Saturday, July 31, 2010

Three States Plus One Plus a Few More (Plus Some Overseas Places, Too)

Sexy Russian Spy Lady
This blog first published on June 14, 2010 with this Award-Winning (OK...my Mom gave me a Dinky Button because she liked it) post about Outlaw Sam Bass . Over the last six weeks you've been incredibly supportive of a wet-behind-the-ears Middle Aged First Time blogger. And I thank you for that. I am honestly humbled by your generosity, but not so impressed that you don't have something better to do than read this drivel  well-researched documentary information. I say that with love in my heart. On to the point : you'll notice on the home page a widget for "Flag Counter". As you can tell, it shows where my readers are located by country. So far, I am a major disappointment  big hit in the USA, Canada, France, Great Britain, Taiwan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and I am HUGE in Russia and the Ruskies haven't sent me a single sexy Russian spy lady NOT ONE!! in return. WTF, comrades? I am, today, gonna share some Super Duper Secret Inside Blogger Information with you. If the Russians won't send the Sexy Russian Lady Spies to me, I'll share with you for free. Take that you Commie bastards! This link will give you a breakdown of  which state/country my readers are in and how many of them there are. These 259 unique visitors have viewed Three States Plus One over 1300 times in just six weeks. I thank you and am forever in your debt...unless the Russians send over some Sexy Female Spy Ladies. Then all bets are off. :)

Toby

Quick note : When you click the link above, be sure to expand each listing on Flag Counter by clicking on the "+". Doing that will give you a little more detail on who's where.

UPDATE : My wife says if I have anything to do with any Russian Spy Women, sexy or not, she will cut off my "caviar", if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Maine Minutiae : Presque Isle - Peninsula City

Aroostook County is an unspoiled diamond on what is called 'The Crown of Maine". That's waaaaaay up north for the uninitiated. Aroostook County is a large area, bigger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. Presque Isle is the major city in The County, as it is sometimes called. The city gets it name from the French word meaning peninsula. You see, Presque Isle is a peninsula formed by the Aroostook River and Presque Isle Stream. For a period of time, nobody was even sure if the town was in the USA or Canada, but that was settled the good old fashion way - war! Wikipedia states : "Originally known as Fairbanks for its founder Dennis Fairbanks, it was settled in 1828 in land that was unknown to be Canadian or American. The Aroostook War broke out in 1838 because of boundary disputes with Canada, which were resolved in 1842 by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty. The township was incorporated from Plantations F, G and H on April 4, 1859 as Presque Isle.." Today, being firmly ensconced in the US, Presque Isle is a bustling city of 9500 and a center for commerce and business. You'll also find the University of Maine- Presque Isle and Northern Maine Community College as well as a nationally recognized K-12 school system. There's a chance that the potatoes you had for supper last night came from Presque Isle or The County. To get a bit more on the history of Presque Isle click here. By the way, here's a note for you Mainers : the Northern Maine Fair gets underway today and runs for the next 8 days! Have a great weekend!

Texas Tidbits : Woodville - Where Fish.Fear.Me.

I have been around the coffee cup hunting the handle. I'm certainly not the most well-traveled guy in the metaphorical room, but I've been fortunate enough of to have seen much of this country from coast to coast, north to south. This is especially true of my beloved Texas. If you had a map of Texas, looked at El Paso and followed I-10 to San Antone, then I-37 all the way to Corpus Christi, the area below and left of .the Interstates is the only area of Texas I have not seen, but I'll conquer that part of the state soon. Long story short (I know; it's too late for that), as far as the Lone Star State goes, I've been there, done that. One place consistently stands out in my mind in the approximately 200,000 square miles of Texas I've seen. The 3.2 square miles that is Woodville. Woodville has no 100,000 seat football stadium or behemoth amusement park to attract visitors or tourists. To me, it has some things much more valuable and welcoming, its people and the gift from God of the land that surrounds it. The scenery and natural beauty around Woodville offer a guy like me, thankfully, something that can't be unseen. I haven't been there but once in the last fifteen years, but my friends and the places in Woodville are as fresh and vivid as if I were there a few minutes ago. Martin Dies State Park, home of Dam B (B. A. Steinhagen Lake), is a great place to camp and fish. I will point out to you that when you see a sign in the park that says something like "Beware of Alligators", they mean beware of alligators! Dam B and the surrounding countryside are home to some of the best fishing I have EVER experienced. Ivanhoe Lakes, south of town on Hwy. 69, is a residential community with several private lakes on the property. These lakes harbor some huge bass. I was lucky enough to know some folks who lived there, and at Ivanhoe Lakes, Fish.Fear.Me. On the north end of Dam B is the confluence of the Neches and Angelina Rivers. (In the Angelina link, Sam Rayburn Lake is on the right and the river is below the dam) The spot where the two rivers merge into Dam B is a sight to behold. The Neches is muddy and brown, while the Angelina is almost Royal blue - the contrast is amazing, as if the Good Lord got out His Heavenly Paint Pallet and decided to make a colorful imaginary border between the two. South of Woodville is Village Creek and the State Park named for it. The creek is so wide that is almost a small river and it is loaded with bass, crappie and catfish. Village Creek and the Angelina rate as my two favorite fishin' holes out of the literally thousands I have decimated. Fish.Fear.Me. Just ask the ones in Village Creek. :) On the outskirts of Woodville are many small communities - Warren, Fred, Spurger, Village Mills and more - that play host to dozens of creeks that run like aquatic ribbons throughout the area. I was kind enough to leave a few fish to repopulate the local watershed, so you, too, can enjoy what has brought me thousands of hours and hundreds of days of what I call "goin' to Church" - just me and God. I talked, He listened and I was Baptized in the Spirit. Thank you, Lord for this piece of Paradise and giving me the privilege of reaping its Bounty and becoming Your son and you my Father. Amen.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Colorado Chronicles : Alma - Town in the Clouds

Alma, Colorado, 10,578 feet closer to Heaven than sea level, is a town of about 200 people located between Fairplay and Breckenridge in Park County. Alma is the second highest incorporated city in the Lower 48 (Leadville is #1) so it is no surprise that it sits at the feet of five 14ers (mountains of at least 14,000 ft elevation and those mountains being Mt Democrat (14,148), Mt. Lincoln (14,286), Mt. Bross (14,172), Mt. Cameron (14,238 and Mt. Sherman 14,007). There's even a lake, Lake Kite, way up there at 12,400 feet! There are photos of Lake Kite at the link. One thing to keep in mind while viewing them, is that they were taken in Mid June! Mining, of course, is intertwined with Alma's very existence, even today. From colorado.com : "the current town lies downstream from the original Alma, or Buckskin Joe, as it was known during the mining heyday. At one time, area mines produced over $1,500,000 annually, before the ore petered out and a smallpox epidemic all but wiped out town residents. Relics and spirits remind Alma visitors of the town's mining history. The Sweet Home Mine still produces world-class specimens of rhodochrosite, a mineral known for its beautiful pink rose color". The scenery around Alma is magnificent as you can see in the photo above, so, in closing, I offer you this awesome photo collection from coloradoguy.com.

