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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sight Seeing: Wichita Falls

Coming from San Antonio, a heavily tourist oriented town, we come to expect that cities of any size will have attractions to keep visitors occupied and out in public as opposed to sitting in a hotel room watching crappy TV and waiting to strap-on the feedbag for the next meal. Wichita Falls did not disappoint, having River Walk-like Park (a river and a walk, but certainly no Dick’s Last Resort), and a few points of interest worth stopping for.

Two places I wanted to see were the sculptures of the Indian Wee-chi-ta showing some fellow Indians how deep the water was, and the Falls themselves. As this link says, the original falls are gone but a replica has been built, conveniently located off I-44. Oh yeah, and they also turn the falls off with a spigot to save water.

The first thing that struck me about the Wichita River was how extremely, umm, colorful it is. The nice lady at the Texas Welcome area told me that it had to do with all the iron ore in the water being stirred up. When we happened a few miles north to the Texas Oklahoma border, we could see clearly why the body of water was called the Red River. I’m sure some people enjoy a nice refreshing swim on a hot day, but I’ll stick to a nice shower in a clean hotel, thanks.

The Falls really do make a nice scenic view from I-44, but I was mostly impressed with the public park created along the river leading to them. We only stopped briefly, but the walking path was very clean, easily accessible to the handicapped, and though I have to confess that I felt uneasy about leaving two laptops, a video camera and my 35mm camera kit in the van as we walked around (and seriously, is that not asking for trouble?), I was happy to find no burglary and also happy to see several female joggers including a senior hitting the path alone – a sign that the park is considered relatively safe.

Again, swimming certainly would not be an option, but I could see this park being used for a family picnic, or just a nice place to take a stroll.

The sculptures on the other hand, though very well done, were in an area of town that I have to guess is less than the Upper End. I used my Garmin Street Pilot to guide the way, only a few miles or so from the base, and I kept thinking to myself that it must be a mistake. But sure enough, we pulled into what at first looked like an abandoned grain elevator near an old bridge, and there it was.

I don’t know the history of the sculpture, though there was one of those self-congratulating markers listing the names of everyone involved etc, but all I can say is, Bravo! Again, with the ugly red water below, there was a very nice little walkway down to the structure and really, well done landscaping to give a good mix of metal (or whatever they make sculptures of) and plants and water.

Before you pack up the picnic basket, make no mistake; this is a place to come, look, take a few pictures and move along. There was a park bench and I can’t over emphasize how well the space was used, but if there was not some otherwise historic significance to the location, I would have placed the beautiful art work back at the park with the falls. Perhaps if you are familiar with story behind this, you can educate me.

When we first pulled up, my wife and daughter decided they would rather sit in the locked van and wait for me while I took pictures. Partly because it was raining, and partly because the place just looked scary in broad daylight. Once they saw that I was okay, they ventured out to see what I could see. Just as they made their way down to the sculpture, we looked up to see some lady standing by the van peering into the windows. In her heroine induced, white-trash state, she was able to determine that for a fat guy, I could probably still out run her and any attempt to bust into the vehicle would be ill-advised. So, she walked away. In fairness, there was a pay phone near where we parked, and she could have simply been making a call. To her pimp. Or drug dealer. With no intention of breaking into the van. While we watched.

After we took a few happy snaps, the rain started to come down a little more than just a sprinkle and the girls decided to go back to the van. I on the other hand decided I had to see the magnificent old bridge to get a few shots.

Oh, as it turns out, the big abandoned structure we saw has been converted into a climbing tower. What an awesome use of space and a great attraction for sports minded people. Once again, my first impression of the place was starting to fade and I could see that the people of Wichita Falls are trying to revitalize and area and make good use of the space.

One last picture I had to share of the bridge. I despise graffiti but there are certain times when a person finds it necessary to deface public property. Apparently, someone came to this bridge to ask that his prayer be answered, quite possibly before leaping off the bridge into a certain need for a bath, what with the color of the water below. If you click on the picture, you should be able to read it, but the gist of it is, some guy wants his wife to quit doing "wrongful and sinful things". Let's hope so.

Have you seen the Falls, the sculpture or ugly river? I’d like to hear your report.


buffi said...

I know you posted this a while back,but it was nice to see that someone actually enjoyed their visit to Wichita Falls. Thank you for your nice words. My husband is stationed at Sheppard as well and we LOVE this place. It is actually his third tour here in the past sixteen years of active duty. Of course it doesn't hurt that I spent the first 23 years of my life in West Texas, so I'm rather partial to our grand state!

If your daughter ever needs anything or just a homecooked meal, tell her to email me. We are always happy to take care of our fellow airmen!

Dave said...

I'm glad you enjoyed my positive outsider's view of Wichita Falls - no sense in slammin' a place if it doesn't need a good kick in the pants!

Thanks for your husband's service and for the support you give him as a military wife - my wife and I know a thing or two about that! And thanks for the offer to let my daughter e-mail you.

About Your Host

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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