Wild Black Bear Sightings Increasing in Texas

Recent sightings of black bears in the western parts of the Texas Hill Country could indicate the dry hot conditions in the Lone Star State are causing wildlife to venture into wider migration patterns.

From April through June, rare bear sightings have occurred near Carta Valley, Barksdale, Camp Wood, west of Ingram, south of Tarpley, Asherton, Alpine, Fort Davis and Mount Livermore.

On June 20th, a black bear was sighted swimming near the shoreline of Lake Amistad.

In the past year, bears have also been observed not only on the lake, but near Fort Stockton, north of Laredo, and in nearby regions.

While no one is sure how many bears currently live in Texas, experts agree that wildfires in Mexico, as well as drought conditions in other regions, have likely caused bears to migrate to new areas, including many parts of Texas.

Michael Janis, Trans-Pecos district leader for Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD), said dry conditions are likely sending bears looking for food. Breeding season also moved bears around.

The conservation efforts in bordering states over the last 20 years have also led to bears crossing back into Texas, especially during the summer mating season, according to TPWD.

Most of these animals wandering further into Texas are young, transient males in search of food and other bears. Males have much larger home ranges than females, and sub-adults can travel many miles to set up a new one.

Click to read bear tips for hunters, campers, hikers and homeowners

To those not aware of bears, some people become quite alarmed when they hear about sightings. However, out of approximately 36,000 people in the U.S. who are bitten annually by wildlife, black bears rank 5th behind rodents, venomous snakes, skunks, and foxes respectively.

In West Texas where Big Bend National Park (BBNP) has had more than 6,592 bear/human encounters since 1950, only 2.5 percent of those encounters were classified as aggressive interactions. Most of those occurred when the bear made contact with property containing human food. There has never been a black bear attack recorded in BBNP.

When Border Patrol agents discovered a young black bear in a tree in north Laredo last July, it likely came from Mexico, noted Eric Garza, wildlife biologist with TPWD.

Not long after,  residents of SpinTech – Myers Ranch caught a strange image on a game camera. Maybe it was an overgrown wild hog, but most believe it was a bear:

TPWD is recording more road kills of black bears between Laredo and Zapata over the decade. Garza notes they were likely males dispersing from Mexico also.

“Zapata itself probably hasn’t seen any historic sightings simply because of the lake. It’s hard for them to swim across the lake, especially when it’s up,” said Garza. “This particular animal probably came across where the water is a lot lower. Not where it’s a lake but where it’s still a river.”

In a 2011 Starr County encounter, Garza notes the bear became habituated to residents, picking up scraps of food and eating out of trash cans. In those instances the bears need to be trapped and relocated away from humans, pet food and trash.

“The first thing we need to know is any conflicts between black bears and people can be avoided very, very easily,” Garza explained. “And the easiest way to avoid any conflicts is to make sure and not leave trash out for bears to get into, and really any wildlife to get into. Don’t leave pet food out. Bring that in and secure it. Don’t leave small livestock animals like rabbits or poultry.”

Late 2021 and early 2022, TPWD biologists were monitoring multiple black bear sightings near the North Double Diamond community south of Alpine.

It is believed the bear may displaying behavior typical of hyperphagia (excessive or extreme hunger). Reports suggested that the bear were attracted to and searching for easily accessible food sources (i.e. pet food, wildlife feeders, livestock feed, etc.). 

In June, 2021, Big Bend National Park camper Valerie King took photos of a black bear in the Basin Campground:

TPWD indicates anyone encountering a black bear in a camping area should immediately deploy aversive conditioning by creating loud noises (shout, handclap, air horns, car alarm, sirens, or bang pots and pans) to startle the bear. Once the bear leaves, report the encounter to your District Biologist or TPWD Game Warden.

It is critical that the Department is able to monitor any on-going situations with full extent of known black bear encounters. 

In the 1800s, black bear lived through every ecosystem in Texas but has long been hunted down and migrated away from settlements and eventually, cities. In 2009, a black bear that wandered onto a Mernard County (Central Texas) cattle ranch was the first ever confirmed in this century in that part of the state, according to Capt. Alan Teague, a TPWD game warden.

Click to read bear tips for hunters, campers, hikers and homeowners

A Liberty County judge reputedly slaughtered 200 bears in the late 19th century, a pursuit that earned Lewis Hightower the handle “the Bear-Hunting Judge,” according to the Handbook of Texas Online.

“I practice law for recreation,” Hightower would say, “and hunt bear for a livin’.”

By the 1950s, black bears were eradicated from Texas, experts say.

The state made bear hunting illegal in 1983. That decade, they began crossing from northern Mexico into the southern reaches of West Texas.

For the past 20 years, a small population has bred there, mostly in the region’s rugged mountains. Today, some biologists believe there may be as many as 100.

But bears in Texas recently have been on the move, staging an unprecedented return to regions such as the Edwards Plateau, Piney Woods and South Texas Plains, according to Nathan Garner, another TPWD biologist.

The True Story of Smokey the Bear

Texas lists the black bear as threatened. The penalty for shooting one is a Class C misdemeanor and a fine of $500, plus a civil restitution of $11,907.50.

One of the most bizzare encounters was in 2017, when a black bear was sighted in a neighborhood between New Braunfels and Spring Branch. The alleged black bear, weighing as much as 350 lbs., ran in front of a vehicle in the early morning hours.

According to TPWD, there were 61 Black Bear sightings in 14 counties in 2018-2019. State mammologist Jonah Evans said sightings tend to increase in the fall because the bears are foraging food and trying “fatten up” before hibernating for the winter.

