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LITTLE BLUFF JOURNAL - December 2018

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Little Bluff cabin cam December 16 - a stunning "scone" sunrise!

Journal updated December 15

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Print Of The Week special

***Our HOLIDAY SPECIAL is shipping with your choice of seven different picture books

12/01/18 LOTS of lightning, heavy downpours, and high winds several times during the night. The radar maps sure were colorful! We spent some time getting the safe room ready in case we needed to run for cover - thank goodness we never needed it. Our $2 rain gauge showed about two inches when the first storm passed,` but only an additional 1/2 inch the rest of the night. I think we need a real weather station here.

When I first awoke at 4-something this morning, I saw shadows from our deck posts, but the only bright object in the sky was Venus. No way VENUS could be casting shadows, right? When I stood up and peeked outside I realized that, duh, it was the crescent MOON! A beautiful sight for sure, and one I had to take a picture of, but not until I had a cup of java on the couch. By the time I hiked up to the office to get my camera and back down again, some of the stars had already begun to fade with the coming dawn. I did get a snapshot of our prow and the tall pines with Orion - The Hunter setting into the west in between them.

We're off to our program in Bentonville today, then onto the Mountain Home show tomorrow. I'm finishing up two or three NEW Black Mat Prints this morning that have never been seen before and will have them at each program (but only one of each).

Windy, warm, and beautiful - a great start to December!

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12/02/18 We just got home this evening from our fifth slide program of the week - I think we are a bit tuckered out. We had a couple of really big shows, a couple of great shows, and one that bombed a bit. One thing in common with all - we REALLY appreciated everyone who took time our of your busy lives to attend, and also those who worked at the facilities and clubs to host us. These programs are always the highlight of our year. Only five more and then we are done until January 11th, when we'll do our last programs of the season (next programs after that will be in November 2019).

We have a LOT of catching up to do this week and also to get ready for our slide shows on Friday in Springfield and our GALLERY OPEN HOUSE on Saturday. Somewhere in there I plan to nap for a few minutes, and also to put our outdoor storage shed back together again (it blew apart during the big storm a few days ago, but then it blew over last night and into more pieces).

Tonight we're just going to lay back and watch the Christmas tree lights, and the stars, and not go anywhere for awhile...

12/07/18 'Tis cold with heavy fog all around - can't hardly see any view past the railing! It is always fun hiking in the fog through thick trees like we have here - since you can only see a few feet ahead it is always an ever-changing scene! Haven't run into any trees yet, but have lost the puppies a time or two.

We've been concerned about the weather for this weekend for the past several days, especially with estimates of 5-8 inches "or more" of snow and up to a quarter inch of ICE - that ice part is not good. First it was all going to hit today and so we were trying to figure out about our two important Springfield shows. Then they moved the bad stuff to Saturday, which meant our gallery open house might not happen, and the roads might be so bad that we worried about getting to Little Rock Sunday morning for our show there. They have now slacked off on the totals a bit for Saturday, and we're more hopeful the roads will be clear on Sunday - although we still may make a run for Little Rock on Saturday afternoon if it all looks too bad.

Speaking of our show in Springfield tonight, there has been a good bit of very negative feedback about using the Nature Center's high-resolution tick-tack-toe nine-panel display screen (that we used last year) vs. our normal projector setup. Before last year we always used our own projector and projected on the wall. We can't do that anymore since their panel is on the wall, but we have purchased a new 12-foot wide projection screen and we DO plan to use that screen with our own projector at both programs tonight - so no tick-tack-toe panels (unless something goes wrong with our system - fingers crossed).

It's going to be a fun weekend...

12/08/18 Trees, fields, and fences were covered with ice/hoar frost (frozen fog) as we left at noon yesterday to head north for our programs. But the freeze was localized to our road and hilltop - didn't see any ice again until we arrived back home around midnight to the very same hoar frost. It was beautiful, but a few of the pine trees lining the county road were bent over a bit from the weight of the ice.

