Chasing Arkansas Waterfalls

Chasing Arkansas Waterfalls

Scott and I are collectors. We love to collect things, but because we are trying to live travel-ready, we do not want to collect things. When we decided to move into an RV to start Park Hosting, we thoughtfully decided to start collecting experiences instead of objects. So, now instead of object collecting dust in our home, the back of our SUV collects road dust from all the places we have been. Our collections range from collecting counties to state and national parks to specific special places. One of these are waterfalls in the state of Arkansas. With over 200 waterfalls in Arkansas, this gives us plenty of time to explore and see what amazing places there are in this natural state.

Scott and I downstream from Natural Dam

One of the places we love to visit in Arkansas is the Ouachita National Forest where you will find the Ouachita Mountains. Granted these are not the type of mountains you find in the Rocky Mountain, Great Pyrenees, or the Andies, but they are mountains to us and one of our favorite places. We have often found ourselves thinking about living within the area, but there is still so much more to visit so we must not stop here! On this trip, we decided to specifically find as many waterfalls as we could. We found four of the named waterfalls and plenty of little cascades that are found all throughout the area.

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There are so many beautiful places in Arkansas.

Crooked Creek Waterfall is one of the first waterfalls we came across in our travel into the Ouachita National Forest. At first, we were not sure if we would find it flowing strong, but as we drove through a stream just above the falls, we were pleasantly surprised. It seemed to be an area that many people loved to camp and visit. Because I am not always very sturdy on my feet, I stayed up above the falls with Cordie. Because there had been recent rain, the river stone was slippery.

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Crooked Creek Falls in Ouachita National Forest.

The colors of the trees were just breathtaking. I was afraid we had missed the fall foliage, but it seems we were just in time. There were not as many reds as I would l have liked, but we still saw red here and there. Scott had wanted to travel into to the Sand Gap area in Arkansas, but we would have had to camp and I was still a bit nervous about the weather. Fortunately, he is rather forgiving and never put it in my face that they were having record colors if that is even a thing. As we drove through the forest from waterfall to waterfall we had all but forgotten Sand Gap. It was well worth it, I would say.

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The Little Missouri Falls that is located at a trailhead within the Ouachita National Forest.

The Little Missouri Falls was more of a cascade than a waterfall, however, it was well worth the stop. This is the location of a 7,000-year-old campsite where archeologists found many artifacts. This is also the area where you will find mainly shortleaf pine and plenty of black bears. The CCC build up this area with a viewing area and steps leading down to the rivers edge.

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Blaylock Falls sits at the crook of the river and provides wonderful views of history.

Blaylock Falls was, in my opinion, the best fall of them all. Here you were able to see the way the rock was folded under great pressure when the area now known as Texas was pushed up against the area. This forced the mountains all around the Ouachita area to rise. When I first learned about this process, I was stunned and could not imagine what it would look like, but here you can actually see what happened! If you would like to learn more about this process, you can view our video HERE for more information.

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Taking early morning photos of Rich Mountain on the Talimena Drive.

The trip to the capture many of the Arkansas waterfalls was fun, but definitely not long enough. We visited one other “waterfall” but it was most definitely more of a cascade. The park was beautiful and it will be one we visite again, but when the days are not quite so cold. I found this river to more like Perdanelas Falls in Texas with the giant smooth river rocks that created the rolling river. This is a spot that kayakers love to ride and it is a place I would love to experience again soon.

Thanks so much joining us on another adventure.

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Scott’s Friday Photo – Sequoyah Park, Tahlequah Oklahoma

Scott’s Friday Photo – Sequoyah Park, Tahlequah Oklahoma

On our way to Arkansas to enjoy the fall colors, Ren and I stopped at a small city park, Sequoyah Park, to stretch our legs and take the dog for a short walk. This is a pretty little park near downtown, and the trees were in fine color, so naturally, I took some photos. It was on a Friday morning so we pretty much had the park to ourselves. I thought the contrast between the trees, the grass, and the clouds made for some interesting compositions.


