Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Shadow Of The Thin Tree On New Section Of Wichita Falls Circle Trail

No, that is not the Shadow of the Extremely Thin Man you are seeing above. My plan to lose the COVID 30 I gained in the past year ran awry for various reasons in March. I am hoping April does not go awry. The thin shadow you see above is from a leaf-free tree hovering over the Circle Trail.

Today I drove my bike to the east entry parking lot access to the Wichita Bluffs Nature Area. Before pedaling west to the Nature Area I pedaled east to see the current state of the Circle Trail extension to Lucy Park. 

The new trail has added a lot of feet since I last checked, along with building the bridge you see the thin tree shadowed upon.

It appears this bridge was built in the Fort Worth style, over dry land, but built not at the Fort Worth bridge building speed, hence this Wichita Falls Circle Trail bridge is completed, instead of languishing for years partway built, with weeds running amok.

I rode my bike at the aforementioned Lucy Park yesterday. I can not figure out where the Circle Trail extension is going to connect to the Circle Trail in Lucy Park. At the current pace of construction that mystery should be solved soon.

The mystery of the Fort Worth bridges remains unsolved. Three simple little freeway overpass-like bridges, being built over dry land, ever since 2014, with no coherent explanation ever provided explaining why building these simple little bridges has taken so long.

Fort Worth does not have a real newspaper with real journalists practicing real journalism who might get to the bottom of Fort Worth's bridge building mystery...

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Flying Over Mount Rainier With Arizona Sister Jackie

Continuing with the theme of late of something or someone showing me something which renders me ever so slightly homesick for the scenic wonderland I used to live in. 

So, obviously this would make that not snow covered Mount Wichita you see above. I believe that is one of Washington's five active volcanoes, it being the one named Rainier.

Arizona sister Jackie's phone sent me the photo above, along with text saying "Not home for 10 days! Hope all is well there!"

I knew sister Jackie was flying to Washington near the end of March. I did not know this was taking place on this next to last day of March. Tuesday is the day I most frequently call Jackie on her landline because Tuesday is the day she is most reliably home. I was gonna call Jackie this morning on my way to bike ride the trails at Lucy Park, but I forgot.

She probably was in the air during the time frame I was gonna call.

I think this is at least the second time Jackie has flown to Washington during the COVID nightmare. There may be a third time I am forgetting.

I can't picture myself doing the flying thing whilst having to wear a mask the whole time. And there are those times during the flying experience where you find yourself crowded. Such as riding the Skylink at DFW Airport to get from one terminal to another. Or waiting to board. Or being in line boarding. And whilst in the air there is no beverage service, no pitiful little bag of something like a nut or a cookie.

Sister Jackie flies out of the country in about another month, to Mexico, to attend her eldest's first wedding. I am assuming those nuptials are still scheduled.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Visiting Hank Frank's Jones Family Compound With Spencer Jack & Jason


Yesterday whilst blogging about Driving By The Skagit Tulip Festival Daffodils With Miss Lori I made mention of the fact that my Favorite Nephew Joey's house and the Hank Frank Orchard are on the Skagit Flats, on Beaver Marsh Road, near world famous Roozengarde.

This morning Hank Frank's Uncle Jason emailed me two emails with one photo in each email, along with text.

The text which accompanied the photo above was "Just read your blog.  The acres next to FNJoey has a home built for Spencer and I.  I think I have additional photos of this.  The Jones compound is one block south of Roozengarde.  It’s a gorgeous place to live."

Roozengarde is a Dutch name, as is Slotemaker, which translates to Jones in its adulterated English form. The Dutch pair in Hank Frank's yard with the Slotemaker sign came from my mom and dad's yard in Arizona.

And then we have the second photo from today's email.

The text with the above email said, "Here is one Spencer took the other day of me out standing in my field with the home pictured in the distance.  I can’t wait for you to visit."

It is unclear to me if the home referenced is the Hank Frank house or the one Jason said was a home built for him and Spencer. 

In the above photo I believe we are looking west at the setting sun. I think this to be the case because there are no mountains on the horizon. If that were a sun rising from the east it would be popping out over a range of mountains called Cascades.

I have not yet seen the design plans for Jason and Joey's Jones Family Compound. I assume such will soon be forthcoming...

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Driving By The Skagit Tulip Festival Daffodils With Miss Lori

Facebook continues its daily duty of making me a bit homesick for my old home zone of the Skagit Valley. The above was from this morning's Facebook, on this, the final Sunday of the 2021 version of March.

Below was also on Facebook this morning, via someone who lives closer to the Skagit Valley than I do, and so can easily return when feeling the need.

I do not remember when last I drove on the Skagit Flats during the blooming time of the year. I do remember that at some point in time during the 1990s mom and dad talked me into going with them to the Roozengarde Easter Sunday Sunrise Service. That turned out to be a memorable experience.

Let me see if I can find a Roozengarde website.

