Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Albert Pike Hotel

When the Albert Pike Hotel opened in downtown Little Rock in 1929, it was considered to be one of the best hotels in the South. The hotel was built in the Italian-Spanish Revival style and features stained-glass windows, tiled roofs and decorative tile and iron work. It cost a cool $1 million to build the hotel, a pretty big sum for the 1920s.

Most of the grand hotels that were built in that era are gone now, either torn down (like the Marion Hotel in Little Rock or the Majestic in Hot Springs) or an empty shell of a building (like the Hotel Pines in Pine Bluff). Like so many other old hotels, it too faced struggles and faced a decline in popularity. But the Albert Pike was saved when it was purchased in 1970 and converted into residences. It now serves as a home for seniors.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Pedestal Rock

From Mt. Nebo, I decided to drive onto Hwy. 7 and then headed up north into the Ozarks. The same fog that shrouded the top of Nebo was coating the top of the Ozark Mountains. The road dipped and turned through deep fog, with some occasional light rain hitting the car. I didn’t think the rain would be enough to get waterfalls going, so I decided to head up and hike the trail to Pedestal Rock.

There were two other cars at the trail head, but I didn’t see any other people while out hiking. There were several deer along the trail, including some that must be pretty brave or are at least not that bothered by humans. They didn’t mind me walking by along the trail and taking a few pictures.

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It had stopped raining, but the woods were pretty saturated that afternoon. This leaf along the trail was collecting a little bit of rainwater.

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Eventually the trail dips down and runs along a bluff, and the namesake Pedestal Rock comes into view. The rock pedestals were formed from eons and eons of erosion and weathering. The largest is Pedestal Rock, which stood tall as the thick fog obscured the hills and forest behind it.

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With the thick fog, there still wasn't much of a view (no matter how close you dared to get to the edge of the bluff). I tried to get a few pictures, before hurrying back to the car to head back home in order to pick up Jonah from daycare.

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Mount Nebo

I decided to take advantage of a recent day off from work, and headed out to take pictures. After dropping the baby off at daycare, I headed out to try to find something to take pictures of. I hadn't really planned things through, and didn't really have any idea of where to go. So I drove west on the freeway, and hoped to find something along the way. It was a rainy day, with a bit of fog. So I ended up driving over to Mount Nebo to see if there was any fog there.

The road that heads up to the top of Nebo has to be one of the curviest stretches of road in the state. As it pushes up the mountain, the road twists and turns through hairpin curves like a snake on drugs. The fog got thicker as the elevation increased, and eventually you could hardly see anything on the road. So of course I stopped to take pictures!

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(I was parked safely off the road and there was no traffic).

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Mount Nebo stands 1,350 feet above the Arkansas River Valley (which doesn't sound like much if you're used to the big mountains out West, but it does tower over the surrounding countryside). From the top, you can usually have good views of the Arkansas River, Lake Dardanelle, the Ouachita Mountains and even the Arkansas One Nuclear powerplant. But of course you couldn't see any of that through the fog. As I drove through the park, trees appeared out of the mist and would then silently dissolve back into the fog.

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Mount Nebo has been a state park since 1927, but before then it was also a popular resort location. In the 1890s, two large hotels were on the mountain, each with over a hundred rooms. Visitors would ride steamboats up the Arkansas River, and would stay at Nebo since it was a little bit cooler in the summer and some springs on the mountain were thought to have medicinal powers. One of the hotels burned in 1918 and never reopened, but you can still find several old buildings still standing throughout the park. This building here was a maintenance shed that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps sometime around 1934. The area that was surrounded by the low rock wall used to house a well and pumping equipment.

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After that I drove back down the mountain and then tried to find some other things to get pictures of....

Friday, January 20, 2017

Hwy. 70

I drove to Forrest City the other weekend for the opening of the 2017 Small Works On Paper Exhibition, a statewide travelling art show that is put on every year by the Arkansas Arts Council. This year, one of my pictures was included in the tour. It was one of 36 pieces selected by artists from across the state. I was very excited to have one of my pictures chosen, and for it to be part of a great collection of art!

I had my camera with me, so after the reception I took the long way home and tried to get a few pictures. I drove through Forrest City and passed by this abandoned building, part of which was condemned after it had partially collapsed.

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I headed east on Hwy. 70, through the flat and cold lands of the Delta. It had snowed a few days before, and there were still some traces of snow that hadn't melted yet. It had been below freezing for awhile, and the water in the ditches along the side of road were frozen. I stopped by this dirt road, which was blocked by an old plow at the entrance. Just a little bit of snow still lingers along the road as it curves towards an old building in the distance.

