Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Madame McNutty Needles My Homesick Space Again

Madame McNutty posted the above on Facebook yesterday. The McNutty comment accompanying the photo said...

"Beautiful! Seattle is such a fun city to visit with so much to see and do. Don't you think so, Jonesy? I've got to get back to Pike's Place Market next time I'm in Seattle!"

To which I replied...

"The out of control homeless problem is depressing to see, at least it was the last time I was in Seattle in August of 2017. The encampments along the freeway were shocking. But, other than that, downtown Seattle is like a theme park. Pike Place, Seattle Center, Pioneer Square, the Seahawks stadium, the Mariners Ballpark, the Monorail, multiple vertical malls, Chinatown, Uwajimaya, a transit tunnel zipping you from one end of downtown to the other, the waterfront, hop a ferry, ride the giant waterfront wheel. I was shocked at what it costs now to take the elevator up the Space Needle. Something like 27 bucks. It was under 5 the last time I visited the Needle. The changes wrought by Amazon at the north end of downtown are sort of shocking. Multiple skyscrapers and those cool Amazon spheres. The SLUT (South Lake Union Trolley) is a cool looking transit addition. I am looking forward to seeing the Seattle Waterfront without the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and driving through the new tunnel under Seattle. And I like the Independent Republic of Fremont. It's outside of downtown, but still adds to the theme park, and it's got cool relics of the Soviet Union, along with the Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge..."

I was wrong about how much it costs now to ride to the observation deck of the Space Needle. It costs more than I thought. An illustrative screen cap from the Space Needle website...

Yikes! And the price goes up during peak visiting hours from 11 AM - 8 PM.

The Space Needle has undergone a big renovation since I last rode to the top. If I remember right the renovation cost more than the original Needle. A blurb from the Seattle City Pass website details some of the Space Needle upgrades which I have not experienced...

Discover unparalleled views of Mt. Rainer to the south, the Cascade range to the East, and the majestic Olympics to the West from two levels, one with an all-glass floor and the other an open-air deck.
Float over Seattle as you sit back on one of the inclined glass benches in the open-air observation deck. Step out onto The Loupe, the world's first revolving glass floor, with Seattle at your feet.

The restaurant part of the Space Needle has always revolved, one time around per hour. But two observation levels is a new thing I did not know about. And one of those revolves, with, if I am understanding it correctly, both with see through glass floors to make acrophobes nervous. 

The new revolving lounge sounds fun. But, I am not understanding the name. Loupe Lounge? The descriptive text describing the Loupe Lounge, which I screen capped above, along with the Space Needle admission info, makes the Loupe Lounge sound fun...

"Orbit a while on the world's first and only revolving glass floor. Rotating between futuristic signature cocktails and twists on the classics, explore a new world of mixology high above Seattle at the Loupe Lounge."

I hazard to guess that those signature cocktails are likely costly, and consuming one or two would likely make one a bit Loopy, hence, maybe, the new version of spelling Loopy to name this lounge?

Exploring deeper into my revolving Space Needle floors confusions I found a couple illustrative photos, which, though illustrative, don't really resolve the revolving glass floor confusion. I expect I will be getting clarification from my relative Space Needle expert, Spencer Jack's primary paternal parental unit.

The above photo looks like how I remember the interior part of the Space Needle, but with the new glass floor. Is this the level with the Loupe Lounge? The windows also look different than I remember. 

In the next photo we step outside to the open air deck, which we can see does not have a glass floor.

The open air deck is sort of how I remember it. Except it looks like a glass wall has been added. I do not remember what the barrier wall used to be, but I know it was not a glass wall.

There had been a slight problem early on with the Space Needle with suicide jumpers. If I remember right that ring of cable you see outside the glass wall was added to make jumping difficult. And now, with a glass wall, pretty much impossible.

Seeing these photos of the view from the top of the Space Needle I'm guessing there are a lot of people who have seen plenty of photos of the Space Needle, iconic image of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, that it is, but have not seen what it looks like when you are the top of the Needle.

Well, now you have.

I wonder what Madame McNutty is going to homesick me with next...

Monday, August 30, 2021

Wichita Falls' Crepe Myrtle Sculpture & Fort Worth's Homage To An Aluminum Trash Can

This Monday morning I delivered a senior citizen to his appointment with his nephrologist. Since I was in the neighborhood I thought I'd go take some photos of one of Wichita Falls art installations. Which is what you see above, and below.

This is known as The Crepe Myrtle Sculpture.

I learned of this sculpture soon upon my arrival in this town. I think I learned about it via brochures I picked up at the Texas Travel Center. I thought I remembered reading this sculpture was controversial due to what was thought to be an outrageous price tag of $25,000

I Googled "Wichita Falls Crepe Myrtle Sculpture" to see if I could get accurate info about this work of art. 

Well, there was a lot of info, including the following paragraph I got from an article titled 10 Things in Wichita Falls That Need to Just Go Away...

The late George Sugarman was a somewhat controversial artist. One of his many works, The Crepe Myrtle Sculpture, has served as a fixture in Harold Jones Park since 1980. It’s given many a drunk a fine place to urinate. It is, quite possibly, the biggest waste of money ever spent by a city council in the history of Wichita Falls. Rumor has it that we paid in excess of $100,000 for this monstrosity. Surely there’s a better way to artistically represent our city’s most durable plant. Perhaps a real Crepe Myrtle would make a better choice? They don’t’ look too bad and you cannot kill them. Trust me, I’ve tried.

$100,000? The locals thought that was a waste of money?

Another website, in an article titled Crepe Myrtle - Wichita Falls, TX - Smithsonian Art Inventory Sculptures , a source which seemed more likely to be closer to the truth, knocked down the cost of The Crepe Myrtle Sculpture by half, with the money coming from a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. That article had the following descriptive paragraph...

Abstract cut-out shapes of crepe myrtle, painted red, blue and green, with three surrounding benches. Sculpture: approx. 15 x 25 x 25 ft. Funded with a National Endowment for the Arts, Art in Public Places grant of $50,000 given in 1981 to the City of Wichita Falls.