Well, that was easy. And Roozengarde managed to get the domain name for their website. Click the link and you'll see some colorful photos.

From their website I see Roozengarde is on Beaver Marsh Road. The same road my Favorite Nephew Joey bought a house on. I recollect being told Joey's house and the Hank Frank Orchard was close to Roozengarde.

Joey's big brother, my Favorite Nephew Jason, bought 7 acres adjacent to Joey, on which the future Jones Family Compound may one day be built.

I am guessing that living near the center of the Skagit Tulip Festival gets to be a bit tiresome for Joey, Monique and Hank Frank. I remember finding the throngs and traffic jams to be a bit tiresome years ago, near when the Skagit Tulip Festival became an annual event, when I lived in West Mount Vernon, one block from the traffic clogged Memorial Highway.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Balmy Second Saturday Of Spring At Mount Wichita

This final Saturday of the 2021 version of March is the first time in a long time, perhaps the first time this year, that I rode my bike south on the Circle Trail all the way to Mount Wichita.

It seems like only weeks ago Mount Wichita was covered with snow and freezing with a temperature below zero, because such was the case only weeks ago.

And now, today, that which was recently cold and white has turned warm and green.

As in a temperature in the mid 70s today.

Feeling balmy.

I turned on my computer room ceiling fan for the first time this year.

But, so far I have not felt the need to turn on the air conditioning.

You see no humans in the photo documentation of the formerly snow covered Mount Wichita.

But, there were a lot of people today enjoying the perfect weather. Some floating in boats, fishing. Other fishing from the Lake Wichita floating dock. Others fishing from the Lake Wichita Boardwalk. And many more fishing from shore.

I do not know if there are many fish to catch living in Lake Wichita. There must be, even though I've never seen one caught, because there is usually at least one person fishing. 

I have seen a lot of fish reeled in at nearby Sikes Lake.

In addition to all the people trying to reel in fish I encountered many bikers, hikers, joggers, walkers, baby carriages and dogs.

An excellent second Saturday of Spring....

Friday, March 26, 2021

Spring Sprungs White Tree Blossoms

Spring has been doing some major springing at my location as we near the end of March, as documented by the trees you see above, sporting white blossoms.

These white flowering trees are landscaping the Circle Trail, about a block north of my abode.

I saw other flowering trees and some wildflowers blooming on the ground on this morning's bike ride.

I have no recollection of any sort of fruit eventually appearing on these white flowering trees.

I do recollect that at some point the white blossoms fall from the trees creating what looks sort of like snow covering the ground, with the wind blowing the white blossoms into drifts.

Speaking of drifting.

It begins to look a little unlikely that I will be venturing north in a couple months. But that could change.

I have learned details of a high school reunion which some have opined I should attend this summer whilst I am in Washington. The details of that reunion make it unlikely I will be there, with one of the details being this reunion is happening earlier than when I planned on being in Washington.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Wall Calendar Triggers Grand Canyon Of COVID Torments


That which you see here is on the wall of my computer room.

Which would make that which you see here a wall calendar.

It has now been over a year since I have travelled further than 40 miles from my abode. 

I have not even been to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metromess for over a year. 

And this National Park themed wall calendar regularly torments me with reminders of scenic places I have been. 

For March it is Grand Canyon National Park.

I first saw Grand Canyon when I was 19. I had been to Yellowstone, and seeing the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and thinking it quite impressive, I suggested heading south a few hundred miles to see the more famous Grand Canyon.

Before getting to Grand Canyon we visited Bryce Canyon and Zion Canyon, vowing to return, soon, with proper hiking gear.

After Bryce and Zion it was on to Grand Canyon. The North Rim. This truly was one of the more overwhelming shockingly scenic things I had ever seen. I was already in scenic wonder overload due to Bryce and Zion.

Ironically, it was just a brief visit to several of the North Rim overlooks, and then on to Las Vegas, then Los Angeles and Disneyland, vowing to return, soon, to Bryce, Zion and Grand Canyon.

It was just a few years later, in, I think, 1979, that I drove the longest roadtrip I ever drove, visiting places like Colorado and New Mexico and Texas for the first time. Just a little bit of Texas, after caving at Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Eventually made it to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and hiked the Bright Angel Trail all the way to the Colorado. Going down was easy, going back to the top was brutal, and did not make it there til an hour after dark.

I don't remember for sure what came after Grand Canyon, that time. Probably Vegas and then on to Los Angeles. I think this was the time I stayed in San Diego for a few days and went to both the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park, or whatever it was called. I recollect going to a Sir George's buffet in a suburb of San Diego and driving around in Tijuana for a few miles. 

I did not make it back to Zion National Park til 1992, also visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, before heading to Vegas. I never have managed to hike the Angel's Landing trail in Zion which I vowed to hike some day, after seeing a Ranger presentation in the Zion campground on that first visit to Zion.

