a different view of the West ….

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IMG_1485When I was a young man I had a very exciting job on then, one of the most technologically advanced deterents of the Cold War. On the eve of Memorial Day I am reflecting what I learned all those years ago plying the Pacific one the nuclear submarine USS Gurnard SSN662 and what I found was loyalty, team work, brotherhood and the satisfaction of a job well done and of time well served. I grew up a family and community where military service was expected and all of the men in my family had served in one war or another. My father told me stories of his service in the Army Air Corp in the South Pacific in 1945 and about my great-grandfather Peter B. Gipson who rode for the Union Calvary in the Civil War, of my great uncle Clyde Gipson who died in the Battle of the Argonne Forrest two days before the Armistace and is buried in same battlefield in France, of my mother’s brother George Friesen who was the US Army during the invasion of Okinowa and uncle Albert Pfitzner, who too old to enlist, ferried bombers between the US and Europe during WWII and finally, my late father-in-law Chuck Tolbert, who was in the 2nd Marine Division and fought in those horrific battles on Guadalcanal and Saipan. Now, to carry on the family tradition, my granddaughter Julia, is now serving in the US Navy. While most of us will be sitting around a pool or tending to the BBQ, please take time to remember those for who this day is dedicated.

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Visiting family in East Teas today, we stopped by the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market in Winnsboro, TX. There are a number of small towns that could benefit from what this community is doing. A number of local farms have booths selling honey, vegetables, home made bread, jellies, jams, etc. They are here ever Saturday, rain or shine and even had the little cheerleaders putting on a show today. Very impressive. The local street tacos smelled especially good. One cooking tip I did pick up is the lady making the tacos – look closely and you will see that she had the onions heating up on the grill before she cuts them up.

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IMG_5117-Edit-2On a recent trip to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico I found a Mexico that I knew 40 years ago. What we found was a city full of life and something interesting around every corner from parades, jazz groups playing on the corner or a mariachi band serenading a soon-to -be bride and her girlfriends. People always ask if we felt safe there and I can honestly say that every evening, after dinner, we would walk back 15  to 30 minutes to the house we rented (well, one night we did take a cab because we had already walked several miles that day) with no feeling of concern or foreboding. Many a time we would approach complete strangers on the street and ask for directions and if their English was not very good, they did the best they could to direct us. The only sirens I heard were from the ambulance on the way to a hospital near where we stayed. In fact, other than traffic enforcement officers, the only armed police we saw were assisting with traffic at a holiday parade we watched one day. More on this trip in posts to come but I did want to publish this photo I took one day while walking down the street. We saw few beggars in San Miguel (actually ran into more when we were in Italy last year) and in fact, were told that the authorities were trying to discourage this practice, but we did come across a few, mostly older women or women with young children. This scene was typical in that most people tried to ignore the person asking for the holdout or simply cross the street!

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DoNotMolestI have probably stepped on this manhole cover a dozen times but never paid much attention until today. In downtown Glen Rose, a friend of mine pointed out the inscription about “Do Not Molest”!! Hmmm! I wonder what the intention was when someone decided to mark this over with the warning? The burning question here is how do you molest a 50 pound still manhole cover?

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The Collings Foundation is a non-profit educational foundation devoted to supporting living history events to encourage learning by participation and one of their many endeavors is restoring aircraft from different eras. Today, at the Cavanuagh Flight Museum at Love Field in Dallas, they brought in a B-17 Flying Fortress, the last flying B-24 Liberator and a P-51 Mustang for both on the ground tours and (for those with $$) flight tours. One can take a ride in the P-51 Mustang for a mere $2,300 per half hour. The 30 minute flight on the B-17 and B-24 is about $500, which I was prepared to do, but today they were only available at 4:30 pm and I had obligations elsewhere. I am a huge fan of the 1949 film, 12 O’Clock High with Gregory Peck and crawling through that B-17 today, made me realize how brave those young men were who flew in those bombing raids over Germany and how nimble they were because the crawlspaces were really small. I spent 10 years in the Navy Submarine Service and thought I had been in some really tight quarters there, but let me tell you, I would have been hard pressed to go to war in the B-17. I will eventually take a ride in one of these fabulous aircraft as they do me through this area once a year. Take a look at their website – this is really some special organization.