What would the people of Wichita Falls think about spending $1,000,000 for that which you see below?

Some think the above looks like a giant cheese grater. I have long said it looks like an abstract Homage to an Aluminum Trash Can.

Fort Worth's million dollar work of art was not paid for by the National Endowment for the Arts. It was paid for by America's Biggest Boondoggle, also known as the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision. It sits atop a mound of weeds at the center of a roundabout near two of Fort Worth's bridges which have been being built over dry land since 2014.

America's Biggest Boondoggle is a pseudo public works project, which the public has never approved of via the process normal towns use. You know, voting to approve of a project and the funding mechanism to pay for it. 

This Fort Worth Boondoggle was touted as being a vitally needed flood control project and economic development scheme, where there had been no flooding for well over half a century, due to levees already bought and paid for. With many asking if this was such vitally needed flood control, why has the fix not been actualized in a timely function?

The brilliant schemers behind this Boondoggle hoped to fund the project via federal handouts secured by local Congresswoman, Kay Granger, motivated to do so because her son was given the job of being Executive Director of the project, for which had zero qualifications, with many thinking the incompetence and malfeasance of J.D. Granger is largely to blame for this ineptly implemented project's Boondoggle status. 

Many also think it is absurd to think Congress will agree to send pork to Fort Worth for a project the public has never sanctioned, which has wasted funds on things like the Homage to an Aluminum Trash Can, while paying J.D. Granger over $200,000 for year after year after year after year as this project limps along, with some saying the limping will likely continue til J.D. Granger reaches retirement age.

Searching this blog for the image of the Homage to an Aluminum Trash Can I soon realized I have blogged about this multiple times, including a Walk By Wichita Falls Trash Can Art Thinking About Fort Worth's Waste.

Well, I guess some things are worth repeating. Over and over and over again...

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Day After Wichita Falls Hotter 'N Hell 100

What you are seeing above is a screen cap from Sunday morning's Wichita Falls Times New Record showing the start of yesterday's Hotter 'N Hell 100 bike race event.

Can you see me? Probably not. 

A few weeks ago a town in South Dakota had its annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. There was some concern prior to the rally that it would be a COVID super spreader event. I have seen a news report, or two, that that indeed has happened, with a COVID spike hitting those attending the Sturgis Rally.

I know many precautions were taken for yesterday's Wichita Falls bike rally. I drove by the staging area on Friday and saw RVs of various sorts as far as I could see. I do not know if there were various people pleasing venues at the MPEC such as I greatly enjoyed my one and only time experiencing, up close, Hotter 'N Hell 100, including watching the racers make it to the finish line. 

I remember being surprised by what looked to be a MASH-like triage tent where injured bikers were being treated. I don't remember ever seeing so much blood before that occasion. COVID would seem to present all sorts of challenges treating injuries in a triage tent. But, I assume there must have been such a thing in play yesterday.

The temperature did not get to 100 yesterday for the Hotter 'H Hell 100. I think it barely managed to get into the low 90s. You can almost feel a chill in the air, a harbinger of the arrival of Fall in a few weeks.

This coming week I should be getting my bike back from the bike doctor, if the surgery is a success...

Friday, August 27, 2021

Google Remembers The Big Spider I Forgot From This Day Of August 27

Every day, for a week or more, Google has been emailing me an email ostensibly showing me a look back at my memories from the day the email was sent.

Such as today's memories from this particular day of August 27.

A few days ago, well, on August 21, to be precise, I made mention of the fact that Google Erroneously Looks Back At My August 21 Memories. That time, the August 21 time, at least I knew what more of the photos were memories of.

But the BIG spider you see above? No memory of that.

As for the cat lounging on the floor? That does not look like Hortense. My cat who flew to Texas a month before my arrival, and who died a year later and is buried in a horse corral in the Fort Worth suburb of Haslet. The cat could be Little Eddie, and those chairs and Little Eddie could possibly be sitting on the covered patio of the house in Haslet, which was my first Texas abode.

Not really a memory I want to remember. Let alone see photo documented. 

Changing the subject from bad memories to current memories. I can not go on a bike ride today. My bike is at the bike doctor's office getting adjusted. The adjustment is going to take longer than it normally would because the doctor is backed up with a lot of patients needing help before tomorrow's Hotter 'N Hell 100. 

During this Hotter 'N Hell week I have not been downtown and seen the throngs assembled for tomorrow's big event. I think it was kicked off yesterday. I do not know if the event is fully recovered from COVID. I suspect not, because I did read some part of  HNH100 has been moved from the MPEC to another location downtown.

I feel exercise deprived without a bike. I can feel the endorphin shortage. I could go on a hike to the hilly Wichita Bluffs, but, like I already mentioned, it is Hotter 'N Hell, and thus not too pleasant to be out walking in the heat...

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Madame McNutty Strikes The Homesick Chord Again

Once again Madame McNutty has struck, via Facebook, my homesickness button with a Washington mountain photo, with that photo once again being Washington's biggest volcano, Mount Rainier.

The comment from Madame M, which accompanied the photo...

"Here you go, Jonesy!  I miss WA so much!!!  Growing up there I never realized how amazing it is until I moved away.  It's hard to find another place quite as beautiful".

That is so true, the entire west coast, actually, from Vancouver to San Diego, is a scenic wonderland.

In the Skagit Valley, where me and McNutty grew up, you could go a few miles west and be at a saltwater beach, go a few miles east and be up in the mountains, go 50 miles north and be in another country, go 60 miles south and be in Seattle.

I remember in August of 2008 being in downtown Seattle. Two cruise ships had docked. The downtown was packed with tourists. Pike Place was human gridlock. It was slow moving on the wide sidewalk on the waterfront.

I remember remarking, when I got back to Pioneer Square, which is where I started my walk around downtown Seattle, that Seattle was seeming like being in a big theme park. I made a video of part of that walk around downtown Seattle. I'll put it at the end of this blogging.