I was back at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon the last day of 1993, staying overnight in Flagstaff. There was snow at the top of the canyon and the trails were ice covered at that elevation, so no hiking.

But, that same trip had me seeing this cool looking location on the San Juan River, north of Monument Valley. The San Juan Inn in Mexican Hat, Utah.

That following year I organized a group roadtrip, from which my Internet nickname came. As I made various reservations I would mail out itinerary info to my fellow roadtrippers, calling the mailing "Durango Dean's Wild West Adventure Tour" or something like that.

This trip began with four days of houseboating on Lake Powell, cruising all the way to Rainbow Bridge National Monument, then off the houseboat to the treacherous descent down the Moki Dugway, to the aforementioned town of Mexican Hat to stay at the San Juan Inn. Which had a wonderful restaurant, owned and operated by Navajo, where I learned I like Indian fry bread.

After Mexican Hat it was on to Monument Valley and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, where I had booked us log cabins. This was in mid October of that year. During the night a blizzard blew in. By morning we were trapped, awaiting snow plows to clear the road. It was wonderful, one of my favorite experiences ever.

When we were able to leave it was on to Zion where we had rooms booked in the National Park lodge. We did a lot of hiking at Zion, but still no hike to Angel's Landing. After Zion it was on to Vegas for four days, then an overnight stay in cabins at Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley. That was also one special night. Best swimming pool ever.

I got a flat tire in Death Valley. That turned out to be added fun. After Death Valley it was time to head north, towards home, with a night in Mammoth Lakes, a quick detour into Yosemite, an overnight in Redding, and then home.

That was one fun roadtrip, slightly repeated five years later with a different cast of characters, though some were the same. Did not enjoy the houseboat so much that time. But the Moki Dugway and Mexican Hat were again fun. As was staying several days in Moab, mountain biking. After Moab part of the group headed back to Washington, whilst two vehicles, including mine, headed to Durango, then overnighting in the Imperial Hotel ( I think that was the name ) in Silverton. The high elevation was taxing. Enjoyed it immensely, particularly imbibing in the hotel's saloon. The next day the other vehicle, after heading north on the Million Dollar Highway, began its return to Washington, while I continued on through Colorado, eventually coming to the headwaters of the Rio Grande.

Overnighted that night in Taos. I want to go back to Taos. And would have by now if it were not for the COVID intervention which mucked up a Taos visit plan. After Taos it was south to Alamogordo, overnight. An event there at the National Space Museum turned highly entertaining. 

After Alamogordo is was on to White Sands National Monument, eventually overnighting in a scary border town called Douglas, across the border from Agua Preita in Mexico. Next day discovered Bisbee. Loved it. Then happened upon Tombstone when they were having their annual Hellorado Days Celebration. Weirdest parade I have ever seen. Loved it.

After Tombstone it was on to Yuma, a couple years before my mom and dad moved there. Had a mighty fine time crossing the border to Algadones, Mexico. And then it was time to head north, to Vegas, again, then Tonopah, then Reno, then back to Washington.

I miss taking a good long roadtrip. Some days I get feeling doing such things will never happen again.

I probably should take that wall calendar off the wall, what with its reminders of places seen and in need of being seen. So far, though only in March, I've been to the National Parks on the calendar. those being January was Grand Tetons National Park, February was Sequoia National Park.

Let me sneak a peak at April.

Yosemite National Park

I've only been to Yosemite three times. And have only overnighted there once, staying three days in a cabin at Camp Curry. Would love to do that again. Maybe not Camp Curry, but the National Park lodge instead. I forget its name, but it's a famous one, Ahwahnee, that's it...

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Paragliding From Erie Mountain To Real Island On A Real Island

Saw that which you see above this morning via the You Know You're From Anacortes When...Facebook page.

In the center of the photo that is a paraglider gliding from Mount Erie. Anacortes is a few miles to the northwest of this location. The Skagit Valley and my old home zone of Mount Vernon is a few miles to the east, or left, in the photo.

For someone from Fort Worth, unfamiliar with such, those chunks of land surrounded by water are what are known as actual islands. Not imaginary islands created by digging a cement lined ditch and diverting polluted river water into the ditch. 

The water you see in the distance is saltwater, part of the north end of Puget Sound. The water you see with an island in it is Lake Campbell. A freshwater lake. Lake Campbell is on Fidalgo Island, which makes that island in Lake Campbell a rare instance of an island on an island.

That body of land you see in the upper right of the photo is Whidbey Island, accessed via the nearby Deception Pass Bridge, or via ferry boat at two locations further south on Whidbey Island.

Fort Worth's imaginary island, if it ever sees that cement lined ditch successfully dug, will not need a ferry to access it. Access will be via three pitiful bridges, built over dry land, which have been stuck in slow motion construction mode, with an ever shifting project timeline, ever since 2014, with an, even then, astonishing four year project timeline.

