Monday, December 2, 2013

My Kind of Walk, Palmetto Is - Sun., Dec. 1 (Part 1)

Last week on my birthday, we did a reconnaissance drive through part of south central Texas and decided we needed to go back and spend more time. Sunday, we did that.

Palmetto State Park was our first stop where we completed a 10K (6.2 mi.) Volksmarch consisting of many of the park trails plus side trips to a BPOE Memorial and an old cemetery on a hill. We signed in at the State Park HQ where the walk box was located and picked up the directions for the walk.

The start point was at The Refectory in the park. The Refectory was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). It's a large, covered pavilion with picnic tables, kitchen and a fireplace. When it was built, the roof was thatched with palmetto fronds.

The Refectory - start and end point of the walk.
From The Refectory, we hiked off into the park. We walked through the RV campground on our way to the first trail. Each site has a fire pit with grate, a smoker, and a picnic table.

RV camping at Palmetto State Park
And here we go, off into the woods...

Info about Dwarf Palmettos
Water tower built by the CCC.
Palmetto Trail.
Palmettos - Dwarf palms.
Ottine Swamp Trail wasn't on our walk but we investigated anyway.
We found a Swamp Monster!

Erosion from recent flooding exposed roots.
Oh, hello deer!

Bridge across San Marcos River - erosion on bank from recent flooding.

Stately trees.
Delicate flowers.
On the trail around Oxbow Lake.
Historic Ottine Cemetery

Oxbow Lake paddleboats
Artesian well/springs.

Artesian well.
Camp host site.
Smokers at each camp site.
When we crossed the San Marcos River, there was a depth marker for the water level. It looked like the San Marcos River Flood from November 2013 crested around 23'. They had to evacuate the campground, but they got everyone out safely. When we hiked, we could see debris up on the trees. The power of water is amazing!

Stay tuned for Sunday, part 2 - exploring historic Gonzales, Texas on foot.

Travel Bug out.

Down in Birdland - Sat., Nov. 30

Saturday Bob and I were up early to go our separate ways: he was off to play basketball and I headed back to Mitchell Lake Wetlands Audubon Center to do a 5K (3.1 mi.) walk. Bob had a great time playing basketball and spent a long time at the gym.

I took 1-1/2 hours to do 3.1 miles, stopping to look at birds and taking my time in nature on a beautiful Saturday morning.

White-crowned sparrow.
Pink skullcap (Scutellaria frutescens)

Bird Pond at Mitchell Lake Wetlands
American kestrel
Western meadowlarks
No more hide and seek looking for Northern cardinals in the underbrush. Naked fall trees make cardinal spotting easy!!

Northern cardinal.
East polder at Mitchell Lake Audubon Wetlands.
Spotted sandpiper.
Eastern meadowlark.
Northern shrike
How many Northern shovelers do you see?
Can you identify this hidden bird? Click to enlarge.
Eastern meadowlark
After I finished walking, I headed home to shower before going to see "The Book Thief" with the San Antonio Movie Lovers meetup club. Bob joined me at the theater after he finished playing basketball. The Palladium theaters at The Rim shopping center are quite luxurious. A cafe is located in the lobby and if you're in need of a bar, you can find that in this theater too.

"The Book Thief" takes place in Nazi Germany during WW II. Narration of the story is provided by Death. When the movie starts it takes a minute to figure out who's telling the story. We follow a young family - mother, son and daughter, Lisle - who are walking across Germany. The son falls ill, dies and is buried along the way.

Lisle is given up for adoption and sent to live in a city where she makes friends with a neighbor boy. When they go to school, it is soon apparent that Lisle cannot read or write. One of the kids bullies her and she beats him up on the playground. This earns her a certain status amongst the other kids, but the boy she beat up never forgets what she did to him.

Her adoptive father (played by Geoffrey Rush) confesses to her that he is not a good reader and suggests they learn to read together. She becomes enthralled by the books she reads.

When the Nazis start persecuting and beating Jews, kicking them out of their businesses and homes, her adoptive parents take in a young Jewish man, Max, and hide him in their basement. Soon the air raid sirens go off and all the townspeople must go into shelters. Max cannot go into the shelter so he is left in the basement. Max becomes quite ill from spending all his time in the cold, wet basement.

Lisle "borrows" books from one of the prominent families in town. She spends her days in the basement reading to Max.  As time goes on Max's health improves and he realizes he is putting the family in danger. He makes the decision to leave their home and take his chances.

You can see the light bulb go off in Lisle's thinking. She's a smart girl who understands what's going on. She knew how it felt to be bullied in school and she saw how the Nazis bullied the Jews in their town. Compassion was in her eyes as she watched her adoptive father get struck down by Nazis when he tried to help Jewish townspeople who were being evicted from their homes. 

The movie was very enjoyable. Even though it is another tale of the hardships of WW II, the personal-ness of the impacts on the two major families in the story is well told. I loved the focus on reading and writing and how people helped each other. 4-1/2 out of 5 stars.

