Tag Archives: Skywatch Friday

Skywatch Friday – At Home, On the Road, Trail, and

A shot from the front yard during a rainy interlude.

My wife and Kodi the pomeranian on a walk in the neighborhood greenbelt. I love the orangey sky.

I went on a bike ride on the Osage Prairie Trail in Osage County. This gas station was a location for the movie “The Outsiders” filmed way back in the 1980s. It has been restored by some volunteers and has a sign, fake gas pumps, paint inside and out and geocache. Which I found. One of my geocacher friends had a big role in the restoration.

This is a pond in Skiatook at the northern end of the Osage Prairie Trail.

A nearby church is having a revival!

The old railroad bridge on the trail is a favorite spot of mine for photos.

Switching Gears, this is a scene from Turkey Mountain on a recent hike.

And a shot from the RiverParks trails in Tulsa. I wasn’t hiking or biking, I was handing out gallons and gallons of coca cola and red bull to exhausted runners slogging through the Tulsa Ironman competion. 141 miles combined of swimming in open water, an over 100 mile bike ride, and a marathon distance run. It was a warm day. They had a 70 mile race for wimps.

I’m kidding about the half distance people being wimps. I couldn’t do it in a week. I admire their dedication. I have to admit though why people doing an endurance race would want red bull or coke.

The volunteer fuel was pizza. Unfortunately, my table was next to the truck so I ate more than I should have done.

That’s about it this week. I am linking with Skywatch Friday.

Skywatch Friday – Springtime in Oklahoma

Spring is really getting going now. The leaves are almost electric green. I take photos and when I look at them afterwards they look almost unnatural.

Sometimes the skies are incredibly blue.

The air is light. The temperature may so 39F outside when I wake up but it doesn’t feel near that cold.

It’s a great time to be in Oklahoma.

I took a walk with a young friend and former coworker. One of the legions of people I know leaving the hydrocarbon industry for renewables like wind and solar power. Amazing the things he told me, the innovations that are occurring right now. He’s telling me about the hydrogen economy and the role ammonia could play. I am falling behind. I have to do my homework.


You hear the phrase, there is nothing new under the sun. I have never believed it. There is plenty new under the sun and the moon.

In celebration of Spring in Oklahoma, here is “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.”

And you know, if you play one Oklahoma song you have to play the ultimate Oklahoma song. In this state everyone knows the songs and the correct arm and hand motions for “lazy hawks circling in the sky.”

Nobody else has as great a state song as Oklahoma does.

That’s enough for now. I’m linking with Skywatch Friday and also with Music Move Me.

Skywatch Friday – This and That

I dropped my son off at a church function a few weeks ago and I noticed that the lowering sun, the dark clouds, and the rain had the making of a decent image so I captured it on my cell phone.

We took a whirlwind trip out to western Oklahoma earlier this month. I captured this sunrise while walking the dog at the motel early in the morning. I love the western Oklahoma skies.

Nearby Broken Arrow, Oklahoma at its Veterans Park has a memorial to veterans who took their own lives when they got out of the service. Their are about a dozen silhouettes of actual people who are now gone. They call it the “War at Home Memorial.” It’s one of the most moving things I’ve ever seen.

Captured this image of the sky over the neighborhood elementary school on a dog walk.

This is an image from Tulsa’s Woodward Park earlier this month while it was still warm.

And a shot over my back fence to a sunrise last week.

That’s it for this week. I’m linking with Skywatch Friday!

Prescribed Burning and Masticating on Turkey Mountain


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.

A New Launching Pad

I got a new launchpad for my drone. You don’t need one if you are launching from a hard surface but if you are on grass dirt it helps to have one to avoid damage to the drone’s propellers. Mine is about 24 inches square which is plenty big. The few times I have launched out in the wild it is hard to get away from grass, twigs, pebbles, and dirt.

From about 20 meters up.

So I checked it out in the backyard. Usually I launch from the patio but the metal in the furniture messed with the drone’s gps so I was always having to calibrate it.

at 40 meters, my usual flying distance.

I almost always fly from my backyard in “periscope mode.” I go straight up and then look around. I don’t fly around looking at stuff. Legally I can do it but in a subdivision I don’t think it is too neighborly to fly over somebody else’s property.

The view to the southwest. That’s the neighborhood elementary school to the left.

And straight to the west.

