Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hiking The Tandy Hills With My Sister Before Picking California Peaches

When I left air-conditioned comfort today my favorite sister, who lives in Arizona, rode with me to the Tandy Hills and then proceeded to talk to me the entire time I did my hill hiking, with me forgetting to take a photo opportunity time out.

So, instead of a photo of the Tandy Hills of my own, I swiped one that appeared today on the Tandy Hills Natural Area's Facebook page.

I seem to be swiping pictures of late.

Today my oldest sister, who is currently lost somewhere in the wilds of Alaska, complained, quite vociferously, about me swiping from Rosie the Rat Dog's Alaska! blog, saying, "I have to check your blog to learn what pics you are pinching from Rosie."

I think I am feeling umbrage regarding this assertion that I am doing pic pinching from Rosie.

There was a steady wind blowing across the prairie today, but not strong enough to counteract the steambath effect.

To cool down, after getting too HOT, I went to Town Talk to stand in the cooler and pick California peaches.

I have picked oranges in a California orchard, but I've never picked California peaches til today.

I think I may go ride my bike at River Legacy Park this early evening.

Between swimming for an hour this morning and HOT hill hiking I don't feel like I have gotten enough exercise today.

Will J.D. Granger Be Floating In The Trinity On a 4th Of July Rockin' The River Happy Hour Inner Tube??

J.D. Granger With Gaggle Of Gals
Someone named Anonymous left a new comment on an old post this morning. The old post was posted a few days ago, a cautionary tale about turning around before drowning on the Trinity River.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Turn Around To Not Drown While You Are Rockin' The River": 

There's a photo at of JD Granger rockin' the river. It looks like JD attended the 6-29-2012 event and he is in party pic #114. 

When I got to pic #114 I was expecting to see J.D.. Granger in an inner tube, floating in the Trinity River, with a beer cooler.

Instead I found a photo of J.D. Granger wearing a t-shirt with a slogan that informs us "I DELIVER FOR THE RIVER."

I have absolutely no idea what that slogan means.

I agree with the others, whoever they are, who find it odd that J.D. Granger has not demonstrated his inner tubing skills whilst Rockin' the River at one of the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle's Thursday Happy Hour Inner Tube Floats.

One would think J.D. would do so to demonstrate to all the naysayers that it is perfectly safe to immerse oneself in the Trinity River water, even though testing shows high levels of things you don't want to have at a high level in anything that gets you wet.

Someone, I don't remember who it was, suggested J.D. can't get in an inner tube in the water because he is embarrassed by his beer gut.

J.D. Granger Demonstrating His Beer Drinking Technique
That is ridiculous. Looking at the above photo of J.D. do you see a beer gut? I don't. Which is remarkable considering the copious amounts of beer J.D. is rumored to consume.

Even if J.D. did have a beer gut that he was embarrassed to expose to the general public, there is no river rule prohibiting covering a beer gut with a t-shirt.

Methinks that maybe J.D. has seen secret reports with detailed data about what is actually floating in the Trinity River.

I believe this Thursday's Rockin' the River Happy Hour Inner Tube Float takes place a day early, on Wednesday, because Wednesday is the 4th of July.

I am thinking maybe J.D. Granger has been waiting for a special occasion, like the 4th of July, to participate in his first Trinity River Inner Tube Float.

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Relatively Full Day In Texas With Relentless Heat & Artwork From Spencer Jack

Today has been a relatively full day, including 3 non-gas related calls to my mom, 2 to 2 of my sisters, email from my long lost cousin, Freddie, and snail mail from Spencer Jack.

Spencer Jack mailed me the refrigerator art work you see in the picture, plus some photos from when we were in Arizona, plus a Whale Watcher's Guide that Spencer made.

Spencer Jack is quite the crafty kid. I've not heard from Spencer Jack's namesake, currently up in Alaska, today, so far.

I emailed the Hotel Tacoma a couple minutes ago about making reservations for the Arctic Room. This is a difficult room to book, with few openings.

I finally heard from Elsie Hotpepper who is still right on the edge of having some sort of nervous breakdown.

I'm fairly certain that Betty Jo Bouvier and the former star of LOST, Honey Lulu, are on their way to, or have already arrived in Hollywood to go to lunch at the Saddle Ranch where Betty Jo may ride the mechanical bull.

Meanwhile I am still in Texas sweltering from the relentless heat when I'm not being chilled by the relentless air-conditioning.

Walking Around Fosdick Lake With The Don't Litter Signs Littering The Park

Don't Litter This Sign
Today by the time of my mid-day constitutional the temperature had not yet reached 90. And a good wind was blowing. So, with it being semi-chilly I decided to go for a walk around Fosdick Lake in Oakland Lake Park.

There is some shade whilst walking around Fosdick Lake, but nothing that rises to the shade level of the Village Creek Natural Historical Area .

I think it was the last time I walked around Fosdick Lake that I made mention of the dozens of litter barrels that litter the park, with signs pasted on the litter barrels saying "Don't Litter - Put it in the Can! Keep Fort Worth Beautiful."

Well,  a lot of the "Don't Litter" signs have peeled off the litter barrels and are now littering up the park. Like on the Fish Consumption Advisory warning sign you see above.

I think anti-litter signs blowing around and littering is what may be an example of irony.

I'm not sure though, I am a very bad judge of irony.

I have not seen much litter in the litter barrels that litter up Oakland Lake Park. Not that I've looked in many of them. Many of the litter barrels littering up Oakland Lake Park are near the playground areas and the picnic tables.

Please Empty This Can
There is one lone litter barrel on the east end of Fosdick Dam, not near any picnic tables or playgrounds. That particular lone litter barrel is full of litter, so full it is spilling out and over the dam.

I think a lone litter barrel overfilled with litter in a park littered with "Don't Litter" signs may also be an example of irony. Again, I am not sure.

What was also ironic, to me, was the fact that this over filled litter barrel was missing its "Don't Litter" sign. Apparently people don't like to put litter in barrels with a sign advising them to do so. But, they'll go out of their way to fill, to the point of being overfilled, a litter barrel with no Don't Litter sign.

I suspect by the next time I walk around Fosdick Lake the Fosdick Dam litter barrel will be empty.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thinking About Going To The Arctic Circle While Walking With The Indian Ghosts Who Haunt Village Creek

Me In Village Creek Miiror
That is not me being reflected off some polished stainless steel on the Alaska Pipeline in the picture.

You'll have to go to the Rosie the Rat Dog Alaska! Blog to see what's reflected on the Alaska Pipeline in a blogging titled Pipeline Pleasure.

Yesterday Rosie made it to the Arctic Circle. That has not been blogged yet. But I've seen photo documentation sent via email.

UPDATE: Rosie has now blogged about getting to the Arctic Circle in Survival of the Fittest. Apparently there was an incident with a bear and an outhouse.

Yesterday my regular daily walking constitutional was disrupted, like it often is, by a doctor's appointment in Euless.

So, today, despite an hour in the pool this morning, I really was in need of breathing in some polluted outdoor air.

I went to my preferred location when the temperature approaches 100 in either real temperature or real feel temperature, that being the shaded trails of the Village Creek Natural Historical Area in Arlington.

Today is not being dead calm, which means a good steady wind kept the steambath effect in check.

I am almost 100% I have mentioned, previously, my fondness for goofy sign verbiage. There is a good chance I've mentioned the goofy Village Creek sign verbiage before.

Today I looked at the sign again and was struck by the goofiness of "Firearms and hitting golf balls are PROHIBITED."

