Friday, July 21, 2017

Destination Washington To Drag The Gut For Birch Bay Driftwood

I am going to be absent from Texas for much of next month, as in August.

On August 8 I am leaving Wichita Falls in plane mode to D/FW to get on a bigger plane in order to fly to Seattle.

After landing at Sea-Tac I will be chauffeured to Tacoma by my nephews David and Theo, and niece Ruby.

A couple days later, on August 11, David, Theo and Ruby are taking me north about 130 miles, not as a crow flies, but how I-5 lies, to Birch Bay to stay in a condo on the Bay til the following Monday.

Birch Bay is about 35 miles south of Vancouver, B.C. and about 100 miles north of Seattle, according to Wikipedia.

Tacoma is about 30 miles distant from Seattle, hence my 130 mile estimated Tacoma distance from Birch Bay, though I think that crow would have a lot fewer miles to fly than the 130 miles covered in vehicular mode.

A description of Birch Bay, from the aforementioned Wikipedia...

Birch Bay is a headland bay created by the refraction of incoming waves on the headlands that lie on either side of the bay. The headland to the north is Birch Point, and the one to the south is Point Whitehorn. The waves bend as they enter the bay and lose energy in the process. The result is a half-moon-shaped bay with a gentle sloping beach. 

Birch Bay State Park is at the south end of the Bay. That Washington state park may have been the location of more camping trips than any other location during my camping years with my primary family unit. A further description of Birch Bay, this time from the Birch Bay State Park website...

Low tide reveals a wide mudflat with a treasure trove of clams and other shellfish that can be harvested in season. Bring out the pails, shovels, mud boots and licenses, and start digging! If you prefer to swim, Birch Bay is known for its relatively warm water, and if you’d rather be on the water, the park offers excellent crabbing, windsurfing, sailing and paddling. 

The swimming is what I am looking forward to, if the tides are low and the temperature is reasonably high. Which in Western Washington means any summer temperature over 70. When the tide is low at Birch Bay the sun heats up the tidal flats. Then when the tide comes in the water gets heated, at times surprisingly warm. And then if the tidal timing is right, allowing for a swim in the dark, the phosphorescent phenomenon happens, making for a cool glow in the dark experience.

Mount Baker, along with other Cascade Mountains, hovers to the east of Birch Bay, though not quite as hoverish as the zoomed below photo indicates.

It has been nine years since I have heard a saltwater wave crash to shore. Or seen saltwater. Or crystal clear water such as one sees in multiple locations in Washington.

Apparently heading north to Washington has entered my sub-conscious, and thus my dreams/nightmares. Last night I had a troubling nightmare where my vehicle was unable to successfully board the ferry which takes one the short distance from Vashon Island to Point Defiance in Tacoma. My vehicle ended up in the crystal clear water as I watched the current slowly move it further and further away.

I think the Vashon Ferry was freshly in my mind due to it being mentioned a couple days ago during the course of a phone conversation with Miss Linda R.

I have no plans to be on a Washington ferry whilst I am in Washington.

I hope David, Theo and Ruby will take me on a walk across the new Tacoma Narrows Suspension Bridge for video documentation purposes, to show Fort Worth locals how in modern parts of the world something like a bridge can be built in less than four years over deep, swift moving water.

The past several years I have made multiple inquiries about a chunk of driftwood which during my younger years was located on the Birch Bay beach in the state park zone. Photographs of possible driftwood suspects have been taken by driftwood investigators, such as Spencer Jack and his dad. But none of the photos have matched my memory, including the one which comes closest, which is what you see above.

One of the many activities one enjoys at Birch Bay is called Dragging the Gut. Dragging the Gut involves joining the throngs of Canadians driving back and forth the length of Birch Bay engaging in a lot of people watching. One only needs to extend the Gut Dragging a short distance past the regular turn around to get to the location of that legendary chunk of driftwood.

I am hoping we get to do an extended Dragging the Gut whilst we are at Birch Bay.

The day after we arrive at Birch Bay, Saturday, August 12, we will be driving east to Lynden to Monumenta Cemetery to deliver our dad to his final resting place.

The following day, Sunday, will be a fun day, likely with visitors visiting who I have not seen in years.

Then on Tuesday David, Theo and Ruby are taking me back to the airport so I can fly to Arizona to spend some time with their grandma.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Live At The Lake Today With Geese In Wichita Falls

What with the humidity making a temperature in the 90s feel as if the temperature is over 100, hiking, walking or roller blading is not a comfortable endorphin inducing aerobic activity.

However, riding a bike is totally doable, with what amounts to natural air conditioning keeping one relatively cool, til one stops rolling.

Today I rolled around the maze of paved alleys which run all  over my Caribbean neighborhood, eventually making my way to Sikes Lake where I stopped under the shade of a tree and took the above picture of my handlebars pointing at the Sikes Lake Pavilion, Sikes Lake, and a sign touting something called "LIVE AT THE LAKE".

I do not know what "LIVE AT THE LAKE" is, but according to the sign it has a lot of sponsors.

I know live music happens at the Sikes Lake Pavilion every once in awhile. Live music is likely what  is going to be  "LIVE AT THE LAKE".

I wonder why Wichita Falls does not have Rockin'  the Lake Happy Hour Inner Tube events in Sikes Lake with the floaters listening to music coming from the Sikes Lake Pavilion?

Fort Worth has Rockin' the River Happy Hour Inner Tube events at an imaginary pavilion by an imaginary island. I suspect Sikes Lake is much less polluted than Fort Worth's Trinity River which hosts floaters of various sorts when the river is deemed to have a safe level of e.coli and alligators.

A problem with Rockin' the Lake in Wichita Falls would be that Sikes Lake is home to a large number of geese. Those birds seem to be extremely territorial. I had to have words with a couple stubborn geese today who were reluctant to grant me passage.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

No Federal Class Action Lawsuit Orders Fort Worth To Build Sidewalks?

