Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lichen Falls

After we finished the hike at The Glory Hole, there was one more nearby waterfall on our list to visit. This was located just a short ten mile drive away, though three of those miles were along a muddy dirt road. The falls are Lichen Falls, located along the Ozark Highlands Trail. The OHT runs for about 165 miles, from Lake Fort Smith State Park to the Buffalo National River. You may have even read an article about the trail in National Geographic last year. Like most of the Ozarks, the OHT saw considerable damage from the recent ice storm, and the National Forest closed the trail because of the damage. Apparently, putting up "closed" signs was just about the extent of work the National Forest did on the trail, but dedicated volunteers have been out and working tirelessly to remove fallen trees and clear the trail. Now most of the trail is open except for a few certain stretches.

We didn't have to hike very far along the Ozark Highlands Trail to find Lichen Falls, it is located just a quarter mile from a parking area along the dirt road that the trail crosses. It was still snowing, but the snow began to fall heavily as we started the hike. Walking in the snow, we followed the trail past a few fallen trees, and then down a hill. We had hiked longer than a quarter mile, and pulled out the guide book since it seemed like we were doing something wrong. We were, we headed off the wrong direction on the trail, walking farther away from the falls with every step.

So turning around, we headed back in the right direction (to get to the falls, you take the trail that starts out across the road from the parking lot). In a very short amount of time, you finally reach the falls. The trail is flat and an easy hike. It just gets slightly more difficult to actually get close to the falls. We were using the Arkansas Waterfalls Guidebook by Tim Ernst to find the falls. Now I've studied this book a million times, and had read and re-read the short description to these falls many times before making the trip. But for some reason, it always seems like I skip over certain sentences, so that parts of the trail become a surprise. The part I managed to gloss over this time was the sentence "if you leave the trail to get a closer look be careful because the hillside is very steep!"

And the hillside is very steep. To get close enough to the falls for a good picture means descending down the hill at a very awkward angle. There is a bit of a dirt trail that heads down, but from the recent rain and snow, it was all mud. And not just any mud, it was deep and had the look and texture of chocolate pudding. To put your foot there would find it sinking a few inches, and the sliding gleefully down the hill all by itself. I was a bit nervous here, an uncontrolled slide would send you on your muddy way down the hill and onto the hard rocks by the waterfalls. I tried to scoot down as carefully as I could, covering myself in mud as I went. A fallen tree did help to steady the way down, and eventually some progress was made.

On the other hand, Matt bounded down the falls with no problems whatsoever, and was set up taking pictures while I wallowed in the mud on the hill. He was much braver than I was, and probably got some good pictures out of it. I stood on a ledge over the falls to get some shots, next to the steady drip of water pouring in from the hill above me.

Lichen Falls is actually a double-decked waterfall, and this is the lower falls. The fallen tree here is probably another victim from the ice storm, but it was the one that I used to help navigate my way down the hill.

And a view of the two parts of Lichen Falls:

It was time to head back home. Matt tried to find a way back up the hillside on the opposite side of the falls from where I was standing. As I tried to work my way up the muddy hillside, I turned around to see him hanging from tree branches trying to get up onto a higher bluffline. We finally made it up there, covered in mud and falling snow. There was a light dusting of snow on my car when we got back to the parking lot:

And some light snow on the ground along the Ozark Highlands Trail:

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Glory Hole

The Glory Hole is one of the most unique (if not the dirtiest named) waterfall in the state. It is a neat spot. Most waterfalls are content to just spill over rocks and bluffs. But no, this one decided to bore a hole through an overhanging bluff, where a 30 foot tall waterfall spills out below. It’s an amazing sight to see from under the bluff - this waterfall just appearing out of a hole above you. It reminds me of the time the people who lived in the apartment above tried to wash a comforter in their tiny washing machine, which flooded their place and sent showers of water falling down through the ceiling of my apartment.

The Glory Hole is located in the Ozark National Forest, way up near the Buffalo National River. I met up with Matt Kennedy in Conway, and we made the long drive up into the hills. The trail to the falls isn’t that long, about two miles round trip. We had to add an extra half mile to that because part of the way in is via a jeep road that was too muddy for my car, which we left precariously parked on the side of the main road when we started the hike.

