Sunday, October 22, 2017

Wichita Falls Circle Trail Opens Up Wichita Bluff Nature Area

On Friday an incoming email told me the long awaited completion and opening of the Wichita Bluff Nature Area had arrived and was ready for its closeup.

And so, yesterday, that being Saturday, with thunderstorms and possible tornadoes, along with grapefruit size hail and gusty wind on the potential weather menu I decided to check out the new scenic extension of the Wichita Falls Circle Trail.

Let's just get my take on this new development out of the way before we proceed.

I give this addition to Wichita Falls a big thumbs up, four stars and job well done to whoever designed and executed this.

The email I got on Friday told me the newly opened section of the Circle Trail was about 1.5 miles. I think it was longer than that, judging by the hour it took to walk to the trail's current termination.

The entry sign you see above is at the east end of the newly opened trail. The trail terminates a quarter mile, or so, from this eastern entry. You can see where preparations are being made to continue the Circle Trail extension to connect to Lucy Park.

In the next photo we are at the west end entry, seeing a group heading towards the Nature Area's parking lot.

A surprisingly large number of people were checking out the newly opened Nature Area, what with it being a blustery threatening weather type of day.

This new trail section is unique to the Wichita Falls Circle Trail in that the trail  in the Wichita Bluff Nature Area has elevation gains and drops.

Today was the longest I have walked in months. I think my ankles and feet may be complaining soon. In the above photo we are near the entry, on one of several side trails from the main trail, with one of the ubiquitous Wichita Falls swinging benches. That is one of two covered areas you see on the left, which one comes to whilst walking the trail. Providing protection from sudden inclement weather. And the sun.

Eventually the Wichita River comes into view. Several overlooks, with benches, provide rest stops with river views.

Such as the Wichita River overlook you see above.

Above is the second covered weather protector structure. This one is near the east entry to the Nature Area.

One of the aforementioned side trails, leading to yet one more swinging bench overlooking the Wichita River.

And yet one more example of swinging benches accessed by a side trail from the Circle Trail, with these two looking in opposite directions.

And here we are heading up the trail to the parking lot at the west end, Seymour Highway, entry to the Wichita Bluff Nature Area. As you can see, the sky is a bit threatening. Though no actual threat materialized during the time period I experienced this new Wichita Falls Nature Area.

I'm hoping the success of this new section of Circle Trail instigates an impetus to close the couple gaps remaining which keep the Circle Trail from being a true circle.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Mom Takes Virtual Trip To Thailand

Checking email this morning I saw that which you see here, incoming from Arizona.

Message in email...

Took mom to Thai food for lunch. She loves it.

David, Theo & Ruby's maternal parental unit, my little sister, Michele, left the kids behind in Tacoma to fly south to see mom for a few days in the Phoenix zone of Arizona.

David, Theo & Ruby will be flying south to the Phoenix zone next month during the Thanksgiving time frame, to spend some time with their grandma. There is some talk of myself also being there.

I was last in Arizona on August 22. That day, prior to taking me to the airport, mom asked where I would like to go for lunch. I said, I don't care, McDonald's is fine with me.

No, said mom, let's go to a restaurant with a printed menu. How about Chinese, mom suggested. I then said Thai sounds good.

What? Tie? Mom replied.

Yeah, Thai, said I.

To which mom replied again with a variation of what's Tie?

To which our chauffeur, my second littlest sister, Jackie, explained to mom I was referencing Thai food, as in Thai food like you find in Thailand.

Oh, said mom, I don't know of such a place here.

Nor did my sister Jackie.

But, somehow sister Michele found a Thai restaurant in the Phoenix zone and took mom there, where mom learned she liked Thai food.

I am thinking that maybe if I do go to Arizona next month there might be a chance I would get to go to a Thai place, in addition to having turkey...

Friday, October 20, 2017

Creepy Elsie Hotpepper Message About Fort Worth Slaughterhouse Hotel

The creepy message you see here was sent to me via Miss Elsie Hotpepper.

Apparently a deal has been finagled between the city of Fort Worth and a hotel developer to develop a new Fort Worth Stockyards hotel on the site of the long closed Swift Armor slaughterhouse and meatpacking plant.

