CLOUDLAND CABIN JOURNAL - JULY 2011 Journal Archives
Cloudland Cabin Cam, July 29, 6:30am - beautiful skies and clouds in the canyon just before sunrise
UPDATED Friday the 29th - the cuckoo birds have landed
07/02/11. I am off for a fitness hike early this morning - the girls are going to dump me off in Boxley on their way to Missouri.
07/03/11 We have more baby clouds down in the canyon this morning being born and then moving around and eventually drifting up, up, and away to cast a shadow over you later today. Some of them may join together and form thunderheads that can drop refreshing rain on your head (or rain out your picnic - 'tis a matter of perspective I guess!). There are dozens of tweety-birds playing and singing in the airwaves above the canyons, and once in a while the drumming of a woodpecker echoes. There is just a hint of cool sweetness in the air, left over from the rains we had here yesterday, but no doubt that sweetness will get baked out soon. Early morning here in July is one of the really great parts of any day of the year, but it generally goes south in a hurry
The girls took me down to Boxley yesterday and I hiked as fast as I could back to the cabin - not so that I could listen more - but for fitness. It was a bit of a struggle to get tot he top of the steep hill, but that is perhaps because I started out doing about 4mph going up and I tried to maintain that pace the entire way. And I did. It was 8:30 before I got started so the air temp had already risen a good bit, but once I'm out there sweating it really doesn't matter all that much to me. I dug in and kept going and it felt great.
The rest of my day was spent over in the print room working on getting photos sized correctly for the new Arkansas Portfolio III slide program (won't shot it until November), and making the composite collection of thumbnails from the book to show you (see link below). I'll have an online gallery of these posted soon and then all of them will be available for sale as fine art prints on paper or canvas.
I also got to spend a lovely bit of time back out on the back deck with my lovely bride just enjoying the soothing and coolness of a passing thunderstorm that dropped the rain - perhaps a quarter inch worth. It was just enough to lower the temp and beat down the dust and bring that hint of sweetness to the air that only really comes with a summer thunderstorm.
Later today we will motor into Fayetteville to hang a small exhibit of our canvas prints at BFit Pilates Studio on Spring Street just off the square. This is where Pam and I have been going for the past month for a type of rehab (for her back and my shoulder) that has just been absolutely WONDERFUL! The only problem is that after an hour with our instructor, Tara, we are both pretty much exhausted and limp - but it is amazing how great this place has been for us in so many ways! The only real issue has been the fact the walls are bare, and so we wanted to add a little bit of something to help get our minds off all the work Tara is putting us through. So for a little while at least those of you who know all of this will have a little something to look at that I hope will add to your experience. Oops, there is another issue - we wish this studio was NEXT DOOR to us since we really want to go every day! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (*Note: this is not a medical rehab facility, but the types of movements they take me through during the exercise programs are exactly what I need right now. The insurance companies did not allow me to regain full recovery after my shoulder surgery, so we went looking for someone who could help me get full range of motion back. I'm sorry, but after spending 30 grand on the operation 80% recovery is just NOT good enough! The folks at BFit by virtue of the exercises they are helping me with have already put me back on the path to full motion, and that has helped a great deal - YIPPIE COYOTE! Pam never did have any rehab after her second back surgery last fall and Tara is helping her out a great deal too to regain strength and motion - simply amazing what this Pilates stuff can do, especially with the right instructor!)
It was tough to pick a new Print of the Month this time but I have selected what I think is both a really "cool" scene (taken on a frigid winter night) to help with the heat of summer, but also one that has plenty of fireworks in the sky (provided by the rotation of the earth during a long exposure that created "star trails") as our way to celebrate our nation's birthday. I don't know of any other serious nature photographer who sells their fine art prints as cheap as our Prints of the Month so I hope you will order one for yourself and for your friends too (link is above, or just click on the photo)!
06/04/11 It was raining lightly when my lovely bride let me out of the car at the Boxley Baptist Church in Boxley this morning. As I approached the bridge over Beech Creek it sounded like the river was up and running - but how could that be - it was bone dry everywhere else? And sure enough, not a drop in the creek. But man it sounded exactly like a river flowing by. Then I realized that the rain was coming down hard enough to make the sound of a running river. It sounded great. It felt great on my head too. The temp was in the low 70's, and it was a grand morning for an eight-mile trek home!