This morning I read an article in the Seattle Times which caused me to be freshly perplexed by something I was long perplexed about during my period of voluntary incarceration in one of America's underdeveloped cities, Fort Worth Texas.

The thing I was long perplexed by in Fort Worth was the fact that the town has so few sidewalks, with so many streets having no room for pedestrians, with many streets  having dirt paths worn into the weeds where a sidewalk should be.

And then I read this article in the Seattle Times about Seattle agreeing to fix or install 22,500 sidewalk curb ramps, at a cost of around $300 million.

Seattle agreed to settle a federal class action lawsuit brought against the city by three men with disabilities who alleged the city was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because many of the town's sidewalks lacked curb ramps which make street crossings easily doable for those using a wheelchair or other mobility device.

Countless times in Fort Worth I witnessed some hapless soul struggling to walk along a Fort Worth sidewalk-less street. Moms pushing a baby carriage. An old lady wheeling a walker. A disabled elderly man bumping along a dirt path trying to control his electric scooter.

Is Fort Worth exempt from federal class action lawsuits? I suspect such must be the case, what with there being so many things one would think would warrant federal attention. Such as the repeated, outrageous abuse of eminent domain in Fort Worth.

Surely an imaginative lawyer could do something to get some sort of lawsuit suing the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision for its wanton misuse of public funds.

Is there some sort of federal statute regarding nepotism in any sort of government entity? One would think it would be illegal to hire a congresswoman's inexperienced unqualified son to oversee a public works so as to motivate his mother to try and secure federal funding for a dubious public works project for which the public has never been allowed to vote.

If a federal court ordered Fort Worth to build sidewalks, with ramps, to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act how would Fort Worth pay for it?

Hire another of Kay Granger's children to oversee the Fort  Worth Signature Sidewalk Initiative?

If history is any indicator, that likely would not go well. There would be a big celebration to celebrate the start of construction of the first sidewalk. Followed by a year or two of no one seeing any new sidewalks built, with the public learning, eventually, there was a serious problem with the sidewalk's design, hence the long stall on the sidewalk building....

Monday, July 17, 2017

Embarrassing Reality Of Imaginary Trinity River Vision Signature Bridges

A couple days ago, July 15, to be precise, I received a message informing me Captain Andy had shared something called a link on something called my Facebook Timeline.

I clicked the message's link to Facebook to see that which you see here, which, when also clicked, brought me to what has become widely known as a textbook case of extremely bad propaganda, that being the official website touting the Trinity River Vision, also known as America's Biggest Boondoggle.

Among the many amusing, on target, comments made to Captain Andy's Facebook post was one which pointed out the irony of the Boondoggle's verbiage touting their vision as no longer a vision, but now a reality. And yet to illustrate that reality computer generated images were used, such as what you see above, because, well, in reality the Boondoggle's pitiful bridges are no where near being a reality, despite the fact that years ago their construction began with a ridiculous TNT exploding ceremony, attended by all the guilty perps responsible.

When you go to the Boondoggle's Trinity River Vision website and click on the Panther Island Signature Bridges link you will see that which you see below, among other nonsense.

Live cams showing you imaginary "Progress in Motion" where the Boondoggle has been trying to build bridges for longer than it took to build the Golden Gate Bridge, and many other actual signature acts of engineering.

Via the live cam look at the non-existent Henderson St. & White Settlement Bridge Construction you get a mighty fine look at the Boondoggle's homage to an aluminum trash can at the center of a messy roundabout.

The  Boondoggle paid round about a million bucks for that distracting homage to an aluminum trash can.

I will copy for your reading legibility the propaganda under the Innovative Design headline under that photo of the homage to an aluminum  trash can...

A team of engineers architects and planners have collaborated with partners from around the community to develop an innovative bridge design that also stays within budget. This project will enhance the area with three unique V-Pier bridges, 10 foot pedestrian-lit sidewalks, bicycle facilities, reduced vehicular traffic delays, enhanced landscaping and enhanced opportunities for future transportation.

Read the above out loud in a Trumpish blowhard type voice and the embarrassing absurdity of the verbiage becomes obvious, even if one did not know that that "innovative bridge design" has stalled bridge construction for over a year.

We have blogged about that stalled bridge construction multiple times, most recently in J.D. Granger Spews Trumpish Bridge Propaganda Exposed By Captain Andy where we learned that Granger and a crew of faux engineers built a model of one of the bridges, then sliced it in two to somehow prove to the balking bridge builder that the "innovative bridge design" was buildable.

Yeah, that's how things get done in progressive, modern parts of America.

Why do these dumbnut propagandists persist in describing these three simple little bridges as being signature bridges? Actual signature bridges were dropped well over a decade ago when the cost was deemed to be too high, replaced by these apparently badly designed simple little nondescript non-signature bridges.

When the Boondoggle's three little bridges were first announced the project timeline, at the time, had them completely constructed by this point in time. Look at the current Estimated Project Schedule for the three simple little bridges, as gleaned from the Boondoggle's website's bridge info.

Estimated completion date in 2020. Six years after construction supposedly began on two of the bridges.

I do not remember how many years it has been now since that explosive TNT ceremony marked the imaginary start of bridge construction, with whizzes like Fort Worth mayor, Betsy Price, erroneously claiming the bridges were being built over dry land to save money, when the reality is no water will run under those bridges until a ditch is dug under them and water is diverted from the Trinity River into that ditch.

I almost forgot about the embarrassing propaganda verbiage that accompanied that artist's rendering of the Boondoggle's bridges that we saw thanks to Captain Andy. I will copy that verbiage in its entirety. Again, read it out loud in a Trumpish blowhard voice to get the entire absurd effect...

