Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Spencer Jack & Jason Drive Us Under Downtown Seattle


Right around the time of the most recent version of Christmas FNJ (Favorite Nephew Jason) and FGNSJ (Favorite Great Nephew Spencer Jack) emailed me some photos.

Okay, now that I am typing that, those most recent are not the ones I am thinking about. It was photos a few weeks previous, those being photos of Spencer Jack and his dad in Seattle.

In response to those Seattle photos I told Jason that I would greatly enjoy video of a drive through the new Highway 99 tunnel under downtown Seattle.

That tunnel began construction in 2014. The tunnel opened for traffic on February 5, 2019, a year later than originally planned due to the Bertha tunnel boring machine getting stuck when it hit an unexpected chunk of steel.

That photo above documents the tunnel opening event which allowed people to walk through the new tunnel before it opened to traffic.

The same year the Highway 99 tunnel began getting bored in 2014 another town in America, Fort Worth, had a TNT exploding ceremony to mark the start of construction of three simple little bridges being built over dry land to connect the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island. Those three little bridges had an astonishingly long four year project time line. Four years to build three relatively simple bridges over dry land. And now, six years later, none of those three bridges is open to traffic.

The Fort Worth Trinity River Vision Boondoggle has become a mess of an eyesore, with no end in sight. And no one held accountable. One element of what is known as The Fort Worth Way.

And now back to Jason and Spencer Jack and the Seattle tunnel.

Email from Jason and Spencer Jack this morning...

I told Spencer Jack of your request for tunnel video.  He informed me that we have one.  This morning he passed that along from one of his devices to one of my devices, so I could send it to my e-mail and eventually send it to you!

It was Tuesday, February 5, 2019, the 2nd day of the tunnel being open.  Spencer's school was canceled that day due to snow on the ground.   The snow was obviously manageable for us seasoned PNW residents, as I don't remember it being much of an issue.   After exiting the tunnel we made our trek a few miles south to the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field.    If my memory serves me correctly, we then ended up at Dick's for lunch.

For those who have never been to Seattle, Dick's is an extremely popular burger joint with multiple restaurants in the Seattle zone. If you are ever in the area try a Dick's Deluxe. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

And now the Spencer Jack and Jason video trip though the new tunnel the day after it opened to traffic.

They were heading southbound, where the tunnel starts to go underground by the Seattle Center. That is where the Space Needle is located. The tunnel exits near the Seattle Seahawk's stadium and the Seattle Mariner's ballpark. As Jason and Spencer exit the tunnel the videographer takes a quick glance to the left at what looks to be where the Seahawks play football.

Monday, December 28, 2020

From Wichita Bluffs To Deception Pass

Was back in the Wichita Bluff zone today, parking at the east end parking lot access to the Wichita Bluff Nature Area. Heading west on the Circle Trail I did not make it as far as the arch which marks the east entry into the Nature Area.

Today is cold and cloudy, as you can see via the above photo documentation. Well, to be more accurate, you can see the clouds, but you have to take my word about it being cold.

Above, I thought that to be an interesting looking tree hovering over the Circle Trail. See those blotches amongst the barren branches of the tree? Years ago I was in Arlington's Veterans Park when I came upon people climbing up trees and removing these type blotches.

What are you doing that for, asked I? 

It is mistletoe was the answer. They harvested it for sale.

I do not recollect knowing of mistletoe growing in the trees of the Pacific Northwest in my old home zone.

Changing the subject from mistletoe to something else.

A couple days ago Spencer Jack and his dad sent me three photos documenting what they'd been doing the day or two before Christmas. One of the photos showed a snow covered Front Street of Lynden. That is a Dutch town near the Canadian border, and is from whence all my relatives came. Well, originally from Holland, and then Lynden.

Spencer Jack also took his dad out to Whidbey Island, to Fort Casey and Deception Pass State Park. Deception Pass State Park is what you see Spencer Jack standing on below. With a setting sun looking like an exploding nuclear bomb.

I can tell Spencer is on the Rosario side of Deception Pass, which is the body of water behind Spencer. We can not see it in the photo, but to Spencer's right is a bridge across the pass, built in the early 1930s in less than a year.

An actual feat of actual difficult engineering, built, like I already said, in less than a year. Built over deep water which becomes extremely fast moving and violent when there are big tide differentials.

Imagine that, built in less than a year. An actual iconic signature bridge.

Meanwhile, I don't remember if I have mentioned it before, but the Texas town I previously lived in, Fort Worth, has been trying to build three simple little freeway overpass looking bridges, over dry land, ever since 2014, in the hope of one day connecting the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island. 

The con men and con women who foisted the imaginary island and its bridges upon the Fort Worth locals have tried to con those easily conned locals into thinking these simple little bridges are going to be iconic signature bridges. 

Signature bridges due to the V shaped piers on which the bridge decks rest. Ordinary looking V shaped piers not even remotely unique, but which are one of the reasons the simple little bridges built over dry land have taken so long to build.

I almost forgot to mention. One day if those Fort Worth bridges ever finish being built a cement lined ditch may be dug under them, with water from the Trinity River diverted into that ditch, creating an imaginary island, which would not be even remotely like that island you see behind Spencer Jack.

I just realized Spencer Jack is on an island, Fidalgo Island, with Whidbey Island across Deception Pass behind him.

I started this blog post with hiking the Circle Trail near the Wichita Bluff Nature Area. Thinking about Deception Pass and the miles upon miles of trails, on both sides of the Pass, and thinking about how frequently I would drive the short distance from my home location to hike those trails, including hiking to the top of Goose Rock, a rock which would be considered a tall mountain if it were located any where near my current location...

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Shadow Of The Bluffs Thin Man On Final 2020 Sunday

With the temperature nearing 70 on this last Sunday of the miserable year of 2020 I dressed like it was summer and rolled my motorized vehicle's wheels to the Wichita Bluff Nature Area to do some nature communing and fast hill hiking.

I really need to get serious about that getting in shape thing and losing my COVID poundage if I am going to make it under 200 by the start of 2021.

I did have a good thing happen today which brightened up my spirits a bit. On Christmas I texted a Merry Christmas to someone I'd not heard from for awhile, who I suspected was deep in dire misery due to the COVID nightmare. That text message got a reply saying something like "I think this message was intended for someone else".

And then this morning there was a Facebook comment from the party to whom I thought I had texted. I then clicked on Facebook messenger to send a message about the text message intended for someone else. In Facebook messenger I saw that the party in question had included her phone number in the most recent message, which was about two years old.

I then looked at the number I had in my phone and saw I was off by one digit, having an 8 where a 6 was needed.

I then texted the correct number and a series of messages which followed had me feeling way less isolated than I have been feeling of late. Which was a pleasant feeling to be having on this final Sunday of this miserable year...

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Post Christmas Windy Waddle On Lake Wichita Dam

Though suffering a bad case of Christmas COVID bloat I worked up sufficient energy this Saturday after Christmas to haul my carcass to Lake Wichita to do some dam waddling.

