Thursday, July 9, 2020

After Years Of Delays Fort Worth's Emperor Still Wears No Clothes

I saw that which see you above this morning on the front page of the online version of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. I read the headline and thought to myself what fresh ridiculous absurdist propaganda is this?

And then I was surprised to find myself not blocked from reading the article which tries to make sense of that senseless headline.

It has been several months since Mr. Bobalu asked me if I had heard anything of late regarding the status of the bridge building which had wreaked havoc on Mr. Bobalu's life due to how the Boondoggle, known as the Trinity River Vision Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision, had abused using eminent domain to take Mr. Bobalu's property in order to build a bridge over dry land, connecting the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island.

Construction on these three bridges built over dry land began way back in 2014, with a then astonishing four year project timeline.

It is now six years later, with Fort Worth's only newspaper claiming the bridges could be ready sooner than expected.

The Golden Gate Bridge, built over actual deep, swift moving water was built in less than four years. Tacoma's newest Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge was built over actual deep, swift moving water in less than four years.

But Fort Worth has been unable to build three simple little bridges over dry land in four years, in five years, and now in six years. With no actual projected estimate of when the bridges might be of actual use, let alone having water flow beneath them, after a cement lined ditch is dug, channeling Trinity River water to create the imaginary island.

This latest Star-Telegram article about those hapless hopeless bridges and the Boondoggle of which they are only part, contains multiple instances of Star-Telegram type nonsense. Let's start with the first paragraph...

Work on the downtown Fort Worth bridges, needed for the Panther Island project, has moved swiftly enough that officials now say two of the three spans may be done slightly early.

Work has moved swiftly enough that officials now say two of the three bridges may be done slightly early? Swiftly enough? It's been six years. If the completion is already two years behind the original timeline  how can finishing any of them, at any point in time, now be remotely considered to be slightly early?

Well, that question is sort of answered by the paragraph which follows the first..

Of course, early at this point is still behind the original completion date and a later delayed schedule, but Doug Rademaker, a senior project manager for the city, said work on bridges for Henderson and North Main streets is moving faster than expected.

Okay, now we are saying we are behind the original completion date, as well as behind the later delayed schedule, but work on two of the bridges is moving faster than expected. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

And then there is this perplexing sentence later in the article...

Traffic may be allowed on the bridges before they’re completely finished.

Did San Francisco allow traffic on the Golden Gate before it was finished? How about NYC's Brooklyn Bridge? Why would you allow traffic on an unfinished bridge?

From the following paragraph we learn the bridge construction has been a beehive of activity...

Contractor Texas Sterling increased workers on site to as many as 120, Rademaker said, and had been running three shifts seven days a week. Sunday shifts were recently canceled.

As many as 120 workers working in apparent slow motion, in three shifts, seven days a week, til recently.

And then there is this paragraph which raises questions...

Earlier this year, project managers increased the bridges’ $69.9 million budget to a little more than $89 million. The North Central Texas Council of Governments’ Regional Transportation Council approved the extra money in the form a $15 million federal transportation grant and another $5 million that will be paid back to the council of governments through a special tax district.

Okay, originally these three simple little bridges were projected to cost only $69.9 million, then increased by another $20 million. How much of that extra cost has come from having those 120 workers working years longer than the original project timeline projection? Why has there been no investigation looking into finding out why Fort Worth has been unable to build these three simple little bridges? Is it problems caused by J.D. Granger's interference insisting on those controversial V-Piers rather than the bridge supporting piers of which the Army Corps of Engineers approved?

And then there is the following...

The three bridges are needed for a $1.17 billion project that would create Panther Island by cutting a bypass between the two forks of the Trinity River as a means to control river flooding.

First off there has been a means to control river flooding in the area in question for well over a half century. This project is fixing a non-existent problem. Which is likely why the project has such trouble getting funding. It can't be sold to the public to vote on and approve of funding. The federal funders looking at it quickly find out it is an economic development scheme, poorly planned, ineptly implemented, which the rest of America should not be expected to pay for.

And please, please, please, drop the Panther Island nonsense.

Surrounding an industrial wasteland with a cement lined ditch does not an island make. It is only gonna end up being one more thing which causes Fort Worth's few tourists to giggle when they ask for an explanation.

Like where is Sundance Square? The answer to that one was an embarrassment for decades.

Where is Panther Island? Uh, it is what you come to when you cross one of those little bridges over that cement lined ditch. Are there panthers on the island? No. Why is it called Panther Island when there are no panthers. And it is not an actual island?

Anyone playing along with this nonsense is like that Emperor having no clothes fable, with the sheep going along with pretending the Emperor is finely dressed, when in reality he is walking around naked. Or, in the Fort Worth case, walking around with the sheep pretending to see a mighty fine island, when all there is is a chunk of wasteland accessed via three little bridges over extremely muddy water.

And one last amusing gem from this latest Star-Telegram article about America's Biggest Boondoggle. See if you can spot what the editor missed...

The progress has been a welcome site for business owners along White Settlement Road, which have taken a financial beating from the road closure, said Steve Metcalf, president of the White Settlement Road Development Task Force.

After six years of Boondoggling along I don't see how the word "progress" fits, let alone be some sort of welcome "sight"....

Hotter 'N Hell Seven July Days Over 100

I do not remember when last I saw a SEVEN DAY FORECAST which forecast seven days in a row over 100 degrees.

I just remembered when last I saw such a forecast. It was in July of 2017, in Arizona.

Apparently what I am able to remember at any given moment in time is extremely fleeting.

For some reason 105 degrees feels way HOTTER at my current location than such a temperature feels whilst getting burned in the Arizona dry desert.

Currently there is just a slight breeze blowing in from the south, which appears to not be blowing enough to render any sort of chilling comfort whilst indulging in doing some bluff hiking. Maybe the shade trees of Lucy Park are in need of a visit...

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

How's Your Forecast? Mine Is HOT 100s

Yesterday Spencer Jack and Hank Frank's grandpa Jake text messaged my phone asking me "How's your forecast?"

I wondered if something dire had been forecast for my location that had made the news at my brother's Arizona location, so I texted back "Nothing special is forecast that I am aware of."

My brother then texted back "I tried sending you our 6 day forecast which shows nothing below 110 and a 116 on Sunday."

I texted back to that with "We haven't hit 100 yet in real degrees. Have gone to 115 in feels like degrees."

And now this morning what did I see when I checked the forecast for my North Texas location? That which you see screen capped above. Not quite day after day over 100, but close.

I do not like ultra HOT days. Particularly of late when I've been sporting an extra layer of adipose tissue and its resultant heat trapping insulative properties...

Monday, July 6, 2020

Big Lake 4th Of July With Spencer Jack & Hank Frank

A couple minutes ago whilst scrolling on Facebook I saw that my favorite ex-sister-in-law, Spencer Jack and Hank Frank's grandma Cindy, had posted several photos documenting the 4th of July as experienced at grandma Cindy's Big Lake abode.

Big Lake is a little lake located a couple miles east of my old home location in Mount Vernon, in the state of Washington.

Among the grandma Cindy photos was one of my eldest great nephew, Spencer Jack, along with one of my youngest great nephew, Spencer Jack's cousin, Hank Frank.