The Trinity River Vision is no longer a vision, it is a reality. For several years, work along the Trinity River has been on-going preparing for this project milestone. The signature bridges are a collaborative effort between the Trinity River Vision Authority, TxDOT, City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County and the US Army Corps of Engineers. The three signature bridges positioned along the realigned Trinity River will begin construction in late summer 2014. The estimated construction cost for all bridges is $66 million. Serving as the gateways to Panther Island, the bridges create the foundation for a unique, urban waterfront community. The project partners will make every effort to minimize the inconvenience of this major construction project and will utilize multiple methods to keep residents and business owners informed. 

Why has no one had their employment terminated due to being responsible for this debacle? How much has all the misinformation propaganda on all the Boondoggle's various website's cost? Why do the people of Fort Worth tolerate such a high level of incompetence doing damage to their town?

It's all so perplexing.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Crossing A Red River To Oklahoma's Kiowa Casino With No Morningstar Buffet

Most mornings for a few minutes I find myself listening to BOB Radio, a Wichita Falls FM radio station called BOB for reasons unknown to me.

Almost every one of those mornings I hear a BOB advertisement enticing me to venture north to Oklahoma to the Kiowa Red River Casino to partake of the vittles at Morningstar Buffet or Morningstar Steak.

Til yesterday I successfully resisted BOB's Kiowa enticements.

Saturday morning I attended the Don't Fence Me In event. After that I decided to head north, to the Sheppard Air Force Base zone to find the El Mejicano Restaurant & Cantina, which is the location of a world, well, locally renowned Mexican food buffet. I was in need of locating this location for an upcoming happy birthday event later this month.

After finding El Mejicano a road sign indicated I was a short distance south of the town of Burkburnett.  I had not ventured this far north since my arrival  in Wichita Falls over a year ago. So, it was on to Burkburnett I headed.

Burkburnett appeared to have maybe seen more prosperous days, likely during an oil boom years ago. The northern city limit of Burkburnett is the Red River. The Red River is what separates Texas from Oklahoma. Just north of the Red River, at the first exit off 277 one soon finds the aforementioned Kiowa Red River Casino.

Last month I was in a casino in Arizona a couple times, at the Ak-Chin Casino in Maricopa.

I did not know what to expect from Oklahoma's Kiowa Casino. The only Oklahoma casino I had been in previously was Winstar World Casino Resort, which is supposedly the world's biggest.

I have no way of knowing, but after visiting the Kiowa Casino I'm thinking it may be the world's smallest casino. However, if that were the case I would think that fact would be bragged about.

Walking into the Kiowa Casino I did see something I saw in  the Ak-Chin Casino, as in giant video game-like slot machines, such as the Game of Thrones one you see below, which I saw yesterday in the Kiowa Casino, and also saw last month in Arizona.

However, unlike the Ak-Chin Casino, and every other casino I have ever been in, in Washington, Nevada, Arizona, California, Louisiana or New Mexico, this particular Oklahoma casino was dead quiet. None  of the usual cacophony of noise coming from the gambling machines.

The silence was eerie.

There were not many vehicles in  the parking  lot,  and not many people inside the casino. The Morningstar Buffet, coming up on noon, had about 10 people in buffet mode. I had never eye witnessed a casino buffet with such a scarcity of customers.

Morningstar Steak, which I heard BOB touting this morning, was closed.

I have long thought one day I needed to venture north to the Kiowa Casino Morningstar Buffet.

When I lived in Washington one of my favorite feeding locations was venturing north to the buffet as Harrah's Skagit Casino.

However, somehow I do not think venturing north to the Kiowa Morningstar Buffet is going  to become one of my favorite feeding locations....

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Don't Fence Me In Wichita Falls Art Project Reveal

This Saturday morning of the fifteenth day of July of the year 2017 I made my way an event taking place on the grassy median between Kell West and East, slightly east of downtown Wichita Falls, under the shadow of the giant abandoned towering chunk of concrete known as Attebury

The event to which I made my way was the reveal of the pickets of the Wichita Falls "Don't Fence Me In" art project in which hundreds of Wichita Fallers of all ages, of all sorts, exercised their creative freedom via the fence picket painting medium.

The Don't Fence Me In fence pickets have been being painted for months,  with the creative artistry overseen by a group of about twelve artistic types of various sorts.

Those attending the reveal of the fence pickets were assembled behind a "ribbon" awaiting being cut after multiple speakers speechified about the Don't Fence Me In project, including one of the spearheaders of this hugely successful project, Miss Margie Reese, who you see below speaking to the assembled crowd eagerly awaiting the cutting of the ribbon.

The painted fence pickets have been  assembled in a formation of fences arranged like a maze. Some with windows to allow a peak through. Or a photo op.

Don't Fence Me In attendees on both sides of one of the aforementioned fence "windows", above and below.

And below another attendee looking through a picket fence window. This particular person looks like maybe an attempt to crawl through the window is about to take place.

The fence picket art seemed to be mostly devoid of any political  messaging. I saw nary a Trump mention.

However, the below fence picket message somehow seemed sort of political.

SLA? Symbionese Liberation Army? That notorious group of nutcases who terrorized America, and Patty Hearst, back in the 1970s? I suspect this instance of SLA must mean something else, but what? I have no clue.

The 100s of people who created fence pickets had no clue where their picket was located in the sprawling installation.  And so finding their particular picket was a bit of a treasure hunt.

Above you see a young lady successfully finding her picket, and pointing to it for the assembled photographers.

Some of the artwork on the fence pickets was a bit perplexing to figure out what message, if any, was being conveyed. Above we see a lady in white who appears to be being puzzled by that at which she is looking.

Below is a short video I took this morning whilst walking amongst some of the picket fences and the other attendees...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Careful Rolling Past Unguarded Section Of Wichita Falls Circle Trail

Rolling along the many miles of the Wichita Falls Circle Trail one comes to multiple locations where a semi-steep drop-off has necessitated the need for the installation of a guard rail so as to prevent a wandering walker or a biker in wreck mode from careening off the trail and tumbling down a semi-steep slope.

The nature of the guard rails is different  at various locations along the Circle Trail.