Maine Minutiae : Fat Guys Convention, Sardine Drop and Bingo & Ed McMahon

If that headline doesn't get your attention, I don't know what will. I found it at a website called All Things Maine, and I'll be lifting their material using them as a resource on a regular basis. The site is a written snapshot of the Maine of yesteryear. I beseech you to click on the link above and give those guys the hit, they deserve it for the obviously painstaking work they've done to come up with All Things Maine. Outstanding job, ATM!
1870 Maine must have been a hoot. I suppose murder, mayhem and corruption were in a lull in Lewiston on January 21, 1870, or maybe they were just overshadowed by The Fat Man Convention held that day. The article is flat funny! Notice the seriousness of the tone of the piece. Priceless. Not to be outdone, Eastport counters the Fat Guys with its annual New Years Eve Sardine and Maple Leaf Drop, now with video! Oh those wacky Mainers! While we up here on the edge of Cauckistan are not what you would call a "hotbed of Hispanic Culture", we do have a Mexico, Maine. (Don't ask me...). Mexico, Maine has gotten by quite nicely over the years, what with missing all those raids by Pancho Villa and all. But !, the town does have a claim to fame as a place where Ed McMahon, yes the Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrr'ssssss Johnny!!!!!!! Ed McMahon, was a bingo caller! Here are Ed's own words about it. You.Can't.Make.This.Stuff.Up. Again, thanks to All Things Maine, without whom the preceding moments of hilarity would not be possible. Now, I'll be off to Hog Island, where neither women or hogs are allowed. I'm serious as dandruff. You.Can't.Make.This.Stuff.Up.

Texas Tidbits : Fort Worth - Ah Luv Yew

I am on a bit of a Nostalgia Trip this week. I don't know exactly why, but I have been thinking back on what a "colorful" life I have lived and some of the places that "colorized" me. I came into this world on Sunday, September 16, 1956 at 8:41pm in Fort Worth, Texas. Although I haven't lived in Cowtown since I was nine years old, I have always had a special spot in my heart for it. I think it's because Fort Worth is the anti-Dallas. Big D is a great city, don't get me wrong, but to me it's a bit of a smug place compared to Fort Worth. Dallas = cosmopolitan, trendy, We're-a-big-city-not-a-large-town-dammit kind of place. Fort Worth = modern but old West-ish, cosmopolitan but Cowboy, We-ain't-Dallas-and-we-like-it-that-way-podnuh kind of place. (I loved those bumper stickers that read "Foat Wuth, Ah Love Yew") My kind of place. Fort Worth is the 17th largest city in the USA and 5th largest in Texas , yet in these modern times, maintains and proudly celebrates its Western heritage. Take, for instance, the iconic Fort Worth Stock Yards. This is probably the most famous landmark in the city - loaded with history and the feel of 1870. Not far from the Stock Yards is one of the best universities in the country, TCU, home of the Horned Frogs and Alma Mater to the Purple Cloud, number 74, Bob Lilly. Corporate HQ's in Fort Worth include AMR (American Airlines), Radio Shack and XTO Energy, Fortune 500 Companies all and they do bidness in Cowtown. When I travel in my mind's time machine back to Fort Worth in the early '60's, I am suddenly at Fossil Creek fishin' for catfish with my uncles, Tony and Tim or walking the railroad tracks for miles on end and picking up souvenir railroad spikes to tote back home. Or going to one of the best zoos in the nation, the Fort Worth Zoo and the nearby Botanical Gardens. POOF ! I am six years old again on a big piece of cardboard flying down the big ass grassy hill next to the duck pond at the Zoo, Natures Roller Coaster. Six years old hiding from restless Natives and man-eating tigers and lions in the jungle that is the Botanical Gardens. A six year old future Bill Dance finally managing to reel in (with the help of my Dad's Zebco 33) the catch of a lifetime from the Duck Pond at the Zoo. You know...a six year old and Fort Worth were a mighty fine pair of Podnuhs. Foat Wuth, Ah Luv Yew.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Maine Minutiae : York

On the southwestern coast of Maine sits Portland, the state's largest city. Part of the metro Portland area is the town of  York, one Maine's better-known summer resorts. Founded in 1638 by English settlers, York is actually the fourth name the town has gone by. According to yorkmaine.org : "York is actually the fourth name that the town has known.  The earliest records refer to the general area as Agamenticus, after the original inhabitants.  The first English settlers, having come from the region of Bristol, England, lent that name to the town until it became a chartered city under Sir Ferdinando Gorges, who renamed it Gorgeana in 1642.  The name York was appointed after the fall of the Loyalists under Cromwell in 1652, commemorating the town (York, England) in which Cromwell defeated the King's forces." York has also been host to many famous authors/writers, Mark Twain chief among them. Sandy beaches, lighthouses, golf courses, museums...find them all in York. Another cool thing in York is Mount Agamenticus, the tallest mountain on the Southern Maine coast. At the summit, 692 feet above sea level, the view of the Atlantic is spectacular, with a glimpse of Boston, about 75 miles away, not out the question! That's what I'm talkin' about! I find more to like about living in Maine with every Maine Minutiae I post. Add York to the list.

Texas Tidbits : Irving - My Hometown

I know many of my friends back in Texas will relate to this post. So many of them, like me, grew up or lived in Irving long enough to call it "my hometown". I moved to Irving the summer before my 10th birthday in 1966, and the population of Irving was, if I recall correctly, about 40,000. Now over 200,000 live in the City. Wow! My little town has grown up! Irving was founded in 1903 by J.O. "Otto" Schultz and Otis Brown (who was later mayor of Irving) and is believed to be named after author Washington Irving who was a favorite of Mrs. Brown. I haven't been to Irving in at least nine years, therefore I can only guess how much it's changed during that time. However, I do remember how Irving was when I was a little boy riding my Schwinn 5-Speed Stick Shift bike (even then the chicks dug a cool set of wheels :) ) literally all over town - from near Wakefield's Grocery and Mr. Wood's Barber Shop on Shady Grove all the way to the 183 Apartments where my Dad lived. As a kid , that was as cool as riding a Harley, pure freedom. Here are some other things that come to mind when reliving the '60's in my hometown, in no particular order...
  • Cliff's Donuts (and later next door Cliff's Pizza). Mr. Shasteen was a very nice man who on occasion let a group of young men of drinking age have all night get-togethers with FREE pizza ! Almost 40 years too late...thanks, Mr. Shasteen. Oh, yeah...Cliff's Donuts were a Sunday morning tradition for Sunday School at the Baptist Church just up the street on Story Road.
  • Denny's on Hwy.183...I spent many after partying hours eating chili there with Tommy Thompson and Mark Hardesty. Tommy's now dead (RIP BROTHER) and last I heard, Mark is a long-time guest of the State.
  • The 183 Drive-In - Where The Duke his own self, John Wayne stood on top of the concession stand with rifles a-blazin' for the World Premier of True Grit, in which Wayne won an Oscar for his role as Rooster Cogburn.
  • Texas Stadium - not only for all the Cowboys' games I attended there with Randy Randle, but for the thousands of fellow Nimitz High graduates who walked the stage passing from schoolkid to welcome-to-the real world young people.
  • Dar Roedel and Linda Staggs - These two ladies were more than teachers or counselors, they were friends and second Moms to an untold number of kids, me included. I love them dearly and will never forget the impact they had on my life. 
  • Friends - too many to mention, because there were/are so many of you. From waaaaaay back : Keith Story and Mark Warren. I have known those guys for over 40 years and I'll never forget them. Randy Randle, Marvin, Dee Dee, Dewayne, John and Marty. They treated me like one of their family and to this day, I consider them my family. Tommy Thompson...maybe the best friend I ever had, and that's saying something. I loved Tommy like a brother and wish I could have just one more beer with him. I hope I was half the friend to him that he was to me. Mark Hardesty... Mark was, shall we say, "rough around the edges", but he was a great friend. I would say more, but I'm not sure the Statute of Limitations has run out. All the friends I have re-connected with through Facebook. I love you guys and I can only say "It was fun" or "I'm sorry". You decide which camp you are in. :)
I could carry on for hours, but that will be for another time, perhaps. What are your memories of Irving? Or your hometown? Tell us in the comments, we'd love to know.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Colorado Chronicles : Sports Fan Edition

 When it comes to professional sports, few cities are as rabid about the home team as Coloradans. At the top of the list, without a shadow of a doubt, is the two-time Super Bowl Champs, Denver Broncos. There have been some outstanding players wear the Blue and Orange - Floyd Little, Haven Moses, Karl Mecklenberg, Terrell Davis. Only one name, however, is ever mentioned as Mr. Bronco and that is Hiram Lipschitz, I mean John Albert Elway. Number 7. The guy who sells a million new cars a year in Denver alone. Maybe I exaggerated that about the new cars, but there is no denying the man's career stats in the NFL: 51,475 yards passing, 300 TD passes, 2 Super Bowl Titles, etc. etc., etc. Elway was a beast on the gridiron. The picture above is of  Invesco Field at Mile High, the Home of the Broncos and 76,125 insane fans, not to mention the millions of other Broncos supporters throughout Colorado. On your typical autumn Sunday, it seems like the whole state shuts down for three and a half hours during Broncos games. Denver pro football fans are nuts about their Broncos.
During Major League Baseball season, the Colorado Rockies rule the roost in the Mile High City. 50,445 seat Coors Field (yes, that Coors) is home to the Rockies 81 games a summer and is one of, if not the, most beautiful ballpark in the majors. Of course, having the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop doesn't hurt things much. The Rockies inaugural season was 1993 and they have had some success having made the playoffs and even reached a World Series, but it's hard to measure up to the 50 year history and tradition of the Broncos. Still, there are worse ways to spend a summer night than at Coors Field soaking up the National Pastime. It just goes to show that Denver is a big-time city with big-time pro sports and two beautiful facilities in which to enjoy them.

NOTE : I know about the Nuggets and the Avalanche, and we'll get to them another time.

Maine Minutiae : Rangeley

I first learned of Rangeley about a week ago when my cousin by marriage, Ashley, mentioned that she and her boyfriend were going there for the weekend. I was curious, so I looked it up, and what I found is wowzers! Just look at the picture to the left. I. Want. To. Go. There. Here's some of what I learned from rangeley-maine.com : "Until 1796 the area belonged to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. That year four men – including James Rangeley Sr. of Philadelphia – purchased nearly 31,000 acres between the Kennebec River and New Hampshire for timber and mineral rights. The area was inhabited by five different Indian tribes at the time...". A more comprehensive look at the area's history can be found here . Rangeley is now a town of a few people over 1000 and is a popular vacation destination. With the chain of lakes there, I guess so! I've gotta pack up the Tribe and ease on over to Rangeley soon - and I mean soon. The trout population may never recover after I am through with them. Fish. Fear. Me. Click on the links scattered about the post for a ton of great information and photos, then leave a comment about what you think.

Texas Tidbits : The First Cattle Drive

Cattle drives are as Texan as corn bread and pinto beans. They've been a part of our heritage for hundreds of years. Did you know that the first cattle drive in Texas was a result of the American Revolution, and took place some fifty-seven years before the Alamo? Me either,un- til this morning. In 1779, Spain became a crucial ally to the American colonists fighting for their independence, by declaring war on Great Britain. King Carlos III commissioned Bernardo de Galvez, for whom Galveston is named, to attack British forces along the Mississippi. In order to continue the assault, Galvez needed food for his army. The Handbook of Texas Online picks it up from there : "In order to feed his troops, Gálvez sent an emissary, Francisco García, to Texas governor Domingo Cabello y Robles requesting the delivery of Texas cattle to Spanish forces in Louisiana. Accordingly, between 1779 and 1782, 10,000 cattle were rounded up on ranches belonging to citizens and missions of Bexar and La Bahía." There you have it. the first cattle drive in Texas history. I had never really thought about Texas' role in the American Revolution, but now that I have tasted the first morsel  of it, I am hungry for more. I'll employ my Google-Fu to see what else we can learn about the subject in a future post. Adios, y'all.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Colorado Chronicles : Idaho Springs

If I were in Denver, I'd get on I-70 and head west. Why? One reason is because my Mom lives in the mountains west of Denver. Another is that are some cool little towns on I-70 west of Denver. Georgetown comes to mind. Lake Georgetown is there. Fish.Fear.Me. Enough said. Out of Lake Georgetown flowing east is Clear Creek, which leads us to Idaho Springs. As with many mountain towns in Colorado, mining, specifically gold, has played a significant role in the history of Idaho Springs. In January, 1859, Goerge A. Jackson, Missouri native with experience in the gold mines of California, discovered gold where Chicago Creek empties into Clear Creek (present-day Idaho Springs). Boom followed by bust visited Idaho Springs, as with so many mining towns in the Rockies and elsewhere. There are, however, restored mines in the area where one can learn of the mining history of the town and its importance to the area. As a matter of fact, you can still pan for gold there. From colorado.com : "There are plenty of good little restaurants in Idaho Springs, including a brewpub. All are affordable, as is area lodging and genuinely unique shopping. After a long day of playing tourist, enjoy the hot mineral waters of the springs for which the town is named. You can stay at the hot springs lodge or just visit the geothermal springs and caves for a fitting end to your hard-working day." Get more info at the links above and make plans to visit Idaho Springs...and Lake Georgetown. Fish.Might.Fear.You.Too.

Maine Minutiae : The People of the Dawn

The People of the Dawn, or Wabanaki, consists of five tribes of eastern Indians who formed a coalition during the 19th Century to stem the tide of Iroquois aggression. The tribes - the Abenaki, Penobscot, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy and Mi'kmaq - disbanded their confederacy in 1862, but the tribes still maintain close relationships with each other. The Wabanaki are spread from the Canadian Province of Newfoundland to the Merrimac River Valley in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The Wabanaki have faced many challenges throughout their history including wars and epidemics brought to the New World by European settlers and armies. The modern-day tribes of  The People of the Dawn keep many of their ancestral traditions alive while using 21st Century technology, i.e., the World Wide Web, to teach those traditions and to inform others of their culture. There is some fascinating information at the links in this post, so when you get some time, read them and learn about some of the First Americans.