About half way up the steep Cave Mountain hill the rains had stopped, but enough had fallen so that the forest all around me was dripping wet. It looked and sounded like a rain forest in there - THICK and LUSH and that wonderful music that can only come from a dripping forest. And the aroma was just delightful! Of course, the big hill was about to kick my behind, so I leaned forward and put it into high gear - something I usually do when hiking up a hill. I figure if I hike faster than I'll get through the rough stuff sooner.
While road hiking like this I spend a lot of time looking at the ground right in front of me. Today there were many little surprises along the way, including the first hickory nuts - bright green and very small. Also lots of tiny persimmons - their caps were larger than the fruit itself. And a single "cowcumber" magnolia tree fruit (cucumber).
There were also lots of elk tracks - I guess they like to hike along the road same as me.
It remained pretty cool during my entire two-hour hike back to the cabin, although I never got any more rain. It's kind of funny about rain and hiking in the summertime - I'm pretty much soaked to the bone within just a few minutes no matter if it is from rain or sweat - all the same to me!
07/08/11 'Tis late tonight and I have just come in from spending a little bit of time wandering outside in the COOL night air - it feels TERRIFIC out there tonight! This morning was one of the hottest I've ever know here, hazy, and sultry too. And it remained like that until early this evening - that is when a cool front moved through and the temp dropped a good bit - and the haze moved right on along with the front. It is quite clear tonight - the most stars I've seen in a while, even with a half moon shining down and lighting up the wilderness. The night bugs must love this too since it is LOUD out there, oh my goodness!
I'm making progress on the new waterfall guidebook update after mostly spinning my wheels for a week. The cover is done and I like it a lot (often the cover is the last thing that gets designed, but for some reason it just felt right to do it first this time - that is pretty much the way I design books - I just feel my way through and do things that I think will work and will look good. Next I had to wade through a mountain of paperwork and maps and other forms of data to try and figure out how many waterfalls I was going to include. I still don't know for sure right now but I can tell you that it will be many more than I had first planned. I was going to add 32 new pages, then that got bumped up to 64, and now it looks like we're going to add another 16, making the total 304 pages. This is going to be a HUGE update. I locked myself into the computer room over at the gallery and worked and worked and worked until I made it through all the new waterfalls that I had photographed this year - 53 of them! Some of these I had already photographed last year but we had better water this year so I went back and did some over again. So there won't be as many from last year to process, but still a good bit of work. I feels GREAT to finally get a good jump on this big project - with all the heat I have not really felt much like jumping into a cool waterfall project!
More and more photos to do tomorrow, but I hope to be done with most of the new photo processing by the end of the weekend. Then I'll start working on gathering up all the info to turn over to my lovely bride so she can draw about 60 new maps - another giant chore! While she is doing all of that I will work on writing the descriptions for all of the new waterfalls. YIKES, I may not see the woods again until fall!
A funny story from our next-door neighbors Benny and Mildred. They are out here now and told me that they were held hostage inside their cabin all day yesterday. While they were eating lunch inside THREE fawns came into the yard and bedded down under a shade tree - no momma in sight. Benny and Mildred did not want to scare the fawns away by leaving the cabin so they were forced to remain side and just watch - just another hardship you much put up with sometimes living out in the wilderness!
We've been seeing a lot of fawns this summer, and also many groups of bucks in threes and fours - going to be a big hunting season this fall. Squirrels are beginning to move in as well - have not seen many of them in a good long while.
My eyes won't remain open much longer so I'm going to post this and craw up into the loft. We will have cooler temps this weekend and I hope you can get out and enjoy them, but also can go jump in a lake or creek to cool off too!
07/10/11 The cool spell didn't last too long and we are now locked into a hot, muddy, and hazy bubble - must be summertime! But it is easy to take early this morning, especially with the music of dripping water coming off the roof of the cabin. Humidity hits its peak during the early morning hours, forms on the tin roof, and slides down to the edge where individual drops of dew leap off into space headed for their moment of music in the symphony of dewdrops. The air is heavy with that humidity, and some distant ridges are mere ghosts, others completely hidden from view. Even when the sun arrives there is little light added at first - it is soaked up by all that haze. But for a brief period those normally-bright sunbeams are scattered into zillions of directions and the light is SO soft there are no shadows.