Transient bears from New Mexico are also occasionally reported in the Panhandle counties of Dallam, Hartley and Oldham, according to TPWD district leader Brad Simpson.

bear
The communities south of Alpine, Texas are on a Neighborhood Bear Watch. (courtesy: Texas Parks and Wildlife – Trans-Pecos Wildlife District)

A study published in The Journal of Wildlife Management documents 63 people killed in 59 incidents by non-captive black bears between 1900-2009.

Of special note is this quote:

“We judged that the bear involved acted as a predator in 88 percent of fatal incidents. Adult or subadult male bears were involved in 92 percent of fatal predatory incidents, reflecting biological and behavioral differences between male and female bears. That most fatal black bear attacks were predatory and were carried out by one bear shows that females with young are not the most dangerous black bears.”

🔹Black bears mate during the months of June and July. This might account for some of the sightings in the Texas Hill Country, as bears travel to find a mate during the summer months.

🔹State biologists believe that female black bears in Texas hibernate while males do not.

🔹The young are born in January or February, while the mother is “hibernating.” She normally gives birth to two-to-three cubs every two years.

LOUISIANA MIGRATION

🔹Louisiana Black Bear sightings have been increasing in recent years so it’s possible they are making a comeback in Eastern Texas too.

🔹Louisiana is home to the Louisiana Black Bear, a subspecies of of the American Black Bear. There’s an estimated 750-1000 bears living in the state, but they can also be found in the neighboring states of Texas, Mississippi, and possibly even Southern Arkansas.

🔹Aside from the Louisiana Bear, both the Mexican Black Bear and the New Mexico Black Bear are found in western Texas in low numbers and are also on the state endangered species list.

2018-2021 sightings

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NEW MEXICO MIGRATION

🔹The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish estimates that there are approximately 5,000-6,000 Black Bears living in all 14.6 million forested acres of New Mexico. There have been strict hunting regulations in place since 1927 in the state to help control the population of Black Bears in the state.

🔹In the early 20th century Grizzly Bears were common in the state, but now only the American Black Bear remain. They are also the state animal of New Mexico.

ARKANSAS MIGRATION

🔹Black Bears in Arkansas thrive in three places; the Ozark Highlands area, the Ouachita National Forest, and the lower White River basin. Pre-settlement there was thought to be over 50,000 bears in Arkansas, but dwindled down to just 50 bears in the 1930s. Thanks to conservation efforts and the importation of Black Bears from other areas, Arkansas is believed to have over 5,000 Black Bears now.

CAN INJURE WHEN PROVOKED

“The Black Bear is a stocky, large animal, one of the largest mammals in North America. Adults reach a length of 5 to 6 feet, height at the shoulder of 2 to 3 feet, and weigh 200-300 pounds,” notes information from Texas Park and Wildlife Department. “Although called a ‘black’ bear, colors can range from black to the occasional cinnamon brown. Front claws are generally longer than hind claws. The fur is long and coarse. Although appealing and generally harmless, Black Bears can injure humans when provoked and should be treated with caution.”

At least two subspecies of Black Bear are thought to occur in Texas: the Mexican Black Bear and the New Mexico Black Bear. Both are found in West Texas in desert scrub or woodland habitats within scattered mountain ranges, predominantly the Chisos and Guadalupe Mountains. Both subspecies are state-listed as endangered in Texas.

Colleen Olfenbuttel, the Wildlife Commission’s black bear and furbearer biologist, offers some advice about how to co-exist with black bears.

“Most bears that wander into a residential area will quickly retreat to their natural habitat, particularly if no food source is around,” Olfenbuttel said. “Bears have adapted to living near people; now it’s up to us to adapt to living near bears.”

BearWise has six Basics the public can use to prevent potential conflicts and live responsibly with bears:

• Never feed or approach a bear. Bears will defend themselves if a person gets too close, so don’t risk your safety and theirs.

• Secure food, garbage and recycling. Place trash outside as late as possible on the morning of trash pick-up — not the night before.

• Remove bird feeders when bears are active. Birdseed, other grains and hummingbird feeders have high calorie content making them very attractive to bears.

• Never leave pet food outdoors.

• Clean and store grills.

• Alert neighbors to bear activity.

“While these young bears (usually May-August), typically males, may appear to be wandering aimlessly around, they are not necessarily lost,” Olfenbuttel said. “Most are simply exploring their new surroundings and will move on, particularly if they are left alone and there is no food around.”

Unlike brown bears, black bears are omnivorous creatures that rarely pose a threat to humans, pets, or livestock. Like any large mammal, however, humans must take steps to be aware and coexist with black bears.

Black bears diet is very much like a raccoon’s.

🔹Up to 80 percent of their diet is plant matter, and they often scavenge the rest from carcasses of dead animals.

🔹In many circumstances, they will hunt for insects and worms for the “meat based” part of their diet.

🔹They have been known to kill larger mammals and even livestock. This is occurs mostly during late spring and early summer, when bears become active after hibernating, and juveniles “leave home.” This is when food requirements are high, and bears will find the most nutritious food they can.

🔹If there is a lack of fruits, berries, and other plant matter, they may feed on other animals. 

Signs of black bears 

If you suspect bears in your area, pay careful attention to signs such as, tracks, scat, and territorial markings on trees. Although you may not see the animal, the evidence of their presence is usually clear. Take pictures of suspected bear sign using a ruler or other standard item for scale and send them to your local biologist for interpretation. 

Bear tracks stand out and are unlike any other you might encounter. Bears use their teeth and claws to mark trees or other surfaces to mark territory.