I guess that means you can not enter the park packing heat, but you can enter the park with your golf club and balls, as long as your don't hit your balls.

"Please deposit litter in trash receptacles."

Now, if this Park Rule was not on this list would people just be tossing litter all over the place, rather than in the garbage cans, I mean trash receptacles, located throughout the park?

"Alcoholic beverages are prohibited by ordinance."

Why not simply say "No Alcoholic Beverages Allowed"?  If you're going to mention something is prohibited by ordinance, shouldn't the specifics of that ordinance be cited?

"Please keep glass containers off soccer field."

There's a soccer field in the Village Creek Natural Historical Area?

"Parking in designated areas only."

As far as I know, there is only one parking lot for the Village Creek Natural Historical Area. It is located off Dottie Lynn Parkway. Is there another parking lot I don't know about, hence the pluraling of areas?

I see via my computer based temperature monitoring device that we have gone over the century mark, again, at my location. I think that is 4 days in a row. I don't remember how many days it takes to break the record.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Another Hot Day In Texas Trying To Be Informed Instead Of Just Opinionated About Oxford Commas

At almost 4 in the afternoon it is only 101 degrees at my location. I think that is colder than it was at this time yesterday.

It is windier today than the past couple dead calm days, with that wind blowing slightly counteracting the 31% humidity, making the Real Feel of the temperature only 105.

I don't know what has happened to me this year. I've somehow become a temperature wimp. Where years previous I enjoyed get HOT under the noonday sun, acclimating to the HEAT. This year, so far, that is just not working for me.

This could be yet one more age related malady.

Speaking of which, I'd not read Gar the Texan's blog in awhile, so I'd not been updated on Gar's latest bloggings about Gar and his interesting opinions about religion and politics. Or his many medical maladies. I visited Gar the Texan's blog after seeing the following amusing slogan on Facebook, which made me think of Gar the Texan.

So, after being reminded of Gar the Texan's obfuscated opinionizing by a slogan on Facebook, I went to Gar the Texan's blog to learn that he is finally getting one of his many ailments operated on. That and in a blogging following the medical update he opined some of his religious and political opinionizing that has the effect of making me wince and feel slightly embarrassed for the boy. Then I remember from whence he came, that being the dusty little West Texas town of Wink, where history was taught by the football coach, if at all.

Reading Gar the Texan's fractured prose reminded me of something else I was amused by today on Facebook, courtesy of CatsPaw.

CatsPaw is a real stickler for grammar. Make the mistake of improperly using a word like "who's" and you will learn this first hand if you are on Miss CatsPaw's radar screen.

I've been perplexed times previous by how not having a comma in front of an 'and' can change the meaning of what's being said.

I don't think I've heard of the Oxford Comma before today, which really is a sad indicator of how ignorant I really am.

Now when someone like Gar the Texan commits this sort of communicative grammar confusion, saying that he invited Washington and Lincoln, who are a pair of Rhinos, when he meant to say he was inviting a pair of Rhinos, plus Washington and Lincoln, well, Gar the Texan chronically claims the reader has a reading comprehension problem, never considering that his bad grammar might be the actual problem.

And now back to our main subject.

The temperature.

Earlier today I blogged about Rosie the Rat Dog getting cold in an Ice Museum somewhere by the North Pole area of Fairbanks, Alaska.

A couple days ago Rosie blogged about having to run the RV's a/c because the temperature was in the sweltering low 80s.

Checking the current temperature in Fairbanks, I don't think Rosie is needing to run the RV's a/c at this point in time.

Actually I don't think Rosie the Rat Dog is currently in her RV. I believe that at this point in time the Rosie the Rat Dog entourage has left the Mother Ship, somewhere in the Fairbanks zone, and is heading north in the SUV to the Arctic Circle.

Did I just use an Oxford Comma? I don't know. I've already admitted I'm ignorant.

This morning it crossed my mind how amazing modern communication is. Daily tracking someone's roadtrip, via email and blogging. Daily getting photos of the ongoing trip.

Is this societal progress? Or not? I'm not sure. But I am enjoying the virtual Roadtrip to Alaska.

Rosie The Rat Dog At The North Pole With Ice Museum Appletinis

I am finding the Rosie the Rat Dog Alaska! Blog to be very educational.

For instance, I had no idea there was a McDonald's at the North Pole. I knew Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus lived at the North Pole, but I had no idea the town was candy cane themed, including the McDonald's.

I also had no idea the mosquitoes are really as big in Alaska as they have always been rumored to be. I saw photo documentation of the North Pole and Big Mosquitoes in Rosie's blogging titled I'm a Believer.

I do not know, for sure, what Rosie and Entourage are believing. Is it that Santa Claus is real? Or that the mosquitoes in Alaska are enormous?

I think it was after visiting Santa Claus at the North Pole that Rosie directed the RV towards Chena Hotsprings. Apparently the water in the Hotsprings was too hot for the girl's delicate constitutions, so they left the hot water and went to the Chena Hotsprings Ice Museum.

In Rosie's blogging titled The Thirsty Brrrr! the Ice Museum looked pretty cool. In more ways than one. The girls had to wear provided parkas to keep warm in the chilled to 20 degrees museum.

Apparently there is overnight lodging in the Ice Museum for only $600 per person. You are provided a caribou fur blanket. But there are no restroom facilities. I am almost 100% Rosie did not stay overnight in the Ice Museum.

The Ice Museum has a chilly bar where Appletinis are served in a carved from ice cocktail glass.

From the photo documentation it appears one drinks ones Appeltini bare handed. Seems like one would get cold.

In my current location, where the outer world is heated to 90 degrees an hour before noon, being in an Ice Museum having an icy Appletini sounds like a real good thing. Someone should open an Ice Museum in North Texas.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

106 Degrees In Fort Worth But It's Hotter In Phoenix & Way Cooler In Tacoma In More Ways Than One

Coming up on 5 in the afternoon on this final Tuesday of June, at my location, according to my computer based temperature monitoring device, it is feeling like 116 degrees in the outer world.

My air-conditioner seems to be running non-stop.

Heading up to Washington is sounding even more appealing today than it sounded yesterday.

Currently, in Tacoma, at the same time it is 106 at my location, it is 43 degrees cooler in Tacoma, at a chilly 63.

When I last stayed at my sister's in Tacoma I was first assigned the basement bedroom as my location. I soon dubbed this the Arctic. A few days later I found myself on the top floor and found it quite a pleasant temperature.

I dubbed the top floor the Tropics and asked if it were at all possible if I could move from the Arctic to the Tropics.

Permission was  granted.

The Tropics, at that point in time had a pair of high tech window air-conditioning units installed. The digital temperature read-out on those A/C units would show numbers like 79 or 81.

The fulltime residents did not understand why I was not turning on the A/C, what with it being those high temperatures of 79 - 81. I don't think it was believed when I said 80 was what I had my A/C set to, at home, in Texas.

I have been informed that the area of my sister's house I called the Tropics is now cooled by a heat pump which renders it so comfortable that it is no longer the unused in summer Tropics. The basement, however, remains pleasantly frigid and is still known as the Arctic.

Right now the Arctic basement is sounding really pleasant.

I don't know if the living quarters I lived in at my mom and dad's in Arizona in March is currently livable. I believe it was not part of the central air that cooled the rest of the house.

Currently it is 106 at my location in Texas, 109 in Phoenix and 63 in Tacoma.

I would think that my sister's former Tropics zone is currently not needing to have much of its heat pumped.