In the above photo documentation we are standing at the base of Lake Wichita Dam. You see a trail worn into the dam dirt with a biker at the top, on the Circle Trail, which trails on top of the dam.

A strong wind blew whilst doing my dam walking. Waves with whitecaps were rolling across the lake. I saw no one surfing, but did see several people fishing.

Prior to walking the dam I walked the Walmart. I was appalled at the number of idiots I saw defying the sign telling shoppers that a mask is required. These sorts all seem to have the same vacant stupid affect to their faces, like such as what one sees at a Trump rally.

ALDI is totally strict with the mask mandate. Wear one or leave the store. Earlier in the week I was in ALDI chatting with my favorite ALDI employee. She told me earlier in the day a woman created a screaming disturbance when told she had to wear a mask or leave. Another customer came to the ALDI employee's defense and so the maskless moron turned her wrath on that customer.

How can people be this ignorant? It's appalling...

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas & To All A Good Day

Temps in the 60s today at my location, so no chance of a White Christmas.

But a good chance of having a Blue Christmas, maybe in more ways than one, but for certain this will be a clear, blue sky day...

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Santa Is The Only Visitor I Am Seeing This Year

Cute Christmas card arrived yesterday from the Joneses of Tacoma.

Jones is the American spelling of the Dutch name Slotemaker.

Odd how those ten Dutch letters can get reduced down, by half, to Jones... 

Monday, December 21, 2020

Texas Evangelical Republicans Rallying To Keep The Divine Trump Plan

 I have seen that which you see above the past couple days on the front page of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's online version.

I am assuming the rally, photo documented above, took place in Fort Worth. Fort Worth may have a higher percentage of poorly educated right wing nut jobs than many other locations in Texas, and America.

But, sadly, these type delusional sorts exist all over America, like an un-checked virus, with no current vaccine, or search for a vaccine.

Clearly the American education system is not turning out enough well educated sorts who are able to process facts, reality and simple scientific truth.

I see pitiful examples of the inability to process facts, reality and simple scientific truth, every time I find myself in Walmart where I see arrogant, bloated, piggish morons strutting about like they think they are proving how free they are by refusing to wear a mask, ignoring the big signs at the entry to the store mandating a mask be worn, to protect employees and customers.

I wonder who those Walmart non-mask wearers voted for for president last election?

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Incoming Christmas Banana Nut Fruitcake Memories From Sedro Woolley's Miss Beth

This year I am finding more packages under my virtual Christmas tree than I can remember seeing in a long long time. I do not know what is causing this phenomenon.

One of the recent arrivals you see above. Sent from Sedro-Woolley, Washington by Miss Beth C M.

I have known Miss Beth for over a half a century. We were born in the same hospital in Eugene, Oregon.

About four years after I was born, my parental units moved me north, to Washington, to a town known as Mount Vernon, across the street from what was soon to be the campus of a new school, Skagit Valley College.

Miss Beth's parental units also moved from Eugene. But they headed east, to Ames, Iowa, if I am remembering correctly, and sometimes I do.

Several years passed. My parental units moved us from Mount Vernon to the nearby town of Burlington.

When I was in 6th or 7th grade, one Sunday, myself and my siblings came home from Sunday School, all excited to report to mom and dad that a new family had arrived in town, and that they had a lot of kids, just like us, and all our ages almost matched.

Miss Beth was the oldest of her siblings, with me being the oldest of mine.

Miss Beth's parental units had moved to Washington so her dad could be a professor at that new college I watched getting built when I was a real little kid. Miss Beth's mom was a nurse, nursing at United General Hospital, located between Burlington and Sedro Woolley.

When I was a junior in high school, on a special day in April, a crowd gathered around me at the phone outside the principal's office. I was calling the hospital to see if mom had delivered a new sibling yet. It was Miss Beth's mom who delivered me the news that I had a new baby sister. I turned to the gathered crowd and said "It's a girl". There was a collective groan. I guess most want the baby to be a boy. Miss Beth's mom told my mom that it sounded like I was calling from some sort of assembly and there was cheering when I shared the news.

Later that same day Linda Lou rode with me to United General to meet my new baby sister, Michele, for the first time. It was a happy day.

On August 13, 2017, Linda Lou and Betty Jo Bouvier ventured north to Birch Bay to see me, along with Michele, and to meet David, Theo and Ruby and mama Kristen. It had been many years since either Linda Lou or Betty Jo had seen Michele. I don't think Michele remembered either of them.

Growing up during the holiday season there were always a plethora of baked goods. Mom and dad would cooperate in making some of the goodies, usually things which required a thermometer, like peanut brittle or divinity. Many of the things mom baked were Dutch type pastries, usually with almond paste involved.

I am not a big desert fan, but mom's almond pastries, those I miss.

It was part of the Christmas season, back then, for friends and relatives to share platters of their baked goods. I remember the next door neighbors in Burlington, the Dutch Ploegs, made some real tasty Christmas cookies. The word "krumkaken" comes to mind. Likely totally misspelled.

Miss Beth's mom was also a great baker of tasty goods.

During the past couple years Miss Beth has posted an incalculable number of tasty things to bake, on Facebook. I remember at one point commenting that she was tormenting me with all this tempting tasty stuff. And I recollect asking if I happened to be in the Skagit Valley was it possible to finagle an invite to partake in some of Miss Beth's kitchen products.

And then yesterday a box arrived in my mailbox. From Beth. I asked Miss Beth if this was something I needed to open, or could it reside with the other packages under the virtual Christmas tree.

Beth replied I should stick the package in the fridge. And so I did so.

That lasted about a day before my curiosity caused me to open the package to find a loaf of banana nut bread and two what look to be fruitcakes. I have yet to try the fruitcake, but I have sampled the banana nut bread. Tasty. This made me realize I just do not get good stuff like this anymore at my current location.

I have always liked fruitcake, well, good fruitcake, and have never understood its sort of negative reputation.

These Christmas baked goods from Miss Beth marks the first time in years I have found something like this in my mailbox.

For years every Christmas season I would get a box of baked goodies from mom and dad. When mom's eyesight failed she became the director whilst dad did the actual constructing. I would by lying if I said the quality was at the same level as when mom was still in full function mode.

I do not remember what year was the last one I got a box of Christmas baked goodies from mom and dad. At least five years, probably longer.

Thinking about all this is making me a bit melancholy. 

Thanks Beth! I wish I had baking skills so I could send Beth something tasty...

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Point Defiance Zoolights After Ruston Ice Cream Social Theo & Ruby Birthday Party

Photo documentation arrived yesterday documenting the Tacoma Twins, Theo & Ruby's, birthday party celebrating their first decade on Planet Earth. Each twin invited two friends and those friend's siblings, which made for a birthday party of 10, with, I assume, big brother, David, being #10. 

The birthday party started at Point Ruston with something called an Ice Cream Social. Earlier Ruby had reported to me, via text message, that the ice cream cake was deliciously good. 