I do not know if it is Elsie Hotpepper who thinks it sounds creepy to stay at a hotel built on a slaughterhouse grounds, or if someone sent Elsie this message, which she then forwarded to me.

However, due to the well known delicate nature of Elsie Hotpepper I suspect it is she who finds this hotel to be potentially creepy.

Personally, I don't find this all that creepy and I don't think it would bother me to stay in this hotel.

Now if this had been the location where Fort Worth conducted its hangings back in the days when locally such punishments took place, well, that might be a bit creepy.

Ever since my eyes beheld the location of the former Swift Armor operation I thought it to be one of the most interesting things I have ever seen in any town anywhere, wondering what caused this? And why has this rubbled mess not been cleaned up, what with it being at the location of what I thought then was the town's only tourist attraction?

I long ago made a webpage about that rubbled mess which I called The Stockyard Ruins.

When I first saw that which I came to call The Stockyard Ruins I thought they looked like what photos of Berlin looked like at the end of World War II.

A day or two ago I asked someone if they knew how these buildings came to be such ruins. Not realizing til a few minutes ago that I had already asked that question and years ago got an answer, from someone named CM Waring, which I then added to the info on the webpage about The Stockyard Ruins...

The Stockyards Ruins were victims of arson fires, 2, in 1971 and 1973. The amount of animal fat in the buildings left the fires unable to be extinguished. They just let it burn out. I was long interested in how the ruins got in the state it's been for decades. I had to do plenty of digging to get that info, and I couldn't tell you where I finally found it. It was not easy.

A few years ago a FOX TV show called Prison Break used part of The Stockyard Ruins, turning one of the ruins into a Panama prison, complete with barbed concertina wire, guard towers and military vehicles. This is also photo documented on my The Stockyard Ruins webpage.

I wonder if the Armor Hotel will actually get built on the site of The Stockyard Ruins. Or will it turn into yet one instance of Fort Worth vaporware?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

DFW Strikes Out In Amazon HQ2 Opening Play

This morning I learned via the Seattle Times As Amazon’s deadline for HQ2 bids closes, speculation on winner heats up article that yesterday was the deadline for metro areas to submit their bid to be considered as the location for Amazon's second headquarters.

This second headquarters thing continues even as Amazon continues to gobble up downtown Seattle. Yesterday I read Amazon has taken over the old Bon Marche/Macy's building, site of a HUGE former department store.

The article in the Seattle Times included info about Amazon's criteria for its second headquarters, along with info about what metro areas have the best shot.

A paragraph about Amazon's HQ2 criteria..

Amazon has, however, detailed its wish list of amenities for a second home — perks like a highly educated workforce and a place with a flexible transportation network.

Oh oh. A highly educated workforce and a flexible transportation network would seem to eliminate one candidate which the Star-Telegram thinks should be a shoo-in. We mentioned this particular Star-Telegram delusion in a blogging last month titled Searching For Dozen Reasons To Lure Amazon To Fort Worth.

That delusion continued this morning when I saw what you see below in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The Star-Telegram's DFW makes its pitch for Amazon HQ2. Is your city in play? article includes a Star-Telegram produced propaganda video. In the video the Star-Telegram shows various locations in DFW being pitched to Amazon.

In the video guess which location the Star-Telegram pitches first?

If you guessed the first pitch went to that industrial wasteland of an imaginary island screwily misnomered Panther Island, you guessed correctly. Since nothing actually exists on the imaginary island the Star-Telegram used animation to illustrate that which likely will never be, but also included actual video of hapless souls inner tubing in the Trinity River.

Yes, I'm sure Amazon will see tube touting as a big selling point. It is not too difficult for an info/tech savvy company like Amazon to find out most people think the Trinity is too polluted to get wet in, and that Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision (and Panther Island) is what is known in the tech world as vaporware. Vaporware which has developed a well earned reputation as America's Biggest Boondoggle.

Blurb from Star-Telegram touting the imaginary island and likely future Superfund site, that is if Trump does not totally destroy the EPA...

Leading sites in Tarrant County include Fort Worth’s Panther Island, the future Trinity River development north of downtown, and 800 acres in Grapevine that is part of Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.

