I went on a run at Tulsa’s Oxley Nature Center this week. I have taken off the whole week between Christmas and New Years and the weather has been quite mild. Unlike other parks around town, Oxley has their trails extremely well marked some even with gates like this. I’m a Forest Service kid and I love this type of construction. And, who can resist checking out a trail called the “Meadowlark Prairie Trail.”
And I am donating a free shadow selfie at no extra cost.
I am linking this post with Fences Around the World
as a PS I am ashamed to say that I have subscribed to Photoshop for over a year and just this week have been figuring out how it works. I had always discounted Lightroom before but I have learned it is an integral part of the whole process. You do the easy edits in Lightroom and then pass the photo easily on to Photoshop. And then you can pass it back. Easy Peasy. Plus I have some of the Topaz Filters and have learned that the they are easily integrated into Photoshop as well. In the photo above I used I used a free Nik Filter from Google. They made them free in March of 2016 and they are very powerful. Anyway, they are integrated into Photoshop also.
I feel kind of dumb but having a little time to study things shows me that I have been wasting a lot of time. Better late than never I guess.
Saturday I went for a walk at Oxley Nature Center‘s North Woods. I love it there because it is remote, off the beaten path, and I rarely see anybody.
I especially like it when it is windy because there is enough trees and brush to block the wind. It is near still at the ground and I love the sound of the wind in the tops of the trees.
The trails are well kept. This time of year there is a thick matt of dried leaves that announces your presence as you walk along and sends the big and small critters scurrying.
I started in late afternoon and the low sun made all the leaves radiant with color.
There is something about a bench on a trail overlooking a creek that is restful without even sitting on it.
The woods loom over parts of the trails. I call these tree tunnels.
I love the color of some of the oak leaves.
Another tree tunnel.
The sun is getting low. Heading across my favorite boardwalk. There is a geocache here that took me three years to find. And one day I saw it without looking for it.
Headed back to the car and saw these two critters. We watched each other for a while. I would move up twenty paces and wait twenty seconds, and then move up another twenty paces and so on. They got tired of my game and scampered off.
A little bit further I found this single deer. She played my game and let me get a little closer before she turned on her heel and left.
I didn’t set any speed records but I had a good time. Didn’t see anybody else. I wasn’t looking for anybody either.
I’m linking with Our World Tuesday
I have been after a geocache named “That’s Just Rid(dle)iculous!!!” by a geocacher named M5. (Geocachers have names, I’m known as YogiABB.) Its puzzle cache which means one has to solve a puzzle to find the cache.
This puzzle involves arithmetic and some baffling wordage about the three kids and the sum of their ages, and the product of the their ages, and one’s a muggle and oh my. I don’t know what is going on.
Ithought I had it so I went out the area and bushwhacked to what i thought was ground zero and looked here and there and up there and down here and around and around. so I didn’t find it.
I didn’t find the cache but I had a pleasant hour in the woods, Plus One for ME! And found a new secret trail!! Score One More for Me.!! It is not very long but it is sweet.
So I’ll take that.
Exciting news to many of us here in Oklahoma. The National Park Service announced the designation of Turkey Mountain’s Red, Blue, and Yellow trails (about 7 miles total) as part of the National Recreation Trails and will be added to the National Trails System. The announcement comes just in time for National Trails Day.
No, this doesn’t mean that the Feds are coming in to take over the trails, the designation recognizes existing trails built and maintained by others. The National Park Service will provide special trail markers and add it to their web site. The main thing is that the designation provides additional credibility to those who are trying to get grants for Turkey Mountain.
Kudos to the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition who led the effort behind the scenes to get the designation. UWC is quite an organization. They started last year in response to a tone deaf effort by the City of Tulsa and Simon Properties to build a cheesy outlet mall on Turkey Mountain. Thanks to the efforts of TUWC and other organizations, the community rose up in opposition and Simon is proceeding on building the mall at a more appropriate location. I was amazed, do you know how many times Oklahoman’s are successful in opposing bad development ideas? Very few times is the answer.
So this is great news but the preservation of Turkey Mountain is still a process more than event. Steps are continuing to be made by both private and public entities. The citizens of Tulsa passed a bond issue to provide funds for the purchase of the proposed Simon Malls site. After the close on that purchase, the River Parks Authority, who administer the land, installed new cable and post fencing to keep vehicles off that property. The vehicles were tearing the trails up and some of our fellow citizens were dumping their trash.
So we have recognition from the Feds which helps but Turkey Mountain still needs lots of support from the community.
Read the Tulsa World Article on the designation
Download a map and check the trails for yourself.
Check out the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition, get involved.
Sunday I decided to explore a new area with Logan. It is the land west west of Chandler Park is far northwest Tulsa. I was inspired by the facebook posts of TrailZombie Ken who is my guide pretty much for anything having to do with trails and trailrunning in Oklahoma.
We start out at the very southwest end of Chandler Park and cross the gate and head down the road. The first thing you run into is this sign. This is the Compass Industries Landfill EPA Superfund Site. A gazillion dollars was spent cleaning up “…620,000 cubic yards of solid, liquid and sludge wastes, including acids, caustics, solvents and potentially carcinogenic materials” in a former limestone quarry. The cleanup was paid for by the polluters themselves but all that stopped in 1995 and now we taxpayers get to pay for cleanups. I guess because it is unfair to ask the polluters to pay the expenses. It might cut into their campaign contributions budget or something.
We go a little further and we find the that the fence has been breached in a major way. I wonder what kind of morons trespass out there on a regular basis?
Shortly thereafter the trail gets away from the site and continues on west. We only saw one other person during our outing. Turkey Mountain is great but on nice weekends some of the main trails get crowded and Logan doesn’t like the constant bikers coming up behind us. No traffic problems at Chandler Park, yet.
And then it got a little rocky and I spent 40 fruitless minutes looking for a geocache and we continued our trek until the trail looped around to Avery drive.
We took a little break and then decided to head back on a different route.
If it looks steep, it is.
Just ask Logan, he’ll tell you.
We got into some of rock formations that make Chandler popular with the local bouldering and climbing enthusiasts. We are not into any of that.
Logan took a picture of the old man in full nerd regalia standing on a rock.
So it was a nice easy out and back introduction. I can see when daylight savings time returns that I’ll be coming out here some to do my Wednesday night runs. The area is lots bigger than Turkey Mountain but literally about 1% as many people. I’ll be learning the trails and looking forward to it.
Timely column today in the Tulsa World: Do we even need Chandler Park? I say yes!!
Have you been anywhere new lately?
Linking with Our World Tuesday
I had a day off today. I had it all to myself because Heather went off to an Autism Conference in Norman, Oklahoma and Logan had to go to school. So I kissed Heather goodbye at 6 am and made the kid breakfast and made sure that he was dressed and ready to go and off we went to his school. After I dropped him off I headed up to Tulsa’s Oxley Nature Center. Turkey Mountain gets all the press, and the people, but Oxley is a gem also and its North Woods Loop Trail is wonderful and deserted. In all the years I have been going there I have seen somebody else there once. I love Turkey Mountain, but the problem is so does everybody else.
And this was my first trail run since my injury on Turkey Mountain back in September. I wanted somewhere that was flat with no rocks. Oxley fits the bill. Plus it is just flat out beautiful. Turkey Mountain will always be my favorite but Oxley is my go to place when I don’t want to deal with rocks and and hills, and lots of people.
I got there about eight in the morning and I have to tell you that I saw lots of deer. I didn’t get a single photo of them. I saw them running through the brush, swimming across lakes and bounding around all over the place. You will just have to take my word for it.
Here is the data on my so called run. I ran quite a bit and walked quite a bit. I went looking for two geocaches and found one. After my jaunt at Oxley I went home, cleaned up, and headed up to Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum. They have an Andy Warhol exhibit going on and I felt ah, well, so what until I actually looked at it and saw a bunch of art that I had only seen in magazines. Warhol’s screen prints of Marilyn Monroe, Mao Tse Tung, and John Wayne plus a bunch of other works. It was amazing. I always thought of Warhol has a lightweight celebrity artist but I’ve changed my mind. They didn’t allow any photography of the exhibit so you will just have to check out the link to see for yourself.
After Warhol, I checked out the gardens of Philbrook. I don’t know what I like better, the gardens of Philbrook or its art. Don’t make me choose is all I can say. The Tempietto above is the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen.
Villa Philbrook, the heart of the museum, used to be a house. Not for me is what I say.
Eric Baker’s glass and steel installation, Oklahoma Autumn, is my favorite work in the gardens.
I was also taken by Theordore Van Soelen and his Tesuque (Dark Houses). You see my folks were living at the Tesuque Ranger Station when I was born. That was in the day before health insurance so Dad called the hospital’s in Santa Fe and Espanola, New Mexico and got bids on getting a baby birthed. Espanola won. It cost like $95 or something like that. I’m not like Ben Carson who is running for president so just take my word for it.
I love the pottery from Acoma Pueblo.
And the black on black pottery of Maria Marinez is wonderful.
And here is something different. A catlinite pipe inlaid with lead. I’m not sure that smoking with that would be good for you. It sure looks like though.
So a pretty active day for me, so far about 18,800 steps or over nine miles. Not bad for a guy with a bum knee. Actually they are both sore right now.
I didn’t hear about the news from Paris until pretty late in the day. How sad. I really don’t know what the answer is to radical Islam. They seem to have no regard for life.
On our recent vacation to Hawaii one of our stops was the island of Maui. Maui was kind of frustrating. We signed up for a couple of excursions and neither one of them turned out the way we planned. We signed up for a snorkeling excursion that was scrubbed because of fuel pump problems with the boat that was supposed to take us but that may have been a good thing the locals told us because swells were kind of high and it would not have been a pleasant boat ride. So, okay plus we booked the excursion through the ship so they refunded everything 100%. I think we may have dodged a bullet, more to come on that in a later post.
The other excursion, we didn’t go through the ship, we signed up online through “Hike Maui” a local Maui outfit that does excursions independent of the ship but that coordinates the timing of some of their excursions with the schedule of the ship’s coming and goings. Well we signed up way ahead of time and the way it is that there are no refunds. The trouble was that after we signed up, Logan badly sprained his ankle and had to wear a big ole “boot.” A medieval torture contraption updated with hard plastic and numerous velcro straps.
So anyway we thought we would go to the pickup spot at the designated time and talk to the guide. He looked pretty hesitant and talked about how muddy it would be and the rocks, boulders, and roots we would encounter and that we would have to walk through water a lot and climb and that we need to think of this as more of an adventure hike because it definitely a walk through a city park. Of course the more he talked about how tough it is the more I wanted to go. He capped it off by saying that if it were him, he would not go. Oh. So Heather said, Alan you go, we’ll stay here. I was reluctant but I got on the van.
And then the guide went and talked to Heather and Logan some more then next thing I knew they got on the van also. The plan was that the guide thought there would be a couple of waterfalls that they could go to without going the rest of the trip. So off we went
It seemed it was about a half hour drive or so to the parking lot through a lot of interesting landscape. Lots of cane sugar fields and other things to see. Our guide a very engaging young man gave us a running commentary of everything we saw. He talked about the heavy environmental cost of cane sugar growing and a lot of the natural history of area and good restaurants and bars to try. He was definitely environmentally minded and had a lot of insights.
We got to the parking lot and it started raining. Not too hard but pretty steady, the kind of steady that tells you that is not going to quit any time soon. We got out of the van and he passed out the lunches for later and off we went. He stopped quite often to point out a tree a tree, bush, or plant and explain what it was, whether it was indigenous to the island or where it came from. He was a walking encyclopedia of plants. Many of them were edible and we’d try them. After a short while he pointed Heather and Logan to a gate and said that where they needed to go was that way.
Right after Heather and Logan split off we entered the above kind of obstacle. There is no way that Logan could have done that with his bum ankle. I started worrying right away about them two because we were going to be gone for about three more hours and that is a long time to wait in the rain.
But as we pressed on ahead we rain into a canal. Maui’s extensive canal system was installed starting in the 1870’s by the sugar can growers of the central valley to move water from the windward side of Maui where there is lots of rain to the valley where it is arid. It is an engineering marvel but very controversial locally. It was basically built by hand. It is known as the “East Maui Irrigation System.” I thought the whole thing is fascinating. The sugar industry dominated Hawaii for over a 100 years but no longer with the rise of international business and corn syrup sugar cane is a dying industry.
Anyways we journeyed on sometimes walking on two track roads or single track paths and often up streams like this. Those dang rocks were often pretty slippery and again I was glad Logan was along because that would not have worked out. Our hike took us to five waterfalls and they were all beautiful. In some the water was deep enough for people to dive in. The scene was all very exotic for this guy from Oklahoma.
The owners of the land leave the trails open to public which is exceedingly generous. There are no signs though and the trails are maze. I wouldn’t attempt to hike this without a guide unless I knew where I was going because it would be easy to get lost. Besides our guide kept up a walking commentary on everything we saw.
More of the trails. It was a lot of hard work. Somewhere along here, or actually before this I lost my eyeglasses. That’s right I suddenly noticed they were gone and even though I backtracked a ways I couldn’t find them. Oh well.
Hiking along the canal system. The sporting people got in the canal and went through the tunnel walking in the canal. I took the path the left around the tunnel.
Another one of the waterfalls and pools. These are such a treasure and again very generous of the landowners to allow people to see them. No admission charge or anything.
Another waterfall. I don’t think that it was this one but at one of them, a girl in another group showed up with one of those thong or g-string bikinis with her butt just out there for everybody to see, women, men, children everybody got a view whether they wanted to or not. I guess she was proud of it or something. Generally at these pools there was a lot of talking going on but everybody stopped talking while she paraded around. Our guide had a look of “seriously girl” on his face. I generally feel free to take a picture of everything I see in a public place but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’m not a prude but “seriously girl?” is my attitude also. Of course maybe I am a prude. Later on in the trip on the island of Kauai I saw mothers of young children wearing the same type suit. Or lack of suit.
And this was the next to last pool of the day, Twin Falls right by the road. By this time I was really concerned about Heather and Logan because the rain was still falling and there wasn’t any shelter. Still no bars on the cell phone, and no sign of them and this was where they were supposed to be hanging out.
So I walked around and around and talked to people. Suddenly my cell phone found a bar up popped a some text’s. They were already back at the ship. With the rocks and stuff Logan could’t get down to the pond he supposed to go to so they went back to the parking lot and got a ride home from the same guide service but a different guide. I should have known that Heather was resourceful.
So I was able to relax a little bit.
The last pool of the day. The guide was talking about how almost everybody misses it even though it is right by the parking lot. Like I said, one can hike these trails by themselves but you will miss a lot. The trails are a maze and it is easy to get turned around. While I was looking for my crew some lady stopped me in the parking lot and told me should couldn’t find any of the falls even though she could hear the river. I pointed her down the trail to this pool. I hope that she made it.
All in all it was quite an adventure we had a great guide that paced things to make sure that everybody was keeping up, pointed out a lot of the local natural history to us and made things very interesting. I would recommend Hike Maui to anybody except I would say that this particular hike is a lot more strenuous than what they put on their web site. If I were to do it over again I would bring along some sturdy hiking sandals or something that could get soaked and muddy and cleaned off as well along with some tech clothes to wear in the rain because cotton is not what is needed.
Or if you want to go hike it yourself here is a map. Just look for the Twin Falls fruit stand on the road to Hana about thirty minutes or so east of Kahului, the major town in Maui.
Saturday morning I got up at dark thirty and headed out to western Oklahoma to Lake McMurtry to run the 12K portion of the Lake McMurtry Trail Run. They also had 25K and 50K events. The people who run these trail runs are hard core and they consider the 12K to be kind of like a fun run or something.
The Race Director, Trail Zombie got us all organized and everything with a few simple directions. Mainly don’t get lost and don’t cheat. TZ as we call him directs several races during the year, leads weekly runs on Turkey Mountain, volunteers a lot and has his own full time business. He is one of the world’s really nice guys.
And here is the start. I started out last place and stayed last place for a long time. 12K is about 7 miles and I finally passed a few at about mile four. I say a few because I think I finished 46th out of 50 or something like that.
The course was an out and back which means that we run back on the same trail we run out on. Plus the other races used this route as part of the route of their races. This means that people have to be aware of what is going on and let people pass by. I’ve run lots of trail races and I have never seen any conflict on the matter. People just pull off and let others pass and everything is cool. The whole ethic of trail racing is cool and laid back and that is why I like it. Don’t get me wrong, people run the race hard.
The race was almost entirely in the woods but we broke out into grassland just briefly a couple times.
And here is the beer stop. One stop but we hit it twice. How many races do you know provide craft beer at the water stops. I had a Coop Brewing DNR the second time, I forget what it was I had the first stop, but it was good.
And right close to the beer tent is the regular stuff, water, gatorade, pickle juice (yep, I’ve learned to have a shot of it when I can), baked potato quarters rolled in salt, bananas, cookies, nuts, m&ms. No wonder I can’t lose weight and no wonder I don’t finish any better than what I do.
I actually buckled down and ran the the last few miles to the finish and didn’t take any photographs. My average miles split was 13:30 which is not too impressive but is at least a minute faster than most trail runs I run in so I am pretty happy.
At the finish TZ told me where to find the “Leap of Doom.” It is a feature of the 25K and 50K races but they don’t let us 12K baby runners on it out of fear for our lives. But, I fortified my courage with a beer and headed out to check it out.
I could tell I was getting close. One thing about TZ is he is good at warning people. I couldn’t turn back even though I wanted to so I ventured on ahead.
And the warnings kept coming. But I was intrigued, I mean who doesn’t want to see the 72nd wonder of the world.
Here are the instructions. I don’t know how to breathe and scream at the same time, do you?
Of course I had to record the event for posterity. This is first attempt.
This is the second attempt. Do you like my shoes? Do you think I should put movie ambitions on hold for a while?
And so I survived the famous Leap of Doom. Well the other thing I needed to do was go find a geocache.
The nearest one was about a kilometer away so I walked to it. Turns out that the location was right on the the trails used in the other races. While I was looking for it several runners stopped and asked if I was okay.
I turned my Garmin watch on for the hike. I get amused at myself when I run on a geocaching hunt cause it shows me going around and around, and I did go around and around. I finally found it though.
And here is the location. I loved the old car. The amazing car geeks at Car Spotting Tulsa think it is a late 40’s Chevy. I love all the bullet holes. And yes I did find the cache.
So, I was done. Got a lot done over there in Lake McMurtry is what I think, ran a race, jumped the leap of doom a couple times and found a geocache and a neat car. So I gathered my stinky self up and drove back to Tulsa. On the way I stopped in the little oil field of Yale, Oklahoma and toured Jim Thorpe’s house. Fascinating story about the greatest athlete of all time who lived in a small town in Oklahoma. That will be on the next post.
Thanks for hanging with me all this way!
The weather warmed up this week so Tuesday night I went to run after work with the Tatur Tots on Turkey Mountain. An informal group meets Tuesday evenings at 6:30 and Sunday mornings at 7:30 and breaks into groups based on speed. The motto is no one gets left behind. Typically there is a fast group and a slow group.
So off we went on the slow group, up the blue trail to the upper parking lot and then down the Snake Trail.
See that ridge over there? That is where the Outlet Mall would go. They would extend the ridge this way and put in a 75 foot tall retaining wall right on the creek. They want to start construction this Fall and plan to be done in a year. So in two years just imagine this ginormous parking lot looming over Turkey Mountain like a mesa and all their loose trash blowing out in the wind. Simon has said that we are just going to have to trust them on the water runoff issues and they do not plan on doing anything special in regards to making sure trash doesn’t blow off the property. They are a reputable company, but I’m not in a trusting mood right now. What about you?
And further on we went, or rather they they went, as I was taking pictures.
I caught up with them and took their picture. I think they were discussing doing away with the nobody gets left behind rule as it pertains to slow fat guys who hold everybody up to take pictures.
Aha, nope, it is not Simon Group starting on the mall. It is the River Parks authority reopening the upper parking lot at Turkey Mountain. The lower lot is full most weekends now and on nice days after work.
It’ll be nice to have. Don’t worry, they are reworking an existing parking lot so very little of the mountain is affected.
Time to go home and have an adult malted beverage. It may be a little early for a wheat beer but I had to try this nice Oklahoma brewed Coop Ale Works Elevator Wheat.
Here is our route.
More News about Simon Group’s proposed Outlet Mall (Check Urban Wilderness Coalition for Updates)
A public forum was held this week to discuss all sides of the issue. Simon was invited but didn’t show up. I wanted to go but couldn’t.
Simon has asked for a continuance for their hearing before the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (“TMPAC”). You just know they are out behind the scenes, working the city councilors, the mayor, the chamber of commerce, doing the big juicy carrots and ugly stick thing. Whispering “Jobs”, “Development”, “Business” blah, blah, blah into the ears of the movers and shakers. It is very rare for Tulsan’s to try and fight any sort of development. I still don’t know if this movement to get Simon to back off is going to succeed or not is going to work. I don’t know anybody, including me, who is against an outlet mall somewhere in principle. The site for this mall just doesn’t work. Check the Urban Wilderness Coalition site to see how you can help.