From Point Ruston the birthday party made its way to Point Defiance Park and the Christmas Zoolights.

In that cool looking photo above you are looking at the birthday party looking down upon the Zoolights. I am assuming this viewing vantage point may be from the pedestrian bridge which connects Point Ruston to Point Defiance Park. I may be erroneous regarding this assumption.

The masks render it difficult to identify who I am looking at above. But, I am fairly certain that is Theo on the lower left, with Ruby next to him. I have no good guess regarding who among the remaining is my nephew David.

Those are some eerie Zoolights, I must say. In this photo I think I can pick out David as being the third from the left. I think I am seeing red hair, which is the David clue. That may be Theo next to David, but I can not tell for sure. With that likely being Ruby slightly in front of the possible Theo.

So, there you go, your virtual participation in Theo & Ruby's 10th Birthday Party...

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Wichita Bluff Side Trailing Off The Circle Trail Burning COVID Pounds

What you see here is one of my rare attempts to take one of those selfie photos many people seem to have no trouble taking.

For me it is difficult to see the screen in bright light whilst not remembering I can see the screen better if I take off the sunglasses.

This photo was taken in one of the most scenic areas within a range of a lot of miles of my current scenery scarce location.

The Wichita Bluff Nature Area.

I am standing on a side trail off the Circle Trail which meanders through the Nature Area. 

Directly behind me is one of the ubiquitous swinging benches one finds along the Circle Trail, with the one behind me being on one of that trail's side trails. 

Further behind me you see another swinging bench located on a side trail off the side trail off the Circle Trail.

It looks as if I am looking slightly grumpy in this selfie photo. I may be being slightly grumpy due to growing tired of my volunteer job of driving a senior citizen to multiple doctor appointments. Too many doctor visits and pharmacy visits has wreaked havoc with my regular schedule of biking and hiking.

The cold weather may have something to do with that havoc being wreaked.

As a result of the resulting slowing down of my regular aerobic activity I have reached a new weight gain record. I call this my COVID pounds. Currently the poundage is totally 224 pounds.

I got tired of squeezing myself into the two pairs of pants I could still squeeze into. Those two pair of pants have a waist of 38 inches. Before I gained all this poundage I needed a belt to keep these pants from dropping to my ankles.

So, growing tired of tight fits, I bought a couple pair of COVID blue jeans. Wranglers with a 40 inch waist. These require being belted.

And that has been my exciting day, so far, as this troubling year moves on and on to its soon to end date...

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Nephew Theo Text Messaged Me The Tacoma Trio's Christmas Tree

 A week ago, give or take a day or two, after learning my Tacoma Trio of two nephews and a niece, David, Theo and Ruby were now smart phone enabled, I text messaged each member of the Trio to tell them something was heading to their location, which at that point in time was to arrive during a delivery window of December 15 - 21.

The text messages to the Tacoma Trio told them not to open the incoming package til Christmas Eve.

A couple days ago I got an email telling me the package had shipped, and would be delivered December 15. I texted that information to Big Brother David and asked him to pass that information on to his siblings.

And then, yesterday, December 12, I got a package tracking update telling me the package had arrived in Tacoma and was out for delivery.

Shortly after reading the package was out for delivery I got another package tracking message telling me the package had been delivered.

I then texted Theo telling him I am being told the package he and his siblings are not supposed to open til Christmas Eve had been delivered.

Theo then texted me back with the text saying "Thank You!!!" along with the photo you see above, showing the aforementioned package now resting under the Tacoma Trio's Christmas tree.

When I was a kid I did not have a smart phone. There was one phone in the house. It was attached to a wall in the hallway. If I remember right when I was David, Theo and Ruby's age we were on a party line, sharing a connection with next door neighbor Mrs. Ferguson. 

Way back then you paid extra to make what was known as a long distance call. Just calling from Burlington to the Grandma's in Lynden was a long distance call.

And now, I pay a measly $50 a month for two phones with which I can make as many long distance calls as I want, send as many text messages as I want, send photos, video, all without incurring any additional charge.

And the phone is not attached to a wall. 

Over a half a century ago Seattle had a World's Fair. The Century 21 Exposition. One of the pavilions in that Exposition was called, if I remember right, "The World of Tomorrow". You toured a house from the future. Well, what someone thought the future would look like. The kitchen had what we now know as a microwave. A huge bulky thing. One wall was a viewing screen, sort of like our current flat panel TVs. The video phone of tomorrow was a big bulky thing looking like an old style computer monitor.

It is interesting when one lives long enough to be living in that long ago badly imagined future, with the actual future turning out to be way more amazing than anyone imagined long ago, like in the 1960s.

And now, in the actual future, pre-teenage kids have phones with more capabilities than a computer had 20 years ago. And they can text message their favorite uncle who lives a couple thousand miles away, and send him photos.

With no long distance charge.

What a world...

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Ruby, David & Theo's Masked 2020 Santa Visit

The above photo arrived on my phone yesterday. There was no accompanying text indicating where the Tacoma Trio of Ruby, David and Theo found a Masked Santa to visit.

Theo and Ruby seem to have had themselves a much finer time visiting Santa Claus in 2020, than they had themselves a few years ago...

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

A Merry Christmas From Hank Frank & Spencer Jack With Cousin Jeff

The above arrived in my mailbox yesterday. Sent from Washington. Which would make that Hank Frank Jones wishing me a Merry Christmas. 

Hank Frank is the first born son of my favorite nephew Joey and my favorite niece-in-law, Monique.

Is niece-in-law an actual thing? Or did I just make it up?

I can not tell for sure, but it looks like Hank Frank is working in his orchard, posing for the family Christmas card photo.

Hank Frank's orchard, and home abode, is located in what are known as the Skagit Flats. One of the most fertile agricultural areas on the planet. Most famous for the acres of tulips and other bulb bloomers which color up the Skagit Valley each Spring, bringing tourists, daily, by the thousands, every year, to the valley, totaling well over a million visitors by the time each year's Skagit Valley Tulip Festival comes to its month long end.

Hank Frank had birthday number two in September. I was expecting to meet Hank Frank for the first time, along with meeting his mother for the first time, last summer, but those plans went awry.

I am hoping to get to meet Hank Frank before he turns three years old. But, so far, no solid plan to be in Washington next Summer has actually been actualized.

I also have a significant number high school class reunion which takes place next summer. I have indicated zero interest in attending that event. However, I have agreed to doing the get together thing with those from way back then, whom I actually would like to see...

Seconds after I typed the ... after the word "see" incoming email came in from Hank Frank's uncle Jason and cousin Spencer Jack. The email included the photo you see below and the following text...

FUD --  
Spencer photographed me with what I believe is a cardboard cut out of your first cousin. We were holiday shopping at Yeager's in Bellingham this afternoon when we ran into Santa.  Aka Jeff. Thought you'd enjoy the picture...

