Author Archives: Alan Bates

Still Hiking Skywatch

This is kind of an “add on” to my last post about hiking on Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain last Sunday morning. Don’t tell me that I am the only blogger that milks all the posts he or she can out of an experience.

Turkey Mountain Pond Topaz

What are called ponds everywhere else are called lakes on Turkey Mountain. Don’t ask me why, its just the way it is. Whatever you call them, they are full which is unheard of this late in the summer. Want to know something else? (I am going to tell you anyway, so say yes, okay) I didn’t activate our lawn sprinkler system until this past weekend. It has rained so much we have not watered our yard once.

Turkey Mountain Pond Topaz 02

The ponds are overflowing and the vegetation is lush. I was soaking in DEET so I didn’t get any tick or chigger hitchhikers thank goodness but I was kind of dumb and didn’t take any water which was a mistake even in just a three mile hike.

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It always lifts my spirits being out in nature. I didn’t really see anybody else. I love getting back home after my outings and checking instagram for Turkey Mountain. There were at least 25 other people claiming they were all by themselves. It is a testament on how big the area is that we can all be there and not get in each others way.

Do you have a place you can go to get away from it all? I hope so.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday

Sunday Morning Hike on Turkey Mountain

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Sunday morning I let my heathen pagan self run loose and decided to go on a hike on Turkey Mountain. Nobody was there!! I started from the lower parking lot and and after soaking myself with DEET headed up the hill. After I got to the upper parking lot I went on a modified Snake Trail route.

Turkey Mountain old oilfield  Lightroom Adjust 01 (1 of 1)

Turkey Mountain was a rowdy place back in the day. Whisky stills, oilwells, farms and ranches. There are still remnants of houses and oilwells there. This is the remnants of a oilwell. A pump jack sat on the foundation closest to us and the motor running it was in the back. There are no longer any operating oil wells on the Mountain.

Turkey Mountain Leaf Detail Topaz

I was looking for color and I found these leaves turning color.

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Sorry for the fuzzy photo. Using the online wildflower id at discoverlife.org the nearest match was “Asiatic Dayflower.” Don’t know if I believe it or not. What do you think?

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The Snake Trail crosses this creek and then loops back across it again. This is in the vicinity of the last time I saw deer on Turkey Mountain. Sometimes when I am there late in the day when it is dark I can hear deer off down the creek. I guess it is deer, either that or a Sasquatch maybe.

Turkey Mountain Trail Flower Lightroom Adjust 01 (1 of 1)

I have no idea, but I like the photo. Some sort of cluster of flowers I found.

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Black Eye Susan’s anybody?

I went a little over three miles and was exhausted. It was cool and overcast when I started but got hot and extremely humid before I was done. Like a dummy I didn’t bring any water. But hey, I had my Church on the Mountain. Congregation of one. We didn’t sing, we pondered, prayed and expressed gratitude for the many blessings that God gives us.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday

Skywatch Friday – 4th of July Edition 2019

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July 4, 2019 Tulsa Fireworks Display

It is July 4 Season where we celebrate the Declaration of Independence gaining our freedom from Great Britain. A day of fireworks and eating way too much. Our family will be going to Tulsa’s Veteran’s Park to watch the fireworks show, and eat too much.

Tulsa’s Gilcrease Museum has a certified copy of the Declarations of Independence and for the first time in several years they brought it out of the vaults and put it on display to the public and so I went and checked it out. It was awe inspiring to see it and astonishing to see how faded it was. They were allowing photographs and I did not take one because it would not have been a good photo. Still, being able to view such an ancient, important, and foundational document was uplifting.

Gilcrease purple blooms Topaz studio

After I viewed the Declaration of Independence I wandered outside and found some flowers.

Gilcrease Lensball fabric installation

I also found a fabric art installation by Rachel Hayes. I used by Lensball to take a photo of it.

Gilcrease Pioneer Woman

And I ventured further into their grounds (which are not gated and are free!!!) to the far end to see the Frontier Woman Statue. That lady has been churning butter and looking to see something for about twenty years now. Probably waiting on her husband to come home.

Gilcrease Cabin

And their is this cabin nearby. The door is always open and I always close it because there is nothing worth looking at inside and it takes a better photo with the door shut. Otherwise I get this big dark spot right in the middle of the photo.

Gilcrease Deer Sculpture

And I stopped by on the way back to the parking lot I stopped to say hello to the Twins. That is the name of this sculpture by Jay O’Meilia. I love it.

July 4, 2019 Tulsa, Oklahoma

Thanks for staying with me on this meandering SWF post, that doesn’t show much sky.

