Monday, August 21, 2017

In Arizona Watching The Solar Eclipse With David, Theo & Ruby

Soon after the most stupendous American moon related event of the year I received photo documentation of five Tacoma eclipse viewers viewing the eclipse of the sun behind eye doctor approved viewing glasses.

Forming a triangle around their parental units we see my nephew David on the left, niece Ruby at the bottom, with nephew Theo on the right.

The nephew/niece triangle trio opined that the eclipse was extremely cool from their Washington viewing location.

Meanwhile in Arizona I watched the eclipse with grandma Daisy, on the TV. It was riveting television viewing. When the eclipse reached our Arizona location me and grandma Daisy did not make note of any dimming of the sun. Other Arizona sun observers did indicate they did notice some dimming.

I am currently at David, Theo and Ruby's Aunt Jackie's where the Arizona Diamondbacks are once again playing baseball.

Tomorrow I leave Arizona, making my way east from the sublime to the ridiculous. I am sort of looking forward to a bit less of the sublime and a bit more ridiculousness...

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Driving Miss Daisy Searching For Jeremy While Navigating Around South Mountain

Yesterday began soon after dawn with the Miss Daisy Uber Taxi Service delivering my favorite brother-in-law, Jack, to Dobson's Ranch, site of a housing development of one of America's notorious criminals, last name Keating.

Jack was not in Dobson's Ranch for any nefarious criminal activity, but instead to make his ride connection to Prescott, site of a Pickle Ball Tournament, where he is paired with his first wife, whilst staying in a replica of the Bates Motel.

A few hours later Miss Daisy had her driver drive her to Tempe, to find her grandson Jeremy, to visit his jungle backyard which serves as a sort of Arizona Noah's Ark. We failed in our quest to find Jeremy's jungle.

Failing the Jeremy finding quest Miss Daisy directed her driver to drive to South Mountain. Eventually we made it high above Phoenix where I used my phone to take one of those rare, for me, selfie photos.

Another view of the same selfie scene, but without me in the view. South Mountain Park is the largest city park in any city in America. The drive up and down the mountain is a fun roller coaster of ups and downs and twists and turns.

South Mountain is home to a forest of saguaro cactus of various sizes and shapes. I dodged scorpions and rattlesnakes to get the cactus selfie closeup you see here.

When we left South Mountain Miss Daisy directed me to head west, rather than east. West heads away from civilization. Soon we were in an agricultural zone growing cotton and other such stuff, with irrigation ditches flowing a lot of water on both sides of the road.

Even though Miss Daisy directed me to go west, soon Miss Daisy decided maybe we should have gone the other direction. I opted to continue west, countermanding Miss Daisy's directions.

Eventually we came to a highway which headed south. Around South Mountain. This seemed a logical direction to go. A few miles later we entered the Gila River Indian Reservation and passed a casino.

Soon after passing the casino Miss Daisy announced we were on Riggs Road.

Riggs Road is the road which leads back to Miss Daisy's home location in Sun Lakes. Riggs Road runs east and west, not south and north. I informed Miss Daisy of this fact.

A few miles later Miss Daisy announced that she was now certain we were on Riggs Road. I tried to gently tell Miss Daisy that this was impossible, that the road sign says we are on Beltline Road.

A few miles later the mile marker said 2.0, which indicated we were 2 miles from some sort of junction or road change.

Imagine my shock as Beltline Road took a bend to the east and when we hit mile marker 0.0 the road name changed from Beltline to Riggs.

There are some who insist Miss Daisy has serious memory lapses. I have notice such lapses myself. And then I have an incident like this knowing we were on Riggs Road thing and I get confused as to how bad mom's, I mean, Miss Daisy's, memory actually is.

Oh, a few hours later we found Jeremy. He showed up at grandma's to watch the Arizona Diamondbacks lose again. Neither Jeremy or I have seen the Diamondbacks win. We are watching those D-Backs likely lose again tonight. Miss Daisy is slow cooking one of her recovered pot roasts...

Friday, August 18, 2017

Palm Tree Trimming With Sun Lakes Lady Fun Floaters & Mom's Curfew

Ever since I have been in Arizona, for what seems like a month, but has only been three full days, mom has been tasking me with all sorts of tasks I am not used to being tasked with.

Such as this morning I was tasked with helping mom crack a strong box so we could see what my dad had locked strongly in the box, accessible only via a key hidden where key seekers could not find the key which they might be looking for to gain access to the locked strong box.

Once we succeeded in cracking the strong box we found nothing too surprising. Well, there were the two two dollar bills my dad had secreted in his wallet. And I found a document or two I told mom to set aside because I thought David, Theo and Ruby's mom might want to have them for framing purposes. Such as the document which mustered dad out of the service way back in the early 1950s.

Yesterday mom tasked me with using dad's chainsaw to trim the fronds from the palm trees. It was a bit tricky figuring out how to shimmy my way up the tree's trunk, with the chainsaw dangling from my belt. Eventually I figured it out.

The palm tree trimming photo documentation you see above is not actually me in the tree doing the trimming on that particular palm tree. That is a tree trimmer I saw whilst in the pool this morning with what remains of the Sun Lakes Lady Fun Floaters.

Only Beverly currently remains from last June's Sun Lakes Lady Fun Floaters. The Queen of the Floaters, Jacqui, is currently up north, in Washington, enjoying the natural air conditioning. Beverly did not know the location of the other Fun Floaters, including Ann and Phyllis, who have been mysteriously missing for weeks.

Today mom gave me permission to only be gone for two hours. Yesterday apparently I created a panic by being gone for over three hours. And not answering my phone. I do not seem able to get mom to understand I seldom answer my phone. Or I don't realize the phone has been summoning me, which was the case yesterday when mom made her worried call.

I am enjoying the relatively chilly Arizona temperatures, barely in the low 100s. Last June when I was in Arizona it was actually HOT, as compared to now, with the temperature at that point in time going over the 120 mark multiple times. We are currently chilling into the 80s over night, which is making the pool cool. I don't know when it gets cold enough to kick in the solar heaters...

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sad Washington Departure Leaving David, Theo & Ruby Behind After Blackberry Milkshakes

My week in Washington began with a boisterous arrival greeting from nephews David and Theo and niece Ruby.

On Tuesday my week in Washington ended with a somber departure from David, Theo and Ruby.

Especially Theo, who you see in front of me.

If there are a cuter trio of kids on the planet, I would like to meet them.

Eventually I will return to Texas with a thumbdrive bursting with material from Washington, material in the form of photos. Along with material consisting of my impression of what I was seeing when I was in Washington.

I will likely wait til I am back in Texas with a computer connection to the world, with which I am more familiar, before I blog that aforementioned material.

Suffice to say, though the reason to be there was a sad one, I had the best week I have had in a long long time, this time, in Washington.

On Tuesday, on the way to the airport, David, Theo and Ruby took me to Tacoma's Theo Foss Waterway. An area I will later photo document and refer to as the Tacoma Waterfront Vision (a vision which you can actually see, with no weeds or rusted re-bar or polluted water or drunken inner tubers) unlike another town's vision, which few sane people are seeing. Tacoma's real vision has an actual real signature bridge, built over actual real water. What a concept.