Scott looking to make sure his shot was perfect; taken by Ren.

We were afraid we had missed the peak of fall colors, but, here in the Cherokee capital, it seems we might have chosen the perfect weekend to do our seasonal color trip. This park runs right along the Tahlequah Creek which runs into the Illinois River just east of the town. There are two historic WPA bridges crossing the small creek which gave it a great composition.

Ren often looks for the shots with her phone’s camera so I can see what she’s talking about. This is one of those shots.

One of our favorite places in Oklahoma and Arkansas is the Talimena National Scenic Byway. We have taken it many times, but this year we decided to just do the mountain range this amazing drive between Talihina, Oklahoma, and Mena, Arkansas. The Ouachita National Forest was where we found ourselves searching out many waterfalls.


Little Missouri Falls on the Little Missouri River in Ouachita National Forest taken by Ren.

Our total mileage was 557 miles to find some amazing colors and waterfalls. Most of the mileage came because we had driven so much within the National Forest, but the trip one way was approximately 215 miles to get into the forest. All in all, you don’t always need to travel to distant or exotic locations to get a good photo. Sometimes you just need to look around you and imagine the possibilities


One of my finished photos of the park.
Safe Travels
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Scott’s Friday Photo – Keystone Dam Oklahoma

Scott’s Friday Photo – Keystone Dam Oklahoma

Most of my photos come on our travels, but we can’t travel every weekend. For various reasons, we have been staying closer to home recently. When we can’t travel I try to find good subjects for photography in my local area.
Keystone Lake is just a few miles upstream from Tulsa on the Arkansas River. With Oklahoma subject to periodic droughts, the Keystone Dam is often not very impressive, with just enough water flowing to generate power, but Oklahoma has been pretty wet this year, and there have been very heavy rains upstream, so they are running a lot of water through the dam right now.

We got up early to try and get a photo of the Moon setting over the dam, I had the location planned correctly, but I messed up on the timing. The Moon was setting just as we drove up, and I could not get the camera set up in time to get the shot. Still, we had some interesting light, and there was a strong mist from the dam that developed into a heavy fog. We stayed for a few hours and I took pictures in the changing light. Ren is very understanding and patient with my early morning photo jaunts.

The area below the dam was filled with birds, thousands of them. The Pelicans were passing through on their annual migration. As the sun was rising they began to feed.

As we were leaving we found that most of the flock were on the lake side of the dam. It was hard to tell in the fog but the lake was covered in Pelicans for as far as we could see. This photo only captures a tiny portion of them.

While I did not get the photo I was after, I am still pleased with the photos that I did get.

 

Safe Travels
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The Cherry Street Farmer’s Market on an September Saturday

The Cherry Street Farmer’s Market on an September Saturday

So often Scott is the photographer between the two of us. I tend to be the scout; the one who finds the moments and places in time for him to capture with his Sony A6000. However, there are times I feel a need to take photos. Unfortunately, I take photos with my Sony A5100 so rarely that I forget how what buttons do what on it. I have been trying to be better at this, but it is just so much easier to take photos using my Samsung Galaxy 9.


I decided one Saturday morning during the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market it was time to pull out my actual camera and practice taking photos. Normally, I meet my daughter Amber at the coffee shop just feet from my apartment, but she was unable to walk the market with me this Saturday so I had no excuses; it was going to be a perfect morning to take photos and I really needed the practice.


Grabbing my fabric bags to put produce in and camera bag, I set out at just before sunrise to decide where would be the best place to start snapping photos of this magical event. Our local Cherry Street Farmers’ Market starts up every spring on the first Saturday of April and ends the third Saturday in October from 7:00 am until 11:30 am. The street for three blocks is shut off to traffic and people wonder about cheerfully. It is where the community comes together to purchases their weekly produce, samples the treats, and celebrate the beautiful Oklahoma mornings.

