Thursday, July 31, 2014

San Angelo State Park, North Gate

Donna and I try to walk about 3 miles every other day. Usually, we just walk in our neighborhood because it is convenient, but sometimes we venture out to other places in the area, such as the O.C. Fisher Dam, Sante Fe Park along the Concho River in downtown San Angelo, or Spring Creek Park out on Lake Nasworthy. We like walking in the state park because it is so peaceful and quiet, we don't have to worry about traffic, and there is always the chance to see some wildlife. Normally we go to the south gate, which is probably only about 5 miles from our house, but this morning, we wanted something different, so we ventured to the north gate, just outside Grape Creek.

The north gate has an entirely different look from the park area at the south gate, or shore. The north entrance is literally only a stone's throw from the North Concho River, and that makes a lot of difference. There are very few native trees in West Texas once you get west of a north/south line passing through Abilene, Ballinger, and Eden. Most of the native trees  in this part of the country -- aside from the mesquite -- are pecans, oaks, and cottonwoods, mostly hugging the banks of rivers and streams. So when you enter the park at the north gate, you see tall, towering trees. That right there makes the north gate so much different from the south gate.

We parked our car at the gate, then walked the paved road all the way in to the camping area and back. There was only 1 guest in the campground, and we saw no one stirring in that campsite. The park host was staying in a motorhome at the gate, and we visited with her as she went about her duties. She told us she had seen a large flock of turkeys just a few minutes before, but they were nowhere to be seen when we got to the area where she had spotted them.

We also paused at the park's prairie dog town, but none of the residents were stirring at that early morning hour. The south park also has a prairie dog town, but the ones we've seen previously at the north shore seem chubbier.

Our walk today was just over 3 miles. The weather was perfect as a cool front had moved through a few hours earlier and the day was slightly overcast. Below are some pictures of the park.

View of the campground shows the old growth pecan trees that shade the campsites.
Lush vegetation along the river
Another view of the generously shaded campground
This shot illustrates how the trees give away to prairie as you move away from the river
A prairie dog mound. The owner was sleeping in this morning.
Entrance to the prairie dog's home.
The park's mailbox in the shape of a fifth-wheel travel trailer.
Restrooms and showers at the campground for those who are without.
The North Concho River, with a small pool of water. It's getting dry out here again.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

We Survived

We took the boys back home to Mom and Dad today. We met them at a restaurant in Big Spring, had lunch, then beat a hasty retreat. Baby Jensen slept the entire time, so we didn't get to play with him.

We had a good time with Xander and Camden. The 5 nights and 6 days we spent with them gave us plenty of opportunity to bond. Of course, we've spent lots of time with Xander over the years, but this was the first time for Camden to be away from home. The first night was a bit rough, but then Gamma Donna won him over. By the time his visit was over, he was following her all around the house. I'm sure he will miss her for the first few days he is home.

Xander is so patient with his little brother and he really is a big help. He's got a good heart in him.

Camden continues to remind Donna and me of my father. He has so many looks and mannerisms that my father had. I enjoy watching the little fellow.

Below are two pictures, one of Camden and one of my father. I see so much resemblance between them, especially the mouth and eyes. Notice the same downward turn of the mouth, for example. Even the hair is similar, even though Dad's hair seems much lighter in color in the black and white photo.

Camden at his birthday party

My father, when he was about two and a half.

Donna and I are trying to get back to normal now. I must admit the house seems a bit empty, but after a drink or two or three or four, I won't notice that as much. Time to relax after several days of having to be duty. I'm sure Donna is really missing her boys about now, though. She loves her boys.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Introducing Master Jensen Thomas Patterson

Jensen Thomas Patterson was born at 11:31 this morning. He weighed in at 8 pounds, 6 ounces, and was nearly 22 inches long. Initially, he does not look like his brothers, but he does have red hair like his father. Here are some pictures.

Of course, the Sheriff was on hand to supervise everything. He wanted to insure that everything was ready for his new deputy to enter the world. The doctor was a bit late, and the Sheriff berated him soundly.
The very first picture of Jensen, taken by Grandma Donna.
Jensen after he was cleaned up a bit.
Poppa Michael, the original red head, holding baby Jensen.
Donna holding her new grandson.
Bib brother Xander taking charge of another sibling. Note Jensen's red hair.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Sheriff Has a Party

Our grandson Camden, aka "The Sheriff", celebrated his first birthday yesterday with a party in the home of his paternal grandparents near Big Spring. Donna and I went up to join in the festivities. Actually, the Sheriff doesn't turn one until the 24th, but Courtney is scheduled to be induced early tomorrow morning, so dates had to be shuffled a bit to accommodate Momma's schedule.

