Mud, Footprints, and Bicycle Tracks

“She made beauty all round her. When she trod on mud, the mud was beautiful; when she ran in the rain, the rain was silver. When she picked up a toad – she had the strangest and, I thought, unchanciest love for all manner of brutes – the toad became beautiful.”
― C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

mud, footprints, bicycle tracks – Trinity River, Dallas, Texas

A Full Moon, Gravel, and S’mores

“Great artists make the roads; good teachers and good companions can point them out. But there ain’t no free rides, baby. No hitchhiking. And if you want to strike out in any new direction — you go alone. With a machete in your hand and the fear of God in your heart.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction

The moon rising over cyclists and the Dallas skyline. From the October Full Moon Ride. (click to enlarge)

Oblique Strategy: Assemble some of the elements in a group and treat the group

The moon rising over the Dallas skyline and the pond at Trammell Crow Park. From the October Full Moon Ride.

My Cannondale road bike at Trammell Crow Park. From an early part of the October Full Moon Ride.

There is a monthly bike ride held at dusk on the first day of each full moon. It starts in a park in Downtown Dallas and heads out into the wilds of the Trinity River Bottoms where we can watch the moon rise over the city.

I had a blast on the October ride and was looking forward to the next one. It was a little more ambitious. We would head out on the gravel roads that line the levees along the river. Because of the crushed rock, I wouldn’t be able to ride my vintage Cannondale and would have to use my heavy, fat-tired commuter/cargo bike.

My heavy Commuter Bike with Dallas skyline in the background

We would ride ten miles to an abandoned golf course where we would have a campfire and make s’mores before riding back. I was a bit concerned – twenty miles, much of it off-road, is a long way for me to ride on my heavy, thick tired repurposed mountain bike. Despite all my despirte fanfaronade I am the world’s slowest bicycle rider, especially on an inefficient vehicle. Even riding the best of bicycles – the engine is old and worn out.

I rode the DART train downtown, as the sun was setting, met up with about a dozen folks, and set out. The gravel wasn’t too bad, but it was jarring and a job to control the handlebars, especially in the dark. I have a good headlight on my bike and the world was reduced to a pool of small rocks moving toward me while all around was invisible, inky blackness. It was fun. I slowed to the back of the pack and realized that if I cut my speed a little bit the ride became smoother.

The gravel road in the Trinity River Bottoms
(click to enlarge)

So, I was slow, but not too much. There is a bridge about every mile through the river bottoms and we would stop so everyone could catch up. We made our destination on time, and the s’mores were delicious.

Roasting marshmallows for s’mores. (Photo from Bike Friendly Downtown Dallas)

The only hitch was that I didn’t get any photos. I had brought my camera, a small Gorillapod, and a remote shutter release. I spent too much time having fun, and had to rush setting up my camera. I put the tripod on an old air conditioning unit, and before I could shoot, the release fob slipped out of my hand and disappeared inside. I took that as an omen, and packed it all back up.

We rode concrete back – by then the traffic was light. Only when we neared the American Airlines Center (the Dallas Stars were playing hockey and the game let out at the same time we passed) did we run into angry, aggressive drivers.

So, now I’m looking forward to next month. I need to put my nighttime photographic, time exposure kit together and practice, so I’ll be ready.

Remembering the Water Days

“From the dim regions beyond the mountains at the upper end of our encircled domain, there crept out a narrow and deep river, brighter than all save the eyes of Eleonora; and, winding stealthily about in mazy courses, it passed away, at length, through a shadowy gorge, among hills still dimmer than those whence it had issued. We called it the “River of Silence”; for there seemed to be a hushing influence in its flow. No murmur arose from its bed, and so gently it wandered along, that the pearly pebbles upon which we loved to gaze, far down within its bosom, stirred not at all, but lay in a motionless content, each in its own old station, shining on gloriously forever.”
― Edgar Allan Poe, Eleonora

Dallas, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Not the Shadow of the Past

“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”
― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