But this doesn't stop little birds from playing - oh my goodness there are dozens and dozens of bird pairs flying all over the place this morning - many of them close in, just a few feet from me in the red oak tree that towers over the deck below. We don't see too much of them during the rest of the day - perhaps they are getting all their play time in now while it is "relatively" cool before the heat of day, when they will seek out a shady spot with a breeze high in a nearby tree - or do they
07/12/11 It is very clear this morning - where did all the haze go? Certainly no cool front or low pressure came through. It is still pretty warm, and in fact yesterday afternoon it was 99 at the cabin - I would have to dig back to see what the record is but that must be pretty close. It is also very still this morning with no breeze at all, but quite LOUD outside with the frogs and summer bugs screaming.
There was also quite a bit of music in the trees late last night when I took a detour on one of my many trips back and forth between the cabin and gallery. At first the bright 3/4 moon was surrounded by giant colorful clouds and it was pretty dark in the forest, but later on the sky was clear and the nighttime landscape was really lit up by that big old moon above and it was easy to wander around without a flashlight. It was still quite warm, but there was a nice breeze, and since my eyes were kind of bug-eyed from staring at the computer monitor all day I just sort of drifted off into the night. With no man-made light nor snake gaiters I stuck pretty much to the roads where I could see what I was about to step on. It was a very pleasant hike and oh so great to get back out into the woods!
I am making great progress on the new guidebook, although sometimes when I "finish" a major task I discover there is still a lot of work to do - something I knew was going to happen but just kept putting it off. One example is the height of all the new waterfalls. For many of them I did not bother to take the time to measure while I was scrambling to get photographs when the water was high this spring. "I'll do that later when I have more time." Well "now" is later and I still don't have the time, and it is about the worst time to be out in the deep wilderness bushwhacking with a long measuring tape in hand, but this is the way I work and is just a fact of life. I spent many hours and even days going through recorded tapes, notes written on maps, and GPS uploads to gather all the height info that I could find, but in the end I found about a dozen waterfalls that still need to be measured. Kind of funny, but the one that will probably turn out to be the tallest new waterfall in the guidebook and that still needs to be measured is actually within sight of where I'm sitting typing this right now! I've been to it several times (Beagle Point Falls) but never with a measuring tape. It will be the toughest bushwhack right now as well, but I will be anxious to see how tall it really is so will be anxious to get it done.
The final tally will be a total of more than 200 waterfalls in the book (more than 70 new ones), and the book will be 304 pages - a record for one of my guidebooks! We had to add 80 new pages, yikes! Good news is that even though our cost is going to be quite a bit more than in all previous printings, we have decided to keep the price the same - yippie for you!
In another book note it is with great sadness I must report that my favorite Arkansas picture book of all time is out of print and no longer available direct from us - ARKANSAS LANDSCAPES. You can still find copies at your local book store, but once they are gone there will be no more. I am already working on the next one, but it will be a while before it is published. The new ARKANSAS PORTFOLIO III will quench thirst for a new Arkansas picture book though, and only a few more months before it arrives - yippie for everyone!burrow under a boulder someplace where it is really cool?
07/16/11 Lots of haze early this morning that leads to quite soft light in the canyons and a lovely scene with blue ridges rising into a pink sky. It is calm and kind of warm, with lots of birds out playing. The first few minutes of each day are wonderful, and even though much of the day is now hot and miserable in town, I rather enjoy early summer mornings in the Ozarks in the wilderness.
Yesterday I got up early and headed out in search of a sunrise photo. After many months wondering about this new location I finally secured permission from the land owner to enter his land and take pictures - something you should ALWAYS do before stepping foot on private property - for pictures, to hike, or for anything else! I could not actually see the viewpoint that I wanted from the road, but I was hoping there would be a view.
There was a lot of fog around when I arrived at the location about an hour before sunrise. I was hopeful the fog would lift, settle, or burn away with the rising sun. I climbed the gate and hiked just a little bit to where I thought a great scene might be, but there was no seen due to the fog, so I would just have to wait and see what I could see. I found a bare patch of earth where five different segments of pasture all came together and sat down, Thirty minutes later I was still on the bare patch and the fog was even heavier.