But, I digress.

Back to my last day in Washington.

After we left Tacoma we stopped in Fife at the Pick Quick Burgers Drive-In for burgers and blackberry milkshakes, and views of Mount Rainier.

With the sky finally clear of smoke the Mountain came out spectacularly on my last day in Washington, including a direct overhead view as my flight to Phoenix routed over the Rainier summit. I will save the full mountain view for later. Suffice to say, for the first time ever, I saw the Mount Rainier summit, and could make out markings of some sort at the summit, which you can sort of see below.

I arrived in Phoenix with a thud.

Literally. To use my nephew David's favorite word.

The plane landed with a jolt worthy of a theme park ride. A few people screamed. I was not one of the screamers. But the lady from Terlingua, next to me, was.

I was surprised as I exited the Sky Harbor security zone to suddenly see my mom and sister Jackie, sitting, waiting for me. Mom had walked her walker in from the parking lot, a couple elevator levels below or above. I'm not sure. I was sort of too tired to pay directional attention.

Wednesday morning I went swimming with what remains of the Sun Lakes Ladies Swimming Club. Most have let Arizona, temporarily, for cooler climes. Yesterday, post swim, I drove mom and Jackie to Maricopa to see Penny and to have ourselves a McDonald's feeding.

Today mom and I boxed up a lot of dad's stuff and took it to Goodwill. Then we went on a long drive to Coolidge, a town right next to Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. We did not go see the ruins. I've heard there is not a lot to see. That they are sort of ruined. Which would seem to me what one would want ruins to be.

Eventually we made it back to Sun Lakes, where I left mom, to go to my current location, my sister Jackie's house, which I have all to myself, because Jackie is up north, in Prescott, playing in a Pickle Ball Tournament. Tomorrow mom and I return to my current location, that being sister Jackie's, at six in the morning, to chauffeur Jackie's first husband, Jack, to Dodson Ranch, so he can pick up a ride to Prescott, where he Pickle Balls tomorrow.

I am enjoying Arizona. But this is not the scenic wonderland of natural air conditioning, large bodies of water, and towering mountains, which is the reality in Washington.

Mom and I are making BBQ Ribs tonight. I have never seen three freezers so stocked with frozen stuff as what currently exists at my mom's abode....

Monday, August 14, 2017

Ruby Slotemaker Finds Road With Her Name On It

I think I may have mentioned I might not get back to a computer for about a week. But then whilst going through photos taken the past several days I came upon this one which quickly became my favorite.

And thus felt like sharing.

Slotemakers and a Jones or two from across the country were in Lynden Saturday August 12, converging at one in the afternoon at Lynden's Monumenta Cemetery.

Prior to one in the afternoon my little brother, Jake and I left Birch Bay and headed to Lynden to check out a thing or two or three, like our grandma's houses, and the old Slotemaker farm and Slotemaker Road.

I sort of thought I knew the way to Slotemaker Road. My little brother was more confident than I that he knew the way. And so we headed south across the Nooksack River.

And then proceeded to drive many miles in a futile search for the Slotemaker Farm and its namesake road. Eventually I asked Google "Slotemaker Road Whatcom County Washington". Google proceeded to be worthless, giving me a list of Whatcom Country history links. Then I called my little brother's eldest, Jason.

Jason was of no use because his dad had gotten us so convolutedly confused Jason could not figure out how to tell us how to get to Slotemaker Road from our extremely lost location on what turned out to be the wrong side of the river.

We decided to give up on our Slotemaker Road search and proceed to the cemetery, planning to ask Uncle Mooch the way at some point in time.

Asking Uncle Mooch proved unnecessary, because after we left the cemetery to head for Aunt Judy's Ruby consulted something called Siri on her iphone, with Siri telling Ruby how to direct her vehicle to Slotemaker Road.

Meanwhile my little brother and I had trouble finding Aunt Judy's after we left the cemetery. We mistakenly thought we were following someone who was also going to Aunt Judy's. We once again called Jason to ask if he knew the way to Aunt Judy's. Jason sort of patiently told me Aunt Judy clearly gave us all directions. But your dad and I were not listening, was my excuse to Jason. Jason then walked us through how to get to Aunt Judy's. Eventually we saw Jason holding his phone in front of Aunt Judy's.

A few minutes later I found myself talking to a relative who told me she first met me when I was two months old. That lead to me calling mom after which a group conversation ensued, having mom in virtual attendance.

And then Ruby triumphantly arrived, freshly returned from finding Slotemaker Road.

A couple hours later we left Aunt Judy's and followed Ruby the what turned out to be short distance to Slotemaker Road.

On the north side of the Nooksack River.

Which is how the above photo was taken of me trying to help Ruby continue the family tradition of purloining Slotemaker Road signs for display in our various home locations....

Birch Bay Sand Castles With Theo, Jake, Cindy & Uncle Mooch

I have not been near a computer since last Friday. I have a back log of blogging material and photo documentation of that blogging material.

But I may not get around to having fun reducing that back log of blogging material for about a week.

Tomorrow I head south from the Great Pacific Northwest, to the HOT Valley of the Sun, to spend a week with my mom.

I have been a little busy since last Tuesday. Yesterday, Sunday, was my first semi day of rest.

Sunday brought about a scenario the likes of which I could not have imagined what could possibly bring about such a scenario, if you had suggested such a scenario, say, two, five, ten or twenty years ago. That being what you see above. Me, my brother Jake, and my favorite ex-sister-in-law, Cindy, walking on the tidal flats of Birch Bay,

The day began with a long awaited visit from Nurse Canecracker and Betty Jo Bouvier. I have known few people as long as Nurse Canecracker and Betty Jo, who delivered me a bag full of Northwest goodies, including smoked salmon, raspberry jam, sourdough bread and dozens of Canecracker cookies. Eventually Nurse Canecracker and Betty Jo took me to a seaside seafood joint where we had seafood in the form of cod in various iterations. The feeding was fine, but visiting Betty Jo and the Canecracker was excellent.

In the afternoon Theo, David, their uncle Jake, mama Kristin and myself headed to the beach with the goal being to build a sand castle whilst the water was in tide going out mode. The day before we had had ourselves a mighty fine time defending a giant sand alligator from the incoming tide.

We were in mid sand castle building when Spencer Jack, his dad, Jason, and grandma Cindy showed up. Spencer helped with the castle building for awhile and then opted to join Ruby in the pool, leaving just the original castle builders to continue building.

Eventually the tide grew close. Soon we had to fight to defend our castle. It is always a losing effort. After we surrendered we retreated to an interior space where we found Spencer Jack, Jason, Cindy and others. We had ourselves a fine time visiting and enjoying grandma Cindy's special Northwest type brownies.

After Spencer Jack decided it was time to head home Theo convinced me to go swimming with him and Ruby in the pool, not the bay. We did so for what seemed a long time. I quit first. Upon returning to the condo I opened the door to find the place filled with a fresh supply of relatives, including the infamous, much revered, Uncle Mooch.

