Tuesday, December 31, 2019

How The 10 Biggest Social Movements Of 2010s Shaped Fort Worth

A couple days ago in our decades long series of blog posts about something we read in west coast online news sources, usually the Seattle Times, which we would never expect to read in a Texas online news source, usually the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, we took a look at a Sketchy Decade Long Look At Two Cities: Fort Worth & Seattle.

And now this morning, on the last day of the 2010s, we saw another example of this phenomenon in the Seattle Times.

Suffice to say, it is not possible to imagine  reading in the Star-Telegram a look back at 10 of the biggest social movements of the 2010s, and how they shaped Fort Worth.

Were there even any not so big social movements which shaped Fort Worth during this decade?

Well, the paragraph previous to the previous paragraph said "suffice to say". So, we have said all we need to say about this...

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Sketchy Decade Long Look At Two Cities: Fort Worth & Seattle

As 2019 draws to a close let's amuse ourselves with a look at a couple examples from the past day or two of items I read in west coast online news sources, usually the Seattle Times, about something to do with Seattle, that I would not expect to read in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, about something to do with Fort Worth.

These looks at these type items have been among our most popular blog postings, for years.

And part of what renders these blog postings amusing is hearing feedback from Fort Worth locals expressing umbrage.

The Fort Worth locals expressing umbrage thing is always amusing. It always seems the same as someone getting all cranky because of what they see in a mirror.


The first article which struck me as something you would not see in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about something regarding Fort Worth is a Seattle Times article which has 10 sketches showing how Seattle has changed over the last decade.

Sketches showing things like the Amazon campus, the new Seattle waterfront with the now gone Alaskan Way Viaduct, the new tunnel under downtown Seattle, the hugely altered city skyline, a new floating bridge, trolley lines, link light rail lines and other stuff.

Meanwhile during the last decade in Fort Worth.

What could the Star-Telegram possibly sketch 10 instances of showing how Fort Worth has changed over the last decade?

Well, the Fort Worth skyline has not changed. Heritage Park remains a boarded up eyesore. The Trinity River Vision is now a nationally known Boondoggle, with three simple little bridges stuck over dry land. I guess sketching the ruins of three unfinished bridges would qualify as something which happened over the previous decade.

Oh, Rockin' the Polluted Trinity River Happy Hour Inner Tube Floats, that is something sketch worthy.

Did the pitiful solo Molly the Trolley public transit vehicle come to be the last decade? I don't remember when that embarrassment started up.

How about those Trinity River Cruises which the Trinity River Vision Boondogglers were hyping earlier in the year. Did that ever come to fruition?

I suppose the Star-Telegram could sketch the remains of the Cowtown Wakepark, what with it being something that came and died the past decade.

I just remembered an actual sketch worthy thing which happened in Fort Worth this decade. In the goofiest bond issue ballot I have ever seen voters passed three goofy ballot measures which somehow approved of the building of a new arena.

Dickies Arena is now open and has received nothing but positive reviews and has already hosted multiple events, and is likely going to be a big hit at the upcoming Stock Show.

If only Fort Worth's ongoing inept urban planning had managed to make an exception to its usual ineptness and had addressed the traffic problems which a town with urban planning would have anticipated with the building of a new venue.

Now, let's move on to the second article in the Seattle Times about something in the Seattle zone which one would never expect to read in the Star-Telegram regarding a similar thing happening in Fort Worth.

Seattle has been one of America's boom towns for most of this century, with the booming getting more so this past decade, hence the article saying Seattle's massive surge of new construction is causing a permitting backlog.

Fort Worth has no similar problem. Pretty much anyone wanting to build anything in Fort Worth can get the project approved. Often encouraged with tax breaks and other incentives. Even for an obvious con job, like a sporting goods store finagling to get breaks to build what they conned the locals into thinking would be the biggest tourist attraction in Texas.

The town manifests little evidence of what is known as urban planning.

A visit to where I first lived when I moved to Texas, to the hamlet of Haslet, in far north Fort Worth, is instructive. Back then, miles of open land was between my abode and development. The skyline of downtown Fort Worth was a distant little blip on the horizon.

And now, 20 years later, all that open land has been filled in, mostly with houses. And retail, such as malls, and Costco. With the roads basically the same as they were when I first drove on them. HUGE development allowed without the infrastructure upgraded. Just drive west on North Tarrant Parkway til you get to Highway 287 and you will see all you need to see to understand how ineptly Fort Worth's urban planning is.

Add to that the fact that drainage was not adequately upgraded. Which has greatly exacerbated flooding, causing deadly flash flooding downstream from the badly developed development.

Recently the Fort Worth city council embarrassed itself by disbanding the town's Ethics Commission. On Facebook I saw more than one person sarcastically comment along the line that doing so fits right in with the city's delusion of thinking that it is somehow going to attract multiple corporations to re-locate to Fort Worth in the coming decade.

I often wonder, have most of these Fort Worth locals, who apparently are okay with what is known as the Fort Worth Way, not been to other parts of America? Even other parts of Texas?

Very perplexing. And it is almost not only a happy new year, but a happy new decade, as well...

Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Scandals Of Fort Worth: The Granger Grifter Gang

After years of being disgusted I sort of thought it was about time to give up on the Scandals of Fort Worth.

No, that is not a History Channel soap opera I am talking about no longer watching. I'm talking real life scandals. Not fiction.

In the photo are two of the leading players in the Scandals of Fort Worth.

Playing the part of J.D. Granger, is J.D. Granger, whilst next to him, playing the part of Kay Granger is his mother, Kay Granger.

J.D.'s full name is John Dean. No, he was not named after the famous Watergate figure. J.D. was already born when John Dean became famous.

J.D. Granger is named after his father, the first husband of Kay Granger. John Dean the first left the Granger Grifter Gang decades ago, leaving Kay to raise her Golden Child, J.D. alone.

Along with his twin siblings, about whom nothing much is known.

Though phrases like 'black sheep' and 'prison' come up.

Kay was left to raise three kids on her own, trying out various schemes to make money, as the years rolled on. Eventually Kay discovered that being in politics was the route to her and her children's financial security.

This money making career path led from being the Mayor of Fort Worth to being a Representative in Congress, where for years now Kay Granger has seen her wealth grow via various real estate holdings, and other schemes.

Kay wanted her Golden Child to be a lawyer, so as to better follow her in the money making business of being a politician.

J.D. lacked the adequately high LSAT, and other scores, to get into a top tier law school. Eventually Kay was able to get J.D. into a 4th tier law school from whence eventually J.D. earned a law degree, and then a job as a low level prosecutor for Tarrant County.