Cousin Jeff is my dad's brother's eldest son. For years now cousin Jeff has been one of Whatcom County's Santa Clauses. I last saw cousin Jeff on August 12, 2017, in Lynden. It was Summer, but Jeff was still sporting his all natural white Santa Claus beard.

I am guessing during this COVID Christmas year that Santas are not doing their regular duty in my old home state. Thus Cousin Jeff being turned into a Yeager's cardboard Santa.

As for Yeager's. That is a sprawling old-fashioned department store in Bellingham. I have never seen a Yeager's type store in Texas.

In Washington I knew of several of the Yeager's type store. Does Chubby & Tubby still exist in Seattle? I bought my all time favorite inflatable raft at Chubby & Tubby's years ago. Does Northern Sales still exist in Mount Vernon? Maybe I will remember to Google Chubby & Tubby and Northern Sales and get an answer to these probing questions.

I wonder why it was not Spencer Jack posing with Santa Jeff, rather than his dad?

I suspect Spencer Jack was not agreeable to doing such, but was agreeable to being the photographer...

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Hunting The Wichita Bluffs For Santa But Finding The Roadrunner

 A couple minutes before leaving my abode this morning to go to the Wichita Bluffs Nature Area to do some communing with nature, along with getting some aerobically induced endorphins, my phone made its incoming text message noise.

It was my favorite nephew Theo texting, he being one of my Tacoma Trio of nephews and a niece. 

I texted Theo back that I wish he were here to go hiking with me. I told Theo that I learned yesterday someone had spotted a Santa on the Wichita Bluffs. The photo documenting this looked familiar. I told Theo I was going to go Santa hunting.

Theo texted back "Cool. I wish I could go..."

Well. I did not find Santa. Perhaps he has already moved on to his next location.

I did see something which I recently mentioned I had not seen for quite some time.

The Wichita Bluffs Roadrunner.

Well, today when I neared the high point on the Bluffs I saw something moving along a side trail. I quickly realized it was the Roadrunner. I gingerly reached in my pocket for the phone, quickly got the phone in camera mode and snapped the photo you see above. 

Can you find the Roadrunner through all that brush?

Continuing on...

The last time I was at the Wichita Bluffs Nature Area's designated Hoodoo construction area there were no Hoodoos. Just piles of rocks.

Today, as you can see above, a tall Hoodoo has risen.

If Theo had been hiking with me today my guess is we would have taken time out from hiking to assemble the rocks which had not already been Hoodoo-ed into a new Hoodoo.

Way back in August of 2017 I had myself a mighty fine time building sand castles with Theo at Birch Bay, up near the border with Canada in my old home state of Washington.

Since then Theo and his siblings, David and Ruby, have taken sand castle building classes at a sand castle building school in San Diego.

Next summer, if the plans do not once again go awry, I am looking forward to building sand castles at Birch Bay again, following Theo's engineering directions...

Monday, December 7, 2020

Hello Again From Washington Where The Mountain Was Out

Last week I blogged about someone saying Hello From Seattle Where The Mountain Is Out.

And then today I got a text message from the parental unit of David, Theo and Ruby, who is also my little sister, Michele, with the above photo attached.

With the text saying "The Mountain was out and incredible yesterday."

Those living in an area with no mountains have no clue why a mountain might be in or out. Let alone incredible.

I know a Texas local here in Wichita Falls. We shall call her Lauren. Because that is her name. Lauren has seldom been out of Texas. Lauren knows I am from Washington. Lauren had never been to Washington til last year, when she flew into Seattle to visit some Texas friends who had moved to that enlightened, modern, progressive, beautiful part of America.

Lauren told me she found it just overwhelming, mesmerizing. To look in any direction and see mountains. And then her friends took her to their cabin east of Eatonville. With that cabin having a direct in your face view of Mount Rainier.

When Lauren told me about this I told her at my old home location north of Seattle I could look out my windows at another Washington volcano, Mount Baker.

How could you move from such a place, Lauren asked?

Yeah, that question perplexes me regularly. 

I have no rational answer...

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Sikes Lake Gazebo View Talking To Linda Lou


As you can see there is nary a ripple rippling Sikes Lake during the noon time frame, on this first Sunday of the 2020 version of December. With no wind and the temperature well north of 50 I took my bike's wheels for a spin for the first time in what seems a long time.

When I neared Sikes Lake my phone made its incoming call noise. At first opportunity to check I saw it was Linda Lou calling from my old home zone of Mount Vernon, Washington.

I put the phone back in its carrying case and continued on til I found a suitable location to call Linda Lou back.

That is the suitable location you see above. A gazebo on the north side of Sikes Lake. The last time I sat at this Gazebo was with Elsie Hotpepper. It seems like that was a couple years ago. So much has happened between then and now, it's hard to track the passage of time.

Linda Lou is feeling the same type COVID stir crazy I feel. This week I had one escape, going on an extended drive outside the city limits.

Linda Lou's one escape this week was to drive herself and Miss Honey Lulu on an extended drive, which ended up in the little town of Edison, where they found an outdoor lunching opportunity.

At my current location there is not what one might call a tourist town for miles and miles and miles. I've only see what I would call tourist towns a couple times since I have been in Texas. Fredericksburg comes to mind. And then I draw a blank. Canton, maybe.

My old home zone of the Skagit Valley has two of what you might call tourist towns. One is La Conner. The other is Edison. Edison was not a tourist town when I lived in the valley. It has blossomed as such in the years since I left. I last saw Edison in August of 2008 and was surprised at what the little town had become.

The Skagit Valley is also home to multiple casino resorts. Big ones.

From my current location, across the border, in Oklahoma, about 25 miles north, I can find a couple casino resorts. Little ones.

I am not a big fan of casinos. But, I do enjoy the resort part. And the buffets. When I lived in the Skagit Valley I think I frequented the Skagit Casino & Resort's buffet more than any other such feeding zone. But it was the Swinomish Casino & Lodge seafood buffet which was my favorite, though frequented far less frequently than the Skagit Casino buffet.

I do not know if I would trust a seafood buffet at my current location located so far from the nearest sea...

Saturday, December 5, 2020

If Thunder Roars Go Indoors

I bundled up under a few layers of insulative outerwear this first Saturday of the 2020 version of December and took myself on a walk around Sikes Lake.

Arriving at the lake I saw the sign you see above, which I had not noticed previously, leading me to think this sign has recently been added.

Then again, this sign could have been there for a long time. I am not the most observant of observers.

I saw this sign as I drove past it. My quick glance reading of the sign turned Thunder into Tornado.

Thinking the sign was some sort of Tornado warning I was motivated to walk back to it to take a photo. And then comment that this was not a warning sign one might see in my old home zone on the west coast.

I was going to comment that one might see a "Volcano Eruption Evacuation Route" sign. Or out on the Pacific coast one might see a "Tsunami Evacuation Route" sign. But one would never find a Tornado warning sign.

But, one might find a Thunder warning sign on the west coast. Lightning does strike there. Though not nearly as frequently as I have experienced in Texas.