I wonder how come Phoenix is having something called an Excessive Heat Watch? While in Fort Worth and North Texas we don't have to watch for excessive heat? Instead of watching for excessive heat, in Fort Worth, we have an Air Quality Alert.

Very perplexing.

Getting Cool In The Shadiest Place I Know

It was 94 degrees, feeling like 103, when I left air-conditioned comfort to get myself some bi-pedal motion in the outer world.

I went to the shadiest place I know that is within 3 miles of my abode, the being the Village Creek Natural Historical Area.

I was not alone in the shade seeking today. Being under big green trees makes the real temperature feel way cooler than 103 degrees.

I think I may have had a sleepwalking incident last night and got myself in a fight, because I have been feeling sucker punched in the gut all day today.

Last night I got gas, so I called my mom.

I told my mom we'd had our first 100 degree day the day before. My mom told me they'd had, I think the number was 38, days over 100, so far, since the return of HOT temperatures to the Valley of the Sun.

Currently the outer world at my location, at 2 in the afternoon, is being heated to 102, with the humidity supposedly making the temperature really feel like 114.

The hottest real temperature I have ever been HOT in was 121 at Badwater in Death Valley.

My two oldest nephews and I were in Las Vegas. I was told conditions were such that Death Valley might break its temperature record that day. I asked the nephews if they wanted to drive to Death Valley for some record breaking heat. So, it was off to Death Valley we went, but no temperature record was set that day.

I don't think we'll be setting a temperature record today, here in North Texas. Apparently the current record for this day was set back in 1980 at something like 112 degrees.

Monday, June 25, 2012

101 Degrees Is Making Me Think It Is Time To Head North & Leave HOT Texas For A Spell

The time "Now" is referencing in the screen capture from my computer based temperature monitoring device is a few minutes ago, approximately 3:30 in the afternoon of this HOT final Monday of June.

I am not adjusting to the high temperatures as well as I usually do. I think it is the humidity causing this adjustment problem.

I canceled my daily endorphin inducing aerobic stimulation of the hill climbing walking sort, deciding that an extra long swim this morning was sufficient.

Apparently the air has become dangerous to breathe in the D/FW Metroplex, with the National Weather Service issuing an Air Quality Alert. I read somewhere today that ones lungs could get burned by too much ozone in the air we are breathing in this polluted part of the planet.

Just as I was lamenting to myself my woeful state of misery I got an email from my sister in Tacoma asking, "So, are you really coming north? I hear we are going to get summer, sometime."

I can not remember another time during my long exile in Texas when heading north sounded more appealing.

To breathe air without worrying about getting an ozone burn. To breathe air that is scented with evergreens and saltwater. To breathe air that is regularly scrubbed clean by rain. To pick a berry growing wild. To pick a berry growing in a field. To pick an apricot, cherry, peach and apple growing in a tree. To climb a mountain. To watch a big wave crash to shore. To gaze deep into unpolluted, clear water.

Yes, heading north is sounding like a mighty fine idea.

I Got Nothing At Fort Worth's Trader Joe's Except A Parking Lot Headache

Hunting For A Trader Joe's Parking Space
Well, I have now been to Fort Worth's Trader Joe's.

First off, let's talk about the parking.

The Trader Joe's parking lot is too small. The parking lots of the enterprises around Trader Joe's have big NO TRADER JOE'S PARKING signs. Along with a warning that violators will be towed.

I exited the Trader Joe's parking lot and eventually found street parking. I'd say half or more of the vehicles parked to shop at Trader Joe's were parked on the street.

The last time I was in a Trader Joe's was in 2004, in the Seattle zone. I don't remember which of the towns south of Sea-Tac International Airport was the location of that Trader Joe's. Maybe it was the town of Sea-Tac. I'm starting to lose my memory of place names in Washington. Like right now I'm drawing a blank as to the names of the towns near the airport. Federal Way, that's one I remember.

Damn age related memory loss.

Changing the subject from my memory loss back to Trader Joe's.

I left the Seattle zone Trader Joe's having bought a lot of goodies. I left the Fort Worth Trader Joe's having bought nothing. Several of the items I bought in the Seattle zone Trader Joe's were put in my basket after sampling a free sample at various sampling locations in the store. I remember several cheeses, crackers, bread, all into the basket after a sample.

Trader Joe's 19 Cent Bananas
The Fort Worth Trader Joe's has a "Sampling Station." I did no sampling. It appeared the sample was peach salsa. I knew I did not want peach salsa, so no need to sample.

I also bought no bananas. Bananas at Trader Joe's were 19 cents each. I'm not used to buying bananas via anything but the per pound method.

The Fort Worth Trader Joe's is a lot bigger than the one I went to in the Seattle zone. I would have thought with a full parking lot and cars parked on the street that the store would be human gridlock.

As you can see in the picture, it was not human gridlock.

There also were no lines at the checkouts. I'd read the checkout lines were long back when the Fort Worth Trader Joe's opened. I wonder how nightmarish the parking situation was at that time?

When Costco came to the D/FW Metroplex, the first one opened in Fort Worth. I was very happy to learn of this development. Costco is one of the things I greatly missed, that I was used to regularly going to, whilst being a Washingtonian.

I remember going to the Grand Opening of the Fort Worth Costco and being very disappointed. It had been Texasified. Walking in to the Fort Worth Costco I was visually assaulted by dozens of horse saddles. And Remington statues. There was no sushi, no coffee roaster, none of the Costco things I was missing.

Trader Joe's Fort Worth Stockyards Mural
Then a Costco opened in Southlake, a more Yankee-fieed area of the D/FW Metroplex. The Southlake Costco was much more like a Washington one, than the Fort Worth one.

Still no sushi though.

Nothing I saw in the Fort Worth Trader Joe's made me think it'd been Texas-ified.

Though there is a mural of the Fort Worth Stockyards on the wall at the back of the store.

Turn Around To Not Drown While You Are Rockin' The Trinity River

Pedaling on the Trinity Trail on the downriver side of the Rockin' the River zone, I saw an orange boom spanning the river.

I assumed the orange boom was in place to keep Rockin' the River Inner Tubing Happy Hour Floaters contained within the pollution-free safe to swim in section of the Trinity River.

A short distance downriver from the orange boom I saw two signs I'd not seen before, one sign on each end of the big arch of the Main Street Bridge that spans the Trinity River.


Sounds very dire. I had no recollection of ever seeing a steep drop on the Trinity River in this location, so, of course I was curious.

On the right you are looking at the Main Street Bridge. And the warning signs. The Main Street Bridge is also known as the Paddock Viaduct. It was built in 1914. The first bridge in America to have self-supporting arches of concrete.

I do not know if being the first bridge in America to have self-supporting arches of concrete made the rest of America green with envy, or not.

The bridge was named for B.B. Paddock. He was a Fort Worth mayor and newspaper editor.

I know these things because I read them on a plaque stuck to a big rock near the bridge. On the south side of the bridge, that's the right side in the picture, there is a State of Texas Historical Marker that goes into more detail about the bridge. I came upon this Historical Marker years ago whilst exploring the area around the now sadly defunct Heritage Park

That drop off does not look all that dire, not that I'd want to go over that mini-Niagara Falls floating on an inner tube.

I wonder if a Rockin' the River Happy Hour Inner Tube Floater went over the falls, thus prompting the installation of the orange boom and the TURN AROUND DON'T DROWN warning sign?

