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.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Old Mill

One night after work I hurried across the river to North Little Rock to try to get some pictures at the Old Mill before it got dark. The fall colors weren't as vivid there as I had hoped they would be, but the recent heavy rains did provide plenty of fuel for the small waterfall there.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Pinnacle Mountain State Park

On Halloween Day, I left work on my lunch break and made the short drive to Pinnacle Mountain State Park. I had just enough time to walk the short Arkansas Arboretum Trail, which was looking quite vivid with all the fall colors.


It had been raining all day, but I somehow lucked into going during a short break in the rainfall. The wet weather did help in saturating the color in the trees, which I attempted to capture with the camera before heading back to work.


Monday, November 19, 2018

Burns Park

I headed out to try to get a few more fall color pictures, and ended up driving through Burns Park in North Little Rock. The first stop was the old cabin, which was actually built before the Civil War. The cabin was the home to some of the earliest settlers in the area, who ran a shop along the road running between Little Rock and Fort Smith. The cabin was located outside of the park and was in rough shape, and in 1972 was transported to its current location (which is a good spot, it's right by a small cemetery where some of its former inhabitants are buried).


Just down the road is the covered bridge, which as a NLR native I can say that we are all contractually obligated to have our pictures taken here at least once (along with the Old Mill).


There are a few hiking trails in the park, including this one that runs past the covered bridge.


Burns Park is the largest municipal park in the state (growing up in Dogtown we were told it was the largest in the country, but I'm guessing that might not exactly be true now). The land was donated to the city by the army, who used it for training during World War I. The park is still home to the rocket slide, numerous playgrounds and places for soccer, tennis and baseball. This was taken along one of the roads in the park, on a rainy day.


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Fletcher Creek Bridge

One good thing about my work (besides the fact that they give me a paycheck) is that our office is located way out on the western fringe of Little Rock. It means I don't have to fight traffic while heading downtown, and also that the office is conveniently located to places that are great for taking pictures. One such example is this covered bridge, which I drove out to visit during my lunch break on a rainy day last month. The fall colors were nearing peak, and were also saturated a bit by all the rain.


Monday, November 12, 2018

Foggy morning along the Buffalo

I had made all sorts of optimistic plans for the morning, where I would quickly drive across several beautiful spots along the Buffalo River before we had to check out of our cabin and return home. But of course, I ended up forgetting to set my alarm and I overslept. So after waking up I sleepily grabbed the camera and managed to make it out of the cabin with some time remaining to take a few pictures.

The conditions were perfect (at least for photography). Thick fog had shrouded the mountains, and a light rain was saturating the fall colors. It was one of the days that you just wanted to stop every five feet to take pictures of something different.



I ended up passing through Boxley Valley again, and made a few stops at some places that I missed the day before. This is a shot of the old Villines Cabin, a log house that is believed to have been built in 1853. The house eventually was used as a barn.


And a few more shots from Boxley:





From there I headed back over to Steele Creek, slowly following the curvy road down to the river.



The thick fog was clinging to the top of the mountains, while the river and the campground was still pretty quiet.



On the way back to the cabin I followed a dirt road which passed by this old building, nearly obscured by trees and brush.


And one last shot, taken while heading back to the cabin. This old white barn sat right by the road, with a perfect view of fog-covered hills behind it.


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Boxley Valley

The fog was beginning to lift as I slowly drove the curvy road down into Boxley Valley, which always ranks as one of the most scenic stretches along the Buffalo River. It was early on a Wednesday morning, but there was already a line of cars parked along the road, and a number of people were standing in the dewy grass watching the elk. I pulled over and joined them, but first ended up taking pictures of the fence along the road. Some spiderwebs along the barbwire fence caught the morning dew, while some last remaining fog drifted along the mountain behind the field.


The spider who must have spun those webs was hanging out along the fence a little ways down, waiting for the first catch of the day. It seemed appropriate since Halloween was just a few days away.


The reason so many people had stopped here is because the elk were actually pretty close to the fence, providing a good close-up view. People were trying to snap photos of the elk using everything from a flip-phone to a massive camera with a lens the size of my arm.




The elk grew tired of the paparazzi following them around and began to walk away, so I decided to call it a morning and head back to the cabin. Since it was our vacation, and I was awake super early, it seemed like a good idea to head back to the cabin and take a nap.

After some rest, Caroline and I headed back out later that day and made another visit to Boxley. The first stop was this old building, which sits in a field along the way to Lost Valley.

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Nearby is the old Beechwoods Church, which was built in 1918. The church is right by the Beechwoods Cemetery, which contains the oldest marked grave in Boxley Valley (1848).


Back on the main road we stopped at this weathered old barn, which was built way back in 1915.


Down the road is another old barn (there are lots of old barns here), which sits near the old Boxley mill.


We stopped again at this old barn, sitting peacefully in a field just below Cave Mountain.


Down the road was this barn, which is surrounded by trees which were just beginning to show their autumn colors. The barn dates back to 1920.


The old Boxley Steam mill, which operated between 1940 and 1976 was once the largest employer in the valley. Not it's quiet, and rusting away.



While heading back through the valley we stopped again at this old barn, which was built sometime around 1900.


The Buffalo River flows through Boxley Valley, but you can't really see it much from the road. So we headed out on foot to a little spot along the Buffalo, which was just amazingly scenic.


A few large boulders sit in the turquoise water, which is partially fed by a nearby spring.



And one last shot, this was such a beautiful spot that it was hard to leave.

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Later that night we had dinner at the Low Gap Cafe, which was delicious and highly recommended.