Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sometimes it does help to wake up before noon

I'm bored right now so I'm going to sit down and show off a whole bunch of pictures that I went to take the past few weeks but haven't done anything with. Are you excited?! Yay! This will be fun!

A few weeks ago I went out to this little area hidden inside a park in North Little Rock that has these great little waterfalls in it. A photographer friend of mine told me about it earlier in the year, and I had never made it out there when there was water in the little creek that makes the falls.

Hidden waterfall

The creek is actually very hidden, in fact I doubt there are many people who know exactly where it is. Considering a major trail runs right by here it is surprising that many people don't know about it.


There was a small cascade, which was flowing fairly well. I think there are more waterfalls above this one, but I was going to be late for work and had to sadly leave. I'm going to try to get back out there soon, since it's not that hard to reach....




The next Saturday I went out the with the camera again, heading downtown. I drove around for awhile and ended up sitting around Riverfront Park in North Little Rock.

The Junction Bridge

The light was a bit too harsh, but it was getting close to dark so I decided to sit around and wait for the sunset.

Broadway Bridge

On Broadway!

After sitting around and waiting and waiting, the sun finally set...


The light might have been a bit better if I had stayed down there longer, but about the time I took this I got a phone call reminding me that I was supposed to be somewhere. So I packed everything in and called it a night...

And then on this past Friday night, I had a lot of trouble falling asleep. I think I maybe got a few hours of sleep - but I woke up about 6 and was wide awake. This was odd - I usually prefer to sleep till noon or later, but here I was awake at the crack of dawn on a Saturday, no less. I looked out the window and saw that the apartment buildings that comprise my view were partially blocked by a really thick fog. Since I was awake, I figured, I might as well make something out of it. I grabbed the camera and headed over to the Big Dam Bridge. The fog was really thick there...

Big Dam (foggy) Bridge

Considering the weather was a bit crummy and how early it was (you mean people actually choose to get out this early - crazy), the bridge was a popular place. Lots of joggers and people zooming by on bikes. Quite a few photographers out too.

Big Dam Bridge and fog

This is looking west from the bridge. You should be able to see Pinnacle Mountain and the I-430 bridge from here. It was odd to hear traffic on the freeway bridge but not actually see it.

Lock and dam

I spent maybe an hour on the bridge, and the sun came up while I was there. I thought the sun would end up burning away the fog, but the sun barely made any difference there...

Big Dam Bridge and fog

There were also lots of people fishing around the bridge. They managed to catch a few fish in the few minutes I was taking pictures around them. Now I don't know how clean the river is, but I wouldn't eat anything from there.

Fishing in the shadow of the Big Dam Bridge

Bridge, fog, and fishermen

After leaving the bridge, I walked along part of the River Trail for a bit. I didn't stay out there too long since I wasn't actually all that interested in hiking the whole 20 miles or so of it...

The River Trail

The part of the trail that I walked ran alongside a small lake. This tree was growing along the shore...

Tree along the trail

I left the trail and the bridge, and decided to head over to Burns Park. The fog was really thick, and had settled over the entire city. It seemed to be even thicker at Burns Park then it did at the bridge.

Burns Park in the fog

I was heading down to the covered bridge in the park, but made a stop at this one area...

Of all the times I've been in this park I had never noticed this place. The little path in the picture below heads up to a small cemetery. The cemetery is where some of the original settlers of the area that is now Burns Park were buried back in the 1800's. It felt like the place was a bit forgotten and seemed like it didn't receive that many visitors...

Burns Park

Cemetery in Burns Park

I didn't notice this when I took it, but it looks like there is a spider hanging out on the tombstone. It's on the "F" in February...

The cabin of the people who are buried is located just across the street from the cemetery. It is really small - the bedroom in my apartment is bigger than the whole cabin:

Old cabin...

There wasn't a whole lot of traffic in the park that morning, I saw two other cars while I was out there...

Road Through Burns Park

So there wasn't anyone else there when I went to the covered bridge - just me and the fog...