Mr. Plow

I followed Hwy. 70 as it headed into Brinkley, and I stopped at this old building with a faded ghost sign. The building sits just a few feet from some busy railroad tracks, but it looks like the roof of the building has also collapsed in a few places.

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It was getting close to sunset, and I just barely had enough time to make it to Hickson Lake, in the Dagmar Wildlife Management Area. It is a beautiful lake, lined with countless numbers of cypress and tupelo trees. The trees were poking up through a layer of ice that had grown on the lake's surface.

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It was a bit chilly out there (about 29 degrees), and I got a few more pictures before hurrying back into the heated car and driving home.

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The 2017 Small Works On Paper Exhibition, which is now in its 30th year, will visit 10 cities across the state. Here's the schedule, you should definitely check it out:
January 3-27 - East Arkansas Community College - Forrest City
February 1-24 - Alma Performing Arts Center Gallery - Alma
March 6-27 - Northwest Arkansas Community College - Bentonville
April 5-28 - William F. Laman Library - North Little Rock
May 3-29 - Phillips Community College - Helena
June 3-July 11 - The Arts Council of Mississippi County - Blytheville
July 20-August 26 - Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas - Pine Bluff
September 4-29 - SAU Magnolia - Magnolia
October 5-26 - Ouachita Baptist University - Arkadelphia
November 6-24 - SAU Tech - Camden

And the picture that was taken, which was taken in October of 2015 during our big road trip to Arizona. It was taken in the morning as we drove west along Route 66 in the Texas panhandle.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Scott, England and Keo

To celebrate the new year, and to take advantage of the day off from work, Caroline and I packed up the baby and went driving around on the day after New Years Day. It was chilly, with a light rain and fog. Jonah fell asleep not too long after we left, so I don't know how much he enjoyed riding around while I stopped to take pictures. He managed to sleep for just about the entire time we were out driving around.

We headed east from Little Rock, making the short drive to the small town of Scott. Scott is a neat little town, filled with tons of old barns and homes (it's like the Boxley Valley of the Delta). It sits in fertile lowlands not too far from the Arkansas River, and was the home of several large plantations back in the 1800s. This was taken overlooking an oxbow lake by the Plantation Agriculture Museum, which is operated by the Arkansas State Parks.

Horseshoe Lake

This was taken just down the road, while getting closer to Cotham's (which unfortunately wasn't open that day).

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Just a little bit outside of Scott is this old abandoned church, which sits forgotten behind a stand of overgrown trees.

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The roof of the old church has collapsed, completely flattening into the sanctuary below.

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This is actually the view of the interior, taken while looking through the front door. It always seems so strange and sad to see places like this falling apart. There were probably weddings and baptisms here, and people spent a lot of time and energy building and maintaining this place. But now it's just a pile of rubble and debris.

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Further down the road, we stopped at another old and abandoned church. This church I've stopped at several other times and taken pictures over the years, so I'm always interested to see what condition it's in. The church probably hasn't seen any services in years, but it is at least maintained still. Also the area in front of the church has started to be a new area for the cemetery, with new graves being added in the past few years. This shot was taken from under a massive old tree at the side of the church, as light fog drifted by the old graves and the nearby empty fields.

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We continued on towards the small town of England, which is now home to about 2,800 people. Like Scott, England is also filled with lots of neat old buildings. Jonah continued to snooze in the backseat while I stopped to get a shot of this old sign.

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A few large silos sit on the edge of town, standing out like skyscrapers in the fog.

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From there we headed back towards Keo, which while it's a pretty small town (population 256) it is also filled with a large collection of old farm buildings and barns.

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An old piece of furniture was still propped up against the door of the old building here (maybe an old cotton gin?). Wonder if this was maybe put here by the antiques store next door?

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Nearby there was a barn, painted bright red. The color managed to pop through the dreary gray of the foggy and overcast skies.

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Keo and Scott are pretty well known for their pecan trees, and Keo actually has a few orchards located right in the middle of town. This stand of trees was actually right across the street from the old barn in the picture directly above. The thick fog obscured most of the trees, and also accentuated their trunks and branches.

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The fog was getting thicker as the day went on, so on the way back home we made a quick stop at the Pecan Alley by Scott. Here pecan trees line the road, creating a sort of tunnel. The trees are over a century old, and were planted as part of a plantation that used to be in the area.

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I did look both ways before stepping out in the road, luckily there weren't many other people out driving through the fog.

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By this time, Jonah had woken up and was in need of diaper change. So after one last shot, we drove off into the fog and headed home.

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