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Old 12-12-2010, 06:41 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by BerndM View Post
.....
I'm REALLY curious as to what camera you used and what settings you may have used on the last 2 pics with the stars. ....
Bernd

Thanks Bernd. It is a great place for a quick retreat for me.

The road pictures were taken with an Olympus Stylus 6000 (which I don't like). The other photos when not moving, and including the night sky were taken with a Canon DSLR. The first shot was with a 16-35mm f2.8 lens and the second was with a 70-200mm f2.8. The first one was taken at 3.2 sec on f2.8 with ISO at 1600. The second was taken on f2.8 at 20 sec. and ISO at 500. But there are of course many combinations you could use to get a night sky photo and others have done much better at it than I did in these two photos. It was a cold clear cloudless night. I was pretty cold outside so I didn't take much time in trying to get the shots. On a summer's night I would have spent more time. I hope this helps.
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Old 12-12-2010, 06:53 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by telejojo View Post
Where is the Texas hill country? Looks good. What part of texas?

Telejojo;

I don't know if there is a clearly 'defined' area we call the hill country, but generally it is south/south central Texas; west of San Antonio and Austin, extending north and west to the the Llano uplift.
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Old 12-12-2010, 07:23 AM   #18
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With daytime temperatures in the 70’s it was perfect motorcycling weather once the sun burned off the chill of the night and the morning clouds.






I loaded my bike with water, snacks, and camera and headed out on familiar roads to see again something that had captured my eye and thoughts last winter; a boot fence in the Texas Hill Country near Hunt.





I headed first to Luckenbach, Texas on RR 1376 for a quick trip through the town loop. Nothing going on there Friday morning, so I kept on going heading out Grapetown Rd. and then south on Old San Antonio Rd (Also called Tunnel Road and called Old #9 by some locals). Those last two roads are not the smoothest paved roads, but they have a lot of twists and dips and turns and sometimes strangely off camber.







Turning west onto CR 473 toward Comfort, Texas I saw a sign at River Bend Rd for a state park. That was new to me, so I headed down that way to take a look.

There is a pretty spot just before getting to the park. The Blanco River at a low water crossing:












On to the park


I was hoping to find something with some river frontage and camping spots. Instead, it is mostly just a picnic and wildlife area.



Nice, but not what I was hoping for at the moment. In fact, a sign clearly states that if I walked to the river’s banks, I would be trespassing. So I kept rolling…… going back to 473 into Comfort and then on to Hunt Texas via the River Road out of Kerrville and Ingram Texas.

But first I went down to the river’s banks.




From Kerrville to Ingram to The River Road (FM 39) there was traffic and more traffic.

At Ingram I was going to stop at the dam, but it looks as if the dam is going to undergo some repair work or something because there was no water in the Guadalupe behind the dam. What’s up? Further down toward Hunt there was water.




I continued on the ever twisting, dipping, winding scenic RR 39 following the Guadalupe River until I came upon the boot fence I had wanted to revisit on this trip. It is a barbed wire fence adorned with a variety of boots turned upside down atop cedar posts. Repeatedly for the length of the frontage of the property, the soles of boots are facing upward for travelers to observe and contemplate. And so I did.





But what is there to contemplate other than the question ‘why’? Possibly “why” is part of the allure and mystery of the fence of soles. I’ve tried to research the impetus behind the fence, but nobody seems to know why the boots are hung, and nobody seems to know how the boot fence started, and nobody seems to know who’s boots are allowed to perch on the posts. That puzzled me.



I know that in times past in a kinder, gentler, and safer country setting, landowners’ boots on the fence post was a signal to neighbors to let them know whether or not someone was home. A boot upside down on a fence post near the entrance would signify the landowner’s availability by the way the toe of the boot was turned. If it faced the house, he was home; come on up for a visit. If it faced the road, it meant he was away, so no need to approach looking for him. While I enjoy the imagery of a trusting cowboy living amongst trustworthy neighbors, I actually don’t know many people who would purposefully announce to every passerby whether or not their domicile was vacated; at least not in today’s crime laden society. And given the amount of boots lining the property, I am inclined to think there is more to the story. So the question “why” remains.



My natural curiosity would have coaxed me to settle the question by approaching the house and bluntly asking the landowner, however, there was a large “No Trespassing” sign nailed to a post in the midst of all those boots. I suppose others have felt the same timidity in asking, which is why there is still no definitive answer. Oddly however, the “Private Property, No Trespassing” sign must refer to only souls and not soles since it was bordered by a legion of western footwear. Clearly these boots were trespassing – walking the line, poaching; some with even a toe tipped across the fence as if to taunt the landowner.




While inspecting the array of boots, I found a couple that seemed to mock me. Maybe “mirror” is a better term. They reflected my mood over the last couple of months: tired, worn out, depleted, and left behind; possibly all brought on by an uninvited stress and fears. The reflection led to introspection, which led to the speculation that possibly it wasn’t just the stress of busy days that was getting to me. Maybe it was more. I walked the line and inspected the boots more carefully.




