Race was underway with the Soviet Union. Boeing had become part of that race, and Boeing was based in Seattle, which was why Seattle had become known as an aerospace city.

So, something themed to the future was decided needed to be the theme for the Seattle World's Fair, and so, as such, the Seattle Century 21 Exposition was born.

Two of Seattle's movers and shakers, Victor Steinbrueck and John Graham, Jr., who helped bring the Seattle World's Fair to fruition, were discussing the Century 21 World of Tomorrow theme whilst in a Seattle restaurant waiting for the waiter to bring them dinner. One of the pair began to sketch, on a napkin, what he thought might be a good idea for the World Fair's centerpiece. And thus the Space Needle was born.

Seattle actualized the 1962 Century 21 Seattle World's Fair in a very short time frame. It became one of the few such fairs ever to be financially successful.

I think it is having this type thing in my personal memory bank why I am so astounded by how another town in America, Fort Worth, can't seem to get anything done in a timely fashion. What are we in now, year seven, of trying to build three simple little bridges over dry land to connect the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island? 

Years of puzzling over what was wrong with Fort Worth which rendered it so backwards compared to other American cities, like even its neighbor Dallas, I sort of figured out the town's problems come from being run by what is known as the Fort Worth Way. And thus the town lacks visionary leaders like the aforementioned Victor Steinbrueck and John Graham, Jr. and instead has leaders like Betsy Price and Kay Granger, and others, and so the town ends up with ridiculous embarrassments like the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle, Santa Fe Rail Market, streets without sidewalks, parks without modern facilities, and other embarrassments.

I do not remember how the funding for the Seattle World's Fair came about. Was there a bond issue election? Someone had to have paid for all that stuff that was constructed, much of which remains in use to this day.

Such as the Space Needle, which is what you see Jason and Spencer Jack masked in at the top photo.  



A couple years ago more money was spent renovating the Space Needle than what was spent building it originally. The renovation included adding a glass floor at the observation deck level, which is what you see Spencer Jack sitting on above.

It is making me feel nostalgic about the swift passage of time, seeing these photos. I think the last time I ever rode the elevator to the top of the Space Needle was with Jason and his little brother, my Favorite Nephew Joey. Joey was four or five at that point in time, which would have made Jason seven or eight. Back then it cost about $4 to ride to the top of the Needle. Now it costs closer to $30.

The summer before I moved to Texas, Jason and Joey took me to Las Vegas. The highlight of that trip was getting stuck at the top of the Vegas Space Needle knockoff known as the Stratosphere Tower. Power went out, the elevators rendered dead, no air conditioning, with the temperature way over 100. We were stranded for several hours. It turned out to be one of the most fun Nephews in Danger episodes I ever had with those two.

So, that last time at the top of the Space Needle, we were barely up there when Jason sees the Monorail leaving the Seattle Center station. He asks, "Can we go ride the Monorail now?" "But we just got to the top of the Needle, can we at least walk all the way around first?" asked I.

15 minutes later we were aboard the Monorail heading to Westlake Center. Jason insisting on being at the front of the train, so that is where he headed us, and then he proceeded to lay down on the seat. "But, I thought you wanted to ride the Monorail," I asked. "Oh, I've been on this a million times." was the memorable reply.

Jason had two obsessions when he was a kid. One was the Seattle Monorail. The other was the Washington State Ferry system. Jason built models of each, including the entire fleet of Washington ferry boats.

So, of course, after checking out the renovated Space Needle, Jason next took Spencer Jack to ride the Monorail.


The Monorail does not look much changed since I last saw it. well, the station for sure, but that may be a new train.


And here we see Spencer Jack aboard the Monorail, likely at the front, behind the pilot.

I wish Spencer Jack would drive his dad through the new tunnel under downtown Seattle and take photos or video. I have yet to see any photos of that tunnel in action.

That $4 billion tunnel and waterfront rebuild project began about the same time Fort Worth had a big TNT exploding ceremony to mark the start of construction of those aforementioned three simple bridges stuck in slow motion construction mode.

How can these two towns be in the same country? Perplexing...

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Theo & Ruby Say Hi Under Mountain Above Crystal Clear Water

 


That which you see above showed up in my email last night. Theo & Ruby saying Hi.

There was no explanatory text in the email. So, I do not know where big brother, David, was during this photo opportunity. 

I can tell the twins are on Harstine Island, a location in south Puget Sound where the Tacoma trio and their parental units have a getaway cabin to escape to when they want to get away from Tacoma.

