Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Brrr!

It's 10 degrees in San Angelo as I write this. It's been a cold winter with several days dipping into the teens. I know it's not as bad as what the folks up north are getting, but it's colder than I like it.

Tomorrow, it's expected to be 71 degrees. That's a difference of 61 degrees.

I thought last winter when we were living in our travel trailer was bad, but it has been colder this winter. I'm thankful to be in a warm, snug house.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

On the Road: San Angelo, TX, to Fort Lancaster, TX, and Back

As a general rule, I enjoy driving around West Texas. Roads are usually very good, traffic is normally light, and the scenery can be quite impressive. On our recent trip to Fort Lancaster and back, we were fortunate to see some good scenery.

Our 267 mile route for the day
We left San Angelo about 8:30 AM and headed southwest on US 67 for just over 50 miles. This stretch of the highway is two-lane for the most part, but there are numerous passing lanes in both directions. Green signs along the way indicate upcoming passing lanes and give mileage to them. I think this is done to encourage drivers to be patient and wait for these passing lanes. On this stretch, though, that doesn't work well. With the recent oil boom in this part of West Texas, there is increased traffic on the roads. These folks are here to make money; many of them seem to be very aggressive and quite impatient. It can be a stressful drive.

We lived in Ozona for 8 years during the 1990s, so we drove this route frequently on our trips to and from San Angelo. It used to be a pleasant drive, and few cars were encountered. Most of the traffic then was either folks like us from outlying towns heading to Angelo, or tourists traveling the countryside. Today, this is a road I will avoid unless I absolutely must take it.

After about 20 miles, we passed through the small community of Mertzon. About 30 miles later, we arrived in Barnhart, where we turned south on Texas 163. Both Mertzon and Barnhart are showing the affects of the boom. There are new RV parks, new convenience stores, new eateries, and lots and lots of oil field services along the highway. White limestone dust seems to cover everything as it is used for side roads and parking lots.

We followed Texas 163 south for 16 miles, then turned west on US 190 for a 43 mile drive to Iraan. Traffic gradually diminished along this highway until we shared the roadway with only local traffic (ranchers, for example) and the occasional tourist, like us. After about 25 or 30 miles, the landscape begins to change and becomes more rugged, with occasional canyons visible off to the side. The road dips down for a few miles into Live Oak Draw, then back up. Then it begins a dip again, this time into the Pecos River Valley. On the down slope, we turned off the road into a roadside park to snap a few pictures of the valley.

The Pecos River Valley as seen from a roadside park along US 190. You can see the small community of Iraan in the distance. The country along the river is like this all the way south until you get near the Rio Grande, where it becomes even more dramatic.
Following our break, we continued to descend into the valley, eventually crossing the Pecos River and arriving in Iraan, pronounced in 3 syllables as Ira Ann. The town was named for Ira and Ann Yates who owned the ranch land upon which the town sits. Iraan is a small community of just over 1,000 people. During the oil boom of the 1920s, V. T. Hamlin lived and worked here. Many of you old timers will know Hamlin as the creator of the old comic strip, Alley Oop. It is said he got the idea for the strip while working here.

Alley Oop Land in Iraan, Texas
From Iraan, we parallel the Pecos River south on Texas 349 for 21 miles to the dwindling community of Sheffield. U.S. 290 runs through Sheffield. This highway was replaced for the most part by I-10, which bypasses Sheffield a few miles to the north. Today, travelers along the interstate don't see this community or even know it is there; as a result, the town has little economic revenue.

At Sheffield, we pick up U.S. 290 and head east for a few miles and stop at Fort Lancaster. After leaving the fort, we climb up the east side of the Pecos River Valley to the most impressive views of the trip. Atop the ridge is a roadside park where we've picnicked a time or two in the past.

