Monday, November 28, 2016

Tiny House at the Beard Farm

Just a short post to brag about what my in-laws have put together - they built a tiny house!  It's on their farm property, and we think it's really cute  :)

My one tiny contribution is helping them list it on AirBnB - my first listing (and a side plug for AirBnb who makes it really easy to list and book places like this).

Some photos to show off the space:

The open downstairs area which includes the kitchen, living room, and even a TV (on the wall behind me):

Stairs up to the loft:

The downstairs bedroom:

Nice tile work in the bathroom:

The cozy loft:

View down from the loft:

Pastoral scene out the kitchen window:

And a photo of the outside; this picture is already out of date after some recent landscaping work (and Jerry is working on adding an outdoor BBQ grill):

The AirBnB listing is here if you want to see it:

Thanks for reading my shameless plug!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Random recent photos

A collection of things we've been doing around Texas lately.

I've been riding around the streets of Tyler, and one notable stop was at the Tyler Rose Garden:

I found an interesting, nonstandard Peace Pole there:

Also a pretty pond and fountain:

And of course, lots of roses:

Finally a bit of sunshine to light up the flowers:

Our first Austin orienteering meet of the year, at Walnut Creek.  It was a bit of a mess, with trails not always matching the map and checkpoints placed in precarious positions.  John adapted the best of all of us (I'm sure he enjoyed it the most too) and came in 2nd overall.  Dave and I saw each other briefly in the middle of the course, before I started floundering, misreading creeks, and attempting a route along the top of a cliff that didn't work.

Here's Dave at the next-to-last control, photo courtesy of John who was hiding and taking pictures of us:

Making a plan to the last control:

And off he goes...

I apparently made up some ground in the second half, because I arrived at the same control just a couple minutes later:

Making a plan...

And away we go:

Hi John!  Displaying my "blazing speed" to the finish line:

Somehow it was enough for 4th place, with Dave just behind me in 5th (out of 10).  Certainly an interesting day, and good practice for adventure racing  :)

More practice - a fun day riding on gravel roads with Sheila and Sheila - thanks for letting me tag along!

My bike finally made it into a photo of "fun things along the roads of Texas" (not sure what Looney Litter is, but the sign sure is eye-catching):

Another day, another workout - this time back to the Barton Creek Greenbelt (yay!), finding trails mostly how I remembered except for a couple small detours, a bit of wet feet training, and a discovery that Bruegger's Bagels isn't all that far from the top of the Hill of Life (especially if you're doing a long run) - perfect mid-run refueling:

Jumping back to East Texas, and a Thanksgiving feast with the family, yum!

It's a good thing I've been doing all that running and riding lately...

John demonstrating the quadcopter to Collin:

Giving the kids a chance to try - and it turns out that a hay field is a perfect place for a hard landing, plus this quadcopter is (so far) pretty indestructible, surprisingly:

A short example of the quadcopter in action:

Fun times!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Tyler long run

Occasionally I take a camera when I run, especially when I'm exploring a city and looking for curious and interesting things.  Time to check out Tyler, Texas!

Heading out from John's current work site at Texas Responsible Energy & Efficiency - see you later, John!

Some pretty foliage - finally seeing colors turn in east Texas:

Well, this is different!  Yes, THAT David Koresh, buried in a cemetery in Tyler, who knew?

I never would have found it without an exact lat/long location in the back of a large cemetery:

In another part of the same place, a howitzer (easier to find):

Moving on to downtown Tyler, this large water tower was apparently set up as a nuclear fallout shelter at one point:

One of many red brick streets downtown:

I had to go see what an "Earthkind Botanical Garden" is:

I'm not sure I found it.  But this garden sure is pretty:

Lovely bench:

This place nearby sure has seen better days - I just happened to notice it blocked off behind a gate as I was running by:

Barbershop pole = checkpoint!

I like the local bus design:

And the rose logo for the city:

I didn't find many murals, but the science center made up for that with several good ones.  Lots of detail here, planets and waves and layers of the earth:

Things that fly, including a butterfly for Mom  :)

Science on the smaller scale:

This probably isn't an official whaling wall, but I still like it:

I'm a fan of colorful utility boxes:

Peace through discovery - a wonderful concept.  It made me ponder why science and facts aren't more broadly used and appreciated when talking about important subjects, like climate change; is it possible that peace and saving humanity aren't desired by all people?  That thought made me sad.  Big thoughts for the middle of a long run, just bubbling up by looking at one mural.