Black Bears of East Texas. Photos provided by the East Texas Black Bear Task Force.
Black Bears of East Texas. Photos provided by the East Texas Black Bear Task Force.Hardin County News

BEAR ENCOUNTERS

If you encounter a bear, TPWD offers this advice:

  • If a bear regularly visits your deer stand, scare it with rocks, a slingshot or air horn.
  • If you encounter a bear at close range, talk in a calm manner while backing away slowly. Do not make direct eye contact
  • Do not run. Running can trigger a bear’s chase instinct.
  • Stand your ground and raise your arms if a bear approaches you, making yourself appear larger. Yell at the bear to scare it off.
  • Fight back aggressively with anything available if attacked. Let bears know that you are not an easy prey. Do not play dead.

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How are the SOB (Soros-Obama-Biden) Gas Prices Working Out For You?

Forget the propaganda churned out by the corporate news media, here are the facts about the SOB (Soros-Obama-Biden) oil and gas policies designed to socialize America towards control via “The Great Reset, and New World Order (NOW).

SOROS-OBAMA

🔹The day before Barack Obama was inaugurated regular gasoline prices across the USA were $1.87 per gallon.

🔹When Obama left the White House the cost of gas was $4.22 per gallon.

🔹Immediately upon taking office he rescinded leases for oil shale production and expedited the failed Solendro energy deal while stalling other new energy production.

🔹He urged the Senate to pass a new higher energy tax.

🔹To George Soros’ delight, Obama opposed bills to unlock American energy resources, stopped drilling and leasing through new bureaucratic hurdles, and rejected the Keystone pipeline.

PRESIDENT TRUMP

2018– The United States became the world’s top crude oil producer under President Donald J. Trump and maintained the lead position through 2020.

April 7, 2020- Americans, with the leadership of President Trump in the White House, were enjoying low gasoline prices at the pump. $1.79 per gallon

BIDEN’S BUILD BACK BETTER

Jan. 21, 2021– Biden inaugurated and immediately cancels Keystone XL pipeline. Gas is at $2.09 gallon

Jan. 27, 2021– Biden halts new oil and gas leases. $2.35 gallon

Feb. 19, 2021– Biden rejoins Paris Climate Agreement. $2.48 gallon

May 7, 2021– Biden makes 30% of land off limits to oil and gas. $2.64 gallon

June 1, 2021– Biden halts drilling in ANWR. $3.07 gallon

June 30, 2021– Nancy Pelosi’s Congress reverses President Donald J. Trump’s natural gas regulations. $3.12 gallon

Oct. 7, 2021– Biden reverses Trump’s NEPA regulations. $3.27 gallon.

Oct. 29, 2021– Biden’s Department of Interior introduces “Social Cost of Carbon.” $3.43 gallon

Nov. 15. 2021- Biden begins moratorium on drilling in Chaco Canyon. $3.80 gallon

Feb. 24, 2022- Because Russia invades Ukraine, suddenly Biden Administration and Big Oil decides gas should be over $4 a gallon. $4.02 gallon.

March 1, 2022– Biden releases oil from US Strategic Petroleum Reserve again. $4.13 gallon

March 21, 2022- Biden’s SEC proposes Anti-oil Rule. $4.24 gallon

May 12, 2022– Biden cancels all remaining lease sales. $4.48 gallon.

June 12, 2022– Price of regular gas reaches all-time historical high according to AAA. State averages  range from $6.43 a gallon in California to $4.52 in Mississippi. $5.01 gallon

Recently, Senators Steve Daines, R-Mont.; Jim Risch, R-Idaho; Roger Marshall, R-Kansas; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Jerry Moran, R-Kansas; Bill Cassidy, R-La.; John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.; Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; and Tom Cotton, R-Ark. wrote a letter to Biden’s Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm demanding she must comply with the law requiring her agency to disclose the number of jobs lost when Biden canceled the Keystone XL pipeline. 

“At the time of its closure, the Keystone XL pipeline project was already under construction and employed more than 1,500 workers,” the letter read. “By the end of 2021, the Keystone XL pipeline was projected to provide approximately 11,000 jobs.”

“The closure erased thousands of real, high-paying jobs and approximately $800 million in wages,” it continued. “Significant prospective spending for rural communities and small businesses, as well as tax revenue for local schools and public safety, disappeared with the stroke of a pen.” 

“The Keystone XL pipeline was a critical investment for U.S. energy security and job creation,” Sen. Risch said in a statement. “Why the administration made the decision to prioritize Russia’s workforce and energy sector over the United States is beyond me. The Department of Energy must report back on this significant domestic loss.” 

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

The Dress Code to Enter Johnny Cash’s Bar & BBQ

John and June Carter Cash

Now this is a place for good ol’ red blooded Americans and patriotic country music lovers from around the world to enjoy.

The Johnny Cash Bar and BBQ is located at 121 Third Avenue South, right next door to the Johnny Cash Museum in Nasville, Tennessee.

The food, drink and decor is impressive. We especially like posted dress code and house rules.

DRESS CODE & HOUSE RULES

  • No extra long t-shirts or hoodies that hang below pockets.
  • No excessively low or baggy pants/shorts such that a person’s undergarments or buttocks are exposed. 
  • No athletic style pants/shorts (sweats, nylons, joggers, etc.)
  • No sleeveless shirts to be worn by men after 8PM.
  • No large chains. 
  • No clothing that management considers vulgar, offensive or otherwise likely to cause a disturbance.
  • No motorcycle club or gang affiliation displays of any kind. 
  • Sandals and flip flops are permitted, but not recommended.
  • Footwear must be worn at all times. 
  • No outside food or beverages. 
  • No large bags, backpacks, suitcases or gym bags after 6PM. 

*Management reserves the right to deny admission to anyone suspected to be intoxicated or deemed likely to cause a disturbance or for any other reason at its sole discretion. 

