Thursday, May 30, 2019

Arlington #1 Fittest Town In America While Fort Worth #88

If you are thinking that whom you are looking at here is Elsie Hotpepper, on the right, and her mom, enjoying the great outdoors at Fort Worth's downtown Water Gardens, well, you would be thinking incorrectly, since I am almost 100% that the Texans in this photo are not Elsie and her mom.

Then again, I have not seen either in over a year.

The size level of people occupying various American towns came to mind recently via an in depth study by the American College of Sports Medicine which used a wide range of various criteria to determine the fitness level of the population populating America's Top 100 towns.

Of course I assumed a Texas town would be at the top of the list, or the bottom. So, I was not too shocked to see Arlington was determined to be the fittest town in America. With Seattle coming in at #2.

Then I took a second look and saw that the Arlington at the #1 spot was the Arlington in Virginia, not the Texas version of Arlington.

The Texas version of Arlington does not have a large enough population to make the Top 100 list, but many other Texas towns were big enough.

Such as Austin, with the Texas capital being the fittest Texas town on the list, at the #42 spot, followed by #44 Plano, #60 Lubbock, #61 Dallas, #72 El Paso, #73 Houston, #76 Garland, #78 Irving, #80 Laredo, #82 San Antonio, #88 Fort Worth and #91 Corpus Christi.

What a shock that Fort Worth is near the bottom of this list. Unfortunately one of the criteria was the percent of a town's population having a city park within a 10 minute walk. Along with the number of parks per capita. Perhaps having too many outhouses also factored in. Along with the majority of Fort Worth's streets having no sidewalk on to which to walk to one of the town's few parks. 

Well, basically Fort Worth did not do well in any of the fitness criteria.

You can read the entire report to see how towns ranked in the Top Ten of various criteria categories, including Bike Score, Best Air Quality, Personal Health Rank & Score, Community/Environment Rank & Score, Exercise, Aerobic Activities, Strengthening Activities, Park/10,000 Residents, Parks Within 10-Minute Walk, Walk or Bike to Work, Use Public Transportation, Walk Score, 2 or More Fruits per Day, 3 or More Vegetables per Day, Farmers Markets.

What a shock. Fort Worth showed up in zero of those lists of the Top Ten in any of the categories.

I remember way back when I first moved to close proximity to Fort Worth it was difficult to adjust to seeing so many people so much bigger than the people I was used to seeing on the west coast.

Soon thereafter I remember reading that many Europeans referred to Americans as the Balloon People. Had I read this whilst still living in Washington I would have thought it rude, and not understood why those Europeans would think such a thing.

I remember flying up to Washington in February of 2004, picked up at Sea-Tac, brought to a gallery in Seattle's Pioneer Square, where I watched the throngs pass by and I memorably remarked that it looked as if everyone has had the air let out of them, so used to, by then, seeing so many plus-sized Texans.

Last October, for the first time since 2002, Big Ed left Texas, well, other than going to Oklahoma, which is Texas-lite. Big Ed rode with me to Arizona. I remember telling him he was going to be surprised at seeing so many deflated people, with so few looking like candidates for one of those "People of Walmart" photo collections, unlike what he was used to seeing in Texas.

Ironically, when people in Arizona saw Big Ed for the first time in years one after another remarked that Texas had made him skinny. Thus began a three week effort to fatten him up.

I would have thought the Arizona towns I have visited in recent years would show up higher on this List of American Cities. However, Chandler where one of my little sisters lives, along with my favorite brother-in-law, is the #68 fittest town. Mesa, where one of my other sisters winters in an RV concentration camp, is #66, fitter than Chandler. Phoenix at #71 and Gilbert at #83 are even less fit, almost as misfit as Fort Worth.

Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert have multiple parks, multiple public swimming pools, miles of paved trails, streets with sidewalks,and plenty of fresh fruit, often free for the picking.

So, I have no idea why those Arizona towns ranked nearly as poorly as Fort Worth, a town with few parks, zero (some claim three) public swimming pools, few streets with sidewalks, and the only fruit I know of free for the picking is maybe prickly pears.

Anyway, read the American College of Sport Medicine Fitness Summary for all its interesting insight...

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Final May Wednesday Tornado Storm In Fort Worth

When I got vertical early this morning I thought I would be spending the day in Wichita Falls, hunkered down whilst yet one more thunderstorm blew in to town.

But, around noon I found myself heading southeast on Highway 287, heading to Tarrant Parkway in North Fort Worth.

Rain was already dripping when I headed to D/FW. By the time I got to Decatur the rain had turned copious, with lightning bolts added. But not much wind.

Reaching the Fort Worth outer limits the phones began getting noisy with weather warnings of the tornado danger, take cover sort.

Exiting the 287 pseudo freeway I made a quick stop at the Tarrant Parkway Target. A couple minutes later, leaving the Target, people were standing outside the entry, alarmed by the tornado sirens which had erupted whilst we were inside Target. Rather than making a dash for their vehicles most people just stood there taking photos of the scary looking clouds with their phones.

I opted for the mad dash option.

I ran to my vehicle and continued on, got to my destination, took care of that which brought me outdoors on such an inclement day, and then headed towards the nearby WinCo.

But, before I could get to WinCo what one might refer to as ALL HELL broke loose. Power went out, killing traffic lights. I made it to the Costco parking lot, with Costco a short distance from WinCo.

It was whilst sitting in that Costco parking lot I shot the video you see YouTubed below. We had no way of knowing if a tornado was nearby, or what to do. Shopping carts were blowing by in Wizard of Oz mode, along with multiple litter projectiles.

After several minutes of extreme storming it calmed down a little. So, I made my way to WinCo, which still had power. I was able to get my regular WinCo supplies, such as their grind it yourself peanut butter.

And then it was time to head back towards Wichita Falls. For a few miles it looked like the drive home might be calm. And then, well before Decatur, rain started up, with a thick black wall of clouds ahead, shooting lightning bolts. Soon we were inside that thick black wall, stopping to gas up in Decatur. By the time we reached Bowie regular clouds appeared, soon with more blue, than gray, visible above.

Anyway, I was glad to get back to my home location. I'm getting way too old for this type activity. And below is that aforementioned video...

Monday, May 27, 2019

Flooding Memorial Day Wichita Bluff Nature Area Hiking With Linda Lou

Feeling the need for some Memorial Day aerobically induced endorphins, acquired via hiking some elevation gain, at my current rather flat location on the planet I have only three options of which I am aware available within a reasonable distance, as in less than ten miles from my home location..

Those three locations which rise above the surrounding flatness would be hiking to the summit of Mount Wichita, hiking to the top of the Wichita Falls manmade waterfall, or the option I took today, which is by far the best of the three, that being hiking the Wichita Bluff Nature Area section of the Wichita Falls Circle Trail.

