Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Boxley Valley

After the Lost Valley hike, I got back in the car and took a little drive through the amazingly beautiful and scenic Boxley Valley. The first stop was the Beechwoods Church, which was built in 1918.


The door was unlocked so I invited myself in, the church interior is remarkably well-maintained for being over 100 years old.


The church pews inside were in good shape as well, if only just a little bit dusty.


The cemetery outside the church is home to the oldest marked grave in Boxley Valley (1848), and is the final resting place for many of the original settlers of the Valley.


Down the road is this old barn, which dates back to 1915.



Besides old barns and churches, Boxley is also home to a herd of elk. Some of them were hanging out in this field by a tree beginning to show a few signs of Spring.


One of the most prominent buildings in the Valley is the old Boxley Baptist Church. It was built in 1899 but was replaced by a newer church in the 1950s. It's still used as a community center.




One of my favorite barns in Boxley sits at the end of the valley, at the base of a mountain. The barn was built in the 1920s.


The barn sits by a spring that people have used for generations to get water.



And one last shot of the barn, looking through this old structure (which was used to load cattle maybe?).


Sunday, March 29, 2020

Lost Valley

So things have been a bit wacky lately, right? My work has been kind enough to let me start working from home, so I'm not going to be coughed on from any sick co-workers (and also not sitting in traffic in the mornings). We had plans to go to a concert in Memphis, which was of course cancelled. But I thought I might take advantage of the day I scheduled to take off work and try to get a few pictures out before things would be shut down. I decided to visit Lost Valley, which is a pretty trail and one that I hadn't been to in a few years. I assumed that since there was a pandemic, and it was a weekday, that I would have the trail to myself. But I was shocked to see a few cars in the parking lot - they were mostly from out of state (Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma and even one from New Jersey). I forgot that it was Spring Break in a lot of places.

It wasn't too crowded and I tried to my best to social distance from any other hikers. It was easy to keep distance when you can make lots of stops to get pictures along the creek, which was flowing well after some recent heavy rains.


Lost Valley

The trail at Lost Valley is short, but it is compact. It passes by several waterfalls and caves (and even a waterfall inside a cave). For the most part, the trail runs alongside Clark Creek as it passes through the collapsed remains of an old cave system. Lost Valley was once a cave, but the roof collapsed many eons ago. What remains is this small valley and one of the most popular trails in the Buffalo National River.

Lost Valley

Lost Valley

Lost Valley

Clark Creek

Although it was Spring Break, Spring was just about to start settling in at Lost Valley.

And I — I took the one most traveled by...

A few wildflowers were beginning to pop up amongst the fallen leaves on the ground, I think this is an Ozark trillium.

In bloom

Usually when you're hiking and you pass by another hiker, you let out a polite "hey." But since most of the other hikers were from Texas, there were lots of people who said "howdy."

Finders Keepers

Further down the trail is the Natural Bridge, which isn't really a bridge but is actually the mouth of the collapsed cave. The falls drop into a small pool that is surrounded by limestone boulders and bluffs.

Lost Valley

The creek flows below the base of Cob Cave, which is actually the base of a massive bluff shelter that got its name from century-old corn cobs that are believed to have been left by Native Americans (maybe the Osage).

Lost Valley

At the edge of the bluff sits Eden Falls, the crown jewel of Lost Valley. The falls are about 53 feet tall.

Eden Falls

Eden Falls

The trail runs uphill and visits a cave, where there was a family about to go in (which I didn't head in because of social distancing and because I didn't have a flashlight). I then headed back, but did make one last stop at this small but scenic waterfall.

Lost Valley

There was a carpet of moss around the falls, which was nice because I had been going through a bit of a mossy waterfall withdrawal after our visit to the Pacific Northwest last month.

Lost Valley

Lost Valley

Next to the waterfall was this leaf, which had been caught against the moss. There was a stream of water cascading off the leaf, creating a tiny waterfall (I did not place the leaf there!).

All That You Can't Leaf Behind

And one last shot, a bit of close-up shot of the leaf. This was a bit tricky because water from the falls was splashing against the camera lens.

Lost Valley

Friday, March 27, 2020

This Old House

There is an old house that you might have driven by if you are heading between Clarksville and the Buffalo River. The old house has long been abandoned, sitting in a field behind a barbed wire fence. It's a place I always try by stop at if I'm in the area, just to check to see how it's doing. So recently when I was up there I was a little sad to see that the house was in pretty bad shape. Part of the front was gone, exposing a gaping hole where a window and wall used to be. There's no telling how much longer this old house will be here.