Which would make that Hank Frank you see above with the giant watermelon.

Earlier this year I was pretty much 100% sure I would be meeting Hank Frank for the first time, later this month.

But, COVID-19 put an end to that happening. Last week our reservations to stay at Birch Bay were cancelled. And a couple days ago, whilst talking to Spencer Jack and Hank Frank's grandpa Jake, I learned grandpa Jake had canceled his plans to stay a month in the Skagit Valley, in addition to our time at Birch Bay.

No wonder we are all sort of depressed.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Ducky Linda Lou Sikes Lake Gazebo Call

Yesterday I was riding my bike through my Caribbean neighborhood, heading west on Haiti, when my phone made its incoming call noise. I did not stop rolling to see who was calling, since that is inconvenient when rolling, and when I do try to do that I usually do not make it to the phone in time to answer it.

Soon thereafter I left the Caribbean behind and arrived at Sikes Lake. A short distance later I stopped at one of the Sikes Lake gazebos and got my phone out of the phone holder which holds it whilst I am rolling.

The call was from Linda Lou.

Linda Lou is fun to talk to, so I sat at the gazebo and returned Linda Lou's call.

Whilst I was talking to Linda Lou at one point she asked what was that quacking noise she was hearing. Ducks I replied. I am surrounded by ducks.

I told Linda Lou I would take a picture of the ducks when I got off the phone and send it to her. I remembered to take the photo, but forgot about it til this morning when I decided I would just send Linda Lou a duck photo via this means.

It was only a flock of four ducks who were serenading me with their quacking. Only two of the ducks, the ones you see above, under the gazebo table, cooperated in having their picture taken.

During the course of a day a lot of people show up at this location on Sikes Lake bringing food to the flock of ducks and geese. The geese out number the ducks by a large margin. I think the four ducks who quacked at me and Linda Lou were hoping for a handout, as that gazebo is a popular lunching spot with the lunchers tossing tidbits to the birds.

At one point a little boy showed up who instantly got my flock of four duck's attention, with the ducks waddling after the little boy for a few minutes, before giving up on that kid giving them anything to eat, so they returned to me and the gazebo and Linda Lou.

This is the type thing which passes for being an exciting thrill in my current pandemic infested world.

I realized yesterday that it has been a year since I last trekked the few miles to the southeast that takes me to the Dallas/Fort Worth zone. I have had no reason to go there, and now what with the DFW Metroplex turning into a COVID-19 hotspot it seems even less appealing than it usually does to go there.

But, I would sure like to have myself a chile relleno at Esperanza's in Fort Worth. I have had a hankering for that for months now...

Friday, July 3, 2020

Raven Escapes To Ocean Shores With Kristin, Michele & The Tacoma Trio

I learned last night that to temporarily escape being housebound in Tacoma, or cabinbound on Harstine Island, the Tacoma Trio decided it was a good time to take a summer time look at the Pacific Ocean.

Doing so took the Tacoma Trio to Ocean Shores.

I have blogged about Ocean Shores a couple times on one of my other blogs, first in a blogging titled Ocean Shores Washington and a second time in Washington's Pacific Ocean's Ocean Shores is Celebrating 50 Years of Coasting.

In the first photo that is David, Kristin, Ruby, Michele & David, being guarded by Raven. I do not know where Raven's step brother, Eddie is.

Maybe Eddie took the picture.

That is the body of water known as the Pacific Ocean behind Raven and his family.

When I was the Tacoma Trio's age going to Ocean Shores was just about my favorite place we'd go on weekend camping trips. Only we simply called it "going to the coast".  And we did not usually stay in Ocean Shores, which is a town created in the 1960s. We usually stayed a few miles north in the little town of Copalis, where my little brother and I always had fun buying a balsa wood airplane to fly til it broke.

The Pacific Ocean beach at Ocean Shores, and for miles north and south, is a wide sandy swath, so wide two lanes of traffic drive on the "beach".

The last time I did so was way back in 2004, if memory serves me correctly.

Above that appears to be Ruby, Michele and Theo running towards the waves.

And now it appears Ruby, Michele and Theo are preparing to run in the other direction to escape the incoming waves.

Here we see David, Ruby, Theo and Raven on the big rocks which make up the spit which sticks way out into the ocean at the entry to Grays Harbor. The waves can get mighty big at this location. When I was last there, in 2004, we watched a big herd of seals frolicking in the surf. And whales spouting further out.

This is also the location of my one and only time experiencing what is known as a rogue wave.

It was a Sunday morning, long long ago. Ruby's mama Michele was about five years younger than Ruby is now. We joined throngs of others walking the beach at low tide.

Suddenly it was obvious an incoming wave was way bigger than the rest.

People began running to dry land. I picked up little Michele, and ran as fast as I could go, eventually getting high on a piece of driftwood, which ended up not being high enough, as we got swept off, and totally wet. The getting wet thing pretty much ended the drama as the wave retreated.

I remember this incident so clearly. I have previously asked Michele if she remembers it. She does not. One of the more vivid things I remember was, with it being Sunday, many of the beach goers were still wearing their going to church attire, including a lady wearing a ridiculously big fur coat. She could not run fast enough and was totally knocked down by the rogue wave. Her fur coat probably never recovered.

The information accompanying the Ocean Shores photos made no mention of staying overnight in one of the many Ocean Shores motels, but the above photo indicates such was the case. Maybe they stayed at the Gitchee Gumee. The last time I overnighted in Ocean Shores, with Michele, and mom and dad, was at the Gitchee Gumee. And one of the attractions was the indoor pool.

Months ago I was 100% certain I would be in Washington this month, having fun with the Tacoma Trio, swimming, sand castle building and mountain biking. But, last week the reservations at Birch Bay were cancelled, putting an end to what had become an ever decreasing chance of roadtripping to the Pacific Northwest this summer.

Someday, I hope, this current nightmare will end. Maybe in time to roadtrip to the Pacific Northwest for David's high school graduation. Or Spencer Jack's wedding. Or something else which currently seems like it would be way into the future...

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

111 Wichita Falls Degrees Feeling Not As Hot As Death Valley

This morning whilst perusing the news I saw that the temperature prediction for today was to be over  the century mark by around 5 this afternoon.

It was 8 minutes prior to five when I did made the temperature screen shot, via my phone, which you see here.

Only 99 degrees, not the promised 100. And now the time has passed that 5 o'clock mark and is still 99.

I do not know why the weather predictors can not be more accurate.

Due to that 99 apparently feeling like 111 I think I will forego the afternoon bike ride I have been enjoying of late, what with being borderline elderly and thus, apparently, more susceptible to heatstroke than someone younger and in better shape.

Earlier today I did get in some HOT endorphin inducing aerobic stimulation by walking the Circle Trail in the Wichita Bluff Nature Area, which is photo documented via two photos below.

A fork off the main trail forks again, terminating in two swinging benches. I am the only person I have ever seen swinging on either of these benches. But, looking in the trash barrel you see at the fork in the trail I saw multiple empty drink containers of various sorts, which indicates to me that those benches must be seeing some use later in the day, such as during the colorful sunsetting time.