As you shall soon see the Wichita River is again in over its banks mode. Thus the Circle Trail accessed from the newly opened east access to the Wichita Bluff Nature Area is currently under water. So, it was to the original west access I took myself, which would make it soon past the WBNA entry point you are looking at above.

I did not check it out so as to be certain, but I am assuming Lucy Park is also once again under water, and thus the Circle Trail access to the manmade Wichita Falls is currently not accessible.

Today on this Memorial Day hiking occasion I saw more people than I have ever previously seen enjoying this location, which is one of the most scenic one can find at this location on the planet.

Above you are at the highest point in the Wichita Bluff Nature Area, looking down at the flooding Wichita River, looking way bigger and closer than it usually looks.

And below we have gone as far as we can, without going into swimming mode, which would not be a practical thing to do at this location.

If you look closely you can see the rapidly flowing Wichita River on the other side of the line of green trees.

I do not plan on doing any BBQing on this Memorial Day. It is too HOT and humid.

Yesterday I heard from my favorite Skagit Valley nurse, Linda Lou, that she will be on assignment in Seattle most of June, staying at a location in Seattle's Mount Baker neighborhood.

Since I knew this area overlooked Lake Washington, and that the I-90 tunnel goes under Mount Baker on its way to floating across the lake, I asked Linda Lou if she would be having a good view of that bridge for photo documenting purposes, so as to show people who can not even manage to build a simple little bridge over dry land that in modern America they somehow manage to float big bridges over actual water.

Linda Lou confirmed she will have a good view of the bridge, and yes was the answer to my question asking if the Seattle Link light rail ran through the Mount Baker neighborhood. Linda Lou confirmed that that was the case and that a station was within close walking distance.

So Linda Lou will be using modern public transit to move herself all over the Seattle zone. What a concept.

Maybe Linda Lou will take some closeup photos of the new Seattle Waterfront when she is out and about.

I am also curious to see via a photo of the I-90 floating bridge if the Link light rail installation is underway. That link of the Link, when completed, will make a loop through Bellevue, and then over the other floating bridge at the north end of Lake Washington. With a link, I think, off that loop, going to Redmond and the Microsoft complex. I know the downtown Bellevue section of that link is via a tunnel, of which the boring has been underway for quite some time. But, I have read no news about it for quite some time.

Meanwhile, in Fort Worth, when will Molly the Trolley be able to roll over any of those pitiful little bridges which have been under slow motion construction for years? Will Molly the Trolley roll by what remains of Radio Shack's corporate headquarters? What a boom town...

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Tale Of Two Town's Population Boom: One Horizontal One Vertical

This past week's news gave me an opportunity I have not enjoyed previously. That being the two big cities with which I am most familiar, Fort Worth and Seattle, sharing a piece of news.

Thus, for the first time ever I can directly compare how the same news is reported in Fort Worth compared to Seattle, as evidenced by the two town's dominant newspapers, those being the Fort Worth Star-Telegram vs. the Seattle Times.

Just the article titles and the photos used to illustrate are revealing. Above we see the example from the Star-Telegram's Fort Worth’s booming growth refuses to slow down as city becomes 13th largest in U.S. article, while below we see the example from the Seattle Times Big-city growth slows across U.S. — but Seattle still ranks No. 2 in 2018 article.

The Seattle Times article about this subject is detailed, factual, comprehensive, well-written, and long. And the article has generated dozens upon dozens of intelligent comments reflecting wide ranging points of view.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram article about this subject is simplistic, reads like propaganda, and is not long. And the article has generated only a few comments, and those comments are short, simple-minded, for the most part, and with most not intelligently reflective of any point of view worth reflecting.

Let's take a look at the first four paragraphs of these two articles for illustrative purposes, and then end with a doozy of an embarrassing propaganda paragraph in the Star-Telegram article.

First the first four paragraphs from the Star-Telegram article...

The boom shows no sign of ending.

Fort Worth is now the 13th-largest city in the United States, behind Jacksonville, Florida, and ahead of Columbus, Ohio, as well as San Francisco, according to the latest Census Bureau population estimates released Thursday.

“Fort Worth’s rapid growth speaks to our incredible quality of life, business friendly climate and affordable cost of living,” said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. “Of course, substantial growth presents both great opportunities as well as new challenges to strategically manage our growth without compromising what makes Fort Worth a unique place to live, work, and play.”

Last year, Fort Worth ranked 15th but the city added 19,552 people between July 1, 2017 and July 1, 2018, to reach a population of 895,000. It was the third-largest gain behind Phoenix and San Antonio.

And now the first four paragraphs from the Seattle Times article...

Seattle’s decade of record-breaking growth may be slowing down, but it’s not done yet. There are still a lot more folks coming than going.

Census data released Thursday shows that from July 1, 2017, to July 1, 2018, the city’s population grew by more than 15,000, bringing the total to 745,000.

That pencils out to a one-year increase of 2.1%, which ranks Seattle as the second-fastest growing among the 50 most-populous U.S. cities. We were just a fraction behind No. 1, Fort Worth, Texas.

Even so, Seattle is slowing down a little. One year earlier, from 2016 to 2017, the city added 19,000 people, achieving a growth rate of 2.7%. And the year before that, Seattle grew even faster, and ranked No. 1 in the nation. In fact, last year’s 2.1% growth rate was Seattle’s slowest since 2010, when the city was still feeling the effects of the nationwide recession.

Okay, before we get to that aforementioned paragraph of embarrassing propaganda, mention needs to be made of the idiotic statement from Fort Worth's recently re-elected mayor, one of Donald Trump's best friends, and rumored former girl friend, Betsy Price.

Betsy thinks Fort Worth's population is growing due to the town's incredible quality of life and friendly business climate? Have we mentioned previously the town has way too few parks for a town of its size, that those parks, for the most part, do not have modern facilities, but do have a lot of outhouses. That most of the town's streets have no sidewalks. And there are no (some claim there are three) public pools. This town with the friendly business climate fails over and over and over again when trying to attract a corporation to re-locate, or open a facility, despite big bribes and incentives.

Fort Worth's population is growing fast because the town has long had HUGE areas of wide open spaces, due to annexing HUGE areas of open prairie, expanding the town's city limits.

When I moved to Texas it was to the hamlet of Haslet, at the north boundary of Fort Worth. Across the street, in Fort Worth, as far as one could see one saw open land, with Fort Worth's puny skyline poking up like matchsticks way in the distance. Same thing to the west and east, except for the matchsticks. Now, two decades later, all that land is filled in with thousands of houses. And a couple large shopping complexes. Little was done to upgrade roads, add new parks, install adequate drainage, resulting in a mess of a bad urban planning not worthy of a modern American city.

