Animals

Weekly Sketch: Fingerpaint

So much going on I forgot to do a sketch this week, and now I’m away from my pencils and paper, and my new iPad is incompatible with my 1st gen Apple Pencil. So while I wait for the newer pencil to arrive, the best I can do is this digital “fingerpainting” of a horse. The week’s not quite over yet, right?

Categories: Animals, Artwork, Horses, Weekly Sketch | Leave a comment

Weekly Sketch: Pen and Ink (Unfinished)

I rage-quit this one before it was finished, because the pen was all wrong for the job.

I haven’t had any drawing pens on hand for years, so I asked Elizabeth if I could borrow one of hers for this week’s sketch. She gave me two, knowing full well that I would probably lose both of them before the week was up. Losing pens is my superpower.

Elizabeth draws comics. She uses one kind of pen, the Pilot G-2. Turns out she likes that particular pen for the binary nature of its ink flow: it is either drawing a line or it is not. Pressure or lack thereof does not make thicker or thinner lines, there is no “bold” option, no faint translucent shading. It is incompatible with my drawing style.

I gave up when I got to the horse’s head and could not draw fine lines. I won’t be doing any more inkwork unless I get inspired to buy some pens. I gave Elizabeth’s abominations back to her.

Well, one of them. I have no idea what happened to the other pen.

Categories: Animals, Artwork, Family, Horses, kids, Life, Weekly Sketch | Leave a comment

Weekly Sketch: Old School Bunny

My water-damaged iPad has settled into a limbo state where I can charge the battery, adjust the volume (as evidenced by how loud the “connected to power” chime sounds) and sync it with my MacBook, but the screen is completely black and unresponsive. It’s out of warranty, so Apple will charge almost the cost of a new iPad to service it. And with the Apple Stores closed down for the pandemic, I can’t even just go pick up a new one. Soooo, I’ll be going old-school with my sketches for the next few weeks.

Here is a bunny. I like bunnies.

Categories: A Plethora of Parks, Animals, Artwork, Weekly Sketch, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Goodwater Loop Trail

Luke wants to get into through-hiking and backcountry wilderness backpacking. My enthusiasm for living in tents has waned with my advancing years, but I’m all for helping Luke acquire whatever knowledge and skills he needs to survive his future treks into the wild.

Now that the parks are reopening, this weekend seemed like a good time to try out a nice safe through-hike with training wheels and safety nets. The Goodwater Loop Trail around Lake Georgetown is a good starter hike, because there are campgrounds all along it and help is never too far away.

The trail is 28 miles long and looks like this:

The plan was to leave the car at Overlook Park Saturday morning, hike 14 miles around the lake clockwise to Tejas Camp, spend the night there, and then continue around the lake back to the car.

We got a late start, and by the time we got to Overlook Park it was full and they were turning cars away. We saw what looked like overflow parking at the foot of the dam, but we didn’t know how to get to it. So we drove to Cedar Breaks Park. That was full too, but we were able to grab a spot in their overflow parking. That put us only 11 miles from Tejas Camp, with a longer journey back to the car on Sunday. No problem.

We set off, feeling cheerful and adventurous. Other hikers wished us a good morning, and we returned their greetings. The trail is very pretty.

There is a gorgeous waterfall about a mile and a half from Cedar Breaks Park. Photos don’t do it justice, it’s magical.

Saw some photogenic livestock in a pasture adjacent to the falls.

A donkey came up for pets.

The most important thing we learned from this test run is that our current gear is too heavy for long-distance backpacking. Almost all of our equipment, from our 10lb tent to our insulated steel thermoflasks, is designed for car camping rather than backcountry jaunts. The first four or five miles were fine, the next four or five miles were a slog, and after that it was just kind of an ordeal. I was carrying about 40lbs of gear in a pack that was only rated for 30, so it didn’t provide enough support. Pretty soon my shoulders and hips were bruised at the points of contact. Elizabeth and I got blisters on our feet! Blisters, in our comfy old Ariat Terrains! I can’t even remember the last time I got blisters from walking. Turns out pack weight makes a huge difference as the miles add up.

But on we went. Really a beautiful trail.

Texas is in full summer now, with highs in the 90s every day. We passed a couple of primitive campgrounds and detoured into them in hopes of refilling our water flasks, but all of their spigots had been capped off. We ran out of water somewhere around mile 10. In the future we will supplement our water supply with portable purifiers/filters so we can drink out of lakes and streams if need be.

We were so tired when we arrived at Tejas Camp, I didn’t think to get any scenic shots of our tent. There was still plenty of daylight, but we just filled our flasks at the community spigot, set up the tent and collapsed. We really need better-quality sleeping pads. We do have a nice comfy self-inflating queen size pad, but it’s so bulky and heavy we didn’t attempt to bring it on this trip. Our cheap starter pads are…yeah. We got what we paid for.

When the sun did set, the forest filled with a raucous symphony of sound, much louder than daytime birdsong. Crickets, frogs, the full orchestra. We enjoyed the concert.

We didn’t bother with the rainfly, so in the morning I got a nice shot of the tree above our tent.

Before we broke camp, we tested out our shiny new ferro rods. It took a little practice, but eventually we each struck up a small fire in the fire pit.

Confident in our fire-making abilities, we doused our little flames, packed up and headed down the trail.

We started out stiff and sore and bruised and blistered, and the packs just got heavier with every mile. The next time the trail came near the lakeshore, we took the opportunity to cool off.

Elizabeth soaked her feet. I waded in up to my knees. Luke just walked straight out into the lake.

Thus refreshed, we continued on.

Just before the mile 17 mark we came to Russell Park, a full-service park and campground. Luke said, “Welp, I think we’ve learned everything useful here. Wanna call a Lyft?”

“What? Admit defeat? Accept failure?” I rubbed my bruised hips.

“I mean, we came to learn. We learned.”

“That’s a good point. Let’s call a Lyft.”

So we took a Lyft back to our car. Luke was right, to keep hiking would have been pointless masochism.

There was a yellow slip on our windshield warning us that we weren’t supposed to leave cars overnight in overflow parking areas, and further offenses would result in citations. Duly noted.

I’m SO sore today. But I’ve already started a list of future gear upgrades, and I’m looking forward to our next trial run.

 

Categories: A Plethora of Parks, Animals, environment, Family, kids, Life, maps, Travel, Wildlife | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Weekly Sketch: Old School Edition

My iPad recently decided to join me in my after-work tub soak. While I wait to find out if it’s salvageable, I’ve dug out my old sketchbooks and drawing pencils for this week’s sketch. I wasn’t sure I’d even remember how to draw without the digital convenience of virtual layers and the Undo button, but it all came back as soon as my pencil touched paper.

This yearling was going to be a pen-and-ink sketch, but I like the messy vibe of the graphite draft. I’m not going to ink over it.

Special thanks to my friend Kathy, who gifted me a beautiful set of high-quality drawing pencils just as I was venturing into digital art. The pencils have been waiting patiently all these years for their time to shine!

Categories: Animals, Artwork, Weekly Sketch, Wildlife | 2 Comments

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