So, that has been my exciting Saturday, so far...

Friday, December 4, 2020

Walking With Mysterious Lucy Park Pagoda & Suspension Bridge

Down below freezing in this part of the planet last night. Was a little warmer than that when I drove to Lucy Park to do some nature communing.

I took pictures of two Lucy Park features today. The Pagoda and the Suspension Bridge. Taking pictures of only those two Lucy Park features proved coincidental at the end of the Lucy Park walk when I returned to where my vehicle was parked.

I have yet to find an explanation as to the why of the Lucy Park Pagoda. Today a local walked by as I was snapping photos of this mysterious structure. You from around here, asked I. Yes was the reply. I asked the local if he knew why this Pagoda structure is here.

It's a Pagoda? asked the local. 

I said that is what it looks like. The local then said it mostly likely was a situation where there were extra funds and someone suggested building a unique gazebo. And someone had seen a picture of a unique structure and designed the gazebo, not realizing it looks like a Japanese Pagoda.

Okay, I guess that will suffice as as good an explanation as I have currently for the Lucy Park Pagoda.

Continuing on past the Pagoda I walked along the currently extremely clear Wichita River til I reached the Wichita River Lucy Park Suspension Bridge.

A lotta locks have been added to the left side railing wall since I last swayed my way across this bridge.

You can not tell it via the photo, but the river water is so clear that one can see the river bottom. I do not remember seeing that previously at this location. I watched to water flow by for several minutes, expecting to see at least one fish.

I saw no fish.

Now, the reason taking pictures of the Lucy Park Pagoda and the Lucy Park Suspension Bridge proved coincidental by the time I got back to where my vehicle was parked.

A car drove up to me, with the driver rolling down her window. She looked Asian, possibly Japanese, and spoke a heavily accented version of English.

She asked me if I knew where the Pagoda was. I was just there, I told her, and pointed in its direction, and explained how to get there.

She then asked if I knew where the suspension bridge was. I told her just continue on the paved trail past the Pagoda, taking a right on the paved trail which is beside the river and a half mile or so, give or take a few feet, you will come to the suspension bridge. I told her not to be scared, walking across the bridge, when it begins to sway and move up and down.

When I've been in Lucy Park I have been asked a time or two or three how to get to Wichita Falls.

The first time I was in Lucy Park I asked at an information booth how to get to the Falls. There was some event going on during that first visit to Lucy Park. Hard to find parking. And that information booth. Have never seen the park that busy, or an information booth, ever again...

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Riding To Walmart With My Arizona Sister Talking About Baklava Listening To Right Wing Nut Jobs


If I remember right I think yesterday I made mention of the fact that winter has arrived at my north Texas location.

As in the outer world has become cold.

Yesterday my Arizona sister rode long distance with me to Walmart. During the course of talking inquiry was made as to the current health status of Big Ed.

I then made mention of the various interesting products Big Ed has purchased hoping to alleviate the constant chill he finds himself shivering in.

Yesterday a pair of booties were the latest warming device to arrive. You stick them in the microwave for 30 seconds and then stick them on your feet.

A few days ago the new thing was headgear Big Ed called a Baklava.

I told my sister about the Baklava and how ridiculous it looks, like some sorta COVID mask on steroids. My sister asked isn't Baklava a Russian pastry? I said I thought it was a Turkish pastry, and that maybe it is also the name of this type headgear.

I suspect not, though. 

So, I told my sister I would try to get photo documentation of Big Ed in all his cold gear. It is all black, from gloves to insulated pants to shoes to that Baklava thing. He looks like a possible terrorist when he is in full uniform. The topper is his new Mr. Peabody eyeglasses which make him look like a smart terrorist. I suspect if he keeps going out and about attired in this manner that eventually one of the dumb locals, of which there are many, is gonna call the police to report seeing something suspicious.

Ed refused to pose for a photo in his cold gear. So, I put the Baklava on myself and took the selfie you see above. As you can see I am wearing a tank top and thus obviously am not at all cold. But that Baklava thing quickly overheated me in the few seconds it took to aim the phone at myself.

So, that has been my excitement for today. That and going to ALDI, listening to a Rush Limbaugh replacement on the way. The Limbaugh replacements are even stupider than Limbaugh. Today's was probably the stupidest I've heard yet. He was whining about getting booted off Facebook and Twitter due to leftist claims he was spewing falsehoods. As in spewing right wing nut job election fraud nonsense.

The idiot went on and on about how the main stream media is misleading the people by not reporting all the evidence of election fraud. This moron said you have to go to OAN if you want the real news. That and when he gets kicked off Facebook you can go to Parler to his Parler page. 

How do we fix this type stupidity? Mandatory re-education camps? Yeah, that'd go over real big...

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Shadow Of Shivering Thin Man Above Wichita Bluff Hoodoo

That is a shivering selfie you see here, with my extra grumpy it's cold face on.

The real temperature may have been above freezing, but the gale force wind, delivered in gusts, made it feel like a severe Arctic Blast had blown into town.

Even so, I had myself a mighty fine time communing with nature in the Wichita Bluff Nature Area.

It has been awhile since I have seen the Wichita Bluff Nature Area Roadrunner. 

The Wily Coyote nemesis's usual hangout is in the area around the covered picnic pavilion one comes to at the highest point on the Bluffs.

I have never seen a Coyote whilst hiking on the Wichita Bluffs. But, where there is a Roadrunner there has to be a Coyote. This is a well known scientific fact.

Maybe I should bring some bird food with me next time I hike the Wichita Bluffs.

I brought goose food with me last time I walked around Sikes Lake. This created a frenzied furor. Most geese are well behaved most of the time. But something about the herd mentality, well, flock mentality, can get them acting a bit crazed when food is involved.

The feeding frenzy starts off semi-polite, then competing flocks join in.

And ducks.

The geese do not seem to like the ducks.

And then seagulls, which usually keep to themselves atop the coffer dam which crosses the lake, join the fray in nosedive mode. The diving gulls are not too intimidating.

But then this goose flock of four. A different breed. Bigger and light colored. And very aggressive, march in like the law arriving, honking and squawking. 

And hissing. 

I threw some bird food at the invading Gang of Four. But, they were not interested in that. The leader of the Gang came right at me, determined to take the box of bird food away from me. Defensive measures on my part did not work. The goose kept coming at me. So, I threw what remained of the bird food towards the better behaved birds, and quickly made my exit.

I seem to have digressed a bit from the Wichita Bluffs. Let us get back to there.

 Above we see the long Shadow of the Wichita Bluff Thin Man, hovering over the only Hoodoo construction currently constructed in the Wichita Bluff Nature Area designated Hoodoo area.

It ain't easy to operate a phone camera whilst wearing gloves. But, I managed, eventually.

I do not know when we are scheduled to warm up at my location. I can not remember when last I felt like riding my bike.