We all had ourselves a might fine time visiting Uncle Mooch and the rest of the clan. Ruby had herself a lot of fun with Mooch's grandson, Kwan, dismantling my former bed and turning it into a giant fort.

The Mooch Gang left sometime after midnight, my time. After that Theo and David talked me into going back into the bay to experience what David calls 'bio-luminescence'. We armed ourselves with a flashlight and made our way to the bay. All we need say about this part of the day is we did not get wet enough to see the water glow.

I slept well last night. This morning we ventured to the rooftop for some scenic view photos of the remains of yesterday's sand castle. And then soon it was check out time. The drive back to Tacoma did not have the traffic jam nightmares of the sort which made miserable the drive north on Friday. In Seattle we left I-5 to go to Dick's by the Seattle Center and then drive by the HUGE Amazon campus, largely under construction. Ruby and I got out for a quick photo op at the giant Amazon spheres, then we continued our quick tour of way too busy downtown Seattle.

More on Seattle and the past few days, later. This may be my last time on a computer for several days.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Point Ruston Ruby, Theo & David Surrey Survey Of Tacoma's New Waterfront Development

Last night David, Theo and Ruby took me on a roll along the Tacoma waterfront via a surrey with a fringe on top, powered by Fred Flintstonish pedal power.

For several years now I have been hearing about the incredible development which has come to the north end of the Tacoma waterfront, at Ruston, the site of America's biggest Superfund cleanup, cleaning up the toxic residue left from the Asarco copper smelting operation which operated during many years of the previous century.

I remember when the Ruston Asarco zone was an industrial wasteland. Driving through a narrow tunnel, coming out the other end to see the giant Asarco smelter chimney towering like a grimy Space Needle.

That tower came down several decades ago, in a spectacular explosive demolition similar to the fate of the Kingdome a few decades later. The site was cleaned of its lead and copper smelting pollution. And left a sort of wasteland.

And then at some point late in the last century some building action began. There was a slight stall due to the Great Recession, but now, in 2017, that old Ruston industrial wasteland is a boom zone known as Point  Ruston.

A waterfront development on steroids. Both the north and south ends of the Tacoma waterfront have boomed since I last saw those locations, way back in 2008.

Tonight, a Thursday, Point Ruston was busy. as was the rest of the Tacoma waterfront. Lots of people walking, blading, biking and surrey pedaling the waterfront promenade. A huge free parking lot garage makes it easy to visit the Point Ruston Asarco boom zone, along with what were a lot of other people. A giant hotel is under construction to accommodate the incoming visiting tourists who need accommodating.

Normally I would make mention of the fact that this HUGE development has taken place without using or abusing eminent domain. Without hiring the son of a local congressperson to motivate the local congressperson to secure federal funds to fund the development. With this Point Ruston development developing because private developers saw an economic opportunity and so HUGE sums of money, private, non-taxpayer money, is fueling this development.

And did I mention this is a waterfront development, which already has a promenade along the waterfront?

Meanwhile, in Fort Worth, Texas...

But, I don't have time to elaborate on how progress actually occurs in modern parts of America, and how it stymies in backwards, non-modern parts of America, because I have to get ready to head north towards Canada, to Birch Bay.

But before I go, some more photos from last night.

Ruby took the wheel for awhile. Ruby was a good driver, though David got a bit nervous when the steering took us to what looked to be a dropoff into Commencement Bay.

Here Theo took the wheel. Theo was a wilder driver than Ruby.

After an hour, give or take a minute or two, of rolling around in the surrey with a fringe on top, we parked our vehicle and proceeded to seek something to eat. Ruby wanted pizza, but the pizza place had a half hour wait. The burger joint also had a long wait.

Eventually we found a seafood joint with not a too long wait. I do not remember the name of the seafood joint. We had halibut and chips, calamari, fried jalapenos and a blackberry/rosemary/lemon concoction which was quite tasty.

Many of the feeding stations had outdoor dining options, such as you see above, both ground level and rooftop.

While we were pedaling our surrey with the fringe on top we came upon the above tugboat, docked, with people in dressed nice mode getting onboard. A half hour later the tugboat floated by. As you can see Point Ruston, and the Tacoma waterfront features a large urban lake. Only in Washington this is called Puget Sound.

Our last Point Ruston stop was at the Ice Cream Social, where we joined a long line waiting to quickly get some real good ice cream. Above you see Theo, me and Ruby waiting for Mama Kristin to deliver the goods. I have a pair of nephews with elevated refined palates. David likes calamari, Theo likes lavender ice cream, for example. Meanwhile, Ruby's tastes are less exotic, though last night Ruby did get a bit wild and crazy by trying some blackberry ice cream.

Below is a video from last night, in which you will eventually see David, Theo and Ruby, and me, dodging shots of water in a big free spirited, no restricted hours, water feature a town in Texas should have checked out for emulation purposes before installing a pitiful similar thing in their equally pitiful little downtown development pretentiously called Sundance Square Plaza. I did not make note of any pretentious name for the plaza with the Point Ruston water feature...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Riding Tacoma Waves With David, Theo & Ruby

For today's mid-day Tacoma fun David, Theo and Ruby waited til after Lego Camp to take me to Kandle Park to do some wave pooling along with a lot of other wave poolers.

We had a mighty fine time along with Mama Kristin.

In addition to this Tacoma public pool, with its big wave making machine, along with a wading pool and other water features, like a giant water dumping bucket and water machine guns, there are other Tacoma public pool parks. One of which has a lazy river.

Meanwhile, in Fort Worth, Texas. Where it gets HOT.

Oh, why bother?

But it does make one wonder how it is one area of America can be so, well, advanced, progressive, modern, dynamic,and socially advanced while another area of America can be, well, not so much.

I took the above picture when we were leaving. Kristin took a lot of other pictures whilst we were wave pooling. I will likely share those later if we can figure out how to get them off Kristin's phone to my phone to this computer.

Other than the wave surfing my most amusing moment of the pool time was when a school girl friend of Theo's asked him if I was his grandpa.

Another amusing moment came when Theo and I were at the deep end, near where the waves generate, when a little girl wearing a flotation device asked if we could help her get to shore. She was very grateful when we got to where the waves were crashing at the end of their run.

We wave pooled for a couple hours, then had a picnic on the grassy knoll overlooking the pool, then it was off to Proctor to try out a new gelato joint.

In a couple hours we're heading to the north end of Tacoma, to Ruston, to see the results of a real public works project with a real dramatic water feature, a massive development which solved a real environmental issue.

Meanwhile, in Fort Worth. Again, why bother?


Swan Creek Blackberry Mountain Biking With David, Theo & Ruby

That is my niece, Little Miss Ruby, you see pointing at me from her outdoor art studio. I was in the kitchen, looking out. Soon Ruby sent her brother, Theo, in to inform me it was time to go mountain biking on the Swan Creek Mountain Bike Trails.

A few minutes later David, Theo and Ruby helped me load the bikes on which they had spent the afternoon performing maintenance tasks, after we went on the Tacoma Walmart's hyperdrive grocery cart ride hunting for a bike tire pump, among other bike-related items.

