better, study of - Pete Carapetyan's personal blog

White Rock Lake Renews All Things

10 May 2008
Posted by Pete Carapetyan


Could there really be a "Fountain of Youth" ?

When Ponce de Leon went to the "New World" to discover the fountain of youth over 500 years ago, there was apparently this goofy belief that there could be such a thing as a place you could go that would make you younger.

What a silly idea - and welcome to White Rock Lake, in my home town of Dallas, Texas, where it really comes true.

White Rock Lake has been renewing me for 23 Years, ever since surgery for a torn knee cartilige caused my doctor to tell me that I had to ride a bicycle instead of jog. So began a love affair that has transcended everything else in my life. Family, careers, houses, marriage and even friends, cars - all seem to come and go. The lake stays my constant. I took three years off from cycling when my kids were young, otherwise it's been 50 weeks a year, sometimes more, averaging 1500 miles a year and more since the day I started.

You might ask "What's the attraction ?"

If there was one single attribute to the lake which lends itself to such staying power, it's a seemingly endless ability to maintain it's fresh and renewing state. Week after week, year after year, lap after lap it's never boring, always fresh, always something exciting. I've tried to tell people about it, but they just nod their heads and say "uh huh" as if I had lost my mind. So when I inherited a throwaway digital camera last year, I started logging photos,  "Maybe people will have a reason to believe me now."


Before you start: A note about the photos:

I wasn't willing to cycle with my good camera so the quality of these photos is limited.

Click on any group of thumbnails to view that group's entire slide show. Most are 20-50 pics.
Pics are on google's Picasa which can be very slow at prime times.


The Scenery

Perhaps nothing is more compelling to the common visitor than the varied scenery at White Rock Lake.

Most of these were taken on the first weekend of April this year.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.


 Lots of people come to White Rock just to get away, admire the scenery, and remember where it was that they came from - a less urbanized place.



The Path Around The Lake

Cyclng is my sport, but runners and walkers love the lake too. It has a 9.2 mile path that fills up every weekend, and even week nights when the weather is good. These pics should give you some idea of what that would be like, should you wish to try it for yourself.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.

Lake Path

 People come to the lake for other reasons though, not just to burn off some energy.



Spending Time With Family and Friends

So many memories from the lake for me are personal, it never really occurred to me how universal these deeply rich moments must be.

Time that I spent with kids year after year feeding ducks. The rides they used to take being pulled behind me with a bike trailer, sometimes even with Flipper, our dog. Fishing. My son's first big bike rides after he got old enough to do the whole lap around the lake. Even after the big divorce a few years ago, important walks with the girlfriend discussing issues of mutual concern.

These are such intensely personal moments, how could I see them as an abstraction that happens to others too ?

Then when I got back from taking these pics it really hit me the depth of experience that comes from spending time with your loved ones in such an exansive place. If you can look through these without catching that special glimmer, you're a stronger person than I.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.


All this happens on more than just the lake path, the watershed leading up to the lake has a nice path too.



The Path To The Lake From North Along The Watershed

There is a wide path of land north of the lake several miles that is condemmed for building. It's a flood plain and quite often really does get flooded in Spring and Fall rains. One of the most brilliant things the city did was build a path right through this flood-plain, and now a large number of us use this regularly to ride to the lake, or as a destination in it's own right.

The nice thing about this path is it's big enough to support wildlife, birds of prey soaring above, and I've seen a bobcat a couple times, for example.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.


 The path is only half the story though, the creek itself can be pretty interesting 


Creeks And Waters On The Watershed Feeding the Lake

When it rains in Dallas, the runoff north of the lake goes into the creek system and through this floodplain. The creek that then runs through this floodplain, as these photos show, can actually be stunningly beautiful, and seen from the path in many places.

The flow of the watershed would not be the focus of this blog but you could get a better idea from this picture of a map inside the outstanding Bath House exhibit at the lake itself.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.


Back to the lake there's still a lot of beauty to talk about. 



Downtown Dallas Skyline From White Rock Lake

The shots of the Dallas skyline from the East shore of White Rock Lake can be very dramatic at times, so I just collected them in their own group. Notice only one of these many shots is clear enough to see the color of the distant buildings, the rest are all silhouettes defined by their edges, through the haze.  Still beautfiul, though.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.


You might think that the skyline was the prettiest man-made object to look at from the trail around the lake.



Sailboats And Kayacks

Sailboats are a fair weather sport at Whtie Rock Lake, you just don't see many boaters except in the Spring and Fall when the races seem to be scheduled.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.


The sailboats aren't the only interesting thing to look for, if it's man made stuff that interests you. 


Architecture Along The Way

Whether a creek or a lake or an ocean, water attracts the wealthy and showy in every culture, so White Rock Lake and the path leading up to it is no different. It' is surrounded by some pretty extravagent houses, and buildings too on parts of the path.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.


 What about other species though ?



Dogs, Walking Their Humans

If you are owned by a dog, there is a great dog park right on the edge of the water your dog can take you. Your dog can then walk you around the lake, or even go retrieving sticks from an old boat ramp that is now a dog heaven of sorts.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.