I think my launching pad works well.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday (April 13 edition)

Also linking to My Corner of the World

Circumnavigating the Arkansas River Trails

Way back on March 22nd, the wind and rain died down, the temperatures came up and I went on a bike ride. I wanted to to the Tulsa RiverParks loop of the Arkansas River which is a lot harder for now than it used to be because they have closed off part of the west bank trail due to construction of a new bridge and dam across the river. They divert the bike traffic out to Route 66 to share the road with dump trucks, oil haulers, and all sorts of other non-relaxing vehicles not to mention a crappy road surface. I’ve done it twice already since the construction started and it is not a nice ride on the detour. But hey, I wanted to do it anyway. So I strapped on my cheap gopro clone on my bicycle and headed out.


About a mile into it I almost had a collision with these two unhomed guys. They were coming in fast on an ill-timed left turn. Luckily I saw them and stopped. I already had one collision on the riverparks trails a couple years ago and it took me months before I could get on a bike again. I wasn’t mad at these guys and they were apologetic, they just got themselves in a jam.


I got on the west bank and started going south. My strategy was to ride into the wind on the outbound leg so I could return to the car inbound. You can see from the flag how stiff the wind was. So I didn’t fight the wind, I was just moseying south.


And then had to leave the trail where it was blocked and head west on this sidewalk. Luckily there was nobody coming east. If there is someone has to give since there is not enough room for two bicycles or if a mom is coming with a stroller. I almost yield the right of way.


So I got to Route 66 and was planning on riding the sidewalk south, but no go!! Big construction project going on. Oh well, I crossed to the other side of the road.


They had four lanes of two way traffic squeezed down to two lanes and the bike lane is goine. See that truck. He’s in my space!! Luckily there was a decent sidewalk for a short ways.


And then I was able ride on the business parking lots adjoining the road.


I got south of the construction and crossed the highway and came upon my favorite part. The road that the oil tanks use going to and from the refinery. Share the road guys!!


Another truck right going intot he refinery.


I brought one of my good cameras along and got a picture of the refinery. I know a little about refineries, being a chemical engineer and all. Mainly what you are looking for here is TST’s. TST stands for “Tall Shiny Things.” Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Other parts of the refinery have LRO’s which stands for “Large Round Objects.” You keep following my blog you are likely to learn a lot.


I always like this enclosed bridge over Mooser Creek.


I stopped for a bit of geocaching here. I’ve looked for it before and and haven’t found it yet. The hint is “This cache rocks!!” Only chemical engineers have a worse sense of humor than geocachers.


And then on past the sewage treatment plant.


And then the long trudge up the trail to the lower parking lot of Turkey mountain.


And then we get to coast across the river to the east bank.


And then, flying north back to 21st street where I started. The wind was at my back and it felt like flying.

16 miles and change. It was a nice ride.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday

Skywatch Friday – The North Woods at Oxley Nature Center

A week and a half ago, late on a Sunday afternoon, I went on a hike at Oxley Nature Center’s North Woods area. I love the North Woods area because it is beautiful, the trails are well maintained and hardly anybody besides me goes there even on a nice weekend afternoon.

It’s kind of a walking meditation.

Be careful while you are meditating and walking though. This thing will give you a headache.

The staff and volunteers are always tweaking and improving things on the trails.

It’s got water views and benches.

And what I call tree tunnels cutting through the woods. I love to come here when it is windy like it was on my hike. The woods are thick so there is no wind on the ground but you can hear the wind as it moves through the tops of the trees.

Later on in the spring, the reflections will be prettier.

I was hoping to see deer, not today!

And the end.

I try and go on all the trails during my visits to the North Woods. That entails taking some of the trails twice. That’s alright.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday.

Skywatch Friday – Turkey Mountain Hike of Mysteries

About a week and a half ago, on a sunday on the final day of Oklahoma’s spring break I went to Turkey Mountain for a hike. Spring break means busy!! So I started at the very northwest end of Turkey Mountain at the YMCA. No crowds there!!! Just badge in, if you are a member, or pay a small day fee and go.

I saw more people than usual but many less than if I had gone to the main Turkey Mountain parking lots. The Y’s trails and Turkey Mountain’s interconnect.

I was looking for some structures built by the mountain bikers maybe about 20 years ago plus or minus. They made some pretty incredible biking structures. They are in ruins now.

Back in the day, Turkey Mountain was a no mans land. Did these guys and gals get permission and permits and submit plans and such. Nope they just brought a bunch of lumber out and built it, and experimented and modified as time went by. Them mountain bikers are a hardy bunch. When a call goes out for help on a trail work day they show up in droves ready to work. Hikers and trailrunners not so much.