These two are the leading sites in Tarrant County? As if there are a lot of other sites considered? That open acreage north of the airport seems like a sane candidate. Lots of nearby amenities, including that airport.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Times article also speculates which metro areas are in the lead for the Amazon HQ2 prize, using data from an economist from something called Moody Analytics. A Texas town comes in #1 by this Moody analysis. You can go to the Seattle Times article to see the entire Moody list and some of the determining criteria, but here's a blurb that will reveal which Texas town is Moody's #1....

Mark Zandi took a different approach. The economist for Moody’s Analytics, along with colleague Adam Ozimek, lined up 29 sets of data designed to match Amazon’s preferences.

To gauge a city’s business environment, Moody’s weighed things like metropolitan credit ratings, tax systems and employment growth rates. For quality of life, they used measures of the school dropout rate and arts establishments per capita.

Shake the cocktail, and Austin, Texas, came out No. 1, lifted by a low tax rate and strong job growth.

What a shock. Fort Worth is not on the list. Even with Fort Worth's impressive flexible transportation network. Amazon must not have heard about Molly the Trolley...

Throwing Thursday Back To 2006 In South Dakota Black Hills & Wall Drug

I saw this a couple days ago on Facebook, via my Aunt Jane, who I think shared this via my Aunt Judy. I am guessing Aunt Judy took the picture.

The text along with the photo...

Yet another October gathering--this time in 2006 on neutral turf in the Black Hills of South Dakota. What a great time we had when we met there for several days. We decided it was the first time since Arlene married in 1949 that the siblings had all slept under the same roof. — with (left to right) Shirley Slotemaker, Mel Slotemaker, Hank Hershberger, Arlene Barry, Ruth Hershberger, Jack Slotemaker, Gerry "Mooch" Slotemaker and Jane Slotemaker.

I sort of remember when mom and dad went to the Black Hills for a sibling reunion. But, I remember no details. This was the same year in which Spencer Jack's dad got married for the first time, in April of 2006.

Mom and dad did not attend those nuptials. My recollection of the reason why they did not attend the nuptials of their only grandson to get married (so far) was they did not want to make the long drive north from Arizona at that point in time. Maybe this was because they knew they would be making an even longer drive later in the year, to South Dakota.

I sort of remember asking mom and dad, post their trip to South Dakota, if they visited Wall Drug when they were in the neighborhood. I do not remember if the answer was yes, or no.

Visiting Wall Drug feels almost mandatory once you are within a couple hundred mile radius of that location, due to all the signs enticing a visit with all sorts of enticements, like nickel cups of coffee and ice cream cones for a dime.

I know mom and dad would not pass up an ultra cheap cup of coffee with an equally cheap ice cream cone...

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Running To Mount Wichita Summit Not An Option

On my way to ALDI this morning I opted to detour slightly south and west in order to do some mountain climbing on my neighborhood mini-volcano, aka, Mount Wichita.

Upon arrival I quickly saw I was not alone in deciding today to do some mountain climbing.

As I drove to the parking zone the group you see on the mountain were at its base, preparing for their assault on the summit.

About the time I turned off the device which mechanically rolls my vehicle's wheels the pair you see at the summit began running towards the peak. And ran all the way.

Without stopping.

I was appalled.

Looking at Mount Wichita it somehow looks as if it should be easy to run to the top. I thought so the day I first climbed the mountain. I arrived that day, and just like today, saw a guy running to the top. I walked around the mountain and then when I felt sufficiently warmed up, I began to run up the same trail I saw that guy zoom up like an antelope leaping across the prairie.

I lasted maybe 15 feet before I doubled over, hands on knees, trying to catch my breath.

I have yet to figure out why it is so difficult and so endorphin inducing aerobically stimulating to hike to the summit of Mount Wichita. I have hiked countless mountain trails in Washington, Oregon, California, Utah and Colorado.

And never had those trails kick me in the gut like Mount Wichita does.

