Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wanna Take a Stroll with Me?

The pictures of my lake are all resized and a few are slightly corrected. Because of the early morning hour, not many of them needed any changes. I actually like the colors better this early in the morning. It was about 7 AM. The contrast seemed to need a little help in a few of the images. Maybe that's because we have haze even on good days here in San Antone. So, "Shall we go for a walk?"

"Of course, we can take our cameras with us. Why not?"

When you leave my apartment headed for the complex office, or the lake, you pass through a rather large, for being inside of a city, valley. The trail is paved and the inclines from street level going down into the valley and back up to the levy surrounding the lake are gentle but steep enough to give you some good exercise. There are 18 acres on this apartment complex and we take up one side of the lake.

The valley has some south Texas xeriscaping and here is an example of some of it. These are the fading blossoms of a choke bush. When it is spring and they are new the stems you see are colored a lovely bluish purple.

We also have some trees similar to those which line the downtown Riverwalk. There's enough water in our area to keep these trees green and when it rains there is runoff through the valley. Even with all that moisture some trees don't do as well as others.

Our trail is lit by lanterns such as this one. As you can see from the clouds behind it we were hoping for rain that day. The rain didn't happen that week, but we've had several days of rain this week and are expecting a little more.

We're almost to the office by now and while the complex is nice it isn't my favorite photographic subject. I dropped the rent check off via the drop slot and turned around to find this view.

Some of our neighbors really love their flowers and plants. This one obviously has a green thumb and so does their neighbor.

Then I noticed sad evidence of mankind. Why on earth would someone set a can standing upright on the ground beside their truck and then back out of the parking space to just leave it there?

Ah, here's our first view of the lake. You can tell that we've had quite a few dry days by the water level. When it rains the water, of course, fills the lake. Sometimes it even overflows. I wonder what this level of water does to the fish and birds that live on this lake.

We keep this playground for the kids who are too young to understand about animal safety. Thanks to regular hand feeding some of our bird residents are overly friendly to people and this can be intimidating to a small child. I didn't spot any of the usual apartment complex barbecue grills around on my walk but I know there are some near here, so this probably serves as a good visiting place for mothers to send their children while the dads do the grilling.

Just past the play ground you can look back and, again, see the lack of water the season has brought us. Looking at this wall I'm reminded of images I've seen of renaissance castle walls and how the community might put up some barriers at different height/stages for defense of the residents.

As the trail curves around the lake we come to one of the first landscaped seating areas that are so popular with visitors. Some of them are a bit back from the water but most of them, like this one, are set right along the edge of the lake.

Don't you just envy the people who live on the other side from us. This shot is taken from within that seating area looking up at the apartment of the person who lives nearest it. Man, what a great backyard.

Some of those seating areas are bigger and nicer than others. I think there are about five around the entire lake. Most of them are on the side of The Regatta, the complex on the other side of the lake from my complex. This one is really nice and lush when the lake is full.

Once inside that gorgeous rest spot you can look across the lake to the deck which is on my side. That too attracts visitors and not as many ducks or geese.

The lake has its share of the squirrels which love the oak and pecan trees so prevalent in south Texas. Here's one of them that didn't seem to mind being photographed. I took three pictures of him trying to get him centered in the view finder. Then he did this (see below).

He just spun ninety degrees towards me and I swear he was saying, "You lookin' at me?!" I got this last shot which was kind of blurry and then backed carefully out of his territory.

I didn't get a picture of the bridge that crosses our lake at the far end, sorry. But this is a nice panoramic view of what you can see when standing on it. If you want to see it bigger just click on it.

Here's what you can see looking the other direction from the bridge. That's a street, which runs behind the lake, and the beginnings of the Northern Hills country club, which has its own golf course. I like to take the drive up that street when coming home because it has a pretty view of the back side of the lake.

Past the bridge you can see a long and winding path which curves around the end of the lake and then splits off to go in two different directions. One of them heads back along the lake. We'll take that one. The other goes off into the valley to get you back home to my group of buildings.

Walkers around our lake make lots of friends. This shot interested me because you can see some of the measures we have taken to ensure the permanence of the path. Those white tubes sticking out under the asphalt are for drainage during times of frequent rain.

Periods of drought leave their effects too. Here's a pretty deep crack in the trail from the settling caused by dry soil as you head back up the levy to the edge of the lake.