The storied Pecos River on US 290. It's not much of river. Water upstream is drained for agriculture; by the time the river reaches Texas, there isn't much in it.
From the park, US 290 winds up the Pecos cliffs. The little roadside park is at the top of the ridge, just left of center in this photo. Notice the rock foundations added to support the roadway.
Pecos River Valley from the roadside park atop the ridge.
After leaving the roadside park, we followed 290 east until it merges with I-10, and then headed into Ozona. We drove around Ozona for a short while. It was our home for many years in the 1990s. Courtney started the 4th grade there and we remained until she graduated. I guess it is the closest thing to a hometown that Courtney has.

After a short tour of the town, we stopped in at El Chato's for lunch. El Chato's was one of our favorite eating places when we lived there. Now, there is better Tex-Mex in the world, but when you live in a small town and your dining choices are limited, you realize that the food there is really pretty good. When we lived there, I really enjoyed their hamburgers and considered getting one. Instead, I opted for my old standard, their combination plate with soft tacos and cheese enchiladas. Donna had a taco salad. Yeah, we've had better, but the food is really decent. The tomatoes and lettuce were fresh, service was good, and the food was piping hot, the way Mexican food should be.

After leaving Ozona, we head north on Texas 163, this time turning east on US 190 to go to Eldorado, the little West Texas town that gained fame in recent years as the home of the Yearning for Zion Ranch. More recently, the little community was in the news for Steve Fromholz, noted musician and former Poet Laureate of Texas, who died near there in a hunting accident on January 19.

At Eldorado, we picked up US 277 for our return to San Angelo. It was a good day. We got to see some wonderful scenery, we visited our past in Ozona, and we toured a historic Texas fort and got some fresh air.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Day Trip: Fort Lancaster State Historic Site

I love visiting old forts in Texas. For quite a while now, I've wanted to visit Fort Lancaster State Historic Site in western Crockett County just east of the small community of Sheffield. On a recent mild and sunny day, we made the trek there and toured the grounds of the old military outpost.

Fort Lancaster was established in 1858 to protect the overland route between San Antonio and El Paso. The life of the post was short-lived, and it was finally abandoned by 1874. At its peak, it consisted of 25 buildings. Originally, the post was manned by infantry. Following the War-Between-the-States, Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry stationed at Fort Stockton farther west rotated to garrison the post. Fort Lancaster is the only Texas military fort that suffered a direct attack by Native Americans when a large force of Kickapoos and Lipan Apaches assaulted the post.

If you visit the post, do not expect to see restored buildings like you would at Fort Concho or Fort Davis. What you'll find instead are ruins. No building on the post is intact, and many are merely a jumble of stones. All of the remains are identified, though, and the layout of the post is clearly visible.

We began our tour at the Visitor Center, where a few exhibits are available. Be aware that this park is operated by the Texas Historical Commission, not the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. So, if you have a State Park Pass, as we do, it will do you no good here. Admission is $4 per person.

Visitor Center at Fort Lancaster State Historical Site
Exit the Visitor Center at the rear and the post stands before you. Be sure to look at the display just before leaving the Visitor Center to help plan your route. Also, pick up a Visitor's Guide, which includes a map. Determine the route you wish to follow and then take off.

Below are a few photos we took during our tour. One of the best things about this post is its location and setting. The views are really great. The post lies in the Pecos River Valley near Live Oak Creek. This is a broad valley with upper elevations as much as 600 or 700 feet above the valley floor.

This was Company K Barracks, and it is the most recognizable structure of the post. In fact, it graces the cover of the Visitor's Guide. The photo looks west across the Pecos River Valley.
This is the hospital, and it is pretty typical of what you will see in the park. The outline of the building is clear, and that's about it. Some buildings are just piles of stones with no clear detail.
This is the lime kiln, used to produce lime for construction of the stone buildings.
The blacksmith shop
Another view of Company K Barracks
The mess hall
This was the bakery. Today, it's merely a jumble of rocks with no clear outline or form. Notice the background.
If you are traveling along I-10 between Ozona and Fort Stockton, take old Highway 290 near Sheffield and take a walk through history. The scenery is impressive, and the old post provides a glimpse into the past in this rugged country.





Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hike Report: O. C. Fisher Lake Dam

While hiking in certain areas of San Angelo State Park, we could see people walking, jogging, and riding bicycles atop the dam. So, we investigated and have recently begun walking on the O. C. Fisher Dam in San Angelo. Now, such a walk really isn't a hike, at least, not in my book. But, I'm going to treat it as such today.

The dam is accessed off Mercedes Street in northwest San Angelo. A gate blocks access so that cars can not drive out on the dam. However, there is an open gate for pedestrians and bike riders.

Gate at southern end of O.C. Fisher Dam
The surface is paved and flat, an ideal environment for bike riders. Mileage is spray-painted on the surface so that you know how far you have gone. The farther out you venture, the more the weeds and grass have encroached on the roadway so that the walking area is narrower at 2 miles than it is at the beginning.

On the day I took these pictures, we went out 1.5 miles and returned for a 3 mile total. It was a warm day, very clear and sunny, but the wind was blowing a steady 20 mph or so atop the dam. A road runner (chaparral) darted across our path about a quarter mile out. On a previous trip in the early morning, we saw deer grazing on both sides of the dam.

This is a great walking environment because there is no traffic, and the views are great. So, no more talking from me, I'll just show you some pictures.

As REK says, the road goes on forever. It's straight for about 1.75 miles before curving left.
This shot shows the curve of the dam as well as its height.
Mileage spray-painted on the surface.

Near the curve, you can see a bit of water in the lake. The paved area at the lower left is a boat launch in the park. Bring your boat and let's go skiing. All the area to the left (west) is San Angelo State Park.

This photo shows 2 separate camping areas in the park. In an ideal world, they would be separated by an arm of the lake. Notice the mesas in the far background. I do love this country, as rough as it can be.
Downtown San Angelo. We don't have many tall buildings, but we do have a lovely and active downtown district along the North Concho River.

It's a mile and a half back to the gate. Notice how the grass has encroached on the pavement a few feet as compared to the pictures as the top.
Numerous soccer pitches line the east side of the dam.

As we approached the gate at the completion of our hike, we noticed some activity. A vehicle had pulled up to the gate, and I could see people dashing about. As we reached the gate, we saw a young woman lying on her back at the bottom of the east side of the dam. Apparently, she had attempted to ride her back through the narrow gate and lost control, causing her to tumble down the slope. We offered our assistance but were told all was being done. As we were leaving the area, we met an ambulance that had been called to the scene. It kind of reminded us of our trip to McKinney Falls State Park just over a year ago when a young lady tumbled down some rocks and had to be rescued.







Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hike Report: Multi-Trail Hike in the South Section of San Angelo State Park

A few days ago, the weather was sunny and warm, so Donna and I set out for a short hike in the south section of San Angelo State Park. As I stated in my previous post, we've hiked all the trails in the park, so to keep things fresh, we now combine different trails and try to go in different directions than we have previously gone.

We parked our car in the parking lot at Red Arroyo Camping Area, next to the playground. (See official park map.) We set out in a southwesterly direction on the Tasajillo Flats Trail through dense patches of prickly pear and mesquites and other desert type vegetation.

Donna at the Tasajillo Flats Trailhead.
After a quarter mile or so, we veered off in a more westerly direction on the Horny Toad Trail. This trail topped out on ridge with good views before descending into an arroyo abounding with mesquite thickets.

View from ridge on the Horny Toad Trail affords a good look at the nearby Highland Range Subdivision, which backs up to the southwestern boundary of the park.
Trail winds through mesquites and prickly pear. In the summer, the mesquites in the lower arroyos will provide a bit of shade from the sun, but in winter, they are barren of any leaves.
The Horny Toad Trail is pretty typical of most trails in the park. It winds up and down slopes, through mesquite thickets and prickly pears, and the trail is sometimes soft dirt and other times loose rock.