That water you see behind Theo & Ruby is a rarity at my current location. First off, it is saltwater. I would need to drive a couple hundred miles to see some saltwater.

Second off, that water behind Theo & Ruby is crystal clear. There is no water anywhere near my current location that is crystal clear, other than bottled water. Even the tap water here is a bit murky most of the time.

And just like it taking a long drive to see some saltwater, an equally long drive could take me to crystal clear water in Texas, such as the water which flows from the San Marcos Spring to make Aquarena Springs and the 75 mile long San Marcos River. I have seen this water one time only and at that point in time I remember thinking I had never ever seen such crystal clear water. The San Marcos River terminates when it joins the Guadalupe River, which I have never seen, but also has a reputation for having clear water.

Also behind Theo & Ruby, in addition to the crystal clear saltwater, is Mount Rainier, which looks to be sporting a fresh coat of snow.

Mount Rainier is known by many names, most frequently simply as The Mountain. Most commonly used in a sentence like "The Mountain is out today". Which means the sky is clear and you can see Mount Rainier, a volcano which one can see from almost all over the state of Washington, hence the reason The Mountain is the prominent feature of Washington state vehicle licenses.

The Puyallup Indian name for Mount Rainier was Tahoma, hence the name of the town David, Theo & Ruby live in.

Mount Rainier is also known as Crystal Mountain, which is why the Mount Rainier ski area is called Crystal Mountain Ski Resort.

I just looked up at the calendar on my computer room wall and saw that this month's calendar photo is the aforementioned Crystal Mountain Ski Resort. Wait a second, I'll find my phone and snap a photo of the calendar...


It is difficult not to take a cockeyed photo of something rectangular using a phone. The caption on the lower right, below the photo, says "Milky Way over the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort".

I do not remember when last I saw the Milky Way the way one sees it where there is little competing light and little air pollution. Houseboating, long ago, on Lake Powell, is my most recent memory of being amazed at gazing at the Milky Way.

I also do not remember when last I was at any sort of ski resort. I do not believe any such thing exists in Texas. Or next door in Oklahoma. A couple hundred miles west and northwest, in New Mexico and Colorado I could find some ski resorts.

I drove through Ruidoso, in New Mexico, the last time I drove back to Texas from Arizona. Ruidoso is known for having a ski area. But, I saw no sign of such as I drove on by.

On this next to last Sunday of the 2020 version of November I am 100% certain I will be doing no skiing today, nor will I be gazing at any crystal clear water. Or a mountain....

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Biking Wichita Falls Yellow Brick Road With Dorothy And Toto


The MSU (Midwestern State University) Holiday decorating is nearing completion. Today I rolled my bike's wheels north on the Circle Trail, eventually making it to MSU and the Yellow Brick Road.

The Emerald City, Toto, Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tinman and Cowardly Lion do not quite look like the Wizard of Oz movie version.

But, the Yellow Brick Road is a dead ringer.

A couple days ago whilst driving by the MSU Holiday decorating in progress, one of the riders in the vehicle wondered if this year the Polar Bear Express would be tramming its way through the Beverley Hills of Wichita Falls light show, what with the COVID nightmare rapidly worsening.

Today I think I have an answer to that Polar Bear Express question.


Soon after leaving Dorothy and Toto I came to that which you see above, sitting on the parking lot at the north end of the MSU campus, near where the Polar Bear Express trams park awaiting passengers.

And then by the time I got to the south end of the MSU campus I saw another indication the trams will be rolling this Holiday season.


Perhaps masks will be required, with social distancing enforced, with only every other row of seats on the trams having occupants.

Maybe I will ride the Polar Bear Express this year. It does look like it might be fun...

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Shadow Of Wichita Bluff Thin Man At Trail's End


What with wind gusting at low hurricane strength I opted not to ride my bike today. And instead returned to the Wichita Bluff Nature Area to hold on to my hat whilst walking from the Wichita Bluff Nature Area's west parking lot to the east parking lot, and back. This makes for a few miles of hilly hiking.

In the above photo you are looking at the Shadow of the Wichita Bluff Thin, also known as me, standing above the ruins of the Wichita Bluff Hoodoo. I suspect the rock sculpture was blown over by the wind.


And here we are at the high point on the Wichita Bluffs, looking northwest at the Wichita River. Many times at this location I have seen a roadrunner. I assumed it must reside in the neighborhood. But I the little paisano of late. I have never been fast enough to photograph the notorious speed demon.


