Sunday, June 26, 2016

One Man, One Beach...

There are forces at work we don't understand. I know you don't want to hear, but the Earth is warming. Climate change, that's the name, nothing will ever be the same. Of some say it aint so and they are also glad that Britain got out of the EU and are currently trying to book a golf game in Scotland. 

Anyway the politics will sort it's self out but near the water you know the truth. In this series of photos we see how much damage one man can do. Be afraid, very afraid if Mr. Warren comes to a sand dune near you. 






If he needs it he can get help. 


Dig sister, dig! 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Natural World...

We live in the natural world. I think of that as I note stories in the news about encounters between humans and animals. I think about it as I do the things I do, swim, fish and climb rain forest trails. There's things out there that will get you and I and as I age I am not getting out of the way as fast as I used to. 

A story comes to mind. We were vacationing at the beach. The kids are young and I am struggling to set up a camp canopy so our famous camp hardhead can have a base of operations. What I really want to be doing is getting to fish as fast as possible so while I'm working I send Morgan, who is about 10 years old out to throw a cast net in the surf so we can have bait. 

A guy comes along as I erect a structure and volunteers to help. He's also on vacation and is from Topeka, De Moines, or Cleveland. The Galveston beach is as foreign as the moon to him. As we finish the work Morgan runs up and has a cast net just full of 10 inch long mullet. The guy says, "Did he get those fish out of that water?" I say, "Yes." the guys says "you mean there is fish in that water?" I say, "There is fish as big as you in that water." He heads off down the beach. I don't know how it went for him after that. He was introduced to some facts about the natural word and about not being in Kansas anymore. 

This weekend we had a mobile camp hardhead set up as we took to the lake for some water sports. I conducted my yearly health check. I can still knee board just about as good as I could when I was 30 just for not as long. Too bad no one took a photo. Guess I'll do it again. We did get these photos. 

Someone get this girl a wake board. Mary stands on the knee board for the lack of anything better. 


Miguel and Mary on our new toy. I think this thing is going to be very grand child friendly. 


Cathy keeps saying "don't fall on me and hurt me." 


Old friend Darwin visited this weekend. I tell people we met when I was 10 and Darwin was 16. Someone reminded me we were older than that but that's just the age we acted. It's a natural world.  



So after we all take a quick last swim this guy shows up. 




About 75 yards away swimming playfully when first spotted. We had climbed in the boat and he came our way. We would occasionally crank the motor and idle then shutting it off as we picked up drift speed to coast along behind him. He ducked under once and soon came back up. We got within 40' and he was not even afraid of us. An easy 6 footer. Don't worry. Not swimming in my belly.

Be careful. There's critters as big as you are and they are closer than you think. 





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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Small Water Fishing...

Fished a couple of small water bodies yesterday. One was the local VFW Lake and the other was the pond at my cousin Beverly's house. 

Now some one asked me if the VFW was open to fishing again. There is a sign that says no fishing members only. When I was in the country band and played gigs at the hall there regularly I asked the hall manager if I could fish there and he said yes. I do see folks bank fishing there occasionally.  We thought it would be ok to launch the canoe and paddle around a bit. 

The old lake was originally the property of the Long Bell Lumber Company. The lake was called Lufkin Land Mill Pond #2. The property was donated to the VFW in the early 1940s. 


Catch for the day was 2 bream and two small bass. Did not seem to be loaded with fish but there is a nesting group of kindfishers that indicate these birds get enough to eat out of this lake. 

After this trip and no, no one kicjked us out we proceeded to my cousin's pond and I caught this bass. Biggest one for me this year. He took a small top water popper that I paid 83 cents for at a flea market lure store. Only fish we caught. Bigger ones have come from this small pond. 


Small water, big fish. Go fish. Anywhere, all the time. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Little Tropical Music...

After our trip to Puerto Rico and hearing the sounds of salsa influenced music blaring from shops and auts we had a chance to check out two bands, Mango Punch and Havana NRG at Discovery Green in Houston. It was a free show and if you have not checked out this venue there is an online schedule with various bands that should please all musical areas of interest. 

