Summertime

Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to hike in the greenbelt behind the house.  A nice dry, hot July day – it was great.

Greenbelt - July 2015

Greenbelt – Southwest Austin – July 2015              You can almost smell the cedar and the heat.

Wildflowers - July 2015

Wildflowers (and Johnson Grass) – Green Belt – Southwest Austin – July 2015

Pink Flowers - July 2015

Pink Flowers – Green Belt – Southwest Austin – July 2015

And I got two fantastic purslanes from the Natural Gardner.

Purslane - July 2015

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) – July 2015

Greetings from Houston, Texas!

Last weekend was our annual ‘double performance’ weekend at Houston Grand Opera.  Friday night was ‘Sweeney Todd‘ (they’ve started including one musical in the season) and Saturday was ‘Die Walküre‘  I have a thing about knives and straight razors, so I was nauseous after Sweeney.   This was the second time I’d seen, Walküre.  I’d forgotten what an ordeal sitting through more than five hours of opera can be.  It might not have been so bad if it had been a ‘traditional’ production with Viking helmets and breast plates, but this was decided a ‘modern production’ where you sit through the thing and thing “Well, that’s certainly odd…” 

Die Walkure

Die Walküre – Houston Grand Opera – April 2015

Anyroad, I had an hour or so free on Saturday afternoon before the marathon, so I wandered around Hermann Park, which was near our hotel, the ZaZa.   It was a pretty day, but at 1,000 percent humidity, it was yet another reminder about why I would never live in Houston, ever.

Hotel ZaZa - Houston, Texas - April 2015

Hotel ZaZa – Houston, Texas – April 2015

Hotel ZaZa Limo - Houston, Texas - April 2015

Hotel ZaZa Limo – Houston, Texas – April 2015

Mecom Fountain Near Rice University - Houston, Texas - April 2015

Mecom Fountain Near Rice University – Houston, Texas – April 2015

Cattle Topiary - Houston, Texas - April 2015

Cattle Topiary – Houston, Texas – April 2015

HMFA - April 2015

‘Sculpture’ – Houston Museum of Fine Arts – April 2015

Bridge - Japanese Gardens - Houston - April 2015

Bridge – Japanese Gardens – Houston – April 2015

Bird - Japanese Gardens - Houston - April 2015

Bird – Japanese Gardens – Houston – April 2015

 

 

Iris - Japanese Garden - Houston - April 2015

Iris – Japanese Garden – Houston – April 2015

Japanese Gardens - Houston - April 2015

Stone Lantern – Japanese Gardens – Houston – April 2015

Japanese Maple - Japanese Gardens - Houston - April 2015

Japanese Maple – Japanese Gardens – Houston – April 2015

 

 

 

Winter in West Texas

So I was back in Abilene this weekend.  Hopefully the end is in sight for that – and it’s not a freight train.  The drive from Austin can be pretty bleak at this time of year, but I kept my eyes open (and had to take a detour), so I found some interesting sights.

This is a stretch between Brady and Santa Ana, Texas.

Santa Ana

Creek outside Santa Ana, Texas – January 2015

Highway 71 between Llano and Brady is closed in one spot, so I took a detour – very interesting.  This is the Bethel Chapel outside Katemcy, Texas.  There’s an interesting cemetery next to the chapel, but I didn’t have time to wander through it.

Bethel Chapel

Bethel Chapel, Katemcy, Texas – January 2015

The detour took me through Fredonia, Texas.  I’ve always noticed the signs for the Fredonia Peanut Company, so I finally had the opportunity to pass through.

Fredonia

Fredonia, Texas – January 2015

Fredonia1

Fredonia, Texas – January 2015

Fredonia2

Fredonia, Texas – January 2015

Greetings from Austin, Texas!

So I normally do posts about places that I’m visiting, but yesterday was such a spectacular Autumn day, I decided to play tourist in my own back yard.

I’m not sure why, but it seems to me that the fall colour in Austin this year is particularly vibrant – and a tad early.  The sumacs are really outstanding this year.  This is one of my crepe myrtles.

Crepe Myrtle - Nov 14

Crepe Myrtle – November 2014

This is the view from my office.  I see this every day, but try not to take it for granted.  About three years ago, the Texas Preservation Board decided that the Capitol Dome needed to be painted.  A travesty in my humble opinion.  When finished, it looked like a shiny pink M&M.  Hopefully some of that is fading.

