CLOUDLAND CABIN JOURNAL - SEPTEMBER 2010 Journal Archives
Cloudland remote Cabin Cam, September 29, 7:15am - sunrise from Fire Tower Road overlooking Ponca
2011 Arkansas scenic CALENDARS, ARKANSAS WILDFL.OWERS guidebook, and
ARKANSAS AUTUMN picture book are all in stock and NOW SHIPPING!
ONE SPACE open for October 16, and TWO SPOTS open for October 17 photo workshops - contact me ASAP
September Prints of the Month - ICELAND!
UPDATE Wednesday the 29th - chicken poop minefield and golden sunrise
09/01/10 It is dark and quiet outside tonight, and I have just returned from a wonderful hike. We had a good bit of rain on and off all afternoon and into the evening - so nice to hear and see and feel and smell! Just before dark I strapped on my big backpack and headed up the road to begin the process of working of a THIN pizza that my lovely bride and I had for dinner. For the first time since I've been home there was no dust at all, and most of the road had been hard-packed by the rain. There were a few soft and slick spots, but mostly just hard-packed. It did not cool down all that much with the rain, but that was OK - I was out to sweat anyway.
Before long I realized that it was actually DARK all around me - I was able to see the way to walk but the trees and rocks were little more than dim and monotone shapes. In the past I would be able to find bears and snakes and coyotes in those shapes, but there were no worries at all on this hike. And then the sky opened up and it began to rain, a soft and lovely summer rain shower. I didn't bother to bring along a raincoat, instead I just stopped, closed my eyes, and turned my head upwards so that I could catch every last drop that I could. Few things in life are as enjoyable as this. The next time it rains in your neighborhood I recommend that you step outside and do the same - each precious drop that splashes on your skin will bring pure joy to your heart and soul!
I spent several weeks getting ready for Iceland, two weeks on the trip, and now nearly two weeks of being sick after getting home. Today I'm getting off of my behind and back to reality - there is so much to do, and I look forward to every step!
Speaking of this fat boy, I begin a new month today at 168 pounds, down from a high of 192 at the end of May. 170 will be my target throughout the year, although if I drift down a bit that will be fine too. Life FEELS a great deal better when you are in shape, every minute of the day. Now, if I could just get my lazy dog back into shape!
09/03/10 We had a big storm roll through late last night that got another good rain out of it - perhaps the last water for a while. Pam saw the large red blob headed our way and when I went over to the gallery to shut down and unplug my computer there the sky was filled with non-stop lightning flashes coming from all directions - we were surrounded! Unplugging electrical things is the ONLY way to protect them during an electrical storm - surge protectors are of no use, even the big expensive ones that we use, which we have really as a battery backup since there is zero protection from lightning stirkes. The routine of having to shut down and unplug all computers every time a storm approaches is a pain in the butt, but does save us a lot of time, expense, and headaches in the long run. This morning was the coolest day of the summer so far, and I had to bundle up to sit outside and sip my java - this was well before any color showed up in the sky when everything was still quite dark, which is usually the coldest part of the day. Looks like we are in for a really nice holiday weekend weather-wise - hope you are able to get out into the woods and ENJOY!
09/07/10 It is mild here this morning with bright sunshine early that quickly faded to an overcast sky. Everything is quite still, no movement at all. And there is just a hint of sound far off in the background in your mind. It feels like the world is on hold and just waiting for something to happen. I hear we may get some rain later today so that would certainly be what is going to happen, but how does the landscape know that?
Soon after dawn yesterday I suited up in long pants and shirt and headed out the door with two dogs in tow. Aspen has gotten where he will not hike on the road, insisting on only true woods hikes, so instead of just hiking the roads for fitness I'll be taking him on as many woods hikes as I can, which is fine with me since the snake population is slowing down and soon will be in hiding. The only issue with Aspen in the woods are the hundreds of burrs he picks up on his thick coat. Ahhhh yes, the good old days when I used to go bow hunting for deer every day beginning on September 1st - my clothes would get covered with beggar lice and poor old mom would have to pick them all off - she should have just refused to wash anything in that condition!