While sitting there I noticed a large green bug come crawling past me, about the size of a June bug but much more intense GREEN shiny color. All of a sudden he put it into overdrive and took off like a shot across the bare ground. He was zigging and zagging like crazy, and it didn't even appear like he was touching the ground at all - looked like an out-of-control hover craft! He covered the entire 20-feet to the edge of the grass in about three or four seconds - when compared to his size this guy was a real speed demon!
It was actual daylight now and I got up and wandered around trying to find a scene to photograph, but still thick fog and no sun. I kept coming back to a fence line that looked neat and so I set up and took a series of pictures of the fence disappearing into the fog. Then I walked around a little while longer and came back to the same fence line. While I was taking just a few more pictures of the fence a yellow ball of sun finally burned through the fog. While I never did get to see the view I wanted - or even know if there is a view - I did get some nice pictures of this fence, and got to say hello to Mr. Sunshine!
On the way back to the cabin this big old bull got my attention for some reason, so I stopped and took his picture too.
A couple of days ago, after the cool front had moved through the area, I noticed that nearly all of the wild rose bushes up here had turned YELLOW. Boom, just like that! I don't recall them ever doing that before, even in the fall. And I'm beginning to see more and more Virginia creeper plants turning this beautiful shade of color, so I just had to take a picture. This time of the year when everything else is locked in the monotone shade of summer green any splash of color really stands out - and gives hope of cooler days ahead!
We got the first copy of the 2012 Arkansas scenic calendar in hand now and all I can say is WOW!!!!!
07/22/11 The air is still and mostly silent this morning, with only a few frogs waking up and calling out to potential mates. Not many birds up yet - or have they been up all day and just now getting to bed? While sitting out on the back deck sipping a big of java and waiting for light to begin to creep into the landscape, I realized that I had my own personal bug repellent - there was a fleet of little bats flying around me! I love bats, and always enjoy watching their aerial acrobatics, and also knowing they tend to eat thousands of pesky little bugs each day - GO BATS! Lately there have not been many meals for them to munch on though - I think the heat of summer has baked away mosquitoes and no-see-ums, at least from around here since we have seen a grand total of one in the past few weeks.
Speaking of the current heat wave, I know it is human nature to complain, but I always find it amusing when folks do so about the weather - too hot, too cold, too much rain, not enough rain. I'm sure I do my share of it and probably more. But the fact is that it does tend to get hot in the summer and cold in the winter and rains a lot in the spring and doesn't rain much in the summer - but really, I MUCH PREFER these changing weather patterns to having the same of weather every day all year long - even "perfect" conditions get boring after a while. Variety is the spice of life after all!
I am kind of weird sometimes (well OK, all the time, but who is counting?), and do rather enjoy summer days and nights now - ever since I moved out into the wilderness 13 years ago. Hiking around in the sweetness of an early summer morning in the mountains is quite pleasant. And oh those summer nights can be just delightful! And I don't really mind working up a sweat in the heat of the day - actually since my sweat threshold is very low I tend to break out in a sweat when the temp hits about 80 - and if I am working from that point on it really doesn't matter how much I sweat so the heat does not bother me too much (as long as I have enough water). Oh yes, and if you REALLY want to experience one of the best outdoor pleasures on the planet, jump into one of those emerald pools around here on a hot July afternoon - you can't do that in the Rocky Mountains!
Unfortunately I've not been able to get out an enjoy the great outdoors much this month since I've mostly been glued to the computer working on the waterfall guidebook. It has turned into a mountain of its own but we are making progress. No light at the end of the tunnel yet, but I know that tunnel is out there somewhere! It just takes a very long time to grind out all the numbers and facts for a major update like this one - I'm happy to do all of that so you don't have to later on when you are ready to go find your own little paradise in the wilderness to splash into!