This unlimited open land population growth factor was mentioned by a couple Fort Worth locals in comments on this subject on the Star-Telegram's prize winning star columnist Bud Kennedy's Facebook post about this article in his newspaper.

A couple of those cogent comments...

Don Wheeler: Fort Worth: Where urban sprawl apparently has no limits.

Dan Pariseau: Bud, do you think Ft Worth has thought out this growth and developed the City correctly? Or as I feel that the city has grown in a haphazard way, with not much serious thought given to existing neighborhoods and infrastructure, like flooding problems, crumbling streets, and sewers not able to handle the loads now.

So, clearly Fort Worth is not totally populated with propaganda purveyors lacking in common sense regarding their town's population growth and its resulting sprawl.

A town like Seattle has no open land to expand to. Seattle is surrounded by large bodies of water and other towns. San Francisco and several other big American towns also do not have what Fort Worth has, as in HUGE areas of undeveloped land. Towns like Seattle and San Francisco have to build vertical when their populations increase. Poorly planned urban sprawl is not an option in modern well-developed American towns.

And now that aforementioned paragraph of embarrassingly dumb propaganda in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram article about the town's population boom...

“The jump to 13th largest city in the U.S. will boost Fort Worth’s recognition worldwide as a formidable city in its own right and help draw more visitors and business investments,” said Bill Thornton, president and CEO of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. “The Dallas-Fort Worth region, now fourth-largest metro, and the Texas brand continue to attract business and top talent to fuel our economy. When people see that Fort Worth is larger than San Francisco, it should pique some curiosity about what’s going on here.”

Oh my, where does one start on this nonsense? Okay, you living in the rest of the world, has Fort Worth's population jump caused you to recognize the town as a formidable city?

Within the last year I recollect an article somewhere in local Fort Worth media lamenting a study which had used some sort of analytical criteria to determine that while Fort Worth, at that point in time, was America's 17th biggest town, it was at #48, or #49, in being recognized. I assume people were asked what they knew about a particular town. And with Fort Worth the answer likely usually was that it was near Dallas, with nothing else about the town on the nation's, or world's, recognition radar screen..

Luckily few people outside the town know to answer that Fort Worth is that town that encourages its people to go inner tubing in the town's e.coli polluted river while listening to music playing from an imaginary island. Or that the town is the biggest in the nation with the fewest sidewalks. Or parks. Or that the town is the outhouse capital of America.

An increasing number of American's are becoming aware of the fact that Fort Worth is the host to America's Biggest Boondoggle.

Being the 13th biggest city will draw more visitors? To see what? To visit Heritage Park at the north end of Fort Worth's downtown? That park, celebrating Fort Worth's heritage, has been a boarded up eyesore for over a decade, in that town about which imaginary curiosity is piquing, wondering what is going on in this American boomtown.

Heritage Park overlooks America's Biggest Boondoggle. Does any legitimately booming American town sport something like a boarded up city park overlooking a public works disaster mucking up a huge area of their town's landscape with bridges being built in slow motion over dry land?

Is there no limit to the delusions? Fort Worth's population boom is not fueled by booming business coming to town, by corporations re-locating to Fort Worth, or by an imaginary incredible quality of life.

The population boom is fueled by people coming to the Dallas Fort Worth Metro zone needing a place to live, while Fort Worth has wide open spaces upon which to build new homes. That is the one and only actual factual explanation for Fort Worth's population increase...

Friday, May 24, 2019

Hot Walking With Sikes Lake Goslings

The last time I walked from my abode's location to Sikes Lake I think we were still shivering in the throes of winter.

Today's walk to Sikes Lake, with less than a month to go before the arrival of summer, felt like summer had already arrived.

As in HOT, HUMID heated into the 80s, but feeling way HOTTER.

Strong wind provided some relief.

Today it appeared that all the Sikes Lake's gosling flocks had united in one tribal group, yet still separated into their three family groups, within the tribe.

Above you are looking at the largest flock of goslings. Mom and dad goose apparently were very busy with the procreating.

The smallest family group in the tribe is that which you see below.

When I moved in closer to take photos of the gosling group you see in the top photo, the family in the above photo startled me by honking out of their shore side hideout to quickly float away from me being too close. They did, however politely pose for the photo.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

With Spencer Jack On Seattle's Waterfront Throwing Back Thursday To 2012

Before we return to May of 2019 let's throw ourselves back in time to March of 2012.

Which I guess would make this one of those Throwback Thursday things which seem to be so popular.

What you see here actually happened on a Friday, not a Thursday, hence the blog post title of Friday BBQ In Arizona With Spencer Jack, Super Hot Potato Chips & Refrigerator Slide Shows.

If I remember right Spencer Jack was 5 years old at this point in time. Standing behind Spencer is his Favorite Dad, my eldest nephew, Jason. Standing next to Jason is his Favorite Dad, my eldest brother Jake. And standing next to Jake is my Favorite Dad, Jack. Who was also Spencer Jack's Favorite Great-Grandpa.

Now let us return to the present, to May 23, 2019.

Yesterday I blogged about A Tale Of Two Town's Bridges in which I made mention of the Alaskan Way Viaduct disappearing from the Seattle Waterfront.

This morning in my email I found incoming from Spencer Jack's dad.

The text in the email, followed by the photo documentation attached to the email...

Just saw your blog post.  Spencer and I were in downtown Seattle yesterday.  We traveled down there after school.  Viaduct is almost completely removed.  Just a few sections remain. Ferried over to Bremerton for dinner and lodging.  Returned this morning for work and school via the Kingston-Edmonds ferry. Coleman Dock is being completely refurbished. Once the ferry departed, both Spencer and I noted how the waterfront looks much more aesthetically pleasing absent the viaduct. The purpose of the trip was to ride the ferry Hyak for one last time.  It is slated to be retired by the end of June, as the legislature ordered a new vessel.   And is asking it to be built using electric engines.

Had a wonderful trip.

Hopefully you can return soon to Modern America.

As you can see, Spencer Jack has grown a bit since that Friday BBQ back in 2012. Above it appears the boys are standing near, or on, the aforementioned Coleman Ferry Dock, waiting to board. I do not know where their motorized vehicle is. Maybe this photo was taken after the arrival in Bremerton.

Only someone used to seeing the Seattle Waterfront would notice how different it now looks with the Alaskan Way Viaduct gone.

Above we are looking at Spencer Jack looking at the Hyak floating away from Seattle. My favorite part of a ferry boat ride has always been the takeoff.

Powerful engines motor those boats. How can an electrical engine possibly do so, I can not help but wonder?

Above Spencer is still watching the ferry's wake as it motors away from downtown Seattle, speeding across Elliott Bay.

That big boat on the left side of the skyline appears to be a cruise ship. Those are quite a sight to see floating on the current day Seattle Waterfront.