I decided that instead of a pre-determined route to simply ramble through the forest, taking the route of least resistance and see where that led us. With so much of the forest still clogged with downed trees and large limbs from the great ice storm last year, it was easy to move through the forest this way - simply avoiding the downed stuff. Often this would take us up or down a steep hill, which I'm sure was tougher sometimes than just plowing right on through the downed stuff, but since it was the route that was the adventure that was just fine with me. The dogs didn't seem to notice or care one way or the other.
The rising sun lit up the trees and underbrush all around, the air was cool and sweet with a mild cool breeze, and it was just a delightful morning to be out and about. I was surprised to see that a lot of poison ivy had already packed up for the winter and died out. Other patches of it were bright red or yellow. There were a few brilliant RED leaves on the forest floor from black gum trees overhead, but mostly the canopy was just green, all waiting for another month or so to put on their skirts for the big dance.
At one point I looked up and realized that I was smack dab in the middle of a large park - there were many big trees all around, but there was NO underbrush at all - it was beautiful, and a joy to walk through. Looking up I realized that the trees were all maple trees, and for whatever reason they don't like to allow stuff to grow underneath them. Put this location in my pocket as a place to visit next month when the leaves are at their peak! So I moved on through the wilderness park until I came to a tall green wall.
Beech trees. It was a thick forest of them, and I could not see a way that man nor beast could penetrate so I just followed the line between the park and the wall on down hill, eventually coming to an almost-dry creekbed. Aspen discovered there was water in a nice pool just upstream, with other shallow pools above and below, so I took a seat and watched and enjoyed the dogs playing in the water. I had been to this place a hundred times when the water was up and running, but don't recall ever seeing it nearly dry like this. If you are not careful you can easily spend an hour or more at a little stop like this, just watching the reflections on the water surface change from moment to moment as ripples cross them.
When I got up and started out of the little canyon I had no choice but to meet the wall of beech forest head on, and in fact I did one better. I got down on my hands and knees and crawled around for a while - and son of a gun, it was not nearly as thick down there! I guess that is one reason why the critters of the forest are able to move easily through this thick brush - they are low to the ground and don't have to fight back all the limbs that grown higher, like right in my face.
While I was down there crawling around I came upon a set of jaw bones - from a deer no doubt. They were resting right next to each other, but there was not other bone around - looked like the skull they were attached to had simply been eaten away. That is what happens to most bones in the forest - they provide nutrients for mice, squirrels, and other small critters - they just love that calcium! But why would they eat everything and leave just the jaw bone and teeth? I can understand the teeth - too hard to consume - but the jawbone is just normal bone, isn't it? Come to think of it, deer bones are about the only bones I ever find out in the deep woods - everything else is quickly consumed by those at the buffet table.
Another hour had passed before we wandered on back to the cabin. It was a great beginning to the day to be able to spend it out in the wild. Now about that burr-covered dog - "Hey honey, Aspen wants to see you!"
NEW ONE DAY WORKSHOP ANNOUNCED! Since our only one-day workshop this fall has been full for awhile, we decided to add a second one on Sunday, October 17th. Details are here.
09/10/10 It was a weird morning. It poured all night. Rained all the day before. It had been raining all morning. Yet the creeks were nearly dry. I studied the creek and rainfall maps for hours yesterday morning, waiting for things to add up, and for the heavy rains to quit. It was early afternoon before I felt like waterfalls would be running and not too muddy - I don't like muddy waterfalls. The landscape had been so dry that it took 4-5 inches of rain in an area before anything really got up and running well, and finally yesterday the state got saturated, yippie! But with hundreds of locations to go, it was a tough decision for me to make with so little time and not really wanting to go explore new areas in the thick jungle environment.
The rain stopped just as I pulled off the road. A thundering waterfall was nearby, and I was off into the jungle in a flash. When I reached the base of High Bank Twin falls along the Mulberry River, I found it running about as well as I ever had, and quite spectacular. I found a good spot for a photo (this would be a "fun" photo since I did not need to document it for the book - already a good photo in the book). But when I pulled my camera gear out everything instantly fogged up, inside and out! Turns out that the temp had gotten really warm - into the 80's - and the super-saturated air fogged up every bit of metal and glass. I was unable to take any photos.