A short distance from where the above spur trail joins the Circle Trail I came upon a disturbing instance of urban destruction.

What sort of vandalous madman would smash to smithereens a work of sculptural art like the tall hoodoo which stood at this location a couple days ago?

These acts of destruction seem to have no dampering effect on the rock piling spirit of the mysterious hoodoo builder. If history repeats itself, as it always seems to do, soon a new hoodoo will soon rise at this location.

Maybe the hoodoo builder should consider using super glue to render the construction less easy to topple.

Just checked the phone again. We are still stuck at that relatively chilly temperature of 99. I do not remember if we hit 100 last summer at my current location.

I do remember the last time I was super heated well above 100.

It was way back in August of 1998, when Spencer Jack and Hank Frank's paternal parental units flew me to Vegas, and then drove me out to Death Valley because the news that morning told us a temperature records might be set that day at Badwater Basin, the lowest elevation in North America, at 282 feet below sea level.

I do not remember what the temperature was when we made it to Badwater Basin or Furnace Creek. I do remember it did not break the record, which is somewhere above 130.  I also remember it was extremely HOT.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Windy Sunday Lake Wichita Walk With 64 Uncensored Photographs

Sunday is always a good day to walk the Lake Wichita promenade atop Lake Wichita Dam via the Circle Trail. Today was a particularly good Sunday to walk the dam, due to clouds blotting out some of the overly HOT sun, and a strong gale force wind chilling what little heat remained.

The photo you see above, looking across the white capped waves at Mount Wichita in the distance, is the furthest I made it today in the walking across the dam project. The wind had become tiresome.

I think some of the haze blotting out the sun is Saharan desert dust. Such was quite noticeable at sunset Saturday night.

Turning around and heading the opposite direction the scene you see below comes into view.

One fisherman trying to cast against the wind from shore, whilst another fisherman risks seasickness from fishing from the rocking and rolling floating fish deck.

That is the newly opened Lake Wichita boardwalk you see jutting out into the lake beyond the floating dock. Those poles sticking out of the water between the floating dock and the boardwalk are the remains of the wooden piers upon which the long gone Lake Wichita Pavilion once sat, before succumbing to a fire in the 1950s.

In the next photo we are heading out towards the new boardwalk, soon to join the three boardwalk walkers you see already walking on the boardwalk.

The above is a different perspective on the new boardwalk, from the view I saw a couple days ago and blogged about in Not Being Bored On Lake Wichita Boardwalk.

I am hoping the wind eventually dies down today, sufficiently so, that a bike ride might seem possibly pleasant later today. I feel as if I am not getting enough endorphins of late.

Yikes. I just looked at my blog to get the link to the previous blogging about the Lake Wichita boardwalk and was appalled to see that Google is now sticking advertisements into the body of the blog post. Previously the ads were inserted only where I indicated they could be inserted.

And that which the blog is now advertising deserves another Yikes! One ad is suggesting you stop using toilet paper, whilst another wants you to click it to see 64 uncensored rare photographs not suitable for all viewers!

Of late I have been thinking about killing my website and ceasing with the blogging. These ads may be what is known as a final straw...

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Not Being Bored On Lake Wichita Boardwalk

Yesterday my bike took me on an early evening ride to the Lake Wichita boardwalk.

Looking at the photo documentation of my handlebars on the aforementioned boardwalk one might think no one else was enjoying the pleasant early evening outdoors.

However, the reality was I have never seen so many people on the Circle Trail on top of Lake Wichita dam as I saw yesterday.

In addition to the dam walkers and riders, I saw multiple kayakers kayaking, along with multiple fisherpeople fishing, and two mountain climbers descending from the summit of Mount Wichita.

I would have thought the heavy rain earlier in the day would have rendered Mount Wichita too muddy to be climbed, but, apparently, I was wrong about that. Or maybe yesterday's mountain climbers enjoy the additional challenge of a slippery slope.

Being on the new Lake Wichita boardwalk, built over actual water in less than a year, reminded me of a question Mr. Bobalu asked me awhile back, asking me if I had heard anything at all regarding the current status of Fort Worth's three simple little bridges which the town has been trying to build for six years.

Six years trying to build bridges over dry land to connect the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island.

A large area of Fort Worth has been a construction destruction mess for years now due to the cataracted Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision, an ill-considered, ineptly implemented, bogus flood control and economic development scheme the public has never voted for, foisted on the city by the corrupt group of cronies who run their town in a manner known as The Fort Worth Way.

Anyway, to answer Mr. Bobalu's question, I have heard nothing about the current status of America's Biggest Boondoggle for quite some time.

It seems things like a pandemic and the American people finally being fed up with police brutality, plus a tanking economy, along with the worst president in anyone's memory, puts things like Fort Worth's scandalous messes on a back burner of insignificance in the bigger scheme of things.

Has that roundabout at the center of the bridge construction mess ever been completed? As in landscaped? Does that embarrassing million dollar aluminum homage to a trash can still sit surrounded by a weed/litter infested eyesore?

Has anyone ever gotten an explanation as to why this million dollar work of art was purchased and installed years and years before anything useful regarding the Trinity River Vision has been completed?

Is wasting a million bucks, on what amounts to being a distracting eyesore, one of the reasons Kay Granger has been unable to secure the promised federal funds for the Boondoggle her son was hired to executively direct to further motivate his mother to secure federal funds?

One would think it might be difficult to make a case for federal help when somehow there is already sufficient funding to buy something like a million dollar aluminum "kinetic sculpture".

The next "bridge" building project on Lake Wichita will be the final section of the Circle Trail, with the current plan being to build most of it on the lake.

I suspect that final section of the Wichita Falls Circle Trail will be taking people over water long before any of those three simple littles bridges in Fort Worth take people, or anything, over water...

Sunday, June 21, 2020

2020 Flooding Father's Day

It was four years ago today that I called my dad for the last time to wish him a Happy Father's Day.

It was three years ago today that I was able to wish my dad a Happy Father's Day, in person, for what turned out to be my dad's last Happy Father's Day.

On my dad's last Father's Day my favorite brother-in-law, Jack, and his first wife, my sister Jackie, brought a McDonald's all you can eat buffet of all my dad's McDonald's favorites to the banquet room of my dad's final home zone.

I blogged about what turned out to be dad's last McDonald's Happy Father's Day buffet in a post titled Dad's Father's Day McDonald's Buffet With Uncle Mooch & Tillie.

Little did I know, at the time, that I was to be seeing Uncle Mooch about two months later, along with Uncle Mooch's first wife, Aunt Jane.

I had been sort of holding out hope that the current world situation would improve enough by now so that my long planned trip to Washington could take place next month. But, I think the current world situation is about to get worse.

This morning's weather at my Texas location is a perfect metaphor for my current drippy melancholy.

Thunder stormed during the night. Soon after the arrival of illumination this morning dark clouds began delivering copious amounts of downpouring rain, along with a booming musical accompaniment of thunder drums.

That is the super wet view from my computer room window you are seeing above.

The current result of all that rain is my abode is now surrounded by a moat. This is the most substantial moat I have been surrounded by since living at this location.

The rain has finally stopped, for now, the flooding is subsiding somewhat. I think I will venture out in it and see if I can make it to my vehicle.