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.
Click For Johnny Cash

Airplane Facts For Those Afraid of Flying

About 1 in 5 people have some form of fear of flying, or “aviophobia.” I was one of them, but my job required me to fly often for many years. To overcome this fright, I studied much about flight design, construction and safety.

Something that helped me considerably was knowing what the odds are of dying in a plane crash.

🔹Odds of dying in a car accident are about one in 5,000.

🔹Odds of being struck by lightning, are one in 13,000 chance for your lifetime.

🔹Your odds of dying in a plane crash are about one in 11,000,000.

🔹Fatal accidents occurred once every 200,000 flights in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, fatal accidents (also including private and small planes) only occur once every two million flights.

Most of my flights were over Texas and Mexico, often in private jets. As the president of a professional trade organization in the 1990s, I was required to give speeches across North America in locations such as New York, LA, Chicago, Orlando, Seattle, Las Vegas, Nashville, Atlantic City and Washington DC. I’ve also traveled to Europe, Cayman Islands and elsewhere.

Another bit of knowledge I learned talking with numerous pilots is that passengers should not be as concerned about turbulence as some individuals might be.

“It’s not a danger. It’s just a nuisance,” one pilot said. “We try to avoid them, naturally, because they are like bumps in the roads for us. I don’t want to spill my coffee and we don’t want you to either. Don’t worry about turbulence.”

Here are facts I learned about flying in general:

🔹Airplanes are designed to withstand lightning strikes.

🔹If you sit at the back of an airplane, your odds of surviving a crash are 40% higher.

🔹Research shows that the first 3 minutes after takeoff and the final 8 minutes before landing are when 80% of plane crashes happen.

When a plane lands at night, cabin crews will dim the interior lights. Why?

In an unlikely event that a plane landing goes badly and passengers need to evacuate, their eyes will already be adjusted to the darkness.

🔹Only 5% of the world’s population had ever been on an airplane till 2013 which drastically increased to approximately 20 percent in 2020.

🔹A Boeing 747 is made up of six million parts which are made to be all controlled by a few pilots sitting up front with switches and buttons under their fingertips.

🔹It is the rule that pilots must be fed the same multi-course meal given to those in the first and business class. However, co-pilots are encouraged to eat different entrees to guard against cases of food poisoning.

🔹Those white lines that planes leave in the sky are simply trails of condensation, hence their technical name of “contrails.” Plane engines release water vapor as part of the combustion process. When that hot water vapor is pumped out of the exhaust and hits the cooler air of the upper atmosphere, it creates those puffy white lines in the sky. It’s basically the same reaction as when you see your breath when it’s cold outside.

🔹Environment inside an airplane can alter the way food and drink tastes—sweet items tasted less sweet, while salty flavors were heightened. The dry recycled air inside the plane cabin doesn’t help either as low humidity can further dull taste and smell making everything in a plane seem bland.

🔹Plane doors can’t actually open in mid-flight.

🔹Australian airline Qantas has never had a fatal accident involving one of its commercial aircrafts.

🔹The fastest commercial plane flew at twice the speed of sound. It was the Concorde, that regularly flew over the Atlantic, and was decommissioned after an accident involving Concorde, in France.

🔹Long-haul flights have secret bedrooms and a bathroom for flight attendants.

🔹Living in an airplane flight path could harm your heart, especially those closer to an airport. Individuals exposed to noise above 60 decibels on a regular basis—like the sound of an airplane overhead—have a 30 percent greater risk of dying from a heart attack than those typically exposed to noise levels under 45 decibels.

🔹Why is there a tiny hole in the airplane windows? It regulates cabin pressure. Most airplane windows are made up of three panels of acrylic. The exterior window keeps the elements out to maintain cabin pressure.

The world’s safest airlines in 2022, according to AirlineRatings.com (out of the 385 different airlines they monitor) are Air New Zealand, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, SAS, Qantas, Alaska Airlines, EVA Air, Virgin Australia/Atlantic, Cathay Pacific Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, American Airlines, Lufthansa/Swiss Group, Finnair, Air France/KLM Group, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Emirates.

AirlineRatings.com also identified their Top 10 safest low-cost airlines. In alphabetical order they are Allegiant, easyjet, Frontier, Jetstar Group, Jetblue, Ryanair, Vietjet, Volaris, Westjet, and Wizz.

The least safe airlines are Pakistan International Airlines, Air Algerie, Scat, Sriwijaya Air, Airblue, Blue Wing, Iran Aseman Airlines, and Nepal Airlines.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Elvis Presley’s Texas Home During Basic Training in 1958 Still Visited by Fans

In 2020, defying lockdowns and wearing masks, we took a 32 day roadtrip from the Texas Hill Country to Washington DC and back.

Our first stop was near Fort Hood in a central Killeen Texas neighborhood. If the walls of the circa 1950 ranch-style house at 605 Oakhill Drive could talk, they’d sing!

Photo by Loralyn ‘Dodie’ Dennis

It’s a nice house but doesn’t have any visual features that dramatically set it apart from the other homes in the area not far from Conder Park. It’s a one-story, brick home with a rather large mailbox out front.

As big Elvis Presley fans, we thought there might be a landmark sign designating it as the house the most famous entertainer in history lived while going through Army training.

At the height of his early fame, the Army drafted Elvis in 1958, and at the Memphis induction center, he received his shots, his buzz cut, and his orders. On March 28, he and others were sent by military bus to Fort Hood, the Second Armored Division, General George S. Patton’s “Hell on Wheels” wild bunch.

Enroute the new troops stopped for a restaurant lunch break in Hillsboro causing “a small riot” when teenage customers recognized him. 

