Author Archives: Alan Bates

Skywatch Friday – Socially Distant Bike Ride


Here we are still sheltering in place, along with most of the rest of the world. Here we can go out on errands like grocery shopping and such including outdoor exercise as long as we practice social distancing. I went out on a bike ride along a bike path close to the house.


I’ve ran, walked, biked and geocached along this path dozens of times over the years.


Generally I have this 20 plus mile trail to myself but not any longer. Lots of people are looking for a little exercise to make our stay at home more bearable.


I had never seen so many people on this trail.


But there is still wide open spaces.


And when we were passing each other we all got way over on the edge of the trail.


I’m actually kind of hoping that people make this being outside a permanent part of their lives after the crisis is over.


I saw an interview with our latest national hero Dr. Anthony Fauci explained about the seasonality of viruses. He says it is not the heat, its the ultraviolet light from the sun that kills the viruses. I killed a bunch of them yesterday. But because I am skin cancer survivor I slather on the sun block very heavily. Can the viruses hide under my sunscreen? Just thought I give fearful something to be afraid of (not really.)


And that is a wrap as I turn off my Go Pro clone.

Are you spending time outside, fully in compliance with whatever orders you are under? Tell me about it.

Linking with Skywatch Friday

Our World – The Flowers of Woodward Park

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Here in Tulsa we are under a an order to Shelter in Place except for essential trips and outside activities away from people are one of the essential trips allowed in addition to the real ones like going to the doctor, grocery store, pharmacy, liquor store, and marijuana dispensary (not kidding!) So one day I ventured off to Tulsa’s Woodward Park. The playgrounds are closed but the flower beds are open.


There were not very many people there. The ones that were kept their distance.

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There are always flower pickers (they say the flowers are there for everybody!) but not this trip, thank goodness. One lady was making me nervous as she waded into the beds but as far as I could tell she didn’t trample any.

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I don’t know anything about flowers in general or tulips in particular except that I love them. I have no desire to grow them, nope I will enjoy the fruit of other peoples’ labors.

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It took a while but I had my fill.

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They have great trees as well.

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I love this stone bridge. You come to t he park on a nice sunny day and often there is a bride and a whole posse of bridesmaids all arranged on it. You can tell if the photographer is a pro by how nervous they look. The pro’s have to pay a fee to shoot here, they just charge it to the bride’s family as part of the cost. Hacks like me, well I can shoot to heart’s content (but not weddding parties.)

That’s it for today. Everybody stay safe, wash your hands, and hold your loved ones close. (Those that live in your household, others, just kind of wave for now) and come over to Our World Tuesday and join the fun.

Sources of Covid 19 Data for the World, Nations, States, Cities

Image from page 343 of "Anatomy and physiology : designed for academies and families" (1847)
Courtesy of Flickr Commons

I started tracking data for Oklahoma by using the State Health Department web site. That’s okay but it is just a fixed point in time every day. It would be like trying to figure out what is happening in drag race by measuring the speed a hundred yards out of the start. The sites below track the spread of the virus in real time.

If you have your own credible sources of data let me know and I’ll consider adding it.

Johns Hopkins University might be the gold standard. Reportedly some government agencies use it.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU)

1point3 acres has a great site focused on the US and Canada

Covid 19 in US and Canada

Here’s a site bopping around on Facebook that seems legit. It says “Use at your own risk” so I am passing that info along as well.

GIS Surfer 2.0

Worldometer has a great site with lots of data and curves. Lots of ads as well but not too bad.


GitHub, somehow related to the New York Times is a great source of data if you want t o create your own visualizations. It’s kind of a nerdy site but worth checking out.


Skywatch Friday – Bike Riding on the RiverParks

I’ve been working from home during this novel coronavirus situation and my wife Heather is out of work as a fitness instructor. We are trying to get our exercise in a legal, ethical, and responsible manner so we have been walking the dog, family hiking, and such. The other day we fired up our bicycles and headed to the RiverParks for a ride.


The RiverParks are popular but I doubt that they have ever seen so many people on a Tuesday afternoon. It wasn’t crowded though. Maintaining separation was easy.


The weather was nice and cool and the skies were spectacular. There was a pretty good breeze from the north that made riding into it challenging but coming back with the wind at our back we were flying.


One thing that helped was the Gathering Place is closed so all the people who are new to the parks and do not yet understand to stay on the right but instead wibble wobble here and there and everywhere were not present. For the most part. There are always wibble wobblers. That’s okay, they just don’t know, I used to be one.