I wonder if cruise ships and ferry boats will be docking anywhere on Fort Worth's Waterfront if it ever sees reality. Likely not. Canoes, kayaks and inner tubes will likely be the only floating mechanisms murking about on that dirty water if it ever gets to the float a boat stage.

The only thing I can identify with any degree of certainty is the asparagus on Spencer Jack's plate. Is that which is sharing that plate with the green spears some sort of scallop concoction? Or stuffed mushrooms?

Regarding the Washington State Ferry Fleet. Have I ever made mention of the fact that by the time Spencer Jack's dad was Spencer Jack's age he was well on the way to making scale models of the entire Washington Ferry Fleet? Including the HUGE super ferries. Jason's Washington State Ferry Fleet was lost in a fire catastrophe back in the previous century.

There sure are a lot of people opinionizing that it is time I move back to modern America. I do miss it at times...

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A Tale Of Two Town's Bridges

I saw that which you see above this morning in the Seattle Times. Photos taken from atop the Seattle Wheel. The photo on the left was taken January 13, a few hours after Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct was closed to traffic permanently. The photo on the right, of the same view, was taken May 21.

As you can see a large expanse of the double decker Alaskan Way Viaduct Bridge is now gone, with areas of Seattle out of the shadows and exposed to sunlight for the first time in over a half century.

Meanwhile in Fort Worth, during the same time frame.

Simple little bridges being built over dry land, with construction beginning way back in 2014, can't seem to make much progress. Month after month with little to show for the money and time wasted.

During that same time frame whilst Fort Worth can't seem to build three little bridges, up north a double decker four lane tunnel was built under downtown Seattle, with the bridge Viaduct it replaced now being quickly removed.

I do not understand these Fort Worth bridges. In the above photo you can see one of the infamous cement V-piers, supporting the makings of a bridge deck. Why are all those vertical pilings required to help hold up the bridge deck, one can not help but wonder?

Is that one of the design stalemates? Is the contractor not agreeing that those V-piers are of a design sufficient to support a bridge deck? Or is the concern what will happen to the structures if that forlorn ditch is ever dug under the bridges, with polluted river water diverted into the ditch, finally giving a reason for the bridges connecting the Fort Worth mainland to an industrial wasteland's imaginary island?

Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project is costing a few billion bucks. The project was fully funded prior to going into dig and build it mode. This is an actual needed project, due to the fact the Alaskan Way Viaduct was an earthquake hazard. And removing this longtime barrier opens the Seattle Waterfront, which is an actual waterfront, not an imaginary waterfront.

Fort Worth's simple little bridges are just one part of what used to be known as the Trinity River Vision, before the name morphed into Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision, or just Panther Island project, or more commonly known as America's Biggest Boondoggle.

The Seattle project has been successfully ramrodded by qualified project engineers.

The Fort Worth project has been ramrodded by the unqualified son of a local congresswoman, a low level county prosecutor with no engineering experience of any sort. He was hired to motivate his mother, Fort Worth Congresswoman, Kay Granger, to secure federal pork barrel funds.

The federal money has not materialized, the hapless project has long been floundering. Yet, J.D. Granger is still being paid over $200K a year, plus perks, and other benefits, such as a cushy job for his most recent wife.

But, this type thing is what is known as the Fort Worth Way. Which, apparently most of the Fort Worth locals are okay with, because they keep electing the perpetrators responsible for multiple ongoing messes, such as non-existent urban planning resulting in actual flooding in areas which actually need infrastructure flood prevention improvements, unlike the area being messed up by J.D. Granger and his co-horts, with claims the project entails much needed flood control where no flood has happened for well over a half century.

This Boondoggle is so bizarrely perplexing...

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Wonder Why Washington Is America's Best State Instead Of Texas

A few days ago, or maybe it was last week, I saw an article headline in the Seattle Times which I clicked.

Washington ranked nation’s best state by U.S. News & World Report

Of course I was intrigued regarding by what criteria U.S. News & World Report would rank my former home state as the Best in America, what with that particular news source having a relatively high level of credibility.

Unlike the "news" source, as in an in-house publication of a Washington, D.C. lobbying entity, which named Fort Worth as one of the Ten Most Livable Cities in America (based on a town's use of the Urban Village concept).

Following this earth shattering news, Fort Worth's city government instigated a city wide celebration, including a big event at Gateway Park. Sort of like a homely girl or guy waking up to suddenly find him or herself in the Top Ten of the Miss or Mr. America pageant, giddy with excitement, ignoring feedback from any nearby mirror.

I remember blogging about that particular Fort Worth embarrassment multiple times, but using this blog's search tool I only found three instances, with all three sort of amusing to read again.

The first instance I found was from 2008...

Oh My! Someone in the News has a Texas Connection!

And then again in 2012...

I Have Done Just About All The Holiday Shopping That I Am Going To Do

The comments to the above link are particularly amusing, particularly the second one, followed by the third.

I have long been made aware of the fact that my hobby of making fun of the American embarrassment known as Fort Worth is greatly irritating to those caught in the Fort Worth bubble, with little exposure to the rest of America.

Or even Dallas.

Along with the extremists who have not yet figured out that the town's problems are largely a result of the town operating in what is known as the Fort Worth Way.

A Way which has come to be known to savvy observers as being a backward, corrupt, insular, regressive way of running a town, allowing the town, for instance, to permit things like being the world's biggest experiment in urban fracking (yet one more Fort Worth failure) or the town embarrassing itself by having something like Rockin' the River Happy Hour Inner Tube Floats in the regularly polluted with too much e.coli Trinity River.

Searching the blog to see if I can find the earliest instance of blogging about those ridiculous floating beer parties brought up dozens of blog posts, with a particularly amusing J.D. Granger Is A Great Family Man, Faithful Husband & Brilliant Project Manager Rockin' The Trinity River Better Than The San Marcos River one, rendered ironic due to its timeliness, even though it was posted way back in 2011.

Click Rockin the River Happy Hour and you will be seeing a lot of posts about this particular Fort Worth embarrassment. I was surprised to realize this has been going on for so many years now. With no common sense end to the dirty river rockin' yet in sight.

Oh my, my train of thought does go off the rails at times. I'd forgotten this blog post is about my old home state of Washington being ranked the best in the nation.

Going to U.S. News & World Reports Best States Rankings we learn the magazine was "Measuring outcomes for citizens using more than 70 metrics."

And that since U.S. News has been doing this important reporting no state has remained at #1 in subsequent rankings, but there is a state which has managed to rank as the #50th best multiple years in a row.

No, it is not Texas in last place. Last place went to another Southern state, Louisiana.

My old Washington home state has managed to be in the Top Ten whenever U.S. News & World Report has issued one of these Best State in America rankings.

The bottom of the ranking goes mostly to America's southern states, with Alabama nipping at Louisiana's last place finish, coming in at #49. Mississippi is #48, Arkansas #45, Oklahoma #43, Kentucky #40.