The Monday Morning Blues Starts A HOT Week In Texas

Above is this morning's 6 day forecast courtesy of my computer based weather monitoring device. As you can see we are already heated to 81 degrees, with the humidity making it feel like 91. What you can not see is it is not yet quite 9 in the morning.

What is the meaning of that other then a HOT sun symbol on Friday? It looks dire.

My computer based temperature forecaster says it will get to 102 today. A few minutes ago I heard on the radio that 105 is the prediction. Either way, it's going to be HOT.

Yesterday the official temperature station for Dallas/Forth Worth, that being D/FW Airport, officially registered our first 100 degree day of the year.

I think I will escape the heat this morning by going to Trader Joe's and Sprouts Farmers.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Escaping The Heat Under The Village Creek Shade While Texas Rattles With Earthquakes

The water in the pool was warmer than the air this morning. When the water in the pool is warmer than the air the water in the pool is not as refreshing as when the water in the pool is cooler than the air.

The air at my location is currently being heated to 96 degrees, with the high humidity causing that air to feel like it is 106 degrees.

106 degrees is HOT.

Until the humidity burns off or the temperature drops, I think I will not be doing any Tandy Hills hiking.

Today for my noontime constitutional I opted for the soothing shade of the Village Creek Natural Historical Area.

I thought, due to the HEAT, that I'd have Village Creek all to myself. I thought wrong. The parking lot was almost full.

As you can see in the picture there is a lot of foliage along Village Creek, with some very big, very old oak trees. The oak trees are likely so old they shaded the Kickapoo, Wichita and other tribes of the Caddo Confederation who lived here before they got their eviction notices from the Texans.

With summer barely arrived I am thinking more and more that a trip to the Pacific Northwest for the first time in 4 years is sounding real good. I think I'd like to escape the heat and be chilly for a few weeks.

It'd also be nice to get away from these earthquakes that keep shaking me up here in Texas.

Washington has not had an earthquake in years.

While Texas seems to be constantly in shake mode, though likely not building up to a BIG ONE.

 But, who knows?

There's been a lot of tampering with Mother Nature on this part of the planet. Mother Nature can be a real bitch when she gets tampered with.

Does Fort Worth Sanction Graffiti On The Trinity Trails?

Does Fort Worth have any sort of anti-graffiti ordinance?

Yesterday, in the Rockin' the River zone on the Trinity Trail, I came upon some rather elaborate graffiti.

The graffiti was a painted on pavement version of the advertisement the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle puts in local publications like Fort Worth Weekly and Ink Edition.

How does one paint such a thing on pavement and how much does it cost to do so?

Does doing such a thing require a permit from the city?

It would seem the process of installing this graffiti would block the Trinity Trail for the duration of the installation and whatever drying time was required.

I think I'll take a stencil and go paint my blog address all over the Trinity Trail today.

Or not.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pedaling Through The World's Most Concentrated Area Of Boondoggles & Eminent Domain Abuse

Tarrant County College East Trinity Campus
Today was the first time in a long time I pedaled my handlebars on the Trinity Trail past downtown Fort Worth.

Which would make today the first time I've seen the completed version of what was to be the Tarrant County College downtown campus.

The truncated version of the Tarrant County College is, to my eyes, a nice looking structure.

I've opined previously that if this building had been built as designed, with a bridge across the Trinity River to another building, that this might have given Fort Worth what it has never had. That being a building that people in other parts of America, and the world, might recognize as being in Fort Worth.

Unfortunately the Fort Worth Boondoggle Virus infected this project, along with the bad taste of Ed Bass and his disdain for sunken plazas, so the project was never completed as designed.

Part of the failure of this project was caused by the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle. The Army Corps of Engineers objected to the TCC project's plan to build on the river's levees. I think, maybe, because those levees are supposedly going to be removed, once the flood diversion channel is built and J.D. Granger's Magic Trees are planted.

The Former Radio Shack Headquarters
Elsie Hotpepper did not go bike riding with me today. So, that is not Elsie Hotpepper pedaling under those arches towards the former Radio Shack Corporate Headquarters, currently the downtown Tarrant County College Trinity Campus.

This area of Fort Worth really is an interesting confluence of boondoggles, eminent domain abuse and public works projects gone awry, in addition to being the location of the confluence of the West and Clear Forks of the Trinity River, which may disappear if the Granger Pond ever comes to fruition.

In this area you had Radio Shack hornswoggling Fort Worth to abuse eminent domain to take the Ripley Arnold apartments. I don't remember if Radio Shack got tax breaks, as well as property stealing help.

Instead of Fort Worth suggesting Radio Shack build elsewhere, like maybe on blighted land on the north side of the Trinity River, land that the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle will supposedly unblight, Fort Worth's Ruling Oligarchy went along with Radio Shack's plans.

No consideration was given to the fact that allowing Radio Shack to build in this location would remove acres of free parking and the world's shortest subway, from Fort Worth.

I have seldom been to downtown Fort Worth since the ease of doing so was destroyed by this boondoggle.

Radio Shack moved into its new corporate headquarters to much hoopla. Meanwhile the new downtown campus of Tarrant County College started getting constructed.

Soon problems arose, along with rising costs.

At some point in time Radio Shack found it could not afford its shiny new corporate headquarters. Eventually someone decided it would be just a dandy idea to buy Radio Shack's corporate headquarters and turn it into Tarrant County College West Trinity Campus.

I saw the Tarrant County College Trinity Campus signage on the structure today, where it used to say Radio Shack.

So, you have two downtown Tarrant County College campuses, one east of Main Street, one west.

I do not understand how anyone who follows the downtown Fort Worth ongoing soap opera of  incompetentitude can have any hope that the Trinity River Vision is not going to out boondoggle all previous Fort Worth boondoggles.

It should be epic when the inevitable crash comes.

Will J.D. Granger and his mama end up doing jail time? Who knows.

I am currently reading a book titled Confederacy of Silence: A True Tale of the New Old South. This book has given me a greater understanding of why things are the way they are here, along with understanding J.D. Granger and his mama will get in no real trouble, because that just is not the Fort Worth Way.

Rosie The Rat Dog Getting Dirty On Top Of The World

Rosie the Rat Dog and her Entourage have blogged again. This time in a blogging titled Color between black and white that I don't quite understand.

It may have something to do with the fact that they finally made it to a place where they could wash the dirt off their vehicles, that being a place called Tok, Alaska.

I have been a bit confused by the tales of treacherous roads, with me thinking the Alaska Highway is not supposed to be all that treacherous anymore.


Rosie directed her entourage off the Alaska Highway somewhere around Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory. This eventually had them on a road called the Top of the World Highway. I believe this was still in Canada. A couple hours after getting past customs and back in the USA the road turned into something called the Taylor Highway, eventually ending in a town called Chicken.

I'm guessing the name of the town has something to do with most people being chicken to drive the highway to get there.

There are some gorgeous photos on Rosie the Rat Dog's Alaska! Blog. There was a moose encounter whilst kayaking. More bear encounters. And other encounters.

I'm starting to think a roadtrip to Alaska sounds fun.

Following My Handlebars To Check Out Cowtown Wakeboarding & A Bridge To Nowhere

That Is Not Me Wakeboarding At Cowtown Wakepark
Today I decided to emulate one of my favorite blogs, that blog being Hometown by Handlebar and go check some locations in my current hometown via my own handlebars.

We'll be following the handlebars from Cowtown Wakepark to the Phyllis Tilley Bridge to Nowhere.

The parking lot for the Cowtown Wakepark is also a Trinity Trail parking lot. Which is one of the reasons  it was the starting point.

