Thursday, June 30, 2022

Bacon Hotel

Located along some train tracks and sitting amid a moat of tall grasses and weeds is the old and abandoned Bacon Hotel.

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The two-story hotel sits in the small community of Whitehall, in Poinsett County. It was built by a man named James Bacon way back in 1912 and mostly served timber company officials or traveling salespeople.

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But the hotel only operated for a few years (which is surprising, with a name like Bacon Hotel you'd think it'd have more customers).

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The building would then become housing for families who worked on nearby farms, and was occupied until the 1950s. After that it was left vacant and abandoned. In one window is a faded and worn curtain, which occasionally flutters as it catches a breeze through the broken glass.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Riverfront Park

The other day I had some free time, so I took a quick trip with the infrared camera to Riverfront Park in downtown Little Rock. There are a few neat spots as the park stretches across the banks of the Arkansas River. There is the Junction Bridge, which was an old railroad crossing that has been converted into a pedestrian bridge.

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Nearby is a tunnel made of vines (I posted a picture of it in the last post). It was a popular spot, since it was a nice shady spot to sit on a warm June day. I got this picture from the inside:

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Further down the park is the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden, which now contains over 100 sculptures from artists across the country. One of the sculptures was this blue pony, in a piece called "Dancing Pony" by Kevin Box. According to the city of Little Rock's website: "Origami, paper planes, and crumpled ideas inspire the artist’s constant exploration with a love of paper. The sculpture piece is a result of collaborating with the origami master Te Tui Fu."

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It proved to be a cool place to walk through, since the mix of sculptures with the decorative grasses and plants in the gardens looked really neat with the infrared camera. Here you can see a sculpture called "Mirage" by Ted Schaal on the right, and one called "Wiseguy" by Tim Cherry on the left. In the back is a sculpture called "Bunny Bump" by Laurel Peterson Gregory.

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Nearby was this sculpture called "Boris," which was modeled after a French Bulldog owned by Dr. Dean Kumpuris who is an At-Large City Director and who was the person who came up with the idea of having a sculpture garden here in Riverfront Park. One could argue that it's not shocking that a sculpture of the dog owned by the person who runs the park was selected to be there. But then again, I would totally put a sculpture of my dogs in the park if I had the chance.

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This is one more view of the sculpture "Bunny Bump," by Laurel Peterson Gregory. The city's website says: "The artist depicts playfulness and lightness of heart with bunnies having a blast doing the bump. Lines generate of sense of motion, and the use of no facial features allow the viewer to imagine expressions."

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Nearby was this sculpture, called "Renewal Ritual" by Denny Haskew. It features a row of people sitting cross-legged, which the city website describes as "Wanting to show the ritual used by a couple to renew their commitment to one another, then using many colors or people and different conversations between different genders it shows society ability to sit down and converse with one another." Which reminds me of a story, of back when sitting cross-legged like this was called sitting "Indian-style" (kids now call it "criss-cross applesauce"). But when I was a little kid, I thought that it was called sitting "Indian-style" because that's how we were taught to sit at the elementary school I attended at the time - Indian Hills Elementary in North Little Rock.

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And a wide shot of the sculpture garden, with the Little Rock Marriott hotel in the background.

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On the left is a sculpture titled "Brazil" by artist Carol Gold. The city website describes this piece as "After her visit to Brazil, the artist expressed a reaction to the disparity between the wealthy and the very poor. ‘Brazil’ is one of a series of mostly male, silent and solitary figures."

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And this view looking towards the river, with the Broadway Bridge in the distance.

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After that I walked back the car and started driving home. But along the way I stopped for one last picture, from the backside of the State Capitol:

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Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Downtown

There was an unfortunate few weeks recently where I didn't take any new pictures (the last few posts published here on this blog were from pictures all taken back at the end of April). Part of that long delay was thanks to a little visit I had from a visitor called Covid-19. The pandemic finally caught up with me, even if I was one of those strange people that still tried to wear a mask. It also got Jonah, who managed to get by with a very mild infection (he lost his voice and was puny for one day, but otherwise was unfazed - thank goodness). I didn't fare as well, for about two weeks I felt really weak and would get fatigued really easily.

But once I started feeling better (and wasn't contagious), I got the camera and headed out one night after putting the kids to bed. I headed downtown and looked for something interesting to attempt to photograph. Eventually I pulled over into an empty parking lot and got this shot of a weathered sign, with the Simmons Bank Building in the background.

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Later I parked, and then walked through Riverfront Park along the Arkansas River Trail as it passed under a tunnel that was covered in plants and vines. It looked kinda neat with the infrared camera.

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I walked over to the H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden, which sits at the base of the Main Street Bridge by the Statehouse Convention Center. The Korean-syle gate was built at a cost of $1.4 million in honor of Haeng Ung Lee, who was the co-founder of the American Taekwondo Association and was its Eternal Grand Master. The ATA was headquartered in Little Rock and the gate was meant to be a symbol of friendship between South Korea and the U.S. and as a monument to taekwondo.

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From there I hurried over to where I parked my car, in the parking deck by the main branch of the Central Arkansas Library System. Besides being a convenient place to park, the deck provides an awesome view of the River Market and President Clinton Avenue. I was there just in time for sunset:

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I hurried out of the deck and tried to catch a few pictures before sunset. I pulled over along Markham Street to try to get a few pictures of the historic Capitol Hotel.

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The hotel opened in 1873 and was considered to be finest hotel in the city (boasting fancy offerings like gas lighting and indoor plumbing). It is claimed that the hotel's large elevators were built to accommodate President Grant's horses (although some have noted that the large elevators were actually added in the 1980s). The Capitol Hotel has survived and thrived downtown, unlike several other of the notable hotels that once stood nearby. The Manning Hotel and the Hotel Marion, which stood just across the street from the Capitol, were all imploded in 1980 to make way for the Statehouse Convention Center and the Excelsior Hotel (a video of the implosion can be seen here).

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I ended up driving west, going from the Capitol Hotel to the State Capitol. I stopped to get this shot of the Capitol, reflected in a puddle. I guess it's fitting how the Capitol is reflected in a gutter, since that's where most of our state's politicians seem to be hanging out lately...

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And then one last shot of the old Union Station, which was built way back in 1921.

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Friday, June 10, 2022

Mt Judea

Deep in the Ozark Mountains sits the small community of Mt. Judea, which has a population of around 110. But for being such a small town, it boasts several neat and photogenic spots. For example, there was this old abandoned store with a rusty old Pepsi sign.

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And oddly enough, another rusty sign that was for Coke. I guess I should have checked the other side to see if there was one for Dr. Pepper or Sprite.

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And just outside of Mt. Judea is this grand old home, sitting alone and abandoned in a field. I wish I knew how old this place was, and how long it's been abandoned. I bet it's amazing on the inside.

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And probably one of the steepest and curviest roads in the state is Hwy. 123 which runs south of Mt. Judea towards Sam's Throne. It's a lot of fun to drive, and worth doing because the views from the overlooks at Sam's Throne are among the best in Arkansas.

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Monday, June 6, 2022

Balanced Rock Falls

After finishing the hike to Paradise Falls, Zack and I decided to try one more waterfall while we were in the area, so we drove towards the Buffalo River to do the hike to Balanced Rock Falls. The hike starts off along Leatherwood Creek, a scenic little stream that flows into the Buffalo River near Ponca. There are lots of little cascades and waterfalls along the creek, which we of course stopped to take pictures of.

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Soon we left the creek and went up a steep drainage to see Balanced Rock Falls. The falls get their name from the large boulder that has somehow parked itself right above the waterfall. It makes you think that if you put your foot in the wrong place, the rock will dislodge and roll after you like in an Indiana Jones movie.

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And one last shot from the hike, taken with the infrared camera while looking down the small drainage towards Leatherwood Creek below:

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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Paradise Falls

Paradise Falls definitely lives up to its name, since it is one of the prettiest waterfalls in the Ozarks. The falls sit within the Upper Buffalo Wilderness of the Ozark National Forest and can be reached by a difficult 2.5 mile hike/bushwhack. Zack and I headed out there early in the morning, and followed the trail as it dropped downhill and then followed the creek. There were several nice little waterfalls and cascades along the way.

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It had poured rain the night before, so we were lucky that there was a nice amount of water in the creek.

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And soon enough you reach Paradise Falls, which tumbles 32 feet into a deep turqouise pool. The lush forest around the falls really does make it seem like a tropical paradise.

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We stayed there for awhile, taking pictures and enjoying the view (and putting off the hike back to the car).

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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The Buffalo

A few weeks back I drove up Hwy. 7 and met up with Zack Andrews, a great friend and a great photographer. We drove around the Ozarks, searching for some interesting things to photograph. We went into the woods and found this old abandoned home, which still had some furniture sitting out on the collapsing front porch.

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I peeked inside, which probably wasn't the wisest choice since the floor let out a startling creak when I stepped on the rotten wooden boards. I hurried to get this picture of an old sofa before heading back out to safer ground.

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We drove on and crossed the Little Buffalo River and then went to a small overlook that provided this view. The Little Buffalo River runs on the opposide side of this field, just behind the line of trees.

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I had the infrared camera with me so I got a few shots:

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A bit later we stopped by this field, which had this lone tree standing tall amongst the pasture grasses.

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From there we headed down into the amazingly scenic and historic Boxley Valley, which easily ranks as one of the prettiest places in the state of Arkansas. We stopped by this old barn, which I know I've shot tons of pictures of already but I think it's my favorite old barn in the Ozarks.

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The barn was built in the 1920s and sits next to a spring that people still use as a source of drinking water.

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We got back in the car and passed by the historic Boxley Baptist Church, which was built in 1899. Late evening light was streaming through the valley and illuminating the mountains behind the church.

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We did walk over to the Buffalo River, which was showing off some deep turquoise waters. The bluish tint in the water is from dissolved limestone.

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The next day, after some hiking we were driving around and visited a spot along the river called The Blue Hole. There was a little overlook, so I got this picture with the infrared camera.

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And then one last shot from along the Buffalo River, as the sun lit up the trees along the bluffs. While we were there, a few people in kayaks drifted by.

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