With Texas proudly ranking as the #38th Best State in America.

The rest of the South ranks a bit better than Texas, with Tennessee #30, North Carolina #18, Florida #13.

And that old Southern Stronghold of Virginia managing to be in the Top Ten at #7.

Let us end this with the two paragraphs from U.S. News & World Report explaining upon what their Best Rankings were based, which might give us some clue as to what Texas might do to someday manage to be one of the Best States in America (Fixing Fort Worth might be a place to start)...

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.

Monday, May 20, 2019

North Texas Dire Severe Weather Tornado Warning

Today, on this Monday of May 20, 2019, is the first time I have seen this dire level of weather warning since I have been residing at my current Texas location of Wichita Falls.

Since being at this location I have only heard the tornado sirens in system checking mode, never in incoming tornado mode.

Twice whilst living in east Fort Worth I heard the tornado sirens in incoming tornado mode. Both times a tornado did touch down and do damage near to my location.

So, I have learned one must take these tornado warnings serious.

The location of my current domicile is a short distance from where most of the deadly damage was inflicted by the 1979 Red River Valley tornado outbreak.

Every time I bike around Sikes Lake I roll by the memorial to those lost in the tornado outbreak known locally as Terrible Tuesday. The 40th Anniversary of Terrible Tuesday was last month, on April 10.

Today three storms are forecast to blow over North Texas. The first is scheduled for around noon, the second late in the afternoon, and the third, and possibly worst, after dark.

I have already battened down my hatches, inflated my lifeboat and stocked up on vittles and non-electricity dependent lighting sources, as in candles and flashlights.

I am ready for you Mother Nature, but it won't hurt my feelings if you decide not to visit...

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Mount Saint Helens 39th Volcano Eruption Anniversary

This May 18, 2019 Saturday morning in Texas is reminding me of the Sunday morning of May 18, 1980.

Thirty-nine years ago.

This morning I am hearing loud booms, which I am 100% certain are not being caused by nearby Mount Wichita erupting.

A severe thunderstorm is currently raging loud at my Wichita Falls location.

This morning 39 years I was peacefully soaking in a hot tub when suddenly loud concussive booms began rattling the walls and windows.

I got out of the tub. A few minutes later the next door neighbor arrived to ask if we had heard.

Heard what, we asked?

The mountain has erupted was the answer.

There was no mystery as to what mountain had erupted. Mount St. Helens had been in active mode for months, with a large area around Mt. St. Helens with restricted access.

But, not restricted sufficiently. 57 people died in the eruption.

In the months prior to May 18, 1980 I had driven south to the north restricted zone to try and get a look at the suddenly active volcano. But that attempt to see was to no avail due to cloud cover.

That hot tub I was soaking in when Mount Saint Helens blew up was in Mount Vernon, about 150 north of the eruption, as a crow flies.

The eruption created a bit of a panic in the Pacific Northwest, with a rush on stores to get ash masks and, if I remember right, some sort of additional air filter thing for vehicles.

The initial eruption sent ash to the east, not north. One of the subsequent eruptions did send a small amount of ash as far north as the Skagit Valley. I do not remember ever feeling the need to use the ash mask I had ready to use.

Hard to believe that BIG BOOM was 39 years ago. Seems so recent in my memory.

Below is a Mount St. Helens video tribute to Pacific Northwest legend, Harry Truman. According to the video the song was a #1 hit. I do not remember this, but at that point in time I likely was not paying any attention to such things as what might be a #1 hit.

But listening to the Harry Truman Your Spirit Lake Lives On song it seems real clear that this was the first of the genre which was to become known as Seattle Grunge a decade later...

Friday, May 17, 2019

Does Fort Worth Need Trash Pandas Or Sod Poodles Playing Baseball?

It does grow old, even for me, making mock of something I read in Fort Worth's pitiful little newspaper, the Star-Telegram.

This time the subject was Fort Worth's storied baseball ballpark, LaGrave Field, and Fort Worth's equally storied baseball team, the Fort Worth Cats.

Need I mention I am being sarcastic with the use of that "storied" word, which I saw used at least once when reading today's  What will it take to make the Fort Worth Cats a home run? Not baseball article?

Let's read through this article together, copying out some choice bits for your reading amusement...

Baseball won’t save the Fort Worth Cats or LaGrave Field. Experts in minor league sports branding say a team can stack the roster with former Major League Baseball names or young talent looking to make their mark with home runs, but that likely won’t sell tickets. Instead, a resurrected Cats team should focus on entertainment and definitely not be something they’re not: The Rangers.


So, apparently there are minor league sports branding experts. And those experts do not think baseball will save Fort Worth's baseball ballpark. So, if the Fort Worth Cats are brought back to life they need to focus on being entertaining, and not focus on something like baseball, which the Texas Rangers are already focusing on, a few miles to the east, in Arlington, in the same county as Fort Worth, with the Rangers playing in a beautiful ballpark, soon to be replaced by an even better ballpark.

You are probably wondering what is this entertainment these minor league sports branding experts are recommending. Well, one of those experts used another town's ballpark entertainment as an example for Fort Worth...

The focus isn’t baseball. It’s family fun, he said. People pay for the sideline antics. Among the circus-like performances: A character called “Coach,” the epitome of the high school P.E. teacher cliché, clad in short shorts and constantly doing calisthenics. Rather than a ketchup, mustard and relish race, fans have donned ears, nose and throat costumes to race around the park. The gags are kid-friendly with jokes that parents enjoy too, he said. “The biggest complaint in baseball these days is how long it lasts,” he said. “You’re not going to complain about a three hour movie if you’re entertained. That’s what we do in the ballpark.”

Oh yes, I see the value in consulting these minor league sports branding experts. What fun that will be, being entertained at the revived LaGrave Field whilst being bored by baseball. I would love to spend three hours watching a "Coach" character goofing around in short shorts whilst doing push ups. What a fun time that will be in Fort Worth, with fans donning ears, nose and throat costumes to race around the park. People will be coming from all over the world to see this.

And then there is this...

Scott Berry, a former Cats executive, hopes his Save LaGrave Foundation can pump new life into the decaying LaGrave Field with the Cats as the cornerstone. This week the foundation reached a 10-year agreement with Tarrant Regional Water District that secures the field for baseball and not redevelopment for the time being.

My eldest cousin is Scott Barry. He used to report regarding baseball for the Seattle Times. But, I think this Scott in the Star-Telegram article is not my cousin, due to the last name being spelled slightly different.

Anyway, isn't it interesting how an article in the Star-Telegram just casually mentions that to play baseball in LaGrave Field one needs to reach an agreement with the TRWD.

But, the Star-Telegram does not tell its readers in this article that the TRWD did not control that piece of land back in the previous era of LaGrave Field being in operation mode. The land was then owned by a friend of TRWD Board Member, Jim Lane, named Carl Bell.

