Author Archives: Alan Bates

Skywatch Friday – Vintage Oil and Gas Skies

I took the kid back to college on Wednesday. He got a sprained ankle last week so Heather and I did an evacuation to back home and got him in to see a doctor, fed him, did his laundry and got him rested up to go back. It’s just a sprain says the doc so we got him a brace and some ibuprofen and so back to school he goes. On the way back from dropping him off I stopped at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City. I had not been there in ages. Turns out that they have a lot of new stuff to show and I’ll post about that later. Today I am showing what they had outside, underneath a big blue Oklahoma Sky with some wind. (If it is Oklahoma, the wind is always blowing.)

Wellhead Stack

I looked at a bunch of oil and gas stuff. This is known as a “Christmas Tree” with valves installed on a oil or gas well to control and regulate the flow. I have never actually seen a stack this high. Usually they are about only two or three valves. I’m guessing what happened is that somebody wanted to donate the tree and so they got all the junk valves they could round up, bolted them together, slapped a coat of paint on it and said “Here you are!” Makes for an impressive sight but I wouldn’t stand near it in a lightning storm.


This is a pump jack used for pumping oil out of the ground. They are also used on natural gas wells to pump the water out that impedes from natural gas well. There is a technical name for those kind of gas wells. They are called “sorry ass gas wells.”

Red Tank Wagon

An old school wagon using for hauling oil.

Drilling Rig

A portable drilling rig. Needs a coat of paint. Also something to stay from in a lightning storm.

Red Oilfield Truck

And a red truck. I’ve loved red trucks ever since I was about two years old.

That’s enough for now!!

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday. Come check it out.

Our World – Back on the Trails

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So Sunday afternoon was great, temp in the low 50’s, sunny, a little breezy, no football. So I decided to go running on the Tulsa’s Riverparks trails on the Arkansas River. I prefer trail running but with all the snow they are going to be a bloody mess for a week or so.

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Almost all the snow is gone. Better hurry if you want to see some.

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Turkey Mountain across the river. I’ll be there Sunday morning for a hike with some people I know.

My run went pretty well. It has been a while since I ran-ran, if you know what I mean. So this was a walk run. I’d trot a little bit and then walk a little. Did that for about three miles. I had forgotten how nice it was and I was thankful that the other aerobic stuff I had been doing on the stationary bikes and elliptical machines left me with some aerobic fitness.

I had a bike wreck back in the early Fall which made it hard to do anything but hike and the machines. Things seem all better now. I did about three miles the slow way but that is okay.

Son Logan is doing better also from his ankle sprain. We have been doing the “RICE” thing (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) with him. So he is king for a day or few. Heather is taking him to orthopedic doctor today. He has classes but they are online. So until about Wednesday or so we are waiting on him. Bringing him food, doing his laundry, all that stuff.

I’m linking with Our World Tuesday. Come join the fun!!

“The Pot Thief Who Studied the Woman at Otowi Crossing” by J. Michael Orenduff

Book Cover

This is a fun mystery novel, the ninth in a series, by J. Michael Orenduff. The books feature Hubie Schuze who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico and makes his living by illegally digging up ancient Native American pots on public lands and selling them. He also supplements that income by copying such pots and selling them to unsuspecting tourists. Despite all that he seems like a nice guy. A nice guy who seems to know a lot of people who get murdered. Not that he does any of that though but he is under suspicion a lot and so has to try and solve murders himself to clear himself.

This latest murder is a puzzler. An unidentified man is killed on his way to Schuze’s shop. Thing is he shares DNA with Schuze and although the man’s death was captured on video, the police have no idea how he was killed or who did it.

So yes, solving the murder and figuring out who victim was is fun but even more fun is following Schuze’s moves as he goes to the solution. We learn about academic politics at the University of New Mexico, how a woman seduced him by teaching him how to iron clothes. He’s on a first name basis with the lead homicide detective. He consults his family, he drinks margaritas at happy hour. It takes him a while but he finally gets it.

There is lots of New Mexican culture and background in these books. I’ve read all of them and am looking forward to another.

Shadowy Snowy Shot Sunday

Snowy Shadows

We went to the see the kid to day at college. While we were still on the way he tripped and sprained his ankle. So the “go visit and resupply the kid” trip became the “evaluate and evacuate the kid” trip. We brought him home with us so he can heal up. It would have been a lot harder to do that without so many classes being online. I did get this shadowy photo of the trees and snow outside his dorm.

I’m linking up with Shadow Shot Sunday 2

Tulsa’s Woodward Park

We have had some really cold weather in Tulsa the last week or so. I hadn’t felt like going out and freezing with my camera so I have been using my archives. That is wonderful in a way. I have 78,000 plus photographs so I got lots of images to draw from but you know I like taking new pictures!! So one day late last week I went to Tulsa’s Woodward Park.


