Skywatch Friday – Teton Sunset

Jackson Hole Trip 2019

We are in Jackson, Wyoming this week enjoying a late autumn vacation in the shadow of the Teton Mountains. We were treated to quite the evening show. No filters used, no tricks, just God’s glory and nature putting on a spectacle. I’ll have more photos in future posts. Blogging with an iPad is possible but painful.

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Skywatch Friday – Talking Leaves Tree

Talking Leaves Tree

I visited the Gilcrease Museum here in Tulsa earlier this week. They have a lot of nice exhibits going on but what really struck my eye was a great big cottonwood tree right outside a giant window that was shimmering in the wind so I made a brief video of it and posted it on social media.

#cottonwood #trees # Flandreau #southdakota #geocaching
Cottonwood in South Dakota

A cousin from South Dakota told me that she thought the Lakota Tribe called the cottonwood, the Tree of Talking Leaves. I have googled a lot and have not been able to confirm that that is true but have found a lot of references that the tribe holds the tree sacred and represents a magical time of hope, healing, and transformation.

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Cottonwoods in Tulsa

I have always liked cottonwood trees but never much thought about them until my cousin’s remark and then I thought, you know I have lived all over the west, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico and they all have cottonwood trees. I think they may be a symbol of the west, where the west includes the midwest. I just love seeing and hearing their leaves when the wind is blowing.

Late in life, the Cottonwood is now the Talking Leaves Tree to me as well.

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Our World – Turkey Mountain Cleanup

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The Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition sponsored a Trail Cleanup Day on Turkey Mountain Saturday, early Saturday morning, like really early, like eight am, I got there about 8:40. I brought my loppers so I took off down the Red Trail to go do some lopping.

Abandoned Bicycle Jumps on Turkey Mountain

I turned off the Red Trail and headed down the Fro-Flow mountain bike trail.

More Abandoned Bicycle Jumps on Turkey Mountain

The Fro-Flow trail was all the rage just a few years ago. Somebody went and built this incredible collection of jumps and obstacles to ride their bikes on. It made for some great watching.

Here is a three year old youtube video of somebody doing the ride.

People still ride the trail. Four came by while I was lopping limbs to help clear the way. They just bypass the obstacles. It is a little more exciting than I would want to try.

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I found me a big ole rock with all sorts of swirly patterns in it.

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I also found this fall across the trail. So you can either hop over the thing, or take the steps, or just bypass the whole thing. You got options here. I am in the natural gas business. Everybody in the business, from producers to end markets want optionality.

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Here is a relic of Turkey Mountain’s oilfield past. Turkey Mountain was a thriving oilfield at one time, it also had farms and small settlements and outlaws. The Tulsa area used to have lots of outlaws.

https://flic.kr/p/2hnaZ4q

While I was lopping I was picking up stuff. Lots and lots of beer cans, water bottles, and a shoe, and some cheap hair dye. Don’t ask me cuz I don’t know.

Too big to lop. If there were some guys with me (or even gals) we could have probably moved this. By myelf, nope.

So I lopped limbs on about 2 miles of trails, picked up a lot of trash. There were about a half dozen other people, plus a Girl Scout Troop, a couple of policemen, and a mom and her son looking for volunteer hours. We got a lot done in just a few hours.

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Skywatch Friday – Outlaw Skies

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I work in downtown Tulsa and most lunch times you can find me roaming downtown, carrying my camera seeing what there is to see. After 27 years of doing that, I still see new stuff. Anway, Tulsa Community College’s downtown campus has a building with a platform overlooking Boston Avenue in downtown Tulsa.

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See the blue chair?

I’ve tried to get up there several times and only once has the door been open but I had only had my iphone so I did what I could with what I had. This time I had my new Fujifilm point and shoot so what the heck, I’ll see if I can get up there. Plus the blue chair on the platform gave me a little hope. I know the route pretty well now, take the elevator to the third floor, and go right through the door to the stairwell and guess what!!

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The same blue chair

And the mostly locked door opened. Yeah for me. There were some people in the classroom to the right but I decided to just ignore them.

So here is the view to the northwest. Holy Family Cathedral.

Downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma

And straight north up Boston Avenue, the heart of downtown.

Tulsa's Boston Avenue Church - An Art-Deco Icon

And straight south along Boston Avenue.

That is Boston Avenue Church. An art-deco treasure.

Just so you know, I didn’t pass any “No Trespassing”, “Students and Staff Only,” visitors please check in or any other blah blah blah signs during my little venture up to what the school calls the “Ninth Street Overlook.”

Have you shot any outlaw photos?

Skywatch Friday

Our World – In the Woods

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Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness

This past weekend I lucked out and got to for two short hikes into some woods. The first hike was at Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness. I go there frequently and Saturday I loved it. It was overcast although warm. I love dark and moody. That doesn’t mean that I am a dark and moody person. At least I don’t think it does.