The homeless problem in Seattle had grown way worse by August of 2017, which was my latest return to Washington. The homeless problem was not so much in evidence in 2008, where by 2017 you could not miss seeing the homeless camps because they were at the side of the freeway through downtown Seattle.

I have a friend here in Wichita Falls, a lifelong Texan, who, a couple months before COVID hit, flew up to Seattle to visit some friends. She had never been to Washington, or the west coast before.

She told me that she knew there were mountains in this world, but she had never seen one in person, that she couldn't believe the mountains she saw in every direction in Seattle, that it was mesmerizing.

 And then her Seattle friends took her for a weekend in their cabin near Mount Rainier, which had a direct view of the mountain. She told me looking at the mountain up close was sort of shocking. I remember telling her that always living where there basically is nothing but a flat landscape would turn seeing something like the scenery in Washington into a sort of culture shock, and that I had the reverse sort of happen when I moved to Texas.

I remember my last roadtrip back to Washington, a little more than a month before the 9/11 disaster. I did the drive solo, which I really liked. I remember crossing Snoqualmie Pass and during the descent towards sea level, and Seattle, the air began smelling like Christmas trees. By the time I got to where I-90 goes by Issaquah I began being struck by how shiny and clean everything looked.

I was used to grimy, litter choked Fort Worth.

I got stuck in slow traffic crossing Lake Washington on the I-90 floating bridge. I was not minding the slow moving because I too found myself being mesmerized by the scenery, by the clear blue water of the lake, by Mount Rainier to the south, by the glimpses of the Seattle skyline. Everything looked shiny, clean and new.

Madame McNutty has talked about chartering a yacht to float around the sound on when we are up in Washington next summer. That sounds fun, if I don't have to be the pilot. I do not do well floating boats. I learned that when I tried to drive a Lake Powell houseboat the same way I drive a car.

Below is the aforementioned video of a walk around downtown Seattle, way back in 2008. The buses you will see in this video no longer go there, they have been replaced by light rail going through what used to be the Seattle bus tunnel.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Is Fort Worth's Imaginary Panther Island One Of The World's 12 Most Expensive Man Made Islands?

This morning a video popped up on my version of YouTube with the title Worlds 12 Most Expensive Man Made Islands.

Naturally seeing that title made me curious as to where Fort Worth's imaginary island, called Panther Island, ranked on this listing of the world's 12 most expensive man made islands.

If I am remembering correctly the current price tag for Fort Worth's Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision is over a billion bucks. I do not remember seeing a price tag estimate of the imaginary island part of the Boondoggle. 

The price tag for the three simple little bridges being built in slow motion, with the eventual goal of connecting Fort Worth's mainland to that imaginary island, is around $50 million if I am remembering remotely correctly.

I do not think I have ever read an estimate of the cost of the cement lined ditch which will go under the three bridges, then filled with Trinity River water to make the imaginary island.

I also do not remember reading an estimate of how much it is expected to cost to clean up the toxins that are in the ground on the imaginary island, which was an industrial wasteland before it became an imaginary island.

I have not watched the entire video to see what place Fort Worth's imaginary man made island is ranked, but the first island on the list had a price tag of only $32 million, which makes on think that maybe Fort Worth's imaginary island may be the world's most expensive.

Watch the entire video with me below and we will find out where Fort Worth's Panther Island ranks among the world's most expensive man made islands...

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Tootsie Tonasket Is Smoking HOT

My North Texas location on the planet continues to be green, even as the HOT days of August near their end with the arrival of September.

Previous summers in Texas have not been like this. Previously most foliage turns brown and wildfires burn some of what has turned brown, often turning the air smoky, such as what you see photo documented above.

But, that is not a scene in North Texas. That is a scene in Eastern Washington. The town of Tonasket to be precise, home of Tootsie Tonasket and Aunt Alice. Aunt Alice has been reporting that this is the smokiest hottest summer she has spent at her Tonasket location.

In the past few days Eastern Washington has somehow managed to have some rain fall, damping down the fires. Western Washington, which is usually the rainy side of the state, has only had a light misting.

Speaking of September, and the arrival of Fall. In Walmart this morning I saw a large Fall type sort of Halloween display, a warning harbinger that that wonderful holiday season of the year will soon be upon us...

Monday, August 23, 2021

Google Erroneously Looks Back At My August 21 Memories

The above showed up in my email a couple days ago, a gift from Google. These memory gifts from Google show up every once in a while for no reason apparent to me. 

Of the five memories shown above I remember four out of the five. I have no clue what town is being remembered in the upper left. 

Google tells me these are memories from August 21.


I know for an absolute fact that two of these memories are from August 11. In the year 2008 to be exact.

On that day in that year I went to see Mount Rainier up close. That would make my sister-in-law's mom, Janet, next to me in front of Mount Rainier in the lower right photo.

Above me and Janet that is a photo of the new Centennial building and its mustang sculptures at MSU (Midwestern State University). To the left of me and Janet is the fountain at MSU. 

So, Google thinks I somehow managed to be at Mount Rainier, in Washington, and MSU, in Texas, on the same day in 2008. I have no memory of such happening...

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Madame McNutty Strikes Again With Deception

Saw that which you see above Sunday morning on Facebook. Once again Madame M has shared an image from our old home zone of Washington which triggers, in me, a mild bout of homesickness.

Madame M's brother, Roger, has become a renowned artist due to his paintings of the scenic wonderland of Western Washington, mostly scenes in the Skagit Valley, judging from the paintings I have seen.
The painting above is called Deception Pass Sunset. Which would seem to indicate we are looking west past the longer of the two spans of the Deception Pass Bridge, which connects Fidalgo Island to Whidbey Island. 

It has been way too many years since I last was at Deception Pass, but from my memory the above view is looking east at a sunrise, not a sunset. I say that because I do not remember any little islands like you see above, when you look west under the bridge, but I do remember little islands when you look east under the bridge.

But, we have to keep in mind that I am borderline elderly, and my memory may not be reliable.

Possible point of interest to anyone reading this who lives in the Fort Worth area. The Deception Pass Bridge was built way back in the 1930s. It took less than a year to build the bridge. Over water. Deep water which turns into fast moving rapids when there is an extreme tide. 