You bring a blanket or a lawn chair, a picnic or whatever and enjoy downtown Houston in a way you might not think possible. I think every town needs a free summer concert series in a well developed park space like this. It is credited with being a catalyst for a projected one billion in downtown development. We lament the loss of industry in Lufkin but for business to come here the people that come with that need nice things to do. I know in my line of work we often rely on staff that are "travelers" because it's hard to find a young person that wants to live in rural East Texas and make a permanent place here. I am sure a company looking for a location takes into consideration these kinds of issues. 

Here's Mango Punch.  Members of this band hailed from all kind of southern locales from Puerto Rico to Ecuador with I think one guy from Houston. 

Good front man 


An Accordion. What's not to like?  


Ecuadorean fans. Ecuador was losing to USA in soccer as we watched this concert. USA plays in Houston tomorrow. Check with Miguel to see who the opponent is I think he's going.    


The second band was Havana NRG. I was prepared to like them better because of the horn section. The music was certainty good I think to pacing of the first band was better. 


Cuban influenced music. Both bands did a couple of the same numbers which Miguel said were covers. Kind of like when you get a bunch of middle age blues guys together. Everybody gonna play Whipping Post. 


No accordion but cool points for this.  




The show scheduled here on June 30th is New Orleans band Kermit Riffins and the BBQ Swingers. I have seen Kermit several times and is probably as close to a modern day Louie Armstrong as anyone out there right now as far as the total entertainment package.  

Check out Discovery Green. Tell your leaders we need this in our town. 


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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Broadcast to the World...

I study things. I don't really read in a book or anything but occasionally I do look stuff up which is a lot easier these days with the internet and books from Amazon. What I do is just generally take part in a situation so instead of a scholarly approach I am a participant in the thing. What I have studied lately about the culture of Puerto Ricians is they like music and they like it loud.  

Maybe I'm Puerto Rician. I like those things. I have noticed that in the Humbolt Park Neighborhood of Chicago where the PK live there are people of Puerto Rician heritage. We sometimes attend Mass at a nearby Catholic Church and enjoy it because they play the same songs as we do in our bilingual church choir with just with a bit of a different beat. It's very similar to what we do. 

In the secular world though the big car stereo rules. It seems like on a Sunday afternoon in Chicago the music booms from everywhere. It was like that on a beach we visited on the island and on weekend evenings on city streets. Salsa, rap, reggae and a mix of all. Music is life. It moves you. I made just a few photos of music in action and when I get the chance I will continue this documentation. 


This jeep stopped at an intersection where I awaited a bus. The music was loud. The girl in the front seat was not smiling. The only thing I can figure out is the guy driving was her brother

On the was to the rain forest I snapped this quick photo of a guy driving down the road doing some kind of broadcast, maybe a sermon. From the size of the rig he thinks his message is important and of course we all do even Donald Trump thinks he's got something going on. On the way back that day I spotted this guy again but this time stopped on the side of the highway taking a break. That's what Trump will be doing in November, stopped on the side of the highway taking a break. 

I also spotted a weird thing on the streets of Old San Juan. A skinny old man in a bucket hat and sun glasses driving a small late model pick up, blasting the factory issue car system to the limit of distortion while jumping,  dancing and drumming the dashboard as he steered the wheel and lip synced into a microphone.  Brought to mind the idea for a DJ Day of the Dead tattoo.  


Should have taken a count of how many car rigs like this one was in the parking area of this public beach. 

I caught Cathy using the wind from these speakers to dry her swim suit after a dip in the cool clear water. 

Meanwhile back in the van the stereo was only adequate but the tune selection was good and the driver was a good enough dashboard drummer (band name alert) and all this fun caused some to need a nap.  
   

Thursday, June 09, 2016

A Walk in the Rain Forest...

While in Puerto Rico we took a hike in the El Yunque Rain forest. It's the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. Park system and was set aside in 1876 to be protected by King Alphonso of Spain. This makes it one of the oldest preserves in the Western Hemisphere. The trail we hiked was actually private land and not national park. Our guide reported that the owners had been offered 8 million by the government to add the area to the park. They are keeping it in the family for now and look to be doing a good job.