Texas Capitol Rotunda and Senate - Nov 14

Texas Capitol Dome, Rotunda, and Senate Wing – November 2014

This is the north-facing side of the Capitol.  It’s hard to tell from this photo, but you’ll note there’s only one flag flying on the pole – the Texas flag.  Since it’s facing north, I think there’s probably not such a subtle message.

Texas Capitol Dome - Nov 14

Texas Capitol Dome – November 2014

The Texas Capitol grounds are wonderful.  Probably close to four city blocks, there’s great parkland for the kids on field trips to run around.  Also many monuments.  I pass these on my twice-daily walks.

This is what a live oak tree looks like without pruning intervention.

Texas Capitol Grounds - Live Oak

Live Oak – Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

The relatively new memorial to the Spanish Explorers and early Tejano settlers.

Spanish and Tejano Memorial Texas Capitol Grounds - Nov 14

Conquistador and Tejano Monument – Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

This is a view down Congress Avenue.  When my grandmother was a little girl, this was the primary road from San Antonio to Austin.

Congress Avenue - Nov 14

Congress Avenue – Austin, Texas – November 2014

This is one of the several Civil War memorials.  Every decade or so, there’s a bill introduced to remove them from the Capitol Grounds.  You can imagine the fate of those bills.

Confederate Memorial Texas Capitol Grounds - Nov 14

Confederate War Memorial, Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

This is the south portico of the Texas Capitol.  Most rallies occur here because it’s the terminus of Congress Avenue.

Texas Capitol South Portico - Nov 2014

South Portico, Texas Capitol – November 2014

This is a wonderful ‘cowboy memorial.’

Cowboy Bronze Texas Capitol Grounds - Nov 14

Cowboy Bronze, Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

Cowboy Bronze Texas Capitol Grounds1 - Nov 14

Cowboy Bronze, Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

This is the dome of First Methodist in Austin, on the west side of the Capitol.  The façade is Greek Revival, but the interior is definitely late 19th century Texana.

First Methodist Austin Dome - Nov 14

First Methodist Church – Austin, Texas – November 2014

This is my favourite memorial on the grounds – the Spanish-American War monument.  Part of it’s charm is the giant sycamore tree behind it; one of the few on the grounds.  I love sycamores – they have a unique smell that’s really hard to describe.

Spanish American War Memorial Texas Capitol Grounds - Nov 14

Spanish-American War Memorial, Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

This monument is interesting only in as much as it’s the subject of a rather dubious recent Supreme Court ruling.  It’s fun to watch the more politically connected tourists take their photos with it.  It’s also amusing to me because it’s right next to the exhaust fan from the Capitol Grill, so it always smells like French fries and fried chicken.

Ten Commandments Texas Capitol Grounds - Nov 14

Ten Commandments Monument, Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

After work, I go running at Town Lake.  (You can always tell an old-timer, because we call it ‘Town Lake’ rather than ‘Lady Bird Lake.’)  Here are some views from there.

Town Lake to Redbud Isle - Nov 14

Town Lake west to Red Bud Isle – November 2014

Town Lake to Downtown - Nov 14

Town Lake east to Downtown Austin – November 2014

Town Lake - Nov 14

Town Lake Autumn Foliage – November 2014

And finally, a city view from Barton Creek Mall in southwest Austin.

Austin Sykline - Nov 14

Austin Skyline – November 2014

Greetings from Denver, Colorado!

So I just returned from a Department of Labor conference in Denver, Colorado.  I tacked on a day at the end to do some hiking.  All-in-all it was quite successful.

After arriving, I took a stroll over to the state capitol.  It’s blue.  That was a bit surprising to me until I remembered that ours is pink.  All told, the Texas capitol grounds take up roughly four city blocks; the Colorado capitol and environs are downright cozy in comparison.  And there was a lot of construction going on there, but a nice building.

Colorado Capitol Building - Jul 14

Colorado Capitol Building – Denver, Colorado – July 2014

The hotel was around the corner from Denver’s 16th Street Pedestrian Mall, so I took my meals there.  The exception was dinner that I had at Row Fourteen Bistro and Wine Bar by the Convention Center.  Best meal I had in Denver.  The Bison Bolognese was fantastic!

Other than Row Fourteen, I ended up eating at Marlowe’s on the pedestrian mall.  Here’s some sights from their patio.