That aforementioned Deception Pass Bridge, built almost a century ago, over actual deep, fast moving water, was built in less than a year. An actual feat of difficult engineering resulting in an actual iconic signature bridge.

Way back in October of 2014, about the time Fort Worth has itself a TNT exploding ceremony to mark the start of construction of its three little bridges being built over dry land, we blogged Washington's Deception Pass Bridge Took A Deceptively Short Time To Build

Who would have thought, way back then, in 2014, that in 2021 we would still be talking about those unfinished Fort Worth bridges being built over dry land? And that those responsible for this fiasco have not lost their jobs...

Friday, March 19, 2021

Rock & Rolling The Circle Trail

I was back in the Wichita Bluff Nature Area area today, parking on the parking lot at Loop 11 and the Circle Trail. That location is east of the actual Wichita Bluff Nature Area, but is in the area of the Nature Area, about a half mile east of the arch one passes under to enter the actual Nature Area.

I got myself a music playing device yesterday. It's been years since I last had radio headphones which kept me entertained whilst mountain biking. When those old radio headphones broke I was unable to find a suitable replacement, as such devices had fallen out of favor, replaced by pods and earbuds.

And then yesterday whilst perusing electronic devices at Walmart, I saw a newfangled version of my old radio headphones, with this newfangled version being a little thing attached to a cord with earbuds at its end. This new device was easy to program with dozens of preset stations, both AM and FM.

And so today I rock and rolled while walking on the Circle Trail.

That photo you see at the top was taken near that aforementioned parking lot at Loop 11 and the Circle Trail. I think the tall grass makes for interesting foliage.

 Before I headed west on the Circle Trail, I headed east to check out the current state of the Circle Trail extension which soon, hopefully, will extend all the way to Lucy Park. Much progress has occurred since I was at this location a couple weeks ago.

I was slightly overdressed for today's hiking. Yesterday I had the opposite problem. It is hard to determine what level of layering is needed when factoring in the chilling effect of a constant wind with blustery gusts.

Yesterday the wind made for a chilly outdoor experience. Today, the same temperature, with no wind, made for overheating due to being overdressed without the chilling wind.

If it warms up enough I think I will take my new music playing device on a bike ride later today. I need to amp up the exercise in order to get rid of the COVID poundage before I venture north in a couple months...

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Return Of The Headache Free Shadow Of The Wichita Bluff Thin Man

An almost cloud free sky made for a well lit shadow of the Wichita Bluff Nature Area Thin Man today.

I had camera, well, phone, in hand, having removed it from its storage location on my cargo shorts, hoping to be able to get a photo of the roadrunner which had run across the Circle Trail about 50 feet ahead of me.

But, the illusive bird was not seen again once I had the phone ready to take a picture.

So, when I saw my shadow looking so dark I switched from looking for the roadrunner, to taking a picture of the Shadow of the Thin Man.

I look as if I have lost an arm. 

I think the winds which have been blowing strong from the west have blown away the allergens which were causing me to be in constant sinus headache mode.

Being in constant sinus headache mode is extremely tiresome. Even after taking a medication which lessened the severity of the misery, there was still a constant dull ache.

That is now gone.

Today I hiked as far as the highest point in the Wichita Bluff Nature Area before turning around.

At the highest point on the Wichita Bluffs there is a covered picnic pavilion with two picnic tables. 

In the view above we are looking east at the Wichita River and the stunning skyline of beautiful downtown Wichita Falls in the distance.

There were a lot of people enjoying the Nature Area today, having fun with the strong gusts which seemed to make it a challenge at times to remain vertical. 

I had planned on going on an early evening bike ride today, what with pleasant temperatures and extra daylight, but the sky has clouded up in the last hour, and possible thunderstorms are now on the weather menu.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Tiptoe With Me Through The Skagit Valley Daffodils

I saw that which you see screen capped above this morning on Facebook, via the "You Know You're From Anacortes When..." Facebook page.

The caption says "Daffodils are beginning to pop up around Skagit County. This is a field located across from Christianson's Nursery in Mount Vernon".

To which someone commented saying, "That's what I miss the most since I moved away..."

The Mount Vernon town referenced is the town I live in before moving to Texas. For Flatlander Texans reading this, that big wall of blue in the distance, behind the daffodils, are what are known as foothills. In this case, foothills of the Cascade Mountains.

Anacortes is not part of the Skagit Valley, but the town is in Skagit County. Anacortes is on Fidalgo Island, and is the location of my nephew Jason's Fidalgo Drive-In.

The flowers blooming in the Skagit Valley every spring is not what I miss most since I moved away. I think fresh produce, readily available, along with fresh seafood, also readily available, I miss more than seeing fields of colorful flowers.

This century I have been back in the Skagit Valley only one time during the tulip blooming time of the year. That being April of 2006, when I was in the valley to go to the aforementioned Nephew Jason's first wedding. That time I was in the valley for only part of one day, and during that day we did not drive out to the Skagit Flats, where the flowers bloom.

