Instead of doing a big recap of the wacky year of 2009, I thought I'd do a countdown of my 21 favorite photos of the year instead (it was going to be 20, but I remembered one shot at the last minute). It was hard to pick out the favorites, and a few decent shots were not included. But anyways, here is a review of the year that was. 2009 started off on a bad note, I was laid-off from my job in the first week of January. But on the bright side, it left me plenty of free time to pursue my two favorite passions: photography and sleeping in. My stint of unemployment only lasted for three months, by April I was off the dole and back at work. I wasn't too happy about being in an office and missing great waterfall weather, but the paycheck more than made up for it. In July, the new job came in handy since I was able to get an employee discount for a new car. But sadly it meant trading in my old 2002 Hyundai, which had been with me for almost 160,000 miles.
January 23 - Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge, Arkansas.
I woke up before sunrise and drove to the refuge. This field was covered by a giant flock of snow geese (sadly not a flock of seagulls). The birds would get startled and all take off loudly and soar in circles through the cold air, only to settle down right back where they started. They did this several times. I wasn't hit by any bird droppings when this happened, but my poor car did take a direct hit.
February 17 - Pack Rat Falls, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.
My original plan for that day was to drive up to the Glory Hole, but I was told wrongly by the Forest Service that it was closed. Instead I drove up to Haw Creek Falls instead (the only recreation area in the Ozark National Forest that didn't see damage from the ice storm). I hiked back to Pack Rat Falls, and would later find out that the old log here has been around for several decades, and had been there when the falls had first been discovered. Apparently being half-soaked in water has helped preserve it.
September 12 - Parker-Hickman Farmstead, Erbie, Buffalo National River, Arkansas.
This was taken on one of many photo trips up to the Ozarks with Zack Andrews. We had been out searching for waterfalls, and didn't have much luck. But instead we stumbled on this great old farmstead, which is actually one of the oldest settlements along the Buffalo River. It was a great place to visit, and I can't wait for another chance to get back up there to explore again...
September 19 - Cedar Creek, Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas.
2009 was a record-breaking year for rainfall in Arkansas. We had so much rain that waterfalls were up and flowing even during the summer, a rare treat since they are usually dry then. This was taken along a trip to Petit Jean Mountain with Zack, along the way to Cedar Falls.
December 26 - Longpool, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.
This snow was from a storm that came in on Christmas Eve. I had just barely enough time to hike to these falls before it got dark, and then realized I had left the tripod mount back in the car.
October 12 - Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.
This was taken on a photo trip on a foggy night downtown. I drove up to the top of a parking deck just off of Main Street, which provided some different views of the downtown skyline. I like this one because the bricks here look like they were torn off somehow, like a page ripped from a book.
January 30 - pasture near Charleston, Arkansas.
This was actually taken by my Aunt's house, overlooking a pasture on a frosty and foggy morning. This was taken just after the bad ice storm that hit in January, which caused so much damage in the Ozarks.
March 4 - Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.
I met up with Jonas, a contact from Flickr, for a few shots around Arkansas. Our first stop was Lake Catherine, and then after that a quick visit to a river south of Benton. Our plan was to get some sort of shot of the river, but we were distracted by some locals who had somehow driven their truck into the riverbed and gotten it stuck. After that entertainment, we drove back into Little Rock for this shot of the city and I-630.
June 6 - Six Finger Falls, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.
This was taken on another photo trip with Zack. After eating a great lunch at the Ozark Cafe, we stopped and paid a quick visit to Falling Water Creek on the way home. The battery in the camera was nearly dead, but I dropped down to get this shot looking back up towards Six Finger Falls.
September 19 - Davies Bridge, Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas.
This bridge was built in 1934 by the CCC, and has a nice view of this waterfall. This panoramic shot was made from seven shots that were stitched together using Hug-In.
October 16 - Falling Water Creek, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.
With all the rain we had, 2009 was a rare year where we had both waterfalls and fall colors all going at the same time. This was taken along Falling Water Creek, near Cunningham Falls (hopefully that name will stick!).
August 22 - Tyler Bend, Buffalo National River, Arkansas.