Carl Bell filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

Jim Lane then finagled financial shenanigans which resulted in the TRWD buying Bell's land for millions of dollars. I think the sum was $22 million, if I remember right. And this then somehow resulted in the nearby opening of the world's first drive-in movie theater of the 21st century, the Coyote Drive-in.  How this drive-in escaped the fate of getting the infamous Panther Island label is not known.

Why it is considered okay for an agency responsible for flood control and providing water owns a baseball ballpark is a mystery. Perhaps this is yet one more example of what is known locally as The Fort Worth Way. Which has come to mean, to many, a corrupt crony controlled way of operating a town.

Back to the article...

Brandiose recommends clubs, even those with a history, start with a naming competition. It sounds quaint, but getting the community involved at the onset is crucial, he said. And he recommends clubs abandon traditional names like Lions, Eagles or anything vaguely associated with the Majors. This process birthed teams like the Rocket City Trash Pandas, a Double A minor team in Alabama or Amarillo’s Sod Poodles. These names are something that can’t be ignored, appeal to kids and foster a storyline, Klein said.

Oh yes, I can see why this is why this ballpark has failed repeatedly. It's all about the name. Cats. What a terrible name. Who would want to watch Cats play baseball? Yes, Trash Pandas or Sod Poodles. Now that would be get me in a ballpark, no matter how boring the baseball playing might be.

Well,  read the entire What will it take to make the Fort Worth Cats a home run? Not baseball article to get the full dose of this latest Star-Telegram goofiness, while we end this by starting that community baseball team naming competition.

How about the Fort Worth Goofballs? Or the Fort Worth Crony Crackpots? Or the Fort Worth Outhouse Keepers? Geez, the best name just came to me, instantly obviously the perfect name...

The Fort Worth Boondogglers...

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Seattle's Highway 99 Tunnel Takes Us To Fort Worth's Bridge Boondoggle

I saw that which you see here in this morning's Seattle Times online, an article titled Traffic in new Highway 99 tunnel nearly matches last year’s viaduct use.

Several Texas things came to mind when I read this article. And when I saw the dozens upon dozens of comments the article generated, with that large number of intelligent comments being the norm I note when reading a Seattle Times article.

Meanwhile in Texas.

An article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, about any controversial or interesting local subject, is lucky if a single comment is generated. Is this sparseness of commentary indicative of that sad newspaper's low number of readers? Or what?

Today's Seattle Times article about the new Highway 99 tunnel was the first I have seen since the tunnel opened. I had wondered if I had missed noticing such articles. Possibly there was nothing much newsworthy about the new tunnel, other than the fact it was now open.

The new Highway 99 tunnel can trace its beginning back to 2001 and the Nisqually Earthquake which did a lot of damage in the Puget Sound zone, including damaging the Alaskan Way Viaduct, which the 99 Tunnel has now replaced.

Meanwhile in Texas.

Around the same time an earthquake set in motion some big projects in Seattle, in Fort Worth, on one quiet Sunday morning, the Star-Telegram breathlessly announced that something then called Trinity Uptown was going to turn Fort Worth into the Vancouver of the South.

You reading this in modern America, or Canada, I am not making this up.

Trinity Uptown eventually turned into the Trinity River Vision, touted as being a flood control and economic development project.

Where there has been no flooding for well over a half century.

As the years of the 21st century rolled on the Trinity River Vision went through some additional name iterations, in total the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision.

Which by 2019 has become more commonly known as America's Biggest Boondoggle.

Or simple The Boondoggle.

So, what does any of this have to do with that article in the Seattle Times about the new Highway 99 Tunnel?


After that 2001 earthquake years of public debate followed regarding how best to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. By 2014 a solution was agreed to, with funding in place, and an almost $4 billion project got underway.

By getting underway I am referring to the boring of the Highway 99 Tunnel beginning with the world's biggest, at the time, tunnel boring machine, nicknamed Bertha, boring under downtown Seattle.

Around that same time, in Fort Worth, Texas, a big TNT exploding ceremony was held to mark the start of construction of three simple little freeway overpass looking bridges, being built over dry land to connect the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island.

We blogged about this ridiculous Fort Worth explosion in A Big Boom Begins Boondoggle Bridge Construction Three Months Late.

Soon after that big boom Fort Worth's bridge construction ground to a halt, for over a year. With no explanation, and no legitimate local newspaper of record demanding an explanation.

Meanwhile, during that same time frame, after boring for well less than a mile, Bertha hit a chunk of steel, grinding her to a halt. That tunnel boring halt lasted around a year. The problem was dealt with in an open and transparent way, fully covered by Seattle, and Washington media. And the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) aimed a camera at the Bertha excavation site so people could check in on the progress, 24/7.

To this day no Fort Worth media has provided any specific details regarding the supposed design problems which are now blamed as the reason for the slow motion construction, and ever shifting project timeline, of Fort Worth's pitiful little bridges, now with an astonishing project completion some time in the next decade.

Meanwhile, up in the northwest, modern, part of America, somehow another American town managed to finish a tunnel deep under its downtown. Four lanes of traffic now move through that tunnel. The photo at the top shows traffic entering the tunnel's southbound lanes.

Daily thousands of vehicles are zipping under downtown Seattle in that new completed tunnel. A difficult engineering project, engineering by competent project engineers. Completed in less than four years.

Meanwhile, in Fort Worth, three simple little bridges, which had, way back in 2014, an absurdly long four year project timeline, to build three simple little bridges, are now expected to possibly, maybe, hopefully be ready for traffic sometime during the next decade.

And you can not learn via any Fort Worth media publication, of any sort, what the problem actually is with building those three little bridges over dry land, connecting to an imaginary island, and maybe someday in the distant future having a ditch dug under the bridges, so water can be diverted into the ditch, thus creating that aforementioned imaginary island.

May 4's extremely low voter turnout, and that election's absurd results, have caused many to be of the opinion Fort Worth deserves what it gets; all the embarrassing boondoggles, all the failed projects, all the inept nonsense not worthy of an American town of over 800,000 population.

If only the people of Fort Worth would wise up, and rise up, and boot the Fort Worth Way to being an historical footnote, instead of the town's sad modern day reality...

Monday, May 13, 2019

Again Finding Serious Holliday Spelling Error On Lake Wichita Dam

A few days ago the local Wichita Falls news was reporting an historical marker dedication about an installation historically marking Lake Wichita.

I saw that news, and photo documentation of the "ceremony", and wondered if this was a new Lake Wichita Historical Marker, or was it the one I had made note of being added atop Lake Wichita dam months ago.

I thought maybe this dedication was to a new and improved Lake Wichita Historical Marker, because the one I saw previously had a serious spelling error.