High Water, Dallas, Texas

High Water,
Dallas, Texas

Texas Flood

Well there’s floodin’ down in Texas
All of the telephone lines are down
Well there’s floodin’ down in Texas
All of the telephone lines are down
And I’ve been tryin’ to call my baby
Lord and I can’t get a single sound

Well dark clouds are rollin’ in
Man I’m standin’ out in the rain
Well dark clouds are rollin’ in
Man I’m standin’ out in the rain
Yeah flood water keep a rollin’
Man it’s about to drive poor me insane
—-Texas Flood, Stevie Ray Vaughn

Trinity River,  Dallas, Texas

Trinity River,
Dallas, Texas

Legions Of These Myrmidons

“One day when I went out to my wood-pile, or rather my pile of stumps, I observed two large ants, the one red, the other much larger, nearly half an inch long, and black, fiercely contending with one another. Having once got hold they never let go, but struggled and wrestled and rolled on the chips incessantly. Looking farther, I was surprised to find that the chips were covered with such combatants, that it was not a duellum, but a bellum, a war between two races of ants, the red always pitted against the black, and frequently two red ones to one black. The legions of these Myrmidons covered all the hills and vales in my wood-yard, and the ground was already strewn with the dead and dying, both red and black. It was the only battle which I have ever witnessed, the only battle-field I ever trod while the battle was raging; internecine war; the red republicans on the one hand, and the black imperialists on the other. On every side they were engaged in deadly combat, yet without any noise that I could hear, and human soldiers never fought so resolutely.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I was out moving around the city with my bicycle and a DART pass. I had my tablet in a backpack and decided to head downtown and see if there was anything interesting on my Love Lock USB Dead Drop. The water in the Trinity was up, but I didn’t know how high it was on that day – so I thought I’d at least give it a shot.

Crossing the river on the DART train I looked out and saw the Santa Fe Trestle trail snaking its way across and a few inches above the water – so it looked like I could make the crossing. I started to ride down from the Corinth train station and soon I was on a narrow strip of concrete with water all around.

Finally, though, I reached a spot where the water was coursing over the pavement. I’m not an idiot, I knew it was time to head back. I did get off my bike and fished out my camera for some flood shots.

Concentrating on the water and my camera I didn’t notice one important fact. All the fire ants from across the vast river bottom plain had been forced up onto the narrow strip of trail. At my feet they were boiling in a thick red mass.

If you know anything about Texas – you know that fire ants will swarm you and then when one bites, they all do. Nasty, nasty things.

It hurt, but not too bad. I did the fire and dance, sweeping them off as fast as I could.

Then it was out of there, as fast as I could pedal.

The Santa Fe Trestle Trail snaking its way through the flooded Trinity River Bottoms. Dallas, Texas.

The Santa Fe Trestle Trail snaking its way through the flooded Trinity River Bottoms.
Dallas, Texas.

The view across the Flooded Trinity, Dallas, Texas

The view across the Flooded Trinity, Dallas, Texas

As the water moved from one side of the trail to the other, through drowned drainage pipes, it left a maelstrom in it s wake. Trinity River Bottoms, Dallas, Texas

As the water moved from one side of the trail to the other, through drowned drainage pipes, it left a maelstrom in its wake.
Trinity River Bottoms, Dallas, Texas

Finally, the water overtakes the trail. Dallas, Texas

Finally, the water overtakes the trail.
Dallas, Texas

I Am Haunted By Waters

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.”
― Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

Before and After

Entrance to the Santa Fe Trestle Trail, Dallas, Texas

I took this photo on a fun organized bike ride last October.

We lost about half the ride at Lee Harvey's - but here's the rest at the Santa Fe Trestle Trail. (click for a larger, better version on Flickr)

We lost about half the ride at Lee Harvey’s – but here’s the rest at the Santa Fe Trestle Trail.
(click for a larger, better version on Flickr)

Here’s what the same spot looks like now.

Downtown from the entrance to the Santa Fe Trestle Trail, Dallas, Texas

Downtown from the entrance to the Santa Fe Trestle Trail,
Dallas, Texas