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Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness

I was actually kind of happy. I had just been asked to join the Advisory Board of the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition and had accepted. TUWC are the group of people that got together when Simon Malls wanted to build an outlet mall on Turkey Mountain (of all places!!!!) and got the community outraged and ended up convincing Simon to go build their stupid outlet mall somewhere else. Talk about a David and Goliath situation.

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Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness

Anyway, they are not a militant environment organization and are into positive things so I am honored to be part of the organization. The Advisory Board of course is mainly honorary but I plan on redoubling the volunteering and advocacy that I have been doing.

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Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness

Turkey Mountain isn’t much of a mountain and it isn’t that big, about two miles by one mile, but it is special.

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Broken Arrow Sports Park

On Sunday, I went geocaching at some soccer fields at the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow. Little known fact is that many soccer fields are bordered by woods that separate them from surrounding neighborhoods. These are forgotten pieces of woods by everybody little neighborhood kids and geocachers. The going is a little rough because there are no trails and lots of nettles, stickers, and thorns.

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Tree with a frog face mocking me for not finding a nearby geocache.
Broken Arrow Sports Park

I only found one of the three geocaches I was looking for. One appeared to be beyond the park boundary behind a tall metal fence. A quick check on my iphone showed that it looked to be part of a private estate. I love geocaching and outlaw hikes but out and out trespassing on somebody’s home place? Count me out! So that was a big did not find on that one.

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So I looked for three and found only this one. It is kind of like fishing though. If you caught fish every time you cast your line they wouldn’t call it fishing, they would call it catching! To me, finding caches is fun but the major fun is the looking. (If you want to know what geocaching is check this video.) Be assured there are two types of people in this world, those who are on fire about geocaching, and those who don’t get it.

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#SufferingForMyArt – don’t pity me, totally self inflicted.

Those edge pieces of woods are pretty neglected. I soaked my legs and shorts with DEET and was wearing a treated shirt but the thorns did a number on my legs. You know something, I don’t feel the cuts when they happen. I call it “suffering for my art.”

So I am chilled out this past week, two times in the woods. How was your weekend?

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Skywatch Friday – Afternoon Outlaw Hike at Oxley Nature Center

Earlier this week I wanted some outside time and wanted to try something different so I decided to do some running/hiking at Oxley Nature Center. Flat, no rocks, no people, perfect.

Huh!?

So I took the back way in which is the closest access to downtown and I knew they had some gates they close on weekends and late at night. When I got there I found this locked gate??? So, okay, I’ll just go with it. So I parked outside the gate and stepped over it and off I went. There were no signs saying I couldn’t.

Just before the trailhead I found this group of wildflowers.

I got to the trail and started down it and noticed that it hadn’t been mowed or much of anything done in the way of maintenance. Oxley holds half the worlds population of ticks and chiggers and so I had doused myself with deet before I left the car so I wasn’t too worried.

The boardwalk had damage and had not been cleared or anything. By now, I was thinking that maybe I shouldn’t be there but I was also kind of into it pretty far so I just plowed on ahead.

See that tunnel up ahead, that is where the trail goes!

I didn’t get any photos because I wasn’t fast enough but I saw lots of deer running through the woods, a raccoon, and a turtle. Also, lots and lots of small frogs hopping here, there and everywhere.

At the far reach of the North Woods Loop the trail was completely overgrown and I was convinced that the trail was probably closed. See that bench up there? I am a rule follower and if I had known the trail was closed I wouldn’t have gone down it. I guess that I should check the web site. I don’t generally do that before going hiking.

I love being on trails where there is nobody else. In maybe fifteen years of going on this trail I have literally seen maybe a dozen people, probably less. I love it especially on bitterly cold sunny windy cold days. There is no wind at ground level but you can hear the wind howling through the trees above. I know I am weird, but I love that.

It is quite watery their. The area borders Lake Yahola, Bird Creek, and some oxbow lakes formed off Bird Creek. I am glad I was deeted up as this is mosquito heaven.

Toward the end of my outing, the sky reflecting off one of the oxbow lakes.

And another sky photo.

And an aerial view of my outing. Not very long but I enjoyed myself immensely. And I can report that apparently I put enough deet on, I only have two mosquito bites on the back of my neck.

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Asymetrical Warfare – Drone Attack on Saudi Arabia

I read with a little alarm and much interest about the drone attack on the Saudi Arabian Abqaiq Oil Processing Facility and other infrastrucutre recently. Big deal I say. Yes, it is a big deal, the Abqaiq facility with a capacity of 7 million barrels per day and 5 million throughput is shut down for now! That gets my attention! The Houthis of Yemen are taking credit while the US claims that Iran is behind the attack. It turns out that the Iranians have drones with a theoretical range of almost a thousand miles!!