And it seemed to me a serious spelling error is not something one wants to have on an historical marker.

I blogged about that previous instance of seeing that spelling error last December in a blogging titled Saturday Pre-Christmas Lake Wichita Spell Checking Coffin Inspection.

So, today I rolled my bike wheels to Lake Wichita to see if there was a new Lake Wichita Historical Marker, or if the one in the recent news was the one I had seen before,

With the serious spelling error.

Well, above is the photo I took a few minutes ago of the Lake Wichita Historical Marker, and it is the same one I first saw way back last year.

And it still has the same serious spelling error.

The creek which flows into and out of Lake Wichita is named Holliday Creek.

Holliday with two "l's".

As I noted in the previous blogging about this serious spelling subject, "The creek was named after early explorer, Captain John Holliday, who carved his name on a tree by the creek. The town of Holliday, Texas, was named after the creek, as was Holliday Street, a major street in Wichita Falls".

Does whiteout work on something like this Lake Wichita Historical Marker? Can someone maybe see if that would work to blot out that wrongful "l" and thus render this historical marker historically accurate?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Happy Mother's Day To All Our Mothers

That would be my mom rolling along in a park in Chandler, Arizona, having herself a mighty fine March Mother's Day of extreme pampering from all but one of her kids, and all but two of her grandkids, and with only one of her granddogs enjoying a comfortable grandma lap position.

That would be one of mom's kids, my little sister Jackie, doing the motion providing service behind mom.

I think it is about time for mom's wheels to get their 30,000 mile tuneup. I probably should go to Arizona and take care of that.

Speaking of sister Jackie. She is the mother of  my nephews Christopher (known as CJ) and Jeremy (known as JR). I have not been told what special plans CJ and JR have for their mom today.

The mother of my nephews Jason and Joey is my ex-sister-in-law, Cindy, which also makes Cindy the grandma of Spencer Jack, whose mother is Jenny, and Henry, whose mother is Monique.

And rounding up my familial mother collection we have Michele and Kristin, the maternal paternal units of David, Theo and Ruby. We have a few more years to go before the possibility of Michele and Kristin becoming grandmas, and me having some new great nephews or nieces.

Happy Mother's Day to Happy Mothers everywhere...

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Linda Lou Leads Us Back To Lake Powell Houseboating

The past couple days Linda Lou has brought us back to the previous century, as in the 20th century, after being the catalyst which brought about the finding of photos long forgotten, on a computer long not on.

Due to this, Linda Lou has reminded us of blueberry picking in the wild followed by remembering some delicate islands in the sky.

Oh, and many of these long lost photos turned out to be a primitive form of what the 21st century calls "selfies".

But, in the 20th century a phone did not take "selfies". It was my now long gone antique Casio digital camera which took these oldie "selfies".

In the photo above the year was 1998, The location was Lake Powell, in Utah. The transportation vehicle was the houseboat you see floating in a location we named Bobcat Cove.

You would need to go to my webpaged Lake Powell Houseboat tale to learn why Bobcat Cove was so named.

I do not remember why I am looking so consternated whilst looking at the camera which was aimed at me and the houseboat. But, that is not unusual for cameras to consternate me, even when I am the one taking a photo.

The consternated Lake Powell selfie was taken the second time I was stuck on a Lake Powell houseboat. The first time I was so stuck, in 1994, was when the bobcat/cougar/panther incident occurred. And so the webpaged multi-page Lake Powell tale is of the 1994 version of houseboating.

On that 1994 excursion on Lake Powell we made it all the way to Rainbow Bridge. No digital camera existed on that trip. But many old-fashioned photos were taken, and later scanned digitally. I think the originals are in a box in my closet which I have not seen in years.

Over 20 years after that first Lake Powell houseboat float I found myself telling the tale again, in blogging form, on another of my many blogs, with that blogging titled Houseboating on Utah's Lake Powell.

I think today is likely the last of these selfie trails down memory lane. Unless I find another one...

Friday, May 10, 2019

Linda Lou Takes Me Back To Delicate Arch With Sky Islands

Yesterday whilst blogging about Linda Lou Leading Me Back To Skagit Valley Black and Blue Berry Picking I made mention of the fact that Linda Lou had caused me to re-locate photos I had not realized I'd sort of lost, and that many of those photos had been taken with my long gone antique Casio digital camera.

Finding those sort of lost photos had me looking at scenes I had not seen in a long time.

Such as that which you see here.

My long gone Casio camera was way ahead of its time. The camera had the ability to rotate the lens which allowed for the easy taking of what we now call "selfies".

I was a frequent selfie photo taker during that era, something I have mostly balked at when doing such became so ubiquitous, and sort of annoying.

In the selfie above I believe the year was 1998. The location was Arches National Park in Utah.

If I remember right the work of Mother Nature behind me in the selfie was known as Wanda. The other work of Mother Nature behind me is known as Delicate Arch.

Delicate Arch is one of the iconic symbols of Utah. One sees it on Utah license plates.

The hike to Delicate Arch has some elevation gain, but not enough to be what one might think of as strenuous, but definitely more strenuous than most of the hikes in Arches NP, with the only other actual semi-strenuous Arches NP hike being the Fiery Furnace Hike.

The Fiery Furnace hike is a bit treacherous, and thus requires signing up for it at the Ranger Station, paying a fee, and having a Park Ranger lead the way through the confusing maze of trails.

I have twice hiked the Fiery Furnace hike, and enjoyed it both times.

I would like to see a return to Moab, and Arches National Park, and Canyonlands National Park, which is nearby.

I think I saw Canyonlands NP selfies whilst strolling through the collection. I will go see if I can find one of those...

In this selfie I am looking at you from Islands in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park. I remember it being windy that day, and cold. The month was October, if I am remembering correctly.

Well, that should end today's selfie trail down memory lane...

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Linda Lou Leads Me Back To Skagit Valley Black and Blue Berry Picking

A day or two ago I blogged about Linda Lou's Skagit Valley Land Of Plenty Enticements Working, in which I made mention of the recent spate of enticements attempting to lure me out of the paradise known as Texas.

Linda Lou's recent enticements included a cookbook which used the variety of fresh ingredients one can easily find to harvest in the Skagit Valley.

Including blueberries.

The mention of blueberries got me remembering some blueberry picking I did shortly before moving to Texas.

Wild blueberries.

Picked at an extremely scenic location known as Schrieber's Meadow, which is the location of a trailhead to an extremely popular hike to the south side of the Mount Baker volcano.

Since living in the Skagit Valley was my reality for decades, I never really appreciated, til moving to Texas, how unique it was to be living in a location where driving a few miles to the east I could be up in the mountains picking wild blueberries, or drive a few miles to the west and I could be catching dungeness crab or digging clams.