The Mulberry River was at flood stage and was more of a moving lake of hot chocolate than a river. I had planned to drive across the river over a low-water bridge to reach the next waterfall, but that bridge was way underwater, so I had to take a long route around to reach the waterfall - which worked out just fine anyway.
So I spent the next hour driving around with the windows rolled down and all of my camera gear spread out inside the car on towels, and with towels draped over them - this would let them warm up and dry out. It worked great, but by the time I reached my next location, the skies above were nothing but pure BLUE - not good for waterfall photos! Oh well, I wanted to go visit this waterfall anyway and so I loaded up my stuff and hiked the short distance to the base of the fall.
Bingham Falls is one that Brian told me about a couple of months ago and one that I found to be most scenic, ,but I needed a photo with more water. Lots of water for sure, but that darn sunshine was in the way! Although instead of just throwing up my arms and leaving, I decided to see how my camera gear could handle the extreme contrast of bright sun beams and deep shadows (most cameras cannot faithfully render the scene). It was those sunbeams that I really wanted to capture - they were lighting up a sheet of water that was pouring off the near side of this deep overhang, and they looked really nice. So instead of leaving, I spent the next two hours there taking pictures with two different cameras, including a brand new camera I just got that is a hybrid made of components from three different camera makers from Denmark, Switzerland, and Germany - old world craftsmanship at its finest!
I realized the rest of my day would be shot so I had a lot of fun playing with this waterfall and the new camera gear, and I not only got a good photo for the new guidebook (with me in the scene for scale), but also a photo that highlights the sunbeams that I really like!
On the way home I stopped to have a second look at High Bank Twin falls and found it had already lost about half of its thundering power. It was a more quiet falls now, which I actually liked, and I spent another hour there taking photos. I had never noticed the band of red rock behind the upper part of the waterfall - sometimes when visiting powerful waterfalls you just see the water and often miss other great things in the scene.
By the time I reached home the roads were no longer muddy, and there was no water running in the ditches - a sure sign of great waterfalls. But when I stepped out onto the back deck of the cabin I could hear the mighty Buffalo running full tilt far below - it really took a lot of rain to get it up and running this time!
It remains WARM early this morning before first light, and the river is still roaring. I suspect there will be some waterfalls running today, although they will run down very fast and already won't be much compared to yesterday. But now with the summer growing season winding down, and the ground saturated, it won't take much rain to get creeks and waterfalls back up and running again - although this is certainly NOT waterfall season, so don't expect that! We got spoiled last year with so much rain in August - October. Yet, they are calling for rain most of next week - I'll keep my fingers crossed!
09/12/10 Daylight has broken this morning but we are still a little ways away from sunrise. It is quite cool outside - in the mid 50s - and feels great! Calm air, no birds up yet, just a few crickets singing, and the very low, hushed music of the river far below. There is a sea of clouds blanketing the canyon, and some nice color along the horizon that begins as pink and grades into hues of blue. All in all it is just a wonderful and delightful morning!
I took Amber to Huntsville early yesterday morning to take an ACT test - the teachers there were LATE opening up the building - I always find it amusing that we expect our young folks to follow rules when we can't! While she tested I headed out in search of waterfalls but found most of the creeks had dropped quite a bit in the two days since the rain, as expected, and even some of the places that got a bit of rain overnight were mostly just wet and not running too well. Of course, I know that my expectations of waterfalls running well and those of others differ quite a bit - I need a lot more water for good photos than most other folks need just for good viewing. The main result of my four-hour tour during the test was a GIANT turkey sandwich at the Turner Bend Store - no doubt this is the very best sandwich in the state, however they PILE on so much meat that I'm now forced to take a major hike this morning just to work some of it off. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
I am off here in a few minutes to do a 12+-mile hike before breakfast. My goal will be to hike all the way to the top of the Ozarks - the highest point in the Ozarks (base of the Buffalo Fire Tower). Since it is so cool this morning I probably won't sweat as much as I was doing back in July when I did these long fitness hikes, but I'm hoping to work off that turkey sandwich!
