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Support for Dark Sky Community Recognition in Fredericksburg

I am helping the City come up with letters of support for the continued effort to improve outdoor lighting in our community be being recognized by the International Dark Sky Association as a Dark Sky Community.  We have been working this direction for some years here, beginning with a two year effort to get an Outdoor Lighting Ordinance. If you would like to submit a letter of support for this, see my example below, which I wrote as President of the Friends of Enchanted Rock.  Send me a PDF copy if you can, or snail mail copy to the City at 126 W Main Street, Fredericksburg TX 78624. The application says about letters of support: “…support for dark Skies from a wide range of community organizations such as chambers of commerce, local electrical utilities, IDA chapters, lighting retailers, homeowners associations, and others.”  I would add to that “Community volunteers interested in seeing this prestigious designation awarded to Fredericksburg.” The 2017 Supernova (Fireworks Galaxy) was taken by Ken in his Putnam Mountain Observatory west of Enchanted Rock SNA.

September 1, 2018

IDA Board of Directors, International Dark Sky Association, 3223 North First Street, Tucson, AZ 85719-2103

Dear IDA Board Members,

The Friends of Enchanted Rock has adopted Dark Sky education as a primary mission along with preservation and recreation. We are a partner with the Park staff in hosting Dark Sky events, including an annual Enchanted Rock Star Fest and star parties. Because Fredericksburg is the gateway to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, we are also involved in the promotion of these objectives in that city. We heartily endorse the City of Fredericksburg’s application to be named an IDSA Dark Sky Community.

The Dark Sky movement initially came to Fredericksburg with some individual initiatives from a local astronomer, but the Dark Sky Team from Hill Country Alliance quickly picked up the ball and began the process which led to the adoption of an outdoor lighting ordinance by the City.  As a member of that team I found unqualified support from City Staff, who had already been requiring night sky friendly lighting in new commercial construction projects for some time. The proposed ordinance was drafted by Ken Kattner and presented to the City Council by myself as Co-President of the Friends and a resident of the City. The Friends continue to be involved in the movement with involvement in this application and in lobbying City Council members about the issues. Dark Sky tourism continues to grow, both at the Park and in the area generally.

Dark skies at Enchanted Rock are near and dear to our hearts, and the rapid growth of new construction and people in the Texas Hill Country make this effort critical for us.  We will continue to focus on this in partnership with City Staff and Council members.


Robert C Deming, President

Via Podiensis Next

I’m leaving for Paris on September 10 to walk the Via Podiensis  from Le Puy en Velay to St Jean Pied de Port. Like any of these adventures, it is a long way (450 miles) and there is no telling what will happen. I’m going solo; just me and Google Translate. I studied French in high school and college, so I think I’ll do OK with the communication. Getting to Paris will be a flight from Austin to JFK, then to Paris.The first real challenge will be to get from the Charles de Gaulle Airport to the train station, then to southern France. The cover photo is from a hiker currently on the trail; I’ll replace it with my own when I get there.

I have friends who have been in some of these places who have told me the place is magical. It will also be hot sometimes and rain sometimes and there is a lot of up and down. I’ll be carrying my trusty pack with a single change of clothes, rain and cold weather gear, a small sleeping bag, and not much else. This is a very rural route and I understand that there aren’t always restaurants or grocery stores, that one must take a little back-up food. Lodging is not in the hostels that I am used to, it is more gites providing meals. The trail is known as GR 65 and is maintained by the French government. I have a guidebook which doesn’t get good reviews. Most of the walkers are French, the trail greeting is not Buen Camino (Spain)  or Bohm Caminho (Portugal), but Bon Chemin.

That’s about all I know. You are welcome to come along, in person or by this blog. I am 66 years old, single, and in good health. I have a scallop shell and a guidebook and a map on my iPhone ( and enough money in the bank. I’ve walked two Camino so far.

What could possibly go wrong?

My Bacon Story

Sooner or later every “mass market” writer has to write a bacon story.  At least, I hope that is true.  I hung out at Random outside of Boerne last Saturday night and came up with this story and the beginning of another. This is more of a photo essay but more fun that usual to write, and for the most part the food truck people were great fun. I focused more on the food than the people, but the people are worthy of a story, too.

I also got the beginning of Beer Wisdom.  It could change to Bar Wisdom.  It will be the (actually) wise things I’ve heard at bars. I’m making a list, writing them down. I suppose this means I’m going to have to hang out at bars for a while.  Oh well, there is a down side to everything.  I’m also going to get back onto my plan for a Hill Country Dive Bars story. You might have noticed how neatly those two stories dovetail together.