The bike traffic was pretty steady.


We came across friends Jay and Tracy who were walking on the trail. It was funny, we maintained our distance. Jay and I did jokey elbow bumps. We talked for a little bit and then we each went our way.


A great safe time was had by all.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday

Our World – Family Hike at Keystone State Park

Tulsa went into social isolation mode last week. All the bars, restaurants, theaters, bowling alleys and other places were ordered shut to help slow the spread of the Corona virus. My employer had already ordered those that could, to start working at home. Our son’s college has gone online and the various gyms where Heather teaches classes have closed so we were home except for trips the grocery store and to check on my brother at the hospital and Heather’s mother.

The weather was kind of crappy as well so our exercise was limited to walking our one healthy dog in the neighborhood. Saturday we were ready to check out the great outdoors so we ventured to Keystone State Park about 30 minutes away. We went out there and there were only three cars in the parking lot so we figured that we were ethically fine to go hiking without endangering ourselves or others.


Here are Logan and Heather right after we started.


The trail was a little wet in places but in great shape. The state takes really good care of it with the help of volunteers. I helped out a week or so ago, lopping branches and picking up litter. What also helps is that the trails are designed as opposed to Turkey Mountain where the trails just kind of happened. It makes a difference you know making sure that water flows across a trail rather than down it.


Keystone features rocks and trees with a healthy amount of water. This tree looks to be growing right out of the rock.


The water level was up a little. We did about three fords. We didn’t get our feet too wet.


Here are Heather and Logan doing a little social distancing during a rest break.


Another tree growing out of a rock.


And my favorite, dancing trees. When we got back to the trail head our car was the only one there. We hopped in and drove straight home. I hope everybody is being safe as we go through this Corona Virus thing together in the entire world.

Check out the World Health Organization for the straight facts. Don’t be disseminating bad information. Too much of that going on already.

I’m linking with Our World Tuesday, come join in the fun!!

Skywatch Friday – A New World

A new world was born for me this week.

Heather with Rascal
Heather and Rascal – they leave me behind when I start take photos, I don’t blame them. Nothing more boring than watching other people take photos.

Social distancing, remote working, hunkering down fell down on us in the US quickly as our national leadership finally acknowledged the reality of the Corona Virus and started treating it as a public health problem instead of a public relations issue.

TWo pear trees impression
Yep, I edited this heavily. Topaz Studio is my favorite right now.

Better late than never orders are out to shut down restaurants, schools, gyms, almost any public place. The RiverParks authority has even requested that we maintain six feet of space if come upon somebody while running or bicycling on their trails.

It rained heavily this morning and was threatening more is the reason I didn’t go to Turkey Mountain. Yep, this is edited also with Topaz Studio to get an impressionist type feel.

I’m kind of worried about my brother who is in a rehab hospital. I try and visit him every day but I worry about putting his and other patients health at risk. Nobody else visits him though so I show up every day during the restricted visiting hours and visit with him. Phone communication has worked out very well with him.

tree lichen 1
For some reason I am loving taking photos of lichen lately. And yes, I edited this photo as well. True Confessions.

From what I read, we may be hunkering down for quite a while so figure out a way to survive and thrive. I went on a walk with my wife and one of the dogs in the neighborhood with my camera. I am looking at familiar things in new ways, trying to determine what my new normal is going to be.

So be safe, make sure that you double check your sources of news, wash your hands and lets be kind to one another. We are all each other have.

Skywatch Friday

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!


This is my Mom snoozing on a tour bus in Ireland years ago. She loved Dad, her kids, grandkids, and great grandkids, her brothers and sisters, and all their offspring. She also loved Notre Dame Football, Gonzaga Basketball (long before it was cool, she worked there as a young woman), the Denver Broncos, Joe Montana, Rose Kennedy, the Democratic Party, and especially Sandy Koufax.

She was a copper miner’s daughter, and a forest ranger’s wife. She was tough as nails and very loving. You crossed her at your own peril. She, my brother and I all graduated from the University of New Mexico the same day.

And she was Irish, not as much as ancestry dot com might say, but I wouldn’t tell her that if I were you. She loved Ireland and everything Irish. So on my Mom’s behalf, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day. I love you and miss you every day.

2020 Tulsa Saint Patrick’s Day 5K Race


I ran in Tulsa’s Saint Patrick’s Day 5K race Saturday. I was tempted not to run it because it was cold (about 42F at race time) and raining. But I had the right tech gear and decided to go ahead.