Maybe this is an age related malady. Next time I am in Washington I need to get to Deception Pass and hike to the summit of Goose Rock. That should let me know if it is an age related, out of shape thing. Or something else. Goose Rock is about a dozen times taller than Mount Wichita. The trail base is only slightly above sea level. Sections of the trail to the top are steep. I have hiked to the top of Goose Rock dozens of times.

By the time I got to the Mount Wichita summit that group I saw heading up upon arrival was heading down. The lady on the right did not feel as if she could make the descent whilst vertical, and so she employed a slide down the hill on her bottom method. I had not seen this done before at this location.

Imaginary Iconic Fort Worth Downtown Opens New Little Hotel With Molly The Trolley

I saw that which you see here, a couple days ago, an editorial in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Downtown hotels? Check. Now how do we get around?

Now, before we proceed, I know it might seem as if I, well, sort of give Fort Worth a hard time, making fun and mocking various things about the town.

Most of that making fun and mocking is caused by what I have seen ever since I arrived in Texas as the bizarre Chamber of Commerce style propaganda nonsense the Fort Worth Star-Telegram spews about the town it serves poorly as the town's pitiful only newspaper of record.

To be real clear. I think Fort Worth is a perfectly fine town with a perfectly nice downtown and a few perfectly nice parks. A town with some good museums and a fun tourist attraction in the form of the Fort Worth Stockyards.

But, the Star-Telegram's tendency towards hyperbole regarding Fort Worth is annoying and I don't think serves the public responsibly, giving those who don't know better a false opinion about the status of their town.

Which must be totally confusing when such a person visits for the first time one of America's, or the world's, actual modern, progressive towns, with modern amenities, such as modern public transportation. And modern restrooms in their city parks. And sidewalks alongside their streets. And downtowns where so many people live that there are items such as grocery stores, department stores, live theater and a plethora of restaurants.

And convention centers where real conventions take place, flooding a town's downtown with thousands of visitors and filling a town's downtown hotel's thousands of rooms in dozens upon dozens of downtown hotels.

And then there is Fort Worth.

So, we have this editorial which triggered my latest bout of finding the Star-Telegram's propaganda to be annoying. The impetus for this editorial is the apparently stupendous fact that a small 114 room Fairfield Inn has opened in downtown Fort Worth.


And that new hotel will soon supposedly be followed by six more new hotels, downtown, adding a whopping 1,000 rooms.

Again, whoop-de-doo.

Let's go through this editorial looking at some of the choice bits of propaganda nonsense...

This influx has the potential to further redefine our iconic downtown. And it comes just in time.

These seven hotels have the potential to further refine Fort Worth's iconic downtown? Seriously? Iconic? You in other parts of America, or the world, is there anything about Fort Worth which is even remotely iconic to you, which you recognize as being Fort Worth when you see it? Other than the possibly "iconic" Fort Worth Stockyards sign at the Stockyards?

This redefinition of Fort Worth's downtown comes just in time? How is that? Well, the next paragraph tells us...

As XTO Energy prepares to relocate the majority of its workforce from downtown Fort Worth to Houston, we’ve got an opportunity to continue the thoughtful approach stakeholders and planners have engaged in with respect to downtown.

So, how does yet one more corporate entity bailing on downtown Fort Worth get somehow mitigated by new hotels being added to Fort Worth's downtown?

I tell you it is one absurd paragraph after another. And so the next is...

Our wonderful mix of old, which is evident in our building facades and brick streets, and new — Sundance Square’s redevelopment — is unique.

Unique? Have these people been to any other town's downtown? The mix of old and new and the Sundance Square redevelopment is unique? What does that even mean? Are the Fort Worth, well Star-Telegram and the downtown proselytizers, ever gonna drop this embarrassing "Sundance Square" nonsense? It makes no sense to continue to refer to part of your downtown as such. Just stop it.

And then the next paragraph...

Our vibrant, livable, walkable downtown is unmatched by our neighbors to the east.

Vibrant? Livable? Unmatched by the neighbors to the east? A typical dig at Dallas, born of Fort Worth's well deserved civic inferiority complex. Downtown Fort Worth is livable? The relatively few people who live there have no downtown grocery store, no department stores, no vertical malls. Limited public transportation. Has the Star-Telegram been to downtown Dallas since way back when Amon Carter made his last visit?