Except for one location the Circle Trail guard rails are made of metal, in variations iterations and degrees of thickness.

The one location where the Circle Trail  guard rail is not made of metal is the section which passes under Midwestern Boulevard.

At the Midwestern Boulevard section of the Circle Trail the guard rail is made of wood. And is very flimsy.

Flimsy with a large section of the wooden guard rail missing, right where it would appear to be most needed, as you can see via the photo documentation above.

What knocked out this chunk of wooden guard rail? A biker careening out of control? A vandal?

I first noticed this missing section of wooden guard rail at least six months ago. So, this is not a new problem shortly to be fixed.

If it was deemed that various sections of the Circle Trail need guard rails for safety sake, why has this section been left unsafe for so long?

And why is it made of wood, not metal, matching the quality of the other Circle Trail guard rails?


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Biking To Wichita Falls Mysterious Towers Of Hercules

With the temperature nowhere near 100, and thus the outdoors being somewhat pleasantly moderate in the heat department, I opted to take my bike on a ride, with no particular destination in mind.

I am finding biking right from my abode at my current Wichita Falls location to be almost as pleasant as I used to experience late in the last century at my old  home location in Mount Vernon, in the Skagit Valley in the state of Washington.

From my abode in Mount Vernon I would exit to coast at high speed down a hill on the cul-de-sac on which my house was situated. No matter which direction I went steep hills were available, including the paved golf cart trail of a hilly golf course called Eaglemont, where Spencer Jack's dad used to have a restaurant he called a pavilion. Paved bike/pedestrian trails cross Mount Vernon, making it easy to get from the east end of town, where I resided, to the west end of town where a river ran.

At my current Wichita Falls location  the topography is pretty much flat. But the Circle Trail and the paved alleyways which course all over my neighborhood make for a fun maze of routes to roll around on.

Today I rolled north to Hamilton Park, then exited the Circle Trail to pedal on surface streets, eventually coming to an annoying street made of  bricks.

Why do Texans think it is a cool/good thing to retain old-fashioned streets made of brick? It ain't cool, it ain't good. Fort Worth's Camp Bowie Boulevard is the worst Texas offender of this sort I have bumped across.

The brick street eventually turned into a modern road going by nice homes, one of which looked like it would have made Howard Roarke proud.

Soon I came to Hempstead, which meant I was at the north end of Midwestern State University.

Why is this university so named? It's not in the Midwest. It's in North Texas. Why not Texoma State University? That has a nice ring to it. And the name makes sense. What with this region being known as Texoma, due to sharing space with Oklahoma.

From Hempstead I crossed Taft to the university campus. Soon I came upon that which you see above. An art installation known, for reasons unknown to me, as the Towers of Hercules. I do not know why this 'art' which looks like a row of phallic symbols is known as the Towers of Hercules.

My photo of the Towers of Hercules make them appear to be the Leaning Towers of Hercules. In reality the towers are totally erect, completely vertical, not even remotely resembling that famous tower in Pisa...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Fort Worth Has Most Cranes In Country 2nd Year In A Row?

I have been severely distracted for a month or two, hence slacking on some of my favorite hobbies.

Hobbies such as pointing out something I read in a west coast online news source that I would never expect to be reading in Fort Worth news sources, if Fort Worth actually had real, legit new sources, about something similar happening in Fort Worth.

Such as one would never expect to see a headline in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram informing its few readers that for the 2nd year in a row Fort Worth has more construction cranes constructing than any other town in America.

How is that bridge construction going at the north end of Fort Worth's downtown? Anyone see anything happening yet with the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision's bridges?

Recently we learned, via embarrassing J.D. Granger propaganda, that after he and "his team" built a scale model of one of America's Biggest Boondoggle's bridges, and then sliced the model in two, supposedly proving the controversial design was viable, and thus the long stalled bridges could supposedly return to construction mode.

I don't think cranes are involved in holding up J.D. Granger's little bridge V-piers whilst concrete is added.

I got the headline about most cranes in the country from this morning's Seattle Times.

Obviously I altered the headline for sarcastic irony purposes.

A few days ago the Seattle Times had an article speculating on what came next after Seattle's latest boom ran its course, as all previous booms had, such as the Klondike Gold Rush boom, the post WWII Boeing boom, or the boom.

Several years ago Seattle raised the town's minimum wage to $15, phased in over several years. I believe that phasing in is now completed.

Regarding Seattle, and other town's minimum wage increase, troglodytes around the country spewed troglodytic knuckedraggery regarding the economic foolishness of increasing the minimum wage.

One can not help but wonder how much bigger Seattle's current boom would be if the town had not enacted that minimum wage increase? (that is sarcasm for those who are not able to detect such)

I wonder if Fort Worth phased in a minimum  wage increase to $15 an hour if that town would experience something it has never experienced.

Boomtown Fort Worth!

I can't imagine sleepy Fort Worth as a Boomtown.

Well, there was that short period of time when Fort Worth thought it was booming due to being the location of the world's biggest experiment in urban gas fracking. That "Boom" did not end well.

I wonder if J.D. Granger and the minions responsible for America's Biggest Boondoggle pay their vision workers the minimum wage? Is that the reason why the Boondoggle can't seem to build simple little bridges connecting Fort Worth's mainland to an  imaginary island? Disgruntled low paid workers?

I suspect that even with a worker wage increase America's Biggest Boondoggle will still continue boondoggling along, well into the foreseeable future....

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Ignoring Trail Closed Sign Finds Nothing Happening In Dry Wichita Falls Construction Zone

I needed to do some book checking this morning. Doing so entails venturing to downtown Wichita Falls to the town's library.

I do not know if such has become the norm in libraries across the planet, but the Wichita Falls public library is the first where I have experienced automatic robotic type devices facilitating both returning and checking out books.

Extremely efficient. Freeing up librarians to do more elevated librarian tasks than checking out books.