I almost forgot to wish a Happy Father's Day to all you fathers out there.


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Chilly Cloudy First Day Of Summer On A Wichita Bluff Bench

Spring roared out like a lion late Friday afternoon, with a sudden drenching downpour with a few minutes of thunder booming.

I was not under cover when the rain began to drench. This resulted in me discovering I can still run fast when properly motivated.

I had three instances of running fast through a downpour yesterday, resulting in some aching muscles today, on the first day of summer.

So, with muscles aching, and hours to go before Trump's Bizarro Tulsa Debacle, I drove to the Wichita Bluff Nature Area, this first 2020 summer morning, to commune with nature and have some relaxing time swinging on that bench you see at the end of a spur trail off the main trail which trails through the Wichita Bluff Nature Area.

As you can see via the bench photo documentation the Wichita Bluff Nature Area is looking like a green jungle on this first day of summer.

I forgot to mention, this first day of summer is relatively chilly, not even in the low 80s when I did my nature communing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Blackberry Hunting In The Wichita Falls Lucy Park Jungle

With a cooling breeze blowing on an outer world barely heated to 90 degrees, I thought I could have myself a mighty fine commune with nature today via a walk around the undeveloped backwoods lush green jungle part of Lucy Park.

I thought correctly. The combo of a semi-strong wind and a lot of shade, with cooling green on the ground, made for a pleasant, not HOT, walk.

It seems like an ancient long ago time when my number one fear of living in Texas was the fact that I've never been a fan of hot weather.

I never was a fan of a heat wave when I lived in Western Washington. At that location temperatures in the high 70s is a heat wave. When it gets into the 80s in the Puget Sound zone one begins to suffer. And those rare times the heat would go into the 90s, well, that was just not tolerable.

Ironically, living in Western Washington, where it seldom gets HOT, one of the fun things to do, in summer, is to drive over the mountains, as in Cascade mountains, via one of the mountain passes, to Eastern Washington, to a climate more like Texas, albeit with a lot more hills, big rivers, orchards, Indian reservations and tourist towns.

Walking in the Lucy Park jungle today, with its lush vegetation, I was wondering why blackberries do not grow here, in the wild, naturally. Blackberries are grown commercially here, in locations such as the Young's Farm Orchards a few miles northeast of my location, in the small town known as Charlie, a short distance from the even smaller town known as Dean.

I have been to both Charlie and Dean, but saw no blackberries at that point in time. Because it was the middle of winter.

The Young's operation also has strawberry fields. With a you pick option. I do not know if one can pick the blackberries in you pick mode.

Maybe if I did more off trail exploring in the Lucy Park jungle I might find some blackberry vines with fruit ready to pick. I doubt it though...

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

On Wichita Bluffs Finding Endorphins Whilst Dodging COVID-19 With Skyscraper Hoodoo

In need of some endorphin inducing aerobic stimulation this morning I was once again in the Wichita Bluff Nature Area communing with nature, whilst quickly ascending and descending the steep natural bluffs.

Today the Wichita Bluff Hoodoo came into view long before I reached its closeup viewing location. I saw the Hoodoo from a distance because it has now risen to heights seldom seen in Hoodoos.

If you look closely at the Hoodoo photo documentation you will see there is a second Hoodoo, of the extremely small sort. Perhaps this is some sort of homage to the Wichita Falls World's Littlest Skyscraper, located a couple miles east of this little Hoodoo rising on the Wichita Bluffs.

We have had a big uptick in confirmed COVID-19 in Wichita Falls. 19 new infections yesterday. Four of those infected were employed in two different downtown Wichita Falls eating and drinking establishments. 

Of late I have seen a steep drop in the number of people wearing a mask whilst shopping, such as in Walmart, or Target, or ALDI, or Office Depot, all of which I have eye witnessed in the past week.

I am coming to terms with the reality there will be no trip to Washington this summer. I have been saying for months that the plan to head to the Pacific Northwest was in jeopardy, but the small part of me which can be optimistic thought it would somehow work out by the time the time arrived.

I fear the worst has not yet began to get near to arriving...

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Carlotta Crackpotta's Purloined Haltom City Park Plaque Investigation

Friday morning, on Facebook, I saw a post about a memorial plaque in a park in the Fort Worth suburb known as Haltom City. That memorial plaque memorializes Ally Collins, a four year old who drowned in a flash flood way back in 2007.

That flash flood, and its drowning of Ally Collins, caused to come about a lot of political activism regarding trying to fix the inept, incompetent urban planning in Fort Worth and Tarrant County, with demands that something be done to mitigate the chronic flash flooding caused by poorly planned developments.

This flash flood of political activism soon came to target what was earlier in this century known as the Trinity River Vision. An imaginary flood control project supposedly designed to address urgent flooding issues where there had been no flooding for well over a half a century.

As one decade flowed into the next the Trinity River Vision morphed into the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision, with three simple little bridges stuck in slow motion construction over dry land, trying to connect the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island.

In the years since Ally Collins drowned, the Trinity River Vision, now known, by most, as America's Biggest Boondoggle, or more simply, as the Boondoggle, has spent millions upon millions of bucks, with no imaginary new flood control measures to be seen in the area which has not flooded for well over half a century.

While millions upon millions of bucks has not been spent addressing the issues which caused the flash flooding which drowned Ally Collins.

And now back to that plaque at that park in that Fort Worth suburb. I made a comment on that Facebook post, saying something like it is too bad that plaque is so small it is difficult to find, and to see, once one does find it. And that maybe someone could find a way to replace the Ally Collins memorial plaque with something larger and more memorable.

And then, beginning Friday afternoon, I started seeing incoming phone calls coming in from someone who for privacy's sake we shall refer to, this time, as Carlotta Crackpotta.

By late afternoon I was on a bike ride. On that bike ride I stopped in the shade of the MSU Mustang statues to sit on a bench and call Carlotta Crackpotta back.

Miss Crackpotta answered before the first ring finished. The first words Carlotta Crackpotta spoke to me were "Did you take that plaque?

What plaque you talking about, Carlotta, I thought and asked?

The Ally Collins plaque you were commenting on in a sinister way this morning on Facebook, Carlotta said back to me.

Oh, said I, yes, of course it was me. I drove all the way to DFW to purloin the Ally Collins plaque, what with that being just the sorta thing I do.

Well, after we got past those initial pleasantries I was able to figure out that someone had removed the Ally Collins plaque. Carlotta Crackpotta then was called by someone from the Haltom City city government to tell Carlotta about the purloined plaque. Carlotta then intuited from my Facebook comment regarding the plaque that I must have removed it so as to cause its replacement with something more substantial.

Not a bad idea, but I am innocent of the crime.

So, when I was finally able to get Carlotta Crackpotta off the phone by telling her it was past 5 and thus the cocktail float in the pool time of the day, I saw rising from ground near where I was sitting a memorial type plaque of the sort which should replace the missing Ally Collins plaque.

That is a photo of that plaque you see at the top.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Hoodoo Musings On Wichita Bluff Nature Area

Found a near record breaking Hoodoo teetering unnaturally precarious in the Wichita Bluff Nature Area this morning. 

I have yet to come upon a human constructing a Hoodoo.

