Monday, September 29, 2014

Big Tex at the 2014 State Fair of Texas Needs a Makeover

What is going on with the 2014 version of Big Tex at the State Fair of Texas?

Is this the result of the extensive therapy Big Tex had to go through after that horrific fire torched the big guy?

Did the fire leave Big Tex's arms all akimbo?

And his posture a bit stiff?

Did the fire leave Big Tex in need of wearing adult diapers?

And who dressed Big Tex this year?

Big Tex looks like he'd be a good candidate for What Not To Wear if that makeover show was still on TV.

Maybe Heidi Klum could have the Project Runway designers design a new look for Big Tex.

And what is going on with the Big Tex boots?

Previously Big Tex wore very tasteful boots, as evidenced in the video made from the last time I visited Big Tex.

The 2014 version of the Boots of Big Tex look like the psychedelic result of an old hippie's bad idea.

And the Big Tex belt appears to match the boots. I have not seen a frontal view of the 2014 Big Tex so I do not know what the Big Tex big belt buckle looks like. I suspect it is likely colorful.

And why does the cowboy hat of Big Tex appear to be too small for his big head?

This is all very perplexing....

Sunday, September 28, 2014

No Prisoners in Penitentiary Hollow in Lake Mineral Wells State Park

A couple miles east of the city limits of Mineral Wells you will find the entry to Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway.

The Trailway is a biking, hiking, horse riding trail which trails all the way from Weatherford to Mineral Wells.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park has over 17 miles of hiking trails, of which 9 are open to horses and bikes.

The most unique attraction in Lake Mineral Wells State Park is Penitentiary Hollow.

Go to our Eyes on Texas webpage about Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Penitentiary Hollow to see photo documentation about what is so unique about Penitentiary Hollow.

I do not know if Penitentiary Hollow is so named because it was used at some point in time as a prison. I suspect that may be the case. One could easily keep a large number of prisoners inside the "Hollow" with little means of escape, only needing a few guards to keep an eye on the prisoners.

In our modern era no one is kept prisoner in Penitentiary Hollow. The location is currently an extremely popular rock climbing venue.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park is only about 40 miles west of the western fringes of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

Go here for a map showing the location of Lake Mineral Wells State Park.

A Town In West Texas Named After Kermit Roosevelt

The bearded guy looking like he's ready for some South American jungle trekking is named Kermit.

Kermit Roosevelt.

Son of a United States President named Theodore Roosevelt, Kermit Roosevelt was born October 10, 1889, died June 4, 1943 from a self inflicted gun shot wound whilst Kermit was serving in the army, stationed in Alaska during World War II.

Kermit Roosevelt was plagued by depression and alcoholism for much of his life.

At some point in time early in the last century, maybe around 1916, Kermit Roosevelt stayed at the T Bar Ranch in northern Winkler County in West Texas. Kermit was staying at the T Bar Ranch to hunt antelope.

Apparently Kermit Roosevelt left quite an impression on the West Texas locals because soon after his visit a new town was named Kermit, in his honor.

After becoming a town Kermit has gone through periods of population gain and loss, with the ups and downs following oil booms and busts.

The population of Kermit, at last count in 2000, was 5,714.

No information could be found regarding whether or not Kermit Roosevelt ever returned to visit Kermit after the town was named after him.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells

It was not long after I arrived in Texas that I was exploring the area west of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, when I saw a HUGE building looming in the distance as I approached the town of Mineral Wells.

This HUGE building looked so out of place, towering above the small town which looked like it had fallen on hard times.

I can not remember now how it was I learned this HUGE building was the Baker Hotel. I know I discovered the Baker Hotel late in the last century, before Googling made it easy to find information.

After I began my Eyes on Texas website I returned to Mineral Wells to take more photos of the Baker  Hotel. On one of my visits a custodian let me inside to explore the first floor. By then the Baker had been stripped of most of anything valuable, but you could still see signs of its glory days, like the art deco style floor pointing arrow above the elevator door. And what looked like pink tinted mirrors in the ballroom. Why those mirrors were still there seemed to be yet one more Baker Hotel mystery.

When I made a Baker Hotel webpage it was the only webpage devoted to this subject on the Internet. That is no longer the case.

Earlier in this century I would frequently get inquiries about the Baker Hotel from people thinking I somehow had a direct involvement with the building. Over the years there have been multiple instances of someone having a plan to restore the Baker Hotel to its former glory. Some of these plans seem well grounded, generating news coverage.

And then nothing seems to happen and the Baker Hotel remains in its state of gradual decay.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Exhausting Hike To Summit Of Enchanted Rock

As you can see the hike to the summit of Enchanted Rock in the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, in the heart of Texas Hill Country, can be a bit exhausting for some.

Hiking Enchanted Rock may be the best hike in Texas. It certainly is one of the most scenic and most popular.

Go to our Eyes on Texas Enchanted Rock webpage for more pictures and more information, including the following Enchanted Rock factoids...

