Tag Archives: RiverParks

Riding the Arkansas River Loop

The other day I went on a bike ride on the RiverParks Trails around the Arkansas River in Tulsa.

I always check my weather app to check the prevailing winds. I like to go against the wind on the outbound leg and with the wind on the inbound leg. So today I started on the south end because the wind was from the northwest. I crossed the 71st bridge. It is always nice when the river has water in it.

Got across the bridge and hung a right onto Elwood to pass through Turkey Mountain.

I love riding the west side trails. I haven’t done it too much since the last several years since some of the trails have been closed for construction of the new Zink Lake Dam.

This fully enclosed bridge over Mooser Creek always tickles me. Why is it enclosed?

I got up to the soccer fields and checked out the detour map. The trails are opening back up on Labor Day Weekend. They are having a Big Dam Party to celebrate the completion of the Zink Lake Dam, construction of the new Pedestrian Bridge, and reopening of the closed west side trails. I’ll be celebrating, at home, and I’ll check out everything when the hubbub dies down. That’s how I roll.

Oh, yeah, I found a geocache near the sign.

And a guy passed by on this recumbent three wheeler complete with flags. Thankfully, they were right side up.

I deadheaded up the trail past the old PSO Power Plant. I love old infrastructure, even when it doesn’t run.

And go to the sign, “No Public Access” one sign says, the other says “No Bicycles or Scooter.” If you look to the right of the gate, it is propped open and there is a well worn trail there.

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I had been wondering how these folks were getting to the river to go fishing. Now I know!! I don’t have a problem with it. These people have had to walk about a mile to get there and by gum. They deserve to fish!! (I am not being sarcastic. I love it when rules are bent to the will of the people, unless it is an insurrection of course.)

So I turned my bike around and headed back down to the soccer field and headed out on the trail detour.

This part used to be scary on southwest boulevard. The road was all torn up and with gravel and such. Plus they had four lanes which made for a tight bike lane especially with tanker trucks going to and from the refinery, dump trucks and other big vehicles that are part of Tulsa’s industrial west side. Then they had a long construction project to redo the road. That was a disaster. No bike lanes, no nothing. The one time I rode it I had to ride on the west side business parking lots cuz I didn’t dare get on the road. I drove the section last week and noticed construction was over and that is why I was riding the bike lane today. I felt pretty comfortable in the bike lane.

So I got up to Route 66 and went across the bridge.

And headed back down south to the car. Didn’t take too many photos. I took some photos of some critters and you can check those out on my post Saturday.

Anyway, almost 18 miles, going slow, stopping and taking photos plus found one geocache. My longest ride in a while.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday.

Saturday’s Critters – Arkansas River Critters

I went on a bike ride on Tulsa’s RiverParks trail system along the Arkansas River.

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I spotted this bale of turtles out basking in the hot sun. The interwebs tell me that bale is the collective noun for turtles.

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I focused in on the boss bale. At least it was the biggest one.

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Just a few white pelicans out and about. The interwebs say the collective noun is squadron, pouch, pod, or scoop. So I am calling these four a pouch of pelicans.

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And just below the Zink Dam there was this group fishing.

And here is my turnaround spot with the River Bears in the background. It was a hot day!!

I’m linking with Eileen’s Saturday’s Critters. Come over and join the party.

One Extreme to the Other

We have been having storms in Oklahoma. Twenty five or more tornadoes last weekend causing lots of devastation in some places. In Tulsa we have had lots of rain. No tornadoes though.

From 50 meters over house looking northeast. Ominous clouds. The greenbelt is flooded (by design.)

Looking west. More clouds.

Monday was a great day!! I went on a bike ride on the Arkansas RiverParks trails. This is where I started, close to the south end. That is Turkey Mountain across the river there. I know, it doesn’t look like a mountain but Turkey Mountain sounds better than Turkey Hill don’t you think?

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Looking across the river to the Tulsa Power Station. It hardly ever runs. It looks like they have it up and going.

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And then one of the refineries on the river.

And then from the other side of the river looking toward downtown.

And toward midtown.

Since then we have had more rain!! I’ll take the sun and the rain but you can keep the tornadoes. There might be a song in there somewhere?

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday

Saturday’s Critters – Geese and More

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I took a bike ride along the Arkansas River and found these geese swimming in a backwater of the river.

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I took a walk at Tulsa’s Lafortune Park and found these two geese grazing.

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And on the other side of the park I saw these geese resting.

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And this mallard duck paddling around.

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A dove sitting on a fence at the park. Dove are the ideal critter models. They generally stay put if you don’t get too close.

And a moose sculpture near a pond.

And not too far away, this sculpture of a mother bison with a red dog (bison calf) stay on her heels.