Covered Bridge in Burns Park

Covered Bridge

I had been out for a few hours taking pictures and the fog was still hanging around. Maybe, just maybe, it would stick around a bit longer and I could shoot a few dozen more pictures. Since I was already in Dogtown I drove over to the Old Mill, which was shrouded with fog but swarming with other photographers. It looked like there was a couple getting their engagement or something photos taken. They would stand all around the front of the mill posing while their picture was taken. How rude, they really ruined my shots! The fog really seemed to bring people out, a saw another guy with a camera walk around - aggravated - that the couple were ruining the view. He eventually got fed up and left, but a few minutes later the couple finished and went on their way, finally clearing out of the way....

The Old Mill

After the Mill I took the fun drive down Snake Hill to visit the lake there. The fog was still thick along the lake, but it had the added bonus of a bunch of ducks too....

Lakewood fog


The guy who left the Old Mill was down here too. He asked me if the couple finally left. I told him that they did, but didn't mention that they left just a few minutes after he did. He got in his car a few minutes later and left, I guess, to go back to the Mill. There was probably another group of people up there getting their pictures taken when he got there...


Ducks and fog

The sun was finally able to break through the fog, which prompted me (along with the 2 hours of sleep I got) to call it a day. By the time I got back to my apartment most of the fog was gone. But I'm glad I somehow managed to be awake that early - maybe next weekend I'll set the alarm and wake up at 6:00 again.

Wait, 6? In the morning? That's crazy talk.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The (MLS) Cup Runneth Over

Last weekend I made my way back down to Dallas for yet another soccer game. This wasn't just another game, however, it was the MLS Cup, the Superbowl of Major League Soccer. While my team wasn't in it, it was a pretty good game anyways.

Another good reason for going to Dallas is an awesome grocery store we found that has the most outstanding selection of beer. They even have Carlsberg, a beer I feel in love with when I was in Europe but haven't been able to find in this country ever since. So we made a stop there, where we also found a beer called "Chili Beer." This beer's main feature was a big chili pepper floating inside it. It was quite scary:

Scary Beer

I wasn't the brave soul that actually bought it, but I did try a sip. It hurt. It was like drinking fire. But my favorite part about it is how the bottle helpfully notes that this is a "Beer with Chili Pepper added" as if you wouldn't notice the green thing floating around in the beer otherwise.

The game was played Sunday afternoon, and was sold out. Here I am with Dave and Michelle showing off the fancy signs we made for the game. Well, they have nothing to do with the game since they deal with FC Dallas and not the two teams playing, but it was nice to display them anyways:


The Cup was between the Houston Dyanmo (or the Houston Dynahoes or the Houston Dynablow) and the New England Revolution. I won't bother going into details about the game (since everyone watched it, right???). But just that neither team scored during the game, so that it ended up going into overtime. Both teams would score in overtime, both scoring within a minute of the other, which required the game to go to penalty kicks. Houston ended up winning the penalty kicks and won the game. Here are a bunch of pictures of the game. I love the zoom lens that came with my camera:






This is a view of the stadium at halftime. This was when I got up and debated waiting in line at the ATM so I could then go and wait in line to buy a $6 beer. Instead I walked around and took pictures...
Pizza Hut Park

The walk let me get a good view on the band playing during the half-time show - some group called Under the Influence of Giants, who apparently had a hit single out.

Never heard of 'em

I assume U2 was too busy to make the trip to Dallas for the half-time show.

PB127006 crop


And so after 90 minutes, neither team had scored. For no goals, the game had actually been pretty entertaining. But it was shaping up to be like last year's MLS Cup between New England and the LA Galaxy. After 90 minutes neither team had scored and it went to overtime, where LA scored and ended up winning.

End of regulation.

I was cheering for New England, hoping they could pull a win out.

The Houston fans got a bit rowdy during the game, and at one point threw a smoke bomb out onto the field.

Please do not throw objects onto the field...

While those smoke bombs might look neat, they could really singe the nice grass there at the stadium. So some poor guy had the bad job of going out onto the field during the game and getting rid of the bomb. Now, those bombs are probably hot, and the guy reached down to grab it and then immediately dropped it. The poor guy probably burned his hands trying to pick the thing up. To make matter worse, he happened to do that in front of 22,000 people, who actually laughed at him. He ended up kicking the smoke bomb off the field like it was a burning soccer ball:

Fire = hot.