Speaking of riding my bike. Last night sister Michele texted me the phone numbers of the Tacoma Trio, David, Theo and Ruby. I did not know if these phones were text message enabled. I am assuming the Tacoma Trio got phones so as to alleviate some of the social isolation they are experiencing due to being cut off from going to school. 

So, this afternoon I text messaged each number, not knowing if the message was gonna go anywhere. A few minutes passed and the phone made its incoming message noise. It was from Theo. Made my day. 

And the speaking of bikes part relates to my hope that next summer I will be in Tacoma, with my bike, and Theo and I (and maybe David and Ruby) will go mountain bike riding in this cool Tacoma park with miles of mountain bike trails, which Theo and his siblings took me to last time I was in Tacoma...

Monday, November 30, 2020

Hello From Seattle Where The Mountain Is Out

 A time or two previously I may have made mention of the fact that in my old home state of Washington, when the locals say The Mountain is out, it means the sky is clear blue and one can see Mount Rainier.

Now, in the northern Puget Sound zone one is way closer to the Mount Baker volcano, and on a clear blue sky day that mountain is out and visible. But, no one refers to Mount Baker as The Mountain.

Miss Linda Lou, currently of Mount Vernon, Washington, sent me that which you see above, via Facebook, where someone is repeating what I have repeatedly said, that being "When we say 'The Mountain is out,' this is what we mean."

Linda Lou called yesterday, and during that call mention was made regarding when next I may be seeing The Mountain in person. Currently, it is believed summer of 2021 is the earliest that such a thing may occur.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Having Reno/Lake Tahoe Sledding Gambling Fun With Spencer Jack & Jason

A couple days ago I blogged about Spencer Jack and my Favorite Nephew Jason being masked bandits in Seattle.

Jason had emailed me some photos of Spencer and himself on top of the Space Needle and on the Monorail.

I replied back, asking a question or two about a subject or two.

Jason then replied saying he and Spencer Jack were about to leave for a couple days on a Thanksgiving getaway. And that Spencer was getting impatient to leave, and pacing, whilst Jason wrote his reply to me.

So, last night, as in Thanksgiving Evening, incoming email from Jason and Spencer Jack contained multiple photos, with the only text being something like "You can probably guess where we are."

Well, the first photo told me they were at a location with casinos. Vegas? But that photo did not look much like Vegas. Reno? I had no recollection of Jason ever going to Reno. Some other gambling/casino mecca? Of which there are many in the western states.

The next photo confirmed Spencer Jack and Jason were at a gambling mecca.

Jason at a slot machine at an airport. The only airports I have been in which have slot machines are McCarran in Vegas and Reno-Tahoe International.

The next photo narrowed the guessing, eliminating Vegas, with the win going to Reno.

I replied back to Jason, saying I figured the location to be Reno when I saw the above photo and recollected a giant silver mining feature in a Reno casino, the name of which I could not quite remember, other than it having Silver in the name, and that it was attached to Circus Circus.

Jason replied back, clarifying the name as Silver Legacy, and that it also connected to the El Dorado Casino.

That had me trying to remember when last I had been at that location. I think it may have been 1996. I'd been to Moab, mountain biking, then west across Nevada on the World's Loneliest Highway, then a stay in Reno, at Circus Circus. I distinctly remember going to the El Dorado buffet and over eating worse than I have ever over eaten. And then having trouble slowly waddling back to my room at Circus Circus, where I collapsed til I recovered.

Now that you are continuing to make me think about it, my last time in Reno may have been later in the 1990s. We rented a big ol' Cadillac for a roadtrip to Yosemite, with one night's stay in Reno on the way. The route from Reno to Yosemite routed by Lake Tahoe and then Highway 49 to Yosemite. 

That roadtrip, I think, is the last time I was at Lake Tahoe, which is relevant to the next photo.

That would be Spencer Jack standing on a dock, or deck, on Lake Tahoe. If you drive the entire length of the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe you come to a spot with incredibly HUGE boulders. I suspect Spencer Jack and Jason did not drive that far, because I doubt they would miss that photo opportunity. Or the opportunity to climb on those HUGE boulders.

I have never been at Lake Tahoe during the skiing/sledding time of the year. Later Thanksgiving evening Jason sent another email. That one had a video attached showing Spencer sliding down the hill you see above.

One would think if it is cold enough for snow to stick in quantities sufficient for sledding that it would be too cold to do any swimming. One would have thought wrong, apparently, if one thought that.

I am guessing that Spencer Jack and Jason are staying at one of the Lake Tahoe casino resorts, and the one they are staying at has a heated outdoor pool, with only Spencer willing to brave the cold air to get in the warm pool.

I have no information as to how long Spencer Jack is keeping his dad in Nevada. If they had consulted me regarding what to see in that area I would have suggested driving the switchback road up the opposite side of the Reno valley to Virginia City. I have always had myself a mighty fine time in the Nevada version of Virginia City.

Upon first seeing these photos from Jason and Spencer, and temporarily thinking they must be in Vegas, my quick impulse was to call Jason to tell him his Favorite Aunt Jackie and her first husband, my Favorite Brother-in-Law, Jack, were in Vegas, celebrating their 40th Anniversary. I figured we could find a way to track down the location of the Arizonans. 

Back when I was Jason's age, and younger and older than Jason's current age, I would often escape a lot of the holiday season by heading south, to Reno and Southern California.

I recollect the last time I did a holiday season escape was Christmas of 1994. That time it was straight down I-5 to Anaheim. Disneyland on Christmas day, then other Los Angeles area fun during the following week, including going to the Nixon Presidential Library, which turned out to be the highlight of that trip.

Then it was on to Vegas for a couple nights, then Flagstaff, with the South Rim of the Grand Canyon a snowy two days before the New Year. Then on to Moab, seeing Mexican Hat and the San Juan Inn whilst crossing the San Juan River from Arizona to Utah, thinking that the San Juan Inn looked like a cool place to stay, not knowing, at the time, that less than a year later I would be staying there after four days of houseboating on Lake Powell.

After Mexican Hat it was one night in Moab, waking up there on New Year's Day. Hiked around Arches National Park in the snow. Then on to Canyonlands National Park where from Islands in the Sky I saw mountain bikers far below. I said then that I was gonna get me a mountain bike when I get back to Washington and return here to mountain bike. It would be two years later I would do so, riding miles of trails with a group called MudSluts.

Weird to remember back to when I used to go places, lots of places, a lot of the time. And now, here I am, in Texas. I have not been out of Texas for over a year. I have not been to the Dallas/Fort Worth zone in over a year. I have not been further than 50 miles from Wichita Falls in over a year.

No wonder I have a constant feeling of being borderline stir crazy...

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Tarheel Hunting In Walmart With Spencer Jack & Jason


Yesterday, after I blogged about Spencer Jack and his dad having had themselves a mighty fine time Space Needling and Monorailing in Seattle I emailed Spencer Jack and Jason asking a couple questions about a couple subjects.

Such as how is Spencer doing with the ongoing COVID school restrictions? And how was the Fidalgo Drive-In doing with dine in dining still banned in Washington?

