Author Archives: Alan Bates

Our World – Tulsa Oklahoma Flooding – 2019

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We went to Colorado last week and while we were gone, it flooded in our home town of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Our home is high and dry but not everybody is so lucky.

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I take pains not to be a problem and so I didn’t visit where people’s houses were flooded. I took a couple trips to the RiverParks area of Tulsa, a strip of public park along both sides of the Arkansas River as it flows through town.

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In 27 years of living here I have only seen the trail covered for a 50ft section or so once or twice. Now, whole section of the trail are under water and the water is a foot or two higher than what is shown in these photos.

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These are newer photos from Sunday when son and I visited the northern section of the RiverParks. The water is even deeper now and is expected to get worse over the next week or so as it continues to rain in the Arkansas River watershed.

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Check out the Tulsa World site for more photographs of the flooding.

The Arkansas River is flowing swiftly. It now reminds of me the Snake River in Idaho which also moves swiftly.

So what is happening? The Arkansas River gathers water from a huge area. The basin in drains ranges from Leadville and Colorado Springs, Colorado and almost to Santa Fe, New Mexico to Tulsa. It all funnels through Keystone dame above Tulsa a few miles and it is way over flood stage behind the dam.

And to add insult to injury, we have had tornadoes. We spent Saturday night in our desigated safe room, our downstairs guest bathroom, with our cats and dogs in crates and we three humans holding flashlights and our cell phones waiting for the all clear. Our son said at one point that it was all a roll of the dice! Yep that is right son.

We are lucky though. The tornado passed about a mile south of us and our house is high and dry. So we are blessed but are remembering those who are not so fortunate as us.

Here is a link to a live infographic by US Army Corps of Engineers for the Keystone Dam showing lake levels, inflows, outflows, and other data.

I am linking with OurWorld Tuesday

High Plains Skywatch

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This past week we ventured to Colorado Springs from Tulsa for our great nephew’s high school graduation. We had quite the adventure going up, wind, rain, snow. Yep snow in May!!

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Yep, snow, luckily it was very slushy and not icy and Heather’s new car has all wheel drive with a “snow mode.” I love snow mode but not snow.

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Heather found this cool little Casita for us to stay in an older part of Colorado Springs. Ultra cool and snug in the freezing May weather. It was adobe and I love the look of snow and adobe.

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We went to my sister Ellen’s place out in the plains east of town. Here is son Logan out in the pasture.

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Ellen is an artist and she showed off her new “She Shed” where she does her painting.

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And we got to see her horses.

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And I found my BIL Irvin’s geocache out in front of their house.

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The trip home had some great skies that looked threatening but we didn’t have the rain and snow that we had going out. While we were gone Tulsa had some pretty bad flooding that is continuing. Our home is high and dry I can report.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday

Skywatch Friday – Horses and Skies

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I went on a bike ride the other day after work. I took a trail alongside a rural turnpike that has lots of hills and if I am lucky some good skywatch shots. I found these horses, they were not too friendly so I just have photos of their rear ends.

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Headed back, some clouds showed up and threatened rain. It didn’t.

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Another uncooperative horse in a pasture. We have had lots of rain and the grass is high and green.

I had a good outing of about 16 miles of some nice hills and good scenery. It doesn’t get much better than that.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday

ABC Wednesday – “S” is for …

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S is for Sailboat – this one seen during a family kayaking expedition on the Bon Secour River in Alabama near Mobile Bay.

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S is for Sarcophagus for the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri.

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S is for Sasquatch. I met this friendly fellow at a trail race here in Oklahoma.

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S is for School Desk.

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And S is for Seals. Or maybe it is a sea lion!!

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S is also for Sea Plane. This one landed on the intercoastal canal in Gulf Shores, Alabama and taxied to a restaurant for lunch. The pilot and the passengers. The plane didn’t get lunch. But you probably alraeady knew that.

I am linking with ABC Wednesday

Our World – Buck Atom on Route 66

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Buck Atom

Route 66 cuts right bisects Tulsa from east to west and we have a bunch of Route 66 monuments in Tulsa and the surrounding suburbs. Well we have one more. Buck Atom, a 21 foot tall statue holding a rocket marks the location of a tourist shop. It is right on Route 66 where it is 11th street just east of downtown Tulsa. Right next to Meadow Gold sign.

The unveiling was quite the scene with crowds of people and speeches. The mayor even showed up. Read all about it in local newspaper.

I love the goofiness of your typical Route 66 attraction. They are made with the express purpose of being an attraction. If you are going to do that, make it stand out is what I think and I think that is what Buck Atom does. Oh well, at least Buck Atom was done entirely with private money (as far as I know!)

Are you a Route 66 fan? I am kind of. I like the attractions and the many geocaches on the road but to get from point A to point B give me an interestate highway!!

I am linking with Our World Tuesday

Alaskan Smokejumpers

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Small Forest Fire in Idaho, early 1960’s. Photo by Dad.

My father was in the Forest Service and early in his career he fought a lot of fires. He was never a smoke jumper though. He rode in a truck and then hoofed it to the fire. Later on, on big fires he stayed behind the lines in various capacities. During dry summers he would be gone almost the whole time to Idaho, Montana, California and then show up one day unannounced and exhausted.

