Sunday Afternoon at the Oklahoma Aquarium

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The Gas Company had their annual Employee Appreciation Day Sunday afternoon at the Oklahoma Aquarium in the Tulsa suburb of Jenks. We hadn’t been in years and we love the aquarium and so we signed up and off we went.

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The Aquarium has a dazzling variety of fish, everything from mud colored Oklahoma natives to colorful exotics from the tropics.

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They have a great shark tank. It is a great tank but exceedingly difficult for a hack like me to get a decent photograph. The tank is dark and the observation area is a tunnel through the tank and it is dark but mesmerizing. It is kind of hard to take a picture of dark mesmerization. If I were a photographer that would be no problem but I’m not there yet. So I give you this tiny yellow fish instead. What kind of fish is it you ask? I just got through telling you, a tiny yellow fish.

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The star of the show is a green sea turtle in its brand new exhibit. Such a huge creature moving gracefully through the water. This is a great addition to the Aquarium.

Anyway we checked out the fish, said hello to some coworkers, ate our beans, potato salad, hot dogs, and hamburgers and left. A great afternoon.

First Bike Ride of the Year

My employer had a few events during Earth Week and one of them was a presention from a couple people from the The Tulsa Hub (check them out, they do lots of good stuff. They are trying to change lives through bicycling) about basic maintenance on bicycles. I’ve had mine for a few years now and have not done anything so I paid attention and even asked a few questions about several things especially, chain maintenance. I’ve had my bike for several years now and have not done anything besides air up the tires since. So I went to the store and bought the degreaser and the chain oil and got some rags and cleaned and oiled both my bike and Heather’s. Last Sunday I decided to go out for a ride. Heather couldn’t go so I went by myself.

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We live within a mile of a part of Tulsa’s extensive bike path system so I rode my bike from the house over there and made my way east to the Liberty Trail in Broken Arrow paralleling the Creek Turnpike Extension. The Liberty Trail passes very close to my MIL’s house and I have walked over to her house about three times so far. It’s about seven miles so it is not a bad walk at all. One of these days Heather and I will ride our bikes to her house.

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I only stopped to rest once on my leg out. I liked this tree and I liked the water fountain. A miscalculation on my part was not enough water. I brought a water bottle but I thought there was more water available along the path than what there turned out to be. I have a hydration pack that holds 1.5 liters. I might bring that, in addition to a bigger water bottle next time I ride this route.

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And here is a shadow selifie of me at the halfway point. Tired and thirsty.

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I did a little more sightseeing on the way back. I stopped to take a photo of the horse. He (I guess it is a he) walked up to me seeming pretty friendly. He let me rub his nose for a little bit.

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Nice horse but I had to go.

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And I saw this little thing out in the middle of nowhere. I have no idea what it is about. There are lots of roadside memorials in Tulsa in memory of people who died in car accidents but they generally have some information about who the person is.

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Stopped near the end to take this photo. I have taken this shot many times but what I liked about this was that the sun was low enough that the reflections actually illuminated the bottom of the bridge.  Yeah, sorry, I like stuff like that.

Anyway, I got home very tired and thirsty. Just shy of 25 miles. Not bad for an old guy who hasn’t ridden since September. Time to rehydrate with a couple craft beers and a gallon or two of water.

I am linking with “Our World Tuesday

Taking Care of the Kitties

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One of the things we do as a family is a couple times a month we go the Broken Arrow Petsmart and take care of the rescue cats. This is through an organization called Partnering for Pets. We started  on it because son, Logan, needs volunteer hours as part his college requirements but it turns out we really like doing it.

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It only takes a couple of hours to tidy up their crates, clean out the litter boxes and give them fresh food and water plus spend some time with each of them.

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The cats of are such hoots. We love our dogs but we like cats also. Cats have such different personalities and temperments and of course they take everything we do for them as their due. That is part of the reason we love it so much.

I’m linking with Eileen’s Saturday;s Critters

Easter at Nana’s House

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This is Nana, the world’s great MIL. We had Easter dinner at her house this year.

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And this is Nana’s daughter, my wife.

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And Logan, the kid, the big kid.

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We had quite the spread. You can tell we are really heavy drinkers.

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And after dinner, while everybody else is working I am snooping around. These are Heather’s cowboy boots from she was just a toddler. Her grandfather had a ranch you see. No matter, if you live in Oklahoma you have cowboy boots even if you hardly know what a horse looks like. Next the boots is a photo of our son Logan on a horse.