Texas Tidbits : Jefferson

Texas, as you know, is loaded with history. One of the least-known, most historic places in the state is the city of Jefferson in Marion County deep in East Texas. In spite of its location, Jefferson is historic for being one of the busiest ports in Texas at the time. Yes, I said port. But Jefferson is in the woods, you say to yourself. True that, but it is also situated near the Red River on Big Cypress Bayou on what was, and still is, calledThe Turning Basin, where steam wheelers loaded and unloaded cargo. At that time, Jefferson was one of the most important ports in Texas... until nitroglycerin came along. Since its peak population of around 7000 at the peak of river traffic, Jefferson is now a beautiful town of 2000 that relies on tourism as one of its main sources of income, with attractions ranging from several museums and antique shops to the historic Excelsior House and carriage rides through this historic place.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Be Back Monday

I Hope They're Bitin'
I am taking the weekend off from the blog so I can let my wife and kids harass me for a couple of days. If this is your first visit here (or if it's been a while since you've paid us a visit), please stroll through the archives. There's some good stuff in them. Be safe and have a great weekend !

Toby, aka, FishFearMe

Texas Tidbits : A Preacher Armed With The Word (And a Pistol)

You just know you're in a rough and tumble place when a Methodist Preacher carries a sidearm. Such is the case with the Reverend Jesse Lee in 1903 Trinity County. You see, 28 year old Lee had been a preacher in Malakoff and Beaver Valley before being sent to Groveton. Malakoff and Beaver Valley were filled with fine, law-abiding citizens and congregation members. Groveton? Not so much. When Lee arrived in Groveton in 1903, he was, shall we say, appalled, at the lack of law enforcement and the open sale of the Demon Rum, which was supposedly illegal. The young Padre ( I know he wasn't Catholic, I just like to call preachers "padre") didn't exactly make a good first impression on some of the fine citizens of Groveton. From texasescapes.com : "On his first morning in Groveton Lee presided at the funeral of a young church member who had been murdered. He soon named criminals from his pulpit and where they gathered." Not. A. Good. Move. Once when Jesse went to see the Head Methodist Guy in Crockett, some folks in Groveton burned down his church! Not exactly what you'd call the "Christian attitude": read the rest of the story here. It gets better and I won't spoil the ending. Armed with The Word is powerful enough. But, when a preacher is packin' heat, too, that could be a sign. Just sayin'.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Colorado Chronicles : Granby


























See that photo up there^^^? That's what I'm talkin' about ! That is Lake Granby,near Granby, CO, about 85 west of Denver. I have been there and as beautiful as this picture is, it still doesn't do justice to what is shown. In person Lake Granby is even more visually stunning. Imagine that if you can. At 7935 feet high in the Rockies and home to a touch over 1500 lucky people, Granby is in one of the most scenic locales in the world. The town was founded in 1904 by a  lawyer named Hilyer Granby and was incorporated in 1905. As you have probably surmised by now, in the summer months there are numerous outdoor activities to take advantage of and some oustanding places to visit while you're in Granby. Just beacause Old Man Winter makes his annual trek through the Rockies, doesn't mean you have to be stranded inside for several months. Au contraire, podnuh. Granby is just a hop, skip and a jump from some of the best snow skiing in the world at Winter Park. Towns like Granby are just one of several thousand reasons I'd live in a small town over the city any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Maine Minutiae : Hallowell (Home of 2 New Fishin' Holes)

Hallowell Classical and Scientific Academy, 1882 (courtesy vintagemaineimages.com)


I was in Hallowell yesterday. Actually, I was at the reservoir there watching the wife and kids do some swimming. Add to that, the fact that I found a new fishin' hole and it was a good day. Not bad for an 11.6 mile round trip. Hallowell was first settled in 1762 by Deacon Pease Clark, his wife and son Peter on what is now Water Street in downtown Hallowell. As far as commerce in early Hallowell, Wikipedia informs us : "Thriving industries included shipbuilding (between 1783 and 1901, 50 ships were launched from Hallowell's wharves), trading, publishing and logging. Two grist mills, five sawmills and two slaughterhouses served the needs of residents near and far." Of course being on the banks of the Kennebec River played a large role in these businesses. Augusta was considered part of Hallowell until 1797 when it became its own city. Today Hallowell is home to artisans, musicians and folks who've lived their entire lives there. Ooooooooooooohhhhhh...I am almost forgot that while looking up stuff for this post, I found this old granite quarry. I just might have thoroughly investigate whether or not any species of the piscatorial variety inhabit that water.

Texas Tidbits : Texas Monthly's Top 10 Hiking Trails (For Tim F.)

With 267,000 square miles to explore, it makes sense that Texas would have some great places to take a hike. And it does. Today we'll take a look at Texas Monthly Magazine's choices for the Top 10 hiking trails in the Lone Star State. Before getting started, I'd like to dedicate this post to a long-time friend, Tim F., who recently had some major heart surgery. Tim, I know you have two speeds - full tilt boogie and asleep - so I offer to you these places to get some rehab in, since a large part of your rehab is walking. Tim, these are ten of the best places in Texas to walk! So, get walkin', Mister! :) These trails stretch  from the Davis Mountains in Far West Texas to my personal favorite The Big Thicket in Southeast Texas. (Village Creek in the Big Thicket is one of the hidden jewels of Texas fishing. Trust me on this. I have fished there hundreds of times. It's Top 10 worthy itself). With all that said I'll send you off to Texas Monthly's website to get the full story. Tim...click this link !

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Maine Minutiae : Waterville

About twenty miles up I-95 from my house is the city of Waterville, home to about 15,000 Mainers. Despite the fact that it's not a large city, Waterville is a bustling town with plenty of major retail chain stores and restaurants doing business there. It seems as it's always been that way throughout the city's history. Waterville's location at the confluence of the Kennebec and Sebasticook Rivers plays (played) an important role in its developement. Wikipedia passes this along : "Early industries included fishing, lumbering, agriculture and ship building, with larger boats launched in spring during freshets. By the early 1900s, there were five shipyards in the community. Ticonic Falls blocked navigation further upriver, so Waterville developed as the terminus for trade and shipping." Here's a brief history of Waterville from watervillemaine.net. There are three things that attract me to Waterville, the aforementioned Kennebec and Sebasticook Rivers and Messalonskee Stream . I can smell the trout in that stream from here. Fish.Fear.Me. :)

Texas Tidbits : Bonnie and Clyde

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
The 1930's will be remembered for at least two things : The Great Depression and legendary criminals...Dillinger, Capone, Baby Face Nelson and perhaps the two most famous of all, Bonnie and Clyde. Texans, both, Clyde was born in Ellis County in 1909, Bonnie in Rowena in 1910. Both were gunned down by just-as-legendary FBI man, Melvin Purvis and other law enforcement officers in Bienville Parrish, Louisiana on May 23, 1934. I've (and I'm sure you have, too) heard about Bonnie and Clyde literally my whole life and am somewhat familiar with their escapades. But, it struck me like somebody hit me between the eyes with a Louisville Slugger when I actually looked at their birthdays and death date. Clyde was 2 months past his 25th birthday and Bonnie was still a young woman ("lady" hardly seems like the appropriate word) of only 24. My KIDS are older than that! Wow! Bonnie and Clyde have been memorialized in song (Merle Haggard, The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde, 1968), movies (Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, 1967) and a enough books, if laid side-by-side, to reach from El Paso to Texarkana. The way these two have been romanticized, you'd think they were John F. and Jackie Kennedy. Just remember, they were bank robbers and cold blooded killers, no different than Al Capone or John Dillinger. I checked out the FBI site for some information, and they've got a thumbnail sketch of their rundown of Bonnie and Clyde. It's a quick and interesting read. Until next time, y'all !