Following those couple questions I told Spencer Jack and Jason how bad it is here in Texas, with restaurants packed with dine in diners. And that I am regularly appalled seeing deplorables mask-less in Walmart.

Mask-less with cases and deaths soaring in Wichita Falls and Texas, whilst Washington's and the Skagit Valley's COVID statistics are not nearly as dire.

Jason had texted me election night asking if Texas was gonna stay red, turn purple or actually wise up and turn blue. If I remember right I texted back saying that many are thinking if Tarrant County turns blue it will turn Texas blue. So, in this latest email I made mention of the fact that eventually Biden did win in Tarrant County, but this did not turn Texas blue. It did not even turn Tarrant County blue.

After lamenting Tarrant County still being red I lamented the county I am in now, what with Wichita County going 3 to 1 for Trump. 

Regarding restaurants here being open to interior dining and those mask-less fools in Walmart, and Trumpers being a big majority here, I lamented the extreme high level of ignorance here, saying "you just can not fix stupid by mandate here".

That is four times "here" in one sentence. Here, here, here, here.

So, Jason replied to this morning's email before Spencer Jack drove him out of town for a couple day getaway. The part of Jason's email about his Walmart experience with masks in the Mount Vernon Walmart was amusing...

I've only seen less than a handful of people not wearing masks in the last couple months.   Ironically, one was a grossly obese woman who Spencer and I witnessed walk into Walmart last night without a mask.   But that is rare sight.   Not an obese woman at Walmart, but an unmasked one.   I'm sure she was most likely from "upriver."  She was with her two daughters who also didn't have masks, but wore one of those small chin shields.   The daughters also had the upriver look--pajamas, t-shirts that are too small, no bras, each probably weighing 350 lbs, etc.

Seems like Jason is describing a regular sighting at my closest Walmart.

For those not from the Skagit Valley I must explain what is meant by thinking someone must be from upriver. As long as I can remember there has been an enclave upriver, meaning up the Skagit River, as in east, out of the flatlands, with that enclave being heavily populated by what locals refer to as Tarheels. 

Growing up in the valley I always thought Tarheel was slang for people from the South. But, now that I am older and wiser I think Tarheel is state specific, as in one of the Carolinas. The town of Sedro-Woolley's high school was known to have a lot of Tarheels in attendance, as did the town of Concrete's high school, further up the valley.

The Walmarts in Wichita Falls are each quite different. The one closest to my abode, a mile distant, is the one where I most often see mask-less fools, and Texans looking like slovenly Tarheels.

The Walmart which is about 2.5 miles northwest from my abode, seems to have a much different clientele. I have never seen someone mask-less there, including today. And way fewer Tarheel sorts.

The most distant from my abode Walmart is up north about 8 miles, near Sheppard Air Force base, and thus also has a much different clientele. That Walmart seems to be the most like Walmarts I have been in in non-Southern locations, like Arizona, Oregon and Washington.

During this ongoing COVID nightmare of reduced things to do, one of my entertainments is to go to my closest Walmart on a Sunday. I think this must be the day when people who live out in the country come in to town to do their shopping. I have seen so many disturbing things, and overheard so many disturbing conversations. 

I have said it before, and now I will say it again. Walmart is missing a revenue generating opportuning by not installing an elevated viewing platform, charging admittance and selling adult libations for viewers to imbibe whilst watching the People of Walmart...

Monday, November 23, 2020

1962 Seattle Fun In 2020 With Spencer Jack & Jason

Email arrived Sunday night from Spencer Jack and his paternal parental unit, my Favorite Nephew Jason.

The only text in the email was the subject line of...

"1962 Fun in 2020"

1962 was the year Elvis came to Washington to the Seattle World's Fair. If I remember correctly President Kennedy pushed a button in Washington, D.C. which somehow opened the big event in the west coast version of Washington.

I do not remember if President Kennedy and Jackie got around to visiting the Seattle World's Fair. I do remember that, towards the end of the World's Fair, JFK was preoccupied with this thing which came to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Seattle World's Fair dated its origins in the 1950s when the idea was floated of having a 50th anniversary of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, which if memory serves took place in the location of what is now the University of Washington.

By the late 1950s the Space Race was underway with the Soviet Union. Boeing had become part of that race, and Boeing was based in Seattle, which was why Seattle had become known as an aerospace city.

So, something themed to the future was decided needed to be the theme for the Seattle World's Fair, and so, as such, the Seattle Century 21 Exposition was born.

Two of Seattle's movers and shakers, Victor Steinbrueck and John Graham, Jr., who helped bring the Seattle World's Fair to fruition, were discussing the Century 21 World of Tomorrow theme whilst in a Seattle restaurant waiting for the waiter to bring them dinner. One of the pair began to sketch, on a napkin, what he thought might be a good idea for the World Fair's centerpiece. And thus the Space Needle was born.

Seattle actualized the 1962 Century 21 Seattle World's Fair in a very short time frame. It became one of the few such fairs ever to be financially successful.

I think it is having this type thing in my personal memory bank why I am so astounded by how another town in America, Fort Worth, can't seem to get anything done in a timely fashion. What are we in now, year seven, of trying to build three simple little bridges over dry land to connect the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island? 

Years of puzzling over what was wrong with Fort Worth which rendered it so backwards compared to other American cities, like even its neighbor Dallas, I sort of figured out the town's problems come from being run by what is known as the Fort Worth Way. And thus the town lacks visionary leaders like the aforementioned Victor Steinbrueck and John Graham, Jr. and instead has leaders like Betsy Price and Kay Granger, and others, and so the town ends up with ridiculous embarrassments like the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle, Santa Fe Rail Market, streets without sidewalks, parks without modern facilities, and other embarrassments.

I do not remember how the funding for the Seattle World's Fair came about. Was there a bond issue election? Someone had to have paid for all that stuff that was constructed, much of which remains in use to this day.

Such as the Space Needle, which is what you see Jason and Spencer Jack masked in at the top photo.  

A couple years ago more money was spent renovating the Space Needle than what was spent building it originally. The renovation included adding a glass floor at the observation deck level, which is what you see Spencer Jack sitting on above.

It is making me feel nostalgic about the swift passage of time, seeing these photos. I think the last time I ever rode the elevator to the top of the Space Needle was with Jason and his little brother, my Favorite Nephew Joey. Joey was four or five at that point in time, which would have made Jason seven or eight. Back then it cost about $4 to ride to the top of the Needle. Now it costs closer to $30.

The summer before I moved to Texas, Jason and Joey took me to Las Vegas. The highlight of that trip was getting stuck at the top of the Vegas Space Needle knockoff known as the Stratosphere Tower. Power went out, the elevators rendered dead, no air conditioning, with the temperature way over 100. We were stranded for several hours. It turned out to be one of the most fun Nephews in Danger episodes I ever had with those two.

So, that last time at the top of the Space Needle, we were barely up there when Jason sees the Monorail leaving the Seattle Center station. He asks, "Can we go ride the Monorail now?" "But we just got to the top of the Needle, can we at least walk all the way around first?" asked I.