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And this is Nana’s mother’s Easter hat. Nana wouldn’t model it for me. When I was a kid, all the women had Easter hats, and gloves, and white shoes. The little girls had little muffs and me and my brother Bob had bow ties.

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Yep that’s us, rocking the bow ties. Better than muffs but still torture. In case you were wondering, I’m the good looking guy.

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Back to Nana’s mother. These are her Iris’s that Nana transplanted from the family home in western Oklahoma. I love these flowers.

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And this is Nana’s father’s saddle and hat. I love this old family stuff.

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And here is our family photograph. We hope you had a great Easter with family and friends because we sure did.

The Knot Board

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We spent Easter Sunday with my MIL Nana and we had a great meal and visit. I had my camera so I was taking pictures of this that and whatever. Nana has her late husband’s knot board hanging in her garage. You see her husband, Charles, one of the world’s really good guys was really involved in Boy Scouting. He was an Eagle Scout in fact. Charles has been gone a number of years now but in many ways it seems like just a few days ago.

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Charles and his grandson, Logan had a special bond.

Charles was a great story teller and one of my favorites is about scouting. You see Charles went on to become a pharmacist and after he got his degree he went to a small town in southeast Oklahoma and looked up the local Boy Scout Troop and went to the scoutmaster and introduced himself and said that he would like to get involved and was willing to help in any way possible. So the Scoutmaster said that was great and told Charles when and where the Troop met and invited him to the meeting.

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Logan and I went through Cub Scouts but neither of us was interested in continuing with Boy Scouts.

So Charles showed up at the appointed time and the Scoutmaster said “Everybody gather around here.” and then he said “I would like to introduce you to your new Scoutmaster, Charles.”

I loved that story and of course Charles was a great scoutmaster.  The knot board is something that he made for the scouts. Heather and Nana have lots of stories about numerous scout outings. When Charles passed away years later, several of his scouts showed up for the funeral. I think about him every day and still can’t believe that somebody who so full of life is gone.

Our World Tuesday – Half and Half Run at Tulsa’s Oxley Nature Center and Lake Yahola

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For my weekly Wednesday after work run I changed things up a little bit. Instead of going to Turkey Mountain with its rocks, roots, and hills I headed out to the best kept secret trails in Tulsa, the Northwoods trails at Oxley Nature Center and then extend it by running around one of Tulsa’s raw water supply sources, Lake Yahola.

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The Norhwoods trails are not used very much. They don’t even have a parking lot. You just park on the side of the road. I hardly ever see anybody else on them. And there is a chance of seeing deer. I haven’t seen a deer on Turkey Mountain in a long time. The thing about Oxley is that there are very few rocks and no hills. My legs were a little sore and I wanted some distance but I couldn’t face going up and down the hills of Turkey Mountain.

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I did find an old snag that toppled across the trail. A real trail runner would have leaped across it without slowing down. Then there are guys like me who deal with in a different manner.

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There is quite network of trails in the North Woods section but they only add up to 3 miles and they loop around on each other so if you miss a turn it is no big deal.

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So I took the Oxbow lake Trail to get to Lake Yahola.

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And here it is. See the little specs to the left of center on the far shore? That is the high rises of downtown Tulsa just a few miles away.

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I turned to the right and started running on the chat gravel path. I didn’t bring my trail shoes and the gravel was hurting my feet and the grassy part was too soft for really good running. What a cry baby I am!!! I was running into the wind also but I was having the time of my life. I come upon about a dozen fishermen scattered around the lake. There is something peaceful about fishing and watching fishermen.

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About two thirds of the way around the lake I come upon the city water treatment plant. I love infrastructure stuff like this.

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Back close to the main trail at the Oxbow Lakes.

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Fuzzy pic of me with the lake. Do you like my socks?

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Back down to the road. I love how the trees tunnel over the trail. I love running here when there is strong winds because the trees just plain stop the wind and it is neat because you can hear the wind howling through the tops of the trees. I love stuff like that.

Got my run in. Almost six miles at a leisurely pace. Oh well, it is what it is.

I’m linking with “Our World Tuesday

Skywatch Friday – Turkey Mountain -Tulsa’s Urban Wilderness

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A view of Turkey Mountain from across the River.

I spend a lot of time at the Turkey Mountain. It is called an Urban Wilderness with a big emphasis on “Urban.” It sits on the Arkansas River only a few miles from downtown. It has freeways on its north and west side and a major street on the south. On the east side tucked in at the river is a seldom used railroad spur line.

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That is downtown Tulsa in the distance. Along with a pipeline and a powerline to boot.

It has at least three pipelines running through it, two major liquids lines and a large diameter natural gas pipeline. There are two major power lines running.In addition there are remnants of oil wells and some abandoned flow lines and remnants of houses.

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The poop plant in the foreground and Instate I44 crossing the river.

On its northeast side it has a large sewage treatment plant. Sometimes the aroma wafts up on top of the mountain. Sometimes the parking lot is crowded and you have people with their fleece pajamas walking along the trails smoking, talking loudly on the cell phones on speaker mode.

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I love sunsets on the mountain. At this time of day the mountain is deserted.

But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I have run and hiked hundreds of miles on its trails. The rude people never get more than a quarter mile down the trails and get bored and leave. For as much use as it gets there is not much litter. Thousands of people love the place and a while ago when an out of state developer proposed putting an outlet mall of all things on a privately owned portion of the park the community got together and said NO!! And then passed a measure to buy the tract from its owners. A couple of Tulsa companies provided the interim financing so the deal could close.

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That is son on the left during a Fall hike years ago.

Even on its busiest days Turkey Mountain is big enough where you may see only a few people once you get a half mile down the trails. It gives people space and room to breathe.  And the people take care of it.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday

Resources

Urban Wilderness Coalition – A great group of people who led the successful struggle against the Outlet Mall. It looked hopeless at first but they stuck with it and persevered.

Turkey Mountain Web Site – Turkey Mountain is administered by the Tulsa RiverParks Authority. Lots of good info on what is going on.

Miles to go before I sleep…  Blog by Trail Zombie – A great guy who also lives on the mountain. Lots of posts about Turkey Mountain in particular and trail running in general.

 

Outdoor Wednesday – Half and Half Run across the Arkansas River to Turkey Mountain and Back

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On Saturdays I drop the kid off for his Comedy Improv workshop. I have about an hour and a half to do something before I pick him up. Sometimes I go the Philbrook Museum or if I hurry I can get over to the Fairgrounds for the boat show or something. Last Saturday the weather was beautiful and I thought I would go for a run.

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What I call the Bear Fountain. I loved the guy taking a nap on the bench on the far right. The fountain is always a cool spot.

My favorite place for a run is Turkey Mountain but there is not much parking so I decided to park on Riverside Drive and run across the Arkansas River bridge to Turkey Mountain and then run back. It would give me a taste of both trail running and pavement running with no parking hassles.

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Heading west across the Arkansas River. That hill way off yonder ( as we say in Oklahoma) is Turkey Mountain. I know that most places it is just a hill, but it is Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain.

The wind was a gale coming from the south and running across the east west bridge was quite fun. I had to hold my hat to keep it from blowing into the river. I’m cheap you see. I like to wear stuff until it wears out. When I give stuff to Goodwill, there is not a whole lot of use left in it. They say they can use the fiber so give’em what they got. That is all they get from is fiber, with holes in it.

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Across the river, up a little embankment and then into a not so secret entry point into the Turkey Mountain trails system. There are all sorts of little ins and outs to the trails at Turkey. I have been running the trails for years and am still learning things.

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And then on to the Red Trail. The Red Trail is  a short trail that enters and exits the lower parking lot.

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And then I took a branch of the Red Trail that went along a chain link fence.

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Most Okies wear more clothes than these two. We weigh a lot more than they do also.

And then got to the main paved trail where these folks were “Out standing in their field” so to speak. I am glad for their sake that it was a little cool for ticks.

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And then up the steep hill to the lower parking lot. It sounds kind of funny as I write this, “going up a steep hill to the lower parking lot.” Well you should see the climb to the upper parking lot!

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I almost caught him. Badge of shame for a biker is to be passed by an old, fat “runner”

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And then re-enter the red trail down this way.

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And then back on the approach to the bridge across the river. Right behind a bunch of cyclists.

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Downhill and then level all the way to the end!

They sure left me in the dust!! And then back across the river to the car.

Mission Accomplished!! Finished in less than an hour. Had plenty of time to gas up the car and grab lunch for Logan and I at Braums. We needed to get home cuz we had an appointment with ATT concerning Logan’s lost cell phone. But that is another story!!

I’m linking with Outdoor Wednesday