After winding through the arroyo, the Horny Toad Trail then skirts back up a slope, eventually topping out on a ridge with good views in several directions.

View from a ridge on the Horny Toad Trail. Looking north, the O.C. Fisher Lake Dam is visible, as well as a line of hills stretching west.
At the top of the ridge, the trail is intersected by the shorter Talley Valley Trail coming in from the north. From this point, the trail skirts a switchback and works down to a paved roadway where the Horny Toad Trail ends and the Nature Trail begins.

The Nature Trail starts out pretty straight on a surface of red dirt. Mesquite trees cluster about the trail.

Red dirt trail cuts a straight path through the mesquites on the Nature Trail.
After a quarter to half mile, the Tasajillo Flats Trail intersects from the north. About 150 yards or so past that, the Nature Trail takes a sharp turn to the northeast. However, we continued straight on the old Nature Loop Trail, which is not marked on any of my maps. This trail hit the paved park road at the entrance to the Isabelle Harte Park. (see official park map)

Entrance to Isabelle Harte Park, which is a part of the larger San Angelo State Park.
At this point, we followed the paved road leading into Isabelle Hart. Just before reaching the picnic tables, we turned right on the Winding Snake Trail (or it could be the Chaparral Trail). This trail began the return to our vehicle, and headed in a southerly direction. After about a third or more of a mile, it crossed a decaying paved road no longer available to traffic. At this point, the trail is certainly the Chaparral Trail. The remains of the old Red Dam are visible at this point to the north.

Red Dam (right center), with O.C. Fisher Dam in the background.

Looking across Red Arroyo from Isabelle Harte Park to Red Arroyo Camping Area. The buffalo in the center of the picture are not real, but metal silhouettes that look pretty authentic. A pavilion is at far right center. Note RVs in upper left. This is the campground where we used to camp.
All in all, I'd say we covered about 4 miles, give or take a little. It was a pleasant hike with perfect temps, though the wind did blow pretty hard at times -- but then, the wind always blows pretty hard in West Texas.

One of the great things about this park is that there are so many trails, which allows hikers to put together trail combinations to get a distance they are comfortable with. None of the trails are really strenuous, and there are really no steep ups and downs though there are some climbs throughout the park.








Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hike Report: The Trails of San Angelo State Park

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day in West Texas with temps eventually reaching the low 70s. The trails of San Angelo State Park beckoned to us.

We've hiked all the trails of the park at some time or another, and most of our hikes are recorded on my website at https://sites.google.com/site/kcdonnagoodlife/hiking. Since we've hiked all the trails, one way to keep things interesting is to hike a trail in the opposite direction, or combine trails. The park has more than 50 miles of trails for hikers, bikers, and equestrians, so we're usually able to put together something that keeps hiking in the park fresh. These trails are not indicated on the official park map, but a laminated map made available by the Friends of San Angelo State Park can be purchased at the park office for a nominal fee.

The park has two sections, a north section and a south section. The trails available in the park are as follows:
  • Bad Lands (North)
  • Bell's Point (South)
  • Chaparral (South)
  • Dinosaur (North)
  • Flintstone Village (North)
  • Horny Toad (South)
  • Ghost Camp (North)
  • Javelina (North)
  • Lanky Lackey (South)
  • Nature (South)
  • Playground (South)
  • Potts Creek (South)
  • Red Dam Loop (South)
  • River Bend (North)
  • River Bend Park (North)
  • Roller Coaster Hill (South)
  • Scenic Loop (North)
  • Shady (North)
  • Slick Rock (North)
  • Strawberry (South)
  • Talley Valley (South)
  • Tasajilla Flats (South)
  • Turkey Creek (South)
  • Winding Snake (South)
The two sections of the park are connected, so it is possible to travel by foot, horse, or bike from the south side to the north side.