Maybe they are natural formations formed by a strong wind, of which there has been plenty of late. 

I have been enjoying an increase in my walking miles the past couple months. The COVID-19 related activity reduction seems to have caused some weight gaining, hitting an all time high of 221 today. I had not weighed myself for a few weeks.

I am almost 100% certain the weight gain is all muscle.

With most of that muscle gain happening in my mid-section, hence currently being able to comfortably slide into only two of my dozens of shorts and pants.

To help cope with this expansive issue I bought myself some new shorts which have elastic waistbands easily able to cope with my extra muscular mid-section.

Does anyone make pants with elastic waistbands? Other than sweatpants?

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Shady Beach Walk To Wichita Falls

On this second Wednesday of the 2020 version of June, what with the outer world breezy and relatively chilly, as in barely in the 80s, I thought a shady walk along the Wichita River, with Wichita Falls as the destination, seemed as if it would be a mighty fine thing to do.

And so it was.

In the first instance of today's photo documenting we are looking north on a Wichita River beach. This is not a wide beach. And not a sandy beach. This beach is more like it is made of hardened adobe.

Today when I left the Circle Trail to walk on the above beach it crossed my mind as to how different I am now than I was when I first began experiencing Texas. Back then walking on a riverside location like this would have, well, un-nerved me. I would have been all worried that a big snake or alligator or tarantula or some other scary critter would attack me.

Since such has never happened in all the years I have been exploring the wild zones of Texas it amused me today to realize how wigged out a location such as this would have made me at another point in time.

About a half mile from the beach location I made it to Wichita Falls. This is a pleasant walk, mostly in the cooling shade of big treees.

One never knows if the falls will be turned on, or not, til one hears the roar of the falling water. As can see, today the falls are turned on.

The above closeup look at the upper falls is what one comes to when one climbs those steps you saw in the previous photo.

After going up one side of the falls I went up the other side, via the serpentine brick trail which leads to a couple overlooks looking over the falls.

The above is the view from above the falls, looking down at the Circle Trail bridge over the falls.

Today I am using the new version of Google's Blogger app. I do not like it. Although there have been improvements since I first tried it. By the end of the month this new app becomes the default, with the option of reverting to the original version.

The older I get the more I like things to stay the same, or at least be an obvious improvement when there is a change. Does this mean I am becoming conservative? What a shuddering thought....

Thursday, June 4, 2020

George Floyd Protest Today In My Old Burlington Hometown

Watched most of the George Floyd Memorial today. Don't know if I have ever heard an entire Reverend Al Sharpton speech before. Now I have and I gotta say, I was impressed. One of the things Sharpton mentioned was the fact that these current American protests inspired by racial injustice have a feature not seen at any time previous.

As in, in city after city, from New York to Seattle, there are more white faces than faces of color. Truly the times they are a-changing, with white Americans joining in chanting "NO JUSTICE NO PEACE".

And now this afternoon, via Skagit Breaking, on Faceback, I saw video of today's protest in my old hometown of Burlington.

Burlington is a little town, population currently 9,124. The video catches the end of the protest. The narrator apologizes for the language you see in the above screen cap.

Another screen cap is below. And below that I embeded the video.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Fort Worth May Spend $70 Million To Become Imaginary Tech Hub

In non-troubling times if I saw something like that which you see above, on the front page of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, I would not have hesitated long before pointing out a thing or two.

But, with America convulsed by civil unrest, rightfully so, in the midst of the worst pandemic since the Spanish Flu over a century ago, whilst being ineptly mislead by the worst president in American history, the latest Fort Worth nonsense seems sort of trivial to be talking about.

However, I'm bored, and feel like spending a few minutes clacking keyboard keys.

Does anyone keep track of how much money Fort Worth has spent on various incentives trying to lure some business to town? Such has been an ongoing phenomenon ever since I arrived in Texas and began observing the Fort Worth Way up close.

So many pitifully pathetic instances. The Cabela's sporting goods con job comes to mind. Fort Worth's inept city government bent over backwards to accommodate Cabela's, falling for the standard Cabela con that a sporting goods store would become the #1 tourist attraction in the state.

I remember when first I read that bizarre claim and thinking to myself doesn't that sort of insult all of the actual tourist attractions in Texas which actually do attract tourists?

Cabela's tried their standard incentive request when wanting to open a store by Olympia in my old home state.

Cabela's was told if it was not economically feasible to open a store without taxpayer help, then don't open a store. Cabela's opened that store, and then another one, in Washington, north of Seattle. Cabela's did not add their it's gonna be the top tourist attraction to their Washington pitch. That would be a bit ludicrous to do in the shadow of Mount Rainier, with the Olympics a short distance northwest, and Seattle a few miles to the northeast.

But, Fort Worth, well, the city government, fell for the Cabela con. And, within a few months of opening, the Fort Worth Cabela's was no longer the only Cabela's in Texas. And now, the Fort Worth Cabela's is not even the only Cabela's in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro zone.

And what is with the headline saying "Fort Worth says"?

Who in Fort Worth says this? Towns don't talk. Someone representing a town might say something.

So, who is the fool behind this latest attempt to lure a business to town via incentives?

Fort Worth can be a tech hub?

Has whoever thinks this actually been to any of America's tech hubs?

Instead of trying to bribe a business to come to town, why not instead make an effort to make the town more attractive for a business to locate to? As in why not some sort of effort to turn Fort Worth into a modern American city?

You know, where most streets have sidewalks, where city parks have modern restrooms, running water, and zero outhouses, where the town has multiple public pools, and an efficient modern public transit system.

And nothing as embarrassing as Molly the Trolley.

Fort Worth's Molly the Trolley needs to be taken off the streets and relegated to a museum.

Another thing to think about regarding attracting anything to a town, be it a business, or tourists. Awhile back some sort of survey found that Fort Worth ranked something like #48 in public awareness, whilst being America's 13th biggest city.

I have no idea what Fort Worth could do to raise awareness of the town in the American imagination.

I do know it ain't things like happy hour inner tube floats in a polluted river.

Or botched public works projects the public has never voted for, such as the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision, which has been limping along for most of this century, currently with three simple little bridges stuck in slow motion construction over dry land, hoping one day to connect the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island.

You really think it is attractive to a business looking to re-locate to see something like the mess which  has become America's Biggest and Dumbest Boondoggle? Do you think such instills confidence in a town's ability to get stuff done?

You really think $70 million is gonna successfully lure some obscure business to Fort Worth, turning the town into a tech hub?

Delusional madness, that's what it seems to be to me...

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Linda Lou Wichita Bluff Wedding Walk With Nooksack River Near Tragedy

On this last Saturday of the 2020 version of May I opted to drive to the west parking lot of the Wichita Bluff Nature Area to do some nature communing under the HOT pre-summer sun.

Upon arrival I was surprised to see more vehicles parked than I've ever seen previously. As in there was only one spot left for me to park on.

A short distance into the nature communing I saw what had clogged up the parking lot, that being the directional signage you see above, stuck in the ground next to the Circle Trail, pointing wedding party people to Wichita Falls' latest wedding venue, that being the Wichita Bluff Nature Area pavilion.

