Author Archives: Alan Bates

A Weekend of Racing

GLA 5K Race
Oilwell tank battery across the street from the school

My running and racing life has been off and on the past four years after getting injured on a spill on a race in Turkey Mountain and the long rehab from that and then several others injuries and then getting told that as far as my knee cartilage is concerned, “Your tread is very thin.” So I just quit running and I would still enter races but just walk them.

GLA 5K Race
The race started at the bottom of a hill and went uphill for a half mile. Brutal!! (just like i like it)

So I have been experimenting with running old fat guy style. Running the downhills and walking uphill or just running for a short ways and walking and then running when I felt like it. And last week at the Tulsa Run 5K I did it and it worked. I thought I had a decent run so it’s like wow. This is great.

GLA 5K Race
Down into the frigid colder hollow.

This week I signed up for two runs. On Saturday I did the GLA 5K. A first time run put on by a charter school in north Tulsa, the Greenwood Leadership Academy. It was a very nice, well organized run with lots of volunteers. I’m trying to diversify my running to get routes I haven’t run before and their location in the Gilcrease Hills was perfect. We started running right up a long hill. So I stuck to my walking up and trotting down and it worked fine.

GLA 5K Race
The turnaround

It was an out and back course with a beer stop turnaround at a church.

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An oil well.

We also passed a couple oil wells. Welcome to running in Oklahoma.

The GLA 5K was a great run, great course, volunteers, organization, and runner support. What more can you ask for?

My second race was Sunday morning. The Turkey n Taters 10K, a trail race on Turkey Mountain that also includes 25K and 50K distances. I have run the 10K a bunch of times, the 25K two years ago, and have volunteered a couple times cooking hamburgers and hot dogs (nobody but vegetarians mess with the cook at these events, and I tell them to just chew on some grass, (actually some of the elite athletes are vegetarians and yes we do have things I cooked for them beside grass).

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The starting line, and the ending line.

I walked the whole length of this race. Yes, I have had success running the the previous day but going twice the distance over some very rough and technical terrain meant that I wanted to be conservative.

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I just love wooden walkways.

I just hung out at the start until everybody else left and then I started walking. I passed these two ladies who said they like doing the race but never enter because they entrance fees are a rip off. I said okay, but I wanted to ask ” You do know this is a fund raiser for the West Side YMCA, right?” And by the way , the fees are very reasonable.

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I tell you what is slicker than snot. Wet shale rock with muddy shoes. Brutal.

It was cold, about 37F and I had three layers on which is probably one layer too many but I like being warm so after a half mile I shed my down coat and wrapped it around my waist and was comfortable the rest of the way.

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Walk, walk, walk, walk for over two hours.

After that it was a matter of just walking the course. At some point I got off the course, I didn’t see any pink ribbons and started having that feeling. And then I ran into some going straight ahead and to the east, so I was like oh no. Officially I should have back tracked until I figured where I went off but I was not sure that I went off and I picked a direction and kept going and met people coming the other way but I wasn’t too worried because the 50K runners run the 25K course backwards when they finish the first 25K but then I had a guy ask me if he was going the right direction to the race start and I was like, uh you hadn’t started the loop back and he said no. And then I met a woman who I had been following and I was like oops, so I back tracked to where I made the wrong decision. So I didn’t run the official route, but I didn’t win any awards so I didn’t have any ethical considerations about since I ran the same distance. And you know, its a trail run.

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One of my former employers pipelines feeding a power plant. I wish they would come and bury a new line. Give’em a call Enable Midstream Partners.

So I finished the race, got my medal, a burger, a beer, a second burger and headed home.

A very nice weekend of racing. I had never thought I would be there again. After I quit running, it over a year and a half before my knees quit hurting and I am liking that. I have done lots of yoga, lots of water exercises, lots of bicycling, and elliptical machines and only longer distance walking once a week or so. So I won’t be able to run longer distances but I can walk a very long ways and I can do the occasional 5K or so and walk the 10K’s

Win, win, win in my book. Especially at 64 years of age. Staying in the game is my strategy.

Skywatch Friday – Hiking the Grand Tetons National Park to Taggert and Bradley Lakes

I am doing the hiking posts backwards of our trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks earlier in October. Our first hike was actually to Taggert and Bradley Lakes of the Grand Tetons National Park. We have been looking forward to this trip for a long time and with our son away in college and doing well we had our opportunity so off we flew to Jackson, Wyoming.