The Springfield programs were GREAT - first early one was PACKED with I think the largest crowd we've had for the early show there. Both groups were noisy (that's a GOOD thing - folks having a good time!), and had a lot of really great questions - I LOVE questions, lots and LOTS of questions make for a better program. While driving home late to an unknown road situation, I calculated the time we had put in to get to Springfield (really, to any of our programs) - counting prep time and packing the van, the travel up, unpacking and setting up, giving two programs back-to-back, then taking everything down and packing the van again, the drive home, then unpacking the van - our little group of four put in more than 48 hours yesterday! No wonder I slept in until nearly 6am today!

The big winter storm that had been advertised did not show up - at least not at Little Bluff. We had a tiny bit of sleet this morning, then some mist that froze on the gravel and leaves and grass. Then about 3:30 this afternoon it began to snow tiny flakes. It's about 9pm tonight and we've had a total of maybe 1/2 inch of snow - enough to coat the ground and deck. With the Christmas tree lights it's almost like a White Christmas!

The van is all packed back up again with fresh books and prints, and resting in the garage and ready for our trip to Little Rock tomorrow - hoping Hwy. 7 up from Jasper and along the top of and down the front range of the Ozarks will be clear.

I hiked about 4.5 miles today going to and from the gallery (we were open but no one showed up). Each time I slowed my pace to make sure I didn't slip, but also to be able to linger just a little longer in the woods and soak in all the beauty. Our little trail winds through a grove of large and towering pine trees, past other species of all shapes and sizes, including a number of small beech trees with their golden leaves whistling in the breeze.

As soon as our program season is over (December 17th is our last program, in Dover), I have to get back to work and put in a lot of long hiking days trying to finish up the field work for a guidebook update. My ailing back (and two cranky knees) have been holding up so far to some degree (on average I lift and move about 800 pounds of books four times for each program (thank goodness Pam's dad and others help out when they can!) - I'm not sure which will cause more wear and tear - program season or all the trail miles - but I love BOTH!

All of a sudden this week the pups decided they didn't like the quilt on the guest bed, and gradually they've been pushing it off. They sometime sneak over into that room for a long nap - usually when we're not here, but sometimes when we are. Mia has come up with a bum front leg and has been mostly cabin-bound, so has been spending more time on that bed. Pam and I are lucky when they allow us to have our own bed for a few hours each night.

HALEY book discussed during physicist's interview on utube. I received a link today to an hour-long video chat between some really smart guys (physicist Dr. Russell Targ, and Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove). They discuss some pretty heady stuff (miles over my head - in the 8th dimension), then at the 33 minute mark they begin talking about the circumstances surrounding my book, THE SEARCH FOR HALEY. While there are a few inaccurate facts in the interview, most of the interview was pretty darn accurate. Kind of weird to be talked about in this sort of company (even if I was only the "tour guide" - I never met Dr. Targ). Here is the utube link.

Warm and cozy inside tonight...

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12/09/18 The massive winter storm that was warned about all week never happened, but we did get some nice ice on the glass panels of our deck railing for sunrise...

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12/14/18 Rain and a wonderful sea of clouds below that danced around andp layed all day! Waterfalls are pumping pretty good now for a while with more rain on the way...

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12/15/18 It is cool, clear, and CRISP outside tonight - a BEAUTIFUL almost-winter night at Little Bluff! We've had a very cold rain the past couple of days and nights, but it finally cleared off and blue skies returned. I took the opportunity to hike through the woods between cabin and gallery numerous times in the rain and mist, and LOVED every step. But the amazing last light of the day this evening that lit up the landscape spread out below us was quite - awesome (sorry to use that term, but it was).

Many nice folks visited our gallery today and it's always a treat to listen to their stories, meet new folks, and get to see old friends. One visitor came rushing into the sales area when Pam looked up and recognized her - they had worked together at the Family Violence Center in Springfield and hadn't seen each other since. And come to find out they had bought property just below us and spend most weekends in their RV - 'tis a small world indeed!

We sold the largest single print I've ever made to a gentleman whose father had a communications tower on the very mountain that was featured in the picture. I normally remove such things from my prints, but for some reason I decided to leave the towers on top of the "Boat Mountain Group" when I made that print - now I know why. It was one of the scenes I photographed during a 14-day odyssey this past early summer to try and capture a red-ball sunrise in between two mountains. I never succeeded in doing that, but I did get many great images of the early-morning sky and foggy bottoms and lots and lots of color. (One of the sunrises is featured on the cover of our 2019 Arkansas Engagement Calendar, another one is one of the monthly selections in the 2019 Arkansas wall calendar.)