I would think a nice warm day, with that day being the first Saturday of summer, that Fort Worth's premiere urban wakeboarding lake would be really really busy.

Well, I thought wrong. There were two people in the water being pulled around the pond. The mechanism that does the pulling is ultra-quiet. I could not figure out how it worked. Not that I spent all that much time pondering. I'd not noticed the little pond on the right, in the picture, til today. It appeared to be some sort of training pond. There was one person in that pond who looked as if he or she was trying to stay on a waterboard, without much success.

In the main pond it looked like there are only two tow bars. Which would seem to mean only two people can be wakeboarding at a time. The wakeboarders zipped rather quickly around the pond, so I would think more than two at a time could get dicey. No idea how this works. You wakeboard for 10 minutes then give it up for the next person in line? Not that there appeared to be a line.

I think I've mentioned before that the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle has a real penchant for signage. The penchant has grown since my last exposure.

Now you have TRVB signage, plus signage from the TRVB's partner in delusion, the TRWD, as in Tarrant Regional Water District. Currently, you can stop what you are doing on the Trinity Trail and aim your smart phone at one of the ubiquitous "CHECK OUT our NEW Trinity iPhone App!" signs and get yourself some sort of Trinity Trail App.

At trail junctions there are now signs, courtesy of the TRWD, pointing you in the right direction to get to various Trinity Trail destinations. On the south side  of the sign in the picture we are directed to Stockyards, Marine Creek, Buck Sansom Park, Cowtown Wakepark, Gateway Park and Sycamore Creek. The north side of this sign points the way to Downtown, Panther Island Pavilion, Trinity Park, Cowtown Wakepark, Gateway Park and Sycamore Creek.

The redundancy in mentioning Cowtown Wakepark and Gateway Park and others on both sides of the sign is because they are all accessed by crossing that dam bridge across the Trinity River you see in the picture.

I find the fact that Panther Island Pavilion and Cowtown Wakepark are on these signs to be interesting. I remember when the Santa Fe Rail Market was on directional signage in Downtown Fort Worth with me remarking that that will soon need to be altered. I thought the same thing when I saw Cowtown Wakepark on the signs, particularly after seeing how meager its patronage was today.

Rockin' The River Panther Island Pavilion
As for Panther Island Pavilion. That is a Rockin' the River Inner Tube Happy Hour thing that is part of the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle. I was surprised to see that a sort of permanent pavilion has now been installed at the Rockin' the River Inner Tube Happy Hour location.

The permanent stage was not the only thing that surprised me in the Rockin' the River zone.

Surprises like there are now two sets of Fort Worth style modern restrooms for the comfort of Rockin' the River Happy Hour Inner Tube Floaters.

One of the restrooms was real upscale. With showers.

I don't know if you are required to take a shower before getting in the river, so as to not add to the pollution, or you have the option of taking a shower when you get out of the river so as to wash off the pollution.

The goofiest thing I saw in the Rockin' the River zone was 3 big, Thanksgiving Day Macy's Parade Float type things floating in the river.

The giant inner tube says it was MADE IN FORT WORTH. Is the creature floating in the inner tube some sort of caricature of Fort Worth's former mayor Moncrief?

Continuing on, let's jump ahead to the most surprising thing I saw today, that being the current condition of the Phyllis Tilley Memorial Bridge to Nowhere.

For some reason I thought the Phyllis Tilley Memorial Bridge to Nowhere was finished, opened, ready to transport bikers and pedestrians from one side of the Trinity River to the other. I was wrong. Instead I saw one of the messiest construction sites I have ever seen. What an eyesore. It did not look as if much work is going on. Wind was blowing construction flotsam up against the cyclone fence. I saw one big chunk fly over the fence.

I think I will end this blogging with the bridge debacle. I may do a part two of today's look at my current hometown by handlebars.

I almost forgot one more thing. One of my goals today was to check out the current state of the supposedly soon to open first new drive-in movie theater in America in a large American city in decades. I could find nothing that looked like a drive-in under construction.

Did Fort Worth get hoodwinked and hornswoggled again?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Electronic Postcards From Alaska

Postcards are so last century.

I've decided Travel Blogs are the postcards of this century.

Til something better comes along.

Currently I am taking two virtual trips to Alaska, one on land, one on water.

The water trip began in late March, starting in Nanaimo, British Columbia, slowly floating north to Alaska, doing a lot of fishing and catching a lot of fish along the way. I've lost track of how many King Salmon have been caught.

I'll call the boatbound people "The Fishers" because that is sort of their name. I've not asked if it was okay if I shared their blog, so I won't. But I did swipe a cool picture from their latest blog post. That being a humongous moon rising above a snowy mountain. The Fishers currently have made it as far north as Sitka.

I saw The Fishers here in Fort Worth, back in September of 2010. They were passing through town towing a boat they'd bought south of Houston. The boat serves as a transit ship from the mother ship, that being this humongous yacht type vessel The Fishers had built for them at some boat building place down in the Los Angeles zone.

The Fishers having a smaller boat on their bigger boat is the water based equivalent of the Rosie the Rat Dog entourage towing a SUV behind their RV.

Rosie the Rat Dog and her entourage have now made it to Alaska. They successfully ferried across the Yukon River yesterday, entering Alaska.

My sister emailed me pictures, this morning, of the ferry crossing and the Welcome to Alaska sign, among others. But, these pictures have not been blogged yet. Apparently it may be a few days before they are back in an Internet enabled zone.

My sister's description of yesterday's leg of their journey is amusing....

Hey, we survived the ferry crossing today and last night's sunset was the most amazing one I have ever seen! It finally set after 12:45 this morning!  Today's drive was only  187 miles and it took ALL DAY!  The road was dirt and gravel, potholes and gravel, steep slopes and gravel and one grizzly bear!!!!  Not many guard rails along dropoffs, the sort of road that, as a kid, would have had me crying. Right now we are in Tok, Alaska, our phones now work and we may stay here two days to do laundry and to just sit still.

I believe that picture at the top is the sunset my sister is referencing.

My sister's reference to driving a road with steep dropoffs and that type thing causing her to cry as a kid is so true. Dropoffs and a lightning storm would send her into hysterics. I remember the worst steep dropoffs sister hysterics happened on our first trip to Yellowstone National Park. At that point in time Interstate 84 was under construction, that being a much improved road to take vehicles from the Columbia Valley up into the Blue Mountains of Oregon and the Umatilla National Forest, and beyond.

Before the freeway was built, part of the road up into the Blue Mountains, on the route to La Grande and beyond, was called Dead Man's Pass. That name alone was enough to make my sister nervous. The road itself twisted and turned, switchbacking to gain elevation. With very steep dropoffs.

Well, our car overheated. It was a new Chevy Impala and it was prone to overheating when called upon to pull a trailer up a steep hill. My dad had to pull off to the side of the road, right where the dropoff was steep. My brother and I were loving it. My sister not so much. I think it may have been my brother, or it may have been me, who said, we are slipping over the side.

This set my sister off into hysterics. My brother and I found this funny at the time. I vaguely remember we got in some sort of trouble for causing our sister to cry.

Near the summit of Deadman's Pass sits Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area, a state park, where we camped for the night after the ordeal of passing Deadman's Pass. At that point in time you could still see the wagon wheel ruts of the Oregon Trail.

Rosie the Rat Dog's Alaska! Blog is making me want to go on a roadtrip. Not to Alaska though.

I just remembered one more amusing thing in my sister's email that gives you an idea of what wimps Pacific Northwesterners are when it gets just a little bit warm...