Thankfully, feelings and emotions are not the touchstone of truth. Instead, they are merely a diaphanous fog that settles on me at times obscuring visibility of what is certain and true. I’m typically not the kind of person who lives out of emotion. But stress and fear can sometimes make what I feel seem more true than what I know, bringing on a dark night in my soul. Standing in front of these boots under a warming sun and blue skies, the darkness was lifting and emotion was fading. Truth was warming into a full flame, melting any despondency I had carried with me to the hill country into a pool of understanding and recognition. Emerging from a dark night, those who are tempered by it can clearly see the fallacy of doubting in darkness what has before been revealed in the light.




The boot fence taught me a couple of things while I took my time letting the scene sink in:

First, Regardless of the unanswerable questions of why these boots were arranged atop a cedar post fence in the Texas hill country, this is true: they still had a purpose for being there. The purposes may be as varied as the boots themselves, but no doubt, every boot was placed on the fence by it’s respective owner deliberately and for a purpose, imaginably displayed with some fanfare, and the event remembered with swelling pride.




They were not abandoned. These assorted boots were reassigned. They were given a new usefulness. Had they been sole side down fitted on some cowboy’s foot tramping through dusty fields, I may never have stopped to notice them. But here, on display sole side up, I was compelled to stop and linger long enough to let my questions and imagination teach me.




Regardless of their condition, they did not cease serving a purpose. Today, they are a parable for me. For another, perhaps they are art. And yet for another, they are a memory. The list is endless I suppose. But for certain, they still had purpose!




And secondly...........

(back later.....)
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Old 12-12-2010, 08:32 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gypsyrr
I've learned to compete with it by adopting spontaneity as routine.
Amen to that.
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Old 12-12-2010, 05:22 PM   #20
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Secondly, when I inspected the various boots further down the fence line I was surprised to see that there were some perfectly good soles hanging on the fence posts that day. It appears there were some boots that were given up before they had given out! Perfectly good soles!



I can understand reassignment to a Texas fence once their effectiveness in the field or stirrup was complete, but I don’t understand relegating a freshly soled boot to the same artful display; never even enjoying the full use of the boot. Resigning a perfectly good boot to a wayside fence post puzzled me.




I tried to reposition a couple of boots but soon found that they had sat upon the posts long enough and through various conditions that they had taken the form of the post, thus attaching securely to it. They seemed 'stuck' where they perched. I suppose with some force I could have removed one or at least repositioned it for a better photo, but it would not have moved without some tearing or scarring of the leather, I'm sure.





If there is one thing that sincerely frightens me, it is the thought that I might make important life decisions out of fear or doubt, and then painfully regret an opportunity I missed as a result. Essentially, those perfectly good soles hung up before they had been used up represent that kind of life to me. Life is a series of choices, and sometimes they are not easy ones for me to make. Sometimes it is just easier to hang on a fence post rather than be worn down through continual use on rough terrain. However, the prospect of choosing ease rather than effectiveness is daunting. When it comes to making decisions about life, choosing ease rather than effectiveness will never fully satisfy me. It will only leave a sense of regret and a wistful painful longing; an ache in my soul with questions of what might have been. The greatest fulfillment in life is the joy that comes from impacting my world for the good of others, and that rarely happens by avoidance and ease on the sidelines or a fence post. I know this.




What I do with my time and my life is my choice. I know better than to just hang my life on the fence while I wait for better days and dark nights to end. I know better than to ease back and watch life just pass me by. Living life from atop a cedar post while I still have something left to give is crazily uncharacteristic of me. I know if I let life pass me by while I huddle by the fire, it will. Life will just travel on down the road, fitted to someone else’s feet, taking them places they never dreamed; giving them chances to make a difference in every place the sole of their boot falls. I want that to be ME! In fact, I’d like to wear myself out from a long string of purposeful days impacting lives around me and then at the end, finally rest as a testament to a life well lived! I don’t care if I arrive at the end of life hung up, worn out, weathered, and torn – - but I sure hope I get that way from living an efficacious life of significance and purpose, and not from just letting fear and doubt and darkness beat me down!




I spent enough time at the boot fence to gather the lessons I needed for that day. It was mid afternoon by then and I needed to get something to eat and then head back toward Blanco. I'm glad I stopped to revisit the boot fence. I still don't know the answer to why and how and who's, but I have answers to other questions that had been stirring around for a few weeks.
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Old 12-12-2010, 05:50 PM   #21
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It seems to me that you will never be content to rest as a testament to a life well-lived. I think you'll be living it to the very distant end.

Really nice photographs to accompany your thoughts.

Or should I say really nice thoughts to accompany your photographs.

Either works.

