Monday, December 10, 2018

Under The Dome

I made a return visit to the Arkansas State Capitol last week when it was fairly quiet there. The halls of the capitol has been decked with all sorts of holiday decorations, but there weren't many people there. Just a few people doing some preparations for the upcoming legislative session were milling about. The workshop where Santa sits in the Rotunda during the month of December was empty, I guess Santa was out adding some of our state legislators to the naughty list.


The capitol was built between 1900 and 1915 and cost around $2 million.


The state capitol is a historic and dignified building. It has been the home some of our state's greatest governors - Dale Bumpers, Bill Clinton, and Win Rockefeller (but also home to some of the worst like Orval Faubus or Mike Huckabee).


One of my favorite bits of history about our State Capitol is that it was used as a filming location for the 1991 cinematic classic Stone Cold, starring Brian Bosworth (although it is embarrassing, since they use our capitol for a film that was set in Mississippi). The climax of the movie has gun fights in the old Supreme Court chambers and motorcycles speeding through the marble halls of the building. At one point a motorcycle is actually shot out of a window from the 4th floor where it hits a helicopter, resulting in a fiery explosion on the capitol grounds. The fire inadvertently caused a magnolia tree to catch fire, which had to be cut down afterwards. But it is kinda amusing to imagine Brian Bosworth running around filming those scenes in the Capitol while Bill Clinton was sitting in the nearby governor's office plotting his upcoming run for the Presidency. It's a shame he didn't pick Bosworth to be his Vice President.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Pulaski County Courthouse

The impressively ornate lobby of the Pulaski County Courthouse might be missed by most visitors, who trudge through on their way to jury duty or to court. But the lobby and rotunda, constructed of limestone and capped by a stained glass dome, is worth taking your time to see.


The dome and the courthouse were constructed in 1914, and were designed by noted architect George Mann (who also designed several bathhouses in Hot Springs, the Arkansas State Capitol and Little Rock Central High School. The rotunda is guarded by twelve statues, which are meant to portray agriculture, machinery, justice and art.


And the view from the rotunda, looking up at the stained glass dome. While I was there, a couple was nearby getting their pictures taken after they had gotten married at the courthouse.


Monday, December 3, 2018

Capitol Fireworks

Every year, Arkansas is kind enough to have a little fireworks display right after the 100,000 holiday lights are switched on at the State Capitol. It's a great event, there are tons of families and people out to see the show (it also coincides with the end of the Little Rock Christmas Parade). And of course, it's also a great event for photographers.

The show this year was a little different. Usually the fireworks are launched from right behind the Capitol building, but this year they were moved farther back (maybe for safety? It was really windy earlier that day). Which resulted in the fireworks themselves looking smaller, where even some of the fireworks ended up being obscured by the capitol building. Hopefully next year they move it back closer.

Anyways, here's one of the shots I managed to get. We were already set up by the side of the building and after the fireworks started, people began hurrying over by the side to get a better view.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

South of Keo

A few weeks ago when the fall colors were near peak, I met up with my friend John and we went out to visit some neat areas out around the small town of Keo. Along the way, we made the traditional trek through the tunnel of pecan trees near Scott. The trees are over a century old, and were planted as part of a large plantation.


We also stopped at an old church and got a few pictures. The church is abandoned now, except for a large congregation of dirt daubers. The wasps built thousands of nests inside the church - along the ceilings, the walls and windows. Heavy mud nests weighed down the blades of a ceiling fan, and even were built right along the edge of an old piano. Luckily the wasps were long gone (apparently they don't sting, but I didn't dare find out how true that was).


And another room in the old church - note the dirt dauber nests built on the window curtains.


The desk in the pastor's office was still covered in papers, including a check book. A calendar on the wall was from 2008, which means all the damage to the building (including a collapsed roof) has occurred in just ten years. It's amazing how quickly nature works to reclaim its territory.

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Just down the road is a small lake that is just absolutely filled with tupelo trees. It's also filled with lots of duckweed, the tiny floating plant that looks like a smooth green carpet floating on the water.


It's a beautiful spot, especially as it got closer to sunset and golden light began to filter through the trees.



There were a few cypress trees there too, which were showing off some good fall colors as well.


It is one of my new favorite places to take pictures, a gravel road provides easy access to the lake. The road is also slightly elevated, providing a small buffer from any snakes or gators in the water. And the abundant quantity of duckweed prevents mosquitoes from laying eggs (it is a relief to be in the Delta and not be bothered by mosquitoes). We stayed out there until it started to get too dark for pictures.



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Monday, November 26, 2018

Hot Springs

While the fall colors were still at their peak, we decided to take a little family trip down to Hot Springs for the day. During the drive down, we looked up what some fun things were for kids to do and ended up taking Jonah to the Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo. The zoo first opened way back in 1902, and well it seems like it hasn't really been updated much since then. But I think that Jonah enjoyed himself there, he got to feed the gators (and didn't end up as a gator snack).



After that we headed downtown and got lunch at an amazing pizza place - Dead Head Pizza. From there we strolled along Central Avenue, and then along Bathhouse Row. The weather was great, and there were lots of people out and about. I took a few pictures of the bathhouses, here's a view of the Quapaw Bathhouse. The Quapaw was built in 1922 and is still used as a spa.


Next door is the Ozark Bathhouse, which also constructed in 1922.


The fall colors were great - this bright tree stood along Central Avenue, near the old Army and Navy Hospital (which was built in 1933 and is now a rehabilitation center).


We then strolled along the Grand Promenade, which runs along the hillside above the bathhouses. It is a nice quiet place to walk, especially since it allows a toddler to run without having to worry about any traffic. It also provides some great views of the bathhouses, including this view of the Quapaw Bathhouse's dome and bronze copula.


Some of the fall color along the Promenade...


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And one last shot - before we headed home we drove along the North Mountain Loop, which provided this great view of the fall colors.