Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's 'Sno News

Late last night and very early this morning Lubbock got a whooping by Mother Nature.

I worked the late night shift, and all through the night my coworkers and I were constantly looking out the windows to gauge the progress of the snow storm.

If this were Massachusetts, the plows would have been out as soon as the first snow flake hit the ground. Not so in Lubbock. Several hours into the storm, the streets were still white and untouched by any vehicle, much less a snow plow.

But then, the reason for the lack of snow storm preparedness is understandable. Lubbock is not used to getting this kind of snow. The last time it snowed this hard in Lubbock was some 9 years ago. (Of course, such a snow fall would be small potatoes in New England.)

By the time I got out of work at 6 this morning, I had to trudge through snow drifts that were half way up my shins to get to my car. Not having a snow brush or ice scraper, I had to sit in my car for 5 minutes - melting snow puddling in the bottoms of my clogs - with the defroster blasting on high.

When I was finally able to move, I drove all the way home along the unplowed roads in no higher than second gear.

A few brief moments of panic set in when the gate at the apartment complex would not open. It was frozen shut. The gate would only shudder whenever I tried to open it with my key card.

Anxious to get to bed and hating the idea of having to wait hours until maintenance could come and fix the problem, I got out of my car and yanked on the gate.

My effort bore fruit. With great satisfaction I watched the gate roll back.

I drove my car through the gate and to the one only open parking space in front of my apartment. And after a few attempts, I managed to park my car as far up into the snow drift as I could.

My pillow awaited me inside.

As I slept, snug and secure in my bed, I dreamt that all the walkways and parking lots of the apartment campus were shoveled clean.

However, upon waking I was faced with a different kind of reality.

A shovel never touched this snow. And it seemed doubtful that this snow would ever see a shovel or a snow blower.

The mermaid seemed oblivious to her snowy blanket. But then, she was used to New England winters.

This heavy blanket of snow makes it hard to believe that just a couple of days ago, the temps were up in the mid-60s.

As much as I don't care for snow, it does look pretty under a deep blue Texas sky.

Even the pool looks inviting, despite the snow-covered deck chairs.

It did not take long for these icicles to grow.

Traffic was, understandably, very sparse. No one in their right mind would want to be out driving in this.

With temperatures expected to stay low, it looks like we're going to have a white Christmas in Lubbock.

Merry Christmas.

Stay warm.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Prairie Dog Town

Today I decided to take Kane to a different park for his walk. Seeing that we had to go by the South Plains Mall on the way to our usual haunt, I had no desire to battle the heavy Christmas shopping traffic. Thus, I decided to take a drive out to Mackenzie Park on the opposite side of town.

(When taking any of the dogs for a walk, I do not take my camera with me. Thus, this blog is going to be all words.)

Once I got to Mackenzie Park I parked my car at Prairie Dog Town.

Kane and I got out and circled away from Prairie Dog Town.

We came across Gilbert, a older man with a metal detector, and his canine companion, a tall boxer mixer named Chatto. Chatto had a wound on his upper left front leg. Gilbert said that it was from a dog fight and that it cost him $420 in vet bills.

Chatto was rather shy and reserved. He hid behind Gilbert's legs while Kane strained at his leash to reach him.

Gilbert and I talked about metal detecting. He was trying out his new machine, which cost him some $1600.

The desert was one of Gilbert's favorite places to do metal detecting. He would go there any time of the year except summer. That was when the snakes were out.

The desert?

I love the desert.

As such, Gilbert recommended that I visit a few places in west Texas that were desert.

They were Big Bend, Marfa, and Presidio. All 3 places are wildly beautiful places steeped in history and along (or close to) the Mexican border.

Oooh! I would love to go see those places. But with them being about an 8-hour drive from here, it'll have to be longer than a day trip.

After chatting with Gilbert, Kane and I continued on our walk. We saved Prairie Dog Town for last.

There weren't that many prairie dogs out. But of the few that were out, one in particular was very chatty.

Because the wall separating Prairie Dog Town from the rest of Mackenzie Park was low, Kane got to see the prairie dogs when he stood up on his hind legs.

Getting our fill of prairie dogs, we headed back home.

Perhaps some day I'll come back with my camera.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Weather Happens

Today was a day for wild weather in Lubbock.

We woke up to a foggy and frigid 24 degree morning. The streets and walkways were covered with sheets of glare ice from the frozen drizzle we had the day before.

Even though the walking and driving was treacherous, there was beauty all around, with the pine needles looking as though they were dipped in sugar.

As the sun started to rise, the fog started to burn off and the temperature got higher. And soon the crystalline frosting on the trees started to melt and drip heavily like rain.

It was a beautiful and gorgeous morning with shining sun and brilliant blue skies.

As I left just before 1:00 PM to meet Ariana for lunch, I saw dark clouds way out on the horizon. By the time we were having lunch at the Mediterranean Cafe, those dark clouds were over us and the rain started coming down.

As it was raining, we heard a continuous light tapping on the restaurant windows. It was hail about the size of pellets.

By the time we were done, the precipitation ceased, and the dark clouds were heading off.

After I returned from lunch, I went to take the dogs out to the park for a walk. By now it was bright and sunny with the temperature at 54 degrees. But the wind was blowing something fierce.

Really fierce.

Even though it was warm, I still had to zip my jacket up to my neck, put my hood up and tighten its drawstrings.

While the wind was not strong enough to blow the dogs all the way to Kansas, it was strong enough to knock little Emi to the ground as she went to climb up the curb.

That was some strong wind - so strong that I cut our typically 1-mile walk short. As soon as the dogs did their business, they were quickly hustled back to the car.

While the sky was bright blue, I saw a large brown cloud on the horizon. A dust storm was heading our way.

I've never experienced a dust storm before. So as soon as I brought the dogs home, I grabbed my camera and headed out the door. I was going to chase that dust storm.

I decided to head out to some desolate parts so that I could better see the progress of the dust storm.

You can still see some blue sky as the dust rolls in.

There's less blue now.

And look how brown the sky is here.

I did not do anything to alter the color of this image. The dust storm made this look like a scene out of an Alfred Hitchcock or Stephen King movie.

What was interesting about this dust storm was that the dust particles were so fine that I did not feel anything different. There were no stinging particles against my skin. Breathing was normal and uneventful.

I happened to notice this roadside shrine as I was driving down the road.

So I turned around so that I could get a better look at it. The dust storm created an interesting and moody backdrop for this roadside shrine composition.

(I think one of these days I am going to do a photo essay on roadside shrines. They are very fascinating example of native-grown folk art.)

While taking pix of the dust storm and roadside shrine, I was in the area of Lubbock Lake Landmark. So I decided to head that way and see what I could find.

When I got there, it was half an hour before closing, so I really could not do much exploring. Besides, the high winds and not wearing the right type of shoe for walking did not make hiking a very attractive prospect.

But I was still able to get some interesting pix, like this sculpture of Columbian mammoths

or this one of an ancient bison.

And what dust storm would be complete without a few tumbleweeds?

Yes! There were actually tumbleweeds rolling down the road in the high winds.

And here's a granddaddy of a tumbleweed right here in the bucket of this bulldozer.

So all within 10 hours we had fog, sub-freezing cold with sheets of ice, bright sunshine and blue skies, warm temps, rain, hail, sun and blue skies a second time, high winds with rolling tumbleweeds, a dust storm, and bright and sunny blue skies once again.

Only in Lubbock.