Cloudy out right now after a day with the temps over 80 degree's. Right now we are in the motor home with the a/c running, as it is so hot out.

80 degrees? Right now at my location it is 96 with the humidity making it feel like 109.  I also have my a/c running. Whining about the temperature apparently is in my DNA.

Unable To Take The Bus To Walk With The HOT Village Creek Indian Ghosts

Village Creek Blue Bayou
With a temperature of 95, feeling like 112, I was in no mood to get HOT doing some Tandy Hills hill hiking today during the time frame when my regularly scheduled maintenance hike takes place.

Instead of the HOT hills I opted for the shade provided by the big oak trees which date back to the days they shaded Native Americans who lived by Village Creek before the Texans arrived in town and evicted them.

Yes, I walked today with the Indian Ghosts who haunt the Village Creek Natural Historical Area in the biggest town in America without public mass transit, that being Arlington, Texas.

With no wind blowing, HOT air and high humidity, I had myself a mighty fine steambath today.

In the picture the Village Creek Blue Bayou looks almost inviting for swimming purposes.

Well, my poor photographic skills were unable to make visible the pond scum that floats on top of the Blue Bayou. The pond scum negated any swimming appeal.

Look what the current forecast has in store for us. Our first chance to break the record for most 100 degrees (or higher) days in a row, with the first 100 degree day of the year scheduled to arrive on Sunday.

Cowtown Wakepark Is Not Fort Worth's Only Wakeboard Lake

No, that is not a spruced up, upgraded, landscaped Cowtown Wakepark you are looking at in the picture.

But, wakeboarding does take place on this lake.

Several weeks ago Elsie Hotpepper asked me if I knew there was a wakeboard lake in my neighborhood.

I told Elsie I knew of the watercraft testing lake on the south end of the Riverbend industrial park, but that I'd seen no wakeboarding taking place there.

Well, yesterday, on my way back from Hurst, driving south on Loop 820, I glanced to my right, as I passed Riverbend Lake, to see a wakeboarder zipping across the lake being pulled by a cable of the sort that zips wakeboarders around the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle's tiny Cowtown Wakepark lake.

The Cowtown Wakepark lake is a little pond on the south side of the Trinity River. The Riverbend Wakepark lake is a much bigger pond on the north side of the Trinity River. Very little space separates either pond from the river. Both flood when the Trinity River floods.

I have seen water skiing taking place, over the years, in Riverbend Lake. The Cowtown Wakepark pond is not big enough for water skiing.

When I took the picture you see above, looking east across Riverbend Lake towards Loop 820, I saw a young lady also looking at the lake. I asked the young lady if this lake was open to the public. She told me it is a private testing lake. I already knew that, but was looking for confirmation, and hoping to be told that it was about to open to the public.

I think the City of Fort Worth should use its eminent domain power to take Riverbend Lake away from whoever owns it and make it a public use lake. The water in this lake appeared to be much cleaner than the water in the Cowtown Wakepark pond.

Fort Worth lacks a public swimming lake, something I doubt any other town in America, the size of Fort Worth, lacks.

J.D. Granger touted Cowtown Wakepark as the world's premiere urban wakeboard lake. Apparently J.D. has never been to East Fort Worth. Perhaps J.D. should arrange to have one of his notorious junkets visit East Fort Worth on a fact finding mission.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

France's Millau Viaduct Vs. Fort Worth's Phyllis Tilley Bridge

No, that is not one of Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision Boondoggle's non-signature bridges you are looking at in the picture.

The bridge you are looking at in the picture is the Millau Viaduct in France.

Why are you looking at a picture of a bridge in France, you may be sitting there wondering.

Well, stay with me and all will become clear.

A few minutes ago I got an email from Beale. Beale is part of the Fort Worth Underground. When someone sends me an email and does not tell me that it is not blogging fodder, I make the assumption that the email is blogging fodder.

Apparently Beale had a conversation with a member of the Fort Worth Underground named Bert. In that conversation Beale and Bert wondered about the per square foot cost of the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle.

We begin with Beale's comment about Bert's TRV cost analysis...

I have never looked at the TRV on a Sq. Ft. basis. So, if they sell the land to developers... man are the taxpayers taking a hit!

What follows is what Bert told Beale about the cost of the TRVB, plus another cost comparison...


Apropos of our brief discussion today about my contention that the $909,000,000 (and counting) of our tax dollars that the Trinity River Vision is spending to connect 34 acres with Downtown equating to $26,735,294 per acre or a mere $613.75 per square foot of dirt . . . here is a rough cost comparison of the Phyllis Tilley Bridge to an engineering marvel in France,  the Millau Viaduct, which I am not saying is justifiable but, it did break new ground in engineering and can be used by everyone . . . in their daily pursuit of business, etc.

Regards, Bert

Fort Worth has done it again!

The Millau Viaduct in France is the highest bridge in the world (see it on Google), an engineering wonder that bridges the Tarn valley between Clermont-Ferrand and Beziers which will shorten the route from Paris to the Mediterranean on the French freeway, A-75, for all those hard-vacationing Parisians.

Designed by Sir Norman Foster, Architect, Manchester, England

Weight  400,000 tons
Height  1,125'   (50' taller than the Eiffel Tower)
Length  8,071'
Width  104'
Deck  839,384 square feet

Cost $523,000,000

Cost per square foot = $623.00

The Phyllis Tilley Memorial Bridge for pedestrian and bicycle traffic only, in Fort Worth, TX is a financial head-scratcher that spans the mighty Trinity River between its west bank and its yonder east bank in Trinity Park.

Weight ?
Height   Not very
Length 384'
Width  10'
Deck  3,840 square feet

Cost $2,500,000

Cost per square foot = $651.00

Designed by Miguel Rosales, Architect, Boston, Massachusetts

How do we keep getting horse traded into these incredibly expensive and unnecessary projects on the banks of the Trinity River by the likes of Bing Thom who brought us the indefensibly expensive Downtown Junior College at $1,500 per square foot and Miguel Rosales who has now bested the cost per square foot of this Anglo/French bridge?

Well, I've only been in this part of the planet for a short time, but I think I know part of the answer as to why Fort Worth keeps getting horse traded and hoodwinked.

The town does not have a real newspaper. Except for Fort Worth Weekly.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram does not perform a normal newspaper's function as the Fourth Estate, acting as the people's advocate, acting as a watchdog on the lookout for crooked politicians and crooked political deals.


Rather than point out the obvious ridiculousness of the assertion that a sporting goods store would be the #1 tourist attraction in Texas, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram trumpeted over and over again what a great thing it was for Fort Worth to have a Cabela's come to town and bring with it millions of tourists a year.

Not only did Cabela's not become the #1 tourist attraction in Texas, it soon was not even the only Cabela's in Texas. And now the Fort Worth Cabela's is not even the only Cabela's in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

Have you read anywhere in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram a fessing up to their part in the Cabela's tax break gaining con job?

An extremely lame, obviously doomed to fail, public works project called the Santa Fe Rail Market opened with the Fort Worth Star Telegram telling its readers this little boondoggle was modeled after Seattle's Pike Place Market and Pubic Markets in Europe and would be the first Public Market in Texas.

After the failure of the Santa Fe Rail Market have you read the Star-Telegram fessing up to misleading its readers regarding the Santa Fe Rail  Market?

What did you think of the investigative reporting job the Star-Telegram did into the credentials of J.D. Granger when a corrupt act of nepotism saw him appointed as the person in charge of running the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle?