We've had some deer in the yard lately - mostly a momma and her fawn that Pam named "squirt" the day after he was born. Squirt is getting pretty large already - about half the size of momma. And he is getting that look in his eye of the anticipation of knowing he will some day grow up and be on his own and get to make his own way in the woods - I wonder if he will ever come back and pay us a visit when he is all grown up? Squirt and his mom and a few other critters have been snacking on some of Pam's garden plants, but just like is most years, they don't like tomatoes! We only have a single tomato anyway (not been a good year for them), and it has just now started to change color from green to something else. I will savor every bite when it is finally ripe!
Looks like the new day is breaking now out here in the wilderness and I need to get back to work. Since it looks like another warm day on the way I will see if I can find a cool and refreshing waterfall to share with you - sit back and close your eyes and see if you can hear it splashing! (Even better yet have someone throw a cup of water on ya, or go find one of those emerald pools to jump into this weekend!!!)
Native American Falls
07/25/11 The air seems different early this morning. Softer. Lighter. Sweeter. Cleaner. Even cooler. Not sure why - we didn't have much in the way of weather pass through yesterday. I can hear distant critters clearly, like the hooting of a barred owl, a crow. Which reminds me - I have not heard a rooster crowing over at Mossville (a mile or two away) in quite a while - I wonder if bears ate their chickens too? Anyway, it is a very pleasant morning outside and a great way to begin a new week - HAPPY MONDAY!
Speaking of bears, Amber came running back down the driveway after just leaving for her very last day of summer work the other day (actually she was driving back down the driveway, no running). There was a bear in Benny's garden and she wanted Pam to go have a look. Amber has had an eventful summer - she has seen at least FIVE bears! Pam - 0. So we jumped n the car and headed up to Benny's with the windows rolled down and cameras ready. No bear. We drove around the property a bit but never found anything. We did find that Mr. bear had completely wiped out our apple crop though, gosh darn it! This is the very first time our apple trees have had more than a single apple per tree, and two trees were LOADED with apples. We were saddened to find the bare trees, but kind of surprised that the bear did not destroy more limbs while he was up there climbing around. Oh wait, we found ONE apple still remaining - it will be a small cobbler, but I bet it tastes great when the time comes!
And we found some pawpaws - that is a great sign for things to come later this fall. I LOVE eating fresh pawpaws - there is nothing else like them! And there were some wild plum trees that were loaded too, although most of the plum trees we've seen have been bare.
We went out and looked around several more times during the day but never did see Mr. Bear. We don't know if this was a fresh bear or one that our neighbor shot and wounded the other day (he was doing quite a bit of damage to property).
While my lovely bride and I were sitting in a corner of the cabin sipping some afternoon tea she spotted a bright flash of red outside. There was a SCARLET tanager taking a bath in the top of our little waterfall, and he was having a grand time of it too! We usually have summer tanagers around here - they have more muted colors but still are bright red. But this guy was very brilliant red with black markings - one of our most handsome birds.
And then we got hit with some RAIN. Two hours of lovely rain - 1.5 inches worth. We unplugged computers and sat in the swing in the front of the cabin until we got drenched, then moved to the swing at the back of the cabin. Oh such a wonderful couple of hours listening to and watching and smelling the storm and the rain, YIPPIE COYOTE! I'm sure the tanager and bear both loved it all too.
Work on the new guidebook is coming along slowly - Pam has started drawing the maps. I have moved into the cabin and have piles of maps, notes, and other paperwork scattered far and wide. I am getting close to the end of the technical data - many thousands of individual bits of info and numbers have been sifted through and listed, sometimes three or four times. There are still some blank numbers that I will have to get out into the woods and collect later, but I'm putting that off for as long as I can. I have begun writing the descriptions and directions now, and that is a big step forward.
A new week has arrived, the sun is just now saying hello, and I'm "off" to work!
My lovely bride at school, as the Fat Cat looking on (and Lucy too)
07/29/11 I got up at 3 yesterday morning, collected my things in the dark, and headed out to get a few loose ends tied up for the new waterfall guidebook - my final deadline is approaching quickly. I got an early start not so much to try and beat the hot weather as to get as much done as I could possibly fit in before dark. I met up with Jason Weaver on a dark highway somewhere down south - Jason was going to help me make some of the waterfall measurements, and call for help if I got into trouble! We bushwhacked through the darkness to the base of the first fall and soon had an accurate measurement.