 You don't have to be owned by a dog to run at White Rock though. 




I was taking pictures of runners too, and it had been a while and I'm thinking "I think I've taken this woman's picture before. Hmm." So I asked her, and sure enough she was running the whole lake. That's 9.2 miles. Goodness me. Went back through the pics and sure enough I had her in three different pics on various parts of the trail.

"Yeah, I try to run it every week" she says.

I run too sometimes but never that far. Especially Sunday morning when the Dallas Cross Country Club meets, you'll find lots of people that run the whole lake on a regular basis.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.


 What if you're not a runner or even a walker ? Would you be attracted to the lake ? 



A Fun Place To Parade Your Cool Car

It isn't a cruising spot any more thank goodness. The city figured out a way to disconnect the streets around the lake a over a decade ago.

Still it's a great place to see and be seen, and you'll often see two or three very impressive rides cruising the roads around the lake.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.


 What could be more fun than cruising around in a great car ? 




Right after high school I used to go horse riding with a girlfriend in a large set of fields in the watershed area north of the lake that had not been developed yet.

It's all super commercial now, developed with steel and glass buildings, but there are still a few stables dotting the area north of the lake and surrounding the floodplain. Cyclists don't appreciate the slimy things that they leave on the trail, but they are gorgeous creatures to admire. 

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.



If it's not horses that get you going, or you look for some of the more urbanized activities, fear not. 



Kites, Golf, Tennis, even Croquet

Got a real sweet sequence of shots of some people successfully launching their kite. I haven't flown my kite in probably 10 years, but the lake is a great place for it.

Or, there's golfing at Royal Oaks Country Club, which is adjacent to the floodplain in the watershed, also shown.

Even Tennis at the massive tennis complex just north of the lake in the flood plain area.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.


 How about you ? Do you like to fly a kite ? Or do you go for another past-time ? 




How cool is it when you walk up to some guy in an inner tube and start clicking pics and the rod bends right there and he starts reeling one in?

This was the first weekend in April, and it seemed fishing was on many people's minds.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.


If you're not a fisherman, there are other forms of wildlife at the lake. 




The'yre Everywhere ! They're Everywhere !

The songs, the soaring, the roosting, Birds are great part of the fabric of experience at the lake and the path leading to it.  My favorites are the Cormorants and Egrets. The cormorants are an especially intersting bird. They'll go into the water and just disappear. Then 10 seconds later they pop back up - what seems like a hundred feet away. Whoa.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.


 Things of beauty come in many sizes and colors, for sure. 



Car Shows !

There are cruisers and there are show cars. Maybe some show cars still cruise, but some don't and the shots below are from two car shows that happened last weekend.

Eye candy for myself and my son. We love show cars.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.

Car Shows

 Cars, bikes, horses, boats, how many ways are there to get around the lake ? 



RollerBlading White Rock Lake

If you've ever strapped on a pair K2s and zipped around the lake, there are two things you learn quickly.

  1. This is tons of fun !
  2. I have calf muscles. I know, because they are talking to me.

But it's a great conversation, and it's also quite graceful to watch.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.


 Rollerblading is fun to watch, but nothing can compare to the excitement of watching young men playing non-professional soccer. 



Soccer Fields On The Watershed's Path

The flood plain found its natural uses, which of course evolved into soccer fields. Plenty of soccer fields.

Guess what America ? People actually play this sport !  Here though, it's mostly immigrants, because natives seem to know little about it. These fields are full every weekend. Latin America, Nigeria, other countries, all well represented on these fields.

There is something very electric that happens when 20 and 30 year old men play with all their heart, and for nothing else but the pleasure of competing in a sport they love. Families are all here, the men are hollering and rushing, and if you can watch one of these games without getting chicken skin, you're a better man than I. This stuff is the juice. Sometimes I stop my bike and just watch for a while on my way home.

Satisfaction Guaranteed.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.


Bit interesting eh ? How about other interesting ways to look at the world ?



Interesting Bicycle Variations

Cycling has evolved over the decades to encompass some differing forms of technology. When my bike hit 30k miles at 20 years old  I used that as an excuse to get a new carbon fiber bike.  But it get's weirder than that. Not only fancy tandems, but all kinds of recumberant and even three and four wheeled bicycles can be seen at the lake on a good day.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.


Man will always keep looking for new experiences, that's just our nature. 



Learning By Sharing

I can hear the drumming from the other side of the lake when the wind is right. When I get there after pedaling a few miles, I see the young Rastafarian drum teacher with his dozen or so white middle age students, all having a great time in drum class.

Chicken skin.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.


What posseses people to do something different ? Motives come in many forms.




This guy come's with his own blog, click here.


 Wrapping up my Whtie Rock Lake blog, thanks for coming with me. 



My Ride Through The Neighborhoods To Get There

Wouldn't seem right to catalogue all this without finishg up the ride to my front door.

Here are some shots from my ride to the path through the neighborhoods. I'm a lucky guy. I live in a great area.

Click thumbnails below to bring up Picasa slide show.


Thanks for taking the time to visit with me today ! Hope to see you at the lake !