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.
While 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.
In 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
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.
Hiking on Chalk Mountain late today, we came across an unfinished gazebo on a point overlooking the valley. The owner told me that the plan was to build a cover over this area with fire pit or BBQ grill but somehow time gets away from all of us and the party area was never finished. The solitary picnic table looks a bit lonely out here on the point and it seems a bit sad that this lovely area is not used by friends and family. Perhaps someday!
You 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.
But “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.
We woke up this morning to thunder and lightning and even had a strike so close the intruder alarms went off. There are a lot of cedar trees on the mountain that are being torn apart because of the ice, so much so that when standing outside you can hear the limps break off which creates a sound similar to the sound of gun fire. Looking around this morning we found a dozen or so trees with major damage and may have to be cut down or way back. The sad part is that since the mountain is made up of limestone, there is very little soil on top of the rock and trees, any plans actually, have a hard time getting solid roots down into the rocky crevasas so when you loose a tree up here, it takes years for a new one to regenerate. The scenery today is shear beauty but sometimes beauty has consequences.
In north Texas, we have been inundated with rain over the last few days and last night a cold front came through which dropped to temperatures in to the 30’s. At my house, we had 5″ of rain over the last two days but the ground was so warm nothing froze. But to the west at the Lookout Ranch on Chalk Mountain (which is about 600′ higher in elevation than my place) everything above the ground formed with ice. Although quite beautiful, the icing caused a lot of tree limb loss and frozen gate openings. The forecast is for off an on rain through Saturday but no more icing. The scene above is at the ranch looking to the north toward Bluff Dale and Tolar. Cold and dreary!
This morning as we were driving in the hill country, we passed a small herd of nice looking longhorns which reminded me of a photo I took in 2005 in down town Dallas. On the banks of the Trinity River in the southern part of downtown Dallas on Riverfront Drive, there is large gas station named Fuel City. Before they expanded, they had several acres fenced off on the north side of the river that held a small group of longhorns. This guy was the best looking of the group and the day I was there and was standing under a shade tree and not willing to move. I was trying to get a different angle but yelling at him was no help so after some time, I ended up with this pose. The spot where he is standing is now a car wash!