MID MORNING UPDATE - bear poop. I made it all the way up to the highest point in the Ozarks and back again this morning before breakfast, and it felt pretty terrific! I would like to report on an ongoing observance of mine that I've noticed for a long time, but with all of the miles of dirt roads I've been pounding this summer the facts have really come to light, as they were today. I saw quite a bit of bear poop in the middle of the road this morning - about as much as I've ever seen. And no doubt it was all fresh (since we had rain here yesterday morning). What I find odd, perhaps even amusing, is that nearly 100% of the time a bear will poop directly in the MIDDLE of the road - never off to one side even an inch or two. Why do they do this? I just posed this very question to the trio of college girls sitting at our dinner table, and got some interesting answers. One was that since the middle of the dirt roads around here are often grassy, the bear poops where they can wipe themselves afterward in the grass. Another theory is that since the bears often walk down the middle of the road, whenever they meet an oncoming car it scares the POOP out of them, and so it lands in the middle. And yet a final possibility is that often bears feed almost exclusively on berries along the side of the road, and berries tend to pass through the system in a hurry, before the bear can reach the other side of the road. There you have it - three options from the future leaders of our country - just the bear poop, and nothing but the poop!
09/17/10 It is a couple hours before sunrise today and it is cool and calm outside. "First light" has already arrived - or actually it never really got dark since the moon is more than half full and has been up all night. There is a heavy fog cover and so the soft moonlight is diffused even more, and everything is glowing outside - especially once your eyes get used to the dim light. The only sounds are of crickets, and if you hold still and listen carefully you can hear the very hushed music of the river far below - its almost like it doesn't want to wake anyone but still wants to be heard. Soft and soothing is the order of the day, or at least the pre-dawn wilderness.
I don't recall why I was standing there, but yesterday I realized I was staring at a group of healthy and bright GREEN sassafras plants - in fact a wall of them about 50 feet wide. I had passed this group of plants hundreds of times this summer and never stopped to look at them. And then I realized why I had stopped this time - there was a single leaf that was deep RED, the entire leaf, and holy cow did it stand out in the crowd of green! It is not unusual for sassafras to turn color early - in fact I expect them to be begin blazing away soon. But was unusual was that it was RED, and also that it was so deep and solid RED. I was on my way someplace else so did not do anything with this leaf, but if I remember perhaps I will try to get a photo of this unusual leaf today or tomorrow before the color fades. There is a macro shot of a full sassafras leaf in the new ARKANSAS AUTUMN picture book (a yellow one, below) - we have the first three advance copies of the book here and you are going to smile when you see it. Our new books and calendar are on the boats in the Pacific headed our direction and will arrive sometime next month - I suspect we'll let you know when they are available for order.
Speaking of color, since the forest is so healthy right now I do believe we will have a very nice fall color season this year - but please don't ask - I have no clue when the peak will be, partly because it will happen at different times all over the state. And also partly because there is NO WAY to ever predict this - really. I will post updates here as I see color happening, but that will only be for areas I've personally visited. Also keep in mind that some hillsides may look dull and lifeless one hour, and spectacular the next - it all depends the LIGHT, and also moisture content in the air and in the leaves. Your best bet is to plan as much time as you can to get out and enjoy - you will be rewarded many times over.
09/20/10 It is dark and quiet outside early this morning, nice and cool and refreshing. Clear skies above and a little bit of color along thte eastern horison. We are in a holding pattern weather-wise right now, so not much to report in that department. Trees are holding steady as well - rain tends to shut down any advance in color, which had started to move nicely before the recent rains. Critters do seem to be on the move right now though, at least ones on the ground. Yesterday I saw a GIANT wholly caterpillar, solid black, that was about three inches long and really fat! Contrary to a black cat, I consider it great luck to have a black caterpillar cross the road in front of me! I got to thinking - if a big guy like this one could travel faster than a smaller one? And then I saw a large snail crossing the road - he left a line in the dirt behind him - actually it was more of a miniature Great Wall of china as the dust seemed to be attracted to the slime, and the dust piled up to a height about half as tall as the snail itself. By the way, just for the record, snails don't travel in a straight line all the time - they weave back and forth all over the road.