Heck of a shot of me here right? This isn’t going in the family album I’ll tell you. I do like my $7.49 cent top from Walmart a lot though. I am very visible. I was also very wet.


I decided to actually run this race a little bit especially at first and it worked pretty well. I got warmed up in a hurry for one thing. I would run a block and walk a block. Sometimes I’d run two blocks if we were going downhill. I was just going with the flow.


Here come the two leaders. They actually look like they are running. Me and these two guys swept the top two spots!! Aren’t you proud of me?


After a pretty good interval, here came the third place guy.


Here are my peeps in the back of the pack crowd.

So I was pretty pleased with my 43:50 time. I think that time is when I got to the starting line. my “gun time” which is official is more like 45 minutes or so.

So I finished 16th out of 18 in my age group. I was pleased that that I was able to run about half the race. It’s been about three years since I actually ran a race. It took about a year and half for my knees to quit hurting them so I baby them pretty good. I rarely run, I walk a lot, and do lots of the elliptical machine, bicycling, resistance training and yoga. I am going to continue babying my knees.

Kudos to the race sponsor, Special Olympics, Runners World Tulsa who always puts on a great race, the race director, the other sponsors, and the army of volunteers who make it all happen. It was cold and rainy but it was a great race.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday

Skywatch Friday – Springtime is Near

Arkansas River Edit

This weekend I went down south of Tulsa to the banks of the Arkansas River. Away from Tulsa and the low water dam it starts to reclaim its identity as a wild, braided, prairie River. Lots of sandbars and funky currents and other things to get kayakers and canoeists in trouble if they are not careful.

Arkansas River Trees edit

I find me some dancing trees on the bank. I love spring but I love seeing the structure of trees.

March 2020

I went hunting for a geocache in some woods away from the river. There was no trail and lots of bushwhacking. I didn’t find the cache, but that is okay. I loved the view.

March 2020

I did find these worn out baseballs placed together. It amazes me what one finds in the middle of the woods in hard to reach areas. I have no idea what the story is with these balls. I left them there if you want to go looking for them.

March 2020

Hmm, I caught a glimpse of something else out there.

March 2020

I went for a closer look. I don’t know why but I think it is a portal to another dimension. A dimension away from adulting. Adulting is hard. You already know that. I decided not to go through the portal. I didn’t know if the wi-fi was any good or not.

Red Full Moon

We had a super moon the other night. Great!! But we also had lots of fast moving clouds that was kind of messing things up. So I did the best I could. I tinted it pink because I could and I liked the way the light ended up.

Cloudy Full Moon

I got better results the next night.

How about you? Have you ever been tempted to enter a portal to another dimension? I am linking to Skywatch Friday

Our World – Hiking at Oklahoma’s Keystone State Park

Sunday morning I headed out to Keystone State Park to help with some trail maintenance organized by the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition and the US Army Corps of Engineers. The rough and tough go getters were busy moving big rocks around, me, I always bring my loppers so I walk on the trails picking up litter and lopping off the limbs that might intrude on the hikers, runners, and bikers on the trail. That’s not a very manly job but hey I do what I can do.

Keystone Tree Fur and Feathers

The park is in the cross timbers region of Oklahoma which is dominated by rocks, lots of rocks and thin flinty soil so the trees don’t get very big. They can be very old but just not big. Many of the trees are post oaks and it is amazing the contortions they go through to get enough sunlight.

Keystone rocks hdr

The rocks are amazing as well. Many of them are layers of soft sandstone and harder shales. A gazillion years ago all these rocks were at the bottom of the ocean. Since then through uplift and faulting the rocks are all this way and that way. Luckily the land is very poor for farming and ranching so the animals and plants that live on it are undisturbed for the most part.

Keystone Rock Fur and Feathers

Another one of the dancing trees that seem to sprout right of the rocks.

Keystone creek rocks

The area has small intermittent creeks running through it.


The trails were in great shape. I didn’t have a whole lot of lopping to do or really much of any litter to pick up. Most of the litter I picked up was near the parking lot.


I love the lichen that grows on trees. Despite what you may hear, in the more shady parts the stuff is on all sides of the trees. Northeast Oklahoma is so wet and humid you can’t count on telling north by lichens.

So I finished up after a few hours as did the more studly men. Many of them brought their mountain bikes and did a turn or two on the trails cuz that is what you do if you are a manly man. I went to go find a geocache.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday