September 20, 2006

Looking back, I'd say we had a decent summer, with more trips to the outdoors than in summers past. The first excursion of the season was on the evening of Saturday, July 1. After dinner with family and friends at a Chinese buffet, I headed out to Flanagan Prairie to catch the sunset and maybe find some patches of purple Liatris in bloom. As usual I arrived later than I should and had to rush to snap some photos before the sun went down. The Liatris was spotty instead of in thick patches like I've seen in pictures from past seasons, but at least I got to see some in bloom on the prairie for myself. I made the mistake of wearing shorts, and my ankles were covered with scratches by the end of the 400-yard circular walk I made through the thick prairie grasses.
Stacey went out of town Sunday, July 23. After going to see a movie, the boys and I drove up to Mount Magazine for no real reason, though I was hoping to try out my new telephoto lens. We pulled in to the Cameron Bluff overlook just as the sun was setting. I had just enough time to get the new lens on the camera and fire off a few handheld shots zoomed in as close to the sun as the lens would go. The last shot caught the top rim of the sun the moment before it disappeared. Of course that red glow only appeared in a small portion of the sky, but it makes a nice picture. The boys ran down to the bluff (there were guard rails, Mom!) and threw rocks over and waited to hear them land way below. After that we drove over to see the new lodge. We got to roll the windows down and enjoy some nice fresh, cool air. The temperature was a good 15 degrees cooler up on top of the mountain. We stopped at the Sonic in Paris for a late dinner and ice cream. We had a great drive home filled with jokes and laughter.
For the first time in about six months, I made myself get out of bed early enough to see a sunrise. That was the morning of August 9. The real reason was to drive out to Lee Creek Reservoir in hopes of catching the full moon setting. I had forgotten how pleasant summer mornings can be on the water, and told myself I would do this more often.
Saturday evening August 19, Stacey and I drove up with the boys to Mount Magazine t0 have dinner at the new lodge. The prices on the menu were pretty steep (higher than what we’re used to paying for a nice dinner in Fort Smith) so we all ordered burgers and sandwiches. We drove out to Cameron Bluff to watch the sun set, but it was a dull one. As usual the boys had to throw rocks off the bluff, so I took Grant over to a spot away from Cliff so wouldn’t have to worry about one of the boys accidentally knocking the other one down. Stacey snapped a picture of Grant and me with the western point of the mountain behind us. On the drive home Stacey pulled over to watch a snake crossing the highway, and made more fun of me for mistaking a hat in the road for a snake on the drive up!
We made several other trips to the outdoors but didn’t take any pictures (or any worth posting here). Sunday morning, August 20, I drove out to the boat ramp at Spring Hill Park in hopes of seeing the sun rising over the Arkansas River. The sun was obscured by thick clouds so I drove out to Fort Chaffee and drove around looking for wildlife.
That evening the boys and I had a nice drive up into the mountains north of the Mulberry River. A line of thunderstorms had just moved through and it seemed like a good time to be in the woods. On the way we made the required stop at the Turner Bend store for snacks. Once we were on dirt roads I let the boys ride in the back of the truck. I spotted a new road the forest service had built on the west side of Morgan Mountain and drove down to investigate. After what seemed like a couple of miles, the road suddenly got very steep and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make it back up. I stopped and managed to get the truck turned around then breathed a huge sigh of relief. One of these days I’m going to find myself stuck out in the middle of nowhere on a hill my truck won’t climb. Anyway, on the drive back to the main dirt road we went over numerous humps in the road. I went over them fast enough to bounce the boys in the back of the truck, which they just loved!
On the morning of August 22 I drove out before dawn to Clear Creek Park because I’d read about some special alignment of the moon and planets on Thanks to some clouds, I couldn’t even see the moon, but there was an awesome sunrise (pictured at the top of this page). I didn’t get to stay until the actual sun appeared, since school had started and I had to be home in time to get the boys ready.
The last outing of the season was on the evening of September 7. I drove up to White Rock Mountain for the full moon rise. I found a nice vantage point along the loop trail that circles the top of the mountain, but the moon didn’t show itself until way after dark thanks to some thick clouds. I didn’t even try to take a photo, because the sky and mountains were so dark.