We enjoyed cake and other snacks during the day, and the Sheriff got numerous presents. Here are a few shots I took.

Camden getting into one of his presents.

As with most kids, he found the package more interesting than the present.
Camden's first birthday cake.
Camden really enjoyed the big balloons his mother got.
This is a "smash cake" which HEB provides complimentary for a baby's first birthday when a regular cake is purchased in their bakery. We stripped Camden down so he could really dig in, but he was quite restrained about the whole thing and only dipped his finger.

After the party, Donna and I brought Camden and big brother Xander home with us. Courtney will be induced early tomorrow morning, so we are keeping the boys. We'll drive up to Midland for the delivery in the morning, then return home with the boys for another couple of days while Courtney, Michael, and new baby Deputy Jensen recuperate. We'll return the boys to their family later in the week.

We would appreciate your prayers while we keep the little monsters for these few days.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Waiting for Bingo

You can tell by the few postings I've made lately that we're not doing too much. Mainly we are just keeping close to home waiting for Courtney to bingo and bring another little boy into the world. The Sheriff needs a deputy.

We really have some itchy feet right now and would like to take a trip, but we need to stay close in case we get the call. In fact, about a week ago Courtney called us about bedtime to say she was on her way to the hospital. She called a few hours later to say it was false labor and that the doctor was sending her home.

So, we're just sitting around twiddling our thumbs.

We've not done much lately except keep up the yard and go to some Colts baseball games. Frankly, I'm getting a bit bored.

But we should be traveling soon after the baby arrives. We do have a wedding to attend in Donna's hometown, and we would sure like to visit a casino or two.

I'll keep you posted on that new baby.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Some Blog Stats

I've been maintaining this blog since February 11, 2011, immediately following my retirement. Since then, I've posted 401 entries on various areas of our lives, from our travel adventures to things regarding our home.

This morning, I went back through all my entries and took a look at some stats.

The blog averages more than 1,300 hits per month. During those times when we are traveling to interesting places, I get as many as 2,000 hits per month. When we are traveling, I tend to post something about every two days or so, sometimes (but not often) even daily. When we aren't doing much, I try to post about twice each week.

Below is a table of all my entries that have received at least 150 hits. The "Date of Post" is when the entry was actually published, not when the event occurred. Without doubt, traveling and hiking are the most popular events; however, I was surprised at the number of hits my report regarding the Moody Blues received. I was also surprised at how many hits my entries on rain barrels and walking around my neighborhood received.

For what it's worth, here is the list. Titles are links to the articles in case you want to look at those entries.

Title Date of Post  Hits 
Eagle Mountain Park: January 14, 2012 1/19/2012    1,427
Moody Blues Concert 3/12/2013    1,156
Day Trip: Caverns of Sonora 3/22/2012       821
Trip Report: Laughlin, Nevada, September 18 - 22, 2011 9/23/2013       617
Hike Report: Caprock Canyons SP 8/26/2012       315
Good Reads: Elmer Kelton's Texas Ranger Series 2/5/2012       281
LBJ Tours: Part 2, the LBJ Ranch 3/20/2012       274
Sam's Town, Las Vegas 3/3/2013       240
A Stroll Around the Neighborhood 7/21/2013       224
On the Road: Laughlin, NV, to Las Vegas, NV 3/1/2013       220
San Angelo SP: January 23, 2012 1/27/2012       219
Day Trip: Fort Lancaster State Historic Site 1/25/2014       207
Lake Livingston State Park 8/7/2012       202
Texas RV Park, Big Spring, Texas 8/19/2012       200
San Angelo SP: January 20, 2012 1/22/2014       193
Day Trip: Sante Fe to Taos 9/1/2012       193
Lake Whitney State Park 5/26/2012       187
Day Hike: Pedernales Falls State park 3/21/2012       180
Back Roads: Sherwood, Texas 2/9/2012       179
Bastrop State Park 2/1/2013       168
Dinosaur Valley State Park 8/16/2012       167
Caprock Canyons State Park 8/25/2012       166
San Angelo SP: December 30, 2011 1/1/2012       163
Palemetto SP: Hike Report - Day 1 4/3/2013       155
Big Bend Motor Inn RV Park 1/12/2013       153
Rain Barrels 10/6/2011       152
Big Bend: Sam Nail Ranch 1/8/2013       152
Palo Duro State Park 8/28/2012       152
On the Road: Cortez, CO, to Moab, UT 9/16/2012       151
Hiking Bastrop State Park, January 26, 2013 2/2/2013       150