And the Deception Pass Bridge is an actual iconic signature bridge, though it was not touted as such when it was being built.

And Deception Pass Bridge actually connects to a real island, well, actually two real islands, Fidalgo and Whidbey.

No cement lined ditch had to be dug to turn those two land masses into imaginary islands...

Saturday, August 21, 2021

A Tale Of Two Maps

 A day or two ago, or maybe yesterday, I blogged about Imagine Sailing Your Yacht To Fort Worth's Imaginary Panther Island.

That blogging made mention of the multiple real islands which exist in the vicinity of my old home zone of the Skagit Valley of Washington.

In that blogging I made use of the map app on my computer to properly identify actual islands which exist in the vicinity of my previous, pre-Texas, location.

Doing so, as in screen capping a map of the general area I used to exist in, I was struck by how close I was to so many things. Such as another country, known as Canada. Or, one of the world's biggest actual islands, Vancouver Island, where the picturesque capital of British Columbia, Victoria, is located.

I could, for only a few bucks, ride a ferry to multiple islands, or Victoria. Or just take a day trip to one of Washington's many tourist towns, such as La Conner, in the Skagit Valley, location of an actual iconic signature bridge built over actual water.

It was like living in a theme park.

A reality I did not appreciate when I lived there. Head west a few miles and you are at saltwater beaches. Head east a few miles and you are in a mountainous scenic wonderland. Head north a few miles and you are in a different country.

In that map above, that jagged dark line represents the border between Canada and the U.S. If you look closely you can see that my old home town of Mount Vernon is just about at the same longitude on the planet as Victoria in Canada.

If you look real close at the map you can see a part of America cut off by that borderline. That is Point Roberts. Mostly Canadians live there, but it is in America.

And now, below, let us look at a screen cap map of a similar section of the planet at my current location on the planet, Wichita Falls, Texas.

Is it in any wonder why I suffer bouts of homesickness? Which I do nothing about, because it is not an easy thing to change ones location. 

In the above instance, unlike the previous map, that squiggly thick line does not indicate the border with another country. This one indicates the Texas border with Oklahoma, with that squiggly line also known as the Red River. As you can see there are a few water features in my current vicinity. None of the size which sport ferry boats, cruise ships or yachts.

I really do need to change my current location...

Friday, August 20, 2021

Imagine Sailing Your Yacht To Fort Worth's Imaginary Panther Island

Saw that which you see above last night via the "You Know You're From Anacortes When..." Facebook page. 

The caption above the photo said, "Somebody has more money than we do. Largest yacht we've ever seen around here. There are 2 people on the flybridge, looking at them gives some perspective to the size of this beauty."

"Around here" is Anacortes, a town with a couple marinas, a ferry terminal and Spencer Jack's Fidalgo Drive-In.

I can not tell if the boat is moving through Guemes Channel, heading west to the San Juan Islands, or heading west towards the San Juan Islands via Burrows Channel. If it is Burrows Channel that would make the land in the background Burrows Island. If it is Guemes Channel that would make the land Guemes Island.

I do not remember there being little islands, as seen above, in Guemes Channel, so I'm going with this being Burrows Channel. Let me check the map app on this computer to see if I can clear up this serious issue...

Well, the map show little islands by both of the bigger islands. But, the little islands near Guemes Island would not have homes looking out at them, as shown in the photo at the top. But, Burrows Island would have homes looking out at it. There is a big marina called Skyline Marina, on the mainland across from Burrows Island, with a lot of houses built on the slopes above Burrows Bay, with that area known as Skyline.

When I see something like the photo at the top, or this map, showing islands, my inclination is to comment for the umpteenth time that it is so bizarre that the landlocked Texas town called Fort Worth, for most of this century, has been slowly trying to build a ridiculous mess originally called Trinity Uptown, then Trinity River Vision, eventually morphing into the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision.

A myopic vision which has slowly seen three little freeway overpass type bridges being built over dry land to one day connect the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island, if a cement lined ditch is ever successfully dug, with the Trinity River diverted into the ditch, making the imaginary island called, already, Panther Island, where there is no island, and never will be any sane person's idea of what an island is.

Part of Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision is to see what they are calling a Town Lake. The size has varied over the years of Boondoggling along, ranging from as small as 12 acres to as big as 33 acres.

Part of the vision is to see a houseboat district on the lake. 

One day there may be a lake, and maybe there will be houseboats floating on the little lake, but I think I can say for absolute certainty there will never be a big yacht sailing to the imaginary Panther Island...

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Throwback Thursday To Mount Rainier & Hoover Dam

No. What you are looking at above is not yet one more photo of the Mount Rainier volcano suffering a meltdown due to the current record breaking heatwaves scorching the Pacific Northwest. The above photo was taken August 15, 2017, heading south to Phoenix from Seattle.

Western Washington was in drought mode when I was there the summer of 2017. Not as extreme as the current drought, but the Evergreen State was not looking its normal shade of green during that visit.

On August 10, 2021, almost exactly four years after I took the above photo of Mount Rainier, sister Jackie took the below photo of Mount Rainier, as she flew by on her way to Seattle from Phoenix. I blogged about this in Flying Over Naked Mount Rainier With Sister Jackie

The two photos do not seem to be from the exact same vantage point, but close. And the Mountain does look a bit more naked in the 2021 version than the 2017 version.

I had forgotten I had taken these photos of Mount Rainier, back in 2017. Suffice to say I had a lot going on at that point in time, so some things got forgotten. Such as these photos. Two samples of such below.

I remember being surprised at how close the pilot was flying by the Mountain.

I did not see any mountain climbers making their way to the summit. Maybe mid August is not the right time of year for that treacherous activity.

In the same folder of photos taken whilst flying south to Phoenix I came upon the one you see below...

That is Hoover Dam you see above, blocking the flow of the Colorado River, creating Lake Mead. And that's the new Tillman Bridge, crossing the Colorado from Nevada to Arizona, you see in front of the dam.