And now we are the current end of the Circle Trail, looking east, towards downtown Wichita Falls. I thought this new section of the Circle Trail was supposed to be completed by now. It links this current termination point with the Circle Trail in Lucy Park. 

When I was first learning my way around Wichita Falls I came upon an area under stalled construction, which I was soon to learn was a new section of the Circle Trail, which would be known as the Wichita Bluff Nature Area.

That project appeared to be stalled. A year or two later I learned the original contractor had not lived up to what was contracted, and so a new contractor had to be found. After that new contractor was hired the project soon resulted in finishing what I think is the best section of the multi-mile Circle Trail.

So, one can not help but wonder what is going on with the new link. Did another dud contractor fizzle out?

I was looking forward to this new link, bike ride wise. This town seems to do a lot better job at getting things done, like building bridges, than that Texas town I used to live in, Fort Worth. But there does seem to be a Fort Worth-like problem with the building of a simple trail in this town...

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Walking With Wichita Falls Lucy Park Naked Trees


That is the Wichita River you are looking at above, as viewed from a side trail of the main primitive trail which meanders around the backwoods part of Lucy Park.

This was the first time at this location since fall has fallen most leaves from the trees. I always think naked trees look more interesting than when they are fully dressed in a thick leaf covering.


Above you are looking at a section of the aforementioned primitive trail, surrounded by naked trees.


Some of the trees in the backwoods section of Lucy Park are quite tall. Not nearly a Sequoia level of tall, but tall, nonetheless.


The wind is blowing strong today. I do not like riding my bike this time of year when the wind is blowing strong. Hard stuff gets blown at high speed which can hit with a hard sting when rolling along on a bike. Such happened the last time I rolled my bike's wheels.

One can get hit by something blown from a tree whilst walking, but that somehow is not as annoying, or painful, as when hit when biking along at a much faster than walking speed.

So, that has been my excitement for this third Wednesday of the 2020 version of November...

Friday, November 13, 2020

Friday the 13th Nature Communing Via Wichita Bluff Nature Area


It has been many months since I took myself to the Wichita Bluffs Nature Area to commune with nature and get some endorphins from aerobic stimulation gained via hiking fast up semi- steep hills. 

And so, this morning I drove to the west entry to the WBNA, attired in layers of insulative clothing material due to the near freezing, well below 50 degrees, which felt like freezing and had myself a mighty fine time doing that nature communing thing.

I wonder if someone is still building hoohoos on the Tandy Hills. I never did catch the Tandy Hills hoodoo builder in the act of construction.

Did the Tandy Hills hoodoo builder move to Wichita Falls around the same time I did, and is the culprit who builds the Wichita Bluffs Nature Area hoodoos, such as you see above?

So, that has been my excitement for this Friday the 13th. Hiking and listening to the idiotic right wing nut job filling in for Rush Limbaugh today. I can not understand how even relatively stupid people can listen to this stuff and not experience it as wackydoodle nonsense totally detached from reality.

And how is spouting what amounts to anti-American inflammatory propaganda not the same type violation of the free speech concept as the fact one can not scream "FIRE" in a crowded theater and then claim no liability for causing the ensuing stampede because its a free country with free speech where any fool can say and fool thing they want, not matter the circumstance.

So perplexing...

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Merry Christmas Comes Early In Wichita Falls


My bike rolled me north on the Circle Trail this morning. I exited the Circle Trail at Hamilton Park to pedal through what I refer to as the Beverly Hills of Wichita Falls.

The road one crosses when exiting Hamilton Park is appropriately named Hamilton Boulevard. I head west from this location on Berkley Drive. 

At the exit from Hamilton Park, due north of the intersection of Hamilton and Berkley I saw that which you see above.

A house totally in holiday decoration mode. The photo only shows part of the display. There was much more to the right and left. And installers were busy installing additional installations.

I'm thinking this holiday decorator was wisely getting the job done whilst the weather is so pleasant and conducive to doing so. The temperature is rising into the low 80s today. Under a clear blue sky, for the most part.

As I rolled through Beverley Hills, and beyond, I saw no other holiday decorations already installed.

Well, do we count Halloween?

I guess we do, it is part of the holiday season. So, I did see some Halloween holiday decorations which have not yet been retired to a hidden location...

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Cutthroat Hiking With Maxine Makes Me Homesick With Wild Mountain Blueberries


I made mention a day or two ago of the fact that of late I have been hearing from multiple people whom I have long known opine that it is time for me to move back to the Pacific Northwest. These opinion expressers always include verbalizing wonderment as to how I can possibly stand to live in a backward state like Texas.