Travel Bug out.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Great Thanks for Life - Thurs., Nov. 28

Happy Thanksgiving to you, your families and friends. Enjoy your day of thanks.

Many thanks for:
1. Bob who is the love of my life going on 32 years.
2. Mom who raised me to be an independent, enthusiastic, spontaneous person - children live what they learn.
3. Our two sons, Randall and Michael, who have chosen different paths, but both are happy and well adjusted.
4. Our families: brothers, sisters, in-laws,  nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, step-children, and step-parents. Much diversity can be found in one family.
5. Our lives in Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and Texas...we have lived in beautiful areas in lovely homes. We have hiked, walked and explored all of them.
6. Our current home on wheels allowing us to live "on the road." Life is now a big "road trip."
7. Our jobs: It's nice to have food, gas, heat, money to go out to eat, to travel and try new things.
8. Our health: This allows us to keep doing what we love.
9. Wildlife outside our windows. Love to watch the birds and squirrels. On our road trips we have also seen deer and bison outside our windows.
10. Our cats: They are so entertaining and so loving. I can't imagine a home without cats.
11. Beautiful weather, like today, expansive blue skies, high swirled clouds, cool temperatures, and a slight breeze.
12. Natural beauty: flowers, waterfalls, autumn colors, mountains, deserts, rivers, the ocean and canyons.
13. Food to sustain us.
14. The mental capacity to make choices in our lives.

This morning, Bob, Randall and I walked 5K (3.1 mi.) around Crownridge Canyon Natural Area. Bright blue skies with swirled, white clouds framed the day. 

After our walk, we had Thanksgiving Dinner at the RV Park Rec Hall. 100 people socialized and ate. Very nice meal with our RV Park family.

Here are photos of our day...

Bob & Randall - Crownridge Canyon
Randall & Bob - Crownridge Canyon
Me with my warm hat - fleece flaps cover ears & neck.
Gorgeous day!
Love the lines of the clouds.
Fall colors.
Bob & Randall - it's cold out!
Thanksgiving at the Rec Hall.
A whole table for just desserts.
I hope you all are happy and thankful for your lives.

Travel Bug out.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Your Thought Creates Your Experience - Mon., Nov. 25

Your thought creates your experience. 
Present reality is a manifestation of past thoughts. 

 Hmm...let's think about that.

I questioned that philosophy but couldn't put my finger on why I didn't believe it. This morning as I was trying to go back to sleep, my brain worked on those oversimplified statements.

Here is a revised philosophy that reflects my current beliefs: Your thoughts and actions, combined with choices, chaos and chance, create your experience. Let me explain.

I have heard the opening statements used to make people feel guilty about being sick or poor or out of work. Really? That's a bunch of hokum.

Sickness, disease, plagues, ad nauseum, are caused by more than your thoughts. Viruses, molds, bacterium, and bugs/parasites/rodents play a role in diseases. How you come into contact with those organisms is a result of chaos, chance and your choices, not your thought processes. Stressors such as lack of sleep, poor nutrition and lack of (or too much) exercise also cause sickness, injuries and death.

Thought processes or heredity CAN be causes of mental/psychological disorders or stress, or not. (Mind you, these are just a few examples.)
  • Schizophrenia may be caused by genes, but it is not for certain. 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is likely a combination of stress and thought processes. For example, soldiers who have lost comrades on the battlefield or who have killed others have been through incredible stressors, have seen death and destruction multiple times; many sustain life-changing injuries. I can't imagine the horrors they have been through. Those stressors are the results of war. But soldiers also put stress on themselves feeling guilty for those deaths and destruction, thinking they could have saved their fellow soldiers and why did they die, not me? ("60 Minutes" had an excellent story on PTSD on November 24, 2013.)
  • Children who have been abused are an example of those whose thoughts or choices did NOT create their experience. Those experiences were foisted upon them by others which I think is a heinous crime.
The opening statement also implies there's something wrong with you. Your thoughts caused you to be sick, poor, have no friends, lose your job, whatever. I don't believe it. External factors are also at play here:
  • You work in a hospital or day care center and are exposed to more sicknesses
  • The company you work for lost major contracts causing loss of income resulting in cutting staff
  • You may not have found good friends who share your interests
  • Your friends may have changed and moved on in their lives
  • A leak in your roof allowed water to come in, you didn't discover it, and are now faced with mold which causes allergies or sickness
You see where I'm going with this. You can only do so much. External forces create chaos you have no control over. Chance and luck of the draw affect your reality as well.

You can control how you perceive the world, but not how others perceive the world or you. You can offer help, advice, a kind word, a sympathetic ear, but it doesn't mean the other person will change their reality to fit yours.

I looked up this topic online to see what else was out there and found this blog which is quite interesting.

Please tell me your perceptions on this topic in the comments section. I love hearing from you.

I think I'm doing trying to solve philosophical issues for today. Maybe I can go back to sleep now.