I have not been to Hoover Dam since the bridge was built. I like the old way of crossing, switchbacks til you reached the dam, then driving across to park on the Arizona side, before walking across the dam. I don't know if doing such is still allowed. I suspect not. 

I have not been to Hoover Dam since late in the previous century when my Favorite Jason and Joey Nephews took me to Vegas. 

Las Vegas. If I remember right I've only been to Vegas one time this century. And that was in the middle of winter, and it was raining. I do not remember that as a fun visit to Vegas.

I do remember the Vegas stop was part of a roadtrip which began in Haslet, Texas, driving back to Washington, with staying at the Luxor in Vegas happening on the way back to Texas, with the return route including driving over Hoover Dam.

I remember the drive through the Phoenix metro zone seeming to take forever, finally overnighting in Casa Grande. At that point in time I would never have guessed that a few years later I would become quite familiar with the entire Phoenix area...

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

August Rains Of Summer Drench Green Wichita Falls Ahead Of Hotter'N Hell 100

What you are looking at above is my windshield wipers wiping rain off my windshield, slapping time to the tunes on the radio.

I did not know rain and thunder was on today's weather menu til drops began dripping and thunder began thundering a couple hours after the sun began its daily illumination duty.

Being in desperate need of new reading material I put on long pants for the first time in months and bravely pushed my motorized means of motion through the torrential downpour to downtown Wichita Falls, to the library.

The photo above is post library, heading south on Hamilton Boulevard with Hamilton Park on the left. I saw no kids getting wet in the Hamilton Park Doctor's Splash Pad, making this the first time since it opened that I drove or biked by without seeing kids having fun getting splashed.

As you can see via the photo documentation, unlike my old home zone in the Pacific Northwest, we are still mostly green in Texas, which usually is not the case by the time the middle of August arrives.

In a little over a week a non rain related flood floods this town when people arrive from all over the world to participate in the various events that take place during the Hotter'N Hell 100 bike race. Last year's Hotter'N Hell 100 was cancelled due to COVID.

I am assuming that the Hotter'N Hell 100 is still happening, despite the increase in COVID cases.

If it's not too HOT methinks I'll go to the race finish location this year. Hotter'N Hell 100's events and attractions take place at MPEC, the Wichita Falls Multi-Purpose Event Center. There are vendors selling stuff, like food, other giving away free samples, a big beer garden, artwork, music and a lot of hoopla. 

I like a lot of hoopla, probably because I so rarely experience any hoopla.

I clicked the Hotter'N Hell 100  link and learned the Hotter'N Hell is still on, with the following COVID warning...


Our 2021 registration is running ahead of 2018 and 2019, so we’re expecting a great crowd in Wichita Falls! 

We’re hoping that everyone who comes to HHH that wanted to get the vaccine has protected themselves against the Covid-19 virus and has been able to take advantage of available vaccines. Whatever your vaccine status is, it’s recommended that everyone wear masks while indoors. While  we cannot mandate wearing masks indoors, we do wholeheartedly recommend it. 

We also recommend wearing masks, when possible, especially around people you don’t know. Wearing a mask at the HHH start, rest stops or in groups of people, may help with decreasing transmission.

If you’re feeling any kind of symptoms, which are flu-like or respiratory, it’s best to stay home and ride our virtual event when you do feel up to it. If you sneeze, please cover your mouth, remember to wash your hands and have a great time at our 40th HHH event. 

Monday, August 16, 2021

Linda Lou Sees UFO Flying Over Seattle

The above arrived this morning via Facebook from Linda Lou, purporting to show a UFO flying saucer type aircraft hovering over Seattle. This photo also appears to be photo documenting how bad the wildfire smoke is in the Seattle zone of Western Washington.

As we saw earlier this morning, the wildfire smoke in the Skagit Valley has cleared enough to allow a clear view of the Mount Baker volcano.

FNJ Photo Documents Melting Mount Baker

Photo documentation, sent by my Favorite Nephew Jason, was in my email this morning, documenting the current melting status of Washington's Mount Baker volcano.

The text accompanying the two photos...

FUD --.

As promised, photo documentation of the local volcano appearing nearly naked.  I have never seen this much rock visible.   And as we chatted about the other day, it is only mid-August!  Snowfall in the mountains normally doesn't start until late September or early October.   If we have a warm September, perhaps Mt. Baker will be topless by the end of summer.  That's my bet.

Both snapshots were taken late this afternoon.   These views weren't available the past few days due to wildfires, but the mountain became visible later today after the sun burned of the marine fog.  

The first photo is from the parking lot at Fidalgo Drive-In looking east.  That blob of land located behind the oil tanker and in front of Mount Baker is Hat Island.  I have not been to this Hat Island, but I have camped once on Saddlebag Island which is just a hop, skip and jump to the north. 

The view from the Fidalgo Drive-In has dramatically improved after the bowling alley across the street was demolished.

The accompanying text from FNJ continues below the second photo...

For the second photo, I stopped off at March's Point on my way home from work.  This view shows so much of the mountain, which is normally dressed in snow, showing just bare rock.  The water you are looking at is Padilla Bay, and the group of homes and buildings on the lower right is the unincorporated community of Bay View. I think I sent you a photo you used in your blogging years ago from this exact same location.  Let me search for that, so we can compare snow cover.

Well I found it: Spencer Jack Drives His Pickup To Frozen Padilla Bay, however, it looks like I took that 2016 photo looking southeast and not northeast.

Anyway, I'm tired now and ready for dinner. Hope these photos don't make you too homesick.


Well, Mount Baker still has a lot of frozen water to melt. Long ways to go to be as shockingly naked as California's Mount Shasta

Thanks for the photo documentation, Jason. I was already homesick, so these photos did not make that condition worse...

Friday, August 13, 2021

Smoky Eastern Washington With Jason & Spencer Jack At Grand Coulee Dam & Sun Lakes

Incoming email this morning from my Favorite Nephew Jason and Spencer Jack.

Subject line in email---


Looking at the four photos, included in the email, it was quickly apparent that EW was not Entertainment Weekly, but was Eastern Washington.

