Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Emerald Park

The other day we took a little stroll through Emerald Park, which sits atop the "Big Rock" in North Little Rock. The park gets its name from French explorers, who were heading up the Arkansas River in the 1700s. They heard from some of the Native Americans (presumably the Quapaw?) that there was a large green rock along the river. Their description must have been lost in translation, because the French explorers believed that it would be a massive emerald. But when they made it up the river, they saw that it was instead just a hill covered with trees. It was named “Le Rocher Fran├žais” (the French Rock). This set it apart from the smaller bluff nearby, which was called “Petit Rocher” (Little Rock).

A good chunk of the Big Rock is missing, there was a massive quarry here that removed about 20,000,000 tons of rock. But it makes you wonder what this would have looked like it if had been allowed to remain in its natural state. The first explorers described it as "having three steep peaks, with stone 'hard as flint,' and a waterfall." There are several trails that wind through the park, providing some great views. Here is one view, of the bluffs and river. In the distance is the state capitol:

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Sunday, October 22, 2023

Starry Night

In a few months I'm going to be able to visit a National Park out West that is known for having some of the darkest skies in the country, so I've been wanting to get out and do some night photography as a little practice run. I was able to get out the other day and visit an old abandoned church near Scott, and tried to get some star trails. This attempt was much better than my last try. I remembered to bring the camera, the battery, the tripod and the shutter release. And luckily, this time I managed to succeed in not having the lens fog up and ruin most of the shots!

I set up the camera, which was set to take a :30 second exposure continuously for about two hours. It was quiet out by the old church, except for a few large combines in the field nearby that were working deep into the night. The combines were kicking up a ton of dust. At one point I turned on the flashlight, and the falling dust in the beam of light was so thick it looked like falling snow. But here is the final product, which is a combination of all of those :30 second shots from that night...

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Before I left, I moved the camera over to get another angle of the church and the blanket of stars shining above:

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Thursday, October 19, 2023

Chester Street

A little bit of traffic along Chester Street, in downtown Little Rock. Many years ago I used to work on Chester, as a camera and master control operator at KTHV-11. The one big thing I miss about that job was that the station was right by Vino's, the live music and pizza place. When we had to go run the camera outside in the "Weather Garden," the smell of pizza would drift over. It would be like a cartoon, where the smell would hit your nose and try to drag you over there. Now I want one of their calzones....

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Sunday, October 15, 2023

AMFA

This is the view of the backside of the brand-new Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts in Little Rock's MacArthur Park. Here you can see the museum restaurant, which just had its hours extended into dinner service. It is a great place to stop for a meal or drinks. The windows provide expansive views out onto the park. Not sure how the people there felt about the weird guy lurking in the trees that night taking pictures though...

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Sunday, October 8, 2023

Pleasant Cove

The tornado that tore across Central Arkansas on March 31 hit the Little Rock neighborhood of Walnut Valley the hardest. It was here that it was at its largest and most violent. Many of the homes in the neighborhood received severe damage, and hundreds of trees were knocked down. 

Elliott's Pre-k school is in the neighborhood, so I drive through here every day. It's still breathtaking to see the damage in person. In the months since the storm, most of the damaged homes have been torn down and the debris has been removed. But it's chilling to see the empty lots, devoid of any buildings or trees. It resembles those "urban prairies," the vast barren tracts that disguise what a vibrant neighborhood this once was. There are still a few damaged houses that haven't been torn down, sitting broken and shattered, like a time capsule back to that awful day in March.

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I spoke with someone in our neighborhood today whose house received significant damage from the tornado. He shared with us the sad and frustrating reality that he and other neighbors have been dealing with since the storm. Many home owners have been in an extended battle with their insurance companies, who aren't paying out enough to cover the full cost to repair or rebuild homes. The cost of construction has gone up since the pandemic, and for some the cost to rebuild would be more than double what they paid for their homes. And way more than what the insurance companies valued the property. For many people, it's just too expensive to rebuild.

Who knows how long it will be before the areas impacted from the storm will recover. Sadly, it doesn't look like it will be any time soon.

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Monday, October 2, 2023

Pinnacle

Made a quick little visit to Pinnacle Mountain State Park the other day on my lunch break, since I hadn't taken any pictures lately and was starting to get jittery. It wasn't the best timing, it was still hot and sunny (which isn't usually the best conditions for pictures). Plus I had a meeting to attend that meant I needed to rush back fairly soon.

I stopped by the old bridge over the Little Maumelle River, which is now used by hikers on the Ouachita Trail and people fishing. I got a few pictures before hurrying back to the car.

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By the visitor's center, there is a small lake that sits beneath tall bluffs. There is a wooden boat dock that stretches out into the water, which could possibly make for a neat picture. I walked in some funky smelling mud and managed to get a few pictures before heading back to work just in time for the meeting...

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