Elvis didn’t want any special treatment offered. His desire was to be just another G.I. His fellow soldiers saw that in him and Elvis became one of the guys.

Private Simon Vega recalled, “I thought he was gonna get special treatment but he did KP, guard duty, everything, just like us.” 

When basic training was completed, the Army allowed soldiers to live off base as long as they had dependents living in the area. It was not long before Elvis’ parents, grandmother, and a friend traveled to Killeen where they found a three-bedroom home to rent from Chester Crawford, an attorney who charged an outrageous $700 a month.

Soon crowds began showing up on Oakhill Drive to catch a glimpse of Elvis. It was common for him to stand outside and talk to fans for hours. Occasionally, he detoured through neighbors’ backyards to avoid the crowds, and according to neighbor Janie Sullivan, the clothesline in their yard once caught Elvis and the dog bit him. 

Elvis with friend Red West (far right)

Not everyone was thrilled by Elvis’ presence in the neighborhood. Some Oak Hill residents called the police to complain about the clouds of dust stirred up by the cars and the carnival-like atmosphere.

While completing an additional ten weeks of advanced tank training, Elvis had to take emergency leave to fly to Memphis to be with his mother, Gladys, who had returned home to be hospitalized. She died two days later on August 14.

After his mother’s funeral, Elvis returned and put in long days at Fort Hood learning to be a tanker. During his final days at Fort Hood, large crowds gathered outside his house, and some nights a hundred people kept vigil. The last night, on September 19, 1958, Elvis and his gang gathered at the home to make the drive to the troop train that would take him and 1,360 other G.I.s to Brooklyn to sail for Germany.


Biographers and friends reported that Elvis’ time at Fort Hood and in the Army was among the happiest of his life. For a time, he was almost “just another soldier.” Everyone agreed that Elvis was a good soldier, one of the best in the company.

His longtime girlfriend, Anita Wood, said, “he had finally found himself.”

Elvis said later, “I learned a lot about people in the Army. I never lived with other people before and had a chance to find out how they think.” 

In 1958, longtime Killeen resident Edith Carlile lived four doors down from the house Pvt. Elvis Presley lived in with his parents, Vernon and Gladys. Presley rented the home for seven months from a local lawyer when he was stationed at Fort Hood.

“The street was extremely crowded with cars going by,” said Carlile, who lived next door to the house Presley lived in before she passed away a few years ago. “People were standing in the yard, wanting to touch him, kiss him.”

Carlile was a mother of four at the time, and wasn’t really into the rock ’n’ roll music that Presley is famous for.

“I’m not a fan of music of that age,” Carlile told a local news reporter, adding she was more into the tunes of the big band era.

Her children did get autographs from Presley, but Carlile said she threw the signed pieces of paper away years later.

She said the rock ’n’ roll king dated a few of the local girls when he was here, and his presence made a big impact, especially in the Oakhill Drive neighborhood, which in 1958 was home to lawyers, business owners and other upper-middle class families.

More than 64 years later, the house is still standing, and although it’s aged, the outside doesn’t look dramatically different from when Presley lived there.

Surprisingly, more recent owners of the Presley’s rental house indicated they didn’t even know the house had once been lived in by Presley when they bought it some years ago.

To this day Elvis fans regularly pop by the house to take a video, some puctures or inquire about the former home of the King.

On display at Graceland complex in Memphis, Tennessee

Some drive hundreds of miles to do so. Others want to peep inside or look at the backyard.

Although there has been updated renovations (exterior windows and roof) owners are reluctant to offer details.

In November 2006, the 2,400-square-foot house was placed for purchase on eBay.

The owner at the time, Myka Allen-Johnson, a sales representative for CenTex Homes, said she wanted to sell the home to someone who would understand the historical significance.

“I didn’t buy the house with the intention of selling it on eBay,” Allen-Johnson told the Killeen Daily Herald in 2006. “I just don’t want people to forget that he lived here in Killeen.”

Ft. Hood front gate 1958

Penny Love was 3 or 4 years old and lived around the corner in 1958. She recalls her family seeing Presley sneak through her backyard to avoid the crowd that waited out front. She said she would sometimes sit on Presley’s father, Vernon’s lap on the front porch.

The community has missed out on any significant tourism and marketing opportunities over the years. In August 1958, Presley fans petitioned the Killeen City Council to change the name of Oakhill Drive to Presley Drive, bringing nationwide publicity to the area. Today, however, Oakhill is still the name of the street.

The owner said she allows Presley fans to take a quick picture of the front of the house. But those who try to pry closer are not totally welcome.

The backyard has a steep incline, she said, which can be dangerous, and a German shepherd patrols back there, too.

Favorite Fan Photos

Elvis Presley, The Rockin’ Motorcycle King in Photos

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2021/07/04/elvis-presley-the-rockin-motorcycle-king-in-photos/embed/#?secret=mCsDyQTdl8

More Rare or Unseen Elvis Presley Pictures From the 60s

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2021/06/10/more-rare-or-unseen-elvis-presley-pictures-from-the-60s/embed/#?secret=OrH73oXJB4

25 MORE Rare Photos of Elvis Presley in the Army

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/09/16/25-more-rare-photos-of-elvis-presley-in-the-army/embed/#?secret=QM7UuXuv5W

20 Rare Photos of Elvis Presley in the U.S. Army

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/20/20-rate-photos-of-elvis-presley-in-the-u-s-army/embed/#?secret=aoCYSwtQ3k

20 Elvis Presley Photos You May Have Never Seen From The 1960s

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/20-elvis-presley-photos-you-may-have-never-seen-from-the-1960s/embed/#?secret=dQQFfwxfNP

Elvis Presley: Rare Shots From the 1970s

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Elvis Presley Movies Ranked

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10 Rare Elvis Presley Photos in the 1950s

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Lessons From Noah’s Ark We All Need Right Now

During the height of the pandemic in 2020, we went on a 32-day roadtrip. We refused to lockdown.

Jack & Dodie Dennis at Ark Encounter

One of the most fascinating days was spent at the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. It is a type of historical and biblical theme park centered around a life-sized reconstruction of the massive ship, built at God’s command, that saved Noah, his family, and representatives of every kind of land-dependent, air-breathing animal from a global flood.

“The ark was 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high and it housed the several thousand animals God brought to Noah,” their literature reads. “The global flood lasted about one year. The ark came to rest on the “mountains of Ararat” (Genesis 8:4), and Noah’s family, with all the animals that were saved from the flood, eventually spread throughout the world.”

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”

Genesis 6:11-13

Years ago, I came across this poster in one of my son’s Sunday School classrooms and always thought the lessons applied to adults as well as children. This wisdom is worth applying and sharing.

1. Don’t miss the boat

Ask for guidance from the Almighty, He will help you get through whatever obstacles you are facing right now.

Matthew 11:28 (NIV) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

2. Remember that we are all in the same boat

As the old saying goes “No Man is an Island” just means were are connected with each other. Some people will leave a huge amount of memories, and others will cause us pain, both though will contribute to our learnings for us to become a better person. Every time you meet new people, it will become part of you forever because it can leave good or bad memories that will stay on your mind for the longest time.

Ephesians 1:3. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

3. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark

Ephesians 5:16 (KJV) “Make the most of your opportunities because these are evil days.”

Lay down plans about your future regarding what you want to become in life. Make room for errors. Do not just rely simply on Plan A. Make some sort of Plan B and Plan C to deal with setbacks.

Ark Encounter (Jack Dennis)

4. Stay fit. When you’re really old, someone may ask you to do something really big

1 Corinthians 9:26-27

26 “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

Work to remain healthy physically and mentally. You might need to be part of something amazingly big that is life-changing at least for the people around you.

Stay fit so that you may be able to live a longer life to see your children and grandchildren fulfill their dreams and become successful in life. Many grandparents are not able to see because they lead an unhealthy life and leave this world too soon.

5. Don’t listen to the critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done

1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Be reminded not to listen to skeptics when you experience setbacks from time to time. Focus on what you want to achieve in life. Years after, the words that critics have said against you won’t even matter anymore.

6. Build your future on high ground

1 Corinthians 3: 10-11 10 “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.” 11 “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Make your future to be foolproof. Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

7. For Safety Sake, Travel in Pairs

Romans 8:35-37. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”

Ark Encounter (Jack Dennis)

8. Speed Isn’t Always An Advantage. The Snails were on board with the Cheetahs

James 1:19 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

Who remembers the race between the turtle and the hare? Consistency is more important than speed—or at least have both speed and consistency work together.

9. When You’re Stressed, Float a While

James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

Having trouble dealing with your personal issues? Take a deep breath, and relax. Learn to unwind for a while to cool down. Afterward, go back to the drawing board and deal with the issue again. A rested mind is more creative than a weary one.

10. Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals

1 Corinthians 1:20 “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?”

Be humble. It doesn’t matter how mighty you perceive yourself to be, know when to tame your ego. Sometimes a low profile is best as situations may backfire on your part.

11. No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

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Ark Encounter

CleverJourneys 2nd Anniversary: Thanks to Our Readers

Loralyn “Dodie” and Jack Dennis wish to thank all of our faithful readers for your support. On the eve of our second anniversary for our CleverJourneys blog, we reached 1,110,011 unique viewers. Our best yet.

We began on May 1, 2020. Although I previously wrote articles for Examiner, AXS Entertainment, The Rowdy and my own News Legit, CleverJourneys is my dream come true (well, one of many thanks to God).

This is not too bad for two young seniors that have known each other since our first year of school way back when. To celebrate, we hope you enjoy these:

Here are some our regular features in leadership popularity order.

JackNotes: Summaries of books, classes, conferences, speeches and knowledge of over 40 years.

Another of our most popular articles series are JackNotes, executive summaries of books, articles, speeches and other useful information that may save you the expense and trouble of reading the entire publication….or it may spur you on to seek more information from the original source.

TRUE CRIME STORIES

Another feature, Accounts of the Old West is a tribute to Jack’s great, great uncle Charlie Bassett, the first marshall of Dodge City, Kansas…and James Allison Morgan–a cattle driver and cowboy, Jack’s great grandfather. (You thought TV’s ‘Marshal Matt Dillon’ was the first didn’t you?) We feature tales and history of the Old West.

EXPLORE FURTHER
Travel, Road Trips, Destinations, Tips
Food, recipes, restaurants, cooking

We are thankful to our incredible sponsors!

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Barbara Eden to Appear at Graceland for Elvis Week 2022

Barbara Eden will make her first-ever appearance at Elvis Week 2022 on August 15 at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee as a special guest at Conversations on Elvis. In memory of the 45th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s passing, she will share some of her favorite memories of co-starring alongside Elvis in the 1960 film “Flaming Star.”

Throughout her illustrious career, Barbara Eden has starred in over 25 feature films, five network TV series, and 19 top-rated network made-for-television movies. Her iconic “I Dream of Jeannie” NBC Television series, launched in 1965, became an instant hit.

Flaming Star

In addition, Barbara is a New York Times bestselling author with her memoir, Jeannie Out of the Bottle. She most recently released her debut children’s book, Barbara And The Djinn.

