Thursday, November 27, 2014

"Grill Maintenance"

OK, so it's not exactly the most modern method of cleaning a grill, but it's worthy of capturing for posterity, considering the source.  This is Murphy, a lovable rescue dog who's provided companionship, unconditional love and protection to The Rogers Houston Clan for the last few years.  But in this twilight phase of his life, Murphy has been deprived of his vision and his hearing.  However, as is evidenced by this picture, his sense of smell and taste is up and running as if he were a puppy.  So it was destiny that when he found the bar-b-que grill still aromatic from the previous night's hamburger cook-out,  it was love at first lick.  

Monday, October 13, 2014


During the fall months around Estes Park and The Rocky Mountain National Park, the elk descend to  lower ground as the frigid winter announces its eminent arrival in the higher elevations.  At this time, too, the bucks are at a yearly high of testosterone, necessary to sprout their impressive racks often weighing up to forty pounds and extending to four feet.  As the rutting season reaches a peak,  the healthy, robust bulls engage in a 24-hour-a-day mating ritual that involves sometime as many as 50 cows that make up his harem.  The eerie bugling of the bulls can be heard at all hours as they make their presence known, attracting the cows and staking their area from other competing bulls hoping to attract a willing mate to join their harem.

No matter where you spot the tell-tale cluster of cows and their offspring, you'll find somewhere in the area the majestic bull riding herd, protecting his cows from other bulls, predators and the hordes of tourists with their binoculars, cell phone cameras, Nikons and video devices eager to capture this unique, yearly ritual.

And occasionally, you're rewarded in seeing the other end of the cycle as was the case of this gigantic, aging bull (its size evidenced by the car that is dwarfed as it wisely gives right of way).  Gone are his active mating days and what once might have been a magnificent rack in his prime.   There no longer are harems or challenges from younger bulls, but even then, this lone Roosevelt Elk of Colorado is still a magnificent creature to behold, to photograph and to cherish.

Friday, June 27, 2014

"Monteagle Musings"

Anyone who's spent the least amount of time with me realizes there are two subjects you don't broach unless you have time for detailed ramblings.  One is my involvement with the reknowned non-profit organization, The First Tee.  The other is my cherished Eastern Tennessee get-away, Monteagle.  And since I've just returned from the latter, having conducted my second consecutive photo seminar in as many years, I felt moved to explain what it is that's so special about this Smoky Mountain paradise.  But the more I thought about it, the more difficult it became to put into words.  So I've resorted to exceeding my usual spartan number of  individual blog pictures to illustrate my point.  Even this, however, has proven futile.  A mere thirteen photographs could have easily been three or four times that number,  considering I took more than 700 photographs during my most recent visit.  But I still don't think I can adequately do Monteagle justice.

The apparent physical beauty is a given.  Towering trees, flowers, winding paths and gentle breezes certainly are a start.

And then there are the activities:  swimming, biking, hiking, tennis and a myriad of lectures, lessons and seminars.

There's hardly an idle moment, unless you so chose.  There are relics to discover like a birdhouse on a bike, or snag some tadpoles below Moses Rock  or just leave your bicycles to cross the creek.

But when you get right down to it, probably one of the most magical things about Monteagle are the people.  The exuberance and innocence of the of children, the joy of family, the unspoken respect spanning generations,  and a warmth that permeates everything, whether it's a cheerful hello in passing or a handshake and a smile welcoming  you to Evening Vespers at the Chapel.

In reality, after much analyzing as to the "magic" of Monteagle, it was at a porch party one evening that a long-time Monteagle resident made the succinct observation, "Monteagle isn't a place or a thing, it's a state of mind".

As I headed back to my lodging that night, I only wished I'd thought of it......."a state of mind".  Amen to that!
 This post is dedicated to the "sparkling" Kathryn and that dazzling Dollar doll, LeNora, whose combined support spur me on to make this blog better (I hope) with each subsequent submission. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

For 68 Years an Institution

Club Schmitz began operation in 1946, surviving a fire years later only to arise from the ashes like The Phoenix and until recently seemed indestructible.  It was, after all, one of Dallas's most recognizable watering holes with the coldest beer in town, soon complimented with a burger that would hold its on against all comers.  Club Schmitz attracted mechanics, Harley riders, bank examiners and presidents, a gaggle of giggling secretaries, celebrities, politicians, professional athletes, corporate pilots and airline hostesses headquartered at nearby Love Field, to name just a few.  The clientele seemed endless in its diversity.  But the one thread that bound this cross section of humanity was, simply put, a chilled brewsky and a decent cheeseburger, maybe with a side of chili.  And should schedules allow, there was shuffleboard to play, as well as the challenge of the not-quite-regulation pool table.  The old-fashioned jukebox helped drown many a sorrow, celebrate  countless birthdays and anniversaries or just loosen up the crowd as they started their week-end with a late Friday afternoon happy hour.   But then, most hours were "happy hours" at Club Schmitz.  Until recently.