It was full daylight by the time we reached the next waterfall - piece of cake hiking when you can see what you are stepping on, ha, ha! We drove on to the next spot and spent several hours bushwhacking to some waterfalls to get their vital statics.
Why did I need all this info? You see what happened was that often this past spring when we had all that great rainfall I would run around like crazy trying to find and photograph as many waterfalls as I could - leaving the time-consuming fact documentation (GPS, height, road names and numbers, mileages) for another visit. "I'll come back for that later" I kept telling myself. OK, now is later, and I am REALLY late! And just in case you were wondering, it is no big deal to measure waterfalls when they are dry - in fact is most cases it is a lot safer. Take Big Buck Falls that we did yesterday for instance. When I was first there I knew there would be some sort of slot canyon or slick cascade up above it that would make getting to the top lip of the waterfall extremely dangerous. But yesterday it was easy and safe. All I had to do was say "Hey Jason, run up there and drop the tape!" Easy for me, but a little tougher for Jason. He had to do a good bit of climbing and scrambling up through a crack in the big bluff to get on top, but once he made it he did indeed find what would normally be a very slick slot canyon/smooth cascade leading to the very lip of the tall falls, but it was easy and safe for him to get right to the edge and drop the tape to me below to get an accurate measurement.
It had been a long time since I was out in the woods like this and it felt GREAT! Well, actually it didn't, which I'll explain in a little while. But none the less it was a fine morning and we got a lot of work done before the sun ever touched us. There were times when we had to fight our way through tall brush so thick on a very steep hillside that you could not see the guy standing nearby, but that is one of the hazards of waiting until the thick of the summer jungle to "come back for that later."
At one point we needed to gather data in two different directions, so I sent Jason off one way with a GPS recording his every step (that would later be transferred to a waterfall map) while I scrambled around trying to find an alternate route to a waterfall through a big bluffline. We met up later and compared notes. By that time my aging body was kind of beat up and I could no longer stand the pain so we parted company for the day. But I sent Jason into one other area to measure a waterfall that included a difficult bushwhack - I noticed the temp was already 95 degrees. I changed into some dry clothes from head to toe and headed home (I tend to get sweat-soaked after only a few minutes in this weather, which does not bother me at all while I am out working, but I hate to sit inside a nice car so I bring multiple changes of clothes with me on these sorts of trips in the summer).
But on my way home I stopped to get a giant Mocha Java Chiller at Sonic. WOW, what a difference! I was reborn, and ready for more, so I turned the car south and headed for Mt. Nebo where I needed to measure the waterfall up there (not a new waterfall for this edition, but the height was blank in the current edition so now I can fill it in!). Next I drove into the northern Ouachitas to gather some mileage and road info and found it amusing that one of the descriptions will begin with "From Amber's Cafe in Blue Ball, go 2.8 miles" (or whatever the mileage is - I have to transcribe my tape recordings for the day to get the details) - has anyone ever eaten there? It looked like an interesting place and will now forever be immortalized in print! Speaking of Amber, she only has three weeks left as a full resident of Cloudland, YIKES!
I drove high up into the mountains on dusty forest roads and made notes and recordings and eventually came back out to civilization, then headed up onto the southern side of Mt. Magazine via a remote and unmarked forest road that has now become a narrow and rough jeep road suitable for SUVs only. It climbed and twisted up and up and up (hey John Moore - they have marked the entire hillside around the road for a timber sale but I don't know if they are going to widen the road any - big changes coming there). The higher I climbed the darker the skies got - I didn't realize until I parked way up there and got out of the car that there were heap big storms brewing all around me! I needed to bushwhack over to a neat waterfall to double-check a height measurement, and also confirm that this new parking spot I found would be an easier one for you guys to use later on. Most folks probably would not relish the thought of hiking out into a potential raging thunder storm, but I was HOPING it would happen!
The thunder boomed and the lightning crashed and the sky was very dark, but the entire time I was out in the woods I only got a few sprinkles. Bummer. But at least it was a little cooler - like down in the 80's - oh how wonderful! My body was back into full pain by this time and once or twice I found myself down on all fours literally having to crawl on up a steep slope (this was due to my condition, not to the route to the falls!). But it actually felt GREAT to be out there, a return trip I had been wanting to do for more than a year now.