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oldfireplaceWhile visiting our friends Gabriella and Luis’ house,  I got a good look at the outdoor fireplace. The guy who built this house in the 20’s was in charge of road construction in the Glen Rose, Somerville County, Texas area. Looking at all of the petrified wood, fossils and quartz in the face of this fireplace, I would assume that he had an easy time finding this material as the road building was taking place. Look to the lower left of the antlers and you will see a rather big fossil of a Nautilus. then look at how big some of the petrified wood pieces are! Just to the right of the Nautilus is a large piece of quartz crystal.  I see this material on a lot of the houses built int his area which makes this area a fossil hunter’s dream.

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oldcemeteryIn rural Johnson County, Texas near Alvarado there is an old cemetery that I drive by occasionally but have never stopped there. My son alerted me that there was some nice foliage there so early this morning, he and I went by to take some pictures. In the middle of the old headstones were a couple of lovely trees that were blooming and a nice contrast to the large oaks which are just now budding out. I used the term old, this cemetery was founded in 1852! Just think of that – only 7 years after Texas Statehood and 14 years after the Battle of the Alamo. This area was the frontier at that time and only a year before, the Caddo Indians had staged an uprising which forced most of the homesteaders in the area to flee. Of course there was always the notorious Comanche Indians who raided from Central Texas to Mexico, over to New Mexico and into Oklahoma. They were always a potential threat in the area until the Second Battle of Adobe Walls in 1874 when the US Calvary got them moving back the reservation at Fort Sill, OK. I really dislike history in school but these days, find it much more interesting. SG

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Most everyone is aware that feral hogs are a real problem. Driving around Glen Rose it is not hard to see how bad the problem in that unless your property is fenced off, the hogs come at night and root through your yard, garden, etc. causing thousands of dollars in damage. It is almost impossible to exterminate them yet the people affected keep trying. Today at 6:30 AM, we were up to watch the latest attempt at hog eradication. In this situation, some local men with trained dogs showed up on Chalk Mountain to try their hand at solving this problem. They had a pack of specially trained dogs (with radio collars) whose job it is to find, track and chase down any feral hogs they can find. Some of the dogs are trained to hunt the hogs down and others (with the protective vests on such as the Pit Bull in one of the photos)  then go in and grab the hogs by the ears, feet, tail or whatever they can grab and hold it down for the hunter to come in a kill the hog! All the pictures here were shot this morning in a variety of locations as the dogs and their handlers roamed all over the mountain. When the dogs were ready and turned loose, they were all business and looked like a bunch of kids just turned loose in the candy store. However, no luck today but they will come back next week and hunt at night.

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Ladder - 2You probably remember the photos I took of the ice storm last week on Chalk Mountain in Somerville County, TX and after surveying the damage, the clean up work has begun. Coming back to the ranch late last night, I spotted a tree in which someone had left a ladder leaning against after pruning the broken branches. I photo was begging to be taken and thankfully the landscape light was still working which gave me barley enough light to work with. Luckily I had my Canon M6 with me which was perfect for experimenting with.

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sunsetBut “red sky in the morn, sailor be warned”, or so they say.  I was a sailor once a long time ago when I was young and do remember that statement to be true. After a week of rain, sold, ice and just down right miserable weather, the sun actually came out at noon today. The ground, however is sopping wet and things are still a mess. Going into town today, the stores and restaurants, not to mention the highways, were jammed so it looks like cabin fever finally got a break. The sunset tonight was glorious and this photo is from my house in Johnson County but I can imagine what it was like on Chalk Mountain.

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