Happy Father’s Day

Arkansas trip with my dad

I got an early start and made it to DeKalb for lunch at the local eatery. After that, we loaded up the car and headed toward Pine Bluff. We decided to take the slow scenic road. Good decision, the traffic was very light and lots of tall green trees to look at. We got to Pine Bluff about 4:30 and stopped in to visit my Aunt Frances. We had a good visit with her and she took us to eat at a Mexican place she likes.

After dinner, we drove on to Little Rock, the final destination for the day. Got checked in to the hotel which is right on the river and got a room with a fine view of a stucco wall. We got settled in and it was just about bedtime.

Woke up the next morning to a sunny day, very good breakfast at the hotel and then we walked over to the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum. They have a WW2 submarine called the U.S.S Razorback. No kin to the local college mascot. It is 80% still functional so you go down into it by way of a 12 foot ladder and climb out the other end on a 14 foot ladder. My father made both climbs without incident. I was impressed! Going across the river right by the museum is a former railroad bridge turned into a pedestrian bridge. As we were walking across the parking lot, I heard a voice from on the bridge yell “Holy crap, there’s a submarine down there!” Well, the language was a little stronger than that but you get the idea.

After that, we crossed the Arkansas River and went to the Arkansas Art Center and had a nice lunch in their cafe then walked around and enjoyed the exhibitions. They have several going and all were really nice. The center is in a park and we walked over toward a pond that had Canada Geese and some kind of domestic ducks around it and rested, enjoying the antics of the waterfowl. There were a couple dozen ducklings roaming around, they were so cute!

Got back to the hotel and after resting a while, we weren’t really excited about getting out and driving somewhere for supper so on a whim, I looked at the room service menu. There were sandwiches available for a very reasonable price so that’s what we had for supper. They were very good. Especially since there was no walking or driving involved. After supper, we walked back to the river and watched the sunset as it washed colors over a big storm cloud many miles away.

After a long nights sleep and a good breakfast we looked at the planned stops today only to find they didn’t open until 1 because it’s Sunday. We took a little drive to a small sculpture garden which had a farmers market going. I bought a fancy soap for a friend and sampled some local honey. Driving around, I realized the parking for one of the places we wanted to see was going to be taken up by Riverfest goers. Back to the hotel and wait until 1 o’clock rolls closer. I did a little looking and found the trolley cars we had seen went right over to where we wanted to go and in honor of Memorial Day weekend, they are free to ride. Quick step to plan B. So we rode the trolley car to the Discover Museum and had a great time and rode it back to be dropped off a short block from the hotel. Even at regular fares it would have been a bargain.

We walked over to the river after supper again and watched the evening come in after another room service sandwich.

Up the next morning for a good breakfast and on the road north. We’re spending the night in Harrison but taking a side trip on the way to Mountain View to visit the dulcimer shop there to buy a few things. We get there and it’s closed. The Ozark Folk Center is up the road a couple of miles so we drive there and find them open so we go in and look around. We both found things to buy and saw some more interesting things.

We got to Harrison and got checked in and after resting a bit went to find supper and found most of the places closed in honor of Memorial Day. Including the Italian place we had eaten at before and really liked. We ended up at Burger King. Not a fan.

The next day’s plan is to drive to Fayetteville by way of Eureka Springs and visit Crystal Bridges museum in Bentonville. Turns out they are closed on Tuesday. So much for that.

No hurries this day, the whole day’s drive is about 2 hours. We take a scenic loop around in Eureka Springs and then stop along the way at War Eagle cavern and saw the cave which was interesting. Siri is guiding us along the way and she got quite perturbed when we got off the highway and then got off her map. She was sounding almost panicked by the fourth time she said “proceed to the route!” The cave used up a couple hours. It’s privately owned and we had a friendly and knowledgeable guide. The history is more interesting than the landscape inside. The resident bats had moved farther in to their nursery location so we didn’t see any. We got checked into the hotel about 4. We had a very late lunch and are tired so probably won’t go out again. I think we’re both about ready to be home again.

We woke up early again and on the road by 8:30. We changed plans this morning, which is why nothing was booked more than a day ahead. The original plan was to spend the night at Mount Magazine again but it’s only a 2 1/2 hour drive from here and that’s taking the long way around. Then we would have half a day to sit and look at each other or look at the view. It’s a nice view, but. So, plans changed. Instead, we decided to drive to Hot Springs instead. It’s closer to home, so shorter drive tomorrow. And there’s things to do and see there. We are staying at the Alpine Inn where we have stayed before.

We took the scenic route and enjoyed twisty, tree covered roads with very occasional breaks in the trees to see the mountains. Slow but soul-nourishing. We saw several motorcycle groups out riding.