For those who have never been to the Pacific Northwest, and Washington, Eastern Washington is totally different in multiple ways from Western Washington.

The Cascade Mountain range separates the two sides of the state. Western Washington is green, unless there is a drought, whilst Eastern Washington is mostly brown, except where there are orchards and vineyards and irrigated gardens and other crop lands.

Western Washington is solidly progressively liberal democratic, whilst Eastern Washington is like Texas, politically, but, fortunately the bulk of the population is in Western Washington, so right wing nut jobs are kept at a minimum, political office and other-wise.

The text which accompanied these photos said---

FUD- thought you’d enjoy these photos taken today. Been meaning to get you a few pics of Mt Baker without snow. Will do that sometime in the near future.

Took me a second or two to realize Spencer Jack is standing in front of Grand Coulee Dam, in both the above photos. 

I don't know if water from the Lake Roosevelt reservoir ever pours over Grand Coulee's spillway anymore, since the third powerhouse was added. Back when water did go over the spillway, during the summer tourist season a light show would accompany music as the lights lit up the water spilling over the dam.

When Grand Coulee's dam began to back up water something unexpected happened. Water seeped deep into the earth, causing new lakes to form in locations like the Lower Grand Coulee. The Lower Grand Coulee begins at Dry Falls, at one time the biggest waterfall in the world. 

A short distance from Dry Falls one finds Sun Lakes State Park. Sun Lakes was one of my favorite summer go to locations when I was an in state Washingtonian. It took me a second or two to realize the next two photos were taken at Sun Lakes State Park.

 Apparently Eastern Washington lakes and reservoirs are not having the water shortage problem which is happening on the west side of the mountains. At least that is what I am assuming, seeing Spencer Jack standing in water by a couple picnic tables.

I do not understand why we are not seeing a lot of people in the water. This looks like the swimming area in Sun Lakes State Park. There should be a floating dock, with a lot of people on the dock and jumping off it. 

Maybe the wildfires and all the smoke are keeping people away. I read this morning that the North Cascades Highway is back open, after being closed for weeks due to fires, which are still burning. Driving the North Cascades Highway is the most direct route to Sun Lakes from Mount Vernon.

Go to Sun Lakes State Park and you will see Sun Lakes like I remember it, with a lot of people, including me, laying under the sun. At the opposite end of Lower Grand Coulee, where the Coulee ends, you find Soap Lake, which was a favorite go to location when I was a kid.

My mom liked to go to Soap Lake because it was one of her favorite childhood memories, with her grandma and grandpa taking mom camping there. When mom was a kid, camping at Soap Lake, there was a nudist colony on the opposite side of the lake, which was long gone by the time I was a kid.

People would go into the lake and cover themselves with mud, thinking it had some sorta special healing powers. Swimming in Soap Lake in a swimming suit was a bit problematic, because the "soap" in the lake was abrasive and soon could cause a sore spot where swimsuit material was rubbing. 

Okay, enough about Sun Lakes and Soap Lake. It's making me homesick...

UPDATE: Jason called after reading the above to tell me that in reality Sun Lakes State Park was packed, and that a new campground loop has been added. Jason called from Ellensburg, where he and Spencer had spent the night. Ellensburg is home to Central Washington State University, a school both Jason and I attended. Prior to overnighting in Ellensburg the previous night was spent in Leavenworth, my favorite of Washington's tourist towns.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Melting Mount Rainier Update From Miss Chris With Melting Mount Baker From Linda Lou

That above showed up this afternoon on Facebook, from Miss Chris of Kent. Not the Kent in England, the Kent in Washington, a Seattle suburb which has a closeup view of Rainier when the mountain is out.

I now have a photo of one of Washington's other volcanoes, Mount Baker. I had been waiting for Linda Lou to take a photo of Mount Baker from the Skagit Valley perspective.

Today Linda Lou sent me a photo of Mount Baker. But, it is from way back in June, two melting months ago. And the photo is from the Bellingham Herald, with the perspective not being from the Skagit Valley, but from the view one sees further north when one looks east to the Cascades.

In the above photo from last June, Mount Baker still looks like it has a lot of snow and ice left to melt.

Maybe after this week's new heat wave someone will photo document what Mount Baker is looking like from the Skagit Valley perspective...

Phone Call From Theo With David & Ruby Along With Hank Frank & Grandpa Jake

Yesterday, in the early evening, my phone lit up with what you see here.

Incoming call from my Favorite Nephew Theo.

I soon found myself on speaker phone talking to Theo and my Favorite Nephew David and Favorite, One and Only Niece, Ruby.

The Tacoma Trio was calling on Theo's phone to sing Happy Birthday to me.

It had been some time since I had talked to Theo, David and Ruby.

They all sounded so much older.

Particularly David.

When I was asked what I was doing for my birthday I said I was having Canadian Bacon/Pineapple pizza, and I asked if they wanted to come have a slice or two.

To which David replied, "To do such would require some sort of time traveling machine which I do not believe has been invented as yet".

David becomes a teenager next month, on 9/11.

Several hours later I was horizontal. After about an hour of being in that condition my phone made its incoming text message noise. I decided to get back vertical and check the message and found that which you see below, sent by my Favorite Nephew Joey's phone...

The text with the photo said "Papa Jake and Henry wishing you a Happy Birthday".

Papa Jake is what Hank Frank calls his Grandpa, who is also my little brother, Jake.

Looking at this photo it looks like Hank Frank is taking Papa Jake on a hike through Henry's Apple Orchard.

And are posing in front of a sign using the Dutch spelling of Jones...

Washington's Lifelong Miss Chris Has Never Seen Mount Rainier So Bare


Above, a screen cap from last night from Facebook, where Miss Chris, lifelong Washingtonian, is lamenting she has never seen Mount Rainier as bare as it is right now.

A follow up commenter commented that the same is true of Mount Baker. 

We are eagerly awaiting Linda Lou's photo documentation of the current state of Mount Baker.