After returning some books and checking out some new ones I ventured west to Lucy Park, with the goal for the day to roll my bike's wheels to Wichita Falls to see if I could see what is holding up the remodeling of the falls' bridge and trail upgrade, a remodeling which has rendered Wichita Falls a dry falls for months.

I am fairly certain I recollect reading that this Wichita Falls remodeling renovation would only take about a month.

As I got my bike on the Circle Trails and aimed towards Wichita Falls I was not rolling long before I came to a trail blockage with a sign saying "TRAIL CLOSED".  I could see by the path worn around the blockage that others before me had scofflawed past the Trail Closed sign.

When I got to the currently dry falls I saw that which you see above and below. As in, nothing going on. Nobody to  be seen working  on this project. There were multiple indications that working on this project has been dormant for some time. Indications such as undisturbed mud. And no construction equipment in evidence.

What you are looking at above is the new bridge which replaced the bridge which had been deemed not worthy of approval by the criteria of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Past the bridge the old version of the Circle Trail has been removed, exposing dirt awaiting the installation of the new pavement of a wider trail.

No clue as to what has stalled this project, leaving Wichita Falls dry at that time of year when a lot of tourists pass through town, wondering where the falls in Wichita Falls is located...

Monday, July 10, 2017

Sunday Evening Wichita Falls Circle Trail Bike Exploration Ends With Log Jam

Yester Sunday morning a thunderstorm downpour nixed my plan to roll my wheels on the section of the Wichita Falls Circle Trail I had not previously seen, and thus did not know the route by which the Circle Trail made its way from my abode to the Wichita River.

By yester Sunday evening the sky had returned to being mostly blue and the morning moat which had surrounded my abode had drained, thus allowing access to the Circle Trail and the aforementioned rolling of my wheels where they had not rolled before.

Previous to yesterday's revealing rolling I erroneously assumed the Circle Trail somehow made its way north through the massive maze of highways intersecting at the southeast side of downtown Wichita Falls.

Instead of going under that maze of highways the Circle Trail heads much further east than I figured it did, continuing to follow Holliday Creek and the Holliday Creek Gorge, in the same manner as the Circle Trail follows Holliday Creek as it passes my abode.

The only major highway the Circle Trail goes under is Highway 287, just a short distance west of the Castaway Cove Waterpark.

Continuing north from Castaway Cove the Circle Trail passes under Scott Avenue, which was the main drag through Wichita Falls prior to freeways coming to town. I knew I was coming up on Scott Avenue because I saw the abandoned motel eyesores I had previously been appalled by, gone out of business due to the traffic diversion onto the freeways.

A mile or two after passing under Scott Avenue I came to the scene you see at the top. A gazebo overlooking an incoming creek joining Holliday Creek on its journey to the Wichita River. This gazebo has a bike repair/tire pump station. There are several of these located on the Circle Trail. The incoming creek is to the left in the picture, a bridge takes the Circle Trail over that creek with the Circle Trail then beginning a long descent on its way under a railroad bridge.

Soon after passing under the railroad bridge I realized I was nearing Williams Park.

Last Thursday after doing some after hours art walking in downtown Wichita Falls I biked to Williams Park from the MPEC (Multi-Purpose Event Center). Prior to reaching Williams Park I made the surprising discovery of the site of the original Wichita Falls.

Last night I pedaled through Williams Park, then past where I had turned around on Thursday, but I did not pedal all the way to the location of the original Wichita Falls. The sun's light was beginning to slightly dim, so I stopped at the location you see below, then turned around to start the roll back to my abode.

The rocking bench you see above overlooks a big log jam on the Wichita River. I have no way of knowing if this log jam is a permanent feature, or something which was the result of a recent high water event. Log jams such as this have been known to go from jam to dam.

I have greatly enjoyed my newly expanded look at the Circle Trail. It would be nice, however, if the Circle Trail actually made a circle, with its missing sections filled in, so that one could make a round the town trip rather than having to backtrack from whence one came.

That and it would also be a good thing if some other paved trails were added, providing additional ways to roll around town, in addition to the Circle Trail which will eventually, literally, actually roll all the way around town...

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Thunderstorm Downpour Nixes Sunday's Wichita Falls Bike Ride

Anticipating a long bike ride this Sunday morning, when I checked the weather forecast I was pleased to see nothing wet or booming was on the menu for the time frame I expected to be rolling my wheels.

But, despite the forecast and what was on the weather menu, the sky this morning looked threatening from the time the sun began illuminating.

And then sometime around ten I heard booming in the distance, which grew louder as the minutes passed.

A unexpected, unpredicted, unwanted thunderstorm had come to town.

Eventually I opted to sit outside to watch from my patio venue the lightning striking in the distance.

As time passed the lightning grew ever closer and the booming ever louder.

And then one bright strike and simultaneous boom, along with a downpour, caused me to seek interior shelter.

I retreated to the location of my camera to retrieve it and then returned to the patio exit, sliding open the door to take the deluging photo you see above.

Until the rain ceases and drainage occurs I am now surrounded by a moat, whose passage past requires a floating device or getting wet wading.

I have a floating device in the form  of a  kayak, but I enjoy wading.  I do not know which means I will use should I decide to escape before the moat subsides...

Friday, July 7, 2017

After Hours Artwalk Leads To Closed Circle Trail With Original Wichita Falls

Yester evening after an hour of walking around the downtown Wichita Falls After Hours Artwalk I got my bike out of its truck bed storage location and pedaled to the Circle Trail, intending to head west to Lucy Park, checking out what I thought would be the newly re-furbished Wichita Falls, with a new bridge and trail improvements.

Instead I came to what you see here, a Trail Closed sign with another sign behind that sign saying Falls & Trail Closed for Construction.

I thought this construction was supposed to be done being constructed. Don't I remember reading the project would take about a month? And that I read that months ago?