When I lived in Mount Vernon, particularly when I lived in West Mount Vernon, before moving across the river to East Mount Vernon, I was not all that fond of the tulips and the throngs of visitors the flowers brought, from all over the world, to the Skagit Valley.

The month long Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is an extremely well done operation. The festival began several decades ago, and created massive traffic problems from the start. Which is why I was not all that fond of this event, whilst living in West Mount Vernon.

But over the years multiple fixes have greatly exacerbated the traffic congestion. Things like directional signage, alternative freeway exits to keep Mount Vernon from getting clogged up by people exiting via the Mount Vernon exits. Tour buses were added, where people could park at one of the valley's mall's parking lots and ride a bus to tour the tulips. And venues were added, like Tulip Town, to spread the visitors all over the Skagit Flats.

The Skagit Valley is pretty much one BIG tourist attraction. It's the gateway to North Cascades National Park. La Conner is the valley's top tourist town. Anacortes is where you find the gateway to the San Juan Islands, via ferry boats, which will also take you to Victoria, British Columbia.

Where I currently am located, in Texas, there is not a single tourist attraction, remotely tourist worthy, for hundreds of miles in any direction you choose to go. No foothills or mountains. No ocean waves waving within hundreds of miles. No tourist towns.

However, this month something starts to happen in Texas which I never saw happening in Washington. That being wildflowers appearing and coloring up the landscape. It really is sort of spectacular to see, particularly down in Texas Hill Country.

Just a sec, I shall see if I can find the link to the webpage I made years ago of the Texas Wildflowers.

Found the link to that wildflower webpage, which is what you see via clicking the last two words in the paragraph above...

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Balmy Bluff Bench Sitting With Minimalist Sinus Headache

Today is Day Five of having a constant headache, to varying degrees of aching.

Yesterday I learned this was a sinus headache. And so suitable medication was acquired and so now the constant headache only throbs distantly, barely noticeable.

Feeling better I thought getting some natural medicine, via aerobic activity generating endorphins, was a good idea. My best go to place for such, other than riding my bike, is to hike the hills in the Wichita Bluff Nature Area.

The second Saturday of the 2021 version of March at my location is a relatively balmy temperature in the 70s. Clouds are beginning to build for the predicted possibly severe thunderstorms later today.

A constant wind was blowing whilst I was on the Bluffs, with gusts causing me to repeatedly grab my hat to prevent it from flying away.

I stopped for a bit of a linger on the bench at the location you see in the above photo documentation. The view is slightly to the northwest.

I made note of that house you see across the ravine from my first time seeing it from the Bluffs. It looks to be in the same style as my old home in Mount Vernon, Washington. Sort of. 

A couple times I have tried to find the road which leads to that house, to no avail. I think it is at the end of a long driveway, with a gate blocking access from the main road.

It is now time for a late lunch, and to take my sinus headache medication...

Returning Again To My Old Washington Home With More Detail


A few days ago my Favorite Nephew Jason caused me to virtually Return To My Old Home In Mount Vernon Washington.

In blogging about my return to my old home I made mention of some of the changes that sort of unsettled me for inexplicable reasons.

And I mentioned wondering what was done to the bathrooms, specifically mentioning wondering about the first floor bathroom and its heavy metal blue fixtures.

Well, this morning the aforementioned Nephew Jason emailed me a link to a different realtor's listing of my old home.

And in that listing there are 38 photos, giving me a much better idea of the changes made to my old home, including the downstairs bathroom, which you see above. I'm guessing no one could figure out an easy way to get that tub out of there. Additionally I was surprised to see the tile I installed all those years ago is still there. 

The photo of the upstairs bathroom, that being the one which was mine, surprised me with the new sink. One of those trough type things which became trendy a few years back.

After I blogged about my old home zone, after that first listing which Nephew Jason sent me, Elsie Hotpepper texted me saying she was only able to see one photo. I guess the Hotpepper was curious to see what's been changed, familiar as she was with the original version, due to frequent visits...

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Yellow Wildflower Harbinger Of Coming Texas Spring

Overnight one of the harbingers of spring arrived on the landscape outside my abode. Spring is scheduled to be sprung in 10 days, March 20.

I don't know the name of the colorful yellow wildflower you see above. Dozens  bloomed overnight. This wildflower does not have a pleasant fragrance. I would say it instead has an unpleasant fragrance.

Soon my favorite Texas wildflowers should be blooming, as in the Evening Primroses.

This morning the reason I exited my abode, and saw the newly arrived splashes of yellow color, was because I was driving to Lucy Park to have myself a salubrious communing with nature via walking the Lucy Park backwoods zone.

The Lucy Park nature communing went well. But, I saw none of the colorful yellow wildflowers coloring up Lucy Park. 