As I was huffing and puffing hiking UPhill the last half mile to the highest point in the Ozarks, a brightly-colored garter snake crossed the road at my feet - the first live snake I've seen in a very long time. And then a few feet farther along the road I saw a very flat but also brightly-colored copperhead. What bad luck this guy had - this particular road has probably only see a single vehicle in the past week, and that old copperhead just had to be sitting there when it came by to squish him.
As noted before, the heavy rains we had a little while ago pretty much shut down any and all color. And as I drove through Boxley Valley the other morning (on Saturday, taking Amber up to Missouri), I was stunned that we saw not a single elk or tourist in the entire valley! It was like a ghost town everywhere. This was after sunrise, but it was heavy fog in the valley so the elk should have been out, and certainly the elk-arazzi would normally be lined up along the roadside. A good day for everyone to sleep in perhaps? They had the 4th annual artist "studio" tour in Newton County over the weekend (no longer an actual studio tour though). One of the more "famous" photographers noted he had a grand total of four cars come by his place during the three-day event. It was originally a great concept to be able to tour working studios, however now many of the artists don't even open their studios for the tour, and I think the timing is wrong for this event and we have never participated. We do plan to have at least one holiday open house at our gallery in November, and will also be open several weekends in November and December - I'll post that info sometime early next month, along with the new products that should be arriving in another couple of weeks, YIPPIE!
One commercial note since so many folks have been asking - we have a single open slot in the October 16th one day photo workshop, and two open slots in the October 17th one day photo workshop. These combination shooting and processing workshops are great for novice photographers as well as intermediate folks too. It is an exhaustive day that will fill your head with practical knowledge that you will be drawing on for many years to come. Info here.
Oh my gosh, I just looked at the calendar and today is MONDAY, the very best day of the week! I hope you have a grand week and get to step outside a time or two and soak up some early fall atmosphere...
09/23/10 I've just come inside from spending a bit of time wandering around in the nighttime forest this evening, and all I can say is that it was just delightful out tonight! The full HARVEST moon was high in the sky and beaming bright moonlight everywhere - creating lots of shadows dancing in the cool breezes. And even though it was a full moon night and clear above with stars about, it seemed kind of dark out - not nearly as bright as a normal moonlit night. That is probably because most of the time when I'm out in the moonlight it is wintertime and with no leaves on the trees then there the woods are much more open and there is more space for the moon to shine. LOTS of nighttime bugs out, about as noisy as I've heard it since we moved our pool (and all the frogs moved out).
I hiked uphill a ways and took a seat and waited for my eyes and ears to adjust. The brightness factor would be about a six, with a sound factor of about a seven. I haven't taken the time to do a rating like this in a few months, and it was great just to sit there and do nothing but relax and enjoy and observe.
I have mostly been inside at the computer or on the road these past few weeks with precious little time in the woods other than for my fitness hikes, and those have mostly been on roads. Funny, but with so much time in the office of late you would think that I'm getting caught up with correspondence and projects that are long overdue, yet both of my desk areas are really PILED up with paperwork and I continue to fall farther and farther behind. Too much time on my hands I guess, but that will end soon as the fall shooting season approaches, then all of the projects that I've been putting off that need to be done ASAP will appear and I'll be in a real pickle!
We've been planning an epic road trip out west for the past six months with a small group of friends and photographers - tomorrow would have been the day we hit the road. But recently several members of our group got caught up with physical issues and were either unable to travel or would have had a terrible time on the trip due to these issues. So we had to reluctantly cancel the trip - perhaps next year. And the cutie who led the way was my lovely bride. She hurt her back while I was away in Iceland and it has gotten worse since I've been back (I'm a real pain in the back!). It took a while to get an appointment with a doctor in Little Rock, and then still longer for the damn health insurance company to "approve" an MRI that they won't pay for anyway, but finally my lovely bride got some good news from the doctor during our visit to Little Rock yesterday - another one of her disks exploded in early August, and parts have been embedded in her spinal cord ever since, making life pretty bad. They are going to do surgery on her back we hope next week, but at the latest early the following week. Then she will be down for six weeks and unable to do much of anything. I plan to get her a little bell or whistle or something and encourage her to use it - then I'll come running! I make this report not to encourage sympathy from you great folks (and PLEASE, no e-mails - the workload is enough already!), but rather to let you know that while Pam has been down and out and will be until mid-November, she is on the road to recovery just knowing they will be able to end her intense pain - YIPPIE COYOTE!!!
