Most of the time when I head out to take pictures I might have a little conversation with someone or another, but I come away with enough pictures to keep me busy for hours editing them. But not always. Considering how much talking I did yesterday I’m surprised I got even one decent picture at the race track. It was the last racetrack photo shoot of the year, and it was hot, but with a cool breeze that saved us. Or I thought it saved me anyhow, but I will have to buy some more sunscreen and a hat if I’m going to keep this up. Ouch.
I don’t mean to imply that I do Sudoku to keep my mind sharp. When I titled this post I really meant keeping the pencil sharp, which is the hardest thing about doing Sudoku. Or was, for a little while. I came across this old, yellowed, Sudoku book in a bin not too long ago, so I picked it up and started doing the puzzles again. In order, turning the pages as I went. I went merrily along, after I realized that having my glasses on was a must, and a sharp point on my pencil, and an eraser that actually erased the pencil mark without leaving a dark smudge on the paper. My drawer full of old, sometimes unused, pencils and pens wasn’t cutting it. And then I spotted what looked to be a brand new pencil. Three of them actually. Nice and fat, with perfect points and erasers that appeared to be unused, I loved them. It took me a few days to realize that these pencils were titled ‘My First Ticonderoga’, meant for little kids, or senior citizens with fingers that don’t work as well as they once did.
All was well until I turned the page to the next puzzle and found that I had started the ‘hard’ section of puzzles. They weren’t kidding. So I looked up Sudoku strategies online and I think I may have to go back to caffeinated coffee if I’m going to make heads or tails of what they are saying. Even a sharp pencil won’t help me with these…
I’m not entirely sure if this was my first ‘first day’ hike, but it was a wake up call. It doesn’t get much flatter than a hike in Florida, but this one surprised me by being harder than I would have dreamed. All the inactivity of the last months, coupled with the baking (and eating), has taken a toll on me and I will have to change things in this new year. If there is one thing I can do for myself I think it would be drink more water, which seems like a easy enough goal.
A pine warbler was the only living thing, besides people, that I took a picture of, but I found myself surprised at just how colorful the scenery was. Maybe the pretty sky helped by creating contrast, but it was a nice walk.
Will there be a second day hike? That remains to be seen…
I think that what I’ve thought of as low tide may not have actually been low tide at all. Yesterday I was excited to see that low tide, according to my Tides app, was actually going to be at sunrise, or close enough. Of course the sunrise itself was on my mind, but wading birds and the potential to see spoonbills was what really sent me out the door at 6:45 AM. But my enthusiasm was quickly dashed. Low tide was lower than ‘usual’.
That’s rocks in the foreground, then spongy, wet sea grasses, then sand of varying degrees of wetness as far as the eye can see. If there were wading birds they must have been out at the actual shore, which was much further away from the road than I expected. So back and forth across the road I went, looking for birds on one side and hoping for more than a vague rosy glow at the horizon line on the other. I didn’t find either. I amused myself by taking pictures of birds flying over once I spotted their shadows on the water, but even those didn’t wind up to be much.
But the sun did come up on another beautiful day…
I’ve had a little harder time deciding what I wanted to write about this last stop on our Birmingham trip. I had come to Birmingham on a whim after all, and knew nothing of it’s history., so it came as a surprise to me to realize that such an industrial city existed in the south. And with my usual rosy glasses outlook I thought about all the jobs and opportunity it mist have been for anyone willing to work. I took these photos at the Vulcan museum. They came from a display with pictures of groups of workers with these four highlighted. It tells the story pretty well.
The sheer size of the Sloss Furnaces was amazing. You could wander the grounds with machinery towering over you, and you could walk into tunnels under the ground. It was impossible to try to imagine what that place was like on any given day when it was running full steam, the noise of the machinery, the smell of the molten steel, and the heat. Did the machinery cause the very ground to vibrate? Hard and dirty jobs, day after day, and still they worked…
Fifteen minutes into the drive yesterday had me entering Texas, and soon the initial flat terrain gave way to green hills dotted with brush and stands of trees. Just to the right of the road was a slightly raised railroad track, and it didn’t take long to see a train, and then a few more. And, being Texas, everything was bigger. The views in all directions, the sky, and even the train seemed miles long. It was a pleasant view and soon reminded me of the cowboy shows I watched on TV as a kid. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see some cowboys appear over the crest of a hill, wearing their bandanas over their faces, and not for Covid 19, but to chase down the train to rob it. In those long ago TV shows the cowboys would catch the train, so when I found myself essentially racing a train I voice texted a friend who worked for CSX and asked him how come on TV the cowboys caught the train but I couldn’t out-run this one. He said that was Hollywood, in real life the train always wins. When I remarked about how long the train was, and complained about the lack of caboose, he said that in the caboose days the trains used to have five man crews, and now they have only two men working those huge long trains. And they would like to have a one man crew but the union keeps fighting it. Bigger trains equal less workforce, he said. I thought it was just bigger in Texas.
I knew I would stop for the day in Amarillo, so before I left that morning I had checked online for what to see there. Palo Duro Canyon state park came up right away and I hoped to get there early enough to do the drive through and get some pictures, so I decided to stop at a rest area to change the GPS to the park and drive straight there. I took the feature photo, liking how the structure stood out against the sky, but the ‘watch for rattlesnakes’ signs made me pause. I walked up the hill to this little overlook, but not until another gentleman was already there, in hopes he had scared off any rattlesnakes that might have been hanging around. I was happy to catch another one of those endless trains passing by. I didn’t stay long though, it was 102 degrees when I was there.
And, like the day before, as I actually approached my destination the view had changed to this. I checked the temperature and it had dropped to 64 degrees.
Big sky, big storm, and the biggest lightning bolts you can imagine, each one seeming to hit the ground. Of course I had to change my plan and head to a hotel in Amarillo instead. Somehow the storm still seemed to be in the distance, to my right and left, so I took my opportunity to take some photos of the displays as you entered the parking area. Not the photos I’d hoped to get, and I’m still undecided as to whether to head to the park before I leave for Colorado. We will see what the morning brings.