Yes, you're right, you read no investigative reporting in the Star-Telegram regarding J.D. Granger's qualifications.

You also did not read an outraged editorial in the Star-Telegram regarding the obviously ridiculously nepotistic appointment of Fort Worth's Congresswoman, Kay Granger's son, J.D., to a job for which he had zero qualifications to run a project from which his mother stood to gain financially.

Have you read an article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram regarding how much it cost the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle to build a little lake in which the Cowtown Wakepark could operate, which J.D. Granger trumpeted as a great feat, making the sport of wakeboarding available to all of Fort Worth's citizens?

When the Cowtown Wakepark suffers its inevitable failure, will you read an article in the Star-Telegram about the failure, like you read regarding the Santa Fe Rail Market and Cabela's failures?

That's right, you read nothing in the Star-Telegram examining those previous failures and you will read none when the Cowtown Wakepark fails.

If Fort Worth had a real newspaper, something like the Cowtown Wakepark, Santa Fe Rail Market, Cabela's tax breaks and the Trinity River Vision would never get off the ground, because an informed public would not put up with the foolishness.

With no real newspaper, most of the Fort Worth public is oblivious to the foolishness.

Oblivious to the foolishness, while Rome burns, I mean, the Trinity River Vision parties. In private. And in inner tubes floating on the polluted Trinity River.

Which is another thing. What did you think of that investigative reporting the Star-Telegram did into how safe it is to float in the Trinity River?

I'm sure that report is coming soon....

Going To Hurst To The Chisholm Aquatic Center After A Futile Search For A Fort Worth Public Pool

No, that is not one of Fort Worth's many public pools you are looking at in the picture.

The little town of Fort Worth, with a population of nearly 800,000, has no public pools. Or public swimming lakes.

The pool you are looking at in the picture is the Chisholm Aquatic Center in the little town of Hurst, Texas, with a population of almost 40,000.

That makes Fort Worth about 20 times bigger, population-wise, than Hurst, if my math is correct, which it often isn't.

I had to be in Hurst this morning. So, I thought a morning walk around Chisholm Park would be a good thing to do to help clear my head before I had to do what I had to do in Hurst. Even though it was pre-noon, the Chisholm Aquatic Center was very busy.

Which makes a lot of sense, what with the temperature, at that time in the morning, nearing 90, a temperature level which has currently been reached at my location, with the real feel of the temperature being 102. That is getting a little warm.

I don't know what Fort Worth kids do to keep cool if they don't have a pool.

Well, there are those delightful Rockin' the River Happy Hour Inner Tube Floats on Thursdays, when, for a few hours, it is safe to get cool in the usually polluted Trinity River.

But, the river is only safe where it passes past downtown Fort Worth. Further downstream, like at Gateway Park, you don't want to be getting cool in the river.

I think I may getting cool in a rare afternoon dip in my non-public Fort Worth pool. You are welcome to join me. Clothing optional.

UPDATE: I have been informed by someone named Anonymous that the City of Fort Worth's Marine Park pool is open this summer. I have pedaled my bike through Marine Park. I do not recollect seeing a public pool. However, a public pool is not the type thing that would stick in my memory.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rosie The Rat Dog Has Dispatched From Alaska Shaking, Rocking, Rattling & Rolling While Filthy Dirty

This Honda SUV Was White In Washington
Those of us in the Lower 48, monitoring the progress of Rosie the Rat Dog's journey north, on the Rosie the Rat Dog Alaska! Blog, have been a bit concerned due to the fact that there had been no report from Rosie since last Saturday.

Til today.

We can now be a bit less concerned, because Rosie the Rat Dog has published a blog update titled Shake, Rock, Rattle and Roll!

Apparently Rosie the Rat Dog and Entourage are now at the part of the Alaska Highway where the road becomes a bit rough and more weather worn.

Rosie the Rat Dog and Entourage are also far enough north where tonight's sunset will be something they've not seen before. Below is part of Rosie's description of what they will see...

On the Summer Soltice, June 21st, the sun will not set. It will dip to the top of the mountain range and then rise above. Tomorrow we cross the river on a very small ferry and climb into the hills on a highway called "Top of the World" that leads us to our destination of Alaska.

I must remember to email Rosie the Rat Dog and tell her how easy the spelling checker works in the Blogger program, so that we can't cease with alternative spellings like "Soltice" and "increadable."

Though, I sort of liked the new "increadable" word.

I find the picture of my sister's formerly bright white Honda SUV to be a bit surprising. My sister is a bit of a fussbudget about things like keeping her vehicles spotless.

I am not suggesting she is totally neurotic about this, but I won't argue with you if that is what you think. So, to see this level of dirty is a bit shocking.

I hope their caretakers are at least keeping Rosie the Rat Dog and her sisters, Bean and Tilly, less dirty than the SUV.                                                                                                

The First Day Of Summer Sharing The Natural Tandy Hills With Diesel Trucks

Today, with it being the June 20 Summer Solstice, there will be more hours of sunshine, today, than there were yesterday and that there will be tomorrow.

After today we are on the slippery slope sliding towards winter.

In the meantime it is 91 degrees, at my location, with the Heat Index making the temperature really feel like 97.

It was a bit cooler than these not so cool temperatures when I went to the Tandy Hills today.

A couple days ago I was slightly startled by a big turtle basking in the waters below dry Tandy Falls.

Today I was slightly startled by a big white truck that caught my eyes and ears as I crossed the escarpment on top of dry Tandy Falls.

The big white truck had its diesel engine running and its headlights on. No human in sight. When I passed behind the truck I saw the lid was off the sewer access, with a cable running into the big hole in the ground. I looked in the big hole in the ground thinking I might see a human. Instead I saw water rushing by, about 10 feet below the surface.

I continued walking. I crossed the second creek crossing and saw a human ahead of me. When the human saw me he turned around, or so it seemed at the time. This was a bit unsettling. Then I saw the human was turning around to get in an even bigger white truck.

Crossing the nearly washed out Tandy Creek crossings seems as if it must be a bit adventurous in those big white trucks.

I really don't like smelling diesel or sharing the trails with big trucks when I am doing my hiking in a Natural Area. This somehow makes the experience seem less natural.

Other than smelling diesel fumes, this has been a quite fine first day of summer. I expect many more to follow.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Listening To Fosdick Lake Trumpeting Flowers Thinking About My Non Southern Gastronomical Turtle-Free Upbringing

These big orange flowers seemed to be sounding some sort of trumpet call towards Fosdick Lake in Oakland (Lake) Park today.

However, the big orange flowers were silent when I saw them, no trumpet call of any sort.

The temperature was 83, with 78% humidity, supposed making the Real Feel of the temperature 91 degrees, when I left air-conditioned comfort today to seek some salubrious outdoor activity.

The think the humidity measure-er was off.  A wind was blowing. Methinks the Wind Chill Factor was making the Real Feel be something like 76 degrees. Brrrr.

I saw a dozen or more turtles today, jumping off logs in to Fosdick Lake when they felt threatened by my Turtle Soup making presence. Intuitive creatures that they be.

Speaking of Turtle Soup. Yesterday after being unable to find the Tandy Turtle I blogged about my surprise at learning that Turtle Soup actually exists, along with lots of recipes directing one on how to make reptile soup.

Making Turtle Soup generated an amusing comment from someone with the unusual name of Anonymous....