Barbara also guest starred on Nickelodeon’s #1 animated Pre-School series Shimmer & Shine lending her voice, for the first time, as Empress Caliana.  Barbara keeps busy acting, making personal appearances, touring, participating in numerous charity events and home life, all of which are a part of her regular agenda.

Tickets for Elvis Week 2022 are on sale now. Click here for more information.

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Tent Camping Checklist for Couples by Clever Journeys

This is our go-to list for tent camping as a couple. It can be modified per trip –family, friends, ages, activities (toys, rafts, hunting, skiing, etc.).

We always have protection, a jack, spare, fix-a-flat, jumper cables, portable battery starter, small power unit with lights, stored energy, electricity, etc. in our vehicle.

No two people are the same when it comes to planning a camping trip. What is important to one person may not matter to another when it comes to camping gear. One of my sons prefers to go ultralight and another brings practically everything he can when they camp. As a family, we tend to bring more items. All this to say, there is no right or wrong answer to what you bring on your camping trip.

The Camp

🔹Tent (Coleman Sunbeam 7’×9′ 4-person) & accessories (stakes, bungi cords with hooks, rain roof, bottom footprint tarp)

🔹Mats (outside door, inside door)

🔹Sleeping bags

🔹Sleeping pads

🔹Pillows

🔹Electric extension cord

🔹Lighting: solar lights, head lamp, flashlights, lantern, extra batteries

🔹Camping chairs

Eating

🔹Cooler (We love our soft-sided 4-gallon capacity Kodi cooler from H-E-B Foods/Drugs)

🔹Camping utensils, plates, pans, cups

🔹Camping stove

🔹Can opener

🔹Charcoal &/or fire wood

🔹Insulated water bottles

🔹Matches

🔹Cutting board & knife

🔹Coffee maker

Hygiene

🔹Biodegradable wet wipes

🔹Shampoo & conditioner

🔹Hand sanitizer

🔹Towels & wash cloths

🔹Soap

🔹Deodorant

🔹Rash prevention/lotion

🔹Toothbrushes & toothpaste

🔹Lip balm

🔹Toilet paper

🔹Combs/brushes

🔹Shaving gear

Other

🔹First Aid kit

🔹Rx, prescriptions & supplements

🔹Campsite Reservation Copy

🔹Sunscreen & bug repellent

🔹Trash bags

🔹Duct tape

🔹Mallot

🔹Clothes pins & clothes line cord

🔹Rope

🔹Binoculars

🔹Dry bag (store electronics, etc in event of rain)

🔹Tool bag. Minimum: hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, multi-tool, folding shovel/saw, tin-snips, axe-hatchet, tent repair kit, tent pole repair sleeve

🔹Small fire extinguisher

🔹Emergency (solar/handcrank) weather radio

🔹Travel alarm clock

🔹Travel mirror

🔹GPS

🔹Cell phones

🔹Books, cards, games…

🔹Portable butane heater with extra filled tanks (in cold weather)

🔹Tent fan in warm weather. (We also have a portable “air cooler” we fill with ice cubes if it is too hot).

Clothing

🔹Bandana

🔹Flip flops or sandals

🔹Rain ponchos

🔹Swim/water/shower shoes

🔹Socks (wool or synthetic)

🔹Hiking boots/shoes, sneakers

🔹Hat

🔹Sunglasses

🔹Gloves

🔹Shirts, Jackets, Sleepwear, Pants, Shorts, Swimwear

🔹Underwear

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HEB FOOD DRUGS

Thousands of US Flights Cancelled

Angry passenger in New York gets put in his place.

By 8 a.m. (CST) Monday, April 4, 2022, 2,134 airline flights were cancelled across, into and outbound the United States.

This followed carriers canceling more than 3,500 U.S. flights over the weekend due to employee absenteeism, storms in Florida and technology issues.

Close to 2,000 flights within, into, or out of the U.S. were canceled Saturday and a further 1,659 Sunday, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.

By morning, Monday, 4,314 flights were delayed.

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The True Story of Fire Fighting Smokey Bear

He is not Smokey ‘The’ Bear and Other Fun Facts

The start of World War II meant that many firefighters and other able-bodied men were deployed, leaving communities to manage wildfires themselves. .

The head of the Forest Service at that time, Lyle F. Watts, decided to attack the wildfire problem by educating the public about their role in fire prevention. Watts invited the Ad Council to join the Forest Service in this new ad campaign.Watts and team soon realized that they needed a symbol or character to represent their fire prevention campaign. A forest animal would be ideal.

The Disney Studios offered one of their characters to be the “face” of the fire prevention plan. The movie, Bambi, enjoyed widespread popularity at the time, so the deer Bambi represented the original ad campaign—but Disney’s licensing contract lasted just one year.

Seeing an overwhelmingly successful first year, Watts and his team chose a bear to replace Bambi.

Two decades before, on a July morning in 1922, a case of magnesium powder exploded in a warehouse in New York’s Greenwich Village. The resulting fire was devasting and claimed the life of a heroic firefighter named “Smokey” Joe Martin.

On August 9, 1944, the first Smokey Bear poster appeared. The bear was named in honor of “Smokey” Joe, and his first piece of public service artwork depicted the animal in his iconic hat, dousing a fire with a bucket of water.

A historic Smokey the Bear poster

Artist Albert Staehle painted this first Smokey Bear poster.

The ‘50s and ‘60s brought Smokey’s “ABC” campaign. This was a national push to educate the public about wildfire prevention in three easy steps, and it was broadcast to American homes through radio and TV spots.

Smokey 2

It wasn’t long before more posters of Smokey appeared. The bear gained widespread popularity. Soon Smokey Bear was featured on everything from comic books to toys. He was an undisputed success.