The Ozarks took a savage beating in January from an ice storm, which damaged most of the trees up there. There were several fallen trees along the trail, but paths had already been worn into the fallen leaves around it so the trail was quite passable. The trail heads down a hill, then crosses Dismal Creek, which is the creek that made the Glory Hole. I wonder why it was named this, since the creek isn’t dismal at all and is really quite scenic. There are several other waterfalls along the creek on the way to the Glory Hole, which were running wild after all the rain we’ve had over the past few days.

It was cold out there, and snowing. Now that seemed weird, isn't it supposed to be Spring? But it would continue to snow on us for the rest of the day.

And one more view, trying to get that one small waterfall in with the larger waterfall...

I had been to the Glory Hole once before, but then it was hardly running and it was cold enough that icicles hung everywhere. This trip the falls had a good amount of water flowing through, which was great to see.

The trail runs up to the top of the Glory Hole - the hole that the creek has made into the top of the bluff. My waterfall guidebook stresses that people should be careful at this spot, since "there have been a couple of folks fall through the 'hole' recently and were seriously hurt and had to be airlifted to the emergency room, so please don't go near the upper part of the falls!" I wondered what it would be like to slide through the hole, and came to the easy conclusion that it would not be a fun place to slide down...

We carefully made our way down to the base of the bluff, where the waterfall pours out below. It is an amazing sight.
Glory Hole

And a view looking out from the back of the bluff. The waterfall blends in a bit with the background here...

And one more view from under the Glory Hole:

Heading out, we made a few stops along some of the other waterfalls and cascades along Dismal Creek that we missed while hiking in.


The sun struggled to come out a few times, but it was still lightly snowing. Luckily the sun went behind the clouds and we were able to get some more waterfall shots along the wrongly named Dismal Creek.


From there we headed back, and I was reminded that I need to actually get in shape while heading up the hill to the car. Finally making it up there, we then headed off in the snow towards the next waterfall....

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dogtown Falls

Dogtown Falls - also known as Emerald Falls - or well actually these falls haven't been officially named. They're actually a bit of a secret, they are located right in the middle of a park in North Little Rock, and within a short walking distance of a major trail that sees a lot of traffic.

I found out about the falls a few years ago from a former co-worker who accidentally stumbled on them while out exploring Emerald Park. A small creek tumbles down a hillside, creating a few sets of waterfalls. This cascade is the easiest to reach, another more impressive waterfall sits farther uphill but is a bit harder to reach. I didn't head up there since the sun came out and ruined the light.

The former co-worker seemed to be proud that he discovered these secret falls that no one else knew about, and so he made it a bit hard for me to find them. He just told me the general location of the area, and it took me a bit of searching to find them. They are easier to find after a heavy rain, since they make so much noise you can easily hear them from the main trail...

While not the tallest around, it is a neat spot. Especially when you consider that there aren't too many waterfalls around Little Rock. The city is located in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains, a range that just doesn't produce the same amount of waterfalls as the Ozarks do. Other than these falls, the closest waterfall is at Petit Jean Mountain, a good hour or so away.

The falls are located in Emerald Park, but the easiest way to find them is via the River Trail along the Arkansas River....

Thursday, March 26, 2009

3rd and Main

It was just lightly raining as I waited for it to get dark. While I waited, a security guard walked around and I was worried I'd get kicked out (it is a public parking garage though). He didn't say anything, and at one time was talking on his cell phone as he walked by.

This shot was slightly difficult to take since there was a streetlight that would pop on and shine right into the camera. Luckily it would flicker back out after a few minutes, but I had to time the pictures to when that light would be out.

Here is the view - looking down at the intersection of Third and Main streets, on a stormy night in downtown Little Rock.
3rd and Main

A Rose By Any Other Name

I decided to visit downtown Little Rock just as a huge storm hit. I drove over the Main Street bridge into downtown as the rain poured down, and was shocked that it was raining so hard that I couldn't even see the skyline right in front of me. High winds picked up newspaper boxes and tossed them onto the streets, which were starting to get flooded as the storm drains tried to keep up with all the water. I somewhat drove around a bit aimlessly trying to get pictures, but didn't take anything much since I mostly took refuge in the dry safety of my car.