  • Enchanted Rock State Natural Area consists of 1643.5 acres on Big Sandy Creek, north of Fredericksburg, on the border between Gillespie and Llano Counties. It was acquired in 1978 by the Nature Conservancy of Texas. Enchanted Rock is a huge, pink granite dome rising 425 feet above ground, 1825 feet above sea level, and covering 640 acres.
  • Enchanted Rock was named a National Natural Landmark in 1970. In 1984 Enchanted Rock was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • A Spanish conquistador captured by the Tonkawa escaped by losing himself in the rock area, giving rise to an Indian legend of a "pale man swallowed by a rock and reborn as one of their own." The Indians believed he cast spells of enchantments on the area, The first well-documented explorations of this area began around 1723 when the Spanish stepped up their goal to colonize Texas. During the mid-1700s, the Spaniards made several trips to the north and northwest of San Antonio, establishing a mission and presidio (fort) on the San Saba River and doing some mining on Honey Creek near the Llano River.
  • There is only one granite formation in America larger than Enchanted Rock and that is Stone Mountain in Georgia.
  • Enchanted Rock State Park fills up (in terms of parking) and frequently closes on weekends (sometimes as early as 11 a.m.) Reopening usually occurs at 5 p.m. Call ahead (325-247-3903) or have alternate plans if you arrive at the park and find it closed. 
  • There is only one granite formation in America larger than Enchanted Rock and that is Stone Mountain in Georgia.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Maybe a Mighty Fine Time at the 2014 State Fair of Texas drinking Funnel Cake Ale with Fried Gulf Shrimp Boils

Those are the BIG BOOTS of BIG TEX you are looking at on the left.

Big Tex stands guard and greets people at the State Fair of Texas.

It was from Big Tex I learned to use the phrase "mighty fine time" after I heard Big Tex greet me with something like "I hope you have yourself a mighty fine time at this year's State Fair of Texas."

I don't remember for sure, but I think you may hear the big guy say mighty fine time in the video below that I compiled from that year's State Fair visit.

The State Fair of Texas, also known as the Texas State Fair, starts up in a couple Fridays, September 26 to be specific. The Fair runs through October 19.

Earlier this month the winners of the Big Tex Choice Award were announced. The Best Taste Award went to Clint Probst's Fried Gulf Shrimp Boil. The Most Creative Award went to Justin Martinez's Original State Fair Brew – Funnel Cake Ale.

I believe this is the first year State Fair of Texas visitors under 21 years old can not sample one of the Big Tex Choice Award winners.

To read the details of what makes up a Fried Shrimp Boil and Funnel Cake Ale, along with descriptions of the fried concoctions which did not win, go to the blogging I blogged last month about the Big Tex Choice Awards titled The State Fair of Texas 2014 Big Tex Choice Awards This Year With Beer.

I do not know if I will make it to the 2014 Texas State Fair. My last visit I parked in a remote parking lot from whence I was delivered to the Fair's entry gate via a Trinity Rail Express train. That was fun.

I could take a TRE train to Dallas, and then hop the DART train line which goes directly to the State Fair of Texas. That might be adventurous. Or possibly all sorts of aggravating.

If you have yourself a mighty fine time watching the video below, please note that that is not Big Tex playing bongos you hear throughout the video....

Visiting Zebra at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

If you are visiting the Hill Country zone that surrounds Glen Rose there are two nearby attractions you need to visit.

One is Dinosaur Valley State Park.

The other is the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.

The intro blurb from my Eyes on Texas website's webpage about the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center sums up how I felt about the experience.

Located near Glen Rose and Dinosaur Valley, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is the most entertaining attraction we have yet found in north Texas. The lively wildlife, the many visitors, the well-designed park, the scenery. This place even managed to have several very steep hills, both uphill and downhill, so steep they required 'shift to low gear' signs. Steepest road grades we have seen in Texas. 

The drive through Fossil Rim is basically one surprise after another. I had never had a a zebra stick its head in my window before. Or try to bit a chunk out of my steering wheel.

I don't think I have ever added so many photos to a webpage as I did on the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center webpage.

I also do not believe I ever experienced, before or since, as much interaction with wildlife as I did the day I visited Fossil Rim. In addition to the zebra, I also got close with an ostrich, a giraffe and a laughing goat. To name a few of the more memorable encounters.

After I webpaged my experience I got email from Fossil Rim, after which a few emails were exchanged. And then Fossil Rim mailed me a Season's Pass for two, along with four guest  passes. All good for a year.

None of which I got around to using. I have long intended to  return to makes videos. But never have.

I have never been much of a fan of zoos. Although zoos have greatly improved, losing much of that animals in prison cages feel, replaced with simulated natural habitats.

At the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center you definitely do not feel like you are visiting a zoo. It feels more like you are taking a drive through the natural habitat of hundreds of wild animals having themselves a mighty fine time interacting with the visitors.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Lost in Dinosaur Valley State Park

As you can see on the list of links on the right I have an Eyes on Texas Facebook page.

Today Facebook repeatedly suggested I enable an automatic posting feature where a Facebook post gets posted as an Eyes on Texas Twitter post.

Not really understanding what this would do I enabled it, thinking that the Twitter tweet would somehow link back to the Facebook post.

Instead the Twitter tweet linked to the link in the Facebook post which linked to my original Dinosaur Valley State Park page on my Eyes on Texas website.

So, a person seeing the blurb of text on Twitter, when clicking on the link, does not go to the Facebook source of that text, instead they go where that text does not exist.


Below is the text in the post on Facebook about Dinosaur Valley State Park of which Twitter tweeted the first few words.....

The best hiking and mountain biking that I have experienced in North Texas has been in Dinosaur Valley State Park, located near Glen Rose and the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. 

I sort of enjoy getting lost. 

I've been lost on the Dinosaur Valley trails both hiking and biking, with the best/worst lost experience occurring on a Christmas Day.

I did not realize the park would be pretty much empty on Christmas Day, with no one at the entry gate. I pedaled for hours, telling myself to keep track of the various junctions and colored trail markers.

But, as the sun began to set I realized I was not where I thought I was. 

I was lost. 

As darkness began to set in I began pondering hiding the bike in the brush and moving as fast as I could on foot. Right about then I got my bearings.

I think this may be the last time I've been lost.

Until today when I got lost in Facebook and Twitter.........