Skywatch Friday

Our World – The Taste of Summer

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I am not a vegetarian by any means but in the summertime I love fresh produce and fruit. The Tulsa suburb of Bixby used to be known for their truck farms and fresh produce. Will guess what the the flat lands with rich soil that make it suitable for farming is also loved by developers for building thousands of houses in nice subdivisions. So the truck and grass farms are rapidly disappearing but some of the produce places live on supplied from areas further away or even Texas, Arkansas, and Georgia.

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From a recent visit, some fresh peaches from Porter, Oklahoma.

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Local vine ripened tomatoes.

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From left to right, fresh green beans, new potatoes, corn on the cob and okra.

Luckily I’m married to a woman who knows what to do with fresh produce. We eat well all sorts of produce all summer long. Green beans and new potatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, orkra, corn on the cob (and chowder), various peppers, marinated cucumbers and onion, and zucchini. Sign me up!! Not to mention peaches, plums, blue berries, blackberries, cherries and other fruit.

How about you? Do you have access to fresh fruit and vegetables? Do you like them?

I am linking with Our World Tuesday

Exchanging Postcards with Postcrossing

One of the things I really like about blogging is being able to personally communicate with people around the world who I normally would never encounter. The exchanges are pretty brief but over time I think I have a pretty good idea of who the person is and what their life is like and I think they have an idea of who I am.

Several years ago I joined Postcrossing, a free online service that matches up people to send and receive postcards. You don’t really exchange postcards with one person. You request an adddress from the site and they send it to you and once that party gets your card, then your address is given to somebody else, so it is kind of like a chain. By now I have sent and received about 217 cards over the several years I have participated.

You send a card and it takes about 10 days to a month for the party to get it and then it takes about that amount of time to get a card back. It works out that if I send a card once a week, then I get a card about once a week. Remember the days when getting the mail was fun? Postcrossing makes it fun again. I love getting the cards and reading the messages and making just another tiny little connection with somebody on the other side of the world.

The latest card I got is this one from somebody in Portugal. They wrote about tiles and their importance in Portugal and how they are used extensively in the buildings. I just love little tidbits of information like that. So far I have either sent or received cards from 43 different countries. It is a lot of fun. The site is free to use although you can donate if you want. The expensive part is buying the international stamps. Postcards can be as little or as much as you want to pay.

People are gracious about any card they get but in general they don’t like multi-photo postcards nor do they like advertising postcards. When you get a person’s address there is a link to a profile where they can state what their preferences are. I buy postcards a lot so I can generally get something close to what they like. So far it seems that the Oklahoma themed cards are the most popular especially those with a Native American theme such as maps showing where the original territories were.

So if you want to do a little armchair travelling Postcrossing may be for you.

Our World – Tulsa’s Downtown Churches

Tulsa is unique for having thriving downtown churches unlike many big cities where they are just barely hanging on. Here are three of them and a bonus photo.

Holy Family Cathedral - Hdr - Topaz Studio

This is one of my favorite churches, the Catholic Holy Family Cathedral with its unusual three spires. This year it is 105 years old.

First Christian Church

Right down the street is the First Christian Church of Tulsa with its unusual tiled roof. It looks a little Middle Eastern to me.

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And my favorite, the Boston Avenue United Methodist Church on the very southern end of downtown. An zig zag art-deco masterpiece designed by Bruce Goff and Adah Robinson. It was barely finished when the Depression hit and church legend has it that the leading members had to work like crazy to keep it from being foreclosed and turned into a movie theater.

Arkansas River Bridge Topaz Studio

This is the bonus photo. It is not of a church. It is the underside of the 21st street bridge over the Arkansas River in Tulsa. I caught it in the afternoon late enough to be lighted by the sun to the northwest (to the right roughly) and early enough where the light had some intensity to it. And I helped along a little with a Topaz Studio filter. It kind of looks like the inside of cathedral doesn’t it? Oh throw me a bone somebody!

There are several other very active vital churches downtown with interesting buildings. I’ll be posting about those later, maybe. I don’t plan my posts much.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday. Come join in!!

The RQ 4 Global Hawk Surveillance Drone

Airmen from Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., welcome the first RQ-4 Global Hawk to the base May 26, 2011. The arrival marked the beginning of a new era of remotely piloted aircraft at the base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Johnny Saldivar)

The big news last week was Iran shooting down an American Drone over the Strait of Hormuz. Our government claims that it was flying in international airspace and Iran says it was in their airspace. Subsequently our President authorized and then cancelled a retaliatory strike against Iran. I wasn’t paying too much attention the drone itself until I read in the news that it cost $190 million (other sources are saying $220 million), and it had a wingspan bigger than that of the Boeing 747 airliner (that turned out to be an untrue claim.)