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My bride Heather

Our first morning, right after breakfast, we packed our stuff up and went to see the National Park office just inside Jackson. I had a list of places we wanted to see and the person we talked to knew all about them and gave us all sorts of information that came in handy. My first pro-tip and Heather and I have done this a log is always stop at the Ranger Station, Visitor Center, or whatever and talk to a ranger. They have always been very helpful.

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Pro tip number two is don’t act like a know it all. My sister actually took me on a hike to Taggert Lake last year but I didn’t say anything because I have found that doing that tends to shut the person up you are talking to and when I didn’t want to happen. It’s hard to learn anything while your mouth is moving. Yes sure, did I hear some repetitive stuff, yes I did (mainly because my sister had done a lot of research.)

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I asked the Ranger if bear spray was recommended, and as expected I heard an emphatic yes. We talked about renting it and she gave us directions to a place within walking distance of where we were. So after talking with her, we packed up the maps and other info she gave us, walked over and got our bear spray and headed off to the trailhead.

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And off we went. Lots less people than what I remember and we were pretty excited. Our heads were on a swivel though looking and listening for bears.

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And what a great hike it was. Through quaking aspen groves turning golden and along Taggert Creek. Creeks up in the mountains make music as they flow and they have their own great aroma. And above it all were the majestic Tetons. I have never tired of looking at them.

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We eventually got to Taggert Lake and like last year I was just floored with how crystal clear, calm, and beautiful it is

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The Ranger had suggested that if we felt like it (we are obviously low altitude flatlanders I guess) to go over the ridge to Bradley Lake. So off we went. And getting over the ridge was exhausting. They say the Tetons are still growing. While I think the ridge was growing about fifty feet a minute as we went up. We eventually got up and over and went down to the lake. Another beautiful lake, oh hum. How many beautiful lakes can a National Park have?

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Spectacular views of the mountains.

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And then we hiked out. We were on the shady side of the slope so it was still snowy from earlier in the week.

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Every once in a while on the way out I would stop and take a photo of the mountains behind us.

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It always seems that the hike back to the trailhead seems a lot further than the hike in. We were tired and a little thirsty and hungry. We packed in a water and snacks. That is pro tip three. Always take water and snacks with you, especially if you are low altitude flatlanders like us.

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We passed some Park Service stables and corrals. We were interested in horseback riding opportunities but they are none this late in the season.

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The first day was the best weather day of our trip. It got steadily colder as the week went on but hey we knew that we would run into that but we still had some great adventures and I haven’t told them all to you yet.

Five and a half miles and three hours and one great day.

Have you ever visited the Grand Tetons National Park?

I am linking with Skywatch Friday

Running the 2019 Tulsa Run 5K

Saturday was the 42nd running of the Tulsa Run. I have run twenty six of them, twenty three 15K’s and today I ran my third 5K.

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It rained all day Friday and most of the night into the morning when my alarm went off at 5:15. I briefly considered not running but I have never ever skipped a race because of weather and today was not a day to start with that. So I got up and got dressed. By race time the rain had cleared out and the weather was perfect. Low 40’s, overcast, slight breeze. Time to roll.

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So ran the race by trotting until I felt like walking and then resuming the trot when the spirit told me to run. I also stopped a lot to take photos of various things on the way such as the mural above. Tulsa has had an explosion of murals the past few years. I think it is a nationwide thing from what I read and I love it.

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And there was some graffiti on the route. This one is pretty decent.

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Right across the street was this. It looks like somebody else has been messing with it. I understand that is a thing with graffiti as well, defacing it. Most graffiti does not age very well and is a form of vandalism.

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We also passed an outdoor beer pub. What!! Why have I not heard of this one???

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I love the plain outspoken voice of this sign. They were closed though.

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And the VFW, their bar is now open to the public. Has been for years.

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And we turned and headed downtown.

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We passed this old beat up VW Van. 57 years old and they want a bunch of money for it. You could get this, paint it pink, purple, or yellow, with some flowers and peace signs. Tour the state and smoke marijuana. Nowadays in Oklahoma the cops are just going to yawn if they see you smoking weed, as long as you are not driving.

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Another mural, for a coffee shop. Very apt I think.

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And on down Route 66 and I stopped to say hello to Buck Atom.

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And across the street to the Meadow Gold sign.

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Kept on, keeping on to the west and turned the corner north onto Boston Avenue and ran under the big US Flag put up by the Tulsa Fire Department. Salud Guys/Gals!! I love this.

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And headed a few hundred yards to the finish line.

Tulsa Run Finish Line

Here is my official by goodness Finish Line Photo. One of these days I am going to get a photo of me running where it actually looks like I am running. Today was not that day.

Finished really slow, but vertically. Grabbed a water, a sack containing a sandwich and chips, accepted a kit kat bar from a volunteer and then stole another from the table and got barked at, so I stole a third one, and got glared at. Sorry, not sorry. Made my way to my car and drove home.

2019 Tulsa Run 5K

So years past after cleaning up I would have a couple beers and a couple snickers bars. Nowdays, morning beer drinking is not near as much fun as it used to be and I decided you know, I want a Braums Chocolate Milkshake so I had that. 24 grames of protein, right!? Powerfood

So that’s a wrap folks. I’m linking with Our World Tuesday. Come check it out!!

Rain, Rain, Go Away!!

Fall came in with a bang yesterday in Tulsa. Cold, wind, rain here it came. I had to do that most of miserable of chores in cold weather.

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Gassing up the car. Nothing like it in a cold wet rain, even with a canopy. When I was a kid we lived in a little town in Arizona where we heated the house with a big huge fireplace that was outfitted with blowers and vents. My brother and I had to saw the logs, split, and stack them and then haul enough wood to the house every day to feed the fireplace. To this day, fireplaces are not romantic to me, I hate them. Anyway, I am off topic.

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So I gassed up the care shivering shaking. Took all of about a minute or two. I spent more time taking photos than pumping the gas so don’t feel sorry for me. Not that you were of course.

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Something about rain makes it extremely photogenic.

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And since today was my day off I had to get some adult malted beverage at the liquor store. Oklahoma finally joined the 21st century last year. We can get a wide variety of cold beer now. This place had a beverage chiller for the beer and wine not in their refrigerators. Very cool. You just put your cans or bottles in and in five minutes they are basically ice cold.

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Tomorrow I am running the Tulsa Run. I ran the 15K version twenty four times. Nowadays I will be running the 5K event for the third time. I always look forward to the Lululemon girls and their signs. The above is the only photo I have that ever went viral. I posted it on facebook after a race and it got shared over a 100,000 times. I hope it quits raining today. I have cold, wet weather running gear so I’m prepared one way or the other.

Skywatch Friday – Teton Sunset

So from my Our World post about our hiking outing to Yellowstone Park I mentioned that we were cold and it was getting late so we hightailed back to Jackson. Well, I lied, we made a couple of stops.

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As we got closer to the Grand Teton National Park we stopped to gaze at the above scene. The Teton range is all in a line and it is quite a sight. It is also an optical illusion of sorts. The closer you get the farther away it is, if that makes any sense.

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We drove on but after a while just had to stop again. The sunset was pretty spectacular over the mountains.

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It kept getting brighter and brighter so we just stayed and watched.

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No filters on any of these photos. Also, I just put the camera on auto, for good or bad.

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So, God turned the lights out, we got our tired, hungry, cold but happy selves in the car and drove into Jackson to get something to eat.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday

Our World – Hike to Yellowstone’s Fairy Falls and Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook

On our trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming a couple weeks ago Heather and I decided to make a quick run up to Yellowstone because a storm was coming and we feared that the roads we closed.

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So we made our “quick run” to just past the Old Faithful Geyser to the trail head of the Fairy Falls trail. It took us about three hours on this quick run. Lots to look at so we were okay but ready to hit the trail. It was very cold and the wind was a gale.

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So, on the way, we took the little bypass to the overlook for the Grand Prismatic Spring. It’s a wonder of nature and no photographs I have took or edited shows it quite like it looks. So you get this unedited version of the Spring along with my wife Heather. She doesn’t need any editing in my opinion.

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The gale winds quit once we got in the woods. We saw this guy, the second of the Bison we encountered. We gave them wide berth. They seem benign but they can close on you in a hurry if they are riled up. We had our bear spray which is supposed to work on Bison but I didn’t want to have to worry about it. Especially if it is windy. The theory is that you create a cloud of spray for them to run through. No clouds though when the wind is blowing!!

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There is a definite boundary between the dead zone caused by the hot springs and the forests.

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Lots of old dead wood laying around from an older forest fire, I think back in the 80’s. My sister Ellen took me on this same hike in August 2018. She knew all about it, but I forgot.

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And here is Fairy Falls. They falls are 220 feet tall and are the highest “front country falls” in the park. Heather and I had the Falls to ourselves for quite a while. That is the thing about hiking this time of year. There is not near the crowds that you get in the summer.

Fairy Falls and log jumble October 2019

Here’s another view, obviously you can tell I edited it.

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And a closeup. A very nice and peaceful place.

I don’t have many photos of our return hike to the trailhead. It had gotten colder and the wind increased and we faced it heading back so we just hiked out with our heads on a swivel looking for bears and bison.

We had planned to see other sites during out time in Yellowstone but we got off to a late start leaving Jackson so we plugged and abandoned the other plans and just headed back. On the side of the road we saw mule deer (with tracking collars), a herd of elk, and another bison. The smartest bison in the world who stopped on the side of the road and looked both ways, waited for traffic to come to a stop and then walked across, with a brief stop in the middle. Heather saw a momma bear and two cubs crossing a gravelly stream and we violated all the rules, stopped the car and walked back to the bridge to see them and they were gone.

We got back to our condo very tired but happy. The storm came in that night and although we had a little bit in Jackson, they had enough in Yellowstone to where almost all the roads were closed.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday.

Shadow Shot Sunday – Philbrook Museum Gardens

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I went and spent my lunch hour at Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum of Art, or more accurately the gardens of the museum. I noticed right away that due to the different light and the lower angle of the sun that it would be a good day for shadows. Plus I am a sucker for arches.

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The plantings provide nice shadows against the textured walk.

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My favorite of the day was this shadow of a wrought iron fence against an old flagstone steps.

I am linking with Shadow Shot Sunday

Saturday’s Critters – Puppy Yoga

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Once every six months or so our gym has a special class, “Puppy Yoga” in the courtyard where a non-profit dog shelter brings a bunch of puppies in for a special yoga class, “Puppy Yoga.” The members pay an extra $10 to take the class with the money going to the non-profit.

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There is the only other guy in the class. People called me a good sport for some reason. I love puppies, especially other people’s puppies.

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The dogs were little beggars. The volunteers were handing out treats to the attendees and we were shook down by the dogs and as soon as we gave them all away then they had nothing to do with us, the little beggars.

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Smiles all around everywhere.

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The instructor had 26 animal themed yoga poses for us. I don’t remember them all but you know, up dog, down dog, cat, cow, pigeon, crow (for the more adept students, and so on. She made it a lot of fun.

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Sometimes if you could grab a puppy you just did the hold puppy pose. This is my wife doing just that.

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And then my turn.

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Everybody had a lot of fun. The dogs were exhausted at the end. I’ll be back the next time they have it.

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Toward the end, a wasp crashed the party and stung me pretty good. Before the night was over my foot swelled up and turned red. My wife rescued me with some antihistamines. I went home and further treated it with a couple of my favorite beers.

I am linking with Eileen’s Saturday’s Critters

Skywatch Friday – Hiking along String and Leigh Lakes in Grand Teton National Park

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On our final day last week of our Jackson Hole trip we had a relatively early checkout time from our condo and a pretty late in the day flight back to Tulsa.

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So we got up, cleaned out and checked from where we were staying, got breakfast, grabbed our bear spray and headed up north of Jenny Lake for a final hike along String and Leigh Lakes. A hike that a Ranger we had talked to was easy. It was pretty darn cold, and the trail was snowy but off we went.

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It was cold and we were by ourselves but gradually we started seeing more people. Never enough to make it feel crowded. I had read in an online trailguide where somebody had come across a grizzly bear lolling around in the lake near the trailhead.

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So we had an invigorating hike, on alert and cold but gradually we relaxed.

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It helped that the scenery was stunning. Yeah we were away from the big Teton mountains but these were no slouches and the water was crystal clear and blue.

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My glamorous wife, Heather

We allotted enough time to go about 2 miles up the trail and return. You can tell that Heather is pretty happy above.

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We discussed for a minute or two whether that was people across the lake or bears.

Last year I spent a few days with my sister, who was working as a seasonal Ranger at Yellowstone Park at West Yellowstone. She took me on a few hikes in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and it really opened up my eyes to just how beautiful and wild the parks are when you get out of your car and venture down a trail a few miles. So this year Heather and I followed down a couple of the trails Ellen took me on last year and found one ourself. We’ll be back!!

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What a great treasure our National Parks are. October is a great time to visit, if you can. Dress warm is what I say!!

The other thing I say is rent the bear spray, instead of buying it. We rented them for $7 a day, max $28 and then we just took them back when we were done. If you fly in, you can’t fly back out with it and I was worried about how to dispose of it properly if you buy it and you are flying back.

So I am not going to do trip in chronological order. I will do them as I feel led. I am not an organized blogger who has his act together, but I think that you have already figured that out.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday, come join us!