A few hours before the smoky sun set for the day we arrived at Swan Creek Park. After consulting the trail signage Ruby directed us to warm up on the roller coaster Pump House trail. We all did so until David sustained a minor injury which took him out of biking action, temporarily.

Leaving David and Mama Michele behind, Theo lead Ruby and me off into the wooded forest of Swan Lake Park.

We made our way back to Mama Michele and the recuperating David. Soon thereafter we began picking blackberries. A lot of blackberries. It almost seemed as if Ruby could eat her weight in blackberries.

Soon we exhausted the easy pickings of the Swan Lake Park blackberries, so we headed to the Tacoma Community College blackberry patch where we filled enough containers with enough blackberries to make a cobbler or two.

After we finished picking blackberries we got gas, but did not call grandma. We did get some ultra fancy ice cream products of which I was soon tasked with completing the consumption of two out of three of the ultra fancy ice cream products.

Soon we were driving through Taco Time where we loaded up on natural burritos, fish tacos, chicken quesadillas and Taco Time tater tots.

Today David, Theo and Ruby are taking me swimming where there is a giant wave making machine. Then this evening the trio is taking me to Ruston to the site of America's biggest Superfund site, which has now been turned into Tacoma's most popular residential destination, along with multiple other attractions, one of which is taking a bike powered carriage tour of Ruston.

America's Biggest Boondoggle, also known at the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision, has not reached the point where enough digging has been done to discover the site is a badly polluted area in dire need of being a Superfund site. With the potential to be America's Biggest.

That would be impressive for Fort Worth, to morph America's Biggest Boondoggle into America's Biggest Superfund site, which would make America's Biggest Boondoggle even a bigger boondoggle...


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

With Sheriff Help David, Theo & Ruby Find Their Uncle

Well, I arrived right on time yesterday in Seattle.

Most of the ride north was over a carpet of fluffy clouds.

Flying into and out of the Dallas/Fort Worth zone I was surprised at how green the landscape was looking.

A few hours later I looked out the window to see I was crossing over the Columbia River, from Oregon to Washington. The clouds were mostly gone, the sky was clear, free of the smoke I was expecting.

Then a few miles later a haze began to appear. Eventually I could not tell what I was flying over. The Cascade mountains? What? Usually I see the Washington volcanoes popping up above the rest of the mountains. Yesterday nary a mountain was to be seen through the thick smoky haze.

As we descended to Sea-Tac I could tell we were coming in from the south. Unlike Texas, the landscape of Western Washington was not looking evergreen. Instead brown seemed to be the dominant color, both on the ground and in the sky.

Soon upon landed I texted "The Uncle Has Landed".

A few minutes later I walked out of the security area where I soon found myself attacked by three Washingtonians, watched over by a Washington Sheriff escort.

Those three attacking Washingtonians were David, Theo and Ruby. That is the attack you see photo documented above.

A few minutes later I jokingly asked who was gonna carry my bags for me. Theo quickly grabbed one, then David the other. I felt a little bad that the two nephews were doing such heavy lifting, but they did not seem to mind.

On the ground the smoky haze turned out not to be too annoying, except for the diminishing of visibility.
Soon I-5 came into view. Stalled traffic jam for miles. The onboard navigators, David and Theo, used their traffic monitoring device to determine it would take a long time to get to Tacoma from our location.

So, Ruby suggested we go to Southcenter to Duke's to wait out the traffic congestion. At Duke's we had ourselves a mighty fine selection of seafood, including alder smoked salmon, dungeness crab and hail caesar salad. And the best french fries ever.

After Duke's David, Theo and Ruby took me to Legoland, I mean, the Lego Store. We got ourselves some Legos, then headed back to I-5 where traffic was flowing fine til we got to Fife, so we exited and took the scenic route back to Tacoma.

After a few minutes at the home location, where the home security chief, Eddie the Poodle, gave me a thorough checkout before giving his approval, we then walked to Ruby's Annual Potato Fry Party, via wide sidewalks, with a grassy landscaped area between the sidewalks and street.

At the Potato Fry Party I met a lot of people. No selfie type photos were taken, because, you know, that is so outdated and just not done in polite company.

I had some interesting conversations at the Potato Fry Party, Texas oriented questions. I shall save that for a future blogging, perhaps after I return to Texas.

Today when David, Theo and Ruby get back from Lego Camp we are going to work on our bikes. I hope that goes well...

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Heading North To The Smoky Pacific Northwest Without Elsie Hotpepper

Last week when the news of how bad the smoky haze which has descended upon Washington from Canadian wildfires became known to me I figured by the time I arrived late this afternoon that the bluest skies I have ever seen, along with hills the greenest green, would have returned.

However, last night Mount Vernon amateur meteorologist, Miss Linda, told me the choking smoke has gotten worse. Currently the Pacific Northwest has the worst air pollution in America

For illustrative purposes I found the photo you see here, via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Known as the P-I, along with the Seattle Times, for you reading this in Fort Worth, these are what are known as real newspapers, covering real news, and  practicing a practice known as investigative journalism.

For instance if that tower you see through the above haze had started being constructed, with a four year construction timeline, and if that construction stopped shortly after starting, a few feet above ground level, the local newspaper journalists would investigate and let their readers know what was causing the problem.

Meanwhile in an American backwater called Fort Worth...

Visit Fort Worth's Infamous Graveyard Of Broken Promises.

For the next couple weeks Internet access for me is going to be a bit erratic. I am not hauling my laptop with me for the first time in a long time.

Tonight my nephews David and Theo, and niece Ruby, are taking me to a Potato Fry Party. I may take pictures. I may blog those pictures later tonight. I really have no idea at this point in time.

This morning I arrive at D/FW for an almost three hour wait to catch a plane heading to Seattle. I do not know if Elsie Hotpepper is going to use her TSA Homeland Security credentials to get past airport security to come find me and take me to McDonald's for lunch.

I suspect Elsie will bail on lunch, which is her norm...

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Biking To Metal MSU Bikers Thinking About Ruby Tuesday Flight North

This first Sunday of August, day six, also known as the anniversary of the Hiroshima atom bomb bombing. And my mom and dad's anniversary.

Mom's first anniversary without dad.

This morning I took my bike on a ride. Eventually ending up on the MSU (Midwestern State University)  campus where I soon found  myself running into that which you see here.

A pair of bikers memorialized in metal. An homage to the Hotter n' Hell 100, the latest iteration of which takes place towards the end of this current month.

I won't be riding in the Hotter n' Hell 100, but I likely will venture to downtown Wichita Falls, to the MPEC (Multi Purpose Event Center) to partake in the festivities.

That is if I make it back in time from my journey north and west, which starts up the morning of this coming Tuesday.

Tuesday morning I will land somewhere at D/FW  Airport, brought to town by some flying device the nature of which is unknown  to me. Jet? A plane propelled by propellers?  I have no idea. Years ago I landed in Juneau, Alaska, arriving on a 707, soon finding myself on a small plane propelled by propellers, to fly to a little town called Hoonah, where there was no airport, so the plane had to land on the water. That was an adventurous landing.

I am almost 100% certain the plane that will fly me to D/FW will not be landing on water, even though Lake Grapevine is nearby.

I have almost three hours to kill after I land at D/FW before my plane to Seattle takes off. Elsie Hotpepper may use her TSA Homeland Security credentials to get past security to take me out to lunch at one of the airport's many fine dining locations, like McDonalds.

When I land in Seattle I believe I will be getting picked up by David, Theo and Ruby, then brought to Tacoma where the annual neighborhood Potato Fry will be taking place at Ruby's, next door to David, Theo and Ruby's.

Apparently Ruby has become a commonly used name in the Pacific Northwest.

On Friday David, Theo and Ruby will be taking me to the far north, to Birch Bay, where we will stay til Monday.

On Tuesday I will be back in the air again, heading south to Phoenix, to see my mom. And my sister, Jackie, and, I hope, nephews Chris and Jeremy, and my favorite brother-in-law, Jack.

Starting the next day I should be having myself a mighty fine time having a morning swim with the Sun Lakes Ladies.

I get back to Texas August 22, arriving in Wichita Falls an hour before midnight. The next morning I get to drive back to the D/FW zone. I will likely be a bit tired....

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Bizarre DFW NBC TRV Bridge Boondoggle Propaganda

Yesterday I blogged about Visiting Fort Worth's Infamous Graveyard Of Broken Promises.

In that blogging about Fort Worth's ghost town of abandoned bridge piers I mentioned being puzzled as to why no D/FW media entity seems interested in finding out why the construction of these simple little bridges, the construction of  which began with a TNT bang way back in 2014, has stalled.

Ironically, soon after mentioning the lack of media interest in Fort Worth's embarrassing bridge boondoggle, Captain Andy, Elsie Hotpepper and others pointed to a new piece of absurdly embarrassing D/FW media propaganda regarding Fort Worth's ridiculous bridge fiasco.

This time the perpetrating propaganda purveyor is DFW's NBC affiliate in a "news" story titled Plan from Two Cities on the Same River : Fort Worth construction underway on Panther Island Trinity project.

Click the link to read the article and watch the "LIVE" from Fort Worth clip from DFW NBC local TV news, which seems to channel the spirit of Ted Baxter, in both male and female Baxter versions.

The local NBC TV "news" story leads one to think Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision is well underway, unlike the Dallas version of the vision. Even though Dallas has actually completed two actual signature bridges, actually built over water, known as the Trinity River. DFW NBC TV's report also gives the impression that Fort Worth's river vision only recently came to be, when the sad reality is this myopic vision has been limping along since the beginning of the century.

Some choice bit of ironic idiocy from  the print version of the DFW NBC TV article about Fort Worth's Bridge Boondoggle, including, as always in such articles, choice bits of utter nonsense from Congresswoman Kay Granger's boy, J.D....

The Fort Worth redevelopment area along the river will become what is now called Panther Island with construction of a new flood control bypass canal across a bend in the river north of downtown.

The redevelopment area will become what is now called Panther Island? After a flood control bypass is constructed across a bend in the river? That paragraph is what is known as meaningless gibberish. More accurately stated the redevelopment area will be known as Panther Island if the ditch ever gets dug to separate that chunk of land from the Fort Worth mainland, creating an imaginary island.

Bridges that would cross that future canal are under construction, even before digging of the canal that is slated to begin next year.

The bridges are under construction? Did the DFW NBC reporter not notice the weeds growing amongst the long stalled bridges? And the rusted rebar? That imaginary construction began with a bang way back in 2014. It is now past halfway through 2017. It took about that much time to build the Golden Gate Bridge. Over water. Digging  the canal is slated to begin next year? Really? And where did this erroneous information come  from?

J.D. Granger, executive director of the Fort Worth Trinity River Vision Authority, said the redevelopment area on the new island doubles the size of the Fort Worth Central Business District.

Yes, Granger has repeated this pretty much every time he is "interviewed" for one of the local media's propaganda pieces. Doubles the size of the Fort Worth Central Business District? Anyone know the whereabouts and  measurements of the Business District to which Granger refers? New island? As opposed to the old island? And by what rational stretch of the imagination is this going to be an island, even if that ditch is ever dug and water diverted into the ditch?

“This is very much going to have a functional purpose for flood control, and on top of that a wonderful backdrop for development — a beautiful promenade all along the water’s edge, and immediately adjacent to that you’ll be able to dine and have great residential looking over the water every day,” Granger said.

Great residential looking over the water every day? What does that mean? A functional purpose for flood control? Where no flood has occurred for well over half a century due to levees built and paid for way back  in the 1950s.

A 300-unit apartment is due to break ground in December near what is planned to be an urban lake on the Trinity.

The apartment about to break ground chestnut is always part of these propaganda pieces. Has the builder applied for building  permits yet? Does anyone know precisely the location of the shore of this urban lake which has changed size multiple times throughout the decade? Why does J.D. always use the "urban" modifer to describe this possible lake? Aren't all the lakes in a city urban lakes? And what is meant by "urban lake on the Trinity'? The Trinity is a river. How do you have a lake on a river? You can dam a river, creating a reservoir, which is often referred to as a lake. Isn't this particular proposed "urban lake" simply a section of the Trinity River which may be widened to create an imaginary lake?

“It solves the majority of our flood issues in our community, which is a huge issue for us given our population growth,” Granger said.

Now, the above is the most  embarrassingly stupid doozy to be uttered by J.D. Granger during the entire multi year period in which he has been uttering insipidly idiotic utterances.  This solves the majority of the flood issues in our community? As has already been mentioned, this area has not flooded for over half a century. However other areas of Fort Worth, and Tarrant County, such as Haltom City, have serious, unaddressed flooding issues. Deadly flooding issues.

“To be in a Texas city in a waterfront community in a landlocked area is a very, very unique opportunity,” Granger said. “So we’re working very hard to capitalize on it, because that’s something very special.”

Waterfront community? In a landlocked area is a unique opportunity? The water in this currently imaginary waterfront community comes from the Trinity River. The polluted Trinity River, where frequently the pollution reaches levels deemed unsafe for humans.

As for "very, very". Has no one mentioned to J.D. Granger the famous quote from Mark Twain regarding what apparently is one of J.D.'s very favorite words?

"Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very'; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."...

Friday, August 4, 2017

Visit Fort Worth's Infamous Graveyard Of Broken Promises

 Ridiculously Bizarre DFW NBC TRV Bridge Boondoggle Propaganda

Way back in early July, after receiving photo documentation from Captain  Andy, and after reading a bizarre article in the Fort Worth Business Press, I blogged J.D. Granger Spews Trumpish Bridge Propaganda Exposed By Captain Andy.

In that blogging we learned about the absurd means by which J.D. Granger claimed he and his minions had assembled a scale model of one of the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision's bridge V-piers, which Granger then claimed was dissected to prove to Doubting Thomases that the design of the forlorn bridges was workable.

And that construction could resume on the long stalled bridge building project, the construction of which began years ago, with a then astonishingly long project timeline which way back then had the bridges completed by 2018.

