Use a Kayak?

This is for those who kayak and might be looking for a convenient way to transport one or two.  This is the Thule Hullavator, a device that uses gas shocks to lift the kayak up to the top of your vehicle with one finger’s force.  The lashings are first quality, like everything Thule.  Here’s a before and after the lift pair of pix.

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Patience

We have been nurturing this Oshio Bene Japanese maple tree since we adopted it as a teeny sapling 18 years ago.  Genetic perfection, careful pruning, along with sealer on the cuts, has yielded a beauty.  We planted him at the edge of the pond; you may have seen this tree in other photos of our pond, but I decided to take a look at just him.  BTW, tomorrow we’re eating Traegered ribs and remembering those who shed their blood to save the USA, and wishing more realized what it takes to maintain our hopefully enduring experiment in freedom.

Oshio Bene
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Cold.

It’s that time of year for my colored fishy friends.  We’ve had several days of mid-twenties nights and frisky north winds.  That scours the heat out of the Koi’s home.  Although the ground under the pond is about 50 to 55F, the wind wins the thermodynamic battle.  Now have the first skin of ice on the pond.  The water is about 39F, so the fish are somnolent and unresponsive.  The waterfall, now run by my new variable speed pump, is turned down to just cycle the water and keep the plumbing from freezing, so as to not cool the water unnecessarily by a large flow down the exposed cataract.

The outdoor Christmas lights are up, the fish are down, and the liquor cabinet is nominal, so it’s time for Johnny Mathis, and then Chip from Mannheim Steamroller.  41 is finally underground and I’m done reading any news until January, if then.  I do have an RV to get ready for our Spring launch!

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Ready for Winter!

Votes are filled in properly and mailed.  Power washed and stained the deck during the last sunny spell.  Got a new fire table put up by our deck lounges.  The 5th wheel is ready for a Monday departure on our final seasonal trip, to the Astoria area, specifically our favorite site at Ft. Stevens state park.  It’s after two pm, so it’s fruits of labor time with the adoring fish.  Well….they do adore their meals!  Raining now and I don’t need to care.

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Arches, Canyonlands & Dead Horse Point, Oh My!

Dead Horse Point is within a Utah state park, via a minor detour off the main road that leads to the main Canyonlands NP view area located at the end of the main road.  It’s a worthy detour; I consider the view from this point to be the most sensational, provocative and evocative vista ever.  A camera can’t really communicate the scope.  You just have to go there.

Here’s two more from Arches.  Mother Nature has been busy.

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Color

As an amateur photographer my brain is unconsciously alert for interestingly lit colors.  This post is beyond pedestrian, since it’s about me looking at my kitchen counter while preheating my coffee cup.  What struck me first was the color of the peppers in the Burger King orange colander.  I looked at the whole view then iPhoned it for posterity.

It amuses me to be so common, in the sense of Mamma’s opinion about Velma from Chicago.  I’m so committed to this particular connotation that I named a pet black rabbit Velma.  Predictably, she turned on me with hatred once she got hormones.  Stories within stories…

BTW, I am making progress organizing my pix from Dead Horse Point, and from Canyonlands and Arches national parks.  Stay tuned.

Update: The perfect wife caught me posting this chili-centric picture and says I must post an update later today when these Serranos are wholly contained within the fresh Salsa she’s making.

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This Week’s Book Review – Lost, Texas

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday.

Book Review

Exploring Texas and its forgotten places

By MARK LARDAS

June 12, 2018

“Lost, Texas: Photographs of Forgotten Buildings,” by Bronson Dorsey, Texas A&M University Press, 2018, 244 pages, $40

Buildings and towns have lifespans, just like people.

“Lost, Texas: Photographs of Forgotten Buildings,” by Bronson Dorsey underscores that. A photoessay, the book captures forgotten and abandoned buildings throughout the state of Texas.

His photography is stunning. Readers make an extended road trip through Texas exploring forgotten places, buildings and towns. The trip takes readers around the state visiting east, south, central, north and west Texas and the Panhandle.

Dorsey explores the Texas that can be seen off the interstate, on state, county, Farm-to-Market, and Ranch-to Market roads. Small towns, including ghost towns, predominate, but he has a few small cities, such as Palestine and Marshall.

All buildings featured outlived their original purpose. Some, such as the old International and Great Northern Railroad Hospital in Palestine, seem in good shape, abandoned, but capable of revival if a new use could be found. A few, like the Koch Hotel in D’Hanis, are still in use, restored as bed-and-breakfasts or museums. Most, however, are abandoned in various states of deterioration.

“Lost, Texas” charts the rise and fall of both buildings and communities. The reasons for abandonment are many. Entire towns die when bypassed by the railroad, and later the interstate. Changing travel tastes make tourist courts and railroad hotels. Gas stations and stores become uneconomical when new highways bypass them.

Technology matters, too. Mechanization reduced the need for farm labor. As a result, farm communities dwindled, the schools, stores, and restaurants that served the departed community became unnecessary. Industry closings, such as the Sulphur plant at Newgulf or Presidio Mines in Shafter cause communities to whither.

Dorsey captures these trends in his photographs. The book is filled with poignant and sometimes haunting images testimony to dead dreams: A crumbling service station in Pep, the decayed sheriff’s office in Langtry, collapsing World War II bomber hangers in Pyote, a lonely red, one-room schoolhouse on the Panhandle plains in Wayside.

Each set of photos is accompanied by the story of the building captured. They are all different, yet all similar. “Lost, Texas” takes readers into the Texas of yesteryear.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.

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