I eventually ended up at a parking deck along Main Street, waiting for it to get dark for a planned skyline shot. As I waited, I walked around a bit and saw this view of a mural of a rose painted on the side of a building. The paint is chipped and worn, much like most of Main Street that it overlooks.
A Rose By Any Other Name

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I had originally driven out to Pinnacle Mountain State Park for some pictures, but didn't really get anything out there. The dogwoods were blooming, but it was too windy to really get a good shot out of it. I ended up driving to downtown Little Rock for a short meeting, and on the way took a few pictures of the Stephens Building and the old courthouse and federal building, which was built between 1876 and 1881. It now serves as the home of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and the U.S. Marhsal Service. I hope it isn't bad luck to have the Bankruptcy building in the same shot as the Stephens building, which is home to the Stephens Inc. investment company...

And another shot of the blue sky and clouds reflected in the glass panels of the Stephens Building.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Highway 64

Our short tour of abandoned buildings along rural Arkansas roads comes to an end here, at a spot between Altus and Clarksville along Highway 64. Just off of the road sit a few old buildings, some empty and deserted, others looking as if they had just recently caught fire.

This old brick column sits alone, the building it supported being long gone.

And a view of the same column with another old building in the background. Part of the background building looks like it recently caught fire, though the column tends to hide most of the damage in this shot.

And another view of the old partially burned building:
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Just a short walk away is another old stone building, long ago abandoned to the elements. The stone construction has managed to still hold up, but the interior has been taken over by shrubs and some small trees. This is a bit of a detail of some vines growing up and taking over the outside of the building, along what must have been a window.

Monday, March 23, 2009


From Ozark I drove east along Hwy. 64 and went into the town of Altus. I took this shot of the side of an empty liquor store that is slowly being taken back over by nature:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Product Placement

My intention really wasn't to give Coke so much free advertising, but I saw this while driving through Ozark, Arkansas, and was compelled to stop.
Product Placement

I promise that my next post won't involve a soda machine....

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Scenes from Hwy. 23

Just down the road from Rock Store along Highway 23 was some sort of building which looked like maybe a small warehouse or some sort of business. It was listed as being up for lease, in case you're interested. The building comes with this nice old coke machine, sitting out in the middle of the dirt parking lot:
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And the coke machine with some sort of small factory in the background:
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Friday, March 20, 2009

Rock Store AR

As I made my way home, I traveled north on Hwy. 23 towards the town of Ozark. I've made this drive maybe a thousand times while visiting family in the area, passing by one particular sign. The sign is a typical sign that you would see as you pass into any city or town, except this one is set somewhat discretely to the side of the road, situated with a view of a pasture beyond. Usually these signs face the road, announcing your arrival into a town. But for some reason this sign sits off of the road, and is probably barely visible to the traffic that passes by.

The sign is for Rock Store AR, population 141. I have always been curious about this place, and how that sign came to be there. I tried to do some online research on this Rock Store, but came up with nothing. Google Maps doesn't acknowledge the existence of any town named that in the area (it says the spot where this sign is at is called Wittich, Arkansas). And a search for Rock Store, Arkansas, just comes up with a list of stores that sell rocks....
Rock Store AR

Thursday, March 19, 2009


On my way home on Sunday, I drove by the small town of Branch, Arkansas (population around 300). I saw this old lawnmower parked next to one of the dilapidated old buildings that was formally the heart of Branch, and got a quick shot:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Natural Dam

Before I made it to Charleston to pick up my cousin for the soccer game, I made a quick stop at the Natural Dam waterfalls in the Ozark National Forest. This is a really neat spot, where a wall of rock creates a nearly 200 foot wide dam on Mountain Fork Creek, and with it some neat waterfalls.
Natural Dam

I had never been there before, and was amazed by the place. It doesn't look real, it looks too perfect, almost man-made. But as the name suggests, it's all natural...

The falls are only about eight feet tall, but are easily reached. The road is just a few feet away.

I'd like to come back up here when this place is nearly flooded...

And one last shot - here you can see another cascade on the creek upstream:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


On Saturday I made the quick (if you can call five hours quick) trip down to Dallas to catch a preseason soccer game. FC Dallas was playing Clube Atletico Paranaense in the "USA-Brazil Challenge." During the first leg of the series in Brazil, CAP won 4-3. So in order to win the series, Dallas needed to win by two goals...