And a bit of great news - the new ARKANSAS 2011 scenic wall calendar of mine, and Don Kurz's new ARKANSAS WILDFLOWERS guidebook, will both arrive here on Monday - and both are quite spectacular! Sometime this weekend Pam will get all the info about these two new publications (she will continue to work right up until the day of her surgery), along with the new ARKANSAS AUTUMN picture book that will soon arrive as well, AND news of our HOLIDAY SPECIAL - all will be available for pre-order, and for shipment as soon as they arrive. And oh my gosh, the new picture book is, well, I can't shout that loud online, but it will be worth spending some time in an easy chair with - double WOW!!! All three publications were printed with a new level of color and claridy and depth - the system just keeps getting better and better. Stay tuned for the announcements in the next few days.
Chicken update - Pam's ladies are producing five colorful eggs a day - some are brown, others are green, some are blue, and we get a pink one now and then. They are free range, and indeed do range all over the yard, over to the gallery, and part way up towards Aspen's meadow. Pam feeds them in the morning and evening, and in between they spend the entire day wandering and eating everything they can find. They have added quite a bit of color and movement and personality to the place - and Aspen has not eaten any of them yet!
Here is the other sassafras leaf that I was talking about the other day, quite red...
09/28/10 We had to alter a long-standing tradition at Cloudland yesterday - FLANNEL SHEETS before October 1st! I've always loved flannel sheets but have always waited until October to install them, however with the chilly temps we've had we decided to put them on early and they feel great! 'Tis a sign of fall weather - which makes sense since autumn began last week. Nuts are another sure sign of fall, however I'm not really sure how good the nut or "mast" crop is going to be this year - I've seen a few hickory trees ready to produce, but not much in the way of acorns. Squirrels left Cave Mountain many months ago to migrate elsewhere in search of food and I've not seen but one or two up here since. I wonder where they go?
Fall color continues to be on hold right now - knocked back by all the rain a couple of weeks ago. But the forecast looks great - NO RAIN at all in sight, which is BEST for blazing fall color. Optimum conditions are no rain for the next 2-3 of weeks, then bring on a hurricane to sit on top of us and rain for a week to bring up the waterfalls while the color is here. Too much rain early and we get yellow/orange in the landscape. There must be other factors at play for the color too - I saw a brilliant blood-red maple leaf the other day - this very same tree was yellow last year. So I'm thinking we might have a much redder fall color season this year, which would be a change from the past couple of years. I plan to get out more and more in the coming weeks to take pictures and explore and I will be posting fall color updates at the top of the Journal as I see them.
Speaking of autumn, we have just posted the new HOLIDAY SPECIAL PACKAGE for this year and it includes for the first time a matted fine art print at no cost, free, zippo! And you have a choice of two different fall scenes for your print - a detailed macro shot of a beautiful popcorn tree leaf, or a downstream view of Compton's Double Falls taken last year when the forest was ablaze with yellow. The prints are my standard premium, archival fine art prints (5" x 7" - a special size that we do not sell otherwise); paired with an acid-free black mat (8" x 10" and ready to place in any standard frame, or just enjoy as is in their clear protective sleeve). Also included are an autographed copy of the new ARKANSAS AUTUMN picture book and our new 2011 ARKANSAS scenic wall calendar - all for $49.95 (so you are getting the print for free!). We are now shipping the calendar and Don's new ARKANSAS WILDFLOWER guidebook, however the picture book is not here yet but is expected within the next week, so all orders that include the picture book will ship out next week. By the way, when you need to send out a bunch of these holiday special packages to family and friends all you need to do is place the order for as many as you need, then send me an e-mail with all their addresses and we'll ship them direct for you! Instant Christmas all taken care of!