15 minutes later we were aboard the Monorail heading to Westlake Center. Jason insisting on being at the front of the train, so that is where he headed us, and then he proceeded to lay down on the seat. "But, I thought you wanted to ride the Monorail," I asked. "Oh, I've been on this a million times." was the memorable reply.

Jason had two obsessions when he was a kid. One was the Seattle Monorail. The other was the Washington State Ferry system. Jason built models of each, including the entire fleet of Washington ferry boats.

So, of course, after checking out the renovated Space Needle, Jason next took Spencer Jack to ride the Monorail.

The Monorail does not look much changed since I last saw it. well, the station for sure, but that may be a new train.

And here we see Spencer Jack aboard the Monorail, likely at the front, behind the pilot.

I wish Spencer Jack would drive his dad through the new tunnel under downtown Seattle and take photos or video. I have yet to see any photos of that tunnel in action.

That $4 billion tunnel and waterfront rebuild project began about the same time Fort Worth had a big TNT exploding ceremony to mark the start of construction of those aforementioned three simple bridges stuck in slow motion construction mode.

How can these two towns be in the same country? Perplexing...

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Theo & Ruby Say Hi Under Mountain Above Crystal Clear Water


That which you see above showed up in my email last night. Theo & Ruby saying Hi.

There was no explanatory text in the email. So, I do not know where big brother, David, was during this photo opportunity. 

I can tell the twins are on Harstine Island, a location in south Puget Sound where the Tacoma trio and their parental units have a getaway cabin to escape to when they want to get away from Tacoma.

That water you see behind Theo & Ruby is a rarity at my current location. First off, it is saltwater. I would need to drive a couple hundred miles to see some saltwater.

Second off, that water behind Theo & Ruby is crystal clear. There is no water anywhere near my current location that is crystal clear, other than bottled water. Even the tap water here is a bit murky most of the time.

And just like it taking a long drive to see some saltwater, an equally long drive could take me to crystal clear water in Texas, such as the water which flows from the San Marcos Spring to make Aquarena Springs and the 75 mile long San Marcos River. I have seen this water one time only and at that point in time I remember thinking I had never ever seen such crystal clear water. The San Marcos River terminates when it joins the Guadalupe River, which I have never seen, but also has a reputation for having clear water.

Also behind Theo & Ruby, in addition to the crystal clear saltwater, is Mount Rainier, which looks to be sporting a fresh coat of snow.

Mount Rainier is known by many names, most frequently simply as The Mountain. Most commonly used in a sentence like "The Mountain is out today". Which means the sky is clear and you can see Mount Rainier, a volcano which one can see from almost all over the state of Washington, hence the reason The Mountain is the prominent feature of Washington state vehicle licenses.

The Puyallup Indian name for Mount Rainier was Tahoma, hence the name of the town David, Theo & Ruby live in.

Mount Rainier is also known as Crystal Mountain, which is why the Mount Rainier ski area is called Crystal Mountain Ski Resort.

I just looked up at the calendar on my computer room wall and saw that this month's calendar photo is the aforementioned Crystal Mountain Ski Resort. Wait a second, I'll find my phone and snap a photo of the calendar...

It is difficult not to take a cockeyed photo of something rectangular using a phone. The caption on the lower right, below the photo, says "Milky Way over the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort".

I do not remember when last I saw the Milky Way the way one sees it where there is little competing light and little air pollution. Houseboating, long ago, on Lake Powell, is my most recent memory of being amazed at gazing at the Milky Way.

I also do not remember when last I was at any sort of ski resort. I do not believe any such thing exists in Texas. Or next door in Oklahoma. A couple hundred miles west and northwest, in New Mexico and Colorado I could find some ski resorts.

I drove through Ruidoso, in New Mexico, the last time I drove back to Texas from Arizona. Ruidoso is known for having a ski area. But, I saw no sign of such as I drove on by.

On this next to last Sunday of the 2020 version of November I am 100% certain I will be doing no skiing today, nor will I be gazing at any crystal clear water. Or a mountain....

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Biking Wichita Falls Yellow Brick Road With Dorothy And Toto

The MSU (Midwestern State University) Holiday decorating is nearing completion. Today I rolled my bike's wheels north on the Circle Trail, eventually making it to MSU and the Yellow Brick Road.

The Emerald City, Toto, Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tinman and Cowardly Lion do not quite look like the Wizard of Oz movie version.

But, the Yellow Brick Road is a dead ringer.

A couple days ago whilst driving by the MSU Holiday decorating in progress, one of the riders in the vehicle wondered if this year the Polar Bear Express would be tramming its way through the Beverley Hills of Wichita Falls light show, what with the COVID nightmare rapidly worsening.

Today I think I have an answer to that Polar Bear Express question.

Soon after leaving Dorothy and Toto I came to that which you see above, sitting on the parking lot at the north end of the MSU campus, near where the Polar Bear Express trams park awaiting passengers.

And then by the time I got to the south end of the MSU campus I saw another indication the trams will be rolling this Holiday season.

Perhaps masks will be required, with social distancing enforced, with only every other row of seats on the trams having occupants.

Maybe I will ride the Polar Bear Express this year. It does look like it might be fun...

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Shadow Of Wichita Bluff Thin Man At Trail's End

What with wind gusting at low hurricane strength I opted not to ride my bike today. And instead returned to the Wichita Bluff Nature Area to hold on to my hat whilst walking from the Wichita Bluff Nature Area's west parking lot to the east parking lot, and back. This makes for a few miles of hilly hiking.

In the above photo you are looking at the Shadow of the Wichita Bluff Thin, also known as me, standing above the ruins of the Wichita Bluff Hoodoo. I suspect the rock sculpture was blown over by the wind.

And here we are at the high point on the Wichita Bluffs, looking northwest at the Wichita River. Many times at this location I have seen a roadrunner. I assumed it must reside in the neighborhood. But I the little paisano of late. I have never been fast enough to photograph the notorious speed demon.

And now we are the current end of the Circle Trail, looking east, towards downtown Wichita Falls. I thought this new section of the Circle Trail was supposed to be completed by now. It links this current termination point with the Circle Trail in Lucy Park. 

When I was first learning my way around Wichita Falls I came upon an area under stalled construction, which I was soon to learn was a new section of the Circle Trail, which would be known as the Wichita Bluff Nature Area.

That project appeared to be stalled. A year or two later I learned the original contractor had not lived up to what was contracted, and so a new contractor had to be found. After that new contractor was hired the project soon resulted in finishing what I think is the best section of the multi-mile Circle Trail.

So, one can not help but wonder what is going on with the new link. Did another dud contractor fizzle out?

I was looking forward to this new link, bike ride wise. This town seems to do a lot better job at getting things done, like building bridges, than that Texas town I used to live in, Fort Worth. But there does seem to be a Fort Worth-like problem with the building of a simple trail in this town...