In August I joined Zack for a camping trip at the Buffalo River. Even though the campsite was deserted, it was hard to get sleep while a band of raccoons wrecked havoc on our campsite. But the next morning we got up early enough to find ourselves surrounded by a thick fog. A few hours later I got my swim trunks and my flippie-floppies, and got on a boat for a little canoe trip down the Buffalo.
February 10 - Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas.
I drove up to Petit Jean in order to hike the Seven Hollows Trail, and ended up having to take shelter under a bluff along that hike while a thunderstorm passed by. But before the hike, I stopped at the point by Petit Jean's grave, and got some shots in the fog. It would prove to be a good day for pictures, since three shots I took out there were chosen to be used by the Little Rock Film Festival.
October 16 - Falling Water Falls, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.
The fall of 2009 had a rare combination - fall colors and waterfalls. I drove up to Falling Water Creek, and was lucky enough to have perfect conditions for pictures. It was one of the best days of the year for pictures...
May 9 - Lost Valley, Buffalo National River, Arkansas.
This was another great day for pictures, and it was spent visiting some great spots around the Buffalo River. Our first stop was Hammerschmidt Falls, then Steele Creek and then the great Lost Valley. This is an amazing area, and one of my favorite places in the state to visit. I was pleased to be contacted a few months ago by the National Park Service, who asked if they could use one of my pictures from here as part of an educational sign to be placed along the Lost Valley trail.
October 18 - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, Oklahoma.
The night of the U2 concert was one of my favorite nights of the year. U2 is my all time favorite band, and I had some great seats for the concert. We were right next to a ramp that all of the band members would walk out on. Of the five times I've seen them in concert, this was the best...
January 30 - Fort Chaffee, Arkansas.
A heavy fog at the ruins of old Fort Chaffee, in western Arkansas. The fort was established before World War II as an army base and POW camp. It was in these old buildings that Elvis got his first army haircut. But a fire in 2008 burned out of control and took with it over 200 of the old historic barracks. But what the fire didn't get, the rest were recently torn down. This area is part of a new development, so all the history will get replaced with some anonymous shopping center. Only a tiny fraction of the old Fort Chaffee still stands. What a shame...
This was taken on a foggy and frosty morning in January. All that was left of the burned barracks were these chimneys, which stood like lonely sentries. It was a view that reminded me of pictures of Atlanta after the Civil War, or Dresden after WWII.
June 6 - Buffalo National River at Steele Creek, Arkansas.
One of the bad things about 2009 was that I turned 30. So as my birthday approached, I convinced Zack to join me for a camping trip. I thought that spending some time at one of the most beautiful spots in the country would be a good way to spend the birthday. We went up and camped at Steele Creek, right next to a crazy set of rednecks. But that morning I awoke to find the Buffalo River sitting under a layer of fog, and couldn't think of a better way to begin my life as a "30-something."
December 5 - Arkansas State Capitol, Little Rock.
Fireworks over the Capitol, after the holiday lights were switched on for the first time. It was a bit cold out that night, but it was nothing compared to the night before, when I was standing in 24-degree weather to get some photos of my cousin's high school football team in an important playoff match.
September 12 - Boxley Valley, Buffalo National River, Arkansas.
The Buffalo River is perhaps the most scenic spot in Arkansas, and Boxley Valley is one of the most amazing places along the Buffalo. Along this valley you have Hawksbill Crag, Lost Valley, fields with elk and an amazing assortment of old buildings. This day was spent exploring Boxley Valley, including this view behind a little-noticed road. There are so many great places to see around there, and hopefully 2010 will find more time for exploring Boxley Valley...
March 28 - The Glory Hole, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.
The Glory Hole is one of the most unique waterfalls in the state. I was lucky to visit the falls when there was a nice amount of water flowing through. I made the trip with Matt Kennedy, while a light snow was falling. The area around the Glory Hole has several waterfalls and cascades, and it would prove to be another great day for being out in the woods.
Well, I hope everyone that reads this has a great 2010! Hopefully this new year and decade will find lots of time out in the woods, with many more pictures to be taken...