Another person commented that Mount St. Helens is even worse. I was not aware that Mount St. Helens was back sporting a white coat after she blew her top way back in the 1980s.

All the west coast volcanoes are being seen in a way no one has seen them before, or so it seems.

The Pacific Northwest, particularly Western Washington, is currently threatened with another record breaking heat wave, of the same super HOT sort which scorched in June.

Meanwhile I am getting a new air conditioner installed today, or tomorrow...

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Happy Birthday From FNJ

The above showed up in my email this morning, from my Favorite Nephew Jason, also known as FNJ. There was not much text along with that which you see above. The text simply said "Happy Bday FUD".

Kayaking Under Mount Rainier With David, Theo & Ruby

Text accompanying the above photo which showed up on my phone this morning, "We took an evening paddle to celebrate your early birthday".

I can not tell for sure if that is Mama Michele or Mama Kristin paddling with the Tacoma Trio of David, Ruby and Theo.

I know for sure that that is Mount Rainier in the distance behind them, and that they are paddling on Puget Sound in the Harstine Island zone.

Mount Rainier does not look to be in nearly as bad a shape, white covering-wise, as the bad shape I learned this morning is the current status of Mount Shasta, as evidenced via the photo below...

Mount Shasta is the most accessible of the Cascade Mountain volcanoes, what with being a short distance east of the Interstate 5 freeway. I don't know if there are trails up the slopes of Mount Shasta, like there are on Mount Rainier and Mount Baker. Without snow it looks like you could just make your own trail hiking up Mount Shasta.

Sure looks fun to go kayaking. Months ago I was almost certain I would be up north in Washington at this point in time, and getting to go kayaking, among other fun stuff...

California's Mount Shasta Has Lost All Its Snow

This morning on Facebook the above was posted showing the current status of California's Mount Shasta volcano.

Anyone who has driven Interstate 5 through northern California has seen Mount Shasta. I've done so more times than I can remember. I've never seen Mount Shasta anywhere near this no snow condition.

For months now, it seems, on Facebook I have been seeing the ongoing shrinking of Lake Shasta, that being the reservoir behind Shasta Dam. But this morning is the first time I've seen one of  Lake Shasta's primary water sources all dried up.

We are still awaiting photo documentation from Linda Lou of the current status of Washington's Mount Baker volcano. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Flying Over Naked Mount Rainier With Sister Jackie

Above you are looking at Favorite Sister Jackie and Favorite Brother-in-Law Jack's view of Mount Rainier as they flew by on their way from Arizona to Washington.

Part of the text that came with the photo said "Mount Rainier has lost all its snow". 

I have never seen Rainier looking like this, with the only white remaining being the glaciers. The Mountain looks naked without its snow covering.

Linda Lou told me she was gonna send me a pic of the current status of Mount Baker, after she told me she'd never seen that volcano with so much rock exposed and I asked if photo documentation was possible.

I have never thought to wonder before why the Cascade Mountain range has so many volcanoes, whilst I do not know of a single volcano in the Rocky Mountain range.

Well, there is the Yellowstone area which is one gigantic volcanic cauldron. But, I don't think that counts as being a volcano.

Sometimes when you fly into Seattle, when Washington is free of clouds, and the plane flies the right route, one can get a glimpse of all five of Washington's volcanoes, along with Mount Hood in Oregon.

Whenever I fly into D/FW, when Texas is free of clouds, and no matter which route the plane takes, I can glimpse no volcanoes.

But one might glimpse what passes for being a mountain if the plane flies near Guadalupe Mountains National Park...

Monday, August 9, 2021

Finally We Hit 100 In Formerly Chilly Wichita Falls

Today, Monday August 9, is the first time this year I have seen my phone tell me we've hit 100. About a month behind my old home zone going over 100. 

I did not go on a bike ride today, or yesterday.

Too HOT.

This morning I had the fun adventure of chauffeuring a senior citizen to the doctor for a regularly scheduled checkup.

Which took over an hour.

I sat in my vehicle, under the shade of a tree, with the windows open, reading, whilst the old man got checked up.

I had a break from reading when someone from my old home zone called because he was stumped trying to identify the people in a photo I had sent his phone. He only was able to identify three of the five, even though he'd seen one of the two he was not able to identify, in person, two Saturday's ago.

I sent the same photo last night, that time via Facebook, to someone from my old home zone who now lives on the east coast. She was on a train returning from a vacation at an Atlantic Ocean resort town to her current home zone where Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses Grant at Appomattox. She also was only able to identify three of the five, but only one of the un-identified was the same stumping one as what stumped the other stumped person.  

I knew Linda Lou, who sent me the picture, was meeting up with the person these other two could not identify. And even though I had been told, when I saw the photo I had to ask to confirm, because, well, this person did not look much like I remember her looking.

So, I can see why those other two could not identify this person who looked so different, but there really is no excuse for not recognizing the other two, Betty Jo Bouvier and Russell B...

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Nephew Jason Sends Me Cascade Mountain Hiking With His Mother

When I visited Facebook this morning I soon saw there was a message from my Favorite Ex-Sister-In-Law, Cindy, who is also Spencer Jack's grandma, and nephew's Jason and Joey's maternal parental unit.

Cindy's Facebook message asked me if I was able to see the pictures of the hike she went on yesterday. And that Jason thought I would be interested in seeing them.

I messaged back to Cindy that I had not seen her latest hiking pictures, but I would go find them, which I did, including the one you see here, with Cindy at the end of a wooden bridge.

I told Cindy that I assumed Jason wanted me to see these pictures as part of the multi-front attempts to make my homesick for the ultra scenic Pacific Northwest.

Cindy messaged me back saying that Jason thought I'd taken him hiking the Bridal Veil Falls/Lake Serene Trail, and so I would like seeing them. So this was not an attempt at triggering homesickness.

I have zero recollection of taking my Favorite Nephew Jason to this location, accessed off Highway, also known as Stevens Pass, one of the mountain passes over Washington's Cascade Mountains.