We got to the Alpine Inn and found out the lovely Scottish couple who had been running the place had retired and a couple of young men are running it now. The Inn is old but well kept. The room is small but looks fresh and comfortable.

It turns out the Inn cat, Al, has been passed along with the property. He has had a hard life in the last six years though. He’s an old cat now and lost about half of both ears. He enjoyed some pets and scritches on the back of his neck that I gave him. I actually got a purr.

Up the next morning and last day’s drive. Again we stay off the main highways with little to no traffic which makes it a pleasant drive. I have lunch in DeKalb and it’s a solo drive the rest of the way.

We saw good art, climbed into and out of a submarine, learned some things and had fun together and enjoyed spending time together. Another good trip with my dad.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental

I love experimenting with my photos in several different apps on my iPad. Some pictures just lend themselves to this. Here’s some of my experiments.

This app is Glaze

This one is Pixlr

FX from Macphun

Enlight

And Percolater.

I have lots of fun with my apps. They have all kinds of options and .you can achieve many different looks, the fun is in experimenting.

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/experimental/”>Experimental</a&gt;

Arkansas Traveller

Back in June, my dad and I took our annual trip somewhere. This year, we went to Arkansas. The weather this spring was abnormally cool and rainy, in fact, North Texas set a record for rainfall in May. It turned out to be nearly perfect weather during our trip.

Arkansas 2015

I got up and got an early enough start to make it to DeKalb before lunch, my dad and I visited a bit, had something to eat and hit the road.
Texas has had a dramatic ending of the drought and the Red River is going over the spillway at Lake Texoma for only the fourth time since the dam was built. Both bridges crossing the river in Bowie County were closed. By the time we got to where I30 crosses the Red, that bridge was still open and the water was really high. The Red is aptly named.
We made it to Arkadelphia and took a drive through my mother’s Alma Mater, Ouachita Baptist University. Then north on highway 7 to DeGray State Park and Lodge where we spent the night. Storms were rolling through and as we were in the Restaurant waiting for supper, the power went off for a few minutes. We watched the mountains on the other side of the lake, and then islands in the lake, disappear in the rain. Power was restored and dinner was served. So much for our after dinner walk.
We watched a little TV and went to bed. Make note, we got room #120.

Day two.
Got up, enjoyed the breakfast buffet at the lodge and got on the road. Mostly cloudy but with glimpses of the sun becoming more frequent as the day goes by. We head up Scenic Highway 7. Lots of curving roads, both sideways and up and down. We stopped at a picnic area for a sandwich lunch that had a nice view of some treetops, fallen trees and between all that, Nimrod Lake. Yes, it’s really called that.
Nearly to Morrilton, the road went through Petit Jean State Park which is the main reason we’re stopping here. You go up a 20 mph squiggly road and come out on top of a high bluff overlooking the Petit Jean River Valley. Views are spectacular. We will return tomorrow to do some walking on the trails. image
After the park, we look through an automobile museum that has a couple of notable cars, namely one owned by Elvis and the personal car of JFK. And other well kept cars.
Then to the Super 8 in Morrilton to check in for the evening. We got room #120, again. We had barbecue at a local drive in and had way more than we could eat. It was good.
I am stiff from lack of moving and from sitting in a car for so long. I need to walk. Maybe tomorrow will take care of some of that.

Day three.
After a good night’s sleep, we found some breakfast and headed back to Petit Jean. We climbed the mountain and the first turnoff was to an overlook and Petit Jean’s grave. The overlook gave us a fantastic look at the Arkansas River in full flood. The river is 6 feet above flood according to the guy at the front desk when we checked in the night before. image
Saw and heard Indigo Buntings singing.
We then drove on to the Rock House cave where a guided walk was to be had. It turned out to be a bit steep and rocky but as it was only 1/4 mile long, it was doable. The guide showed us where the old Native American art was on the ceiling, we would have never found it on our own.
Then to the Cedar Falls overlook, the river was really roaring down the falls. I noticed another overlook a little way down the Boy Scout trail and went to investigate. After some rock scrambling, it gave a view straight into the falls.
By then it was lunch time so we went to Mather Lodge and had a nice lunch with a view. After lunch, and there was some debate on whether it should be called lunch or dinner, my view is that you have “lunch” then “dinner” and my dad has “dinner” then “supper”. O.k. Whatever it was called, they had a buffet with lots of good things to eat on it.
Then to Bear Cave trail which is a trail around and between some gigantic jumble of boulders.
Ok, done that now. We still have a lot of afternoon to kill. So, I had noticed a drive with two overlooks we hadn’t done yet and suggested that. The best idea of the day. The overlooks faced West and gave us a tremendous view off across the Petit Jean River valley with clouds rolling by and mist and light rain falling from the clouds. The first one was just a platform sticking off the side but the second one had a rock shelter built by the CCC and various places to sit and soak up the scenery. We were surrounded by birdsong and watched buzzards (Turkey vultures) gliding below and around us. We could hear the sound of the Petit Jean River below us and watch the clouds roll by. We ended up spending about two hours at these overlooks. Before we left the second one, my dad got out his dulcimer and played some songs. image
Most of the day had light to moderate misty rain. Nothing to really put a damper on things, just enough to make things damp.
Then it was time to head back to the hotel and rest up a bit before supper.