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Colorado Chronicles : USAFA Astronauts

Today marks the 41st anniversary of "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" as it was broadcast to The Big Blue Marble from the surface of the Moon. So, I thought today would be a good time to recognize each of our Three States and their connections to NASA and/or the space program. So, what do Colorado and NASA have in common? Simply the most important single component (other than perhaps the spacecraft) to the entire space program, namely astronauts. How are astronauts and Colorado connected? Five letters - USAFA. The United States Air Force Academy . Over fifty astronauts have attended the Academy. Some of the names you'll easily recognize, like Alan Shepard, the first American in space. Or Wally Schirra - the only man to fly in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. Most are not household names and, to me, there's a good reason for that. Since the inception of the manned flight space program, traveling to the Moon or watching the Space Shuttle repair a wayward satellite has become almost "routine" despite the complexity and enormity of each mission. In 1969, when Neil Armstrong stepped out of the "Eagle" (Lunar Excursion Module) onto the surface of Earth's nearest space neighbor, space flight was still thought of as new, exciting and dangerous. Not so much today, even though the missions are just as new, exciting and dangerous, if not more so, as they were 41 years ago - just more "routine". :)

Maine Minutiae : The Space Glove

Forty one years ago today, man first foot on the moon. Honoring that extraordinary achievement, I am posting about the Three States (TX, ME, CO) connections to NASA and/or the space program. Even way up here we have had an impact.
Peter Homer of Southwest Harbor, Maine is an engineer. In 2007, Peter took up NASA'S call to build a better space glove for the first-ever Astronaut Glove Challenge. Boy, did he ever! He won the competition ! You'd think that Mr. Homer would have spent endless hours in some high tech laboratory, which he probably did. BUT, and that's one BIG but, Peter actually did most of the work on his astronaut glove design on his kitchen table ! With materials he purchased at Home Depot and from eBay! I. Kid. You. Not. ! For his efforts, he picked up a $200,000 prize from NASA. I guess this story (and Peter Homer) prove the old K.I.S.S. Theory - Keep It Simple Stupid. Way to go, Pete !

Texas Tidbits : Houston (and the Moon)

Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States with a population of about 2.3 million people in the city itself, and almost 6 million in the metro area. Land-wise, Houston is the sixth largest metro area in the US at 600 square miles. I chose today to make this post on the Space City because of the date, July 20. It was 41 years ago today that Neil Armstrong uttered some of the most famous words in history - "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." A seemingly innocuous quote until you consider that they were spoken from the surface of the moon! It was July 20,1969 that Houston not only became the first word spoken from a celestial body other than Earth, but also truly became an international city on that day, thrust into the limelight with one of the, if not the most amazing human accomplishment in the history of the world. Of course another Neil Armstrong quote became fairly well-known as well. I guess this post is not much about  Houston itself, but its connection to and place in this monumental event. It's that kind of pioneering spirit and can-do attitude that the Allen brothers brought to the banks of Buffalo Bayou in 1836 when Houston was founded and named after the then-President of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston. A bigger-than-life city named after a bigger-than-life man. Fitting.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Maine Minutiae : The Coast and Islands of Maine

If you were to measure the coastline of Maine from the southwest to the northeast it would be only 228 miles. Having said that, you could have knocked me over with a feather to find out that Maine has almost 3500 miles of shoreline! That's more than California and 46 other states! Only Florida and Louisiana (lots of bayous there) have more shoreline than Maine! I can believe that because there are so many rivers and streams in Maine. Not to mention over three thousand islands in the state!  Knowing that, it's easy to see where the almost 3500 miles number comes from. The coast of Maine provides some of the most picturesque scenery in the world. I lifted this  borrowed this from waterfrontpropertiesofmaine.com, "Some 25,000 years ago, Maine was covered with ice thousands of feet thick. Since the big melt of that Ice Age, which formed the many peninsulas, great bays and islands of the coast of Maine, since the Pilgrims' very first landing in the New World on this "rockbound coast" (not at Plymouth), since the mid-1800's when coastal steamers and trains began bringing summer visitors - the coastline of Maine has remained one of the most spectacular regions in the entire world, its natural beauty largely unspoiled by man or time". I've lived here in Maine for over four years now, and I've seen probably half of its coastline, so let me  repeat what I just wrote a sentence ago : "the coastline of Maine has remained one of the most spectacular regions in the entire world, its natural beauty largely unspoiled by man or time". True, that

Colorado Chronicles : Cripple Creek

One of the great things about Colorado is that it's loaded with small towns, since so much of the state's population lives in the Denver-Boulder area. I like that way. Small towns are my gig. Small towns such as Cripple Creek. Once in Cripple Creek, you'll be only about 45 miles southweast of Colorado Springs and a little over 100 miles from the Mile High City.
Like so many mountain towns in Colorado, Cripple Creek was once a booming mining spot. On October 20, 1890, Robert Womack "discovered a rich ore and the last great Colorado gold rush was on. Thousands of prospectors flocked to the region, and before long W. S. Stratton located the famous Independence lode, one of the largest gold strikes in history." (source: Wikipedia). This, too, would pass. On the verge of becoming a ghost town, the city rallied when the state of Colorado legalized gambling in Central City, Blackhawk and Cripple Creek  in 1991. Revenue from gaming and tourism has revitalized this former gold rush, almost-ghost town. Life is good 9400 feet plus in the Rockies, thanks to another kind of gold.

Texas Tidbits : Hall of Fame Cowboy : Bill Pickett

On December 5, 1870 a little boy of African, Caucasian and Cherokee heritage was born near Taylor, Travis County, Texas, to a former slave named Thomas Jefferson Pickett and Mary "Janie" Gilbert. That little boy, William "Bill" Pickett would grow up to be one of the most famous cowboys of all time. Young Bill attended school through fifth grade, quit and began the epic journey from school boy to super star cowboy as a ranch hand. Pickett was so adept at things cowboy, in 1905 he joined the 101 Ranch Wild West Show. As a member of the 101 show, Bill worked along side some other fairly well-known cowboys - Will Rogers and Buffalo Bill, to name a couple. Considering the times and this man's heritage, what were the odds of him being perhaps the Greatest Cowboy of that era? Pickett thrilled audiences all over the world with his extraordinary skills and abilities. Bill Pickett died April 2, 1932 doing what he loved, being a cowboy and was honored accordingly in 1971 by being inducted to the National Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame and, in 1989, was named to the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. With credentials such as those, it's no wonder Pickett was and by many is still called, The Greatest Cowboy.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Plus One : Tennessee, The Volunteer State

The USA is made up of fifty incredible states, with each state being unique is its own magical way, so it's very difficult to say that I like one more than the other...with two exceptions. Texas and Tennessee. Texas is number one because...well, it's Texas. And home. If I weren't a Texan, I'd be honored to call Tennessee home. It's an easy call for me because the histories of Texas and Tennessee are forever intertwined (Davy Crockett and the Alamo anyone?). According to 50states.com , "Tennessee won its nickname as The Volunteer State during the War of 1812 when volunteer soldiers from Tennessee displayed marked valor in the Battle of New Orleans". Marked valor at he Battle of New Orleans and such indescribable bravery and sacrifice at the Alamo. These are my people, those Volunteers. Besides heroic soldiers and brave warriors, many, many other notable folks were born in Tennessee or made it their home. Want some names? OK...Elvis and B.B. King (and Lucille, of course) called the River City of Memphis home. We already know about Davy Crockett, but let's not forget "Old Hickory", Andrew Jackson, Daniel Boone or Sam Houston. Athletes? Sure...Peyton Manning, Reggie White, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, etc, etc, etc. Tennessee has produced Presidents (James K. Polk & Andrew Johnson) and Vice Presidents (Al Gore). Tennessee is an absolutely gorgeous state, divided geographically into three regions - East TennesseeMiddle Tennessee and West Tennessee. After reading the information about the Volunteer State at the links, plus knowing about some the historic Tennesseans (except Al Gore, of course), now you understand why I feel such kinship to Tennessee. Like I said earlier, easy call.                                  