The closed trail soon turned from a lemon into lemonade when I turned my bike around and headed the other direction, with the Circle Trail passing through landscape which created the illusion I had left the city to enter a verdant, lush jungle of green following the Wichita River.

Within a half mile I found myself passing the Wee-Chi-Tah Sculpture on the opposite bank of the river. Shortly after that I began hearing the sound of water flowing in rapids mode.

And then I came to something I did not know still existed, much less expect to see.

Those rapids I was hearing were at the location of the original Wichita Falls, which I thought had long totally disappeared during a flood way back late in the century which preceded the previous century, as in sometime in the late 1800s.

My weak photographer skills did not do justice to the Wichita River water which was moving rapidly behind the sign which tells us...


One of the Circle Trail's swinging benches overlooks the site of the original Wichita Falls. I sat and swung for awhile before continuing in a easterly direction.

I was not long back rolling my wheels, or so it seemed, when I was surprised to find myself already at Williams Park. I think at that point it was only four miles, give or take a mile or two, back to my abode's location adjacent the Circle Trail.

But, I needed to reverse direction so as to return to my bike hauling vehicle.

As I started to head west I realized the illuminating orb was beginning to retreat from its daily lighting duty.

The impending setting of the sun caused me to increase the speed I was rolling my wheels. Even so, I stopped at the Original Wichita Falls for one more photo.

A sunset view of that aforementioned swinging bench overlooking what remains of Wichita Falls.

Why did I not know that one could still find the original Wichita Falls, and that such was marked by signage? I have perused multiple publications about Wichita Falls and never came upon this information.

The main thing I discovered, besides Wichita Falls, from yester evening's bike ride, is that doing such late in the day makes for a pleasant, shady ride, unlike doing the same thing in the middle of a HOT day.

I think I will be making visiting Wichita Falls a monthly thing after I walk around the monthly downtown Wichita Falls After Hours Artwalk...

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Wichita Bluff Nature Area Looking Good Nearing Completion

Yesterday after watching the Wichita Falls 4th of July Parade I decided Independence Day was a good day to check out the current state of construction of the Wichita Bluff Nature Area and that area's extension of the Circle Trail which circles Wichita Falls with a few gaps.

Well, I was pleased to see there has been a lot of progress with the Wichita Bluff Nature Area.

When completed this will give the Circle Trail something it lacks on all its other miles.

A hill.

Not a steep hill, but an elevation gain which will require some gear shifting whilst pedaling uphill and some braking whilst coasting downhill. In addition to the Circle Trail this Nature Area also has the possibility of hiking trails being added, meandering up and down the bluff, maybe all the way to the Wichita River.

Below you are looking at part of the new section of the Circle Trail, sloping downhill. Railing will need to be added due to the fact that there is a steep drop off on the left side of the trail.

Below we have walked down the slope to the bottom of the gorge, to the new bridge taking the Circle Trail across a creek the name of which is not known to me. Wichita Bluff Creek? Sounds good to me. From the bridge we are ascending back up the slope, hence the view you see here.

I do not know if when it is completed the Wichita Bluffs Nature Area will be a natural area of the caliber of the one I miss in Fort Worth, that being the Tandy Hills Nature Area.

It has been well over a year since I have had the pleasure of experiencing one of the few things unique about Fort Worth, that being a wild natural area so close to the sleepy town's downtown.

In a few months my monthly trip back to D/FW will shift west from Euless to south Haltom City, which is near Gateway Park and the Tandy Hills. I suspect I will be returning to the Tandy Hills in the near future for some salubrious hill hiking and nature communing.

In the meantime I hope the Wichita Bluff Nature Area finally finishes being constructed, with a grand opening celebration. Likely with no TNT explosions.  Wichita Falls is a much more sane, sensible town than the previous Texas town I lived in....

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

2017 Wichita Falls 4th of July Parade

The 2017 Wichita Falls 4th of July Parade is now history.

This year's downtown Wichita Falls 4th parade experience was much more pleasant than last years, due to the temperature being perfectly pleasant this year, while last year was hot and humid.

This year I arrived at the parade location later than last year, thus a shorter wait til the parade began parading by.

Whilst waiting I called my mom. About one minute into talking to my mom the parade started up, two blocks to the north from my parade viewing location. Leading the parade were police and fire truck vehicles in blowing their horns and sirens mode. So loud mom heard it all the way in Arizona.

I have never been to parades, anywhere, where I have seen so much candy tossed to parade watching kids, as what I have witnessed in Wichita Falls. It is like Halloween without the trick or treating.

And kids come prepared with bags to hold their candy loot. In addition to candy I also saw beads being tossed, like Mardis Gras in New Orleans.

I took no photos of the Sheppard Air Force Base contingent as they marched by. My camera was in video mode at that point in time. You  can watch the video of the military marchers below.

Before we get to the video let's take a look at some of what I saw parading today.

I do not remember horses with cowboys and cowgirls in last year's Wichita Falls 4th of July Parade. Or maybe they were there and it was a marching band I remember missing. Which was also the case this year. With several high schools in town one would think there would be a marching band  or two, such as I always heard whilst viewing the Arlington 4th of July Parade.

I like the multiple homemade family float type entries in the Wichita Falls 4th of July Parade. Such reminded me of years ago when my dad would build us kids elaborate floats for the Burlington Berry Dairy Days Parade. We often won first place.

I also like entries such as the above pickup with a couple candy tossers riding on the tailgate. I believe these type things are known as Classic Americana.

Above we see some of the candy scramblers in action.

Cub Scouts were doing the flag waving on this entry. Red, white and blue seemed to be the dominant color theme for the day, for obvious reasons.

And now the video where you will hear the loud start of the Wichita Falls 4th of July Parade and see the flags of multiple nations march by carried by Sheppard Air Force Base Airmen and Airwomen...

The Last Time Together Of All Mom & Dad's Children

When I woke up my phone this morning I saw that which you see above, sent by Spencer Jack's dad, my favorite nephew, Jason. Somewhere in my current abode is the hard copy version of this photo. Mom and dad included a framed version of such in a Christmas package a couple Christmases ago.