The photo above was taken with my now long gone first digital camera. That Casio camera cost way more than any camera I have bought since. And took the worst photos. Though, ironically, it also took some of my all time favorite photos. Such as the one you see above of that sprite on my left shoulder picking blueberries in Schrieber's Meadow..

That Casio camera also took the above photo on the occasion of that same blueberry picking expedition. That would be the aforementioned Mount Baker volcano you see looming above the trees. If I remember right it was with Spencer Jack's Uncle Joey I last hiked from Schrieber's Meadow to the glacier moraine known as the Railroad Grade, to part way up Mount Baker.

Just a second, I shall see if I can find the webpage I made of that hike with Joey. Yes, found it, called it Joey in Danger on Mount Baker. Apparently part of my popular Nephews in Danger series from late in the last century.

Yesterday, when I remembered the picking of blueberries at Schrieber's Meadow, I looked for the photos on this computer. I thought I had transferred all my photos to this new computer. I thought wrong.

So, I fired up the old computer and found the folder with thousands of photos I had not realized I had not transferred, including the one above.

That would be me resting on a rock slab at what is known as the location of the Hidden Lakes Loukout. That being an old fire lookout, now maintained by a Skagit Valley mountaineering group as a sort of cabin refuge to be used whilst doing some extreme hiking.

The Hidden Lakes trail and the lookout are located on the western edge of North Cascades National Park, located in the eastern edge of Skagit County.

See what I mean about not appreciating living so close to such scenic wonders all my life, til moving to a part of America which is a bit less scenic?

Another thing regarding Linda Lou reminding me of the plethora of fruity abundance available in the Skagit Valley.


Yesterday at ALDI I was appalled to see blackberries being touted as one of this week's bargains. $1.99 for a little container of what looked like maybe 20 blackberries. I saw one person put two of the blackberry containers in her cart.

Blackberries grow wild all over Western Washington. Easily found, easily picked. For free. I can't imagine what store bought blackberries would be like, edibility wise. Probably about as close to tasting like an actual blackberry as those awful cardboard texture Driscoll strawberries from California taste compared to a fresh picked Skagit Valley strawberry.

The last time I went blackberry picking was in August of 2017, with David, Theo and Ruby. I blogged about this in Swan Creek Blackberry Mountain Biking With David, Theo & Ruby.

Those were some mighty fine tasting blackberries. At the time there was some talk of turning those blackberries into some sort of cobbler. But, that cobbler never materialized during my visit. We were extremely busy.

Blackberries grow near my current Texas location. I have not seen any growing. But I know blackberries grow here because last June I went to Blackberry Day at the Wichita Falls Farmers Market where I had myself some mighty fine blackberry cobbler. I blogged about this in Wichita Falls Farmers Market Blackberry Day Cobbler Bliss.

I saw yesterday, via the animated billboard by ALDI, that this coming June 1 is once again Blackberry Day at the Wichta Falls Farmers Market. I suspect I shall be there, that day, having myself some tasty blackberry cobbler, likely not followed by any scenic mountain hiking...

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Linda Lou's Skagit Valley Land Of Plenty Enticements Are Working

Returning from this morning's bike ride I opened my mailbox to find incoming from Washington, from Linda Lou in the Skagit Valley of Washington, to be more specific.

The package contained a book and a card.

The note in the card said...

Read your blog thoughts pondering possibly relocating from your current third world location. Well...just to entice you a bit am sending this Skagit Valley Fare cookbook of recipes from the Skagit Valley. With the Valley's plethora of produce you could be creating good cooking to your heart's content---Linda Lou

I have been getting multiple moving enticements of late. Above you see the cookbook from Linda Lou, sitting on top of the card which contained the above note, sitting on top of a Washington calendar someone else sent me to make me homesick.

The enticements are working.

Below is the forlorn view I saw this morning whilst stopping for a water break on the eastern edge of Sikes Lake.

We are looking west, above, at the incoming storm clouds predicted to eventually produce thunderstorms and possibly tornadoes later today.

The Skagit Valley Fare cookbook Linda Lou sent me has more than recipes among its pages. There are a couple pages of Skagit History Notes. Plus a couple pages of INTRODUCTION to the LAND OF PLENTY.

I read the INTRODUCTION to the LAND OF PLENTY verbiage and it struck me how little of what was being described about the Skagit Valley could describe anything in my current Texas location. Or even more so, my previous Texas location.

What with talking about an actual river, and real islands, and natural water features where one can catch seafood without being warned not to eat it. What a contrast with my former Fort Worth location with its imaginary island connected to the imaginary mainland by imaginary bridges which apparently no one is competent enough to build, over dry land. And with the town's "water feature" being based on what really is nothing more than a seriously polluted dirty ditch.

Anyway, I've copied a few paragraphs from the INTRODUCTION to the LAND OF PLENTY which will give you a good idea of what made me think what I was thinking about the contrast between these two locations with which I am familiar, and what it is about the Skagit Valley which is so enticing to return to...

The Skagit Valley of Northwestern Washington state spills like a great cornucopia from the foothills of the Cascade Mountain Range westward to the waters of Puget Sound. Meandering through these lowlands, the Skagit River and her tributaries continually enrich the Valley's sandy alluvial soil. In the distance snow-capped Mount Baker stands sentinel above this fertile farmland - some of the richest in the world.

Also known as the Skagit Flats, this area grows a wide variety and volume of crops for national and international markets, producing much of the world's green pea and vegetable seed crops, as well as significant numbers of daffodil and tulip bulbs. Many of those flowering bulbs are exported to Holland where they are then imported back into the United States.

Each April, the valley brightens further as the vast tulip fields blossom, drawing thousands of visitors to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival to wander among and photograph the brilliant blooms. The giant palette glows with shades of light pink to the deepest purple, and waxy whites contrasting with Christmas reds. Occasionally a field of mixed tulips appears like some outrageous expanse of confetti fallen from the sky.

The Skagit Valley ends at the shores of Puget Sound, but Skagit County extends to several islands of the San Juan Archipelago: Fidalgo and Samish Islands connected to the Flats by bridge; Guemes served by a ferry; and Cyprus by boat or air. These shores and islands inspire poets and painters with their shifting moods and colors, and their waters provide seafood for the gourmet cook. Though not as plentiful as in the recent past, salmon and crab, mussels, oysters, clams and scallops, as well as various kinds of cod fish, are still available on the fresh market.

It is no wonder the Native Americans who lived here were peaceful and contented with their way of life. They enjoyed a mild marine climate, quiet coves and beaches, expanses of forest where mushrooms and other edible plants could be gathered, plentiful wild game, and seafood more abundant than we can ever imagine today.

UPDATE: After hitting the publish button on this blogging I looked at the cover of the Skagit Valley Fare cookbook and realized I should show the entire book cover, what with its illustration of the Skagit Valley, and tulips...