What with the temperature warming, as in yesterday we got into the 80s, this time of year, whilst walking a backwoods zone, one must be on the lookout for frisky snakes enjoying the return of warmth to their slithery cold blooded selves.

The Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup should be happening next weekend. If memory serves that Roundup is always the second weekend of March. Maybe it has been cancelled due to COVID...

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Washington Ranked Best State In Union With Texas Ranked 19th Worst

I saw that which you see here this morning on the front page of the online version of the Seattle Times, some Local News that Washington named the best state in the union for the second year in a row.

Clicking the link to see who or what it was which named my old home state as the best in the union brought me to a article titled...

Best States Rankings--Measuring outcomes for citizens using more than 70 metrics

Where it was easily seen that it was US News & World Report which was doing the ranking of the American states, from best to worst.

The first paragraph of this ranking article explains how the ranking was done...

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

As one expects with these type rankings the usual suspects are at the top, as well as the bottom.

Texas came in as the 31st Best State, or looked at a different way, the 19th Worst State. 

The first three paragraphs of the Seattle Times Washington named the best state in the union for the second year in a row article amused me due to triggering the memory of something which started bugging me soon after I moved to Texas, that being a tendency of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram to tout this, that or the other perfectly mundane thing as being something which would cause other towns, far and wide, to be green with envy. 

I found the Star-Telegram's green with envy verbiage and its various iterations to be so bizarre. It was several years later when a lifelong Texan explained this type bragging was born of Fort Worth's civic inferiority complex. I don't know if that explained it, or not. 

So, the first three paragraphs of this Seattle Times article about something legitimately brag-worthy...

Everyone knows the Pacific Northwest is the best and Washington is the best of the best, especially compared to other states.

But that seems kind of mean and elitist, so we don’t talk about it too much among our friends from other states, right? Right?

U.S. News & World Report, however, has no such compunction, boldly naming Washington the best state in the union for the second time in a row — the only state to be so named twice — and unapologetically identifying the worst.

Anyway, this extremely comprehensive analysis of the American states sure does explain to me why I experienced such culture shock when first exposed to many things in Texas. I came from progressive liberal Washington, to a state not known for being progressive. Or liberal. Or well educated.

I did not know til reading this US News & World Report that Washington has the fastest growing economy in the nation. I know when I am up in Washington I sure do notice it appears to be way more prosperous than my current location. 

If you listen to right wing nuts jobs, a peculiar breed of which Texas has many, Washington should not be doing too well economically. It has been several years now since Seattle (and many other west coast locations) raised the minimum wage to $15.

Just last week I read in the Seattle Times that 19 new restaurants were opening this month.

During the pandemic slowdown...

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Wichita Bluff Nature Area After Falling Into Bathtub Hoodoos

I had what I think must have been a sleep walking incident last night. I was in my bathroom, apparently asleep, and went to get back in bed, except I was still in the bathroom, where there is no bed.

Instead I lowered myself into the bathtub, eventually crashing down on my tailbone, real hard. I awoke to find my legs draped over the edge of the tub, with me unable to pull myself up. Thrashing around I somehow turned the faucet on, cold water. That woke me up fast, with me quickly swinging around and getting vertical.

What a living nightmare.

I thought I would end up badly bruised, with a big blotch of purple. But, no sign of such. 

So, to unkink my aches and pains I decided a salubrious walk with nature via the Wichita Bluff Nature Area would be a mighty fine thing to do.

I figured right.

I sat on the bench you see above for a few minutes, pondering my multiple miseries and woes. And then started walking again.

Eventually I came to the location where I usually find a Wichita Bluff Hoodoo. Or two.

 As you can see via me standing on the Mars-like landscape, there is only a pile of rocks at Hoodoo Central.

I hope last night's sleep walking incident does not portend a return to this happening multiple times. I already have sufficient aggravations. I do not need a new one...

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Return To My Old Home In Mount Vernon Washington

Yesterday both my little brother Jake and little brother Jake's eldest, my Favorite Nephew Jason, text messaged me a link to a house for sale which both thought I might be interested in.

That being my house in Mount Vernon, which I left to move to Texas soon before the start of the new century.

That house was built in 1985 for a measly $65, 000. And then sold in 2002 for what seems now a measly $135,000. 

And now it is for sale, again, for almost a half million bucks.

Which seems totally nuts.

The link to the listing had some photos of the current state of the house I built 35 years ago. The kitchen has been totally re-built, now with modern stone countertops of granite or marble. The cabinets are now black. And the wall painted orange. I liked the upgrade to the appliances, but not much else. I think the original version looked much better.

One of the photos showed the flooring in the upstairs living room area. It was carpeted when I left it. Now it is a dark hardwood floor. 

None of the photos showed the tile flooring I had fun installing, in the kitchen and the upstairs entry. I suspect it likely has been replaced. The tile in the kitchen had a long crack caused by a small earthquake. I liked that crack due to knowing its history. 