John
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Old 12-12-2010, 05:56 PM   #22
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The ride back after getting something to eat in Ingram was quick since the sun was starting to drop in the west. I took a couple of new roads I had not traveled before. They would have been really great if there had not been as much traffic as there was. Slow traffic. Ugh.








Nevertheless, I still made it back before dark and had some time to go exploring on the 600 acres before the hunters were out in their stands.










The next morning, I fixed another breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, and coffee which I found in the house (I was told I could use anything I found!) and then waited on the front porch till the temperature was at least 68. I'm not very comfortable riding in temps below that!



The landowner came by while I was getting things ready to ride. He is 76 years old, I think. He started telling me the story behind the building of the house which I was staying in. He built it for himself and his brother to move into, but his brother who is just 1.5 years younger is not well, and might never get to live in the house. He got kind of sentimental and teared up as he told me the story and then quickly changed the subject till he could return to it. I asked him why he has not finished the house or moved in yet. He told me "I'm an old man and set in my routines. The house doesn't fit my routines." So, he stays in an old trailer about 50 yards from the new house. I thought back to the boot fence from the day before, but in my mind I afforded him much more grace in his decision than I would afford myself at this point in my life.

We talked a while longer about the way things are changing in that area of Texas and also about some mutual friends. Then I needed to get on the road. He offered his cabin and new house for me to use whenever I need to get away, so with that offer still standing after 4 years now, I'm sure I'll be back again soon.


I took a short ride on some back roads around Blanco that I had never ridden before: Crabapple road and Old Blanco road with a stop at Blanco River State Park for a while. I kept the riding short that day so I could be home before dark.






Blanco State Park






Crabapple Road and Old Blanco Road













And then I headed home.





That's all- just a short meaningful weekend ride.
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Old 12-12-2010, 06:02 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by scarysharkface View Post
It seems to me that you will never be content to rest as a testament to a life well-lived. I think you'll be living it to the very distant end.

Really nice photographs to accompany your thoughts.

Or should I say really nice thoughts to accompany your photographs.

Either works.

John

Thank you, John. I hope you are right. I can't see myself doing anything but living life to the fullest until the end..... and then to rest. And this is another reason why I need a jeep like yours!
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Old 12-12-2010, 06:03 PM   #24
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A quick tech question..

How the heck do you set focus for the night sky pics? My Tamron 18-270mm is a dark lens, so I've been guessing and shooting at f8 or thereabouts and just hoping it worked. I suppose my question is whether you can actually see well enough through the viewfinder to focus, or if you're guessing as well..

John
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Old 12-12-2010, 06:06 PM   #25
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A quick tech question..

How the heck do you set focus for the night sky pics? My Tamron 18-270mm is a dark lens, so I've been guessing and shooting at f8 or thereabouts and just hoping it worked. I suppose my question is whether you can actually see well enough through the viewfinder to focus, or if you're guessing as well..

John

The 70-200mm IS f2.8 doesn't have trouble focusing on the stars. The 16-35mm 2.8 did, so I focused on the distant trees knowing that would be "infinity" and then switched to manual focus and left it alone.

I like your night sky photos better than these. How do you do yours?
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Old 12-12-2010, 06:15 PM   #26
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The 70-200mm IS f2.8 doesn't have trouble focusing on the stars. The 16-35mm 2.8 did, so I focused on the distant trees knowing that would be "infinity" and then switched to manual focus and left it alone.

I like your night sky photos better than these. How do you do yours?
I set focus based upon the lens markings, which I figure must surely be highly-suspect on a focus ring that goes from 18" to beyond infinity (is there such a place?) in a quarter-turn or so.. Then I close the aperture enough to hopefully give it enough depth-of-field to work. As for ISO, 800 or 1600 is quiet enough but anything higher and it's just too noisy. I don't really do any post-processing except bring the mid-tones up a bit and bump the saturation. I wish I had the time and/or inclination to give Photoshop a try, if for no other reason than to add a little vignetting every now and again..

I recognize that the real answer is a full-frame dslr (I'm shooting an EOS 50D) with a couple of good, fast lenses, but I'm still not nearly as good as the gear I've got.

Looking forward to your next ride report..

John
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Old 12-12-2010, 07:02 PM   #27
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Great job Kristi, thanks for sharing your thoughts and pictures with us, and especially for sharing your weekend ride with us...
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Old 12-12-2010, 07:20 PM   #28
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Great pictures. Kristi! Color me jealous of all the beautiful countryside and rolling hills...
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:06 PM   #29
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Thoroughly enjoyed the pics and your mysterious philosophical introspection even more. Having recently gone through a major life changing event myself I can relate to a lot of what you're feeling and thinking. But you have the right idea; the strong bounce back from even the toughest and most trying times in life and we live it to its fullest- till the end
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Old 12-12-2010, 10:30 PM   #30
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Kristi, thanks for sharing your photos and thoughts. I'll be taking a moto trip from the SF Bay Area to Houston next year, and will make a point of passing through that Hill Country of yours.
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