Not too long after the excitement of the smoke bomb, New England ran up and scored a goal:


But not a minute after that, Houston answered and scored a goal too. So the game was tied again. I completely missed the goal becuase I was looking at my camera checking to see if I had managed to get the New England goal. Oh well. So overtime ended with a 1-1 tie, meaning the game would be decided on penalty kicks.

Taking the penalty shot

But while the two teams were taking their penalty kicks, the most awesome sunset was developing over the stadium. I was probably the only person there looking up at the sky instead of the goal...

Woah, there is an awesome sunset too

It was tough trying decide what to focus on - the sky or the goals. To get a good wide angle shot I would need to change lenses, so I missed a few shots while sitting down and messing around with the camera. The shots of the goal probably wouldn't turn out anyways, it was getting dark and my shots were starting to get blurry. Houston won it anyways...

Houston wins

So they won, a result I wasn't all that thrilled about. But the overtime and penalty shootout worked out because we were able to catch the awesome sunset, so I guess there was a bright side.
Sunset over PHP

Monday, November 6, 2006

Saturday at Flatside

This Saturday I went out to Flatside Pinnacle, out in the Flatside Wilderness in the Ouachita National Forest. Flatside is a great place, a mountain very similar to Pinnacle Mountain. It has great views, with lots of rolling hills to enjoy, and is probably one of the best places in the state to sit and watch the sunset. But unlike Pinnacle, the area around it is completely undeveloped. The only sign of man you can see is the dirt road that leads to the mountain. Which is so unlike Pinnacle, which (not to complain too much) is being competely ruined by all the development around there. People hike the mountain to see nature, not to see the tops of houses and apartment complexes. OK, I'll end this because it really annoys me and I could write pages about it.
But Flatside is great place to visit, and is located fairly close to Little Rock. Unlike Pinnacle, which may be too "loved" to death, the mountain and the views there are really unspoiled. To get there, you take Highway 10 past Pinnacle and Lake Maumelle for awhile, then come to an intersection with Highway 9 at a place called Williams Junction. From there go south on 9 for a few miles and there will be a turn-off on the right for a dirt road. That dirt road is called the Winona Scenic Drive, and it is a scenic little drive:
Winona Scenic Drive
The road passes a few little turn-offs, here is the view of one. I think the lake in the distance is either Lake Winona or Lake Sylvia:
Ouachita Mountains
The drive isn't too long, maybe only 40 miles or so from Little Rock to the mountain.
Winona Scenic Drive
Before you know it, a mountain pops out in front of you.
The road to Flatside Pinnacle
And unlike Pinnacle, the road actually travels pretty far up the hillside. So that the trail to the top of the hill is only .2 miles long! But like Pinnacle, that trail is also quite steep. It will remind you of just how out of shape you are. It is humbling.
The view from the top is worth having to exercise. This is looking out towards the west:
Flatside view
This is a closer view of the above view. The peak seen below is called Forked Mountain.
View from Flatside
The views were nice, all these shots were taken from walking along the area at the top of the hill:
Tree with a view
From Flatside
From Flatside
The peak of Flatside Pinnacle
Tree atop Flatside
This is the road you take to get up to the mountain. It is the only man-made thing you can see while up at the top. Well, that and some clear-cutting can be seen (which annoys me too). But it is still pretty, anyways.
The road less traveled
I had never been there for a sunset before, so I decided to wait awhile for it to get dark. This meant sitting on the mountain top for an hour or so. But it was probably worth it. As the sun set, it really lit up the hills...
Just as the sun is about to set over the Ouachitas
The sunset was nice, here are a few shots:
Sunset from Flatside Pinnacle
Sunset from Flatside Pinnacle
I left the hilltop before the sun finished setting, so I think I might have missed the best light. But I was worried about trying to hike the trail back while it was dark. Next time, I'll try to remember to bring a flashlight.