I say theoretical because the Iranians do not have satellites so they have to use ground stations to control their drones which limits their effective range to 100 to 200 miles depending on what you read.

Still not worried about it? How about the following video which shoes Iranian Drone video of an American Aircraft Carrier taken from directly over the ship?

Don’t get too excited. Iran has great social media people and there is a lot of speculation that the video was faked using video available on the internet. If you have ever looked at Iranian Military social media you will know that they are very enthusiastic but not convincing, and I am not convinced.

What I get excited about is that Iran has well developed drone technology that have used in battle in Syria and other places. hundreds of times. Meet the second generation Shahed 129 drone, their most advanced drone.

According to Wikipedia, this aircraft attempted an attack on coalition personnel but failed. Also, the US Air Force shot down one down. It can carry about to four bombs or missiles, and/or conduct surveillance. From what I read a lot of the US sanctions and embargoes have been efforts to keep the Iranians from increasing the capabilities of their drone technologies.

The US is accusing the Iranians of launching the attacks on Abqaiq. This all points to Asymetrical Warfare which involves war between combatants with vastly unequal capabilities. This seems to be something that American leadership consistently does not take into account and we suffer as a result. The Iranians, the Houthis, Al Qaida, whoever, would be stupid to try and match up the United States and our Allies in stand warfare. They would be wiped out. So they develop other, cheaper strategies that tend to drive us crazy, IED’s for example, that neutralize our advantage.

You always have to be ready for unexpected is what I have learned over the years and one is most vulnerable when you feel most invulnerable. Somebody may not be playing by the rules you set. They will have their own rules. It appears that ten inexpensive drones easily defeated a world class air defense system and shut off five million barrels per day of oil from the world’s energy supply.

Our World – American Beauty Berries

During our hike in southeast Oklahoma’s Beavers Bend State Park last week, we saw some beautiful purple colored berries. Consulting my iNaturlists App later on it looked like they were American Beauty Berries. They are native to the area and apparently everybody but me knew all about them.

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Callicarpa americana

They are also known as the French Mulberry. Deer eat the leaves, birds eat the fruit. Humans can eat the berries which appear in late Summer or early Fall. A few my instagram and facebook followers report they have made jam and jelly with the berries. They reportedly have a slight medicinal taste. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center reports that Native Americans made tea out of the berries, foliage, and roots to treat various ailments. The Foraging Texas web site has other information about the plant and its berries including a recipe to make jelly out of them. (If you are going to do that, please do not pick your berries at a State Park or any other similar place.)

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I doubt that I will be eating any but I love the soft purple color. I think I have seen them on Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness. They stand out among the various shades of green.

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You Can Keep Your Yeti

33 years ago I paid about 33 bucks for this cooler at a Target in Oklahoma City to use for a company picnic. My wife and I used it this past weekend for a trip. We packed it full of food and sprinkled a couple bags of ice in it and later in the day when we unpacked our food, the contents were still cold and most of the ice was still frozen.
I guess I’ll keep it a few more years.

Skywatch Friday – Little Dixie Skies

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This past weekend my wife and I ventured down to southeast Oklahoma to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary. Southeast Oklahoma is quite mountainous and woodsy, think Arkansas. In Oklahoma it is called “Little Dixie” because it is so different in a lot of ways from the rest of Oklahoma which is mainly western in nature. Think Arkansas

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Our first day we went hiking, just a nice short 3.3 mile route and it kicked our rear ends. Part of the issue was it was almost 100F and had a lot of vertical, about 800 feet overall. But you know, we would walk for a while and rest for a while and pretty soon it was over. And we were tired at the end of the day.

After the first 200 yards, we did not see anybody. I guess most people were smarter than we were.

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We stopped at this tree for a break. I’ve read a lot about “Native American Guide Trees” online where people claim that Native Americans shaped trees like this as guides to routes and water and other things. I am very skeptical as I see very little original information plus it seems like a very labor intensive way to transmit information. But my my mind is still open to the possibility.

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So yep, the hike was a little hard for us but we were happy to be doing it.

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Heather is always ready for anything.

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I loved the look of the light filtering through the leaves.

She had some fun with me. I love geocaching, she not so much but she is good at it. We were looking for one and she found it when I could not and she taunted me a little bit. That’s all right!! I guess I’ll keep her. After 30 years we have learned a lot about each other.

Later on in the week, she had to bail me out twice during a rough spot I had during a kayaking expedition we were on. I kept running into rocks and turning over so she came up and rode my kayak down through the rapids while I walked down on the bank. I wish I had photos but I ruined my camera when it took one too many dunks. She’s bailed me out a bunch of times during our 30 years we’ve been together.

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