The trails, of course, vary in length.  Some may be a few miles in length (Roller Coaster, River Bend, etc.) while others, like Talley Valley, are less than a mile. Some of the trails are very easy to hike, while others cover rocky terrain and steeper slopes. Most of the trails provide you with a big sky and distant vistas; however, some trails dip into ravines and mesquite covered canyons. Trails in the north section along the river wind through native pecans and other trees, while trails away from the river may have no trees at all, especially along the ridges.

Overall, there is good variety for hiking here. Whether you want a short hike or a long hike, you should be able to find something to suit you.


Because the park once was an Army Corps of Engineers park, there are numerous "parks" within the park. Over the years as the water level of O.C. Fisher Reservoir has declined, many of the individual parks have become abandoned and fallen into disrepair. These appear as ghost towns that you may suddenly come upon while hiking on the back trails. However, restroom facilities at some of these appear to be maintained at various levels, and water is available at some locations, such as Bell's Point. Picnic tables abound along the trails, and most still have their covers, making good spots for stopping to rest or eat.

In the next entry, I'll report the short hike we took yesterday, which covered all or part of the following trails: Tasajilla Flats, Horny Toad, Nature, and Chaparral, as well as a half-mile stroll along a paved road.





Thursday, January 16, 2014

Boomer Toons

Donna and I belong to AARP. If you are 50+ and not a member, you really should look into it. There are numerous benefits.

But, I'm not trying to sell you a subscription today. I really just want to share something with you. In the latest AARP monthly magazine, I found a link to some Boomer Toons. These are animated cartoons by Walt Handelsman, and they target those of us over age 50. Set to popular songs, each focuses on some aspect of aging. So, without further ado, I invite you to visit the AARP website and enjoy.

I think Donna and I probably identify most closely with the Mem'ries toon. Both of us do word puzzles on our Kindles, and I work 1 or more crossword puzzles each day. In addition, we each carry small notebooks in which we write notes to ourselves. These notes can be reminders, shopping lists, or anything else we want to remember, including URL addresses to AARP websites such as the one indicated above.

Enjoy.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

New Braunfels, Texas

Donna and I just returned from a short trip to New Braunfels, Texas. This community between San Antonio and Austin on Interstate 35 has always been special to us because it is where we became formally engaged in 1976. Since then, we've passed through a few times but we've not spent any time there, so it was time to return.

This city of approximately 60,000 has a very strong German heritage, as you might expect from the name. It was established in 1845 by Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels on the banks of Comal Springs, the source for the Comal River. The river runs through New Braunfels before emptying into the larger Guadalupe River. Numerous parks dot its banks, and the well-known WurstFest is held there each fall. Schlitterbahn water park is also nearby.

We drove just north of New Braunfels to take a look at the old Gruene Hall. I was surprised at the complex I found there in the Gruene Historic District. I was simply expecting to find only Gruene Hall, billed as Texas' oldest dance hall, but instead I found all sorts of trendy shops near the banks of the Guadalupe River.

We stayed at the Faust Hotel, a renovated hotel on the edge of downtown. We generally enjoy staying in old hotels such as this; there is one in downtown Bryan, for example, where we have stayed several times and really enjoy. However, I was a bit disappointed in the Faust. Now, admittedly we stayed in the second cheapest room they have ($89 plus taxes per night), but this room was ridiculously small. It did have a private bath, but you literally had to step out to turn around. To me, the room was worth at best $50 per night. The more expensive rooms may be better, but we have no intention of returning to find out.

While there, we ventured a block down the street to the Phoenix Saloon, which I had recently seen on an episode of Food Paradise (Travel Channel). The Phoenix claims that William Gebhardt (founder of Gebhardt Mexican Foods Company) developed his chili powder recipe while operating the Phoenix Cafe. Well, I had a hankering for some good Texas chili, so my fire-eater wife and I moseyed on into the Phoenix Saloon and sampled some. I can't tolerate heat as much as Donna, so I had the Single Shot dish (see their menu). Donna wanted to try the Ring of Fire, but I persuaded her to be careful and try the Double Shot instead; she downed that easily and wished she had tried the Ring of Fire instead.