I went to the game with my cousin, so we left from Charleston to Dallas. A few hours later, we got to the stadium in time to watch some of the team's warming up.
It was a bit chilly out there, about 50 degrees outside or less. That was a major change from every other game we go to in Dallas, where its usually 105 degrees outside.

The game started out with a goal, thanks to Dallas forward Jeff Cunningham. He scored in the very first minute of the game. Of course, that was on the opposite end of the field from where we were sitting. Here are grainy and blurry shots that I was able to get:





Kenny Cooper

Here is one of Dallas' new players, who actually came to FCD from CAP. For some reason he looks really tiny in this shot:
David Ferreira


FC Dallas won the game 1-0, the only goal coming in the first minute of play. But that left the aggregate score tied for the series, so it went to penalty kicks. Here is a shot of the CAP goalkeeper blocking a pk by Dallas midfielder Andre Rocha, which would give them the victory and the trophy...

But that wouldn't be the end of the excitement for the night, and I would learn the important lesson that you shouldn't joke around with police officers.

Because of my being unemployed (and my cousin being a high school student), we couldn't really afford a hotel room, so we drove back to Arkansas that night - a long five hour drive. The highlight of the drive? When I got pulled over in Kiowa, Oklahoma. Now this town seemed like a perfect speed trap, the speed limit drops from 70 to 40, and after midnight I was sure cops would be out. And sure enough, I saw blue lights in the rear-view mirror.

I pulled over, and wondered why I was being stopped. I made sure I didn't speed through there. But when the officer got to the car he surprised me by saying he pulled me over because the light over my license plate was out. He asked me if I knew my light was out, and truthfully I said I didn't. That light must be one thing you hardly ever notice is out, and it's not like I do a 70-point inspection before I get into the car. I'd probably drive off without tires if I could.

So the officer took my license, and flashed his light several times throughout the car. He asked where we were going, and where we were coming from. I told him we were coming back from a soccer game in Dallas, and he didn't seem to believe me. "Are you coming back from Spring Break?" I guess the fact that my cousin and I were wearing soccer jerseys didn't faze him. Looking at my license, he asked, "do you have any warrants out for your arrest?"

"No sir, I don't" and then for some dumb reason immediately and jokingly said, "or not that I know of!" I don't know why I said that, but it was the wrong answer.

"Do you mind stepping out of the car?"

So I did, which made me think he was going to give me a Breathalyzer test. Which got me worried, I did drink a beer at the game - but that was hours ago, would it show up? But instead he asked me again, did I have any warrants out for my arrest. No, I told him, I seriously did not have any. He then asked if I had any drugs or weapons on me. No sir, I said, nothing. "No marijuana?" he asked again. "No sir, nothing."

"What about your little buddy in there?" he asked, referring to my cousin. I had to restrain myself from laughing there, because while my cousin is 16 he is taller than me and few people would consider him my little buddy.

"No sir, he doesn't have anything on him."

He asked me if he could search my car, and I said he could. I know that he couldn't really, since he had no warrant or probable cause. But other than a very messy trunk, I had nothing to hide. But he seemed to finally think that was the right answer, so he let us go. We made it back up to Charleston with no other problems, though there were a few other cops out along the freeway. But remember this lesson, if you're driving along Hwy. 69 in Kiowa, Oklahoma, make sure your license plate has a light on it.

But I'm glad I didn't at least get a ticket for using lame humor....

Friday, March 13, 2009

Cold day at Hot Springs

Yesterday I went to Hot Springs, one of my favorite cities in the state, to watch some high school basketball. Summit Arena in Hot Springs was hosting the state high school basketball finals, which included a game between the Charleston Lady Tigers and the Valley Springs Lady Tigers. I went there to cheer for Charleston, who ended up narrowly winning the game 41-40.

But before the game there was some free time to explore Hot Springs. It was just barely above freezing, with a light rain. The steam from the springs was billowing out from the display springs and fountains along Bathhouse Row, but ice was sticking to the trees along the hills ringing the city. We drove up one of the roads that steeply curves above the National Park, which were coated in a sheen of ice.
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Luckily the ice wasn't sticking to the roads, probably because it was about 70 degrees here a few days before. But it was a neat sight to drive through...