 

 

 

 

Our farmers’ market is not like what you will see in the movies or on television, it is only has four, maybe five vegetable vendors, maybe two or three artists, a couple of food trucks and a smattering of prepared food vendors. It is pretty small, but it is perfect for our square mile community. We all like it this way because most of the vendors know what each customer is looking for and they even know our names! Often my daughter will pick up my produce when I am not able to attend the market due to Scott and I traveling and the vendors know that she is mine and shopping for me. Yes, I do love our farmers’ market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite things about the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market is that there is live music being played every weekend. One weekend it will be the Falsey Twins who play the blues, another weekend the piano man will be banging on his upright piano (an actual wooden upright piano) while his wife belts out a ballad, and yet another weekend there will be an old-timey musician playing causing everyone to break out in shared song and dance. Everyone seems to enjoy the music, no matter the genre; they are extremely generous when they toss money in the bucket of appreciation.

 

 

Most importantly, the best thing you will find at this little Saturday farmers’ market are the people who have made it possible. There is so much work that goes into putting on such an event. Someone has to get up before 5:00 am, set up the closure signs, get vendor spots set up, take care of the city permits, and all the other things no one really sees as they wander through the market tasting, buying, and enjoying. They are amazing people who are dedicated to being on our little bit of heaven every Saturday from April until the middle of October no matter the weather. Yes, they are what makes this event so magical.

 


I was able to take so many wonderful photos that September morning while the morning light was still low and making everything golden. I am not able to tell you what my settings were on the camera, but I can tell you that it is days like this that get me excited about taking photos and maybe making someone smile. Even though the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market is gone for a short while, I can look back and remember the magical morning I had.

Thanks for spending time with me today,
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All photos in this post were taken by me and are my property

Cedar Hills State Park – photography project

Cedar Hills State Park – photography project

Cedar Hills State Park is a Texas State Park located on Joe Pool Lake within the Dallas metropolitan area. When Ren and I lived in Fort Worth it was about a half an hour from our home, which made it convenient when we wanted to get outside during the week without a long drive. Back when I was first learning photography Cedar Hills was often where I went to practice.

Being a new photographer, I went through a period where I was obsessed with sunsets, and Joe Pool lake often had some spectacular sunsets.

At this time I was using an old Nikon D70 I borrowed from a friend. While it was an older camera, it was still capable of some very nice photos.

Some of my favorite photos were taken with my phone, proving that it is not the quality of the gear that makes a great photo.

Later when I upgraded to my Sony camera we still came here often and I kept trying new things.

This is a composite of several photos looking North across Joe Pool Lake at the Dallas Love Field airport.

If you are learning photography, don’t be too obsessed with gear at first. As the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you. The best way to learn is to get out and shoot as often as possible and keep trying new things.

Safe travels,
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Scott’s Friday Photo – Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Scott’s Friday Photo – Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Located on Highway 64 ten miles northwest of Taos, New Mexico, the Gorge Bridge is 1280 feet long and spans the Rio Grande River and is one of the highest bridges in the country. Sources disagree over just exactly how high the bridge is above the river, with some saying 600 feet and others saying 650 feet. The gorge is particularly deep in this area because the river flows through a continental rift zone. This is an area when the continental plate tried to tear it’s self apart millions of years ago, then stopped before the separation was complete.
It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is both a National Monument and a State Park. The bridge is something of a tourist attraction with parking available along with restrooms and an observation deck. The bridge has a pedestrian shoulder so you can walk across it if you like.
Ren and I visited in August. We had not heard of the bridge, but the manager of our hotel told us we should go see it while we were in the area. I’m so glad we listened. This was my favorite part of the entire trip. If you are in the area it is well worth seeing, and if the Bus Stop Ice Cream and Coffee Stop are there, you should absolutely treat yourself. Ren loved the frozen coffee.
These photos were taken with my Sony A6000 using the SEL1850 lens. The panorama above was stitched together from 3 photos.