It was probably an article in  The Dallas Morning news that reached the majority of Club Schmitz customers with the news that a gas station was to buy the property to expand its operation.  The article chronicled the more than half-century history of Club Schmitz and told how the family-run institution was handed down from one generation to another.

And it was after this article that the far-reaching clientele came flooding to Club Schmitz for one final cheeseburger and brew before that fateful final day of May, 2014 was to roll around.  This was the day that Club Schmitz would go dark  drawing to a close a rich, raucous saga.
Soon enough the game room would sit idle. Then bulldozers will arrive.
But in the interim, loyal Club "Schmitzers" will continue to flock in record numbers to this aging jewel to hoist a cold one in homage to a rich history.

Eventually, however, we'll all have to make that final trek over the patched, parched parking lot of Club Schmitz, taking with us a bellyfull of burgers and beer along with memories of  the good-times spent in this gastronomical landmark.    
 Thanks, Club Schmitz.  It's been a great ride!!!!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

"On The Road to Cerrillos"

Cerrillos NM
Just down the road from Santa Fe, you'll find the little town of Cerrillos, NM.  But you better be prepared to jump off the main road or you'll miss this little jewel of a town.  There's not a lot to Cerrillos unless you stop and wander the main streets.

Shopping in Cerrillos

Bridle For Sale

And if you're fortunate like I was, you'll meet Billy and Eugene, the self-appointed Goodwill Ambassadors of this nearly-abandoned village.
Goodwill Ambassador Billy

Goodwill Ambassador Eugene

When asked if I might snap a shot of these two brothers, Billy agreed "I reckon so for the price of a cold beer".   On the other hand, Eugene really didn't seem to mind what I did as long as I'd let him finish his cigarette.   Once our contractual negotiations were completed, I snapped away, while they filled me in on some of the town's history, and they should know.  They were born and bred in Cerrillos and, from all indicators, have no intention of leaving. Especially when they can set up "Ambassador Central" right on the doorstep of Cerrillos' popular watering hole, Mary's Bar. 
The Infamous Mary's Bar
When you first stand at Mary's entrance, you'll find no signs of this weathered establishment even being open, other than the lighted neon Coors sign in the window, along with a garbage tub nearly overflowing with empty beer cans.
Entrance to Mary's 
But when you open the door, you're likely to find a long bar, a few stools and a white-haired lady behind the register.  By the way, that's Mary.  Accommodating and friendly, she looked like she could've been a grandmother.  In fact, that's exactly what she is and she has a young dynamo of a grandchild who seemed only too eager to pose for pictures as he sat on the bar waiting for his school bus.   


The Precocious Grandson
So there you have it.  A quick trip to a town with surprises galore.  And oddly enough, visited by a multitude of artists, photographers and history hounds wanting to experience a little bit of the "old" in New Mexico.  If you ever make it to this area, bring a camera and a thirst, because there's  a photo-op at every turn and Mary will have a cold one waiting for you.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


With a temperatures settling in at just above freezing under grey January skies, I realize that Dallasites don't have all that much to complain about a far as winter weather, especially in comparison to locales such as Butte MT, International Falls MN or Traverse City MI.  That still does not prevent me, however, from reminiscing about warmer days as I perused through photos in search of a particular project.  And I was so taken aback by these shirt-sleeve days, I felt obligated to share some scenes spanning the borders of Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Tennessee.  Hopefully, these will give us all something to look forward to in the lazy, hazy days of summer soon to follow.
Spider Rock, Canyon de Chelle AZ

DeGrazia Grounds & Museum, Tucson AZ
Mineola, TX
Monteagle, TN
St. Xavier Mission, Tucson AZ
Rocky Mountain National Park CO