Skipping ahead a few paragraphs...

The hotels bring the prospect of more people — and more business — to Fort Worth, enabling many to experience all downtown and beyond has to offer.

All downtown Fort Worth has to offer? Like what? I've been to many a big city downtown. There are some nice elements to Fort Worth's downtown. But, it ain't nothing special. And how does the Star-Telegram get the gall to spew this type nonsense when something like Heritage Park lingers on as a boarded up embarrassing eyesore homage to the town's storied history, at the north end of this unique downtown few tourists visit?

The following two paragraphs are so embarrassing...

More concerning is our ability to effectively and affordably move visitors throughout downtown and to show them what lies beyond the center. From the Museum District to the Stockyards, there is opportunity to connect visitors with our cultural touchstones. But using public transportation to reach these places is far from ideal.

Molly the Trolley, the bus that looks like a trolley that was first introduced in 2009, as of August is charging patrons to ride around downtown. The move was met with opposition from some area business leaders. A planned shuttle called Dash will take riders from downtown to the West Seventh area, also at a cost. Both charge $2 for a single ride or $5 for the day.

Fort Worth's cultural touchstones? I have been to downtown Fort Worth many times and somehow have never seen or touched any of those cultural touchstones.

Molly the Trolley? Yes, you in grown up parts of America and the world, Fort Worth has a downtown transit system consisting of a bus made to look like a trolley. I have seen this and it is much more embarrassing in person than simply reading the words "Molly the Trolley".

The big city downtown of which I am as familiar as I am with downtown Fort Worth is that west coast city named Seattle.

Seattle is smaller, population wise, than Fort Worth, but its downtown is HUGELY bigger. Public transport in the downtown Seattle zone consists of a subway under downtown with multiple underground stations. With bus transit on the surface. A monorail connects downtown to one of Seattle's 'cultural districts', known as Seattle Center. And there is a real trolley or two or three, running on rails. There is an enormous downtown convention center which dwarfs downtown Fort Worth's, both in size and in number of conventioneers. The Seattle downtown has dozens of hotels, new ones being added regularly, without the local media making absurd proclamations about such being anything of out of the ordinary significance.

And, unless it has changed since I was last transiting around downtown Seattle, it is free to use the buses to get around downtown. And that downtown covers an area which transposed to a map of Fort Worth would be as large as Fort Worth's puny downtown extended all the way to the Stockyards and what Fort Worth calls its Cultural District, and West 7th.

I tell you, the differences between a modern progressive liberal city and a backwater, non-progressive ill-liberal city are stark, including the quality of their newspapers...

UPDATE #1: We were curious as to how many hotel rooms there are in downtown Seattle, compared to downtown Fort Worth. Well, according to a Seattle Facts website called Visit Seattle there are 13,265 rooms available in downtown Seattle, with 10,099 available within an 11 block radius of the Washington State Convention Center.

Meanwhile, according to the Star-Telegram's editorial, "And speaking of those conventions: When a significant event comes to Fort Worth, the current stock of accommodations — or about 2,500 rooms — is sold out."

About 2,500 rooms in all of downtown Fort Worth, which sell out during those few times a significant event comes to Fort Worth?

Maybe the Star-Telegram should focus less on the opening of a small downtown hotel and more on why so few significant events come to downtown Fort Worth, and why so few people choose to live in that iconic downtown.

UPDATE #2: Look At Fort Worth's Industrial Wasteland Boondoggle Location For Amazon HQ2 for another look at the delusional Fort Worth Star-Telegram propaganda about downtown Fort Worth, including links to a look at downtown Fort Worth being a ghost town on the busiest shopping day of the year.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Shadow Of The Sikes Bike Thin Man Getting Goosed

This morning I rolled myself on a long bike ride, wearing sweatpants to keep out the semi-cold.

This evening, when the sun was in set mode, I rolled myself on a shorter bike ride, wearing my warm weather biking attire.

By morning the chill will likely have returned.

As you can see, via the photo documentation, the late in the day setting sun casts a golden glow in North Texas.

When I stopped to take a picture of the Sikes Bike Thin Man no other people showed up in the photo.