I found a pipeline owned by one of my previous employers. Companies wouldn’t build in such a manner these days. Boring technology has got so good they would just bore under it. They now bore way under archeological sites now. Solves all sorts of problems with mitigation and such.

And then Pepsi Lake. Pepsi Bottling company had a bunch of truck chassis’s on the dam and Turkey Mountain people called and asked if they could move them and away they went in a couple of days. Nobody knows why they were there to begin with.


The Mexican Plum blooms were out.

From there I went just north to Mooser Creek. It forms the northern boundary of Turkey Mountain. The Turkey Mountain people say that Mooser Creek is how beavers get to and from Turkey Mountain.

So here is looking north from Mooser Creek. This used to be the main entrance to Turkey Mountain back in the day. I used to park there every now and the but Pepsi has kind of taken it over. This another mystery of Turkey Mountain. Nine years ago a couple hikers found a human skull right where I was standing to take this photo. The police said that it had probably been there two years or so. Whenever I am in this area I always expect that I’ll find a rib or something. Not today though.

What I did though was notice that the pipeline company had cleared their right of way on the south side of Mooser Creek headed east. So I walked down it. I had never been down that way before. First thing was I saw this bicycle basket hanging from a tree.

And evidence of busy beavers. The area was more expansive than I had thought. Lots of evidence of old homeless camps.

Got as far as I could go without swimming. The hairs on the back of my head were standing straight up and although it was a pretty scene I retraced my steps back.

Later on in the hike I went on the top of the cliffs. This is a photo of all the trucks at the Pepsi Bottling Plant. It is a huge facility.

And then later on passed again the deep hole in the ground with the camo ductwork coming out. Who knows what you would find down there. There have been other deep holes found on the mountain. Speculation is that people were digging for Spainish gold. Apparently there was a guy back in 70’s selling treasure maps.

And I found this downed electric pole out in the middle of nowhere. Way back when the mountain had small ranches and farms on it and a lot of oil wells. People lived up there and it had a quite an outlaw reputation with moonshine stills and such.

I also found this hole lined with rock. I have no explanation. It would take a lot of work to build this. Tulsa gets so much rain that any hole you dig is going to be quite muddy much of the year.

And right next to it was this foundation. I don’t have a clue what it is for.

And not far away found this thing that looked almost like a burial marker. I didn’t turn it over. I was afraid I would see an inscriptions kind of like, “Here lies the body of a nosey photoblogger..”

And then I went back to the Y. I only covered 2.9 miles but I saw a lot of stuff.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday

Skywatch Friday – Lake Bixhoma

One of my favorite hiking spots close to Tulsa is Lake Bixhoma. The lake is a water supply lake for the city of Bixby and it has some very rugged land around it. I’ve never circumnavigated the lake because the trail is rugged and the upriver side of the is almost always under water.


The first bit of trail is actually paved. There is actually picnic grounds and restrooms and such but all that is abandoned now. I am thinking that part of the reason for the abandonment is rockfalls off the cliff. Here is recent fall.


Still the first part of the trail is walkable.


Here is some of the abandoned infrastructure.

After the picnic grounds the trail is no longer paved although still not too bad.


And then it got very technical. Too me technical means lots of rocks.


Got to the upper end of the lake. Can’t cross here!


So I followed the creek up and found a couple of possible crossing spots. If it hadn’t been so cold and if I hadn’t been alone and over a mile from the trailhead, then I could have done one of these, maybe. About here is where I saw my first snake for the year. Some sort of water snake that slipped into the water quickly as I approached. I don’t think it was anything I would worry about.


Here is the other crossing. Going further upstream was out of the question because it is private property. So I turned around and headed back.


I am always amazed at the stuff I see on trails. What in the world is the story behind this? I can only guess.

I hate out and back hikes so when I came to this fence corner and saw a trail going up the hill, off I went. I figured I knew where I would be going. Famous last words right.

I found this trail sign that I couldn’t read.


The trail got a little rough.


I found me some spectacular trees though. And I made it back to the car. My shortcut saved me about 0.2 miles I figured.

So kind of a short hike but I had a good time. When things dry out a little more, and get warmer, I’ll be back. I will probably try the other way around the lake.

The skies were mainly gray I know but I’m linking with Skywatch Friday.