I’m still working on the larger drawing. Here’s another quick sketch of a horse.
Right now I’m working on a drawing that will take longer than a week to finish, so here is a quick sketch of a horse, because I can do these in my sleep.
Spring is creeping back into the Metroplex. This is a beautiful place three seasons of the year, but holy crap is it bleak in winter. I’m always so glad to see that first translucent shimmer of green in the treetops.
I had never seen Bob Jones Park in any season but winter, but on my last ride there I finally saw the first hints of green.
Mahogany is never calmer than when we are cruising through those woodsy trails. I think she and I are forest-loving kindred spirits. She is even becoming a pro at water crossings and lakes.
** ** ** ** **
The kids and I celebrated the return of spring by combining our first real hike of the year with the addition of two new parks to our collection: Parr Park Sprayground in Grapevine and Kimzey Park in Colleyville.
The parks ended up on my radar thanks to a metal pedestrian ramp that runs for no apparent reason up out of the Big Bear creekbed to the bridge where Pool Rd crosses the creek. There is no place to park nearby to take a closer look at it, and Google Maps was no help. This was a mystery that required solving!
Then Google added that trail system to its maps, and the mystery was solved: the ramp connects to a bike trail along Big Bear Creek. The trail was immediately added to my to-do list for when the weather warmed up. Our first attempt was rained out, but for our second try we got lovely 70º weather.
Parr Park Sprayground is a great water-spray park for small children, a sports park for older kids and a connection point for a much larger trail system for the rest of us.
The water features are not in operation this early in the year, but there is a great playground for younger kids (and for those of us who never outgrew our affinity for climbing stuff).
There are a few different trail options here. We chose the one that would take us to the ramp at Pool Rd.
Part of the path was labeled “Bluebonnet Trail,” but we saw a grand total of three bluebonnets. Here they are in all their Texan glory:
We reached the metal ramp more quickly than we had expected. When you cross Pool Rd, you also cross from Grapevine…
Being the contentious rebels that we are, we opted to cross under the bridge rather than utilizing the ramp.
Once across Pool Rd, Google instructed us to turn left and take a public road to Kimzey Park, but I opted to turn right and stay on the bike trail because I thought I was better at reading maps than Google.
Yeah…the bike trail eventually dead-ended. So we ended up taking the long way around via Colleyville Blvd and LongWood Dr.
We got there eventually.
We found a tree that was wearing birds instead of leaves.
For the return trip, we followed Google’s advice and took the road. It was indeed the shortest route. We crossed atop Pool Rd this time and took the metal ramp back down, and then backtracked the rest of the way to Parr Park.
Our next stop was Chan’s Mongolian Grill, which is basically an all-you-can-eat version of Genghis Grill. My fortune cookie told me that it’s time for another road trip.
As soon as Texas gets a bit greener, I think I might take my fortune cookie’s advice.
Our most recent park discovery is Crystal Canyon Natural Area in Arlington.
This is a smallish park with a single half-mile soft-surface trail loop.
It packs a lot of appeal into a tiny package, thanks to the woodsy setting and some interesting geographical features. The creek is fantastic, but you have to go off-trail to explore it.
The “canyon” part is what lured us to this park. We miss the mountains of California and were looking forward to a bit of climbing, so we were kind of disappointed by the overall flatness of the loop trail.
But near the end, a smaller “desire path” branches off from the main trail and heads straight up the canyon wall. It’s not exactly rock-climbing, or even particularly steep, but it’s a nice little workout and offers a rewarding view from the top.
In the end we gave Crystal Canyon three thumbs up, but mostly for the creek and the hill-climbing detour.
In other news, the Texas mud has finally killed my 19-year-old Ariat riding boots.
My new Ariats are waterproof. Let’s see if they’re a better match for the Texas climate.
The day after my new boots arrived, I got to try them out at Bob Jones Park, which was just as awesome the second time around.
This time I used my Professional’s Choice saddle pad, which puts a solid inch and a half of high-density foam between the treeless saddle (and my butt) and Mahogany’s spine and withers. It also has a cut-out over her withers, so there is no pressure on them. It was very comfortable for both of us, but almost comically oversized for the saddle. Here is a picture of me taking a picture of sailboats on Grapevine Lake, in which you can see the pad and the saddle .
On a related tangent, every time I see a photo of myself on a trail ride, I am jarred by how much my camera case disrupts the lines of my clothing. I’ve decided to buy a small tactical pack to hang on my saddle that will hold everything that I carry on rides: camera, phone, keys, etc. I much prefer having that stuff on me rather than my horse, because if we get separated only one of us knows how to use the phone. I think vanity is going to win this one, though. Also my keys jingle-jangle distractingly when I hang them from my belt loop, and my phone tends to work its way out of my pocket at the trot. So I guess the pack will solve three issues at once.
Anyway, beautiful park. I can’t wait to see it in the summertime.
I have a future post brewing about all of the benefits, problems and solutions involved in transitioning to a treeless saddle. Stay tuned!