A real Smokey Bear

In 1950, a wildfire burned in New Mexico’s Capitan Mountains. Firefighters there found a young bear cub clinging to a tree branch. Firefighters presumed the cub climbed the tree to escape the raging fire. The little bear was alive, but severely burned. Firefighters rescued the cub and aptly named him Smokey.

News of a real Smokey Bear soon spread across the country. When Smokey had sufficiently recovered from his ordeal, he was moved to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where he continued to play a role in educating people about fire prevention.

To handle all of his fan mail–up to 13,000 letters a week–the U.S. Postal Service set up his own personal zip code, 20252, for his area in the zoo. The zip code was decommissioned in 1994, but fortunately brought back in honor of Smokey’s 70th birthday.

When the real Smokey Bear died, his body was taken back to the Capitan Mountains for burial in the State Historical Park.

Smokey carried his “only you can prevent forest fires” message into the early 2000s and placed the responsibility on us all to be careful around the campfire. Additionally, the shift in the use of “forest fires” to “wildfires” in Smokey’s messaging is present, as well.

Today, new Public Service Announcements to educate the public on different ways that wildfires are caused, including hot coals, dragging chains, and burning debris. Smokey’s wildfire prevention message was already resonating with audiences—now, they just needed actionable steps to take.

Today’s Smokey Bear

Other Smokey Bear facts

  • The Smokey Bear campaign is the longest-running Public Service Advertisement campaign in U.S. history.
  • In 1953, the Ideal Toy Company made a Smokey Bear doll. Included with the doll was a card that when mailed back gave children an official “Junior Forest Ranger” identification card. Within two years, over half a million kids had applied and received the unofficial honor.

  • Since its development in the 1940s, it’s estimated that the Smokey Bear ad campaign has reduced the number of acres lost to wildfires by 15.6 million annually.
  • Smokey does not have a middle name. (It’s Smokey Bear. Not Smokey “The” Bear.) A song about the forest icon added “The” to his name in order to make the lyrics and melody sync better. 

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What are These Giant Mississippi River Barges Doing in the Middle of a Farm?

Last night I received a curious email from Dave W. of South Dakota:

Before all else, I eminently took the bait to find out how a large barge about the length of Noah’s Ark would be stranded on a farm in Olive Branch, Illinois.

As the mighty Mississippi River snakes around Dogtooth Bend at the southern tip of Illinois, certain curved segments of the riverbank take the brunt of the river’s erosive power.

This especially occurs in Alexander County, where farmers and other hard working residents experienced major floods 21 times between 1844 and 2016. The Len Small Levee, named after the 26th governor of Illinois, was built in 1927 and expanded in 1969 to span the bend in the river and “deflect high velocity floodwaters” away from agricultural land.

Sherry Pecord, owner of the nearby Horseshoe Bar and Grill in Olive Branch, wasn’t prepared for the flood of 2019.

It was July, the monstrous river flowed back out of the hole in the levee and caused six giant barges to relocate via another raging flood.

One of the barges settled in the field just off Miller City Road in rural Alexander County, near the southern tip of Illinois.

“They just floated right on over and took out a utility pole and an irrigation rig and landed in the field right behind my house,” Pecord said.

Pecord and her husband, Sean, grow corn and soybeans acreage near the bend. They’ve been through floods before, but the couple never dreamed barges would land in their fields causing them to plow around them for years.

“I don’t even see them anymore,” she said. “They’ve just become part of the landscape, and I really don’t pay any attention to them anymore.”

These two barges remain stranded in a southern Illinois farmer’s field nearly two years after they were sucked through a hole in the Len Small Levee during high-water event on the Mississippi River. (Photo by Shelley Byrne)
These two barges remain stranded in a southern Illinois farmer’s field after they were sucked through a hole in the Len Small Levee during a 2019 massive flood on the Mississippi River.

The Pecord’s experiences with the floods began in 2011, when a massive storm of thunderous water caused an initial break in the levee. Although officials repaired it, that break also led to a government buyout offer for the surrounding land. Several neighbors took the buyouts. Sean, a third-generation farmer, elected to stay put in the home he built back in 1985.

On New Year’s Day of 2016, the Mississippi River overwhelmed the Len Small Levee again.

“It went over the top and just broke it down,” Pecord said. “It put a 3/4-mile gap in the levee right in front of our house. Over the years, the river has just been eating that away, and it’s probably a good mile now.”

In the 2019 flood, the water remained high enough that the Pecords boated to and from home for 137 days. The restaurant remained closed for seven weeks during that time because it was inaccessible to customers.

The barges floated in on July 3 that year. The day after the Fourth of July holiday, the barges’ owner, Hines Furlong Line Inc., sent representatives to take a look.

“They were going to try to move them and get them back across the road and out to the river,” Pecord said. “Well, the river dropped about that time, and they couldn’t get them back across. 

“In the next year and a half, they were trying to figure it out,” she continued. “First they were going to come in and put air bags underneath them and walk them across the road and maybe leave them on the other side and wait for the river to come back up. It’s a given the water is going to come back up because we have a mile-long breach in our levee. I don’t know what happened to that thought process, but that never happened.”

“Planting season comes and goes, and they’re sitting in the middle of my father-in-law’s field,” Pecord said. So he began charging the barge company rent for each day the barges were in his field.

Negotiations began, resulting in a settlement of Hines Furlong selling the barges to Mr. Pecord.

Two red bars mark the barges.

Map of Dogtooth Bend and surrounding area. (Kenneth Olsen, Impacts of 2011 Len Small levee breach on private and public Illinois lands. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, July/August 2013)

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