Day four.
Got up and hit the road going north to Harrison. Just as an aside, cruise control doesn’t really do any good in the west half of Arkansas. You’re always slowing down for a hill or a curve and there are LOTS of both.
Driving along, I noticed signs for a Natural Bridge and when we got to the turnoff, I turned to my dad and asked if we needed to see it. We had plenty of time, so we turned off and went there. Down a VERY steep, twisted road, there were two little log cabins and a restroom. We went in, paid our $5 and walked down the path to see the bridge. The area was pretty and green and a huge slab of sandstone was suspended over a tiny creek. It is big enough to drive a small car across. image
The destination before Harrison was a couple of caves. Crystal Cave and Mystic Cave. The first one was discovered when a backhoe operator was digging fill dirt for an amusement park up the road. It is still growing and has lots of pretty formations. The other one has been a victim of human destruction for 100 years plus. It has been used as a dance hall, housed a still, and most things that can break off were broken and sold as souviners. There are only two or three formations still growing. There was a tiny salamander on one of them.
We got to Harrison and checked in to Super 8…..room #120 again…
There is an Italian place in the adjacent parking lot and we decided to eat there, very generous servings and excellent flavors.

Day five
Getting ready to go, I watched a mama cat relocate her kittens, they’re maybe 6 weeks old, the first trip was with two, a black one and a white one. She kept having to go back and get the black one, it wanted to stop and play. The second trip was 30 minutes or so later and she had a calico with her.
Lots of motorcycle riders in the lobby at breakfast time. Kinda wished I was getting ready to head out for a day riding with the hubby.
Got on the road heading for Fayettville area. Smooth trip, nothing interesting to provide a side trip, got there too early to check in at the hotel so we thought we would head to the local botanical garden. We didn’t think it would be hard to find. We ended up looping around two or three times and finally found it on the far side of road construction. We had just zipped right by it 30 minutes earlier. It is a small garden but nicely laid out with several little theme gardens and lots of pretty flowers blooming.
After that, it was time to go check in at La Quinta. We found our way back with no incident. We did NOT get room 120 again, it was number 328.

Day six
Up and breakfasted, we drove into Springtown to visit an art center, enjoyed looking at the two artists exhibited and then found the Shiloh Museum. It tells of the history of the area and we had a couple of interesting conversations with people who work there. My dad ended up playing his dulcimer for them.
I saw an Eastern Phoebe at the Shiloh Museum.
On recommendation from one of the ladies at the museum, we stopped at a little place called Briar Rose for lunch. The place was charming and the food awesome. IMG_1194
After that museum, we had plans on going to Prairie Grove where a Civil War battle was fought. The battle was short and brutal with many casualties. It was fought in a small area, barely a square mile. The people who lived in the area survived by hiding in a cellar. A neighbor watched from a hilltop a couple of miles away and was able to describe the whole battle.
A walking trail went around the main part of the battleground, a mile long. We walked it. There is also a driving tour that we did. It just brought home how small the battleground is. There are trees that I’m sure were there when the battle was fought, I wonder how much metal is embedded in them.

Day seven
Time to point the car toward home. I decided to stay off the interstate because I was driving and planned out a route…only to find one of the roads I planned to take was closed. Minor detour. We finally arrived at Mount Magazine Lodge at the state park of the same name. What a view. Mount Magazine is the highest point in Arkansas and the lodge is near the highest point. Every room has a view. We were a little disappointed not to have a balcony, but the windows open so we can still enjoy the fresh air. imageThere’s too much haze in the air for a nice sunset but it’s still beautiful. There are barn swallows circling and singing. I think I’ll leave the window open at least a little tonight. image
At the visitor’s center, I saw an American Goldfinch, Indigo Bunting and Brown-headed Nuthatch and Ruby throated Hummingbirds.

Day eight
Woke up just before sunrise to the sound of the swallows. A waning moon was in the sky and low fog was in the hollows. Beautiful start to the day, but it’s a sad one. This is the last day of the trip. The Red River was even higher than when we crossed it a week before, it’s up in the fields now and the crest is heading for Shreveport where it will cause major damage. It’s home for both of us and a goodbye until next time. And nothing like Dallas evening traffic and an ozone alert air quality warning to welcome me back to the big city.

I clipped a couple of gardenias from the bush in my dad’s yard to take home with me. They smell so divine.