National Geographic Online has a superb article about Alaskan Smokejumpers along with some great photos. Hit the link to check it out.

We had a few family friends who were smokejumpers early in their career. And it turns out that I had friend in high school who became one. His career in the Forest Service overlapped my fathers and he told me on facebook a lot of nice things about my Dad that I had never heard before. Dad was never one to talk about himself much. So, facebook is good for things besides political arguments and cat videos!!

I’ve seen a few big forest fires from afar. I have never seen anything else as terrifyingly awesome even from miles away as a big fire with a huge column of smoke over it. I never felt a need to go fight them!! I respect those who did though.

Skywatch Friday – Arkansas River Views

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Since daylight savings time I am bicycling along the Arkansas River Trails here in Tulsa so I get to see lots of sunsets and other views of the river.

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I love the old Railroad Bridge converted to a cool pedestrian bridge. It is blocked off and is going to be replaced soon.

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How romantic is this, a golden sunset at the tank farm of one of our local refineries. Ah, the sweet smell of sour crude.

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The redbuds have lost their blooms by now but hey, I am showing you a photo anyway.

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And some purplish tones from another sunset.

Check out other Sky posts at Skywatch Friday

ABC Wednesday – “R” is for Railroads and More

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R is for Railroad Engine. This is the gigantic Frisco 4500 Steam Engine called the Meteor. Lovingly restored by retired railroad employees and now on display at the Route 66 Village in Tulsa.

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R is also for Ranch. That’s my wife on the right feeding a trio of guard donkeys at a ranch owned by some my wife’s family in western Oklahoma. Yes, guard donkeys are a thing. They protect cattle from predators such as coyotes. Check it out here. Maybe you need one and didn’t even know it. If nothing else, they are pretty comical.

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R is for Ratrod. Ratrods are my favorite kind of hot rod. People spend all sorts of money making them look rusty and run down. They are hot rods with an ironic sense of humor.

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R is also for Route 66. It goes right through the middle of Tulsa and our town is full of the highway’s landmarks. My brother visited last November and he turned 66 so we did a bunch of photos of him turning “66 on Route 66” Above is Tulsa’s latest monument to Route 66 on the east side of Tulsa.

So, that is my R’s for this week. Join in at ABC Wednesday

Our World – Tour de Tulsa 2019

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So Saturday morning found me in Tulsa’s Tour de Cure, a benefit ride sponsored by the Tulsa Bicycle Club. They have five rides varying in length between eight and 101 miles. This is a ride rather than a race. So there is no competition or awards or any of that. I’ve run literally dozens of runs but this was only my second ride. There starting gun. Everybody is just standing around talking and then they start going.

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Today’s ride was a ride of left turns in traffic starting right away. At least the first one we had traffic control with the police. The rest of them we were on our own.

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So we cruised down Southwest Boulevard (aka Route 66) for a bit, taking up both lanes.

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And then turned right over the railroad tracks and got on Avery Drive heading west past the refineries, trash to energy plants, oilfield fabrication shops. Avery Drive is a popular ride for bicyclists which is great but some of them get run off the road or hit every few years but angry or distracted people. My prayer was just to survive it.

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No worries though. The motorists were courteous and gave us lots of room. So I’ll live to ride it another day. My problem is that I ride almost exclusively trails on my own. Roads make me nervous.

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I got stressed when Avery drive ended and we had to do two left turns to negotiate the very busy high 97 and 51 intersections. No choice but to get in the left turn lane and ignore the freight truck behind me, twice.

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So after all that we got to a rest stop. Time to get something to drink and a snack and rest a little bit. That’s me, the fat guy with the white over blue shirt or jersey.

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And here is my old bike. You don’t see too many hybrid bikes on rides like this. Or bikes with rear view mirrors and a bell. Don’t you laugh at me!!

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And then back to it and we ended up winding our way through downtown Sand Springs. I was able to keep a few riders in front of me and they seemed to know the route because I didn’t see any obvious course markings or signs or anything.

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And we ended up on the Katy Trail that went most of the way back to Tulsa. No more city streets except the last mile or so.

The end is pretty low key. Since they don’t time or have awards, you just end your ride. Get something to eat and drink and go home.

I really enjoyed myself. Thank you to the sponsors, and organizers, and the army of volunteers who make these things happen.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday

Skywatch Friday – Springtime Skies

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Wow, we had some storms Tuesday night and tornadoes all over green country. We were fine and everybody I know is fine but one unfortunate person died when their car got swept off a freeway interchange. The car was found a mile with the person’s body in it. Please don’t drive into high water folks, especially if it is moving quickly.

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We are used to rain here. Tulsa gets an average of 43 inches per year and things dry out quickly. I found out in my research that the US average is 39 inches so we are not as drenched as I thought we were.

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A final shot from my office window. I love the clouds. That is the Arkansas River off in the distance toward the left center of the photo.

I hope everybody is having a great and safe week!

I am linking with Skywatch Friday