I believe the above photo documents the last time all my mom and dad's children were assembled at the same time. This was on Saturday, July 27, 2002, at the Lynden Fairgrounds in Lynden, Washington. We were all at this location to attend a Slotemaker-Jones family reunion, which was the biggest such family even in  Slotemaker-Jones family history.

That would be dad and mom sitting in front.  All my favorite nephews are in this photo. From the left we see nephews Joey and Jason, then Joey and Jason's temporary step-mom,  Jill, with their dad, my brother Jake's arm around Jill. Next we have my sister Jackie, standing next to her first husband, my favorite brother-in-law, Jack. Next to Jack is my sister Clancy, then me, in front of Jack and Jackie's first born, my nephew Christopher, then my little sister, Michele, with Christopher's little brother, Jeremy, on the far right.

A 2017 version of this photo, if one had been possible, would have included mom and dad's one and only great-grandson, Spencer Jack, along with nephews David and Theo, and my one and only niece, Ruby.

I should have gone to Arizona this past Christmas....

Monday, July 3, 2017

Early Morning Mount Wichita Volcano Ride With No Firecrackers

Soon after the first July Monday morning sun arrived, after being fueled by coffee, I opted to roll my wheels, and my handlebars, for a few miles to the west, to get myself an up close look at the Mount Wichita pseudo semi-volcano, which appears, here, to be erupting, with lava spewing from the volcano's crater, flowing down the south side of the volcano.

Or that may be an eroded trail to the top of the volcano, and not a lava spew.

For well over a year I have looked out my kitchen window whilst brewing my morning coffee to see a lot of Wichita Fallers out on the Circle Trail, with the majority in rolling their bike wheels mode, along with some joggers, skateboarders, stroller pushers and walkers.

With me back in bike riding mode this seemed like a good morning to join the throng on the Circle Trail.

Tomorrow, what with it being the 4th of July, the only thing I sort of know I am doing for sure, is going to downtown Wichita Falls to watch the 4th of July Parade.

I have been asked to go to Charlie in the afternoon for that little town's 4th of July celebration. Charlie is about 20 miles northeast of Wichita Falls, slightly south of the Red River, and Oklahoma. All I know about the Charlie 4th is it involves listening to music and consuming watermelon.

I have yet to hear a single firecracker cracking.

My old home zone in Washington was always like being in a war zone during the 4th of July period. Not that I have actually ever been in a war zone, but I imagine such to be like the explosiveness I used to experience this time of year at my location in Mount Vernon.

From my very first 4th of July in Texas, late in the last century, til the present, I have found Texas to be surprisingly quiet during the 4th of July period. I had expected Texas to be extremely noisy. I suppose a lot of the lack of Texas 4th of July noise is due to the lack of easy access to buying fireworks, what with there being only a couple Indian Reservations in Texas, where Washington has dozens of Indian Reservations selling fireworks.

And tobacco.

And operating casinos...

Sunday, July 2, 2017

J.D. Granger Spews Trumpish Bridge Propaganda Exposed By Captain Andy

On the day of my return from a couple week escape from Texas, Elsie Hotpepper sent me a link to an article in the Fort Worth Business Press titled TRV bridge construction begins anew.

I read the article to find myself pretty much appalled and once again thinking to myself that the sad town of Fort Worth really does suffer from having no legitimate newspaper doing actual investigative journalism.

To recap, several years ago, with much explosive fanfare, the Trinity River Vision Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision had a big celebration to celebrate the start of construction of three simple little bridges which were to connect the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island.

I do not remember how long there was some constructive effort before the bridge building ground to an unexplained halt. A halt which was reported in what passes for a newspaper in Fort Worth, to be expected to last only a month. That month soon stretched to over a year.

No Fort Worth local news source seemed interested in finding out the reason for America's Biggest Boondoggle's bridge building problem.

And now in the Fort Worth Business Press we learn that building those bridges is supposedly once again underway.

However, Fort Worth's Captain Andy drove by the "construction" zone where activity was alleged to have resumed, to find that nothing is happening, at least such as what is visible to a passing eye. Maybe a microscope could detect some bridge building activity.

Captain Andy took a few photos of the bridge construction ghost town. But, before we get to those let us look at what J.D. Granger had to say about this embarrassing debacle in the article in the Fort Worth Business Press....

After being on hold for about a year, “the bridge cages here are well underway. We had a tough issue going on with the contractor who was making a lot of design claims and problems with it. Our team, the city of Fort Worth and TxDOT were saying ‘no it’s the way you’re building it,’” Granger said.

“We went ahead and did a [6 ft. tall, 8 ft. wide and 20 ft. long] mockup of it, we cut that section open and sure enough it showed the design was very good. So, with that the bridge contract is now going full speed once again,” he said.

Now, spend some time digesting the lunacy of what J.D. Granger is telling you in the above two paragraphs.

Bridge cages are well underway? What does that mean? They had a tough issue with the contractor who saw problems with the design? Which had J.D.'s team telling the contractor the problem was with the way the contractor was building it? And so J.D., and his team, built a mockup of the bridge piers, which they cut open to show the design was very good, which he claims has the bridge contract once again going full speed?

Going full speed ahead, except Captain Andy detected no sign of anything happening.

The FWBP article also claimed...

They expect to begin pouring concrete piers for the North Main bridge in mid-July, and plan to continue pouring one new pier every two weeks until all bridges are complete.

I have never understood how it is these pier forms, into which concrete is to be poured, are supposed to support a bridge deck. Were massive concrete foundations already in place under the piers? It looks like these piers are being built on the surface, with no foundation. How is a ditch dug under these bridges after they are already built?

So many questions, but never any answers.

And now Captain Andy's photo documentation of the current status of nothing actually happening with America's Biggest Boondoggle's bridge construction.

