Tuesday, April 30, 2024


Not too far from Keo is the small town of England, another place that was established around agriculture (a large mural on a building there even shows cotton plants and farm equipment). There is a neat old house along the main road through England, and I always try to stop and get a picture of it whenever I'm passing through.


It's another one of those old and abandoned places that just leaves more questions than answers. When was this house built? Who lived here? Why was it eventually abandoned? What did they think, when they closed the door on this house for the last time?






Just a few blocks away, in the commercial area of town, is this intricate tile floor. These tiles were placed with precision and care, all part of a building that no longer exists. What replaced the building? Nothing, this is now used as a parking lot.


England is home to some massive silos and gins, which probably now process soybeans and rice. This is one of the older looking silos:


The little bit of machinery here is a Hydr-O-Flex Dumper, produced by the Air-O-Flex Equipment Company out of Minneapolis. It looks a little rusty, not sure if it's still working or not (I wonder if Air-O-Flex would be able to do any repairs?).


Sunday, April 28, 2024


From Scott, I drove east to a small oxbow lake near the town of Keo. The lake was once part of the Arkansas River, but the river moved on and left the oxbow lake behind. It stands, filled with thousands of tupelo trees.




Besides the tupelo trees, the lake is also home to a lot of duckweed. Which looks like algae but it's actually a tiny aquatic plant that floats on the surface of water. Since it was raining, there was a little bit of movement in the lake. The duckweed was caught in the current, drifting around and against the tupelo trees.




I drove back to Keo, which is another old farming community. And one product that Keo is known for is pecans. There are several massive groves of pecan trees around Keo, which have probably helped make countless numbers of pecan pies over the years.


Keo also has a good collection of historic buildings, including this old gin.


Not sure what this plant is, which has spread out around the former gin. It almost looks like bamboo?



Thursday, April 25, 2024


The small town of Scott is close enough to North Little Rock that it could possibly be considered a suburb now, but it still retains a lot of its small-town charm and history. And a lot of that history revolves around agriculture, which is reflected in the large number of old farming buildings there.



It's a place that I find myself returning to often to take pictures, because there are so many things there to take pictures of (it also helps that it isn't all that far from home).


Just down the road was this neat old barn...



Which was very photogenic so I took a bunch of pictures of it (my apologies to anyone who doesn't like old barn pictures).






As you drive south from Scott, the road is lined with many tall and stately pecan trees. The trees were planted over a century ago on the grounds of an old plantation.



I headed east and passed by this old abandoned store. This was probably once the company store for the Jones Colony, which was an agricultural resettlement area. There used to be a sign here that once read "Hamiter-Little Estate 1879," but the sign may have been knocked down when the front overhang collapsed. The store was partially burned a few years ago, but it still standing.



Sunday, April 21, 2024


It went from either a drizzle to a light rain as I drove downtown for a few pictures. I first went to North Little Rock, and walked out onto the long ramp that connects the new Broadway Bridge to Riverfront Park. I set up the tripod and used an umbrella to shield the camera, and got this panoramic view of the Arkansas River and the Little Rock skyline. There were even a few geese sitting on the grass in the park - I wonder if any of them know Sir Goosealot!


I headed across the river, and ended up climbing the steps of a parking deck along Main Street. It provided this view, which includes an office building in the foreground that is home to a state agency. It was night, and the building was empty, but all the lights were on and running. Our state tax dollars at work, I guess...


And on the other side of the parking deck was this view. Here you can see the First Presbyterian Church, which was built in 1921.


I headed down Main Street to another parking deck, which was mostly empty on this rainy night. But the deck had a nice view of the intersection of Main and Third Streets. A storm was moving through, and I hoped to get some lightning pictures from here. I didn't have any luck with the lightning, since it was more to the north. Oh well.

But I wasn't as diligent with protecting the camera from the rain, and some moisture managed to sneak in. My camera is now considered to be geriatric by current technology standards, and it starts to act wonky when it gets water in it like this. But I was able to get this shot before calling it a night and heading home to go put the camera in a bag of rice (which worked! Happy to report that the camera is back to normal now).


Thursday, April 18, 2024

Petit Jean

Jonah joined Cub Scouts, and last weekend was the first big campout that he's done with his pack. It was at Petit Jean Mountain, which is always a great choice for hiking and camping.

We got up there Saturday morning and did a hike along the Cedar Creek Trail, which is one of my favorites at the park. Like its name suggests, it runs along a scenic section of the creek above Cedar Falls.


We stopped and took a break next to a large bluff. Water was dripping off of the bluff into a large puddle, and the sun was hitting the ripples in the water and making a reflection back onto the bluff.


We camped overnight at the Group Campsite at Petit Jean, which might just be the best camping site in the state. It sits along Lake Bailey, so you can sit in your tent and watch the light change on the lake. We went to sleep that night listening to the sounds of a waterfall.


It also has an actual restroom (which is always appreciated), and electricity and water.




But we did have company at the campsite. We were constantly being watched by a Canadian goose, who would sneak in like a ninja to find any stray bits of food left behind by a wayward scout. While dinner was being cooked on Saturday night, it managed to slyly make its way over and steal an entire stick of butter. If any of the kids got too close to it, it would hiss at them like a cat. Despite that, they lovingly named it "Sir Goosealot."


Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The Eclipse

Yesterday was the solar eclipse, the celestial event that had been hyped for the past five years. And did it live up to all that hype? Yes, it did. It was amazing.

We went to watch the eclipse at Riverfront Park in North Little Rock, which was being promoted as the "Total Eclipse in the Park." We got there a few hours before totality, and were surprised to see that there weren't that many people around. Which was odd, because we had heard repeatedly that there was going to be a massive influx of visitors to Arkansas for the eclipse. The state predicted 1.5 million people would be traveling here. Grocery stores and gas stations would be overrun and empty. All the major roads and freeways would be snarled with bumper-to-bumper traffic. The governor declared a state of emergency...

And now it seems like all those dire forecasts kept a lot of people at home during the eclipse, in order to avoid all the crowds that didn't show up. But I guess I can't complain because we were able to claim a shady spot on the Riverfront Park lawn, and didn't have to deal with any traffic at all.

As it got closer to totality, you could see the changes in the light as it grew gradually dimmer. It was also at this time that our strong-willed toddler, Elliott, saw a bunch of boats in the river. Like so many small kids, he is completely obsessed with fire trucks, police cars and ambulances. And right before totality, there were a few boats from the police and sheriff's office in the water. This must have been a mind-blowing experience for him. He wanted me to hold him, so that he could better see the boats in the river. He didn't want to be held by any of three other adults there, just me. Which made for setting up the camera a bit tricky.

I held him in one arm, and then tried to make sure the camera was set correctly with the other hand. It was getting so close to totality. Street lights turned on. The sky turned a darker blue, like at dusk. The temperature dropped a few degrees. A sheriff's office boat headed downriver playing "Total Eclipse of the Heart," much to Elliott's enjoyment. And then it happened - totality. The sun was obscured by the moon, and it was a truly amazing thing to see in person. I can totally understand now why people travel across the country to see this. People around us clapped and cheered, all of us sharing the communal experience of the "cosmic ballet" together.

So here is my picture of the total solar eclipse over the downtown Little Rock skyline, taken during totality. It was also taken while holding a squirming toddler, who kept saying "police boat Dada!" in my ear.

Black Hole Sun

Saturday, April 6, 2024


Spring Break was ending and it was time to head home. We packed up the car, loaded up the kids, and started the long drive back to Arkansas. Before leaving, I took one last photo of the beach.


We were making the drive back home all in one trip, so it kinda cut down on the amount of stops along the way. But I was able to stop once for a picture, in the small and amusingly-named town of Transylvania, Louisiana. I wasn't attacked by any bats or vampires when I stopped to get a picture of the old elementary school, which has been abandoned for about 20 years.


Friday, April 5, 2024

Fort Pickens

Just a short drive from the seafood restaurants, beach homes, hotels, resorts and souvenir shops on Pensacola Beach is Fort Pickens. It sits on a stretch of land that has been preserved as the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Along the with the old fort, there are a few other historic buildings and a fishing pier. When we arrived, we walked out on the pier and saw this guy, who was waiting for any offerings from the many people fishing.


The people who weren't fishing were looking up in the sky, since the Blue Angels were out doing some practice flights.


And then we began the tour of Fort Pickens. After the War of 1812, the US government sought to better defend all of its major ports. Pensacola Bay, and its Navy yard, was considered to be of upmost importance. So a series of forts were planned on the barrier islands around Pensacola Bay. Fort Pickens was the largest of the forts, and construction began in 1829 and was completed in 1834.


Over 21.5 million bricks were used in the construction of the fort. The labor was provided by enslaved people, who toiled in difficult conditions. Many suffered heat exhaustion, and others caught yellow fever. When it was completed, it was one of the largest brick structures along the Gulf Coast.



During its long history, the only time the fort was under attack was during the Civil War. The fort remained in US control during the entire war, despite attacks from confederate troops in 1861. During the war, the fort would become a destination on the Underground Railroad, as enslaved people would travel there to become emancipated.



The fort was much larger than I thought it would be. There were lots of areas to look around and explore.



After the Civil War, a large number of prisoners from the Indian Wars were sent to Fort Pickens. Among the members of the Apache that were held here was Geronimo.




These narrow brick passages were already considered obsolete by the 1890s, as better technology meant different types of defensive weapons were needed. Part of the parade ground in the middle of the fort was taken up by larger and more modern canons. And mines were stored at Fort Pickens, which could be placed in Pensacola Bay if it came under attack.


In 1899, a fire in the fort reached one of the bastions that held about 8,000 pounds of gunpowder. The resulting explosion completed destroyed the bastion and sent bricks flying for over a mile and half.


Additional defensive batteries were added to the lands around the fort after World War I, and then more were added during World War II.



After World War II, the fort was considered fully obsolete, since the Blue Angels could probably better attack an enemy ship than a few old canons could. The fort was made a part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore in 1972.



But maybe the biggest threat to the fort hasn't been confederate artillery or German U-boats. It's been Mother Nature. The old fort has been hit by a few hurricanes over the years, and has had to close for repairs and restorations.



It was an interesting place to visit. It's hard to think about what it must have been like way back when it was being built. Or to have been a soldier there in the summer heat being on the look-out for enemy ships. Would people 150 years ago have been able to imagine that tourists in the future would be taking selfies there? Or that people would be able to simply hop in their air-conditioned car and drive down the road to go and eat a bunch of fried shrimp from a place like Peg Leg Pete's?