This is the south side of the Tulsa Garden Center which used to be known as the Snedden Mansion. It’s a pretty cool place and is also an event center for weddings and such. My wife Heather used to work there in different capacities, so I got to work there too every once in a while for special events.

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This is “Appeal to the Great Spirit” by Cyrus Dallin. This version was cast in 1985. The original was cast in 1908 and is at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. A miniature plaster version stood at Tulsa’s Central High School from 1923 until 1976 when the school closed.

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I don’t know the name or history of this statue but it is a long term favorite of mine. Have to tell you though I got cold just looking at it.

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This is one of favorite sculptures ever, “Poems and Promises” by Rosalind Cook. It is very peaceful looking to me. Doing my research I read where Ms. Cook says she gave it a spiraling movement by the placement of the legs, shoulders, and arms. Now that I read it, I can see what she is talking about. Artists just amaze me.


This is the Woodard Park Conservatory. It is open to the public most of the time and is very interesting with all the plants in there. It is also nice to go into on a cool day as it is generally very warm and humid.

On other matters, it has got even colder and snowier since my outing to Woodward Park. Minus two this morning.

Abby and I are sharing this throw. She’s kind of a hog though.

Our plump kitten Lizzie is whiling away the hours snoozing.

Here she is on her 180 degree abdominal twist. Front feet and head pointing one way, back feet pointing backward.

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We’ve had all sorts of birds hanging around also. Rascal the dog tried to bring one inside this morning. It died soon thereafter. I don’t think Rascal hurt it, it was injured or sick. Sad deal.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday.

Nomadland by Jessica Bruder

Jessica Bruder, a journalist, wrote Nomadland, a book about the (almost) hidden army of people who have decided for one reason or another to abandon permanent homes in favor of a life on the road. They don’t have real estate, they have “wheel estate.” they are not homeless, they are “houseless.” Many of them made this choice to follow a dream that doesn’t entail a house, maintenance, insurance, rent, and all the rest. I know a few of those people. Others made the choice because staying in a house or apartment did not add up. The type of arithmetic when you take your income and subtract food, medicine, insurance, other bills, and you don’t have enough for rent. They did it out of necessity. They are being squeezed out by the high cost of housing.

Where do they live? Many live in RV’s, new and old, travel trailers, truck campers. Some even live in their cars. Where do they park their vehicles? In RV parks, and on BLM and Forest Service land in the west. Walmart parking lots are popular, in commercial areas where their rigs blend in, public parks. Anywhere they are allowed to, and a few places where they are not. There are apps that guide them to free camping spots.

What do they do for money? Some live off their savings or in whatever jobs they can find. Thousands work for Amazon during the peak pre-Christmas season at their gigantic fulfillment centers. Amazon has a name for them, they are the Camperforce. Amazon loves them because of their work ethic and willingness to work for not very much money. Others work seasonally as camp hosts for National and State forests. They work the sugar beet harvest. All sorts of things.

Where do they go when they are not working. Thousands head to Quartzsite in southern Arizona where they boondock in the public lands surrounding town. The meet up in groups, learn the tricks and rules of the road from each other and enjoy the warm winters.

The author Jessica Bruder spent three years and researching this lifestyle. She even got her own van in order to embed even closer with them. You can tell she kind of fell in love with the lifestyle and the people. She tells the story with great empathy and insight.

I loved this book. And hey a movie is coming out starring Frances McDormand.

Skywatch Friday – Ice Storm Edition

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It’s been cold and icy here lately. So these are from the archives. Above is the River Parks amphitheater from several years back. It was demolished and removed years ago. I never saw anything there but back in the day they had lots of concerts there. The old timers talk about it a lot.

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This is from several years back. The Arkansas River during a period of low water.


This is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Temple in Idaho Falls, Idaho. It sits adjacent to the Snake River. It may be the prettiest building I’ve ever seen.

This is this morning (Thursday). The pups slipping and sliding on the back patio coming from their morning potty break. They also like to chase the squirrels and update their barkbook status with our neighboring dogs.

We finally turned the fireplace on last night. LJ the Cat and Abby appreciated it.

Heather and I finally got our fancy drawer and cabinet pulls on in the kitchen the past couple days. I think they look nice with our repainted cabinets and new floors.

So my doctor prescribed a regimen of exercise involving both stretching and strengthening of my backs and legs after my recent whining about back pain. It has helped tremendously. I’ve also restarted yoga classes and resistance training at our gym. A friend of Heather’s told her about the Silver Sneakers videos on youtube and we tried them. They are great!! They are kind of oriented toward the older crowd but they have quite a range from like beginning chair yoga to some challenging Pilates workouts. And they are free!!! You don’t have to join anything or sign up for anything. If you have youtube you can access these. So we have been doing some of these at home and they really help.

That is it for this week. Stay safe everybody!!