Being a low level prosecutor does not pay well, and with J.D.'s limited legal skills, that career path was bleak.

While J.D. was waiting to get assigned his first case his mother got involved in a bizarre scheme disguised as flood control, but which was actually an economic development scheme which would greatly enhance the value of multiple properties owned by the Granger Gang in the area of the proposed development.

When the scheme became public there was a muted public outcry regarding Granger's conflicts of interest. And so the Granger Gang holdings were placed in some sort of trust, the nature of which has never been clear. But, that part of the Scandals of Fort Worth faded as the years went by with more scandals coming to the forefront.

At some point it was realized the Trinity River Vision was floundering. A means to secure federal funding was needed. And so the Tarrant Region Water District, it being the entity which is to blame for the vision which has become America's Dumbest Boondoggle, looked to the bowels of the Tarrant County Courthouse and snagged the totally unqualified, totally inexperienced J.D. Granger to be the Executive Director of the Trinity River Vision Authority, on the payroll for a sum which eventually exceeded $200K a year, plus perks and benefits.

J.D.'s hiring was designed to motivate his mother to secure federal funding for the economic development scheme which would economically benefit the Grangers.

Kay Granger has largely failed at getting the more prosperous parts of America to funnel funds to Fort Worth for her pet project.

And after boondoggling along for most of this century demands that something be done about that which has become Fort Worth's worst embarrassment led to wasting another half million bucks to find out basically nothing, and which did lead to J.D. Granger being fired from his job of botching being a project director, to instead being in charge of imaginary flood control, while still being paid the absurd sum of over $200,000 a year.

Hence the latest chapter in the ongoing soap opera of the Scandals of Fort Worth.

In the past couple months incoming messages have brought some interesting tidbits of information regarding the current inner status of the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision and its dysfunctional parent, the Tarrant Region Water District.

In the coming days and weeks, as we move into the next decade, and Fort Worth's third decade of boondoggling along with its vitally needed flood control project, with its three simple little bridges stuck partially built over dry land, we may get around to elaborating on some of which we have been told about some aspects of the Scandals of Fort Worth which have not yet been made available for public consumption...

Friday, December 27, 2019

Dam Winter Walk With Lake Wichita Boardwalk Construction

With the weather outside closer to frightful than delightful, rolling my bike wheels did not seem like it would be a pleasant experience on this drizzly gray second day after Christmas.

So, instead of rolling my bike wheels I rolled the wheels of my motorized conveyance device to the Lake Wichita Dam Spillway parking lot to take a walk on the dam via the Circle Trail to check out the current state of progress on the construction of the new boardwalk on Lake Wichita.

Above is a panorama view of the boardwalk construction from the floating dock which floats a short distance north of where the new boardwalk will be able to be walked on in a few months.

Above you see a kayaker parked among the ruins of the old boardwalk pavilion, and behind the kayaker a pile driver is pounding piers into the lake. As you can see multiple piers are in various stages of construction.

This boardwalk is being built over actual water, with a four month project timeline. Fully funded and no inept local politician's son having anything to do with the project.

On the floating dock from whcnce the above photos were taken, looking west across Lake Wichita at the Mount Wichita pseudo volcano piercing the horizon in the distance.

I took a photo of the historical information installation which is installed atop the dam, so as to show you what the previous Lake Wichita boardwalk and pavilion looked like before they went up in flames over a half century ago.

Wichita Falls really needs to get focused and realize what a good thing it would be for the town to make the Lake Wichita Revitalization a reality...

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Merry Day After Christmas Photo Documentation Part 2

On Christmas we blogged about a Merry Photo From Christmas Past.

That Merry Photo included my Great Grandpa Sundean. I said I could not remember his first name. I do not remember him ever being referred to by his first name.

All I remember of Great Grandpa Sundean was that my mom remembered him fondly, along with my Great-Grandma Sundean, who died before I could have a memory of her.

Great Grandpa and Great Grandma Sundean would take mom on camping trips and roadtrips, which I guess was one of the reasons mom was always fond of both, with both referring to both her grandparents and camping and roadtrips.

I recollect just about every summer of my young kid years going east of the mountains, as in driving over the Cascades to Eastern Washington, to camp at Soap Lake.

Mom would always regale us with tales of the Nudist Colony which operated on the opposite side of the lake when she was a kid.

Soap Lake is (or was) an odd location. I do not know if that is still the case. But, when I was a kid, and mom was a kid, people would come to Soap Lake to stay at the town's Health Spa, to bathe in the supposedly health restoring waters, and to cover themselves with mud from the lake, and then let that mud dry on them under the hot sun.

Soap Lake sort of invited being in it without clothing due to the soapy water easily causing a rash from clothing rubbing skin.

Downtown Soap Lake, back when I played there, had a fountain in the downtown zone which dispensed drinking water right from the lake, to be consumed for its likely totally imaginary curative powers.

So, today, the day after Christmas, Jones family historian, Jason, alleviated me of one of my bits of ignorance, that being the first name of my Great Grandpa Sundean.

We shall get to that, but first mention must be made of the first two photos. Above we are looking at Hank Frank, often known as Henry, on Christmas. Henry is barely over a year old, so this would be the first Christmas in which he was able to actively participate.

The photo of Hank Frank was texted by his dad, my Favorite Nephew Joey, this morning, with the text saying more photos would be arriving later. As of late afternoon on the day after Christmas, later has not yet arrived.

And then we have the second photo.

This was sent by Jason earlier. I did not see it til later when Jason responded to email questions about the following three photos. In the email answering my questions Jason said "You must not have received the text explaining the photos."

Well, I had not. I did not realize Jason had sent me text messages with photos. My excuse is there have been a lot of text messages with photos in the past 48 hours. That, and I can be a bit inept keeping track of things.

I forgot to mention, the text along with the photo of Spencer Jack said "Spencer Jack assembling his new Boeing aircraft."

And now Jason's solution to the great grandpa name mystery.

A. Edward Sundean 1876 - 1960.

I assume Jason must have taken this photo during one of his visits to the cemetery which is the final resting place of his Great Grandma Vera, along with Uncle Pete, whose obituary Jason's brother, Joey, sent to me this morning, which I thought was intended to provide me the name to go along with Great Grandpa Sundean. Uncle Pete was Grandma Vera's little brother. He was a Merchant Marine. It was always a BIG deal when Uncle Pete was home from one of his sailing around the world adventures.

I almost forgot to mention, a followup query to Jason had him telling me the A. part of A. Edward Sundean, stood for Andrew. And that my great grandpa was always known a Edward. Although, apparently, never by me.

The next two photos which Jason sent me today totally puzzled me as to where he got them. I asked and have just now learned that Jason and Joey each received a bible which was among the items saved when clearing out mom and dad's house in Sun Lakes.

Brother Jake mailed one bible to Jason, and the other to Joey.

The photo above would appear to have  been taken at mom's high school graduation.

I have never before seen a photo of my mom being a young girl. I would guess mom is just a little older than her grand daughter Ruby is in 2019.

I suspect more photos may be arriving. That will likely lead to a Merry Day After Christmas Photo Documentation Part 3...

Merry Day After Christmas Photo Documentation

I think I was separated from my phone last night. I had heard no incoming message noises.

So, this morning when I woke up the phone I saw a plethora of text messages from last night, including the photos you see here.

Christmas morning I text messaged Merry Christmas messages to relatives relatively able to receive such messages.

Including a Merry Christmas message to Mama Michele in which I asked something like "Are you kids spending Christmas at the new cabin?"

A reply soon arrived telling me that the kids, as in David, Theo and Ruby, insisted on leaving the cabin and returning to home base in Tacoma out of concern that Santa would not be able to find them at the new cabin on Hartstene Island.

The message also indicated that the Tacoma trio and their parental units would likely return to the cabin later Christmas day. Or the following morning.

Among the text messages this morning were ones documenting the fact that the return to the cabin, and Hartstene Island, took place on Christmas.

Above we are seeing Ruby, Theo and David with what Santa brought them, confirming it had been a good idea to return to their Tacoma home base.

And then later Christmas day it was back to the island for some chestnut roasting on an open fire.

Okay, I made up that roasting chestnuts part. The actual text said something like "Keeping warm on the beach."

And now the sun has almost completed its illumination duty for the day, leaving Kristin, Ruby, Theo and David getting closer to the fire to keep warm, whilst Mama Michele photo documents.

I can not tell for sure, but it looks like Kristin may be holding my favorite dog relative, Blue the poodle.

Well, I guess me and my fellow newly orphaned siblings had a mighty fine first Christmas as orphans.

I was relative free in Texas, with lasagna on the menu for the Christmas feeding.

Brother Jake went to a potluck at an RV concentration camp in Mesa.

Sister Jackie spent Christmas at the Ak-Chin Casino Resort in Maricopa, joined by nephew Christopher.

Christopher's brother, Jeremy, enjoyed being blissfully, peacefully alone at home whilst his parental units were staying at the casino.

Nephew Joey was at home in the Skagit Valley with his in-laws from Montana.

I don't know where Joey's big brother, Jason, spent Christmas, but I did hear from Jason Christmas morning, via text message, which was what set off my sending of Christmas text messages...

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Photo From Christmas Past

The above was incoming from Favorite Nephew Jason this morning, with the text accompanying the photo saying...

"Merry Christmas.
Santa brought me this photo."

I do not know where Santa got this photo, or how he knew to bring it to Jason. In the photo that is my mom, also known as Shirley, or Miss Daisy, holding Jason's primary paternal parental unit, my little brother Jake. In the middle that is me being held by my mom's mom, Jason's great-grandma, my Grandma Vera. Next to Grandma Vera is her dad, my Great-Grandpa Sundean. I am drawing a blank trying to remember Great-Grandpa Sundean's first name.

My best guess is that this photo would have been taken in Lynden, at Grandma Vera's. Judging by the size of Jake and me we likely were still living in the town in which we were born, Eugene, Oregon. I doubt Grandma Vera trekked south for Christmas. It would have been much more likely we would have driven north, what with virtually all the relatives being in the Lynden zone.

I just realized there is no one still alive who might be able to provide factual details about a photo such as this.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Panorama View Of Wichita Bluffs Takes Me To Lake Powell Houseboat & Moki Dugway

My new phone seems to take better photos than my old, as in a decade old, digital camera. I still prefer that taking a photo the old fashioned method to using a phone's screen as the photo viewfinder.

The new phone has three photo modes. Regular, Pro and Panorama.

I was unaware of those three modes until I apparently accidentally switched the phone camera into panorama mode.

The result of that accidental switch is not the panorama photo you see above. The above photo is the result of trying to take a photo in panorama mode, on purpose, after I discovered this feature. In the above panorama photo you are looking north at a panoramic view of the Wichita Bluff Nature Area.

I don't quite see the benefit of this panorama mode thing, in this form. I guess it allows one to show a much wider, albeit way narrower, view of the scene one is photographing.

Way back in the previous century, the year was 1994, I bought a new Nikon camera to better facilitate photo documenting the long road and houseboat trip I was about to embark on. That Nikon camera, pre-digital, had a panorama mode function.

To put the Nikon camera into panorama mode one opened the camera and stuck a rectangular piece of plastic at a location over the lens.

One of the roadtripping houseboaters on that trip was a professional photographer. When I repeatedly fussed with putting the Nikon into panorama mode he rather condescendingly explained something like, you do realize, don't you, that all that is doing is causing the frame to cut off the top and bottom of what is gonna be exposed to the film.

I was dense regarding what the professional photographer was explaining to me. I think it was years later til I finally understood.

When the rolls of film containing the panorama photos got processed the processor, usually Costco, somehow knew to make those panorama photos long and skinny, like the one you see above.

Ironically. those photos I took long ago with my now antique, long gone Nikon camera, are among my favorite photos I have ever taken. Even the professional photographer agreed they turned out good, when eventually he saw them.

I wonder if I have any of those old panorama photos on this computer. I would have had to have scanned them digitally, and if they exist, I might find them on the web pages I long ago made about my Hell Houseboat on Lake Powell adventure.

I shall go look and see what I can find. If I can not find photos, I know I can find a link to the Hell Houseboat on Lake Powell webpages.

Okay, found some of the panorama photos, stuck with the files I found of the photos documenting houseboating on Lake Powell.

Except for the first photo, which is photo documenting the start of the descent down the Moki Dugway, after ending the houseboating, then crossing Lake Powell via ferry, before reaching the scary Moki Dugway, on the way to staying overnight in Mexican Hat, before driving through Monument Valley, the following day, where, if I remember right, I took some more panorama photos...

That aforementioned professional photographer was morbidly afraid of heights. When he saw the warning signs at the start of the Moki Dugway and could see the long descent, the dozens of switchbacks, and that the road was gravel, he panicked. I had to move one of my passengers into the professional photographer's van to drive him down the Dugway, whilst the professional photographer fortified his courage with an adult libation, whilst sticking his head in a pillow case so he could not see.