Our annual visit to Russellville turned out to be the largest show of this season for us, with so many smiles and laughter, tons of great questions, GIANT cookies (I didn't one this year they were so good!), and a history-making waterfall chaser I had the honor of seeing - JILL PICKETT. She's the first person to visit and document all of the more than 200 waterfalls in our Arkansas Waterfalls Guidebook (the last two - and perhaps most difficult due to ice and tornado damage - were Aspen and Lucy Falls, named after our beloved puppies up in puppy heaven). As part of the deal she got a brand new copy of the guidebook, and as a special treat for me I got to have my picture taken with her. She later wrote a wonderful note online about the journey that led her to this great achievement - I will post a link to it here if I'm able, or perhaps share her words with you. This young lady is one of the reasons why we do what we do. THANKS so much to Jill for doing what she has done! And also a big high-five* to Danny Hale, Dr. Andrew Monfee, and all the folks who helped put on this show at Tech each year - and to all of the other water chasers for their encouragement to keep Jill in the hunt!

*A special Thank You to Dr. Cathi McMahan, Emily Dewitt, Carrie Saunders and Cary Moore from Ark Tech. Dr. Monfee from Monfee Medical Clinic and Steve Hern, John Bearden and Brenda Hale from TAKAHIK...

Here's Jill's Facebook post about her mission - "So, here's the story. I went to Petit Jean State Park in 2007. That is where I learned of Cedar Falls. In the gift shop was this book by Tim Ernst about Arkansas Waterfalls. So, I bought it. The rest is history. I started working on completing the waterfalls in that book. Shortly thereafter, he published a second edition. So, I switched to that. I started looking for hiking groups to hit some of these that were too difficult on my own and that's where I found Danny Lee Haleand Takahik. I went with them numerous times and finally with their help, I built up the confidence to go on my own. Yall, this book changed my life! In 2011 I decided to quit smoking hoping it would help me climb mountains better....which it did. Then, I started tackling these harder hikes which required gps. One thing led to another and I started traveling the world looking for waterfalls. I've since been to Ireland, Japan. Iceland, New Zealand, Africa and Australia. Next year I will complete the 7 continents by hitting Argentina and Antarctica! All this from one waterfall book from AR. Never stop dreaming yall! The only thing stopping you....is YOU!" - Jill Pickett

One item we really miss here at our new home that we enjoyed so much at Cloudland was a weather station. I think we have even more weather events here (actually the same I bet), and we've missed out on so much. I've looked and looked but could never quite nail down what I wanted. And then a box arrived from a Journal reader with a note saying "my wife and I and our office staff are Journal readers and know you need one" - oh yes, there was an INCREDIBLE WEATHER STATION IN THE BOX with every feature I ever wanted! Now I just need to figure out how to get up onto the roof and attach a post to hand it on, and get it fired up. THANKS to Larry, his bride Angels, and to all his staff - we'll begin collecting data and posting it here once we get it fired up.

We almost didn't make it home from the Russellville show - our fifth or sixth midnight trip home this season. It was raining off and on and heavy fog would come and go, but we went through a stretch with no fog or rain and I got a little big cocky and almost got the old van up to the speed limit. And then they just APPEARED out of thin air - a flock of seven deer right on the edge of the highway. I know you are NOT SUPPOSED TO SWERVE when you encounter wildlife on the highway (might hit an oncoming car), but that's the only way I could go and not plow directly into them, and so I hit the brakes and the horn, and swerved to the left. They all took flight and scattered in all directions, so I was going to hit them no matter where I went. But somehow the van came to a stop within inches of them - in fact the front of the van was almost surrounded by deer! Of course, we came to a stop in the middle of the ONCOMING lane, so if there had been any traffic it could have been a terrible accident. We were very lucky. DON'T SWERVE FOR WILDLIFE.....

A special note for Journal readers. It has been a real treat to have so many of you at programs or at the gallery (or anywhere) say that you read the Journal. It's been more than 20 years now and while I'm just barely still going with this I'm always lifted up by knowing you are on the other end of my typing. So THANK YOU SO MUCH for reading!

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