This Old House

To compare and contrast - this is a view of the house taken back in 2012:

This Old House

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Washington: Cedar Creek Grist Mill

So this is the last post from our vacation to The Pacific Northwest, which we managed to take right before all the craziness with Coronavirus started and you could still travel. But before we went on our trip, there was one place that I had seen pictures of before and I really wanted to visit. Luckily it wasn't too far from Portland and I was able to squeeze in time to make a little drive up to see it one afternoon. The place is the beautiful Cedar Creek Grist Mill, located across the Columbia River in Washington.

Milling About

The mill was built in 1876, and sits next to a scenic covered bridge. The bridge was actually built in 1994, and it replaced a bridge that dated back to 1934.


The trees along the creek were coated with moss, which covered the tree trunks and even the limbs and branches.

Got Mill-k?

And a panoramic view of the mill and the covered bridge, as the creek rushed by below.

Cedar Creek

And the view of the bridge, which didn't have much traffic that day.

Cedar Creek

And finally, one last shot of the mill and Cedar Creek. This had been a great little trip (the only downside was that it was too short). Looking forward to making another trip up there (although I'm not sure when that will be since we will having another kid in a few months, but hopefully sometime soon!).

Mills On Wheels

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Oregon: Portland

I wish we had a longer trip so that we could have done more in Portland, which is one of the coolest cities in the US. There are so many breweries, great restaurants and funky shops there. We stayed in a little place by Hawthorne Street and spent a good chunk of our time there (mostly at the Back Stage Bar at the Bagdad Theater). I had this one song stuck in my head while we were there....

Portland was founded way back in 1845, back when this was near the end of the Oregon Trail. It has since grown into the second largest city in the Pacific Northwest. We did head into downtown Portland one afternoon and walked around some. We passed by Pioneer Square, which has this view of the Pioneer Courthouse. The courthouse was built between 1869 and 1903 and is the second oldest federal building west of the Mississippi River and the oldest in the Pacific Northwest.


I dodged people on the sidewalk and tried to get a shot of the trees and buildings that line the square.


Next to the courthouse were fountains which were adorned with statues of local wildlife. Here are some frolicking otters enjoying the dry fountains.

You Otter Know

One night we stopped at one of the most iconic places in downtown Portland - the White Stag sign. The massive sign was first built in 1940 and greets people crossing over the river on the Burnside Bridge. It's such a neat thing to have downtown that I wish Little Rock could copy it and make our own version (if I won the lottery or was an eccentric millionaire I would totally build one and donate it to the city).


Monday, March 9, 2020

Oregon: Tillamook

We left the coast and rushed towards Portland since we had dinner reservations (at Bamboo Sushi, very good). But we had to make another stop in Tillamook because a massive and vivid rainbow was stretching across the road in front of us.

Rainbow Connection

Tillamook was incorporated in 1891 and has a population of about 5,000 people. The town is nicknamed "The land of Cheese, Trees and Ocean Breeze," and is home to the Tillamook Cheese Creamery (I wish we had time for cheese tasting). We did have time for one quick shot of the rainbow over the Tillamook County Courthouse, which was built in 1933.

The land of Cheese, Trees and Ocean Breeze

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Oregon: Cape Meares

From Cannon Beach we headed south, following the coast as the road curved up and around mountains and forests. It was a slow drive, since there were many scenic viewpoints to stop at and take pictures.

On The Waterfront

We drove to Cape Meares State Park, which sits on a headland over 200 feet above the ocean. There are some great views at the park, including this one looking towards these massive cliffs. The cliffs highlight the geologic activity that long ago created the Oregon coast. Here you can spot dark lines in the rock, which are basalt that was formed from lava flows about 15 million years ago. The lava came from a massive volcano that was located hundreds of miles away in what is now Idaho, and amazingly that volcano is still active (it has shifted over time thanks to the continental drift - it's now the volcano that sits underneath Yellowstone).

Caped Crusader

There is a small lighthouse at the end of Cape Meares, which was built in 1890. It's only 38 feet high and is the shortest lighthouse in Oregon. It operated until 1963, but it is still open for tours during most of the year (except when we were there, naturally).

Shine On

And the view looking south from Cape Meares, as the waves rushed towards the shore.

Cape Meares

One of the beaches you can see from that picture is called Short Beach, so we headed down that way to explore. There is a trail to Short Beach that is short, but it is steep as it drops down the hill. It's a neat little spot, the beach is covered with stones that have been made smooth and curved after being exposed to the relentless waves of the Pacific.

Rock and roll

Short Creek flows into the ocean here, passing by a nearby rock that is part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge.

Short Beach