Here's a sign on the trail. Says something like this paradise for all. This was a guided tour we purchased from a flier on the street. In addition to the rain forest we stopped for a swim on a calm public beach. On the trip was our party of Me, Cathy, Mary, Miguel, Pop, Geneva and Matt, out guide and two girls from Brooklyn. While on the trail we might have seen two other couples and a group of four young men all apparently on their own so I think this was the kind of place the local know about and go. 

Trail starts here. 


That's Cathy with Miguel, guide Obi, the Brooklyn girls and Mary and Matt there somewhere. Obi was a little nervous that in addition to Pop and Geneva that me and Cathy were no spring chickens. Apparently he had a recent event where an American tourist, a macho guy in his 60s went on the trip, was a hard head about taking cautions and ended up with a busted face, knocked out teeth and a concussion from a fall. They needed an am ambulance, the police came and OBI was understandably cautious. This was not a handicapped accessible trails. The harder things such as a rock slide and a 50' jump into 20' of water were just not going to be doable for all in the party. 


Matt helps Pop but really I think Pop is slipping away from him as he mounts the trail. 


Cathy and Geneva on the climb. 

It's a tradition that has a pretty gloried past in our family lore. When in the wild, make a hat.  


Looking down stream. 


Cathy is a show off. 


There was water. Since I was a small boy I have pretty much stopped and fished every puddle I pass. I packed a Ronco Pocket Fisherman and I caught a fish from this river. I don't know what it was but it took a Roadrunner spinner jig in a 5' deep pool that a few minutes earlier had folks dropping in from a rope swing. The fish was about 15 inches long, a forked tail, silver fast swimmer type. Put up a good fight. I also spotted a couple of other fish of a different type in the clear water but not long after catching this one 4 guys showed up to use the rope swing and I stopped casting and shared the land. One of the Brooklyn girls made this photo as Cathy had swam off and Miguel, Mary, Matt and Obi went to the rockslides and the cliffs. From this point on the trail got pretty serious and I was content fishing and swimming in this quiet pool. 

Later when I showed Obi the picture he said "You threw it back?" Catch and release apparently not popular in Puerto Rico.


Mary swings from the rope. If you check her face book there is a video of the cliff jump. 


Me on the trail. The mountain rain forest was nice temps, cool, damp and a good place to get as wet and muddy as you liked. 






 

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

A little Vacation to Puerto Rico...

Puerto Rico was discovered by Columbus in 1493. Spain held the island for 4 centuries. The USA came into possession of the country after the Spanish American War in 1898 and the official title of this land is the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. It's a nice mix of Spanish, European and American cultures. 

Like anyplace else there are the well to do and the very poor. Puerto Rico is poorer than Mississippi but richer that other Latin American countries.  Cost of living in San Juan is higher that Dallas, Atlanta or Seattle but lower than Chicago, or New York. There are nice hotels and bombed out looking high rises that look no worse than the down towns of many one stop East Texas towns that all the people have packed up and left because that can't make it there anymore. 

You meet the occasional beggar on the curb but in the street the Jeeps, Toyodas,  BMWs, Mercedes and Lexuses flow past on weekend evenings with salsa and rap blaring from the stereo. In the suburbs you can shop at Walmart, Pep Boys, Radio Shack, KFC and more. 

We visited here last weekend with Pop, Geneva, Matt, Mary, Miguel, Rose and Juan and the grand kids. We had a great time at historical sites, local cafes, the beach and the rain forest mountains.  I have plenty of pictures to blog about. Here's a few from old San Juan. 

Here's the gang as they pause for a photo after arriving in old San Juan after a .75 cent bus ride. There something about the southern bus lines (can't speak for Houston) but it's slow going and I never quite figured out the schedule. The public transit app on my phone I use in Chicago did not cover this area 


Cathy and Pop walk Old narrow streets. I bet they were not made for cars. 


Matt, Mary and Miguel head up the ally. 


Maybe I should say the French Quarter Spanish stylings were born here. 


Not old San Juan but a look back at our little budget hotel, the Sandy Beach. Nothing fancy but clean rooms, and air conditioners. I bet at one time it was very beach front but it's now crowded by fancier high rise neighbors. If you know where to look you can see it. 


That's the Atlantic Ocean. Turn to the left in this photo, start sailing and you will hit Spain in no time at all.  

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