And now we are past the middle of 2017 and the non-existent bridges of what has become  known far and wide as America's Biggest Boondoggle are still in stall mode. We learned this yesterday from Captain Andy, who messaged the following report, which Captain Andy indicated, in his opinion, was not worthy of a Bridge Boondoggle Update. I thought otherwise, hence what you are reading now.

Below is what Captain Andy had to say about J.D. Granger's still stalled bridge construction....

Still nothing. Someone posted that they finally poured a pier. I drove by this afternoon and no v-pier has been poured. The site looks abandoned and with all the rain, the weeds are slowly reclaiming the site as the rebar begins to show signs of rusting. Not worthy of a new bridge update imo, but just wanted you to know, whatever column they may have finally poured, it wasn't one that mattered. When this debacle finally ends,  I'm wondering if we will find out what the heck happened. If I had to guess, I'd say the v-piers are structurally deficient and can't be redesigned. But that's just speculation.

The reason, in my opinion, making mention of the still stalled bridge construction was a worthy thing to do is the fact that this bizarre reality does not seem to be newsworthy to any of that which passes for news sources in the Fort Worth zone.

America's Biggest Boondoggle is headquartered on the ground floor of the Star-Telegram building. Is that what prevents that sad excuse for a newspaper from acting like one regarding what one would think a legit newspaper would consider to be an issue of great public interest, the facts about which the public has a right to know?

Even though the public has never been allowed to vote on this public works project which has become America's Biggest Boondoggle.

Why has the town's "independent" news source, Fort Worth Weekly, not done some investigative journalism looking into Fort Worth's notorious bridge mess?

Regarding the apparent engineering problem with the Boondoggle's bridges, just look at that V-pier form in the photo above. Imagine that form filled with concrete. And then the supports removed. What happens then. A quick crash to the ground? How were/are these V-piers supposed to support themselves?

Fort Worth's Graveyard of Broken Promises, that being the location of multiple rusting rotting V-pier forms, has become Fort Worth's top tourist attraction, with visitors having little interest in the nondescript downtown, instead asking how to get to the location of the million dollar Homage to a Trash Can and Ground Zero of America's Biggest Boondoggle.

Fort Worth has long sought something to make the town "special" to the rest of America and the world.

Being the location of the world's biggest experiment in urban gas fracking did not do the trick.

But being the location of America's Biggest Boondoggle with its bridges stuck trying to connect the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island, seems to have given Fort Worth a tourist attraction the likes of which the town has not had  previously.

Add to that the spectacle tourists get to witness when throngs of Fort Worth natives float the polluted Trinity River on inner tubes, listening to music coming from an imaginary pavilion on an imaginary island.

What is the actual problem with the stalled construction of these simple little bridges? Does anyone know?

UPDATE: Ridiculously Bizarre DFW NBC TRV Bridge Boondoggle Propaganda

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Long Ago Wheels Rolling In Burlington's Berry Dairy Days Parade

Of late I have had reason to look through my collection of photos. Doing so I have come upon a few from long ago, photo documenting moments which I had long forgotten had been committed to the photo documentation process.

Such as the three photos you see here.

In the first photo that would be me, with my bike crepe papered red and white.

I have absolutely no memory of this. I assume my bike was dressed up in this manner because I was rolling my wheels in Burlington's Berry Dairy Days Parade.

My dad, with mom's help, built many parade floats in our Burlington garage. Most of the floats only floated in the Burlington parade. But, one of the years, after we won the Best Float Award we hauled that float east a few miles, to Sedro-Woolley, to float in the Loggerodeo Parade.

I do not believe that prize winning float was either of the two you see below.

Above we are in front of our Burlington house, getting ready to parade. That is sister Clancy Nancy sitting on a throne looking very regal while my little brother, Jake, and I get ready to pull her past the throngs of parade watchers.

When I saw the below photo, before I installed my reading glasses, I thought I was seeing a new sibling was on the float.

But, I think that is an actual doll in the little berry, not my little sister, Jackie. I think this was the float which got us on the cover of Darigold's company magazine, due, I think, to the float displaying Darigold products hanging from tree branches behind the two big berries.

My little sister, Jackie, was the centerpiece of the most complicated, biggest parade float my mom and dad ever made. I believe that float was the last one ever built.

I can find no photo documentation of that most complicated, biggest parade float, so word pictures will have to suffice.

On a big square base, with a large square cut out of the center, my dad built a giant frame on which crepe paper turned the frame into a strawberry.  Atop the strawberry there was a seat. And on that seat my, at the time, littlest sister, Jackie, sat, attired like a Berry Dairy Princess.

A door in the strawberry gave dad access to the interior. Dad was the giant strawberry's motor. Dad had built a steering mechanism to help guide the giant berry.

People were easier to amaze,  long ago,  which had parade watchers puzzled as to what was moving that giant strawberry.

And then about a third of the way along the parade route there are railroad tracks crossing Fairhaven Avenue. Those railroad tracks proved problematic, bringing float movement to a halt.

My non-floating siblings, and mom and I, had been walking along the parade route, following dad and Jackie, but from the sidewalk. When the giant strawberry got stuck, after a minute or so, at least it seemed that long, or longer, some parade watchers realized dad needed some help, and so they boosted the giant berry over the railroad tracks.  I remember loud clapping and cheering as dad resumed rolling that giant berry down Fairhaven, with Princess Jackie, waving to the crowd.

I do not remember if we won an award that year.

I know photos of that giant berry with Jackie on top exist, but I do not know where....

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Meanwhile In Fort Worth & Other Locations Dominated By Dimwits

I saw that which you see here, yesterday, via the Seattle Times.

45 new restaurant openings in Seattle.

Will the economic devastation from that $15 minimum wage ever cease?

Meanwhile, in Fort Worth and other locations dominated by dimwits...

Oh, why bother.

So, next week I am going to be seeing Seattle and much of the Western Washington Pacific Northwest zone in person for the first time in almost a decade.

I will get to eye witness, up close, the horrific results of an area of America dominated by well educated liberal progressives, as contrasted with what I see in less well educated conservative, non-progressive areas of Texas, such as Fort Worth, where little happens, slowly.

Such as attempting, for years, to build little bridges over dry land connecting nothing to nothing over nothing. Or decrepit parks allowed to fester in utter decrepitude year after year after year, such as Fort Worth's embarrassing boarded up celebration of the town's apparently limited heritage, Heritage Park.

I will be staying for a few days in Tacoma, a town where the streets have sidewalks, on both sides of the street, with a landscaped barrier, in most locations, between street and sidewalk.

What a concept. Sidewalks. Probably something those damn liberal progressives came up with, deranged mental midgets that they be.

One can only wonder how much more their economy would be booming if Seattle, and Western Washington, had not raised the minimum wage to such an economy stifling level...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

David, Theo & Ruby Coronado Beach Combing For Soon To Be Favorite Uncle

Sometime around five o'clock in the afternoon, a week from today, for the first time ever, if all goes according to plan, I should be meeting the trio you see here for the first time.

From the left, in more ways than one, Theo, Ruby and David.

It has been a long time since I have had the fun of being an uncle to ones so young.

And this will be the first time I have ever gotten to be an uncle to a niece.