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Colorado Chronicles : Indian Peaks

See that lake in the photo? That's Brainard Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area on the Continental Divide. They call it Indian Peaks because most of the major mountain tops are named for, you got it, Indians! Brainard is one of six lakes that stair-step up the side of the mountain as you enter the area from the trail head. I have fished them all numerous times and I must say, the trout population was severely impacted. :) When I went Indian Peaks, I entered at the trail head and then immediately listened for the sound of running water. That would be the creek that winds up/down the mountain side and acts as a connection to all six lakes and a "private" trail away from other hikers on the main trail. I came to fish, not look at someone's ass for several miles of trail walking uphill. Eventually you'll pass the last lake and reach timber line on the mountain. Even in summer time, there's a permafrost on the north side of the hill that slooooooowwwly drips like a leaky kitchen faucet, and before you know it, you have a creek, then lakes meandering down the mountain. One of the cool things I encountered was a HUGE field of boulders (at about 10,000 feet) almost as big as a small house. Remember the drip I wrote about a couple sentences ago? That drip carves a rut in the mountainside, forming a small stream and disappears under this big-ass boulder field! As the creek gets bigger, still under the boulders, you can hear it rushing by as it makes its way downhill. It's really cool! The view another 1000 feet up is clear and stunning. As you look east, I swear you can see Kansas from up there. Indian Peaks is just of the historic Peak to Peak Scenic Byway. Hell, the day trip on the Peak to Peak is another story in and of itself...absolutely beautiful.

Maine Minutiae : Maine History 1775-1820

As I was browsing the web looking for material for this post, I came across a site dealing with various periods of Maine's history. This caught my eye. It caught my eye because of the similarity of what was happening in the late 18th century and early 19th century with what our country is experiencing today. Namely, federal/British government intrusion into states' and individuals' rights. It's a rather lengthy read, so grab a cup of coffee, settle in and read the entire article and you'll see what I mean. Here is an excerpt :"After the long struggle with France and its Indian allies ended in 1763, British national debt stood at an all-time high, and its empire now included Canada, parts of the Caribbean, Florida, and a vast territory west of the Appalachians. Faced with these burdens, Britain launched a broad program of imperial reorganization, expecting the American colonies to contribute to the cost of maintaining their own defense." Another one : "The question of separation first arose during the Revolution. When Massachusetts appeared unable or unwilling to protect the eastern frontier from British occupation, towns petitioned for aid, pointing out that all governments existed to secure life, liberty, and property, and if Massachusetts failed to achieve this, eastern Maine was within its rights to secede." Regarding the second excerpt, think illegal immigration, Texas and Arizona. At least TX and AZ have the balls to do something,while Washington, D.C. has its collective thumb up its ass playing popsicle. That's my opinion. Share yours in the comment section 'cause we'd love to hear it.

Texas Tidbits : Texas Business of the Week : Linda Kay Lens Photography

I have known Linda Hudson Miller for over 40 years. Like so many of us, after we graduated from High School, we went off to seek fame and fortune in our own directions. I must say that Linda has truly found her path in life with her chosen profession. She is an entrepreneur and the owner of Linda Kay Lens Photography. Go to Linda's website and look at some of the amazing work she has done. She makes the camera an extension of her own eye to get some incredible images. Contact Linda through her Facebook page. She'll give you low down on all the services she provides, prices, etc, plus she has posted some links to articles that can help you in your own pursuit of photographic excellence.

Disclaimer; Linda, nor her company, are compensating me in any way, shape or form for posting this piece.  I did this post because I went to her site and saw a snapshot (pun intended) of the fantastic work she does. On top of that, I wanted to highlight some local (for that area) businesses for a job well done.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Maine Minutiae : Hurricanes

Inclement weather in Maine usually involves thunderstorms, high winds, heavy snow or ice storms. Oddly enough, tropical weather systems meander their way up the East Coast and occasionally affect us way up here in The Pine Tree State. According to pivot.net, "Storms also occur out of season. On February 5, 1952, a strong storm originating in the tropics, hit Maine with strong winds, rain, and snow. It is still being debated as to whether this storm was in fact a hurricane/tropical storm". The New England Hurricane of 1938,  ranks as one of the costliest (3.6 billion 1990 dollars) storms in US history and the deadliest in Maine history with eleven fatalities and over 2000 serious injuries. On average, a hurricane will strike Maine every four years with September 1- September  15 being the likeliest times for a direct hit. Since I've been in Maine, we've yet to experience a storm of this nature, though last year (I think) a hurricane was headed this way and at the last minute veered off into the Canadian Maritimes. I have now been here for over 4 years, so if we get any "tropical excitement" this summer, I'll brave it out to keep you informed...maybe. :)

Texas Tidbits : The Galveston Hurricane of 1900

The Date : September 8, 1900. The Place : Galveston, Texas. The Event : The Galveston Hurricane of 1900. The Result : At least 8000 (maybe as many as 12,000) dead. 6000 dead on Galveston Island alone, making this storm the deadliest natural disaster in the history of the USA. That photo up there ^^^? That's the aftermath of this horrific Act of Nature. This storm (hurricanes weren't formally given names until 1950), was, at first, predicted to move up the East Coast, but it didn't quite work that way. From Weather Events :  "Forecasters at the US Weather Bureau office in Washington DC examined the maps and, using their knowledge of past hurricane behavior, expected the storm would curve along a northeasterly track across Florida and then northward along the US east coast. The office telegraphed a forecast to New Orleans at midday on September 5 stating the storm "probably will be felt as far north as Norfolk [Virginia] by Thursday night [September 6] and is likely to extend over the middle Atlantic and South New England states by Friday.
The Galveston Hurricane, however, had other ideas. Rather than follow the more likely path which would recurve back toward the Atlantic, it continued on its west-northwest course. As it moved into the Gulf of Mexico, it gave gale force winds to Tampa on Florida's west coast, Key West, and Jupiter on Florida's east coast, assuring weather forecasters in Washington that it was moving over the state. But a region of high pressure located to the east blocked this path, and the storm turned into the Gulf and toward Galveston." But for a single High Pressure System, the history of Galveston and, perhaps, the East Coast would be very different from the way it turned out.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

NOTE : Medical Issues


I have some medical issues to deal with today. Please visit some of the great blogs on my "Stuff I Read" list. You'll be glad you did !

