Alright. I'm back - because there's no more hot-dogs - so I guess I need to continue the tour you never wanted in the first place.
OK OK.So I probably don't need to continue after last week's installment.
But you know the drill: My blog - my content!
This is my trail map stripped of distractions, such as the ground and trees and stuff, so that the numbers, which match the numbers in the captioning of each photo and show about where that photo was taken, are easier to see.
|- 1 -|
And it just seems kinda logical to start at the front gate.
The camera has a knack for flattening things out (It's because the brain uses a narrow beam of the scanning eye to build a composite image while the camera uses a single glimpse through the lens onto a sensor with no spacial context and the resulting image is sort of flat. That's why I look fatter in photos than in real life - or that's what I tell myself anyway.) but it's really quite a drop from the gate down to that first turn at the bottom. Enough so that the 'auto hold' function on today's automatic transmissions comes in handy while sitting there on the inside waiting for the gate to open.
Years ago, after something like 18 inches of rain in 12 hours, there was a washout at the bottom of this section of drive. I threatened to dump some gravel into it to ease the passage of vehicles, but never did get around to it. No matter. It sort of slowly filled itself back in on its own - at least mostly -
And yeah, the green paint has almost completely flaked off our rather plain-Adrian gate,(Plain-Jane feels too much like I am perpetuating, and implicitly though passively agreeing with, the constant, sometimes subtle, misogynistic attack on females a certain segment of our society is so fond of, which I'm not, [fond of] so I went with something gender neutral.) but the galvanized steel underneath isn't rusting and we don't particularly feel the need for one of those flashy "Hey! Here we are! Look at us! Pleassssse look at us! Because we're so insecure we need your validation, or even better, envy." kind of entrances.
In fact, if, like most, you go by a little too fast on the county road and don't even know we're here that's great!
|- 2 -|
This is the view when you get to the bottom of that first bit of driveway and look around the corner to the south.
Yep, more driveway!
|- 3 -|
And finally, a little farther along, a little farther south, there's another turn, to the west this time, and a glimpse of the barn! (at the end of even more driveway!) Still going downhill by the way.
|- 4 -|
But back to the trails.
About halfway down that first stretch of driveway one of my trails takes off into the woods. It's pretty hard to see unless you know it's there, but it is - and I know. (No, not there. It's actually to the left of that tree.)
And I call them my trails because The Wife, being somewhat grace-challenged (She falls down easy!) and demonstratively prone to breaking legs and ankles, (That's why we own both a walker and a wheel-chair!) sticks to the graveled driveway and has never set foot on any of the trails.
|- 5 -|
And this, even though you can't really tell, which is somewhat intentional, is where that trail comes out of the little segment of woods between the power-line ROW and the county road, and drops down the cut into the pathway made when the power-line was being installed (long before our time here)
|- 6 -|
This is an example of a common challenge I face out on these trails.
In this case, within a few days of me cutting trail through here this old oak, now significantly decayed and less intrusive than it was when it first came down, fell right into my hard work and I had to reroute around it.
Re-routing is usually easier than dragging the chainsaw out here to restore my original trail with brute force. And by the way, because I'm not fond of the noise and don't see the harm is a little physical work, I cut, and continue to maintain, most of these trails by hand with loppers and hand-saws.
|- 7 -|
Here's another example.
In this case I just squeeze by, trying not to get mortally stabbed by any of the branches along the way. I figure the flexing and contorting required 6 to 8 times a week does more good for me than the single workout required to actually remove the blockage.
|- 8 -|
Here I'm standing at the east fence-line looking down on the county road.
Again, camera quirks, but the bank I'm standing on is as high as the one across the road, which itself is higher than it looks here.
That's a glimpse of a little piece of a good-sized ranch across the way. They run cattle along with a smattering of donkeys mixed in over there. Donkeys may not look like it but they are vicious little things when riled up and many ranchers around here mix a few into their herds to help keep predators away.
They also have a hunting lodge over there and, in-between the drinking and grab-assing in the great-room, run guided game-bird hunts for those still able to get up early enough, although that income stream has been very light the past few years. COVID and all.
|- 9 -|
When they were making the cut through this ridge for the county road back in the late 40's they were dragging the diggers up the ridge with large cables.
I don't know if this one was damaged and abandoned on purpose or just lost in the shuffle, but it ended up right in the middle of where I was cutting trail.
Rather than wrestle with the thing that's had 60 plus years to integrate itself with the earth, I just left it there as yet another agility improving device along my way.
|- 10 -|
This is the south fence-line and I'm looking south-southwest across a piece of Ernest's ranch.
Up until a few years ago he ran cattle out here as well as managed more cattle on two nearby ranches. But Ernest himself is 80 now so these days he just hays instead. In fact he hayed this field just a couple weeks ago.
We like Ernest. We have each other's phone numbers. We have each other's permission to cross the fence-line onto the other side. (Here in Texas all it takes is a fence and a closed gate to say NO TRESPASSING, and we take trespassing seriously here in this state) and we talk across the fence at least once a year. (Ernest is a hell of a talker - me not so much.)
|- 11 -|
This is me, still standing at the south fence-line but turned around looking north along the ROW.
That's our transformer on the pole but the barn is still 250 feet away from there. I know because we had to buy that much 200 amp direct-bury rated (even though we put it in conduit) electric cable to get from here to there!
And yes, that is a line-pole our transformer is sitting on (line-poles carry the 13,800 volt transmission lines that continue on to service other locations.) but, although not a common practice elsewhere, our coop allows us to have our meter right on this pole as long as we run our line underground from the meter to our main box.
|- 12 -|
OK, I've come down past the barn and am now standing in the spillway of the pond looking west.
As you can see, the water level is quite low at the moment because of that aforementioned drought we are going through.
There have been times when where I'm standing is under nearly a foot of flowing water. But not today!
On the horizon of this photo, there behind the treeline, is the middle ridge. Because of the intervening trees and camera-shenanigans it doesn't look like it, but getting from here to the top is equivalent to climbing about 150 steps, or up 7 or 8 story building.
The good news is that for the huff-n-puffery of every climb here on the property there is a corresponding descent that only requires puffery. The bad news is that, since I always end up back at exactly the same elevation as I started out, for every descent there is a matching climb!
Damn! I should have worked harder at loosing those last 5 pounds, because, of course, I can't just ditch the 15 pound pack I workout in! (OK, there are different levels of dummery, and this just might be one of them - - -)
|- 13 -|
Anyway: this is the view from the spillway up the other way back towards the barn
|- 14 -|
And in order to continue to the western part of the property, from the spillway I first have to make my way across the dam.
|- 15 -|
And to do that I've got to worm my way through the gap between the massive Live Oak on the left, the backside of the dam, and the Yupon and Juniper growing on the front-side and joining forces overhead.
This vegetation is persistent and every year I have to cut this tunnel back a little in order to fit the lawnmower through. As it is, when on foot I have to bend over to get through without getting my skull speared by a branch or two, and bend over even farther to keep from hanging my pack up on said branches.
Until recently we had an old, very old, 42" mower. Well it finally gave up the ghost this spring, as in dumping a nearly full tank of highly flammable, and expensive, gasoline on top of the running mower-deck right under my feet when the tank failed catastrophically, (Man did I bail out of there in a hurry!) and the smallest replacement we could find in stock anywhere was a 46".
Now that doesn't sound like much of a difference but I had to do some auxiliary pruning work to get the new mower through here the first time.
OK, so apparently while there's still no hot-dogs out back there is grilled salmon, so I'm bailing out again for something more interesting than this post.
But don't worry. I'll make sure to come back and bore you with the last of the tour next time.