I am eagerly anticipating doing some heavy duty uncle time.

The picture you are looking at here is from a week or so ago, in San Diego. Judging from what I see in the background, Theo, Ruby and David are where some like it hot, Coronado Beach.  I make that judgment due to seeing a famous beach front hotel in the background which Marilyn Monroe used to like to play in.

Starting August 11 David, Theo, Ruby and I will be at another beach, though this one is not quite as famous as Coronado Beach, Birch Bay, way north, by Canada, not Mexico.

I highly doubt Marilyn Monroe ever played on the Birch Bay beach. However, I am fairly certain Bing Crosby and Loretta Lynn may have.

I was surprised to learn last night that I likely will not be seeing Spencer Jack or his uncle Joey when I am up in Washington this month. Apparently my nephew Joey will be fishing while Spencer Jack will be east of the mountains at Lake Chelan.

In Western Washington one refers to the the eastern half of the state as east of the mountains, due to the east side of the state being east of the barrier which bisects the state, known as the Cascade Mountains.

I also learned yesterday that much of Western Washington will be sweltering with record breaking HEAT this week, possibly going over 100, a degree which never happens on the west side of the mountains.

David, Theo and Ruby are rare Western Washingtonians in that their abode has air-conditioning.

At my current location currently the outdoors is being naturally chilled to a relatively chilly 76. Quite a drop  from the recent 100s. Rain is scheduled to drip, along with some thunder booming.

I am taking off now on a bike ride before the dripping and booming begins...

Monday, July 31, 2017

Rolling Around Mount Wichita Thinking About Heading North To Washington

This final Monday morning of July of the year 2017 I took my bike on a Circle Trail roll to Lake Wichita.

About a third of the way on this morning's bike roll I stopped for a drink on the Lake Wichita floating dock, which is what you are looking at here.

No waves were disturbing the peace of the lake, so there was no rocking and rolling whilst stationary on the dock.

The goal of this morning's roll, from the dock onward, was to head across the dam, exiting at the north end, then taking the unpaved, crushed rock trail to the north end of Lake Wichita Park, then continuing south on the continuing unpaved, crushed rock trail til eventually reaching the west side of Mount Wichita, that volcano like dome you see above, on the opposite side of the lake.

By the time I returned to my abode my bike's odometer indicated I rolled a little over 12 miles this morning.

A week from tomorrow, if all goes according to plan, I will find myself in one of the mountain bike meccas of the world, the Pacific Northwest.

I wish I was able to take my bike with me. My nephew Theo has become a mountain biker. And his town, Tacoma, has a new park with what look to be real good mountain bike trails.

If I remember right, and I usually do, the last nephew I mountain biked with was Theo's cousin, Spencer Jack's uncle Joey, at some point in time late in the previous century.

I should be seeing both Spencer Jack and his uncle Joey the Saturday following my Washington Tuesday arrival, about 100 miles north of Seattle, in Lynden, about four miles south of the Canadian border.

I do not think I have been to Canada since shortly before I moved to Texas, when Spencer Jack's dad, Jason, took me north to ride the Skytrain to downtown Vancouver, and beyond.

I understand it is not as easy to cross the border as it was when I lived in Washington in the previous century.

However, as far as I know, no wall has yet been built to separate the two countries...

Saturday, July 29, 2017

This Year's Wichita Falls Watermelon Festival Lacked Something

This last Saturday of July the 2017 version  of the Wichita Falls Watermelon Festival took place in downtown Wichita Falls at the Farmers Market.

I greatly enjoyed last year's Watermelon Festival, particularly the amusing Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest.

This year I left about the time the first round of watermelon seeds were being readied for spitting.

Last year upon arrival I soon found myself being handed Bell Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream. This year I found no ice cream being handed out. I did find a lot of watermelon. Sweet, tasty, perfect watermelon, in copious amounts.

I had myself a lot of watermelon today. As did a lot of other festival goers.

The crowd seemed larger than last year. A lot larger.

A large supply of watermelon and watermelon suppliers were seen in various Watermelon Festival locations in the Farmers Market zone.

And inside the Farmers Market building, as one joined the milling throng, one came upon various tasty samples of watermelon iterations, such as the cubed version you see below, with a tasty jalapeno salsa kick installed.


Last year the Watermelon Festival seemed much more festive,  much more lively, much noisier.

Last year a band provided background sound, which added to the festive atmosphere.

This year the Watermelon Festival seemed quiet.

Extremely quiet.

Last year an excellent sound system was used to inform the festival goers about what they could be doing, or expecting. Such as registering for the Seed Spitting Contest. This year there was no sound system.

When the time came for the Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest many of the festival goers had no idea this was happening. People leaving the festival was quite noticeable,  even as the Seed Spitting Contest officiators were trying to get the seeds into spitting mode.

Above you see the first group of Watermelon Seed Spitters, waiting. The young group goes first. Last year this seemed well organized. And last year the emcee was amusingly talented. This year there was no emcee, no sound system, nothing that let the few remaining festival goers know what was happening.

I left soon after the above picture was taken, with the kids seeming to grow impatient, with no one seeming to know what to do.

What happened to the well run machine which ran last year's well run Wichita  Falls Watermelon Festival?


But, the watermelon was good....

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Euless Doctor Visit Leads To Arlington's Vietnam Town's One Pillar Pagoda At Ben Thanh Plaza

Today was the day of my regularly scheduled return to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex mess.

The drive was pretty much uneventful both going and coming back. The I-35W re-build seems to be less annoying with each passing month.

After a short stop at a doctor's office in Euless I headed south with Arlington's Vietnam Town as my destination. I usually refer to this district as Arlington's Chinatown, but today I realized referring to this district as Arlington's Vietnam Town is more accurate, since the Vietnamese influence seems to be dominant, with other Asian entities also in the mix, entities such as Japan, Korea, Thailand, India, and, of course, China, along with others.

Earlier in this century my main to go place in what I then called Chinatown was an Asian grocery store near the intersection of New York Avenue and Pioneer Parkway. But, around the time of the Great Recession that main go to Asian grocery store went out of business.

A few years later the Saigon Cho Market came into existence, a short distance on Pioneer to the west.

So, today when I left that doctor's office in Euless I decided to head south to Arlington via 360, avoiding heading south on Collins or Cooper Street, with those street's extreme traffic woes and possible closures due to Arlington being the biggest town in America which can come to a standstill, vehicle movement-wise, when a train rolls through town.

Taking 360 to get to Pioneer Parkway had me driving by the location of that Asian grocery store which had closed during the Great Recession. As I drove by I was pleased to see that that Asian grocery store has risen  from the dead, and is back way better and bigger than before.

This multi-store, multi-building complex is now called Ben Thanh Plaza. This is a Vietnamese themed plaza, with Vietnamese flourishes spread throughout, including the parking lot.

Above you see the homage to the One Pillar Pagoda in front of the main entry to Ben Thanh Plaza.

The One Pillar Pagoda  has an informational plaque explaining the significance of the Pagoda. That information in its entirety....