 

Rosemary Rickey - Marlowe's - Denver, Colorado - July 2014

Rosemary Rickey – Marlowe’s – Denver, Colorado – July 2014

 

Blackberry Old Fashioned

Blackberry Old Fashioned – Marlowe’s – Denver, Colorado, July 2014

Steak Frites - Jul 14

Steak Frites – Marlowe’s – Denver, Colorado, July 2014

Hari Khrishnas - Jul 14

Dinner Floor Show – Marlowe’s – Denver, Colorado, July 2014

On Friday after the conference concluded, I went hiking in O’Fallon Park near Evergreen.  It was an easy 30-minute drive from downtown Denver.  It’s located in the front range of the Rockies and has several trails you can hike.  I did the Meadow View Loop, the West Ridge Loop, and part of the Bear Creek Trail – about 7 miles altogether.  This is a real gem in Denver; I hope I have the opportunity to go back.

Vista - Jul 14

Vista – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

Aspens1 Jul 14

Aspen Grove – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

Mule Deer - Jul 14

Mule Deer – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

Meadow1 - Jul 14

Meadow – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

Snow Caps

Snow Caps – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

River - Jul 14

Bear Creek – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

Bee Balm - Jul 14

Bee Balm – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

Cactus - Jul 14

Cactus – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

Thistle Flower - Jul 14

Thistle Flower – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

Meadow - Jul 14

Wild Flowers – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

On Saturday, I spent the day at Castlewood Canyon State Park near Franktown, Colorado.  Since this is away from the mountains, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it has a lot of diversity.  It reminds me of Enchanted Rock here in the Hill County.  There were a lot of people, but it was easy enough to find some solitude on the more challenging trails.  I did the Dam, Homestead, Inner Canyon, Lake Gulch, and Rimrock trails – about 13 miles in all.

Canyon Vista

View – Castlewood Canyon State Park, Franktown, Colorado, July 2014

Creek

Creek – Castlewood Canyon State Park, Franktown, Colorado, July 2014

Dam

Ruins of Castlewood Dam (1890) – Castlewood Canyon State Park, Franktown, Colorado, July 2014

Gnarled Tree - Jul 14

Gnarled Tree – Castlewood Canyon State Park, Franktown, Colorado, July 2014

Lupines - Jul 14

Lupines – Castlewood Canyon State Park, Franktown, Colorado, July 2014

Tree Growing in Rock - Jul 14

Tree in Rock – Castlewood Canyon State Park, Franktown, Colorado, July 2014

Tree Roots - Jul 14

Pine Tree Roots – Castlewood Canyon State Park, Franktown, Colorado, July 2014

Water Fall - Jul 14

Waterfall – Castlewood Canyon State Park, Franktown, Colorado, July 2014

White Flower - Jul 14

Wild Flower – Castlewood Canyon State Park, Franktown, Colorado, July 2014

Ramblin’ Man

So I should have been in Abilene this weekend, but decided to stay home to attend to other things, but took time out to wander around the green belt yesterday. We’ve had reasonable rain these past couple of months, so things didn’t look too terribly dire. More dead cedar and other scrub, and fading wild flowers, but not too bad.

I noticed this a couple of years ago, but it seems to be thriving – a prickly pear cactus (Cactaceae Opuntia) growing in a live oak tree.  It just boggles the mind, really.

GB-Cactus in Tree Jul 14

Cactus in a Live Oak Tree

Most of the wildflowers that are left are yellow, with the occasional purple Mexican petunia or wild verbena, but this one got my attention – certainly a standout.  The flowers look a little like penta…perhaps carried from some back yard by birds.

GB-Pink Flowers1 Jul 14

Pink Wild Flowers

I’m not an anatomist, but I’m assuming this is the remnants of a deer leg.  I wonder if the coyotes got lucky.  Interesting how it got into the tree like that – a little “Blair Witch Project”-y.  But you tend to see stuff like that back there on the trails – stacked rocks, etc.

GB-Deer Leg Jul 14

Deer Leg Bone in Tree

The rest are just interesting flowers/rocks/dry water ways I captured – enjoy!

GB-Pink Flowers Jul 14

Barton Creek Green Belt – Pink Flowers

GB-Wild Flowers Jul 14

Barton Creek Green Belt – Waning Wild Flowers

GB-Wild Flowers1 Jul 14

Barton Creek Green Belt – Yellow Flower

GB-Turks Cap Jul 14

Barton Creek Green Belt – Turks Caps in the Wild

GB-Holely Rock Jul 14

Barton Creek Green Belt – Holey Rock

GB-Gully Jul 14

Barton Creek Green Belt – Dry Water Way