Speaking of pictures, I got up early the other day and headed into town for chores but stopped along the way and hiked out to the top of a tall bluff to have a look at sunrise. When I walked out onto the edge of the big bluff I was met with a sea of clouds that blanketed the canyon below and reached all the way up to my feet - it was quite an incredible scene spread out before me. I spent the next hour on top of that bluff playing with a new camera that I've been testing, but I also spent a good bit of time just standing there in awe at the glory of the moment. I just had to laugh when I got back to the cabin and discovered that my lovely bride had been out on the back deck taking her own photos of that sea of clouds and the "God beams" that were created as the cloud bank rose and engulfed the cabin - I do believe that her photos were better than anything I took!
This morning is chilly and clear again, and stepping outside and taking in a deep breath of that marvelous fresh air is just wonderful. There is a slight breeze and basically no sound at all - the wilderness is asleep, or holding its breath in anticipation of the coming of fall! I'm headed out in a few minutes for a quick fitness hike (still holding steady at 166 pounds, yippie!). The other evening I headed out for a long hike and was not dressed for the cold weather and strong winds and drizzle - just a thin pair of shorts and an even thinner shirt. By the end of the first mile I was numb, and it only got worse. But the key was to just hike faster, and then I could tolerate the cold. When I returned to the cabin a couple of hours later it took me nearly that long to thaw out! But it was a great hike, as they all are. Oops, the rising sun has just hit me in the face and is screaming at me to get out and HIKE! And so I must obey...
Just a quick workshop note. We are now full again for our October 16th workshop but still have some space left in the October 17th workshop. Plus there is a rare opening in our October 22-24 weekend workshop (due to a student working on the Gulf oil spill that can't attend). Contact me ASAP if you want to sign up. Details here.
09/29/10 It is really early this morning - 3-something, I think? I'm trying to wind my internal clock backwards because we have to leave the cabin at 2am on Friday for Pam's back surgery at 5:30am on Friday in Little Rock - yippie! She won't be able to take any pain medication so it will be a rough trip for her - but at least the end of her two months of severe pain is near!
A few minutes ago I went out into the bright moonlight with Aspen so that both of us could water the flowers. For some reason I forgot to wear my slippers, and I quickly discovered that the chilly night air had soaked the ground - and since I was barefoot those rocks were wet and cold! It wasn't until I had made my way halfway across the driveway towards the woods beyond that I realized I was creeping through a minefield of sorts - the entire area was laced with GIANT piles of chicken poop! Who would have thought that a little chicken could deposit poop balls as large as golf balls!? And so that is how I can rate the brightness of the moon early this morning - it was bright enough that I could see the chicken poop and avoid - and I was 100% accurate and made it back to the cabin with clean feet!
Later on I delivered Aspen to Pam's dad down in Boxley (Aspen was going to the beauty parlor and Ron to the car dealer to get his oil changed - well actually to get the oil in his car changed). Since I was out I decided to drive around and see what I could find, and I ended up along Fire Tower Road at one of the few sunrise locations that I know of in Newton County. The Buffalo River Valley that I had just driven through was covered with a sea of clouds, and a bright red ball was just beginning to peak out from behind a long ridge that I could see from my viewpoint on the road. Instead of photographing the rising sun like everyone else does, I decided instead to put on a very long telephoto lens and focus (pun intended) on some of the neat hills and hollows in the foreground, and how the bright sunshine was illuminating those cloud banks. Light like this does not last long, and in just a few minutes the show was over. Below is a wide view of the sunrise - the close-up view was taken about 20 minutes later - see how much the color changed:
LOTS of big bull elk in Boxley Valley this morning, and at one point I stopped the car and got out just to listen to all the much they were creating. We should have great elk watching and especially LISTENING now for a few weeks - remember to drive slow and watch out for your fellow elkarazzi!
We just got word that the new ARKANSAS AUTUMN picture book is in route and will arrive tomorrow - that means that it is available for order now and will ship on FRIDAY, double YIPPIE! When you place your order for this great new picture book - or for the HOLIDAY SPECIAL PACKAGE, be sure to let us know who you want the book autographed to.