This One Pillar Pagoda is one  of the most distinctive and unique architecture designs in Ben Thanh Plaza. It is a replica  of a historic iconic Temple in North Vietnam and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in VIETNAM. The original Pagoda was built by the Emperor Ly Thai Tong (1028 - 1054) in  1049, with a unique architectural design by erecting a pillar in the middle of a lotus pond and is visualized as a blooming lotus. In 2012 One Pillar Pagoda has been recognized by the Asian Records Organization as having the more unique architecture in  Asia.

There is a lot of information available about the One Pillar Pagoda when one Google searches, including a Wikipedia article about One Pillar Pagoda.

When I snapped the photo you see above a semi-elderly man caught my attention to ask if I wanted him to take a picture of me and the Pagoda. I said no thank you. He then asked me if I would take a picture of him in front of the One Pillar Pagoda. After doing so I asked if he was Vietnamese, even though I already knew he was. He proceeded to tell me about the Pagoda and about the layout of Ben Thanh Plaza and how it symbolically represents North Vietnam, with the nod to Hanoi at the north end, and South Vietnam and Saigaon (also known as Ho Chi Minh City) at the south end.

When we finished chatting I was surprised to suddenly find my hand being vigorously shook with the Vietnamese man thanking me for being so kind.

I then walked through the main entry into the interior of Ben Thanh Plaza.

I was more than a little surprised to find that what used to be one giant store had been transformed into what seemed to be a mall. Inside the mall I came to that which you see above, the entry to Ben Thanh Central Market.

Ben Thanh Central Market is HUGE. Inside to the left I saw a big sign indicating "Farmers Market" To the right another big sign, this one indicating "Meat Market". The Farmers Market was the location of produce. You can  probably guess what was to be found in the Meat  Market.

At the back of the store is what looked to me to be a futuristic fish market. I should have taken a picture. It was all glassed in, with entry made via various doors allowing access the tanks of live seafood.

All in all I had myself a mighty fine time today in the D/FW zone. I think I will add returning to Arlington's Vietnam Town a regular part of my monthly visit...

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Army Engineer Corps Gives Okay To Lake Wichita Revitalization Project

At six o'clock the last Tuesday evening of July I found myself atop Lake Wichita Dam listening to people speechify, including the esteemed mayor of Wichita Falls.

What the mayor had to tell the assembled listeners was that he held in his hands the approval document from the Army Corps of Engineers authorizing the Lake Wichita Revitalization Project.

I somehow thought this approval had long been given, but, perhaps, I mis-read, or mis-remembered the news regarding this issue.

From what I have seen of the plans to revitalize Lake Wichita it seems to me to be an excellent, well thought out, doable plan, which if turned into a reality will be a HUGE asset to Wichita Falls.

If you go to the website supporting this revitalization you will get the idea this revitalization is underway at this point in time. I'm guessing optimistic sorts thought the revitalizing would be doable and underway by now.

And then there is that vexing raising the funds to pay for the project problem.

Since I have been in Wichita Falls I have seen car washes raising money for the Lake Wichita Revitalization Project.  I have seen other charitable acts raising funds. A lot of locals seems to think revitalizing Lake Wichita is a good idea.

At tonight's ceremony multiple entities presented large checks, as in both the amount and the physical size of the checks.

While the speechifying was going on Mount Wichita hovered in the distance. When will Mount Wichita actually see the lake the mountain overlooks getting revitalized?

More than once since I have been in Texas I have been  perplexed as to how public works projects get funded, particularly extremely viable, extremely valuable public works projects such as the Lake  Wichita Revitalization Project.

An enhanced  Lake Wichita will be a HUGE improvement to Wichita Falls, an enhancement of the community the value of which would seem to far exceed the cost of the project.

So, why is it a viable public works project, such as the Lake Wichita Revitalization Project is not put to a public vote where the public approves a bond issue to fund the project, thus enabling the project to come to fruition, and benefit the community, in a timely fashion?

Without relying on car washes, brick sales and charitable donations?

Extremely perplexing...

Monday, July 24, 2017

Bike Ride Catching Sun With MSU Suncatcher

This next to last Monday of this year's version of July I rolled my bike's wheels north on the Circle Trail to Hamilton Park.

I do not know what Hamilton this park is named after. Alexander, George, or some other Hamilton.

I exited the Circle Trail at the north end of Hamilton Park to pedal through the Wichita  Falls version of Beverly Hills. A wonderfully eclectic mix of what I guess one would call mansions, with the architectural styles all over the place, from colonial to modern, with nods to Greece and Rome and Great Britain.

I exited the Wichita Falls version of Beverly Hills to cross Taft Boulevard to the MSU (Midwestern  State University) campus.

Soon I found myself in the shadow of something I had not seen before at MSU. The giant statue of an Indian you see here.

The plaque under the Indian indicated his name was "Sunwatcher".

The plaque further informed me that it was "Presented by the MSU Student Association Celebrating the 75th Anniversary October 1997".

Anniversary of what? I don't know. The birth of Sunwatcher? The birth of MSU?

The plaque also informed me that Sunwatcher was sculpted by Jack Stevens.

Jack Stevens?

The old codger on the Tarrant Regional Water District Board? He sculpts?

If so why did America's Biggest Boondoggle not hire him to sculpt that homage to an aluminum trash can the Boondoggle paid a million bucks for? I'm sure Jack Stevens would have given the Boondoggle a discount.

And they could have ended up with something cool looking, like this MSU Sunwatcher sculpture....

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Is Spencer Jack Touring An Upside Down Wisconsin White House?

The two photos you see here arrived this HOT Saturday morning in Texas via my phone, sent by Spencer Jack and his dad, also known as my favorite nephew Jason.

Upon first perusal I wondered if this was at Legoland in California.

Currently my favorite nephews David and Theo, and my one and only favorite niece, Ruby, are in San Diego, with a visit to Carlsbad and Legoland on the itinerary.

But, why would Legoland build an upside down version of the White House, along with a White House Presidential Limo? Made no sense.

And so I Googled "Upside Down White House" which lead me to think I may have found the answer to this Upside Down White House mystery.

In the state of Wisconsin, in the scenic area of that state known as the Wisconsin Dells, there is a roadside attraction known as Top Secret - Upside-Down White House.

I learned of this from various sources, including the Roadside America website's webpage about the Top Secret - Upside-Down White House.

Apparently tourists can purchase an Upside-Dow White House admission ticket and go on a tour of the inside of the White House, where everything is upside down, including the Oval Office.

Why one would want to do this or why anyone would think this to be a good idea for a roadside attraction is a mystery to me.  But apparently more than one location in America thinks an Upside Down White House is a good idea, because there are also Upside Down White Houses in Orlando, Florida and Sevierville, Tennessee. But the non-Wisconsin Dells Upside Down White Houses are half the size and the interiors are not upside down, or White House interior replicas.

Inside the Wisconsin Dells Upside Down White House, in the Press Room, an upside down animatronic President lectures about rule by robots.

I was unable to determine if the animatronic President in the Wisconsin Dells Upside Down White House is modeled after our current President who lives in the currently upside down real White House in Washington, D.C.

If I hear any further details from Spencer Jack about his visit to the Upside Down White House I will let you know...