Accurate photo documentation of Sikes Lake this evening would have documented the throngs of people out having themselves a mighty fine time in the extremely pleasant weather.

Accurate photo documentation of Sikes Lake this evening would also have documented the throngs of geese behaving much more actively than they behave in the morning.

Hundreds of birds, mostly geese, make Sikes Lake their home. At times the flocks of geese act very territorial, like they resent sharing the paved trail. Some will make a stand, waiting til the last second to flutter away from the incoming bike.

There are often fishermen and women fishing in Sikes Lake. Evening seems to attract a lot more line casters, hiding in the shadows of the trees and bridges, I assume so as to better trick the fish to bite their hooks.

The paved trail around Sikes Lake is illuminated. There are multiple emergency alarms posted around the lake. Along with multiple gazebos with drinking fountains. And a modern restroom facility. In other words, not every town in Texas is as backward as that Texas town I lived in prior to moving to Wichita Falls...

Thinking About Riding My Bike To Mount Vernon To Visit George Washington

My handlebars at the location you see here may have you guessing I flew my bike to Washington, D.C. and then pedaled the short distance from downtown to visit George and Martha's famous house named after the town I lived in in Washington before arriving in Texas.

Now that you're making me think about it, George and Martha's last name is the same as the name of the state I lived in prior to arriving in Texas. What a  pair of coincidences.

I used to live in Mount Vernon, Washington, and George and Martha Washington also lived in Mount Vernon, only in a state called Virginia.

Anyway, that is not Mount Vernon, in Virginia, my handlebars are pointing towards. That is Sikes House in Wichita Falls, on the MSU (Midwestern State University) campus. Sikes House is where the university's president resides, not the American president.

I took a roll around Sikes Lake this morning, which is adjacent to Sikes House, then crossed Midwestern Boulevard to the MSU campus, eventually leaving the campus to head east to a big neighborhood with dozens upon dozens of big mansions, many of which mimic other famous American homes, such as Jefferson's Monticello, Madison's Montpelier, Jackson's Hermitage and Trump's Mar-a-Lago.

I made that last one up.

I should photo document some of these mansions. It's the biggest collection of such I have ever seen outside of Beverly Hills in the Los Angeles zone. One or two of them have State of Texas Historical Markers.

My favorite mansion I roll by looks as if it was inspired by, or designed by, if such were possible, Howard Roark. One would have to be familiar with something called The Fountainhead to understand what I am talking about.

Well, enough about that. I wonder if it easy to ride ones bike from downtown D.C. to Mount Vernon? To be clear, I'm talking about biking to the Mount Vernon in Virginia, not the one in Washington...

Monday, October 16, 2017

Lake Wichita Dam Drink Discovers Misbehaving Utility Box

Today in the noon time frame, with the outer world chilled, or heated, depending on ones temperature expectations, to a degree somewhere in the high 50s low 60s range, with the air in pretty much dead calm no wind mode, I decided rolling my wheels on the Circle Trail to the Mount Wichita mini-volcano seemed like it would be a mighty pleasant mighty fine time.

And it was.

Near the Lake Wichita Dam's spillway I opted to stop to hydrate.

This stop was at the cyclone fence enclosure you see above. The cyclone fence enclosure encloses a manhole type thing which is an access to what looks to be a device which opens a giant valve, likely to release excess water from the lake should the need arise.

Someone, likely bratty children, has tossed dozens of large rocks inside the enclosure. But those rocks seemed to do no harm.

However, there is a box mounted to the fence inside the enclosure which was wide open, exposing the switches and electronics which reside inside the box. This did not seem like an intended steady state for the status of this box.

I doubt one of those aforementioned rock throwing brats climbed inside this cyclone enclosure, what with such entry blocked by the three rows of barbed wire you see in the photo at the top. So, misbehaving brats is not a likely explanation for the open utility box.

I hope someone re-secures this box before some dire act of Mother Nature somehow zaps it and causes the electronics to open the valve that drains the lake, with Wichita Falls waking up to find a dry lake.

Then again, an accidentally drained Lake Wichita might speed up the seemingly stalled Lake Wichita Revitalization Project, which seems to be doing its revitalizing real real slow...