Motions In the Shadows

The entire life of the human soul is mere motions in the shadows. We live in a twilight of consciousness, never in accord with whom we are or think we are. Everyone harbours some kind of vanity, and there’s an error whose degree we can’t determine. We’re something that goes on during the show’s intermission; sometimes, through certain doors, we catch a glimpse of what may be no more than scenery. The world is one big confusion, like voices in the night.
—-Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Sweat Up the Hills And Coast Down Them

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”
―Ernest Hemmingway

Skiptooth Front Cog Frisco Heritage Center Frisco, Texas

Skiptooth Front Cog
Frisco Heritage Center
Frisco, Texas

Much Time Has Passed And Is Passing Faster And Faster Every Day

“I am now 33 years old, and it feels like much time has passed and is passing faster and faster every day. Day to day I have to make all sorts of choices about what is good and important and fun, and then I have to live with the forfeiture of all the other options those choices foreclose. And I’m starting to see how as time gains momentum my choices will narrow and their foreclosures multiply exponentially until I arrive at some point on some branch of all life’s sumptuous branching complexity at which I am finally locked in and stuck on one path and time speeds me through stages of stasis and atrophy and decay until I go down for the third time, all struggle for naught, drowned by time. It is dreadful. But since it’s my own choices that’ll lock me in, it seems unavoidable–if I want to be any kind of grownup, I have to make choices and regret foreclosures and try to live with them.”
― David Foster Wallace, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments

Bicycle Drag Race, Continental Bridge Park, Dallas, Texas

Bicycle Drag Race, Continental Bridge Park, Dallas, Texas

Bicycle Ride and Seek

The fountain in back of the Richardson Library. (click to enlarge)

The fountain in back of the Richardson Library.
(click to enlarge)

Bike Friendly Richardson has organized a bicycle photo scavenger hunt for October. The idea is to ride a bike around the city and take photos of sculptures or fountains (with your bike in them – to prove you really did it, I guess). There is a list of fourteen sculptures and a map to help you out.

This is a lot of fun and right up my alley. I’ve already taken photos of my bike in front of a lot (maybe most) of these already, though I’ll do it again in October. I rode around the other day and grabbed a few – now I’m working on post-processing the photos… uploaded a few to my Flickr page.

The cylinder sculptures at the Block.

The cylinder sculptures at the Block.

I sort of wanted to use my old Raleigh Technium for the photos – it’s a bit more photogenic than my crunchy commuter bike. But I don’t want to pack my camera crap into a backpack and lug it around the city. I’ve pretty much worked out how to carry my camera in a pannier and my tripod bungee corded to the rack in the back of my commuter bike.

So it’s the commuter in the photos. Which is cool too.

The sculpture in the outdoor reading area at the library.

The sculpture in the outdoor reading area at the library.

A couple older photos I had on here of the Richardson fountain.



Bonked on the Santa Fe

I wanted to go on a bike ride on Saturday. After thinking about it I came up with a plan – get up and drive down to White Rock Lake with my bicycle in my trunk, then ride the Santa Fe Trail from there to Deep Ellum, eat breakfast at Cafe Brazil, then ride back.

Unfortunately, when my alarm went off and I dragged myself out of the sack I felt like crap. Tired, sick, and achy – the last thing I wanted to do was go out and put forth physical effort. So I shuffled around the house and felt sorry for myself. By eleven I was feeling a little better –  took some deep breaths, and went ahead and set out. I filled the water bladder on my new pack and drove down to White Rock.

I worked on my bike in the parking lot for a bit. The old thing needs some serious work, and I didn’t have the parts, tools, or mechanical knowledge. The worst part is that the seat is crapped out. The front plastic part has broken off and the rest of the seat simply is sitting on the rails. Against my better judgement, I set off on the trip downtown. It isn’t that far, really, and I decided to simply gut it out.

The Santa Fe trail is very cool. It follows the abandoned rail bed of the old Santa Fe railroad and runs from a connection with the White Rock Lake Trail down to Deep Ellum near downtown Dallas. Near the lake, the trail winds through some thick woods but as it emerges into East Dallas it runs straight through some neighborhoods

And that is what makes it so cool and unique. It has a real urban feel to it – although it is straight, smooths and away from traffic. The mostly Hispanic neighborhood, full of brightly colored car repair spots, small churches, and Mexican Restaurants seems to have embraced the trail that cuts through their midst – a lot of the houses along the trail have been cleaned up and repainted and the folks sitting out on their porches smile and wave to people riding by. Music pours out of open windows and bass beats from passing cars.

El Paisano

El Paisano Restaurant along the Santa Fe Trail in Dallas. Menudo!

The trail has a long, slow, uphill climb before it drops down into Deep Ellum and I could tell that I was not feeling very well. I toughed it out, though and did pretty well until I left the trail and was wandering on the streets, cutting over to the restaurant. The seat fell off my bicycle and the best I could do was to jam it back in place. It would slip back off every couple blocks, which made riding uncomfortable and difficult.

