Ranch storage tank and tree coexisted peacefully for years and then, slowly, this. I was on my way to my sister's place to house sit for a week when I decided to turn around and take this photo. I'll say good riddance to 2017 in Burleson tonight.
South Padre Island
I kept a few shells, but most of my souvenirs now are photos. I'll probably turn this one into a refrigerator magnet. I will have a refrigerator again soon. I'm planning to move into an apartment in Austin in February. I've stopped running away.
Texas Hill Country
I also saw hurricane damage I had missed on an earlier visit. The damage to this condo doesn't seem bad until you look through the top middle windows. That's blue sky you're seeing. No roof.
Padre Island National Seashore
Looking north toward Port Aransas. I drove south on the beach as far as possible without 4-wheel drive (5 miles) and saw only a few other people. Harvey is still affecting tourism even this far away from signigicant damage.
I was afraid Irie's tiny cafe would have been washed away by Harvey, but no. They were packed both times I ate lunch there. A ranger at the Seashore said she and her husband had helped put a tarp over the roof immediately after the storm.
After only five stays at airbnb's, I've experienced quite a range of accommodations. The two extremes in terms of comfort and aesthetic appeal are in San Antonio. Here's one. It was convenient to a public library.
Pace Bend on Lake Travis
Camping at this county park west of Austin gave me one night of solitude in a ruggedly beautiful setting. Solitude, not silence. The group of 20-somethings in the campsite 50 yards away was having a wonderful time. I was glad to hear laughter in the night.
Fort Worth Arts District
This gravel bar on the Meramec River extended for about a mile. I saw two bald eagles fly from the opposite bank a few minutes before I had my first close encounter with a drone. The closest eagle was about 200 feet away. The drone passed 6 feet over my head.
At Montauk State Park, a sign full of icons helped me find my cabin. No camping for me here. The first night it rained, and a cold front the second night dropped the temperature into the low 50's. Yes, that is too cold for me.
I spent two nights here. Cozy. All it lacked was a view of the Currnet River, which originates in springs in the park. I had to drive to get to the best stretch of the river for dry fly fishing. I did catch trout finally.
Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin
Driving through western Indiana, central Illinois, and southern Wisconsin, I've been surprised by the thousands of acres that look like this -- dead corn ready for harvest. There are almost as many soybean fields, but corn is slightly more photogenic.
Repaving streets in Madison, Wisconsin, uncovers geologic features I had forgotten about -- glacial erratics, stones deposited by glaciers. These stones on Yuma Drive were just up the street from my friends' home.
Not quite as old as the stones but still erratic for the neighborhood, these VW Type 3 Squarebacks are half of my friend's collection. It's still fun just to drive around Madison. No telling what you'll see.
Astoria, Winnemucca, I80 in Utah
On the Columbia River at Astoria, just before it collides with the Pacific, this tanker passed through my window view at the end of the hall. I saw river pilots climb rope-and-wood ladders into the large boats from the pilot boats, bobbing up and down at 9 knots.
In Winnemucca, NV, a Quality Inn attached to a small casino passes for a non-smoking property even though there's no barrier between the motel's front desk and the smoke-infused casino. A door separates the front desk from the rooms, but I couldn't check in without breathing stale smoke. At least Winnemucca has nice sunsets.
I enjoy driving I80 at 70-80 mph. I can't imagine traveling approximately the same route when oxen provided the power. Winnemucca, the Donner Pass, and Sacramento are to the west (right). But I'm going east. This sky in central Utah is blue, finally, but not yet clear. It wasn't clear and blue until I passed Salt Lake City on my way to Evanston, WY.
Yakima, Olympia, Canon Beach
The golden vegetation covering the hills looks more flammable than dry kindling. In the Yakima valley, vineyards replaced the kindling up to about one-half the height of the high, rolling hills. Hundreds of acres of blackened hillsides ended at the edge of one vineyard.
I missed a turn in Olympia and read a sign as I was about to turn around: "City of Olympia Watershed Park." What a find! This was a remnant of the original rain forest. Citizens had saved it in the 1950's from developers who wanted to log it. I spent a couple hours down in the horseshoe-shaped ravine walking the trail and taking photos of the fantastical shapes that new growth in these forests often takes.
This air quality map shows why I stayed inside today. If the air improves tomorrow, I'll head south. Otherwise, I may stay put for another day. (USG = unhealthy for sensitive groups. I'm almost 70. (Whaaat?!) That makes me one of those.)
Covered S Ranch, Gallup
Leaving Fort Worth, I was finally able to take a photo I have wanted to take for years. When you drive northwest between Snyder and Post, this mesa appears as you round a curve. Previously, there was no safe place to pull over. Now there is, thanks to an oil company access road on the Covered S Ranch.
I walked along an easy trail about half a mile into one of the massive sandstone features you can see from I40 near Gallup, NM. Looking out from this spot, there's an obvious battle between erosion and sedimentation. Erosion appears to be winning.
In a place that appears so barren from the highway, there were flowers all along the trail. These had the best lighting. When I got back to my car, I flicked at what I thought was dust on my jeans. It was pollen.
August 20 Party Schedule
I request that everyone be here between 1 and 3 p.m. That way you will be sure to meet everyone else and have time to talk. There are no formal plans. Just eat, drink, see all the photos, and talk. I'm looking forward to that.
Denver, Augusta, Noel
In the mountains near Denver, we hiked a gentle trail for a while and then drove along this spectacular river for miles. No camping for me here, I spent two days with a friend from our time in Madison and her husband.
The third floor window of this motel gave me a great view of fireworks exploding over small-town Kansas July 4. Not a civic event. Just lots of people shooting lots of money into the night air. I've lived in a city so long, I forgot that was legal in much of America.
My drive from Denver through Kansas to Missouri took me through another small town, Noel, Missouri. After passing this house, I thought, wait a minute; is that real? I turned around to confirm that it is. The design is all stone.
Roaring River State Park - Missouri
Mustang Island State Park - Texas