At this end of the lake there used to be a huge bunch of reeds growing in the water. Within those reeds resided a white crane(?) or waterfowl of some sort. I don't know the exact name but I recognized the type by the long legs and its tendency to stand on just one of them. Plus it was a water feeder and stayed pretty much within those reeds. It was a solitary bird and I didn't see him this time. I think he left because they decided to clean out the reeds. Probably this was done for safety. I'll miss the old fellow. Hope he's okay.

Benches like you see there used to hang on chains from frames. They're still nice places to sit on and are more off the path than the swinging seats used to be.

A few steps further along the trail we'll come to the deck we saw from the other side of the lake. This is a popular viewing place and the breezes are very nice standing at the edge of it. Once we've moved to the side of it stretching over the lake you can see this.

This panoramic view took 10 images to create. Most of them were taken with the camera held vertically so that you had a tall narrow view. I only left out one image which showed a wooden post that was part of the deck/pier structure. Because it was so close to me it threw the auto focus off and everything behind it in that one image was blurry. Fortunately the images on either side were overlapped enough with it that nothing else was lost. Once again, if you want to see this image larger just click on it. The panoramic views really look best if you see them larger.

Turn around and here's what the deck/pier looks like from the lake edge. Rather pretty isn't it? I like the fact that it is in several levels and there are lots of places you can lean on to rest and enjoy your view or a conversation with a friend.

Here's a last view of the deck as we head off on the home stretch. We've come 3/4 of the way around the lake and the rest isn't as pretty as what we've seen although it still has spots of interest. But now we're getting close to human habitation again and I like it better without all the buildings. Don't you?

Here's the view of the valley between my building and the lake's levy. We're headed back home now and as you can see there's that tree we saw earlier which I hope recovers but suspect will probably be chopped down.

The entire walk around the lake is about 3/4 of a mile. If you include my valley it gets closer to a mile and maybe an extra 1/8th. The area is very populated with people and kids. Sometimes the grass grows a little taller than is easy to mow. I saw this once and the result was that some small rodents had taken residence in the valley. I became aware of the rodents when I noticed a bird of prey, probably a hawk, hanging over the valley. He would drop down into the grass to catch something and then rise to a nearby tree to consume it. You always think the chase is going to be so swift but his actions were very slow and lazy. Either the rodents were slow or he was a very good hunter.

Well, I've enjoyed our walk. We should do it again sometime. :) Joy!


murat11 said...

What a great greenspace: from some angles, it looked like a European park. Hopefully, our recent "deluges" have fed the lake.

Your "white crane" might be an egret. Wouldn't be surprised if a blue heron staked out a claim sometime.

Thanks for the tour.

Lee said...

Thanks Paschal! European parks? What a traveled person you are. :)

I'll look into that egret idea. You may be right. A blue heron would be welcome anytime.

You're welcome!

Sandi McBride said...

Wow Lee, it's a lot greener than I expected. Your living area is lovely...I feel sorry for the water bird tho...they don't like there home's disturbed...but your pictures of the squirrel cracked me up! The picture from the bridge was beautiful...I found it to be quite charming and romantic...good job!

Lee said...

Thanks Sandi! San Antonio is usually fairly green due in part to the river that runs through it. We also live over an aquifer which is the source of much conservation, conversation, and contention as we strive to protect and use it.

That squirrel really surprised me. First off he sat still through 3 shots and then suddenly turned towards me. My hand was a little shaky and I was in a hurry that last frame. :)

I'm so glad you liked the pictures. Yep...the bridge is a bit romantic isn't it. :) There used to be a water fountain in that section of the lake but the pump broke quite a few years ago and they never replaced it.


San said...

I enjoyed the walk too, Lee. Especially standing on the deck with you, lost in conversation. :-D

Such a lovely, peaceful place to walk and reflect. I envy your lake. Water is so soothing to the soul, as is all of that green.

One of these days I will carry a camera on my morning walk and show you the contrasting sights around here. Far less green but soothing in that desert way.


Lee said...

Aww...we'll have to bring some bottled water and a bag of fruit for the next deck chat, San. And maybe some bread or popcorn for the birds.

I look forward to going with you on your walk. Will we run into any spirits on our trek?