The chile is made with sirloin, not ground beef, and the sauce is gravy in consistency, not thin at all. It has a good flavor, and I really enjoyed my bowl. There is also a good selection of domestic and foreign beers on draft, and we sampled several. We were fortunate that while we were there, a 3-piece band (the Hillbilly Jug Band) was playing. I think there is a 4th member of the band, but this was a small affair and free, so we were happy. I knew I'd like the group when I saw their motto: "the drunker you get, the better we sound." They sounded fine, I'm happy to say.

There is a great deal to do in and around New Braunfels, and what I've listed above is just the tip of the iceberg.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Good Reads: Spencer's Mountain

I consider myself fairly well-read, so I'm a bit ashamed that I just now have read Spencer's Mountain by Earl Hamner. The book was the basis not only for the movie of the same name but also for the long-running television series, The Waltons.

Published in 1961, the novel was inspired by Hamner's own childhood and recounts the adventures of the Spencer family in an isolated area of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The movie version, starring Henry Fonda, Maureen O'Hara, and James MacArthur, follows the novel very closely except for the setting. The movie was filmed around Jackson, Wyoming, with the imposing mountains as a backdrop in most scenes. In almost every other instance, though, the movie is faithful to the book.

There are many other differences between Spencer's Mountain and The Waltons, including name changes, the number of children in the household, and supporting characters. Still, the core values and characterizations remain true to the original novel.

The novel roughly follows a year in the life of the Spencers as Clay-Boy attempts to realize his dream of going to college. But the novel is more than just a story about Clay-Boy.

The movie came out in 1963, and I watched it about that time. I always felt that I was experiencing what my father's childhood must have been like to some degree, for he grew up at the same time as Clay-Boy Spencer (John-Boy Walton). And like the book and TV show, my father came from a large family. Both his father and his mother lost their original spouses. When they married, my grandfather brought 4 children to the marriage while my grandmother brought 3. To this union, my father and his younger sister were born. Altogether, the family consisted of 9 children and 2 adults struggling through the Depression years.

My father and his family lived a rural lifestyle very much like that depicted in the TV series and the book. So when I watch the TV series or read the book, I'm seeing a bit of my father's life, and I like that.

After reading Spencer's Mountain, I picked up a copy of The Homecoming, also by Hamner. This novel is also about the Spencer clan. Although written in 1970, the setting of the book is 1933, about 2 or 3 years prior to Spencer's Mountain. The story is about an anxious Christmas Eve the Spencer children and their mother spend waiting for the arrival of Clay Spencer, who has taken a job in Charlottesville and comes home only on weekends and special occasions. The journey home requires a trip first by bus, then a 6 mile walk. A heavy snow on Christmas Eve only arouses more worry in the household.

It is actually The Homecoming that jump-started The Waltons.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Our First Day Hike

Donna and I went out to San Angelo State Park yesterday to enjoy a "first day hike." We did not go on the ranger-led hike since it was following a trail we had hiked only a few days before; instead, we took another trail.

We parked at the Burkett trailhead (see map referenced below) of the park and basically did the same hike I recorded about 2 years ago in San Angelo SP: December 30, 2011. However, this time we did the hike in reverse. If you've ever done much hiking you know that the very same trail can look considerably different when hiked from the opposite direction.

On a side note, I could not get my camera to work on the hike, but you can reference the earlier article for pictures.

Should you visit the park, ask for a trail map. The official park map does not show all of the trails available in the park. Actually, there are two additional maps. One is a free paper handout. I have a copy of a trail map done by the Friends of San Angelo State Park that is quite nice and has good trail detail. It is laminated and cost $3 at the time I purchased it.

We followed the Winding Snake Trail from Burkett into a bottom area that was quite damp. A large number of reeds, cattails, and other water loving plants grew pretty thick. The trail itself was damp even though we've had no noticeable rain for about a week. Soon we could see a trickle of water moving through the reeds, eventually forming a small pond.