Thanks,
Toby

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

NOTE : POSTS WILL BE LATER TODAY

I have an appointment with the Doctor this (Thursday) morning. I am not sure when I'll get back, as he may send me to see a specialist or get some x-rays (or whatever).Be sure to check out the section on the right side of this page called "Stuff I Read". There are some real good blogs listed that are run by some real good people. If you stop by one of them, tell 'em "FishFearMe" (that's me) sent you. Thanks!

Toby

Colorado Chronicles : Denver's 2009 Summer Storm

Almost a year ago to the day, the Metro Denver area suffered the second costliest storm in the history of the state of Colorado. The video and slideshow here give you an idea of what the residents in the path of the storm saw as they emerged from their homes in its aftermath. The weather system that spawned the storm brought with it golf ball sized hail and 60 mph winds that uprooted trees, snapped power poles and two tornadoes. The final tally of the damage? $350 million dollars. Coupled with a storm in June, 2009, the total damage to the Mile High City and suburbs was a staggering one-half billion dollars. Seeing bad weather creeping over the Rockies in the distance is a unique experience. Probably similar to seeing an approaching dust storm in West Texas. Once, I was fishing about 30 miles north of Denver when I saw a storm coming over the mountains to the west. Menacing dark gray and black clouds in the distance rolling over and down the hills, soon to swallow them up like a cheap hamburger were headed my way. I fished for a few more minutes with my eyes glued to the approaching rain, when I felt the hair on my arms stand up. I dropped my graphite fishing rod like a bad habit. Lightning and graphite! I was a human lightning rod! Adios fish! About ten minutes later, it came a frog strangler. My advice to you is : if you see dark clouds pouring over the Rockies...leave the graphite at home.

Maine Minutiae : Heat Waves ?

Yup. Heat waves in Maine. My friends in Texas might get a chuckle out of those words - "heat waves in Maine". Although nothing up here will ever approach the magnitude of the Summer of 1980 in Texas, it still gets pretty warm up here in our neck of the woods. Just last week, we had actual summer temperatures in Maine. Keep in mind, that the average high/low for Augusta this time of year is 81/60, and the majority of homes up here have no central a/c. The highest temperature ever recorded in Maine was 105 degrees at North Bridgeton, July 10, nineteen eleven ! According to weather.com, the record high for Augusta is 100 on August 5, 1955. Conersely, the record low for Augusta is 33 BELOW zero on December 19, 1975, exactly one week after my wife was born. Coincidence? Back to summer...as I type this, it is 73 degrees at 12:45 pm. Did I mention that it's summer time here? We'll probably hit 90 another time or two before autumn pays a visit, but that's one of the perks of living in the Pine Tree State...warm, wet, (think April, Texans) short summers. Sure, the winters can be brutal, but I have two little girls and a wife to snuggle with to keep me warm when it's freeze-your-ass-off cold. Therefore, I have no complaints.

Texas Tidbits : 1957 Dallas Tornado

April 2,1957. I was six and a half months old that day living in Fort Worth doing whatever six and month old kids do. A mere 32 miles away, Mothers all over Dallas were seeking shelter and safety for their own children as an F3 tornado bore down on the Big D. Soon ten people would be dead, 200 others injured and $4 million (1957 dollars) property damage was done. In the photo above, if you look at the top right-hand corner, you can see the Pegasus, which means to me that you are looking west as the twister approaches downtown Dallas. As a little boy I remember my parents and other grown ups talking about this event. Texas is certainly no stranger to tornadoes, but they normally strike in the far reaches of the state, not Dallas or, as in 2003 in downtown Fort Worth. However, as is often the case in tragic stories like this, something good comes the despair. My friend and fellow Class of '75, Nimitz High graduate, Kim Skeene Henning was born the day the tornado hit Dallas. Kim writes this interesting observation : "I always think of Mark Twain being born w/ Haley's comet and then dying when he saw it again... not saying I want to die in a tornado, but being born in such a great natural event makes me think of that." Nicely said, Kim. Nicely said.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Colorado Chronicles : The Bizzard of 2003

 When living in the mountains west of Denver, I saw some pretty bad snowstorms, the worst of which dropped 54 inches of snow on my front yard. That one's a piker compared to the big blast in 2003. The Blizzard of 2003 stands as one of the worst snowstorms in Colorado History. For instance, my good friend Doreen Bob and her family were living in a town called Rollinsville (elev. about 8200 ft.) near where I lived at one time. They got eighty-seven, that's 87(!) inches of snow from this storm. She showed me some pictures of the aftermath and cars were completely buried in snow. Street signs disappeared under snow. Houses (including my Mom's a few miles away) had snow blocking all ground level doorways. It took my Step Dad three days to clear a path from their front door to the street. For the area around Rollinsville-Nederland-Central City and Metro Denver, it took over 1000 workers one week to clear the roads. Amazing. Denver International Airport was shut down as were most business due to the enormous amount of snow. So the next time you think you've got it bad, think of those folks in Colorado held hostage by Jack Frost. Then, you'll realize whatever weather-related inconveniences that got you down ain't so bad.
Got a weather story to pass on? Share it with us in the comments.

Maine Minutiae : The Great Ice Storm of 1998

Mother Nature can be a cruel mistress when she sees fit to. The Northeast US and Southeast Canada found out firsthand what a bitch she can be, starting on January 5, 1998. The setup from Wikipedia : "A series of surface low pressure systems passed in this atmospheric circulation between January 5 and January 10, 1998. For more than 80 hours, steady freezing rain and drizzle fell over an area of several thousand square miles of Eastern Ontario, including Ottawa and Kingston, an extensive area in southern Quebec, northern New York, and northern New England (including parts of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine)." My wife, Heather, had a few days off work at the time, and decided to drive from her home is Eastport to Sidney (just north of Augusta) to visit her aunt and uncle. Soon after her arrival, the freezing rain started and didn't stop for  more than three days. Heather writes, "Two things stick out in my mind when I think of the Ice storm in 98.  The first one happened when I was visiting family in central Maine.  I woke up hearing the news on the radio that Sonny Bono died in that skiing accident.  Drowning out the radio however was the snapping, and popping of the trees in my family's backyard.  You could hear that snapping,crackling, and popping of the trees all day and into the night.  Another thing that sticks out in my mind was when I was going home to my mother's house who lives in downeast Maine.  They didnt have their power back yet and my mother took everything from her fridge and freezer and put it in the backyard in the snow and on a table they put outside.  Talk about your Yankee ingenuity." On top of that, over 700,000 of Maine's 1.2 people were without electricity, some for months including Heather's aunt and uncle. A more detailed account of the Great Ice Storm of 1998 can be found here.