The wedding ceremony appeared to be well underway by the time I got a direct look at it.

What sort of surprised me was all the people I saw in the wedding venue were dressed like one might be if one was in an air-conditioned space. Suits with ties, long dresses. That and no masks, no social distancing.

There was no sound system with microphone broadcasting the proceedings. Such would have been possible, since there is electricity available at this venue, along with lighting for an after dark event. I can see where this location might become a popular wedding venue. A case could be make this is the most scenic location in town.

I almost forgot the Linda Lou part of walking the Wichita Bluffs today. I was at the highest point on the bluffs when my phone made its incoming text noise. When I got to the covered picnic structure which is at the Wichita River overlook I checked the message and texted back an answer to Linda Lou's probing question.

A short time later the phone made that incoming text message noise again. It was Linda Lou, again, asking a follow up question. I texted back an answer to that question and resumed the nature communing.

A short time later the phone made its incoming call noise. I got the phone back out of its pocket and was soon able to see the call was from Linda Lou. But, it took me awhile to figure out how to answer the phone call due to the text message screen being all I saw, except for a note at the top saying the call was from Linda Lou.

Eventually I figured out how to answer the call. Linda Lou then walked with me all the way back to the wedding venue. For the bulk of the call Linda Lou told me about an ABC 20/20 documentary which re-ran last night, which Linda Lou had suggested I DVR the day before. I had recorded the show, as instructed, but had not yet viewed it.

Near as I can tell, prior to watching the two hour show, has something to do with some convoluted murder case centered around the Nooksack River.

The Nooksack drains the Mount Baker watershed, eventually reaching Bellingham Bay.

The subject of the Nooksack River coming up switched the conversation to an incident last century on the Nooksack River which could have easily taken a fatal turn, though not a murderous one.

On a HOT summer day, Linda Lou, me and the Goober Twins joined hundreds of others inner tubing in the swift moving, glacier cooled Nooksack River.

This was a lot of fun. Until near tragedy struck.

We were floating along at high speed, when suddenly an inner tube traffic jam caused Linda Lou to get bumped into a log jam. Soon the suction of the fast moving water pulled Linda Lou under the logs. It was awful. Possibly the scariest thing I have ever been part of.

We panicked. Did not know what to do.

And then, just as suddenly as it happened Linda Lou popped out from the other side of the log jam. Linda Lou had no injuries. And was not upset at all, other than the obvious sense of relief.

I remember being impressed with how well Linda Lou handled this. I probably would have exited the river and walked back to where the return vehicles were located. Instead we just continued on, floating til we reached the end point.

Must hit the publish button now and go watch SpaceX take-off.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Linda Lou's Texas Berry Delivery

A few days ago Linda Lou texted me telling me to be on the lookout for a package arriving soon.

Soon turned out to be yesterday. I did not know what was in the package. On the package there was a warning to "PLEASE HANDLE WITH CARE---GLASS".

I carefully opened the box and soon found four glass jars containing four berry products, including one being blackberry, which is well known to be my favorite berry. In addition to blackberry the other berries are strawberry, raspberry and marionberry.

Thank you for these Pacific Northwest delicacies, Linda Lou!

Finding The Hidden Lake Photo

A couple days ago I blogged about being Surprised To Find Mount Baker On My Wall. In that blogging I mentioned several hikes on Washington mountains other than Mount Baker, and old fire lookouts on those mountains, including mentioning the Hidden Lake Lookout.

I also mentioned that I should have Hidden Lake Lookout photos somewhere in my abode or on this computer.

Then, last night, whilst looking for a photo of my newly deceased poodle nephew, Blue, I came upon the photo above of me sunbathing on a granite slab on the promontory on which the Hidden Lake Lookout is built. The lookout is behind me. That is Hidden Lake you see behind my knees.

Back when I lived in Washington is never occurred to me how uniquely special it was that I could drive about 30 miles to the east and be seeing scenery like you see above. Or go even fewer miles to the west and be at a saltwater beach.

At my current location I would need to drive hundreds of miles to see a mountain scene, or a saltwater beach.

R.I.P. Blue

Sad news yesterday from sister Michele.

Blue, who would have turned 16 this coming August, died yesterday.

That is Blue, above, on the right, next to his brother, Max, who passed away in August of 2017.

Blue and Max are being held by mama Kristin, in this photo taken July 27, 2008, at Sea-Tac airport, where Blue and Max had come to pick me up, so I could take care of them whilst their parental units spent some time in the other Washington, the D.C. one.

Blue's health had been failing, with one of those failures being going blind. I do not know if Blue's blindness was caused by macular degeneration, but I do know Blue was especially fond of his grandma Shirley, my mom, who did have macular degeneration.

The Tacoma Trio, David, Theo and Ruby, and their parental units were with Blue when he ascended to Dog Heaven.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Lake Wichita Dam Spillway Takes Me To Twin Peaks & Snoqualmie Falls For Some Northern Exposure

Somewhere, upcreek, a lotta rain must have fallen in the Holliday Creek watershed, judging by the rapidly raging Holliday Creek I saw today as I biked towards Lake Wichita Dam where I saw the spillway spilling what I photo documented above.

A virtual Niagara of water falling over the Lake Wichita Dam spillway. The roar of the water bordered on being somewhere near deafening. The ground almost was trembling from the force of the falling water.

I have not experienced such a wild water act of Mother Nature since the last time I was at the Snoqualmie Falls overlook during a flood. The roar at that time was totally deafening. And the ground actually did tremble. That, and even though the waterfall was a half mile distant, waterfall mist caused one to get quickly drenched.

Oh, I suppose I should point out that Snoqualmie Falls is in Washington, a short distance east of Seattle, near the town of North Bend, which was known as Twin Peaks in the TV show of that name.  Snoqualmie Falls was the waterfall you saw at the opening credits part of Twin Peaks whilst that show's haunting theme music played.

That was an odd time to live in Washington, during the Twin Peaks period. That show was big in Japan. Tour groups came from Japan just to go to the Twin Peaks locations and have cherry pie and mighty fine coffee at the Mar T Cafe. I did that myself. After hiking to the top of Mount Si. The cherry pie was blah, and the coffee was nothing special. Agent Cooper hyperbolized.

Around the same time Twin Peaks was a big deal on the west side of the Cascades, taking I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass to the east side of the Cascades, to the town of Roslyn, one got to have an even better TV immersion experience. One I did multiple times.

On the CBS Twin Peaks type show called Northern Exposure Rosyln was Cicely, Alaska. One could go in the Cicely bar, I forget the name, maybe The Brick was it, and have a pitcher of beer. Or cross the street to Ruth Ann's grocery. Or visit Dr. Fleishman's doctor office. Or the radio station, I forget the call letters and the DJ's name. My favorite was Dr. Fleishman's eskimo nurse, Elaine. She was very popular and would show up frequently in Rosyln to make tourists happy by signing autographs.

If you are ever in Washington and driving around the state, do not miss Roslyn. It's my favorite of the Washington tourist towns. And don't miss the cemetery. Or the pizza joint across the street from the saloon. A long line to get in on a Saturday night, but well worth it, and the wait is entertaining.