Two weeks ago I was hanging out at a pub in London.  I made a short video of this kind of low-end classic traditional English pub not quite on the River Thames called the Brewery Tap, which has a local Dixieland Jazz band on Tuesdays.

Pain, Suffering, Friends, and the Staircase of Truth

View story at

I put this story on Medium.

The England You Always Hoped For

The England of your imagination exists in a place called Winchester. The couple in the photo are friends Gillies and Kym, who stayed at my Airbnb last fall. They have been showing us around. We took a guided tour of Winchester Cathedral. Our guide, Harry, told the history of the area from the Romans forward with a twinkle in his eye. The tour was one of the best hours we spent on this trip.We took a walk on a public path with our friends and learned that these are called kissing gates. There were quite a few so there was a lot of kissing. Famous trout fishery Itchen River flows through This area. We have seen quite a bit of the beautiful stream, but no trout. Izaak Walton wrote “The Compleat Angler” near here in 1653. This perfect cottage was across from the rural pub we found food and drink after our walk. There were many others along the way just as pretty. Our bill for breakfast yesterday came in this book. We went to church tonight at St Mary’s across the green from our AirBnb. A dozen people and a good message. One of the highlights for me.

We are most of our meals at the perfect pub-Carts & Horses.

Finally, our Airbnb hosts took us for a ride in their 1934 Riley to look fo trout. We found one in the Itchen at last – a 14″ brown trout. Before we left Winchester we saw the Round Table hanging on the wall of the Great Hall; Arthur’s? Maybe, maybe not, but from the 12th century.

Listening for Ghosts in Normandy

The image of soldiers in a landing craft is from

Normandy is a green and lush place with historic buildings, vast fields of wheat, and fat cows.I visited the place in the first week of June along with many thousands of people; I wanted to see it for myself, to make a personal connection with the story I had heard for so long. The French haven’t forgotten- these photos of the liberators in each community were common. This is Utah Beach at low tide. The water is very shallow and quite a distance from the beach. The landings here went well for the Americans. Today nothing but monuments remain. This is Omaha Beach at almost high tide. There was tremendous loss of life here, only 50% of the soldiers in the first waves survived the landing to engage the defenders. The heroism shown here by soldiers great and small was humbling. Pont du Hoc is a promontory between Utah and Omaha: this view is looking down to a beach. A soon-to-be-famous Texan led the Rangers up here to destroy the big guns. Col Rudder had 220 Rangers, but only 90 were able to reach the top of the cliffs to destroy this and other fortifications. This perfectly designed and kept cemetery belongs to the American people. This final resting place of almost 10,000 is above Omaha Beach. There are many other cemeteries in Normandy, and the number of men buried from just a few months of battle is staggering. I did not see the German cemetery, but it has 22,000 graves. It is hard to get the scope of this place in a day. I met an American in the customs line who walked the length of each of the five beaches over 6 days; he said it was a profound experience. If I ever go back that is what I will do. I read a book ( Stephen Ambrose) and visited 3 museums. Being there only increases my curiosity. I would like to re-visit at a time when it isn’t overrun with tourists and people wearing US battle dress as costumes.

D-Day was certainly the most significant experience of my parent’s generation; both served, my father as a B-17 navigator in England and my mother as a Marine (chaplain’s assistant) at Cherry Point. I left humbled by the sacrifice made by so many men and women.

I didn’t hear any ghosts, but I may return to listen for them at a more quiet time of year.

The Way is Made by People

We fly to London today, leaving behind lots of friends. These are the Australians, Cliff, John, and Joan. Some people just seem to part of your destiny. Liz and Alex from North Carolina are a couple we expect to see again. We don’t expect to see these Austrian girls again, but we enjoyed getting to know them nonetheless. Alejandro and The Sloth helped make southern Portugal for us. The list goes on and on: Kenton (Indiana);John, a Scot in Georgia; Peter, an Austrian odds maker; Sally, an American in Germany. Ibrahim, a Frenchman and his companion Bernadette; Iris and her son Jonathan (Finland), the two Japanese men at Pilgrim Pause albergue; Monica (Germany); Colorado Tanya- hospitalera at Alpriate Albergue (one of our best stops in Portugal); Maria Rita, Alicia and Hans-Peter (Germany) in Azinhaga; Danielle, our waitress in Coimbra; Sugikubo-Kita and Sakuji at Pilger Pause (harmonica player, Japanese); the couple who own Se Vehla where we stayed on my birthday and gave us a shot of Port for breakfast to celebrate with us; Cris and Vanessa (Germany) who we think became a couple on The Way; Les from California, and the countless Portuguese and Spanish people who made us cafe con leche, delicious meals, warm beds, and pointed the Way to us when we made a wrong turn.

Our lives touch ever so briefly, and a spark jumps between us, and we are all forever changed.