OK, go that one done and it was off to find the next waterfall, which just needed some road mileages and numbers. I drove along some very dusty roads at high speed (they have VERY good county roads down south - NOTHING like the mostly-unmaintained pig trails we have up here in the Ozarks). I discovered the other day while I was pouring over several different maps that I might be able to connect two waterfall access points via a much shorter road and save many miles of driving, and I was able to find everything just where it showed it was on the maps and confirm my finds - YIPPIE COYOTE! Pam will have to adjust all of this on the map. By the way, my lovely bride is just about finished with all the maps for the new guidebook - when you give that girl a job and a deadline she jumps right in and does not finish until the job is done!
It was time to hit another drive-thru in Paris and then I was off for more fact-finding. I drove to the greater Batson Metroplex and spent the next hour or two recording road names and mileages - there is a MAZE of county roads up there and it is very easy to get lost, especially if one or more of the signs are missing, which they were yesterday. NOTE to guidebook readers - USE YOUR CAR ODOMETER! I frequently hear comments from folks who had trouble finding a turnoff, and my very first question is always "did you zero your odometer and follow the directions in the guidebook?" The answer is always NO! Those mileages are there for a reason and I can assure you that human beings CANNOT estimate mileages driven very well. I can't help road signs that go missing, or road names/numbers that chance, but seldom do the mileages change!
OK, back to the road. Just as the sky started to darken up a bit - actually it got dark red that was the result I learned later of a big fire in Greenwood that filled the sky with ash - I headed down into the deep wilderness and drove several narrow and rough jeep roads. I had hiked these roads before but wanted to make a track for the map so folks would know exactly where they were since they are not shown on any map. I ended up visiting each of the parking spots for the 24 or so new waterfalls that will be on the maps in this one waterfall dome area. By then it was dark, but I was not finished.
I made one more trip up a mountain and through several turns and intersections to collect mileage and road name/number data and then finally Headed home. And as I sped up Arbaugh Road I realized I needed a little bit more info there as well - several signs missing, and this is so confusing anyway since this road has one name on the north end and a different name on the south end, and Arbaugh Road that so many folks have known it as for so long is not one of them, nor is posted anywhere!
OK, whew, I finally made it back to the cabin after 10pm - a 17-hour day. My lovely bride came running down the steps to tell me about the incredible thing that had happened at the cabin - THE CUCKOOS had landed! She spotted a yellow-billed cuckoo bird playing in the little waterfall in the front yard, a bird we have never seen here before! (lots of cuckoos, but never the bird, if you know what I mean) She said it was a really beautiful bird with striking colors. I knew my bride was a little cuckoo for moving out here in the wilderness, and now I have proof. How exciting!
Several weeks ago I did something to one of my knees and have been in a brace ever since. The doctor does not think it requires surgery and I have been drugged up and mostly hobbling at best ever since. While out in the woods yesterday I was able to get around, but it just took longer, and as noted I sometimes needed to be down on all fours in order to make it up a steep slope. I've been trying to give it plenty or rest - even moving the guidebook operations into the cabin from the gallery (where I have dozens maps and papers strewn out all over the place) to save steps during the day (of going back and forth between the buildings). But yesterday I decided the healing would just have to wait a little while since my guidebook deadline is here and I still had field work to do. I have been "saving" one last serious bushwhack and yesterday was kind of a test to see how well I could hold up, and if I though I would get stranded out in the middle of no where and need to be rescued - I think I'll be fine - in fact I rather enjoy seeing the forest from down on all fours, ha! My plan is to let my leg rest and heal up a bit more for a couple of days while I transcribe the tape recordings of data from yesterday, complete all of the writing and map tweaks, then process all of the new waterfall images, and have everything ready to go to press - then make the final push into the middle of the wilderness to measure two more waterfalls - one of them will probably end up being the second tallest waterfall (outside of Hemmed-In Hollow and Diamond) in this part of the state. The all I'll have to do is plug in the numbers and the guidebook will be ready for the printer! But I still have a few long days of computer work to do before then, but I'll be thinking good healing thoughts for my knee in the meantime. I'll keep ya posted!