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

Prescribed Burning and Masticating on Turkey Mountain

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About a week ago the RiverParks folks here in Tulsa announced that conditions were finally right and resources available to proceed with a long planned controlled burn on Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Park. They closed the park and their partners, the Oklahoma Forest Service executed the prescribed burn. They asked everybody to stay I did. I did cuz I am a rule follower, most of the time, but I went for a bike ride on the adjoining bike trails and took a few photos. And you could see a fire was going and the smoke was dispersing and I could just barely smell the smoke.

They reopened the mountain the next day and of course I had to go check it out and it was interesting. As advertised it was apparently a “cool fire” that just went along the ground burning dead grass, leaves, and underbrush.

I think that the area was only about 12 acres or so. None of the standing trees were damaged from what I can see and they were able to keep the fire contained tightly. They have to have the right combination of temperature, humidity, winds, and other factors to minimize the risk of the fire getting away from them especially in an urban area.

There was a lot of smoldering going on but the RiverParks people said that they were not worried about it as long as it was in the original burned area. The place smelled like Boy Scout campout.

The burns are done to clear out the understory and get rid of invasive species. It reduces the risk of unwanted forest fires by getting rid of “ladder species” vegetation that a wildfire can crawl to get the tree canopy. It’ll open the forest and provide better grazing for deer and opportunities for native trees like oaks to thrive. It’s all part of the Turkey Mountain Master Plan.

So I have heard of prescribed burns before but Turkey Mountain has another tool they are using. It is called “Mastication.” This is where they used machinery called brush shredders to mulch the underbrush and invasive species. I had never heard of this term before but they masticated a small area of Turkey Mountain a few weeks ago. I visited it right afterward when they reopened the area after the work was done. It really opened up the forest. I love the effect.

And with the reopening you could see how the old trails were not well designed and were just kind of drainage ditches. I think they are going to be working on new, more sustainable trails in the area soon.

I had never seen brush cutters in action before but I found this video. It’s kind of a fearsome process to watch but it sure yields great results.

The RiverParks people say that the effect on wildlife is minimal. Both controlled burns and mastication are slow enough that the animals can evade the area. Long term it will provide better habitat for them.

I think they are going to be doing more of these projects as time goes by. Yes, I’m losing some of the fun jungly areas of Turkey Mountain but it will be replaced by a more natural, wildlife friendly vegetation and trees.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday.

Tulsa Wildlife Update

I went hiking earlier this week on Turkey Mountain here in Tulsa. I came across this tiny frog traversing the trail.

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I also went for a bike ride and took my camera with me again. As I was going down the trail I spotted a bald eagle flying high over me but headed down to the river. So I pulled out and spotted this guy fishing. That’s two weeks in a row I’ve seen a bald eagle in approximately the same location. Sorry for the fuzzy photo. I was at the far end of the range of my Canon Superzoom.

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I also found this egret, or white heron or something several miles north of the Eagle out in the river looking for lunch.

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And white pelicans on a sandbar.

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And a log with two pairs of turtles. I didn’t know that momma turtles gave baby turtles piggy back (turtle back?) rides.

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And a great blue heron. Again at pretty good range. They are skittish!!

That’s it for this week. I am linking with Eileen’s Saturday’s Critters. Lots of really good posts there. Check it out.

Skywatch Friday

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We had a break the other day with unrelenting heat and cloudless skies so I launched my drone from the back yard. These were rainless clouds but hey they shaded us a little bit. This is looking northeast from about 50 meters high.

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And looking straight west. Not a drop of rain in them.

"Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church"

I went downtown for some reason and ended up going by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church across the freeway from downtown. I love the domes that are on the Orthodox churches.

Tulsa Fire Station 4

And just down the street is Tulsa Fire Station 4 which is located right on Route 66 as it goes through town. They had a spiffy new (to me) Route 66 sign that I thought was cool. I posted it on Instagram and on a facebook Route 66 sign. Somebody from out of state asked if that was the only Tulsa fire station on Route 66. So I checked and no, there is one other Tulsa Station Fire Station.

Tulsa Fire Station 66, way out in city limits but in the country on Route 66. They call themselves “The Keepers of the Mother Road.” I thought I knew all the Tulsa US 66 attractions and no I didn’t. Check out their facebook page. They like people to come by and visit if they are not doing anything and host all sorts of school and other groups.

One of the things I do is water the monarch waystation on Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain. I went up there Wednesday morning and it had rained!! Not much of a rain but it soaked the parking lot. I didn’t feel much like watering after it rained plus the park had a contractor there laying down sod and I felt that they would probably be wanting to use the water tap and hose that I would be using so I just plugged and abandoned the project (oilfield lingo for giving up) and decided to go hiking. I’ll be back in a few days.

I went by one of the small lakes on Turkey Mountain on my hike. Something about skies and woods reflected on water really attracts me.

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Earlier this week I went on another bike ride on the RiverParks trails. I stopped and inspected the progress on the new pedestrian bridge and dam. Going pretty darn slow is what I think but I got a shot of the crane.

NASA’s Webb Sheds Light on Galaxy Evolution, Black Holes

And this is a photo from NASA from the new James Webb telescope that is taking some spectacular images of space. Click on the photo and you’ll get a description of what you are looking at. I’m still in the stage of just looking at the imagery, the text dulls the mind. (Sorry). They are letting everybody use the pics under a liberal creative commons license. Awesomeness is what I think.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday

Skywatch Friday – Construction Stuff

I went on on another bike ride the other day on Tulsa’s RiverParks trails along the Arkansas River. I took my Canon Superzoom Camera with me. I stopped again at The Gathering Place to check on the new pedestrian bridge and new dam being constructed. Not much progress so I focused on the construction equipment being used.

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In the bed of the river they had this huge concrete pump putting concrete around boulders on the riverbed. So it looks like in addition to the bridge and dam maybe they are shaping the river for other purposes. I’ll have to check into that.

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There were lots of tracked backhoes at work (I call them track hoes.) This one was actually on the west side of the river doing something not related to the bridge or dam.

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Here are several more on the riverbed. The contractors have constructed a huge cofferdam to divert the river flow to the west side of its banks to make room for construction.

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And another trackhoe

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And yet another. Not too many of them were being operated the day of my ride. I have no idea why. The weather was great.

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And this one had a jackhammer type attachment.

As you can tell, I love construction equipment and checking out construction and trying to figure out what they are doing and how they are going about it.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday. Come check it out.

Skywatch Friday – Outside Time!

I got it all on this week’s post, Gardening, Hiking, Bicycling, A Plea for Help, and a Musical Finale! Are you ready? Lets get started!!

Earlier this week I went to Turkey Mountain. We’ve had a lot of rain and they want people to stay off the trails when its muddy. Kind of like your Great Aunt Grace telling you to stay on the plastic runners. Or at least that’s what my Great Aunt Grace would tell me. Anyway I first checked the Monarch Waystation. Lots of green stuff there and few blooms.

I’m no butterfly but if I were I guess I would be digging into whatever these flowers had to offer. My botanical ID skills are woeful. I do know that these are yellow blooms. Enough Gardening, and now Hiking!!

And then I got back in my car and drove up to the upper parking lot. Ordinarily the I would have gone up the trail but I was rationing my energy because the temperature was over 90F and the head index was almost 110F. Anyway, I started down the Snake Trail to go explore the NW side and see if there were any new trails out that way.

The Snake Trail is pretty decent. When I take first time visitors to Turkey Mountain, before the new trails were started, I took them on Snake because it was relatively flat and not very technical (in other words breaking your ankle was unlikely). Turkey is going to have a mixture of old and new trails. The terrible erosion prone, non sustainable trails will be blocked off to allow the ground to heal.

I got up close to the YMCA and headed east and soon came to some new trail that I had not seen yet. So I jumped on it and went a couple hundred yards or so and saw that it was not yet open. I thought it looked a little rough. Anyway I got off it and got on a parallel old trail.

I emerged on what is called the Powerline Trail and went back to the parking lot. Powerline is difficult. It gets kind of technical and really steep and has several false ridges. I guess you could call it Heartbreaker as well. It is in full sun which makes it extra fun on a hot sunny day. But hey I made it. I guess you already figured that out because I wrote this post.

And now the Bicycling Segment!!

Thursday morning, I got up, skipped yoga and took my bike out on the other side of the Arkansas River to ride the paved trails. That hill you see on the other side of the river is Turkey Mountain. Don’t be giggling or laughing at the Mountain. We don’t have too many in Tulsa.

On the south end of the RiverParks trails is a Native American Tribal owned casino. The trail squeezes in betweenn casino and the river. Somebody, maybe the tribe has been doing some “Riparian Mitigation” on the riverbank and it is bearing fruit. I never noticed these trees before. I love it.

On the north end I stopped at the south end of the Gathering Place. With better weather people are taking their toddlers there and they let the kids migrate into the bike lanes. I don’t blame them, they are new to the trails and don’t understand. Anyway, when the new people I just cut my ride short and go back. Better than risking hitting somebody. But I stopped and smelled the roses

Do I look like I need help? Well I do!! Come volunteer at the Tulsa Ironman race on May 22nd.

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Last year I volunteered on the running segement on Sunday afternoon. It was fun and easy. I just handed out water and gatorade to the racers for several hours. These men and women are amazing athletes. The Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition gets paid for the volunteer hours they provide to the event. Check here to get more info if you are interested.

And the musical section of this mess of a post. Featuring a hot mess herself, Miranda Lambert. I got her new album Palomino and am loving it. She is a good singer and has quite the sense of humor.

That’s about it folks. I guess I had some sky photos in here somewhere. I’m linking with Skywatch Friday. Come join in!!