Texas Tidbits : Wichita Falls - Terrible Tuesday

I moved to Wichita Falls in November, 1979 to begin what would be a fifteen year odyssey into the world of radio at the "King of the Country", KLUR, 99.9 FM. At this time, the city was still recovering from the deadly tornado of April 10, 1979, Terrible Tuesday. The apartment I moved into was just re-built as the result of damage from the twister. Here's an image of what the complex looked like just after the storm. In a nearby city park, there were hundreds of Government trailer houses lined up side by side for what seemed like forever, inhabited by Wichitans whose homes had been destroyed by the mile wide tornado. It was a very humbling sight, to say the least. A little ways down the road to the east was Sikes Senter Mall, where many of the forty-five people who were killed in the storm were making a routine shopping trip, never suspecting how their lives would be changed forever. WARNING: the following story is NOT for the faint of heart : I became friends with a guy named Paul who was an EMT and  responded to the unending calls for help after tornado. He told me of searching for survivors/victims in the rubble when he came upon a woman's hand pertruding from under the remains of a house. He moved the debris away to get to the woman, but there was no woman. Only a hand with a wedding ring on it. Paul's eyes welled with tears. END WARNING. I was told by other rescue personnel of straws from brooms, driven by the force of the storm's winds, embedded in telephone poles. Get this...one home was completely torn off its foundation., but on the concrete slab was a kitchen table with a checkbook and the month's bills laid out like someone had been sitting there within the last few minutes paying those bills. I am eyewitness to a community coming together in tragedy, pulling itself up by the bootstraps and declaring, "Mother Nature, you will not defeat us!". True Texans, those Wichitans. The storm of Terrible Tuesday, sadly will not be last to hit Texoma Town, but the people of Wichita Falls have put Ma Nature on notice that they will bounce back no matter what hand they are dealt. True Texans, indeed.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Texas Tidbits : Caddo Lake

Caddo Lake is a work of art that comes directly from the hand of God. Magical. Mystical. Enchanted. Spiritual. It is one of the most beautiful spots in all of Creation. Don Henley of the Eagles is a native son of Northeast Texas (Linden, to be exact) and he has been a Son of Caddo for over fifty years. Listen to Don's own words and watch the short video of this earthly piece of Paradise. Caddo Lake is named for the Caddo Indians who lived in the area until the late 19th Century and is the largest (25,000 + acres) natural freshwater lake in the South. It is also one of the few natural lakes in Texas as well as the largest cypress forest in the world. Caddo as we know it today was formed in late 1799 by a series of natural events called The Big Change. From Wikipedia : "substantial development would only begin with invention of the steamboat and US annexation of both Louisiana and Texas in the 19th century. The cities of Port Caddo, Swanson's Landing, and Jefferson in Texas, and Mooringsport in Louisiana, had thriving riverboat ports on the lake. Gradually as the log jams were removed in the lake and the Red River by Captain Henry Miller Shreve and then by the Army Corps of Engineers. The lake changed shape and eventually fell over ten feet, destroying the East Texas ports and their riverboat industry." Directly out of those times, you can still catch a ride on a vintage steamboat called The Graceful Ghost out of Uncertain, Texas. There's so much more to say about Caddo Lake and the surrounding area, but we'll get to that another day. Until then, get out to Caddo when you can. And observe the Handiwork of God.  

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Colorado Chronicles : Colorado Springs




Sixty-one miles south of Denver on I-25 perched at over 6000 feet above sea level is the second largest city in Colorado, Colorado Springs. "The Springs" is the city over 400,000 residents and some of America's most honored and recognizable places and companies call home. Located in or near Colorado Springs are : The United States Air Force Academy, Fort Carson, and NORAD. Verizon, Hewlett-Packard and Intel are just three of the high-tech companies that have a presence in The Springs. Tourism, of course, plays a major part in the local economy with The Garden of the Gods contributing mightily. However, the cherry on top of the sundae that is Colorado Springs is without question is the 14,115 foot Pikes Peak. Standing guard over the valley below for millions of years, Pikes Peak is the easternmost 14'er in the USA. And let's not forget the United States Olympic Traning Center, where Gold Medal dreams are nurtured. I'm sure the links provided in this post will give you enough information and history about the Colorado Springs area that on your next trip to Denver, that you just may end up 61 miles south of your intended destination.

Maine Minutiae : Maine's Largest City

With a population of about 63,000 people, Portland is Maine's largest city. The metro area of Portland is home to over a half a million folks, over one-third of the entire state of Maine's head count. Machigonne or "Great Neck", as the Native Americans called it, was settled by Europeans in 1623 by Captain Christoffer Levett. However, that settlement failed and it wasn't until 1633 that the peninsula was permanently settled as a fishing and trading village called Casco, later Falmouth and in 1786 took on the name of Portland. The climate of the area is very moderate with summer time temperatures over 90 degrees occurring less than five days a year (in Texas we call that "this week"). On the other hand, Portland averages over 67 inches of snowfall per year and temperatures have been known to plummet to well below zero. The record low is minus 26 degrees. Record high? 103. Or as they say back home, "yesterday". At one time, Portland was the capital of Maine until losing that honor to Augusta in 1832. According to maineguide.com, "Portland has recovered from four fires, the most devastating having occurred on Independence Day, 1866, when most of the commercial buildings, half of the churches, and hundreds of homes were destroyed. Portland was almost completely rebuilt during the Victorian era, and has maintained much of it’s 19th century architecture, due to constant attention to landmark preservation." Portland is cool place to visit with several museums, the waterfront, shops, restaurants and pubs on said waterfront and is home to the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. (FYI : Fenway Park is only about an hour and a half from Portland...just sayin'). As you can see, there's a lot to like about Maine's biggest city and if you like more info on Portland click here.

Texas Tidbits : Small States or Ranches?

The most famous ranch in Texas is known to tens of millions of people around the world. However, its fame doesn't come from a history of cowboys and cattle drives. It is recognized as the Home of J.R. Ewing and the TV show "Dallas". And it's located in the shadows of  Downtown Dallas - The Southfork. The kind of ranch I'm writing about is a real-life cowboy-employin', cattle-raisin' head 'em up, move 'em out ranch - such as the World Famous King Ranch. Started in 1853 by a jeweler's apprentice from New York, the King Ranch today encompasses 825,000 acres and parts of six counties. Eight hundred. Twenty-five. Thousand. Acres. That's 50,000 more acres than the state of Rhode Island. The King Ranch is not alone in its jumbo-size status amongst Texas Ranches. The Briscoe Ranch, near Uvalde, owned by the late (I just now found out he died a couple of weeks ago) former Governor of Texas, Dolph Briscoe, measures a measly 640,000 acres and the Waggoner Ranch near Vernon rounds out the Top Three Biggest Texas Ranches at 524,000 acres. These three "small states" are but a trio of the many enormous ranches in The Lone Star State. Texas' place in the history of ranching is a long and proud one. A history that even ol' J.R. Ewing would be proud of.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Colorado Chronicles : A Timeline of Colorado History

There's some pretty neat stuff in this timeline of Colorado history dating back to 1500.

Maine Minutiae : Maine at Mid 20th Century

Here's an interesting look at Maine from 1920-1945.

Note : Life Takes Over

Life has taken over for the weekend, so today's posts will be simple re-directs to other blogs and sites. Simply click on the links provided and you'll find some real good stuff. Thanks for your patience. Have a great weekend!

Toby

Texas Tidbits : Ima Hogg

Ima Hogg. That name will live forever in Texas Lore. We've heard all the jokes about this fine lady, but we may not understand just what a Grande Dame Ms. Hogg was. Hillary Sarin at the Houston Chronicle has the story on the First Lady of Texas, Mineola's very own Ima Hogg.

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