I always reply to that backward state question by saying Texas is not all that bad, Texans are not all right wing nut jobs, even though such may be in the majority in the rural parts of Texas. I have basically enjoyed living in Texas, for the most part.

But, during this COVID nightmare of limits and restraints, I have been feeling homesick. Someone will send me a photo of something in Washington, and the homesick feeling surfaces. Like yesterday, Maxine emailed and in the email were three photos, one of which you see above.

Part of the text describing the photos...

"We had our last high country hike October 3rd. Hiked up to Cutthroat Pass and then down to Cutthroat Lake and out that trailhead. OMG-Fall colors were in their prime."

The scene you see above is located not far east of the location of my former abode in the Skagit Valley.

At my current location I would need to drive hundreds of miles to see anything like that which you see above.

The Washington Trail Association webpage about Cutthroat Pass via the Pacific Crest Trail.

Many decades ago, way back in the previous century, it was Maxine who led me on my first hike up the Mount Baker volcano. That hike begins at a trailhead at a location called Schriebers Meadow. If I remember right the last time I hiked up Mount Baker from Schriebers Meadow it was with Hank Frank's dad, my Nephew Joey.

And the last time I was at Schriebers Meadow was soon before moving to Texas. I drove myself and two others to that location to do some late summer wild blueberry picking. I am fairly certain I have photos of that wild blueberry picking expedition.

Just a sec, I'll go see if I can find them...


The photos were easy to find, cleverly filed in a folder labeled "Blueberry". Way back in the 1990s I got myself a Casio digital camera. Such a thing was quite unique back then, way before smart phone cameras came to be. That now antique Casio had the ability to rotate the lens to aim the lens at the photo taker, allowing the easy taking of what are now known as "selfies". 

I have long been way ahead of my time in things like this. So, in the selfie above we are at that aforementioned Schriebers Meadow. That splash of white you see behind my right side is part of the Mount Baker volcano. I was probably trying to get the mountain in the selfie.


And then in the above selfie one of my co-blueberry pickers appears to be standing on my shoulder. That is only an illusion.


Now off my shoulder, the above person, who we will refer to as Nurse Ratched, and the person below, who we shall refer to as Big Ed, moved to Texas at the same time I did. 


I remember Big Ed was inept at picking wild blueberries. Doing such requires a high level of dexterity. You can see the bluish tint in the green meadow. That which is blue are wild blueberries.


And the above is that aforementioned volcano named Mount Baker. It is a several mile hike to get from this location to hiking up the slopes of the mountain to the point where you can see and smell the steam venting from the volcano crater.

After I saw those photos from Maxine today I asked her what she used to take such good photos. Turns out Maxine has the same Samsung phone I have. That had me trying to figure out what setting I needed to set different so as to take good photos like Maxine takes.

Maybe it's a change of scenery which makes for improved photo quality...

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Sunday Circle Trail Cypress Walk


Today, on this second Sunday of the 2020 version of November I had myself a windy walk on the Circle Trail, which makes this the second day in a row I felt at peace with no worry about enduring another four years of having a mentally ill moron pretend to be the President of the United States.

The Fall foliage has amped up the past couple days. The view you see above is a slight distance from my abode, looking north on that aforementioned Circle Trail. 

Yesterday I was told by someone acting like a horticultural expert that those orange trees you see on the left and right side of the trail are Cypress trees.

I always thought Cypress trees grew in swamps. But, I have no personal pretensions of being a horticultural expert, so I defer to the pretensions of someone who does.

Yesterday I was talking to a Washingtonian who made a strong case that it is time to move back to the Pacific Northwest. I can see the logic in their case. I do sort of miss living where the majority of humanity is of the well educated, liberal, progressive sort.

That and I miss living in a scenic wonderland, with mountains, saltwater beaches, free fresh produce for the picking, like blackberries, and other natural wonders. 

One of my favorite things to do when I lived in Washington was to leave the U.S. and go north to Canada. That is no longer doable. Canada won't let us Americans cross the border, due to the disaster our inept fool of a leader caused with his mishandling of the COVID crisis. 

Has Mexico banned us too? I don't remember hearing such, and one would think I would, what with currently being way closer to the Mexican border than the Canadian border.

I feel like doing something adventurous this coming week, something I have not done in a long time, not since this COVID nightmare began, as in go on a long drive.

Maybe north to Oklahoma, or southeast to DFW. I have not been to DFW for over a year...