Northrop Grumman : RQ-4A : Global Hawk
Photo posted to Flickr Commons by San Diego Air and Space Museum

So using my friend Mr. Google I checked the plane out. It has a wingspan of 130 feet according this US Air Force Fact Sheet and has achieved a flight time of 34 hours. It is cram packed with all sorts of surveillance and electronics gear and has no offensive capability. They can fly at 60,000 feet at a leisurely 310 knots and were considered hard to down with anti-aircraft missiles but not impossible.

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Photo posted to Flickr Commons by San Diego Air and Space Museum

We have had them operational since 2011 and we have about 30 or so in our fleet. (Or at least we did until last week.)

So anyway, I am glad that our President called off the strike although it kind of puts us in a weak position now. Beyond that though I found out about this amazing aircraft that gives us some amazing capability. I’d love to be able to see one of these airplanes in real life.

Interestingly, according to this Wired article, Iran has attacked American drones before causing one to crash in Yemen and the other escaped. They were the MQ-9 Reaper Drones which according the Air Force are designed for dynamic execution attacks and surveillance. In 2011 Iran downed an RQ 170 Sentinel Surveillance Drone. According the Wired article, Iran reverse engineered the Sentinel and deployed their own version which doesn’t make me too happy.

9/80 Update

For the last several years I get every other Friday off. Over the course of two weeks I work nine days for 80 hours. I love it. I got criticized by a former boss for actually taking the day off. It was like huh??

So this Friday, Heather had to go teach an exercise class so I went to get the oil changed in my car. Afterward i went looking for a geocache in this neighborhood park which made me a little nervous because it said “residents only” and then after I went across the bridge it looked like I would have to walk across the fringes of peoples back yards to reach the cache. So, as we say in the energy industry, I plugged and abandoned that plan. I like geocaching away from people, not in their back yards.

Heather and I went to a yin yoga class at our gym. It was great. The instructor had us fold our bodies in pretzels. At least it felt that way. I have very stiff hamstrings and the instructor had me do the modified pretzel. We did the dragon, the pigeon, the swan, and a few others. I have hit yoga pretty hard this year. I think this was my 18th class this year. I may not be able to do the full bore pretzel pose but I am a lot more flexible. Not that anybody but me can tell. It was the International Day of Yoga today, did you know that. It is also the Summer Solstice. Opportunities for all sorts of pagan worship!!

Everybody got home and we decided to go eat lunch at Torchy’s Tacos. Son Logan is kind of like me. He loves lunch!! I haven’t missed lunch in a long time. If I ever do, worry about me. He had a burrito, Heather had one taco and I had two. I love their brisket taco and I tried their ahi tuna taco. Not bad for raw fish is what I say. I don’t have to worry about people stealing bites of it from me.

Next to Trader Joes where I got very sad news. They are not selling my beloved pumpernickel pretzels any longer. They said they lost their supplier. Sad is what I have to say. I found some Skyhook Wine. Telling young engineers to get a skyhook lined up is a long favored gentle hazing by older people to younger people in the energy business. Along with getting a stripe of paint and other things. All in good fun. We don’t do hazing any longer. Probably for the best. I will say that Trader Joes is not where I go when I want to spend twenty bucks on a bottle of wine. Nope, I’m a two buck chuck guy all the way. Even if it is more than two bucks these days.

That is Heather’s hands picking out tomatoes and Dotson Produce in Bixby. There is a meme in facebook that says “It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato” (by Lewis Gizzard) These are not home grown but slice those babies up, put some salt and pepper on them, parmesan if you are feeling fancy, and what you have is pure heaven. I dare you to think an unpleasant thought while eating them.

And that is about it. Pretty exciting huh? Great day off is what I say.

Skywatch Friday – on the River

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I am loving the big blue skies and the white fluffy clouds we are temporarily having. I say temporary because it clouds up and rains quite a bit these days.

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The Arkansas River is still high but within its banks and it is muddy as a soaked cow pasture.

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I love the big cottonwoods on the river. Even if some of them are suffering from storm damage.

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Almost all the River Parks trails are open now. They had a big sinkhole to fill in and repave here. There is still considerable work to be done getting the lights going again and fixing the plumbing at the restrooms. There was considerable damage to the river banks and they are trying to figure out how to rebuild and stabilize them.

So that’s the latest with the sky situation in Tulsa, Oklahoma. How they looking where you live?

I am linking with Skywatch Friday