At my current location I do not know how far I am from a place I might think to be a tourist town. Hundreds of miles, maybe? Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country is a fun tourist town. That's the only one I can think of.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Surprised Finding Mount Baker On My Wall In Texas

A week or two ago I made mention of Washington's Mount Baker volcano in a blogging about Mr. Forrester Cooling Down A Washington Heatwave Via Mount Baker.

I have been looking at the image you see above, all this month of May, due to this image being the May scenic view on the calendar which arrived this most recent Christmas, sent by Sister Woman Lydia Mae, from Mount Vernon, where Lydia Mae can see Mount Baker on any clear day she looks out one of her windows facing northeast.

Now, as an example of how un-observant I can be. I have been seeing this calendar for five months now. And only today did I realize the calendar's scenic scenes are all from Washington. I don't want to take the calendar from the wall to check out the month's previous, but I can look at the following months without taking the calendar from the wall.

I see next month is a view of Mount Shuksan, the mountain some have mistaken for being Mount Baker, due to the fact that one can see Mount Shuksan from the Mount Baker ski area, but one can not see Mount Baker from the Mount Baker ski area.

After seeing next month is Mount Shuksan I wondered if the entire calendar consists of scenes around Mount Baker, so I went another month ahead, to July, to see the July scene is Palouse Falls. That is in Eastern Washington, far away from Mount Baker.

The caption describing the May photo is "Park Butte Lookout and Mount Baker".

I have hiked from Schrieber's Meadow multiple times, hiking what is called the Railroad Grade up the southwest slope of Mount Baker. I have only hiked the spur trail to Park Butte Lookout once. It is a strenuous addition to an already strenuous hike. But, well worth the effort.

A blurb from the Washington Trails Association webpage about the Park Butte Lookout hike...

On Park Butte, hike to an historic fire lookout and come face-to-face with Koma Kulshan. Along with unobstructed panoramic views of Mount Baker, the Twin Sisters, and the rest of the North Cascades, the route to Park Butte offers campsites, wildflower-filled alpine meadows, rushing waterfalls, and a stunning variety of mushroom species.

The Park Butte Lookout is one of the few remaining from the era when lookouts were needed to lookout for forest fires.

The most brutal hike I have ever hiked in the Cascades is a few miles north of Mount Baker, the Church Mountain hike. The summit of the Church Mountain hike is a small flat spot on which the few remains of a long ago abandoned lookout remain. To reach the summit you have to pull yourself up the steep final ascent using a cable which remains from the old lookout. It is a bit scary and not for those made squeamish by anything steep.

The Hidden Lake Lookout is another which remains operable which I have hiked to. The Hidden Lake Lookout is accessed via the Skagit Valley. I think it is probably closer to the Glacier Peak volcano, than Mount Baker.

The Hidden Lake Lookout is maintained by the Skagit Alpine Club. I seem to recollect there being some sort of emergency phone which required cranking to operate. This may be a false memory. You can stay over night in the Hidden Lake Lookout on a first come first stays basis.

I can not remember the last time I went on an actual real hike on a real mountain. It may have been August 11, 2008, when my favorite sister-in-law had me drive her and her mother to Mount Rainier, where we hiked from Paradise to Myrtle Creek.

I am now feeling melancholy thinking about missing going on real hikes on real mountains. Something I thought might happen this coming summer til this COVID-19 Trump Pandemic happened...

Monday, May 25, 2020

Escaping Rain Under Lucy Park Covered Walking Venue With Memorial Day Hot Dogs

Rain arrived this morning, right on schedule, as predicted by the predictors.

The predicted rain so far has not fallen in copious amounts.

Instead it is reminding me of a stereotypical Western Washington winter rainy day.

Slow dripping. Under a gray sky. And not too cold.

Feeling the need to do some vertical moving I opted to drive to Lucy Park and avail myself of one of the park's covered walking venues.

As you can see, I was not alone in thinking driving to Lucy Park to avail oneself of one the the Lucy Park covered walking venues was a good idea.

My co-walkers fired up a grill and were soon cooking hot dogs and burgers. I politely declined the invite to join in due to having already made Memorial Day lunch plans at another location...

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Wichita Bluff Hoodoos Survive Softball Size Hail

This Sunday before the 2020 version of Memorial Day I opted out of attending a church service in one of the few churches in Wichita Falls open for regular business, and instead joined the morning throngs communing with nature in the Wichita Bluff Nature Area zone.

Yesterday, via Facebook, I saw a photo of a gigantic chunk of hail the size of a small watermelon which allegedly crashed into a home in the town of Burkburnett, a town due south of the Oklahoma border, about 15 miles north of Wichita Falls.

I heard nothing else about hail cannon balls in the neighborhood, til this morning whilst checking on the online version of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's front page and saw this...
The storm happened Friday night, well into Saturday morning. I heard no hail hitting my Wichita Falls location. I am guessing by "near Wichita Falls" the Star-Telegram must be referring to the aforementioned Burkburnett.

When I last saw the Wichita Bluff Nature Area's Hoodoo installation the installation was totally discombobulated, as in something or someone had totally obliterated the stand of Hoodoos.

I think that was Friday morning, before the thunderstorm which produced giant hail. So, I really do not think Mother Nature can be blamed for the Hoodoo leveling. I suspect it was an act of human destruction which discombobulated the Hoodoos.

And now this morning, 24 hours, or longer, after giant hail pummeled some locations, the Wichita Bluff Nature Area Hoodoo installation has once again risen, this time with more Hoodoos than ever previously counted, as in I almost had to use all my fingers to count all the Hoodoos.

So, that has been my Memorial Day Weekend, so far...

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Saturday Lucy Park Suspension Bridge Video Walk Over Wichita River

Last night's almost all night long thunderstorm was the longest and loudest storm so far this year, near as I can remember.

And now, on this next to last Saturday of the 2020 version of May, blue sky has returned with only some big puddles of water and foliage scattered about.

A visit to Lucy Park seemed like a good idea, post-storm. I thought there was a chance sufficient rain fell to render the Wichita River into flood mode, with Lucy Park closed.

But, soon upon arrival at one of the biggest parks in Wichita Falls, when the Wichita River came into view, it was seen to be nowhere being in flood mode, though running high.

Today I used my new phone to make a video. I think this was the first time I have done this with the new phone. The phone seems to make better video than my old video camera used to make, before I tossed it due to it being an antique. The old video camera was just a camera. Not a phone. And it was about ten times the size and weight of the phone.

Anyway, in the video you walk with me across the Lucy Park suspension bridge over the Wichita River. This is not for the squeamish who are afraid of heights whilst walking on something swaying.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Lake Wichita Fish Kill Pandemic Mystery

This morning my bike rolled me to Lake Wichita. Perfect temperature with a bit too much wind. That is Mount Wichita you see above, in the upper right part of the photo.

In the lower right part of the photo that is a couple dead fish you are seeing. At the point on the Circle Trail when the trail gets closest to the lake I looked down and saw a dead fish, then another, then another.

And so I stopped for a closer look.

From where I stood on the bank of Lake Wichita, in addition to those dead fish, which you are able to see in the photo, I counted a total of 17 formerly living fish. The fish did not appear to have been dead long, as no noticeable decomposition had taken place, with no tell tale foul odor.