 


*Looking South From The Bridge *
Safe Travels
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Nope, We Ain’t Dead, Just Exhausted

Nope, We Ain’t Dead, Just Exhausted

We took a few days off from SteemIt to go visit the county of Osage here in Oklahoma. Having collected all 77 of the counties here in this state, Scott and I decided it was time to do a letting more in-depth travel and see what the largest county in Oklahoma looked like. Granted, we probably won’t be able to do this for every county in the United States, but we can do it occasionally while we do some local travel.

 

Taking a traditional sign photo for Osage County.

I am sure you are asking yourself why we decided to focus on Osage county even though we have 442 other counties that we could really dig into. First, this is the largest county in Oklahoma and there it is pretty unique in its history. Secondly, this county is close to home. Because of this, we were able to save on hotel and camping expenses by going home each evening. Granted, we found ourselves wishing we could have camped a time or two, but that is hindsight for sure. Lastly, we were just curious! That is the best reason of all!


Old trestle bridge crossing the Arkansas River from Pawnee county into Osage County.

We were able to find some pretty amazing places in this county and are excited about sharing them with you in future posts. One of the places we visited was the Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve just north of Pawhuska. We arrived early in the morning so we could get some sunrise photos. Because we arrived so early, we had time to take it slow, do a little hiking, and enjoy a surprise on the prairie!


Hiking along the creek in the middle of a prairie.

There was a bit of a shock for us once we officially arrived home, ending the trip. When we had thought about traveling to Southeast Texas, the milage was looking to be about 800 miles. Because of all the flooding in Texas, we decided to do something more local; hence, why we chose to ravel in Osage County. The mileage we traveled within Osage county came to 715 miles! We were so stunned.


Near the highest point in Osage County, the view was amazing.

Over the next few days, Scott and I will be processing the photos and videos to bring you more informative and entertaining posts about our trip. We enjoyed our travels these past few days, but can’t wait to share them with you.

“Nobody achieves anything great by being happy and cozy.” — Alex Honnold

“Nobody achieves anything great by being happy and cozy.” — Alex Honnold

This evening Scott and I went to the movies. If any of you know me, you know I hate going to movie theaters because of the loud volume and I feel like I am wasting my time. However, there are those few movies that are the exception for me. **Free Solo** is one of those movies. It is a National Geographic documentary about solo mountain climber Alex Honnold and his ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in June of 2017.
Free Soloing is a style of rock climbing where a climber does not use any type of safety gear while scaling the rock walls. Normally climbers will have harnesses and guide ropes to keep them from plunging to their deaths. However, there are some climbers who find this type of climbing to be well worth the risk. There have been thirteen notable deaths from this sport since 1913 and Ueli Steck being the most recent having fell approximately 1000 meters. Most people believe this sport to be reckless because if you fall, you die.


Click HERE to view the photo source. 

Scott and I have come across a person or two who were doing soloing on small boulders in Glen Rose, Texas, but these were just boulders; not anything like the huge granite monster in Yosemite Valley. It was interesting to see these people working their way around each boulder and I was very curious how they could figure out where the hand and foot holds were. The movie actually discussed this by showing Alex Honnold participating in a scientific study to figure out just how his brain worked in this type of situation.


Big Rocks Park in Glen Rose, Texas.

One of the things that caught my attention during the movie was when he said, ” Nobody achieves anything great by being happy and cozy.” This struck home for me. I have found when I am sitting at home comfortably, not putting myself in new situations, I am rarely accomplishing anything more than the daily chores I have deemed important. It is when I am going new places and experiencing things where I am out of my comfort zone, outside of my box, that I find I am learning something new, being more creative, and accomplishing so much more.


Ren’s living on the edge!

I may not be climbing without safety gear on the tallest mountainsides, but I am stepping out and trying to experience life the best way I know how. For me, this means driving on those twisty roads high in the mountains, going for a hike where there are wild beasts and snakes, or preparing to travel to places unknown to us. The fact is that I get out there and live.

 

If you get a chance, go see the movie **Free Solo** and see just how inspired you can be to achieve something great by getting out of your comfort zone.