I had planted multiple rhododendrons which my mom and dad gave me. From the above photo I can see the one in the front of the house has been removed. 

The most disturbing upgrade, which I do not like at all, is the open carport has now been turned into a garage, with a garage door which does not match the look of the house exterior.

I long ago made a webpage of my old home in Mount Vernon. Click that to see what it looked like way back in the previous century.
You will also see Hortense, who used to read the morning Seattle P-I with me. Hortense made the move to Texas, and died a year later at 21 years old. Hortense is buried in Haslet, a suburb north of Fort Worth.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Wichita Falls Winter Storm Impact

This informative information you see above showed up yesterday. Right at this moment I am not remembering where it showed up. Probably Facebook.

When the snow began to pile up last month I was surprised to see snowplows plowing the snow. I wondered why this town which gets so little snow would have snowplows.

I do not remember my old hometowns in Washington having snowplows plowing snow when snow created a problem. And snow in the Western Washington lowlands happens more frequently than my current location.

And from the above info we learn that not only does this town have snowplows, those snowplows plowed 876 miles of snow. 

It does not surprise me too much that the temperature going below zero is the coldest it has been here in over 50 years. Apparently by some accounting this was the first ever statewide disaster. I thought that was electing and re-electing creepy Ted Cruz was considered by many to be a statewide disaster.

I was not here in 1985 to know that the recent snow covering was the most since 1985.

My current abode is a short distance south of the infamous Wichita Falls 1979 Tornado known locally as Terrible Tuesday. I did not know til reading it that the recent power outage was the largest since Terrible Tuesday.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Millions In Toxic Relationship With Texas

Yesterday we asked If The Texas Governor Is A COVID Idiot?

In addition to asking that question we answered the question by making mention of the Facebook reaction of many Texans to their governor declaring Texas back opening 100% and lifting the mask mandate.

And now on this 4th day of March, when many similar type idiots think that Trump will be re-installed today as president, Facebook provides additional reaction to the Texas governor's latest embarrassing idiocy.

We have gleaned some of what we have seen on Facebook today.

The comments to these various postings on Facebook are sort of alarming. Alarming in that it is alarming how cluelessly idiotically ignorant way too many people are.

Such as no understanding of the actual concept of freedom of speech, or freedom in general. The reality that one is not free to shout "FIRE" in a crowded theater is lost on these sorts. 

And their concept of government, in that government has no business telling citizens what to do. That a person can process the data themselves and decide for themselves whether or not to wear a mask, with no thought given to the fact that another citizen might understand the need to wear a mask, and the threat posed by those who refuse to wear a mask.

Taking these type idiot's logic to its logical conclusion why should the government decide on an arbitrary speed limit? An idiot should have the freedom to decide how fast to drive. These type idiots can apply their idiot logic to any law. 

And these same type idiots are the most ardent in demanding the government put an end to abortions.
Anyway, scroll down for a sampling of Facebook memes regarding Texas Governor Greg Abbott ending the mask mandate...

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Is The Texas Governor A COVID Idiot?

Earlier today Spencer Jack's Favorite Dad, my Favorite Nephew Jason, texted me saying "I just heard on the news that Coronavirus is apparently over in Texas."

That was the first of many messages today from friends and family who live to the west of Texas, appalled that the governor of Texas would totally open Texas and lift the mask wearing mandate, whilst we are still in the midst of a deadly pandemic.

I told Jason that I have seen many people currently living in Texas who are also appalled at the latest idiocy from the Texas governor. Texas does have some idiotic doozies at the top of the state's government. 

In addition to Governor Greg Abbott we have Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and the Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton.

I do not know how the same state which elected someone popular across America, like Anne Richards, to be the governor, can elect the trio of bozos I mentioned in the above paragraph. 

Maybe part of the problem is so few people vote. I think Texas has the lowest, or near the lowest voter turnout of the 50 American states.

I have long opined, ever since my first experience with voting in Texas, that perhaps part of the lack of voter interest is there are so few things to vote on on any ballot I have ever voted on in Texas.

I do not recollect voting for school board members, water board members, justices of the peace, and other such things on a Washington ballot. Maybe such was on the ballot, but I just don't remember due to all the other things to vote on.

In Washington, and the other west coast states, and many other states across America, voters vote on things like legalizing marijuana, abolishing the state liquor sales monopoly, various public works projects, funding for parks, multiple initiatives, referendums and propositions. 

In Washington a citizen who thinks they have a great idea, which they think the public would support, can get enough petition signatures from voters to put an Initiative (hence the name) on the ballot. This type thing makes for much livelier ballots, unlike the boring, simple ballot one votes on in Texas.

Like I already said, I told Jason I am seeing a lot of reaction among Texans to the latest embarrassing stupidity from the state's governor. We are barely past how ineptly Greg Abbott handled the Texas power meltdown disaster.