First off, the million dollar aluminum homage to a trash can, installed at the roundabout which is near the only one of the three bridges to get to any state of construction. This is among the locations where, years ago, the Trinity River Vision abused eminent domain to take property, and now years after that theft, pretty much nothing has been done with the property which was taken for a bogus ill-considered, badly planned, ineptly implemented flood control economic development project.

A drive by somewhat closeup look at one of the wooden pier forms looking no different than it has looked for years. After concrete is poured into these forms, supposedly a bridge deck will be added.

Below we see two even closer looks where nothing appears to have changed where J.D. Granger claims the Boondoggle's bridge building is now going full speed again. Claimed by Granger to be going full speed again when the bridge building has never gone full speed. Is Granger a fan of Trump? Is he emulating Trump's penchant for spewing falsehoods?

How is it that the Fort Worth Star-Telegram does not cover this debacle? Asking questions which need to be asked? Or editorializing that it is long past J.D. Granger's expiration date?

We surely now know the answer to that question asking what could go wrong with putting an unqualified son of a local congresswoman in charge of a public works project for which he had zero training. Was it really worth it, giving this boy this job, just to motivate his mama to secure federal funds to keep her offspring gainfully employed til he reaches retirement age?

And, if I have said it once, I have said it more than once, Fort Worth suffers due to the town not having any actual legitimate newspaper...

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Jack Slotemaker: December 12,1930 - June 30,2017: A Very Special Dad & Grandpa

I woke up my phone this first morning of July to find a message from my sister Jackie...

"Sorry. 9:28-he's at peace."

Another message was from my sister Michele, which simply said "Found this on my phone".

The "this" to which Michele refers is the photo you see here, me, dad and mom. It took some thinking but I think this photo was taken a little over five years ago, soon after I touched down at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, waiting for my checked in bags to arrive.

I am having trouble processing how we went from being so happy watching dad walk to his room, and making jokes and teasing so recently, to this.

When I checked email this morning the first message I saw was from my dad's first grandson, Spencer Jack's dad, my brother Jake's eldest son, Jason.

The subject line of Jason's email was A Very Special Dad & Grandpa.

Uncle Dean,

I received late news tonight of your dad's passing.  Lot of emotions and thoughts.  My initial thoughts of your dad, my grandpa, is that I cannot think of a more patient, humble, kind and loving man.

As I digest the news of my first grand parent passing, I thought I'd share the photo you see here, plus the following text (a chapter from a draft of my own dad's book on his childhood):

Dad worked a laborers job Monday thru Friday, with the weekends and a one paid week vacation off a year. He’d leave his work at work. His job was a means to provide for his family, nothing more. It was not a career. There was no chance of advancement. It was just a job, a job at a small town milk processing plant. If there was ever a complaint regarding his work, we never heard it.

Mom and Dad’s day began with a 3:30 a.m. alarm clock awakening. Our kitchen/dining room was one large room with a door separating the living room and a door separating the kitchen and hall leading to the bedrooms. Mom would get up with Dad to make his breakfast and lunch and they’d close the normally open hall and living room doors to keep any noise level at its lowest level so we could stay asleep.  Mom would go back to bed after Dad left for work and would be up again to get us off to school. Dad punched in at 4:30 a.m. and was back home by 1:30 p.m. Afternoons and weekends were his to... (And it goes without saying Mom had a part in all of this.) Were his to…….

….build a float for the Berry Dairy Days parade.
….coach Little League and Babe Ruth baseball teams.
….just play catch along side of the house.
….take us camping, and camping, and camping.
….visit the Grandmas and one Grandpa until he died. The Grandmas lived within three blocks of each other in Lynden. Fun Grandma Vera who consumed alcoholic beverages and smoked cigarettes, (she quit both vices later in life), and religious Grandma Slotemaker who read the Bible daily.
….take us fishing, plunking from shore on the Skagit river.
….take us salt water fishing for salmon, cod, and halibut in the waters of the Puget Sound.
….go digging for horse clams and wading for Dungeness crabs on the tide flats of 
an island named Samish at the south end of Bellingham bay.
….take us to experience the beauty of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park and Craters of the Moon National Park in Idaho, Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon, Redwoods National Park in northern California, and Olympic National Park in Washington, and also to play in the snow of what is now North Cascades National Park while searching for the perfect Christmas tree.
….take us to see the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Cable cars, and Lombard Street. The Tar Pits in downtown Los Angeles, and the Ambassador Hotel two weeks following the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy who had just won the California Democratic primary
….take us to San Diego to Sea World and then across the border to Tijuana to barter for trinkets.
….take us to the coastal tide flats of the Pacific Ocean to dig Razor clams.
….take us to experience the light show illuminating the waters of the Columbia River cascading over the Grand Coulee Dam in eastern Washington while on a camping trip to Sun Lakes State Park.” Roll on Columbia roll on.”
…. take us to the 1962 Worlds Fair in Seattle to shake hands with astronaut John Glenn who had just finished his February 20, Friendship 7 mission of orbiting the earth three times.
….take us to meet LBJ at the Peace Arch in Blaine
….teach us the value of money and hard work
….take us Easter egg hunting.
….teach us to be respectful of our elders.
….teach us to owe up to our mistakes.
…. attend every school event.
….be home every night for dinner.
….build a foosball table in the garage using plywood and wood dowels, because buying new in the store was too expensive.
….build a rocking horse in our backyard using an old bike frame and coil car spring bought from Larry’s Auto Wrecking. We had played on a fiberglass shaped horse at a park in Everett and Dad saw how much fun it was for us.
….teach us to drive so we could pass our drivers test the day we turned 16.
….take us trick or treating until we all had at least one paper grocery bag full of candy.
….have an extra paper grocery bag (paper or plastic was not an option) to replace the grass soaked bag whose bottom fell out.
…. be there for you no matter what.
….love you and your better half.

Hope all is well with you, and I'm glad you ventured to see him.  - Jason.