Above you are seeing my co-pilot, Wanda, nonchalantly looking at the view which freaked out others.

Of course, due to my unflappable driving ability I was the preferred houseboat pilot. But, I did let others do some of the boat driving, at times.

If I remember right, Rainbow Bridge is the world's biggest natural arch. It is something to see. But the float up the side canyon off Lake Powell, to reach Rainbow Bridge, well, that was one of the funnest boat experiences I have ever had.

I believe the above was taken our last night on Lake Powell, at the docking site we called Bat Cove, due to the thousands of bats which appeared when the sun began to set. This was the occasion which caused me to lose my fear of bats and instead see them as valuable allies in the fight against flying insects.

Swimming in the warm, crystal clear water of Lake Powell is a mighty fine thing. This also was at the location we called Bat Cove.

The above is also a look at Bat Cove. I took off hiking, I do not remember with whom. We got high enough that the houseboat looked far away. It was heading back as the sun began to set that I found myself surrounded by a protective wall of bats.

Looking at the above panorama photos from long ago, I think think my old Nikon camera took better panorama photos than my new phone.

Perhaps I will adjust to taking better panorama photos via this new means...

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Follow The Sign To Find Wichita Falls

A couple days ago I visited Lucy Park for the first time in a long time, what with the nearby Wichita Bluff Nature Area being my usual current go to place for some hill hiking or biking.

On that recent visit to Lucy Park I came upon the new sign you see here. I thought it to be a good addition.

Directing the direction challenged in the correct direction to find the infamous Wichita Falls.

My first visit to Lucy Park, soon after arrival in my new location, I found my way to Lucy Park. It was a hot April Saturday. And on that day Lucy Park was packed. Lots of people. Had to hunt for a parking place. I remember thinking, wow, this is a popular park.


I don't know what was special about that first visit to Lucy Park, but I have never seen that park so packed with people ever again.

And on that day whilst walking on what I did not know then was the Circle Trail, I came upon an informational booth of the nearby Texas Visitors Center, which I also did not know, then, was nearby, immediately across the, also nearby, Wichita River.

The friendly lady who wo-manned the Texas Visitors Center booth was willing to answer my questions. Such as are there any parks with hills nearby? And how do you get to the Falls from here?

She directed me to follow the Circle Trail alongside the river and in less than a mile I would come to Wichita Falls.

I remember at the time it seemed to take a long long walk to get to the Falls. And now I've done that distance so many times it seems a short distance.

And now these new signs have been added to make it easy for anyone to find the Falls, without needing to ask directions from a local...

Friday, December 20, 2019

Linda Lou Shares Oprah's Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Accolade

I saw that which you see above on Facebook yesterday, via the Skagit Valley's award winning Raspberry Jammer and constructor of Graham Cracker Houses, Linda Lou, .

The text under the photo says "The Oprah Magazine just came out with the 10 Best Flower Festivals in the US. We're number 4!"

The "We're number 4" refers to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

Reading the article there was no indication this was a list of the top ten in order of best to 10th best. It seemed to more be a list of the top ten flower festivals in the United States.

Nonetheless, no surprise that the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival would be on such a list. That festival draws around a million visitors from around the world, every year.

I believe the traffic management has improved a lot since I least was subjected to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. At least such is what I have been told.

There is another Washington state flower festival on the list. Along with one from Texas.

The entire list of ten...

1.  Portland Rose Festival
2.  National Cherry Blossom Festival
3.  Rochester Lilac Festival
4.  The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
5.  Tulip Time Festival
6.  North Carolina Azalea Festival
7.  Bluebonnet Festival
8.  The California Poppy Festival
9.  Washington State Apple Blossom Festival
10. Mackinac Island Lilac Festival

The Apple Blossom Festival takes place in Wenatchee. I have never attended that festival. Back in the previous century the Apple Blossom Festival had quite a party reputation.

The text from the Oprah magazine article about the two Washington flower festivals and the one in Texas...

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
Held from April 1-30, The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival celebrates the blossoming of millions of tulips in Mount Vernon, Washington. It was designed as a driving tour, so visitors can hop in their ride to bask in the fields of tulips across Skagit Valley at their own leisure.

Bluebonnet Festival
The annual Bluebonnet Festival will take place April 10-12, in Burnet, Texas featuring live music, food, and shopping while visitors admire the area's brightest bluebonnets.

Washington State Apple Blossom Festival
You can check out stunning apple blossoms during April 23-May 3 at the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival, which was founded to celebrate apple trees in the region of Wenatchee, Washington.

Regarding the article's description of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. The millions of tulips do not do their blooming in Mount Vernon. The tulips bloom on the Skagit Flats, west of Mount Vernon, altough, I do think that photo above is taken just outside the outskirts of west Mount Vernon. The Skagit Tulip Festival takes place all over the valley, with various of the town's holding various events.

While I have not attended Washington's Apple Blossom Festival, I have experience Texas Bluebonnets, although not at the festival in Burnet.

I have to say, the Texas Bluebonnets are something to see, as is the whole Texas wildflower display when it erupts each spring.

Earlier this century I drove south to Texas Hill Country to hike up Enchanted Rock. And before that hike visited a wildflower farm in Fredericksburg.

And then after hiking up Enchanted Rock drove north through the most incredible displays of  wildflowers I have ever seen.

Unlike the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, the Texas Bluebonnets, and fellow wildflowers are a natural phenomenon. Both are spectacular to eye witness...

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Texas Burn With Sister Jackie In Wichita Bluff Nature Area

The day before America's presidential embarrassment got indicted, I mean, impeached, Sister Jackie, from Arizona, went on a walk and talk with me on the Circle Trail in the Wichita Bluff Nature Area.

After multiple minutes of walking I sat myself down on one of the Wichita Falls patented swinging benches which was swinging near the parking lot on which I had parked, at the west end of the Wichita Bluff Nature Area.

A few minutes after sitting and swinging, and continuing to talk to Sister Jackie, vehicles began arriving at the parking lot.

This seemed unusual, as this parking lot does not attract a lot of action around noon on a Tuesday.

Soon the people getting out of their cars began sitting up a folding table. And then began putting stuff on that table.

From where I was watching the stuff on the table looked like maybe a big container from which coffee or hot chocolate might be poured. I could not make out the nature of some of the other stuff being arranged on the table.