I don't remember ever taking Jason hiking anywhere. I do remember taking his little brother, my Favorite Nephew Joey, on multiple hikes, to locations like Mount Baker, Sauk Mountain, and the Glacier Peak volcano.

Til yesterday Western Washington had gone 55 days without rain. Cindy and her fellow hikers got dripped on, but looked well prepared for such a calamity, as evidenced by the below photo, with Cindy in the yellow raincoat.

The south Puget Sound Seattle Tacoma zone did not get much precipitating, but my old home zone of the Skagit Valley did.

One person opined Saturday's long downpour was like Mother Nature was making up for her 55 day absence with a massive deluge.

Even with a 55 day drought Washington's mountain forests appear to still be quite evergreen.

Cindy said they hiked the Lake Serene Trail, not the Bridal Veil Falls Trail. But, even so, I am assuming the waterfall we see below must be Bridal Veil Falls. Then again, it could be just one of the many waterfalls one sees in the Cascade Mountains, which is the reason why this mountain range is so named. Because of all the Cascades cascading down the mountain slopes. 

Years ago I recollect being somewhere in the North Cascades, on a logging road, and opining that I did not recollect ever seeing so many waterfalls before. The argumentative sort in the vehicle with me then told me those were not waterfalls. If they are not waterfalls, what are they, I asked? The argumentative sort hemmed and hawed trying to come up with what these were if they were not waterfalls.

The eventual answer was "They are downhill rivers".

No I am not making that up. I don't remember how many days passed before I realized the word the argumentative sort was searching for was "cascades".

Does the above look like a waterfall or a cascade to you?

One day, hopefully soon, I will get to witness such things in person...

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Biking Fishing & Mountain Climbing At Lake Wichita

My new bike rolled me to Lake Wichita for the first time this morning.

And, now that I have a speedometer/odometer attached I know how many miles that particular bike ride is.

9.54 miles.

I saw a lot of people enjoying the outer world today, including multiple people fishing, such as those you see above, under a canopy next to the Lake Wichita flying fish sculpture. 

I don't like the idea of eating fish one catches in water so murky it has zero visibility. Fish caught in pristine clear water seems like a much better idea.

It has been a long time since I have hiked to the summit of Mount Wichita. Today I saw several making the treacherous trek. 

As you can see, even though we are days into August, we are still green in North Texas.

I read this morning that Western Washington got its first moisture in 55 days yesterday. And that was just a light misting. 

I also read that last month's record breaking heat wave turned the Walla Walla Sweet Onion crop to cooked mush. I have not heard if the fruit orchards of Eastern Washington have been hurt by the HEAT. 

Friday, August 6, 2021

Mom & Dad's 70th Wedding Anniversary

On this day, August 6, 70 years ago, my mom and dad became husband and wife. 

August 6, 2008 was the last time I was at the same location as mom and dad on their wedding anniversary.

That location was my sister Michele's house in Tacoma, a year or two or three before the arrival of David, Theo and Ruby. The only kids in the Tacoma house at that point in time were the Adventure Poodles, Max and Blue.

I did not see mom and dad on the day of their 50th anniversary, because that year, 2021, August 6 was on a Monday, so the Happy 50th Anniversary party happened the following Saturday, August 11.

If I remember correctly, and sometimes I do, I was on the road, somewhere between Texas and Washington on August 6, 2001. No one, but two of my nephews knew I was roadtripping home for mom and dad's 50th.

That roadtrip home in August of 2021 was my last time to have done so. The world seemed to drastically change a month later, on September 11, which happens to also be my Favorite Nephew David's birthday. Next month David becomes a teenager.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Throwback Thursday To Blackberry Shakes At Fife's Pick Quick With The Tacoma Trio

The above may be my favorite photo taken during the previous decade.

August 15, 2017.

Theo, David and Ruby were taking me to the airport to send me to Arizona. 

On the way to the airport we stopped at the Pacific Northwest's legendary Pick Quick burger joint in Fife, to have ourselves some burgers and blackberry milkshakes.

During my week with the Tacoma Trio I taught them there is nothing better, milkshake-wise, than a blackberry milkshake.

Ruby was hesitant at first, being a chocolate aficionado, but eventually Ruby came over to the blackberry side.

If I remember right, Aunt Jackie and Uncle Jack have left Arizona and are currently having fun with the Tacoma Trio, and their parental units, along with seeing some less fun relatives.

With COVID spiking again I hope a new lockdown doesn't leave Jackie and Jack stranded in Washington...

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Firing Walmart Hiring Kyle To Change My Oil


The above was the view through my windshield for about 10 minutes this first Wednesday morning of the 2021 version of August.

I was getting my oil rapidly changed.

For several years now, well, since I moved to this town, I have been getting the oil changed at my nearby Walmart.

But, the last couple attempts at doing so, being told it would taken an hour, and that they were under staffed, and the final straw, standing for 10 minutes waiting for the guy who told me it'd be a minute before it checked me in, I decided I was being dumb getting an oil change at Walmart.

So, the local radio station I listen to most is known as BOB. On BOB I frequently hear an advertisement for Kyle's Quick Change. The ad makes a good case for getting ones oil changed at a locally owned enterprise.

Kyle is the voice speaking on this ad. Kyle has a classic Texas accent. Not quite as strong as Elsie Hotpepper's when she is in sailor on shore leave mode, but close.

Kyle does not pronounce oil the way I am used to. As in oil rhyming with boil. Kyle pronounces oil as rhyming with bawl.

"Get yer next awl change at Kyle's Quick Change and I guarantee your satisfaction." Or words similar to that.

The team changing my oil chattered the entire time, like some sort of rapid sitcom dialogue, that was funny to listen to because it was all about how many whether or not my vehicle had 6 or 8 cylinders.

I recognized the voice of the person dealing directly with me, and when he handed me back my credit card I asked if his was the voice on the radio ad. He confirmed that it was he and thanked me for noticing.

Well, I won't be going back to Walmart again for an oil change. I arrived at Kyle's around 9 this morning. I was back on the road, heading to the library, by about 9:10.

I got back to my abode by 10 and was able to get in a long bike ride before noon...