This is the route of the new section of highway, all of which is under construction. The south end is most complete, and the further north you go the less progress there has been. I hiked the distance in five seperate sections, from south to north, with distances ranging from 1.5 to 3 miles in length. My hikes were round-trip, so they ran from 3 to 6 miles total, each.
Section 1: Interstate 10 to Morton Ranch Rd. Distance: 2 miles, 4 round-trip.
Section 2: Morton Ranch Rd. to Clay Rd., and beyond. Distance 1.5 miles, round trip 3 miles.
Section 3: Clay Rd. to FM 529. Distance: 3 miles, 6 round trip.
Section 4: FM 529 to House and Hahl Rd. Distance: 3 1/4 miles, round trip 6 1/2 miles.
Section 5: House and Hahl Rd. to one-mile short of Highway 290. Distance 3 miles, round trip 6 miles. At the north end here you run out of road-surveyed land and hit a pasture fenceline, beyond which appears to still be private property. So I fell just short of my goal of reaching Hwy 290.
Construction at I-10.
Bridge pillars going up.
Culverts lined up awaiting installation.
Bulldozer with GPS tracking.
Crane with drill attachment.
Bridge support concrete form.
Bridge supports going up.
Reinforcing bar (re-bar) cages for bridge support pilings.
Re-bar cage embedded in ground.
Overpass wall, looking like a fortress.
Overpass wall going up.
Temporary bridge over creek for construction equipment.
Running the entire length of one side of the new highway is a ditch for electrical cables.
The pipe that goes in the ditch, with four separate channels.
Fiber optic cable inside flat tape.
Junction box for the cabling, which will be used to run highway signs and such.
Several locations had motion detector security cameras like this one, set up in a box shaped pattern with a camera at each corner pointed inward. Equipment would be parked inside the box, so that it would be covered by surveilance to prevent theft and vandalism. Don't walk in front of them, or you might get blamed for anything bad that happens there...
The security cameras transmit a signal wirelessly to this box, which in turn sends the signal out by cell phone to some remote monitoring office. This would also be located on the edge of the secure perimeter.
Power lines marching off endlessly to the horizon.
Now for some wildlife stuff. The prairie is covered with ranchland, and new fencing has been put up down both sides of the new highway to keep the cows in their pastures.
A curious and nice looking cow.
Tuft of fur caught on a barb on a barbed wire fence, where an animal climbed through - probably a deer.
Who has been sleeping here in this lush grass?
Pink eggs, snail I think.
Close-up of pink egg cluster.
Feline tracks, perhaps a bobcat.
Deer tracks, slipping in the mud. The round disc is a 25-cent coin for scale. Other tracks seen: coyote, possum, raccoon. I didn't see any wild pig tracks, which surprises me.
Wooly booger, munching on the tip of a bud.
Swallows in double-decker mud nest under bridge.
FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY! Butterfly love.
What's this big bare spot in the thick grass? An ant nest!
Another ant nest, showing "roads" radiating outward from the nest, where the vegetation has been beaten down by millions of tiny little ant footprints as they scurry off in lines to forage for food.
The main entrance to the nest.
Blackberries are everywhere!
Odd blue flower with only two petals. No, this isn't just an oddball, they're all like this. According to Kay, this is a "Blue Dayflower". Note: a few of my photos came up a little fuzzy, as flowers are hard to focus upon - my apologies.
There were lots of these around, often on huge bushes.
Prickly pear cactus, somewhat of a rarity in this area.
Dandelioin in both flower form, and gone-to-seed stage.
When I don't know the names of flowers, I just make up my own. So I call these "red droopies". Kay says it's a "Mexican hat". Hmmm, maybe a droopy red Mexican hat.
And here are more droopies - yellow Mexican hat.
Honey suckle. I learned as a kid to pinch off the base of the flower and pull the pistel out the back, which brings a drop of sweet nectar out with it, and then you put that on your tongue to taste what a hummingbird tastes.
Primrose - Pretty in pink.
Either Phlox or Meadow Pink
Close-up of same.
This reminds me of some exotic orchid.
My favorite of all! I've dubbed this "purple scraggly". By gosh, just look at all that's going on with this flower. The center has three white spokes, underneath that is five green spokes, and surrounding the spokes are five yellow blobs arranged end to end, three green petals that have a barb on the end, the rest of the pettles in purple, and scraggly filaments running the length of the petals. Wow!
Indian blanket. Mostly red, yellow trim.
Same flower with less red, more yellow.
Seed pods. Don't lay down for a nap next to these, or they might assume your human form, like in that old science fiction movie "The Body Snatchers". Run for your life!
Small white flowers climbing a central stalk in a spiral pattern.
Sunflower against overcast sky.
Yellow swamp flowers.
Purple thistle, with bud. I like the name "thistle" - when you say it, it sounds like you're talking with a lisp.
Thistle with white dots on the end of the spikes.
Thistle with yellow dots on the tips, and a red bug.
Thistle going to seed.
Lichen on tree trunk.
Tree trunk with bumps and barbs.
White and yellow.
With bee! The bee sets himself down in the middle and starts scooping up pollen with his legs onto his belly. He only spends about three seconds per flower, so I had to follow him around for a while before I finally got this photo.
White dainties. Very aromatic, and the bugs liked them too.
White fluff clusters.
Looking like something out of a Dr. Seuss illustration. Where's the Lorax?
Wine cups, aptly named because they're shaped like a wine glass, and the color of a fine wine.
Just north of Clay Rd. is a concrete lined drainage ditch for Bear Creek, which is a fine pallet for graffiti artists. This saying is actually thoughtful.
While this one is rather disturbing.
I'd like to be able to read these, but often they're so abstract you can't make out what the heck they're trying to say.
Some of them, actually exhibit some good art skills.
This one is under a bridge near I-10. Is it just a joke by the bridge builder referring to spanning the ditch and reaching the other side? Or is it someone contemplating his mortality and what lies beyond life?
Bear Creek, in one of the few places where it's still in it's natural state.
One of a series of lakes up at the north end near Hwy 290. Contains ducks. I'm hoping these won't be destroyed by the highway...
The construction workers are trashy sum-beeches. There seems to be little effort to pick up after themselves when they eat lunch.
Only a few of these spotted alongside the new highway.
Only a few of these also. Kind of a joke, actually. Small plots would be fenced off to keep the construction equipment out. Yet tens of thousands of acres are being destroyed to build this highway.
On a hot day, take your shade any way you can find it.
Muddy boots. There are some places that look like hardened mud, but when you step on them it's just a thin crust, and you sink in up over your ankles in mud.
The hiker and photographer, taking a break under a cool, shady bridge.