And then a big blue bus arrived. I told Sister Jackie what I was seeing and verbalized wondering what was going on. I began to terminate the talk with Sister Jackie as I walked past the bus and table. I asked one of the ladies monitoring that table what was going on.

She told me they were taking the wives of Sheppard Air Force airman on a tour of Wichita Falls attractions.

To which I replied, well, this is a good one. Meaning good attraction.

Sister Jackie then asked, before I ended the call, if I was offered hot coffee or chocolate. I replied in the negative.

As soon as I ended the Sister Jackie call that lady who told me what was going on gave me a come hither wave. And so I returned to the mysterious table, where she asked me if I would like one of these, handing to me that which you see photo documented above.

A container of something called Kenny's All Purpose Seasonings Texas Burn which, according to the information on the container, will "Add Spice & Excitement to Every Meal!"

I have been in need of adding some spice and excitement to my every meal, but I have yet to do so with Kenny's Texas Burn.

I always have myself a mighty fine time communing with nature in the Wichita Bluff Nature Area. I think, what with the outer world being colored blue, not too windy, not too cold, a hike or bike on that section of the Circle Trail might be just what the doctor would recommend, if consulted, to lift me out of my current lethargic doldrums deeply in need of some spice and excitement...

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

David, Theo & Ruby's Tacoma Impeachment Rally With Trump Baby

Theo & Ruby Holding On To Baby Trump
Yesterday whilst blogging about Theo & Ruby's Happy Birthday Impeachment Present mention was made of the hope that possibly photo documentation might arrive documenting Theo, Ruby and David at the Tacoma Trump Impeachment Rally.

That photo documentation arrived after 9 pm last night, which would have been 6 pm on the west coast, I think.

I always seem to mess up the time difference. Arizona not having Daylight Savings Time, south of the Grand Canyon, only exacerbates my time zone confusion. Now that we are all on Standard Time I think Arizona is two hours behind. And the west coast three hours behind.

I digress. I am tired and my mind is rambling.

I did not hear of any Trump Impeachment Rally taking place in Wichita Falls. I figured there would be one, what with the big march the day this nightmare began with Trump's inauguration.

In that first Impeachment Rally photo, above, it appears that Theo, Ruby and David are outside one of the museum buildings in Tacoma's downtown, near the Bridge of Glass.

And I see Tacoma has acquired one of those popular inflatable Baby Trumps in Diapers balloons, which Theo and Ruby appear to be holding on to.

Okay, I just asked David, Theo and Ruby's mama if my location guess was correct. And the answer quickly came back that I was sort of correct.

The Tacoma Trump Impeachment Rally did take place downtown near the museums and the Bridge of Glass. The Impeachment Rally took place at  Union Station, the old train station which has been re-purposed as a Federal Courthouse.

This location is on Pacfic Street, which is one of the main ways into downtown Tacoma. Light rail runs past the museums and galleries, connecting downtown to the intermodal transit center by the Tacoma Dome.

Whilst the Impeachment Rally was happening buses, cars and light rail trains passed, honking and with those on board waving support. 

Yes, I can now sort of remember this being Union Station. I think the last time I was at this location we went to the UW bookstore across the street, where Theo and Ruby got some sort of confection at Starbucks, then walked past Union Station to the Bridge of Glass to cross over the highway to the Thea Foss Waterway.

I don't think that is David, Theo and Ruby's sign behind them shouting "IMPEACHMENT, 25th AMENDMENT, MILITARY COUP... I REALLY DON'T CARE DO U? JUST GET RID of HIM!"

It may not be their sign, but I think I can safely say the sign reflects their sentiments, along with millions up millions of other actual patriotic Americans...

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Enjoying Joining Saturday Night Wichita Falls Fantasy Of Lights Crowd

Yesterday whilst talking about Linda Lou's Graham Cracker House I made mention of the fact that last night I was scheduled to guide a tour group through the Wichita Falls Christmas zone, collectively known as the Fantasy of Lights, including the Burns MSU Fantasy of Lights, and the Fantasy of Lights one finds in the neighborhood adjacent to the Burns MSU Fantasy of Lights.

I took a few photos, none of which do any sort of justice to how incredibly fantastic this light fantasy actually is.

My tour assistant took video of the drive by of the actual Fantasy of Lights, which does give one a good idea of how spectacular this Holiday extravaganza is, and what a HUGE crowd of light fantasy viewers show up for the show. You can view that video, eventually, below.

Above we are driving by one of the four long Polar Express trams carrying light seekers from Fantasy of Lights central, on the MSU campus, riding through the area I refer to as the Beverly Hills of Wichita Falls.

The Polar Express trams were running at full capacity. All four of them. The above photo shows only the last two cars of one of the long trams. I would estimate there were at least 200 people aboard. When my tour group passed the area where one gets a ticket to ride the Polar Express we saw a line of at least another couple hundred waiting their turn.

Last night I also saw a large group of bikers, lit up, and rolling through the light fantasy. That looked fun. I also saw one of the horse drawn carriages clip clopping along soon after I saw the throng of bikers.

Below are the best I came up with, photo-wise of the lights in the Beverly Hills of Wichita Falls.

The streets of the Beverly Hills of Wichita Falls are lined with big trees. And the streets have sidewalks. Which last night hosted a lot of walkers. The tree trunks are wired with light, but that is not what we are looking at above. Above is one home's light fantasy.

The above is showing only a small part of this HUGE installation of lights and animations. This display is in front of one of the mansions on Hamilton Boulevard, across the boulevard from Hamilton Park. The mansion next to this one had the most impressive display of light animation seen last night.

My favorite of the Beverly Hills of Wichita Falls mansions is the one with the bright trees you see above. I wondered what this house would do for lighting. And last night I had my answer. The ultra modern style house was dark, surrounded by trees covered with so much lighting it sort of looked like giant illuminated caterpillar infestation tents.

Below is the aforementioned video drive by of the MSU Fantasy of Lights, followed by more commentary.

Prior to experiencing what Wichita Falls does Holiday Season lighting-wise, the most impressive such thing my eyes had ever witnessed was Interlochen in Arlington. Drivers drive from all over the D/FW Metroplex to join the slow traffic jam that drives through Interlochen.

I do not know why Arlington and Interlochen have not thought of the Wichita Falls tram type solution to that annual traffic jam mess which make the Interlochen experience a bit unpleasant.

The Wichita Falls Holiday Season lighting operation is a lot more coordinated effort than the Arlington Interlochen effort. Just the way all the trees along the streets are all lit up with matching lighting is one example.