Past the pond, the trail climbed a bit, passing a few old covered picnic tables from the days when the park was managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  After passing through a thicket of mesquites, the trail then broke into a clearing and the dam of O. C. Fisher Reservoir was visible. Near this point, the trail split; it doesn't matter which trail you follow as they converge at Isabelle Harte Park soon. The trail emerged onto a dirt road, which soon crossed a paved road. At this point, the trail becomes the Chaparral Trail.

More picnic tables and other structures from the old park days are visible here. We remained on the trail until we came to a no-longer used paved road we had hiked before. We followed it due west until it merged with the same paved road we crossed earlier and farther east at Isabelle Harte. At this point, we hit the Lanky Lackey Trail and began heading back to our car.

We crossed an old dirt road along this trail. Looking down the road to the northeast, we could see a restroom from the old days. There are a number of no longer used structures in the park from the old days. When the lake was first formed, heave rains almost immediately filled the lake and gave a false impression of the shoreline. As a result, structures were built along this false shoreline. Now that West Texas reality and drought have set in, these structures are always away from the water -- if there is, indeed, any water at all in the lake -- and they are crumbling with time. Coming upon these in the back country is like coming across a ghost town.

Just after crossing the dirt road, we emerged on a slope that provided a really good view of the area to the northwest. We could even see the Burkett trailhead and our car from this vantage point. The trail then dips down into a lower area where we once again encountered reeds and other growth. We crossed a small rivulet, undoubtedly the same one we had seen near the start of our hike. As we began climbing again, we could see the small pond along the main park road. This pond was constructed only in the last 2 years or so. I guess it is spring fed as it always appears full. Runoff from this pond feeds the little rivulet.

It was a good hike, probably about 4 miles or so. We are grossly out of shape, so we did not want to go too far. We've not even been doing our regular neighborhood walks lately. Since this was "first day", we encountered a number of bikers on the trail. All we very polite and cautious as they moved past us on the trail. Lots of folks were all over the park.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014

Happy New Year for 2014!

Each year folks make resolutions for the new year. These resolutions normally are for losing weight, getting more exercise, giving up smoking, and related issues. I invite you to consider some other resolutions for this new year.
  1. Resolve to reduce water usage. It's time we got serious about conserving water. Do you leave the water running while you brush your teeth? Wet your toothbrush, turn off the water, then leave it off until you are ready to rinse. Do you have an automated sprinkler system? Turn it off. If your lawn needs watering, turn your system on the night before. We've all seen the water systems running while it is raining or a day or two after a heavy rain. What a waste!
  2. Resolve to obey all laws and rules. If the speed limit is 70, stay at or below 70. If the park sign says do not gather fallen wood, then don't do it. Do you obey the leash law in your town?
  3. Resolve to not use your mobile hand held device while driving and at other inopportune times. No explanation is needed here. 
  4. Resolve to watch something intelligent on television. The best source for this is PBS. 
  5. Resolve to become more informed about current events by reading, watching, and listening to objective and intelligent sources. By being better informed, we can make better decisions in all areas of our lives.
  6. Resolve to start a savings plan if you haven't already done so. Financial experts tell us that we should have savings equivalent to support us for at least 6 months in case we should lose our jobs. Your first priority should be to reach this mark. Commit 5% of your salary to some sort of savings and at least half of any raises you should receive.
  7. Resolve to read a good book. Lose yourself in the diverse characters you can meet in a book, and travel to places you've never been. Books can take you anywhere.
  8. Resolve to visit a museum or two this year. Whatever your interest -- whether art, history, or stained glasses -- there's a museum out there for you.
  9. Resolve to try some new food this year, something you've never tried before. Go to a restaurant with a trusted friend and let him/her order for you.
  10. Spend some quality time with your family, especially those who are sick or aging. You never know when the moment may be gone forever.
Again, I wish everyone a happy and satisfying 2014.