I locked my bike to a meter in front and went in and ate. I took a table where I could see my bike – though I can’t imagine anyone stealing that piece of crap. Instead of breakfast, I had a late lunch, and then headed back.

On the trip back up the Santa Fe Trail to White Rock I had a full scale bonk. Bonking is where your blood sugar gets so low that you lose your strength, energy, and will to live. I had eaten a lunch but it wasn’t designed for quick digestion and was actually making me sick. I was having to stop every few minutes to try and find some way to keep the bicycle seat in place – that didn’t help much either. It is pretty exhausting to ride a mountain bike without a seat on it.

But I made it back. It’s humiliating to have so much trouble on such a short bicycle ride, but I’m working on it. I’ve done this before – but I was a lot younger then. I remember the difficulty of getting back into the habit of riding regularly and riding hard – it is the bonk days that do you good. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.

Actually, I’m complaining too much. It was a nice day out (a little warm – our cool spell is already fading) but I enjoyed riding around Deep Ellum, taking some pictures, and cruising through the ‘hood.

Now, I’m thinking of getting my old Raleigh road bike out and fixing it into riding shape. It’s not as good of an urban bomber as my mountain bike, but it is a much more efficient trail machine. I can start stringing rides together – Preston Ridge, Cottonwood, then White Rock Creek, then White Rock Lake, then Santa Fe Trail. I could ride from the Collin County Border all the way to Downtown Dallas, hang out in Deep Ellum and then ride back. No way could I manage that right now… but maybe… A good goal.

Building Materials

A sliver of a vacant lot along Elm Street was piled with recovered building materials. Cool stuff.

Water Tower

An old water tower rises above Deep Ellum.

Boyd Hotel

An old sign for the Boyd Hotel

The Boyd Hotel is one of many historic buildings in Deep Ellum. Built in 1916, it is one of the oldest hotels still standing in Dallas. This building is one of the few remaining cast iron front buildings. Bonnie and Clyde and many of Deep Ellum’s Blues musicians stayed at the Boyd. Now it’s the home of some upscale offices and a fancy restaurant.

Deep Ellum Street

Elm Street


A lot of interesting stuff is painted on the walls.

Club Clearview

Club Clearview and Blind Lemon - in the heart of Deep Ellum. The entertainment district has seen better days (several times over the last century) but it is hanging in there. So are we all.

White Rock Creek Trail

White Rock Creek Trail

A DART train crossing over the White Rock Creek trail a mile or so north of the lake.

Whenever I can, I want to try and ride my bike after work – at least while there is a bit of light and the weather is bearable. On Wednesday I was only able to get a quick trip up the Preston Ridge trail, but on Friday, I had a little more time so I drove from work over to a little park at Hillcrest and LBJ. I was going to ride the White Rock Creek Trail.

Living in one city for a long time means that whenever you go somewhere you not only see what is in front of you, but also layers of memories and nostalgia of things that have happened before. The White Rock Creek trail certainly has decades of memories for me.

But today, I had to get my bike working, the seat is falling apart, the gears are out of adjustment and, of course the engine is all gone to crap. I pedalled around in the parking lot adjusting things – watching the front dérailleur while I pedaled, I rode smack into a steep curb and fell on my ass. Not a good start.

I thought about bailing, but went ahead and barreled on down the trail. The trail runs from north of LBJ on down to join up with the trail that circumnavigates White Rock Lake. The lake trail is the first real major trail in Dallas, and the creek the second (as far as I know).

I was living near the lake when it was built… maybe ’83? – at any rate I rode it right after it was built. That was almost thirty years ago. Though my bike riding has some huge gaps in it – only now am I getting serious about getting back again – there are a lot of memories of riding that trail. I’ve been down it hundreds of times.

The trail is about seven and a half miles long and flat as a pancake. There is a lot of construction where it crosses Northwest Highway near the south end – so I wouldn’t ride quite the whole thing – I’d leave out the southern mile or so.

What’s nice about this trail is that even though it cuts through the heart of the city, the wooded creekbottom land it is built on gives the feeling of being out in the country. The trail has been widened and improved over the decades and now is very smooth and easy with well-done crossings under roads and over water.

I wasn’t sure if I would be able to ride the whole 13 mile round trip before it was too dark but I made it without any trouble – even though it was pretty dark when I reached my car. I even took the time to stop under a DART bridge to get a couple pictures of the train going by. That spot is usually swampy with a large lake under the bridge and water flowing across the trail. There isn’t anything left except a wide puddle and a lot of dried, cracked, ex-mud.

Back near the north end is the spot where a favorite sculpture of mine used to be – I wrote about it a while back. Now there is a megachurch sprawling out from the office buildings. I wonder what they did with the sculpture?

Mystery Sculpture

This is the mystery sculpture that stood for years in a vacant lot along LBJ freeway. The White Rock Creek trail runs under the bridge in the background.


Here's the same spot today, from the other side. A Megachurch is growing, sprawling out across the weedy fields.