Summer Snapshots
September 12, 2007
We’d held on to a Geocaching Travel Bug way too long (Grant and I had retrieved it from a cache above Aspen Falls and Lucy Falls back at the beginning of March) and needed to get it moving along. It had a fishing theme and was supposed to be placed near water. Early Saturday evening, June 2, the boys and I set out to find the cache at the River Valley Nature Center and leave the Travel  Bug there. The boys wanted to go for a hike along the nature trail and I was surprised at how nice it was, not being in what I consider “real” woods. If I’d had a camera and been hiking solo, I could have stayed till dark. The trail eventually circled around and connected to a boardwalk over a small lake. We talked to a couple who were having some luck catching catfish. All of this contributed to the boys talking Darrel into taking them there fishing a couple of mornings later that week. They saw a lot of cool stuff inside the nature center and couldn’t wait to tell me about it when I got home from work.

It seems there just weren’t that many good colorful sunsets this summer. I managed to catch one at Lee Creek Park Monday, June 11. As usual I parked the truck just before the sun sank behind the Ozark foothills and I had to hurriedly unpack the camera and get it set up to snap a few shots.
I’d marked the August 28 lunar eclipse on my calendar last winter, but my enthusiasm ran away with it’s tail tucked between its legs as a result of all those early morning drives recently to catch the Perseid meteors. Then I learned that many of the nature photographers in the region were making plans to photograph the eclipse, and I couldn’t stand the thought of not being a part of that.
I needed to find a good place to view and photograph the eclipse, which would take place before sunrise on a Tuesday morning. I worked that Sunday, but got off in time for Cliff and I to drive down to the Sugarloaf Mountains south of Fort Smith. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but we enjoyed some nice scenery, particularly of the mountains towering over the surrounding River Valley.
Monday morning I willed myself out of bed at 4 a.m. to drive out to the river bottoms outside Mulberry to scout for an alternate shooting location. The almost-full moon was near the same position it would be at the following morning during the eclipse, and I found a lone cottonwood in the middle of a field that I thought would make a good element in a picture.
I hadn’t given up on the Sugarloaf Mountains idea though, and that afternoon Grant joined Cliff and I on another drive. We went to the base of Poteau mountain near Hartford, because a Google Earth image on the computer suggested I might find a view that included the gap between the twin peaks of the Sugarloafs. Once again I didn’t find the scene I was looking for, but as a consolation prize we passed a Pygmy Rattlesnake in the road that posed for a couple of snapshots with the point-and-shoot camera.
Cliff and I drove out to Mulberry the next morning, and though we got to witness the eclipse in good conditions (and spend some quality time together) I never snapped a serious shot.  By the time the moon started nearing a low enough angle for a decent composition, it was in the haze of the river valley, and there was hardly any contrast between it and the sky behind.

The sunset on Wednesday, September 12 (pictured at the top of this page) was the best I’d seen in six months. All afternoon as I walked between buildings at work and surveyed the sky, I could just tell there was a good chance for an awesome sunset. I hadn't seen the sky like that in a year... a big rain system had just moved out, and the sky was clean and cool, and the clouds were way up high. The boys were mad that I made them go with me to Lee Creek Reservoir (they wanted to play outside with their friends) but they forgot all about that once we parked at the lake and they got to throw rocks in the water.
The weather was unusually mild the afternoon of Sunday, July 22. I had worked all weekend and needed to get out, and the boys didn’t have to be asked twice if they wanted to go find another Geocache. This one was located at Cold Spring Lake in northwest Crawford County.  The boys had a load of fun and I did a lot of reminiscing about all the fun times I had in the area back in my carefree early twenties. I planned on returning that week with my camera and see what kind of pictures I could get... it’s really more of a large pond surrounded by woods and wildflowers... but things didn’t pan out. Oh well, I’ll just add that one to The List.

A month later, on Wednesday evening August 22, I headed down to the river because finally the sky looked like it might put on a show after sunset. All the pieces were in place, but the color never developed.