It is not Interlochen's fault that the roads in that neighborhood sort of constrict easy traffic flow, with only two ways in and out.

One of the many positive attributes of the HUGE Wichita Falls lit up area is the multiple streets with multiple in and out points, thus making for zero traffic flow woes. That and those four long trams helps. Plus Wichita Falls having that sprawling Fantasy of Lights installation at the heart of it all, with lots of easy parking, so people can choose to get out and walk among the lights, or take the stay in your vehicle Santa drive-by option.

Bottom line, good job Wichita Falls. This town does so many things quite excellently. Which is sort of significant, because I ain't all that easy to impress...

Saturday, December 14, 2019

MSU Fantasy Of Lights Reminding Linda Lou's Skagit Valley Graham Cracker House

Today, on this second Saturday of the final December of the second decade of the current century I got some Vitamin D by rolling my bike north on the Circle Trail, under a bright blue pre-winter sky, eventually making my way to MSU to roll around the mid-day Fantasy of Lights.

I am scheduled later today to lead a tour group past the best of the Wichita Falls Christmas lights. That happens after dark.

Rolling the trail through the Fantasy of Lights today I came upon a fantasy which brought the Skagit Valley's Linda Lou to mind.

With that fantasy being the Gingerbread House you see above, with Humpty Dumpty way in the background.

The reason this Fantasy of Lights MSU Gingerbread House reminded me of Linda Lou was due to Linda Lou being in the online news from the Skagit Valley with an account of Linda Lou's creative re-imagining of a classic Gingerbread House, using a different building block to create a Graham Cracker House.

The above is the photo documentation of Linda Lou's Graham Cracker House which illustrated the news about Linda Lou's Christmas construction. I would give credit to the photographer who photographed Linda Lou's Graham Cracker House, but that information is not known by me.

Please also not the creatively imaginative mouse on the left and the marshmallow snowman on the right.

I do not know if Linda Lou's Graham Cracker Houses are available for purchase at the Linda Lou Skagit Valley Jam Factory. I suspect by special order, only, if they are available...

Who Should Pay For Forth Worth Boondoggle's Incompetence Cost?

This blogging falls into the category of seeing something in an online west coast news source, usually the Seattle Times, about something I would not expect to see in a Texas news source, usually the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, about a similar type subject, again, usually in Fort Worth.

Way back in 2014 Fort Worth tried to start building three simple little bridges to connect the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island.

Shortly before that bridge building tried to begin, in Seattle, what was then the world's largest drill, began tunneling under downtown Seattle.

That drilling soon ran into a snag in the form of a steel pipe, which ended up delaying the tunnel drilling for around two years.

That tunnel has now long been completed and open to traffic. And now, apparently, the tunneling contractor has been ordered to pay Washington state $57 million for being at fault for the long tunneling stall.

Meanwhile, in Fort Worth, after more than five years those three simple little bridges are no where near being open to traffic, long stalled for who knows what variety of reasons. Not known due to the fact the facts of the bridge building stall not being transparently known to the Fort Worth public, due to the fact that Fort Worth lacks an actual responsible newspaper doing actual responsible investigatory journalism.

In the Seattle Times article, about this court order, mention was made of the fact that the state spent an amount similar to $57 million to continue managing the tunnel project whilst it was stalled. You know, continuing to need to pay all those contracted to be part of the project.

I have long wondered, and asked, how many millions of Fort Worth's stalled bridge building dollars have been spent paying the staff of the Trinity River Vision Authority all these years since the project should have been long ago completed, had this project been underway in an area of modern America free of corruption and nepotism.

Fort Worth Congresswoman, Kay Granger's son, J.D., has been paid over $200K a year, plus perks and benefits, for years and years; many years more than what such a relatively simple project should have taken to accomplish, but which is now not projected to be completed until some point way into the next decade.

This for a project originally touted as being a vitally needed flood control project.

Vitally needed in an area of Fort Worth which the Trinity River has not flooded for well over a half century, due to levees already in place, already paid for.

How come no one has been sued over what has become America's Dumbest Boondoggle? Originally known as the Trinity River Vision, before it morphed into the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision.

Before simply being almost universally referred as just The Boondoggle?

How is it that Kay Granger's son is still sucking up taxpayer money for a job which my now pretty much any sane person can see has been totally botched?

And now a new employee has been added, paid even more than J.D. Granger, to try and fix the mess.

It is perplexing how one town in America can manage to dig a massive tunnel under its downtown, while another town in America can't seem to manage to build three simple little bridges.

And yet some wonder why we refer to some areas of America as modern America, you know, where city parks have no outhouses, streets have sidewalks, public works projects work for the public, you know that type modern concept...

Friday, December 13, 2019

Heavenly Creator Wichita Bluff Holiday Decoration

With the outer world not being even remotely close to being frightful, instead being mighty close to being delightful I stuck a ham in the oven, loaded my bike onto the truck's bed and rolled my motorized motion device to the Wichita Bluff Nature Area to have some endorphin inducing aerobic stimulation.

My current attempt to get myself in shape for Moab mountain biking and Washington mountain climbing seems to be progressing slowly to being at a level of being able to maintain high energy motion for an extended period of time.

Today found new additions to the Circle Trail section of the Wichita Bluff Nature Area in the form of decorations hung from trees and bushes. Such as what you see above, hanging above the latest iteration of the Wichita Bluff Hoodoo installation.

When I first saw the Hoodoo decoration I figured it was a one time thing. I was soon disabused of that notion as I rolled along seeing various iterations of holiday type decorations decorating the trail.

I assumed these are environmentally friendly bio-degradable art objects. The above white rose looks to have been made from paper on which some words had been typed. Eventually I came to a white snowflake on which I could make out some of the words.

But before I got to that snowflake I found what looked like a poinsettia bloom.

This large poinsettia bloom is attached to an evergreen tree of some sort. You can see the Circle Trail in the background.

And here we have that aforementioned white snowflake on which some words can be read. Words like "Heavenly Creator".  That's the only one I can remember. I already deleted the large version of this photo so no further word retrieval, other than my feeble memory, is available.

So, that was nice seeing the Wichita Bluffs getting into the holiday spirit today...

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Merry Christmas & Happy New Decade From Tootsie Tonasket

This morning in my mailbox I found a Christmas card from one of my favorite Eastern Wsshingtonians.

Aunt Alice.

Also known as Tootsie Tonasket.

I first came to know Tootsie Tonasket back near the start of the current century when Tootsie emailed me a question after she saw my webpage about the Branch-Davidians and Mount Carmel.