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Monarchs Rule

Monarchs Rule

The Monarch fall migration is underway, they are currently passing through Oklahoma on their way to Mexico. We have not had the chance to get into the main path this year, but even here in Tulsa there are quite a few.


Two years ago we were fortunate enough to encounter the migration in Palo Pinto County Texas. We were not specifically looking for it, we were just exploring the area and drove into it. A river of butterflies, tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands. It was amazing, and also sad. We killed hundreds as we drove down the highway. We stopped to get a photo of the County Courthouse and there was a small garden that we full of Monarchs.


The Monarch Butterfly is the only insect that migrates. They cannot survive the cold winters in the North, so they migrate to Mexico and California for the winter. If you are lucky enough to live near their migration path you can see thousands, potentially even millions of them as they pass through.


They return to the same area, even the same trees, year after year. This is strange because the butterflies that return to Mexico this year are not the same individuals who left the year before. How do they know where to go?


While there are still millions of Monarchs traveling each year, the numbers are in sharp decline. The usual suspects are to blame. Pesticides and destruction of their habitat. Throughout the country, people are working to restore the flowers they feed on. Milkweed is particularly important as it is required for them to reproduce. If you plant milkweed along their migration path you can expect them to return year after year.

Take a little bit of time while these amazing pollinators pass by on their travels to Mexico.
Thanks for spending some time with us.
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A Switch In Time – Albany Texas Adventure

A Switch In Time – Albany Texas Adventure

Scott and I were out collecting counties in the Albany, Texas, area when we came across the most unusual place out in the middle of nowhere. On highway 6, in Shackleford County, there were a couple of state historical markers, a caboose, a large cattle corral, and a windmill. This was obviously meant to be visited because there was a pull off and gravel parking lot. However, this was out in the middle of nowhere west of the county seat Albany; no other people were around and we hadn’t seen anyone pass by the whole time we stopped to investigate.

At one time the only way to get mail and people across the country was by stagecoach. The Butterfield Overland Mail Stageline ran from the Eastern United States to San Francisco, passing through Indian Territory and Texas. The stage line ran through Shackleford County from 1858 until the beginning of the Civil War in 1861. As Scott and I walked about this historical area, we found this to be one of the locations where the Butterfield stopped. Just a few miles down highway 6 was Smith’s Station. Today, all that remains is a chimney next to the creek. The creek was eventually named Chimney Creek because of the still standing structure.
This area was called the Chimney Creek Ranch and was owned by Bud and Ella Matthews in the late 1880s and their family still owns the land today. Being in the cattle business, they decided to take a chance and make a request for the Texas Central Railway to create a switch on their cattle ranch. The railway accepted their proposal and the Bud Matthews Switch was created from Albany.


It is amazing to think that approximately 100,000 head of cattle passed through the corral and shoot annually to be put in cattle cars and transported to the Fort Worth Stockyard (which is still around today, only in tourist form) from 1900 until 1967 when it was more profitable to use the trucking industry. The corral was used for another 18 years after the switch was dismantled.


A screenshot of the Bud Matthews Switch via Google Maps.

When you drive up to this landmark, at first you find yourself wondering why there is a cattle car and large stone here, but as you drive closer, get out of your car, and view the items here you find yourself transported back in time when the world was powered by trains and horsepower. The family, knowing how special this place was, filed for the Texas Historical Marker. I was able to locate a video of the 1993 dedication for the marker. You can view this video and get further information here http://www.chimneycreekranch.com/bud-matthews-switch. You will also find further information and videos about the Butterfield Overland Mail marker here as well.


This was one of those finds that were truly serendipitous. We were only on our way from collecting the county courthouse for Shackelford county and headed toward the next county when we literally drove upon this precious bit of history. This is why we encourage all of you to get out and live life outside your box; go see the places in your neighborhood, city, county and even state. There are a lot of wonderful places just waiting for you to discover them.

Thank you so much for traveling with us today.
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