I am linking with Skywatch Friday

Random Wednesday


At Sprouts, we found this strange vegetable. Apparently everybody but us has heard about Romanesco. I like the logarithmic spirals but it looks very unappetizing. I’d try it though.

It’s calving time at the ranch owned by Heather’s relatives in western Oklahoma.

My sore back is getting better via yoga, strength training, ibuprofen and a heating pad. If I leave the heating pad on, Abby claims it. This is she during the Super Bowl. How about the Buccaneers and Tom Brady?

MIL had a leak in her house and she called a plumber. A couple young guys came out. One of the manhandled an augur up on her roof during a strong cold wind. I get so tired when I hear certain people talk about “….kids today don’t want to work.” I know that’s wrong. I see hard working young people almost every day.

Shakespeare Memorial

One of the curious things you find in old parks. This is a tribute to Shakespeare at Tulsa’s Woodward Park. Designed by notable art deco architect Adah Robinson and erected in the 1930’s I believe. I love random stuff like this.

Our World – Mall Walking

I am trying to stay active these days and I was all set to go walk somewhere the other day when it started raining. So not wanting to get wet, and possibly melt, and also not wanting to do the gerbil thing on a treadmill I decided to go mall walking so I set off to Tulsa’s remaining shopping mall, Woodland Hills Mall.

It was surprisingly busy but not overly so. Most everybody was wearing a mask and it was easy for me to socially distance. So off I went. It has two levels so I did a loop on the lower level and and another loop on the lower level. I also looped into the three major department stores.

Anybody besides me think that carousels are spooky. I do, I was scared of them when I was a kid. Son Logan rode this one plenty when he was little. He seemed to like them.

Apple Store

The Apple Store is still closed. You have a problem with your iphone, you are basically on your own. I always found the people at the Apple Store to be helpful. The Microsoft Store is also closed, but who cares right? Unless you worked there, then you care plenty.

At the far end of the mall I came across these dudes. All staring at their phones. What are they looking for? Time drags when waiting on somebody else shopping. I always find something else to entertain myself.

The department stores sell furniture. We buy furniture from time to time but it has never occured to buy furniture there. It would seem that the overhead was pretty high. Right before this section I passed some recliners. A woman was in one of them fully reclined. I told her that she looked pretty comfy, She said that she was thinking of buying one. I told her that I bought a recliner exactly like that one and loved it. She said, “really.” I said yes, it has worked out well. I was lying to to her big time but I learned in MBA school that it was important for people to be happy with their purchases.

They had this bar for sale also. It’s kind of cool.

Way back when, when work clothing was more formal, coats and ties. I used to love buying and wearing that stuff. What made it work was experienced clothes salesmen who could figure out what kind of clothes looked best on a particular person. They got replaced by people who were selling lawn mowers last week. All they could say, no matter how bad something looked, was “that looks good.” The good places always had a good selection of ties and one particular person that could match ties and shirts to a suit. That was the best part. You could tell those places by their displays. I found the displays of ties and shirts on my mall walk to be pretty dismal. Oh well, I don’t have to worry about any more.

This was a welcome sight. Are short skirts and dresses making a comeback? I was in high school during the golden age of short skirts back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. It was wonderful. I’ve read that hem lines go up and down with the economy. Is this a forerunner of better times then?! I hope so.

The perfume counters, I hate those things. Somebody wants a particular brand of cologne then you had to search around these areas forever.

Bath and Body Works. How do people stand working in there. So many scents and smells that all meld together in a ugh.

Jerseys. I don’t have any sports teams jerseys. I think it is creepy to get a jersey with somebody else’s name on it. I have Dallas Cowboys shirts but they don’t have any player’s name on them. I actually pop in here to see if they have team caps on sale. I got a very cool Mexican national soccer team cap in here one time for $5. Nothing on sale today though so time to move on.

Ah yes, my favorite sporting goods store, Victoria’s Secret.

The mall has a new (to me) store featuring Native American themed goods. All very nice and very colorful. I’ll be back, I like that kind of stuff. Photos are free!

This shirt doesn’t apply to me. I am as white it gets. Anybody else do the DNA thing with I got mine and it is fun and interesting and all that but what gets me is how they send updates to your ancestors origins. Mine has swung all over the place. Used to be a lot of Danish involved, the latest one has no Danish but lots of Irish, British, northern Europe generic, Sweden, and Norway. Used to be rumored that there was a little Native American but nope, not a drop. Don’t worry I am not a white supremacist, I hate those people, just stating facts. Oklahoma has lots of Native Americans and many of them are blue eyed and whiter than me so I think the shirt is aimed more toward them. The various Tribes all have the right to determine who is member of the tribe and who isn’t so one has to be careful claiming to be a little bit this tribe or that tribe.

So anyway, I did my laps and got about 1.6 miles in, and stayed dry! Didn’t buy a thing either.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday.