Author Archives: Alan Bates

“American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummings

American Dirt book cover

American Dirt‘ by Jeanine Cummins is a work a fiction following the Lydia and her son Luca, residents of Acapulco, Mexico. Lydia owns a bookstore and befriends a mysterious man who comes and is really interested in books. Her friend turns out to be a leader of a local cartel. The problem is that Lydia’s husband is an investigative journalist looking into her friend’s cartel.

Things take an explosive and tragic turn and Lydia and son Luca have to flee for their lives quickly and she decides the only place where they can be safe is El Norte, the United States. She has to think fast, make decisions at the spur of the moment and has to trust people. Some people she encounters are very helpful, others are total crooks. The books kept me on my toes the whole time.

The most interesting part of the story is “Le Bestia” the network of freight railroads running north and south in Mexico. Le Bestia is the fastest way for the migrants, including those from South America to make the long journey. But is dangerous, it is dangerous to try and get on and it is dangerous to ride. Here is a brief CNN video about the Le Bestia, the Death Train.

I don’t want to give away the story but this book has compared to “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck. I think American Dirt is a great book and certainly worth reading.

Here and There Skywatch


I was poking around the backside of the Tulsa International Airport last week. (You know old retired guys, we like poke around stuff.) These are just a few of the dozens of passenger aircraft that are parked on every spare space at the airport. I talked to a guy in the airline industry yesterday who said airline travel is down 85% from a year ago. Tell you what, I’m not getting on airplane until this pandemic has calmed down quite a bit.


I found this. I thought it was an old fuselage section. I put it on social media asking if anybody knew. One guy said it has been out there for at least twenty years that he knows about. A few people said that it was used for fire training. Another guy said that if was really a fuselage it would not have survived fire training because aluminum would melt. That made a lot of sense to me. He said further that the training fuselages are specially built out of steel.

So whatever it is, I don’t think it has been used for a long time and it might make a great geocache site. Except you know, even though I was not in the security perimeter of the airport I had the heebie geebies, I felt that I was being watched. I hate being stopped by cops or security guards and I would not like to put somebody else in that situation.


I was going to add this to last week’s post. It is the not quite full Strawberry Moon. That’s me, a day late and a dollar short. But here it is.

As many of you know I retired recently. One of the perks of my job was being able to take photos out the windows. So here is a badly done shot, the last photo from my office building. But don’t worry…

I got a drone, so as long as its not too windy and I am not in a drone no fly zone I can pop up and take photos any time I want. So hey, it all worked out for the good.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday. Come join in the fun!!

I got the Pipeline Blues

So I spent a long time in the natural gas business and was around lots of pipelines, big ones, small ones, short ones, long ones, brand new ones, ones that were a lot older than I am. These were used for natural gas, propane, butane, gasoline, crude oil, fresh water, waste water, and what I called blood, guts, and feathers, where everything was mixed together and sent down the line.

Never until now have I seen one used to make music.

What do you think?

Our World – Oxley Nature Center Hike

Last Saturday I ventured out to Oxley Nature Center’s North Woods area. Oxley is pretty popular but most people stay close to the main unit which is a couple miles away from the North Woods. I have been hiking it for years and I love it because I hardly ever see anybody.

The trail was dry for the most part but I got to one section where it looked like I might be up to my knees. I backed out and went via a different route. I don’t mind getting my boots muddy but I hate walking in deep water where I cannot see the bottom.

Much of the trail is in a “tree tunnel” where one is shaded from the hot sun. I love looking up through the ceiling of the tunnel.


Much of the trail is raised and its a good thing.


I saw a ton of frogs. The bigger ones would squeak like a dog toy while they were jumping. That kept startling me for some reason. I was thinking that I had stepped on them. I loved this guy. He was up periscope and not jumpy. During my outing I saw one rat snake, a deer, and tons of birds and squirrels. I was really out a little late for the wildlife. And as usual, I didn’t see any other people.

So above is the route. Kind of short I know but just right on a hot day.

A good time was had by all. I used lots of deet but I did manage to bring four ticks home with me! I had to enlist my son to pull one off my back. Pro Tip: my MIL told me that Blue Dawn dishwashing detergent will cause the ticks to let loose. It has to be blue, not pink. Guess what, she was right!!

I am linking with Our World Tuesday

Skywatch Friday – Flying Over the River

I felt like flying the other day so I took my drone to the west side of the Aransas River and flew a little bit. The video above looks like kind of hurried but when I was making it, thought I was going very slow. Part of the learning process.


And I took a photo of the running and bicycle trails.


A view on the east side of the river looking upstream to the northwest.


And then almost a 180 turn, looking toward downtown Tulsa.


And here’s the pilot, a retired slacker. You can tell by the untucked shirt.

Reconciliation Tower
Tulsa’s Reconciliation Park at its opening years ago.

And of course Tulsa, like lots of other communities across the country, and the world, had protests over the George Floyd murder. They are not only of course protesting the murder but protesting how people of color are treated by the police in general. I didn’t attend any of the protests which by all accounts lively and peaceful. The events were marred by vandalism and looting by a small number of people generally after dark.

The protests came at a poignant time for Tulsa. May 31 was the 99th Anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre where a white mob descended on the black area called Greenwood north of downtown and burned it to the ground. Several dozen people were documented killed and suspicion lingers that there were far more. The Tulsa History Center has a web site dedicated to the event. Nobody was ever charged with any of the crimes and there was never any reparations. The survivors just had to suck it up and survive. Here is a link to a post I wrote on the subject.

It’s a scar that still affects life in Tulsa today. Of course many people think we should ignore it but personally I think it needs to see the full light of day, otherwise we will not have learned anything.

Our World – Tulsa’s Gathering Place Partially Opens


The Gathering Place is Tulsa’s relatively new riverside park. Like lots of other such facilities during this pandemic it has been shut down. They partially opened in late May and I went in one morning to check it out. The paths through the park and the bicycle and scooter pump tracks are open but all the buildings and play areas are still for closed for the present.

ONEOK Boathouse Reflections
Reflection of the ONEOK Boat House

There were hardly any people there. I saw a total of maybe seven or eight people in the brief time I was there, plus a few staff members.


I had somewhere to go or I might have spent some time in one of these rocking chairs. That’s what us old retired guys do, right?

Indian Blanket
Indian Blanket

The vegetation in and around the park is kind of all natural. There are some large grassy lawns but the rest is wildflowers and other ground cover designed for low maintenance and less watering. I have a friend who lived close to the park and her yard became overrun with rats and mice, and snakes who eat them. The park was saying don’t worry, it’s all good. My friend moved and I think the park is trying to be more neighborhood friendly. It doesn’t seem quite so “jungley” any longer.

Pink Ladies
Pink Lady

I have lots of photos of the play structures so this time I spent some time photographing the wildflowers and plants. Didn’t see any rats or snakes I am glad to report. I Id’d the plants by taking photos of the screen with my inaturalist app. If I am wrong let me know!!


I’ve been following the Covid-19 status pretty closely here in Oklahoma. New cases plunged for a while but seem to be inching back up. Deaths and hospitalizations seem to be in a holding pattern for now. June 1 marks further opening in the state and I hope that new cases don’t spike up.

Everybody stay safe and be considerate of others.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday, come join us!!

Skywatch Friday – Tulsa for Tesla Edition

Tulsa Driller Tesla 02-adjust

Tulsa has been buzzing since word came out that Tesla, the electric car manufacturer is considering either Tulsa or Austin, Texas as the site for its Cybertruck manufacturing plant. Our city fathers have jumped into high gear to try to land the plant, including painting a Tesla logo tshirt on the Golden Driller at the fairgrounds.

Tulsa Driller Tesal 03-adjust

It would be a boon for the city. I’m good with it even though I know that in this day and age its pretty much a shakedown to get the local and state governments to put up as much free infrastructure, deferred taxes, training and other expenses as possible. That’s the world we live in though.

Even if we don’t get it, its been a lot of fun. Above is a short video put together by local Tesla drivers convoying their cars through various Tulsa landmarks.

How is your week going?

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday

Camino Winds by John Grisham

Just finished Camino Winds by John Grisham. Talk about a novel written by a writer than has all sorts of literary items already punched. It is a mystery/crime novel involving an author, an island literay bookstore, and mystery readers who help solve the crime. It has a hurricanes, murders, murders during a hurricane, the goofy local cops, the snooty fbi guys and gals, hit men and women, wild gymnastic sex (only referred to not described thank goodness.) And drinking, lots of of lots of alcohol. Don’t try and drink along with the characters, you will not finish the book! Speaking only for a friend of course.

I give this book five stars out of five. Check it out.

Our World Tuesday – Field of Heroes


This Memorial Day I went to Centennial Park in Tulsa right across the street from VFW Local 577. They were sponsoring a “Field of Heroes” in the Park consisting of 402 pairs of boots and ID tags for American Military Members who died while serving their country.


This is the second year they did this. Eventually they would like to reach 13,000 pairs of boots.


It’s a sobering sight, both the array of boots and looking at the individual tags and photos of the service members. They are all so young.


There are lots of remembrances for our military but it never seems like enough.


It’s good to remember all who fell to preserve our country.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday

LaCorona Vida #8 – Heather’s Flowers


My wife is an exercise instructor at several different health clubs in Tulsa. It’s a part time gig right? Except she spends a lot of time at home putting together her routines and figuring out choreography. Music is important her and she doesn’t hardly ever use the same routine twice or resort to generic music as some instructors do.


All the health clubs have closed during the pandemic and so she had some time on her hands and so she launched back into gardening. She is a certified Oklahoma State University Master Gardener and used to be active doing that but motherhood and the exercise instructor career took most of her time.


So she went at it hard this spring. Buying soil to rebuild the beds and an bunch of plants. Gardening is hard work. Me I love the result. I help out carrying the heavy stuff.


So now we have all these beautiful plants to look at.


I didn’t photograph the right plants but she has got a butterfly garden going. We’ve only seen a couple so far.

Indian Blanket

Does anybody out there not love flowers? I think it may be an international language.


I don’t know the names of all these. I’ll get her to help me out when she has time.

What they hay, you could help me out also if you felt led to do so.