Somehow Tootsie mis-understood and thought I was a survivor of that massacre and so she had some rather interesting questions to ask the answers to which I did not have.

Thus begun what is now almost two decades of emails, text messages, letters and phone calls.

I have seen Aunt Alice through getting on MySpace, and then Facebook, finding a long lost sister, getting rid of Uncle Albert, SWAT raids due suspected purloined deer, the shock of Cousin Wade being murdered by an Omak policeman.

And much much more.

Aunt Alice has now rid herself of the house she shared with Uncle Albert, and has now moved atop a mountain near Tonasket, where she is currently in the process of acquiring a she shed and possibly a snow plow due to already having way too much of the white stuff piling up.

I thought Aunt Alice would make a good roommate for mom, but that arrangement never came to fruition.

Getting this card and letter today from Aunt Alice has reminded me that I have some letter writing to do. Along with some happy birthday wishing.

Merry Christmas, Aunt Alice.

And I'm sure the new decade is gonna be your best ever...

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Pre Winter Communing On Wichita Bluff Nature Area

Already we are at day 11 of the 2019 version of December.

Only ten more days, give or take a day, til winter arrives.

Today I felt the need to commune with nature, and so I used my mechanized motor device to take me to the Wichita Bluff Nature Area where I soon found myself sitting on my favorite bench doing that communing with nature thing, whilst gazing north across the prairie bluff listening to the roar of jets doing their training thing.

Today before getting benched I came upon a trio of French mademoiselles speaking loudly in their nature tongue. One frequently comes upon foreigners whilst hiking the bluffs.

Or in ALDI.

Usually the foreigners are in this land which is foreign to them due an association with Sheppard Air Force Base, which is a NATO training facility.

I always wonder if Wichita Falls is these foreigners only exposure to America.

Some of that which one sees in Wichita Falls, and other towns I have seen in Texas, I never saw the likes of til I arrived in the South.

I was just remarking on this fact today whilst driving from the Bluffs to ALDI, driving north on Lawrence road, asking the co-pilot if he had any memory of ever seeing anything like this in any other west coast town.

For some reason when a building goes defunct in Texas, like a motel, or any business, the structure is allowed to deteriorate into being a rundown eyesore. I have never understood why this is considered okay in Texas.

When asking about this I get told nonsense about property rights. They are big on property rights, apparently, except when it comes to abusing eminent domain to take someone's property. A phenomenon which I also never witnessed whilst observing west coast towns.


Monday, December 9, 2019

Mystery Of Missing Tacoma Amazon Package Solved

Yesterday I made mention of the fact of an Amazon package that had not arrived which the sender told me was supposed to have been already delivered multi days prior.

As in last Wednesday.

I was told this was a large package, thus it likely would not have gone airborne in a strong wind if Amazon had left the package on my porch.

Yesterday I also mentioned another package, one that had arrived, but which, though the address was correct, the recipient does not reside at my address.

So, this morning I ventured to the mailroom where I passed off the erroneous package to someone else to handle. I then made mention of the fact of the missing Amazon package. I was then informed that several packages were in the mailroom, awaiting being united with their rightful recipient.

And so the mystery of the missing Amazon package was solved.

I soon secured a hand-truck so as to easily roll the HUGE package back to my abode. Eventually I was able to navigate up a series of stairs and into my entry zone where I posed the HUGE box for photo documentation purposes.

Which is what you see above.

I then texted the sender of the HUGE box to ask if this was something I should open now, or was it intended that I wait for the regular Christmas package opening time frame.

I was quickly advised that I should open the box now. I proceeded to do so, to soon find something inside the box which I suspect will be greatly improving the days to follow in a mighty fine way.

Thanks, Tacoma Trio & Parental Units. I needed that...

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Missing Tacoma Amazon Package With Erroneous Package From Akron

Yesterday, with that day being the one known as Saturday, I checked to see if anything was in my mailbox, and found a key which opened a bigger mailbox in which I found that which you see here.

I looked at the label to see who it was who sent this to me to see a name, Brenda K, from Akron, Ohio, with the recipient being Cary C, at my specific address.

I know no Brenda K, and there is no Cary C at my address, so this package was not for me. I could see this was an Ebay thing, with Brenda trying to send something to Cary, which went awry somehow, into my mailbox.

Minutes after I returned to my abode I texted my Tacoma sibling to thank her for the card, with photos of David, Theo and Ruby, I had received the day before. I blogged about that card and photos in Happy December Thanksgiving From Tacoma.

Seconds later a text came back asking "Did you happen to get a package as well?"

This seemed just a tad spooky, asking me this minutes after getting the erroneous package from Ohio.

Turns out this was nothing but a coincidence. My sister had nothing to do with the package from Ohio. Apparently the package my sister was asking about was sent via Amazon and Amazon had indicated to my sister that the package had been delivered last Wednesday.

Later last night, as I found myself wondering what my sister was sending me, I remembered one of the text messages telling me it was a large package, the size of multiple shoe boxes.

Last month I had lamented with my sister about never having mom's Christmas cookies again, particularly the almond paste based versions.

My sister then told me she had a supply of almond paste along with mom's recipes, and that when I am in Tacoma next summer perhaps we could try and replicate mom's baking.

So, last night a momentary light bulb came on in my imagination and I thought, oh, it must be Christmas cookies that is stuck in mailing limbo.

And then I remembered the missing package was from Amazon, not a Tacoma kitchen.

So, the mystery continues...

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Boardwalk Coming To Lake Wichita Park Place

The long talked about Lake Wichita Revitalization Project finally has a project underway.

Earth began being moved this past week near the Lake Wichita spillway, which is near the long gone former Lake Wichita boardwalk and pavilion.

I rolled my bike wheels to Lake Wichita dam this first Saturday of the 2019 version of December to find the spur off the Circle Trail atop the dam blocked by the orange fence you see my handlebars pointing at.

An earthmoving device was moving from the lake to the nearby parking lot. But I could not discern what was being moved. Or where it was being moved. All I was able to make note of was the earthmoving device was doing something to one spot on the parking lot.

It was a couple years ago I attended, along with a lot of other people, some sorta ceremony at this same location marking the start of some aspect of the lake's revitalization. I remember a half million buck check being given by Patterson Auto. And speechifying about the Army Corps of Engineers having approved something which was going to facilitate this project finally being realized.

And then nothing much has been happening, til now.

Above I am standing at the same location, but oriented to the northwest, looking across the current fishing pier and Mount Wichita hovering over the horizon in the distance.

As you can see, today was a dead calm day, no wind, pleasant temperature. A perfect day for a long bike ride.

And then I got home to find something disturbing in my mailbox. I may make mention of that tomorrow...

Happy December Thanksgiving From Tacoma Trio

I did not check my mailbox yesterday til after dark.

I'm talking about the old-fashioned mailbox, the one which holds envelopes on which stamps have been attached. A few days can go by between times I check the mailbox. I think the most recent checking was on Wednesday.

Anyway, last night I found an envelope from Tacoma. When I opened the envelope I found a card. When I opened the card three photos fell out.

And on the card I saw "Happy Thanksgiving" written by mama Michele.

The three photos were Ruby, David and Theo.

I arranged the photos and the card on my computer table and took the photo you see above.

A few months ago I was fairly certain I was going to be seeing Ruby, David and Theo, and their parental units, in Arizona, during the week in which Thanksgiving occurred. But, that did not come to pass.

My current next expected time to see Ruby, David and Theo is next summer. I am looking forward to having myself a mighty fine time with that fun trio. I am also hoping to see Spencer Jack. And Spencer's cousin, Hank Frank, for the first time. Along with Spencer and Hank's parental units.

I have not yet decided whether or not it is a good idea to bring my mountain bike along. Theo has become quite the mountain biker since last I rolled with him and his siblings. And Tacoma has some mighty fine mountain bike trails.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Shocked US News Did Not Rank Texas Best State In America

Email last night from Spencer Jack's Mount Vernon, Washington office.

The email only included that which you see here, along with a link to a US News & World Report report titled Best States Rankings Measuring outcomes for citizens using more than 70 metrics.

Of course I assumed the reason Spencer Jack and Jason were emailing me this had to be that Texas had come in #1 when US News & World Report ranked the states.

I clicked on the link and read the first two paragraphs of the article before I got to the rankings, where I was shocked, shocked I tell you, to see which state ranked #1.

First those first two paragraphs...

Some states shine in health care. Some soar in education. Some excel in both – or in much more. The Best States ranking of U.S. states draws on thousands of data points to measure how well states are performing for their citizens. In addition to health care and education, the metrics take into account a state’s economy, its roads, bridges, internet and other infrastructure, its public safety, the fiscal stability of state government, and the opportunity it affords its residents.

More weight was accorded to some state measures than others, based on a survey of what matters most to people. Health care and education were weighted most heavily. Then came state economies, infrastructure, and the opportunity states offer their citizens. Fiscal stability followed closely in weighting, followed by measures of crime & corrections and a state's natural environment.

Well, reading some of what the criteria is for these rankings had me worrying maybe Texas might not have done as well as I had presumed, what with the metrics measuring health care, education, roads, bridges, the state's economy, public safety and opportunity.

But, I am always hearing, from Texas locals (of the right wing nut job type) about the Texas Miracle.

I have never understood what in the world is meant by that "Texas Miracle" phrase, but it always seems to be tied to supposedly so many Americans escaping their supposedly liberal high tax states to move to cheap liberty loving Texas.

Usually it is Californians escaping California for Texas which are mentioned. With no understanding of the fact that California has a big population, hence statistically you are gonna have more Californians moving around the country, than any other state.

That and the fact that California has what would be the world's 5th largest economy if it were an independent nation. California businesses, when expanding to other less prosperous states, such as Texas, move some of their California employees to run whatever business moved part of an operation to Texas.

Now, let us finally find out which state US News & World Report ranked as the Best State in America.

Oh my, I am truly shocked, it is my old home state of Washington which is the Best State in America.

I am additionally shocked that Texas is not even in the Top Ten. This must be fake news. Or a product of the corrupt left wing media.

Let's scroll down the list til we find Texas.

Okay, scrolling past the Top Ten, we are almost to the Bottom Ten when we finally find the Texas location on the Best State list, coming in at #38.

That does not seem too good a place to be for an imaginary miracle.

When I saw that in the "Natural Environment" category Washington only ranked #14 I was perplexed. I figured natural environment meant something like ranking a state for scenery diversity, or some similar type thing.

The article explains what is meant... "The natural environment ranking looks at the quality of air and water in a state, as well as exposure to pollution and toxins."

Still perplexing, what with Washington having relatively clean air and water, at least compared to other locations I have witnessed. That and a lot less litter.

If the ranking for "Natural Environment" had been based on scenic diversity I would have had California at #1, what with that state's long coastline, beaches, mountains, Yosemite, Death Valley, redwood, sequoias, along with manmade scenic wonders like the Golden Gate Bridge.

Utah would be my pick for most scenic state, though that state does not have the most diverse scenery. Arizona is also rather scenic, as are Wyoming, Montana, Oregon and several others. Like Alaska, Hawaii and Florida.

I would never have guessed the state US News ranks as #1 for quality of air and water and exposure to pollution and toxins. Or scenic diversity.

Rhode Island.

Are there lakes and rivers in Rhode Island? Is the state big enough to account for any air pollution which might hover above?

I will be returning to the Best State in America next summer, for the first time since 2017. Big Ed is also returning to his former old home state, for the first time since 2002. He has been back to modern America since 2002, only once, that being a month in Arizona in 2018. He experienced some culture shock at that point in time, and now we learn that Arizona is only the 34th Best State in America, barely better than Texas, so that Arizona shock was nothing compared to what awaits on the west coast.

Yes, Washington is going to be a bit of culture shock for Big Ed.

The air clear, clean and smelling of Christmas trees. Little litter. Everything looking clean and new. The state liquor stores closed, with booze now sold in grocery stores (unlike Texas where large parts of the state haven't gotten the memo that Prohibition ended a long time ago). Pot stores. Many more casinos than when last Big Ed visited Washington. Multiple Cabela's sporting goods stores (you know the store that was gonna give Fort Worth the imaginary biggest tourist attraction in Texas). Ballot boxes like mailboxes, for easy voting. Light rail now covering many miles, with many more under construction. The Seattle skyline hugely altered, after years of never seeing the Fort Worth skyline change. The Seahawk stadium where the Kingdome used to be. The Amazon campus. The new transit tunnel under downtown Seattle which began construction at the same time Fort Worth started trying to build three little bridges over dry land. The embarrassing homeless camps along I-5 through downtown Seattle. And much much more, like the Tacoma waterfront.

I wonder what it would take to make a state in the condition Texas is in into the Best State in America? Better education? A dose of progressive enlightenment? Better leaders? An end to Republican dominance? More Californians moving east...