On the lighter side - something pretty:

You have to be looking in the right place to find this sculpture:

Tyler City Square has a nice little fountain - I wonder if the water jets spray higher sometimes:

"Make Tyler a beautiful work of art" - first time I've seen such an elaborate print on a trash can:

I definitely had to find the grave for Shorty the Squirrel:

A bell that was used as a fire bell before being returned to the church:

The only statue I found while roaming around, here is Mr. R. W. Fair at a parking garage:

An important discovery - the Foundry coffeehouse, a most excellent (and warm) place, a little haven in the middle of downtown:

The warm spiced cider was most excellent:

One of many beautiful houses framed by lovely flower gardens, this one with all kinds of honors including a historical plaque and two types of medallions:

The Children's Park is a wonderful (and sobering) little place to walk through.  There are many sculptures honoring children, like the little kid playing with a frog.  Also a couple of large bears possibly tickling each other?

The butterfly garden, very nice:

Aaaagh!!  A giant ladybug, noooo!  You have to understand that ladybugs have been SWARMING in east Texas lately and I have spent many minutes hunting them down and removing them from inside our trailer.  So my reaction was a bit unusual as ladybugs go...

I've seen several Micro Family Farms in Tyler, finally got a picture of one.  I've not heard of this before, apparently they are helping people set up gardens in their yards in Tyler, Austin, and soon in Dallas:

Obviously it's the off season for a garden right now, but here's a brief glimpse of what they look like:

An impressive amphitheater in Bergfeld Park:

A really impressive gravestone in Rose Hill Cemetery:

I'll stop using the term "impressive" as this point and switch to "humorous":

The halls of Tyler Junior College:

I like this tower of books, called "Foundations", in a courtyard at the college:

Not quite sure what to think about the totem poles nearby:

Wonderful depiction of geese taking off from a pool:

A southern checkpoint:

Bubbly fountain at UT Tyler:

Brilliant red foliage on campus:

A tall tower with carillon bells:

I just happened to time it exactly right (got lucky) to hear the noon performance.  It went on for 10 minutes so I was able to get over there and capture just a bit of the very end of it:

This sculpture of (I think) a snapping turtle is called "East Texas Watch Dog" - love it!

I ran on the twisting, turning, switchbacking bike trails through the UT Tyler campus.  Only mountain bike trail builders can imagine just how much trail distance can be fit into such a small area.  I enjoyed running on it; biking would be more challenging for me with all the little dips and steep climbs.

One item of note was this sign on the bridge - "Bridge maximum capacity: 12 persons or 2000 pounds" - but did they really have to call it out?  I can imagine some people would consider that a challenge and would not be surprised to see a Facebook photo with 13 people standing on it:

A bit of the trail winding through the leaves:

Solar for John (and while it would have been a better picture if the sun were actually shining, I did appreciate the cloudy day for my run):

This one really made me wish we were going to the Bay Area for the annual Christmas decoration nighttime orienteering run next month - so fun!  The question for this checkpoint would be something like, "Who is standing on the left?  A) Santa  B) The Grinch  C) Dinosaur"

Second mid-run break - for a bagel and coffee.  Thank you, Einstein's!

This sign has made me laugh several times recently (see the part on the right), so I was happy for the opportunity to include it in this post:

Making my way back to the west, here's an interesting bunch of animals advertising the World of Wildlife Museum:

And the museum is actually free, so I poked my head inside.  I decided I wasn't really up for seeing a bunch of taxidermy that day, so I snapped a quick photo and went back out to continue my journey:

Running through Lindsey Park to see if I could find the bike trailhead, I happened to pass by this unusual disc golf goal - I daresay it could be considered "impressive":

An excellent sign about how long litter takes to decompose (plastic bottles = 450-1000 years) - please don't leave trash on the ground (obviously) - and maybe reconsider occasionally before buying a plastic bottle in the first place:

Wow, I have never thought about a disc golf course as meriting such a "Warning!" sign like this one.  Makes me want to check out the course and see if there are alligators out there or cliffs to scale or something:

Ah yes, here's the trailhead.  Not visible from the road, so I guess you need to know that it's here?  Maybe I missed a sign somewhere.  Anyway, I'd gotten enough miles for the day already, so I'll come back and check out the trail another time.  [UPDATE - yes, there is a sign across from the parking lot.  Don't pay attention to the mileage on the big map board - total trail length is about 13 miles.  And the trails are awesome!  Bring your bike!]

John, I'm back!

That was fun!  Thank you Tyler!