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "On The Turtle Free Tandy Hills Thinking About Making Turtle Soup": 

Your non southern gastronomical upbringing is on display. 1881? Most all my semi current regional cookbooks (particularly the Louisianians) include such delicacies and are much less complicated. Perhaps it is still served in New Orleans restaurants though I can't recall my last pre Katrina visit. What I do recall is my first and only taste experience as a child with my parents. A nice Miami restaurant. Tanks of live fish and sea turtles from which you assumed your meal had been captured earlier. Turtle soup in the late 60's-early 70's was still popular in the poor rural areas of the south. If you snagged a turtle while fishing; it went home for dinner. The sophisticated city palate liked it too. The rest of us shuddered. Maybe you should visit a big Asian grocery store and see what they're doing these days. 

I hate it when I inadvertently put my non-southern gastronomical upbringing on display. I have never seen any turtles available in the seafood sections of the Asian grocery stores I visit in Arlington's International District.

I wish Anonymous would have told me what turtle tastes like.

Monday, June 18, 2012

On The Turtle Free Tandy Hills Thinking About Making Turtle Soup

In the picture you are looking west to where the west begins at the stunning skyline of beautiful downtown Fort Worth from atop one of the Tandy Hills.

In turtle news, the Tandy Turtle that yesterday had taken up residence in a small puddle at the base of dry Tandy Falls has moved on. I tried to track the Tandy Turtle but I could find not trackable turtle footprints.

Or maybe someone had a hankering for Turtle Soup and brought the Tandy Turtle home for dinner.

Speaking of Turtle Soup, I was curious if such a thing really existed, having heard of Turtle Soup, and sort of always assuming turtle was not really used in this soup, but for some reason it came to have the name "Turtle Soup."

Well, as I so often am, I was wrong.

I now have in my possession a Turtle Soup Recipe, complete with instructions about how to butcher a turtle for eating purposes.

The turtle cooking information came from The Household Cyclopedia of General Informationpublished in 1881, a handbook of the domestics arts as practiced in American households at that point in time. For some reason the instructions as to how to prepare a turtle refers to the reptile as fish. The butchering info and Turtle Soup Recipe is below, all one big paragraph, in case you feel like having reptile for dinner tonight.....

Procure a fine, lively, fat turtle, weighing about 120 pounds, fish of this weight being considered the best, as their fat is not liable to be impregnated with that disagreeable, strong flavor objected to in fish of larger size. On the other hand, turtles of very small size seldom possess sufficient fat or substance to make them worth dressing. When time permits kill the turtle overnight that it may be left to bleed in a cool place till the next morning when at an early hour it should be cut up for scalding, that being the first part of the operation. If, however, the turtle is required for immediate use, to save time the fish may be scalded as soon as it is killed. The turtle being ready for cutting up, lay it on its back, and with a large kitchen-knife separate the fat or belly-shell from the back by making an incision all round the inner edge of the shell, when all the fleshy parts adhering to the shell have been carefully cut away, it may be set aside. Then detach the intestines by running the sharp edge of a knife closely along the spine of the fish, and remove them instantly in a pail to be thrown away. Cut off the fins and separate the fleshy parts, which place on a dish by themselves til wanted. Take particular care of every particle of the green fat, which lies chiefly at the sockets of the fore-fins, and more or less all round the interior of the fish, if in good condition. Let this fat, which, when in a healthy state, is elastic and of a bluish color while raw, be steeped for several hours in cold spring-water, in order that it may be thoroughly cleansed of all impurities; then with a meat-saw divide the upper and under shells into pieces of convenient size to handle and baying put them with the fins and head into a large vessel containing boiling water, proceed quickly to scald them; by this means they will be separated from the horny substance which covers them, which will then be easily removed. They must then be put into a larger stockpot nearly filling with fresh hot water and left to continue boiling by the side of the stove fire until the glutinous substance separates easily from the bones. Place the pieces of turtle carefully upon clean dishes and put them in the larder to get cold, they should then be cut up into pieces about an inch and a half square; which pieces are to be finally put into the soup when it is nearly finished. Put the bones back into the broth to boil an hour longer, for the double purpose of extracting all their savor and to effect the reduction of the turtle broth, which is to be used for filling up the turtle stockpot hereafter. In order to save time, while the above is in operation, the turtle stock or consomme should be prepared as follows: With 4 ounces of fresh butter spread the bottom of an 18 gallon stockpot; then place in it 3 pounds of raw ham cut in slices; over these put 40 ounce of leg of beef and knuckles of veal, 4 old hens (after having removed their fillets, which are to be kept for making the quenelles for the soup); to these add all the fleshy pieces of the turtle (excepting those pieces intended for entres), and then place on the top the head and fins of the turtle; moisten the whole with a bottle of Madeira and 4 quarts of good stock, add a pottle of mushrooms, 12 cloves, 4 blades of mace, a handful of parsley roots and a good-sized bouquet of parsley tied up with 2 bay leaves, thyme, green onions and shallots. Set the consomme thus prepared on a brisk stove fired to boil sharply, and when the liquid has become reduced to a glaze fill the stockpot up instantly, and as soon as it boils skim it thoroughly, garnish with the usual complement of vegetables, and remove it to the side of the stove to boil gently for 6 hours. Remember to probe the head and fins after they have been boiled 2 hours, and as soon as they are done drain them on a dish, corer them with a wet napkin well saturated with water to prevent it from sticking to them, and put them away in a cool place with the remainder of the glutinous parts of the turtle already spoken of. The stockpot should now be filled up with the turtle broth reserved for that purpose as directed above. When the turtle stock is done strain it off into an appropriate-sized stockpot, remove every particle of fat from the surface, and then proceed to thicken it with a proportionate quantity of flour to the consistency of thin sauce. Work this exactly in the same manner as practised in brown sauce, in order to extract all the butter and scum, so as to give it a brilliant appearance. One bottle of old Madeira must now be added, together with a puree of herbs of the following kinds, to be made as here directed: Sweet basil must form one-third proportion of the whole quantity of herbs intended to be used; winter savory, marjoram and lemon-thyme in equal quantities, making up the other two-thirds; add to these a double-handful of green shallots and some trimmings of mushrooms; moisten with a quart of broth, and having stewed these herbs for about an hour rub the whole through the tammy into a purse. This purse being added to the soup, a little Cayenne pepper should then be introduced. The pieces of turtle, as well as the fins, which have also been out into small pieces rend the larger bones taken out, should now be allowed to boil in the soup for a quarter of an hour, after which carefully remove the whole of the scum as it rises to the surface. The degree of seasoning must be ascertained that it may be corrected if faulty. To excel in dressing turtle it is necessary to be very accurate in the proportions of the numerous ingredients used for seasoning this soup. Nothing should predominate, the whole should be harmoniously blended. Put the turtle away in four-quart-sized basins, dividing the fat (after it has been scalded and boiled in some of the sauces) in equal quantities into each basin, as also some small quenelles, which are to be made with the fillets of hens reserved for that purpose, and in which, in addition to the usual ingredients in ordinary cases, put 6 yolks of eggs boiled hard. Mould these querelles into small, round balls, to imitate turtles' eggs, roll them with the hand on a marble slab or table, with the aid of a little flour, and poach them in the usual way. When the turtle soup is wanted for use warm it, and just before sending it to table add a small glass of Sherry or Madeira and the juice of one lemon to every four quarts of turtle. The second stock of the turtle consomme should be strained off after it has boiled for two hours, and immediately boiled down into a glaze very quickly and mixed in with the turtle soup previously to putting it away in the basins, or else it should be kept in reserve for the purpose of adding proportionate quantities in each tureen of turtle as it is served.