Many think Abbott is appealing to his idiot base by pandering to their bizarre ongoing ignorant nonsense about mask mandating being some sort of government take away of their freedom, most recently on display via another Texas embarrassment, greasy creepy Ted Cruz shouting FREEDOM at the end of his CPAC comedy routine. 

That screen cap you see at the top, from Facebook, I have seen repeated multiple times on Facebook today, Texans displaying a mask saying "My Governor is an Idiot".

I think these Idiot Governor masks began appearing during the Texas Deep Freeze Disaster. 

The Facebook screen cap above is Jon Perry's version, with his comment adding "I live in Texas."

Jon Perry is one of the many Texans I have come across who do not fit the Texas redneck ignorant poorly educated yahoo stereotype.

As is the case which has happened multiple times since I have been in Texas, when I find myself thinking now this is a clear thinking, intelligent, logical, sensible Texan, I then find myself learning that that person is not a native born Texan, as is the reality in the Jon Perry case.

With Jon Perry I think his formative years were on the east coast, Massachusetts, I think. 

No, Jon Perry is not related to that other idiot governor of Texas, Rick Perry. Nor is he related to Katy Perry. Wait, a sec, I'm not sure of that.

It will be interesting when next I visit Walmart to see if there is a noticeable drop in the number of people wearing masks.

Also from Facebook, seen moments after posting the above...

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Miss Tamara Takes Me To Lucy Park Tree Gazing Meditative Peace

 A clear blue sky has returned, banishing gray clouds to I don't know where.

I read this morning that we Spring forward this coming Sunday, with the annual arrival of Daylight Savings Time.

I am down to only two clocks which cause me vexation trying to remember how to change the time, every six months. Those two being my coffee pot and my alarm clock. I have not re-set the coffee pot since our recent bout of power going off and on. So, clearly that is not an essential clock.


The alarm clock is near my bed and tells me the time when I look its direction in the middle of the night. The alarm clock was not affected by the power outages, because it has a battery backup. 

I just remembered, I have a third electronic device which does auto switch the time.

That being the EXUBY DVR which records over the air TV. I remember the last time the time switched I was vexed to find that which I thought I had recorded not to have happened. After a couple weeks of vexation I checked the settings and saw I had to tell the device it needed to pay attention to the time switch. I don't think I had to manually make the switch, but that I just had to indicate the EXUBY DVR was in a location where such nonsense existed.

I need to confirm this serious EXUBY DVR situation.

I forgot to make mention of that photo you see above.


Today, what with the outer world being so sunny, and somewhat warm, compared to two weeks ago today, when the outer world temperature was below zero, I thought a walk at Lucy Park would be a pleasant thing to do.

I thought correctly. It turned out to be quite pleasant.

I walked the trail which trails through the Lucy Park backwoods zone. 

Recently, on Facebook, a fellow Washingtonian, Miss Tamara, posted a photo of a tree which she took whilst laying at the base of the tree, looking skyward, whilst meditating upon the serene scene.

When amongst the Lucy Park trees I looked for a similar serene scene to lay before and ponder. 

To no avail.

Eventually I let the photo you see above suffice as my looking skyward meditative tree.

Gazing skyward I did find some meditative peace. But, finding that sort of peaceful meditative place is not one of my fortes.

Fellow Washingtonian, Miss Tamara, had the benefit of spending decades honing her Bohemian life skills in Southern California, whilst I have been in Texas having anything Bohemian leached out of me.

Anyway, I sure am looking forward to that upcoming extra hour of daylight..

Monday, March 1, 2021

Are Those Elsie Hotpepper's High Heels On Cannon Beach?


Saw the above on Facebook this morning of the first day of the 2021 version of March.

Apparently Miss Kellie, who is the opposite of me, in that she is a Texan currently exiled in the Pacific Northwest, specifically on an island in Puget Sound in Washington. With me, a Washingtonian currently in exile in Texas, with nary a real island to be seen within many miles.

Miss Kellie's fellow Texan, Elsie Hotpepper, who has never been exiled to anywhere other than the town she grew up in, has long had a relationship with Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast.

Elsie Hotpepper's relationship with Cannon Beach basically grew from a visit to that town several years ago, after which the Hotpepper was haunted by the iconic image of Cannon Beach, that being Haystack Rock, which seemed to follow Elsie Hotpepper every where she went, including back to Texas.

I have not heard from Elsie Hotpepper for a day or two or three. She has been a bit stir crazy cranky of late, just like most of us exiled in Texas, after losing power, water and peace of mind due to the sub-zero results of a Polar Vortex taking over the Lone Star State for over a week.

So, for all I know, Elsie Hotpepper hopped a plane to Portland and drove herself to Cannon Beach, where she beached her high heel ruby slippers to have herself a bracing skinny dip in the cold Pacific.

And then forgot to pick up her shoes when she ran back out of the water to seek heat in the nearest warming hut.

Yeah, I'm sure that is the explanation for the random red high heels on Cannon Beach...