Larry Crowder

This is now a personal website. I retired in April, 2017.

November

Padre Island National Seashore

Sunrise on Padre Island. The first row of dunes at this campground blocked the surf view, but the sound was always there.

 

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 picked up trash on the beach a couple mornings but left this child's shoe where it lay.

 

 

Port Aransas

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.

 

I don't know whether the wave design marks Harvey's high-water mark. I believe that would be about right.

 

 

 

 

 

San Antonio

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.

 

And here's the other. I prefer this one. I'm here tonight on my way to Thanksgiving with Ryan later this week.

 

 

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.

 

Soft, warm light. Everything looks better at sundown.

 

 

 

Fort Worth Arts District

On my way out of town, I stopped by my favorite art museum just to see the building. Too early to go inside.

 

 

I love shadow selfies. Ageless, timeless and clothes are never out of style.

 

 

Amon Carter Museum of American Art, just uphill from the Kimbell, on a perfect November morning.

 

 

 

The Carter's front yard view of downtown and some of the construction cranes that are still transforming that area of Fort Worth.

 

 

Here's where I've been since April.

 

 

 

October

Missouri

On my way to state parks, I had a rare view of something other than highways and parking lots outside my motel window. I couldn't tell whether the tiny white structure was a greenhouse or a pet pen.

 

 

 

I believe I was in Meramec State Park a week or two before the best fall color. Leaves had just started to turn on this part of the river half a mile from my campsite.

 

 

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.

 

The mill. Long before this was a tourist destination, it was a working mill. I was surprised by its size.

 

 

In the campground, tiny flowers covered the grass in places.

 

 

I googled tiny Ozark wildflowers but found nothing similar.

 

 

If the buds were open, it might look like a dwarf lupin.

 

 

 

 

September

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

I escaped smoke for a day by driving northwest of Portland to Astoria. The stuff in the air on this day was fog. It was great!

 

 

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.

 

I could see and hear these sea lions from my room. They must talk in their sleep; whenever I woke up during the night, I heard them. But it wasn't like snoring. It was a strange white noise.

 

 

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 parts of western Oregon and Washington I saw from I84 and I82 look ready to explode in more wildfires. This was a typical view as I drove northwest toward Yakima.

 

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 place is surrounded by residences and businesses and was only about a mile from my motel.

 

 

Ash from wildfires coated my car the next morning. One was the fire that closed I84 near Hood River. A local said she had not seen ash fall since Mount St. Helens erupted.

 

 

Hoping to escape the smoke, I drove south to Beaverton (just west of Portland) and then west to the Pacific at Cannon Beach. No joy. Even here smoke obscured what would have been a clear blue sky.

 

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.)

 

 

August

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.

This small tree has found a way to survive on the face of that mass of sandstone in the photo above. (Insert your own inspirational words here. Metaphor required.)

 

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.

 

Fort Worth

I'll spend the next 17 days here getting ready for the party on August 20. On the 24th I close on the house and hit the road, headed west.

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.

 

July

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.

 

MAY

Roaring River State Park - Missouri

My goal is minimalist camping that doesn't require a tent. I hate wet tents. This is my initial solution. So far, so good.

 

 

I like drive-in camping in a scenic environment. Roaring River has the added bonus of the trout stream 30 feet away.

 

 

That was less of a bonus when I had to evacuate due to a flash flood warning. But it was easy. No tent.

 

 

APRIL

Mustang Island State Park - Texas

It's far easier to be alone on a windy beach than in an empty house.



This was a therapeutic spot to spend a few days.