There are not many locations along the trail where you get an up close look at the lake. Right by Mount Wichita is one open beach location, but I was not looking for dead fish when I was at that location.

After leaving the site of the 17 fish massacre, when I got to the next point on the Circle Trail where I had a good view of the lake edge I figured if this dying fish problem was pandemic I would see more dead fish at that location.

When the trail on top of the dam gets to the location of the floating dock one gets a good look at the lake's edge.

I saw two dead fish at that location.

And then I figured, what with water falling over the spillway, a rare occurrence, there should be dead fish caught in the reeds in the creek below the spillway.

I saw several more dead fish when I rolled on by the below spillway location, along with a man and woman, of the married couple sort, pointing and staring, I assume at the dead fish, as I don't know what else would have been getting their attention at that location.

Upon my return to civilization, and mentioning the dead fish, one of my local facticians (made up word) told me he had read that there was concern about an algae bloom on Lake Wichita presenting a potential problem of the killing fish sort.

I saw several people fishing at Lake Wichita today. I don't know if I would want to be catching fish from a lake which is killing fish due to the water quality.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Rare Ghost White Thistle Lily Haunts Today's Wichita Bluff Nature Area Hike

A raindrop or two dripped whilst taking a nature walk in the Wichita Bluff Nature Area this third Thursday of the 2020 version of May.

And on that nature walk I came upon the rare wildflower you see above. A ghost white thistle lily.

This 2020 version of the spring season seems way greener than the North Texas norm of recent years.

I find myself surrounded by jungle-like foliage vegetation frequently of late. Or so it seems.

Above we are looking at one of the swinging benches one finds in the Wichita Bluff Nature Area. This particular bench is found on one of the side spurs of the main Circle Trail which meanders through the Nature Area.

The view here is from what may be the high point on the Wichita Bluffs. That spot of orange you see in the center left of the picture is the Wichita River, currently running a bit high due to last weekend's rain.

Make note of the jungle of green you see above.

Years ago, whilst I lived in the DFW zone I recollect blogging some photos of the Village Creek Historical Area in Arlington. This Historical Area is also naturally green, like the Wichita Bluffs, though not as hilly.

I recollect Betty Jo Bouvier seeing those photos of the Village Creek zone and then asking me if it really is that green there, because she thought all of Texas was dusty brown desert. I disabused Betty Jo of that erroneous assumption.

Years before disabusing Betty Jo regarding her Texas landscape stereotyping, I was back in Washington, soon before moving to Texas, in a movie theater in North Seattle with Wanda to watch The X Files movie.

The X Files movie opens in Dallas. When I saw what was being shown as being the outskirts of Dallas I leaned over to Wanda and whispered "it's not really like that, it's not all flat brown desert, it's slightly hilly with a lot of green and trees".

Wanda made some disparaging remark indicating she did not believe me. A short time later, about four months after I made the move to Texas, Wanda made her one and only visit. I do not remember reminding her of her skepticism regarding the North Texas topography when she saw it for herself. I have never been big on doing the 'I told you so' thing.

In July of 2017 when I drove myself to Arizona, having a bad vehicular breakdown on the way, stranded a few miles east of Flagstaff, I was a bit nervous when it came time to return to Texas, what with record breaking high temperatures and still feeling traumatized by coming to an unwanted halt on a freeway which seemed to be in the middle of nowhere.

So, my little brother suggested following me back to Texas, to make sure I made it back without any more vehicular nightmares traumatizing me. I did not think that was a good idea, due to having experienced many a time previous the pain of traveling with more than one vehicle. Way too easy to get separated, along with all sorts of other issues.

That drive back, by the time I got to West Texas, to the Van Horn, Pecos, Wink, Odessa, Midlands zone I was tired, but could find no place to stay with a vacancy. Eventually I gave up, made it to a rest area between Sweetwater and Abilene, managing to rest for a few hours before driving the final leg back to Wichita Falls.

That morning the sun began to rise by the time I got to Seymour, about 50 miles southwest of Wichita Falls. I was so surprised at how beautiful that sunrise was, and how, as the illumination grew brighter, the landscape became greener and greener.

I had been in the monochrome desert of Arizona for almost a month. The landscape stays that same monochrome well into Texas. I recollect thinking it would have been so amusing if my little brother had followed me, with him being totally shocked at the jungle of green he was seeing, no longer in a desert...

Monday, May 18, 2020

Swimming Sunday In Lake Wichita

Yesterday, on the day of the week known as Sunday, in the late afternoon time frame, my bike rolled me to Lake Wichita where, eventually, in the shadow of Mount Wichita, I saw something going on in Lake Wichita I had never previously seen.

People swimming.

Last year the city park people cleared out a section of the shore of Lake Wichita, ridding it of vegetation of the brushy sort. This made a beach, of sorts, a section of which you see above.

Just as I stopped rolling to get out my phone to snap some photos the Skagit Valley's Linda Lou called. During the course of that half hour phone call I missed several good  people swimming photo ops, but the one I managed after Linda Lou stopped talking to me serves as adequate photo documentation.

I do not know why, as part of the supposed Lake Wichita Revitalization Project, a designated swimming area has not already been built. I assume some dredging, some sand and some floating dock type structure would make for a mighty fine playing in the water opportunity.

I think such a thing would be extremely popular. Even with the primitive beach which now exists the Mount Wichita parking lot was fuller than I have ever seen it, with multiple people ascending and descending Mount Wichita, along with all the people sunbathing along the shore, or fishing, or those actually in the water.

As inviting and cooling as it looks to be I don't see myself getting wet in Lake Wichita anytime soon. I've developed an aversion to snapping turtles and water snakes...

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Sunday Church Walk With Sikes Lake Geese Before McDonald's Cheeseburgers

This Sunday morning, with going to church not an option, unless I wanted to go to the Cowboy Church on Jacksboro Highway, a reality I learned later in the day, I opted to join the throngs of former churchgoers enjoying one of God's local outdoor temples, that being the trail around Sikes Lake.

The Sikes Lake geese seem to have found a new level of liking the humans, what with so many of them visiting their Sikes Lake home due to the COVID-19 increase in visitors.

In the first of today's photo documentation I had just joined the promenade of walkers following the biggest goose family living at the lake. Mom and dad hatched 17 babies this birthing season.

Mother goose has become so used to the humans she no longer does her threatening hissing if you get too close to her babies.

Above we have stopped for a closer visit.

And closer.

And even closer.

That first goose family was walking the trail near the parking lot on the east side of Sikes Lake. The above, much smaller, goose family was on the south side of the lake. These babies were closer to being newborns than the first ones we saw. And their mother was a bit more protective, doing some distant hissing when my co-walker reached out to pet one of the fuzzy goslings.

After walking around Sikes Lake the hiking crew returned to the motorized means of transport so I could drive us to the nearest McDonald's drive-thru to acquire a bag of cheeseburgers to munch on during a drive which ended up driving by that aforementioned Cowboy Church on Jacksboro Highway, south of Wichita Falls.

And now, what with the outer world seeming still, as in not windy like it has been for days, methinks I will go on a bike ride to Lake Wichita and join the throngs social distancing there...