Sunday, July 20, 2014

RIM SHOALS TO BUFFALO CITY EXPEDITION

It was mid July in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, and I had the wonderful blessing of spending a day outdoors!  Three other ladies and I had planned for the last two weeks, that July 19 would be our day to float a section of the White River that starts at Rim Shoals.  The morning of our departure, we could barely see the river, because the fog was so thick, but we had faith it was out there somewhere!

The Rim Shoals access point to the White River is maintained by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.  Besides the concrete loading ramp, there is paved parking, picnic tables, portable potties, and a wheelchair accessible fishing pier. 

Adjacent to the public area, you will find Rim Shoals Resort ( www.rimshoals.com ).  This business offers waterfront cabin rentals, shuttle service, and a host of other amenities that would add to the enjoyment of anyone visiting the White River.  The railroad still runs along side the White River, but the trains that use it are infrequent.  The few times I have been on the river when a train went by, were usually an interesting chance to photograph this often forgotten means of transportation!

While my fellow kayakers were completing the car shuttle, my job was to stay and watch our kayaks and gear.  That task was made quite enjoyable when these three guys backed down the loading ramp, and started the seemingly unending process of unloading their kayaks and filling them with every kind of fishing gear imaginable!

They definitely did not have Southern accents, and they told me they were originally from the Czech Republic, and were currently living in Missouri.  They said they LOVED fishing in the White River, and I could not only quote them on that endorsement, but take their picture as well!

Shortly after they made their entrance into the water, my companions returned, and we too, launched into the gently flowing river.

As we paddled into the low lying fog, we could hear rushing water ahead of us, but because the fog was so thick, we could not see what it was we were about to encounter!  That is enough to make my heart beat rapidly, regardless of how rapidly the rapids in front of us turned out to be!


In a short time, the summer fog had melted under the sun's heat, and we once again could see the beautiful scenery around us, as well as the other folks out enjoying a day on the river!

When we stopped for our lunch break, one of the ladies used the opportunity to take a "power nap" in her kayak, snuggled under the warmth of her beach towel.  One has to remember that the air directly above the White River is somewhat cooler, and dress accordingly---especially at the beginning of a trip!

We passed dozens of beautiful homes along the river, and some of them even had "For Sale" signs!  My advice to someone interested in owning a home on the river, is to take a real estate tour by boat, as well as by car, to get the full effect of your future purchase!



Besides the private residences, we passed several commercial properties that rent overnight lodging, watercraft, fishing supplies, snacks and beverages.

We
were particularly glad to get to the Ranchette Access Area, maintained by the Game and Fish Department ( www.agfc.com ), because we all were in need of a potty break by that time!

In "kayaking courtesy school", we are taught to not get too close to fishermen along the river.  In a wide river like the White River, this is usually easy to do.

After we passed the Ranchette area, we began to see very tall, limestone bluffs in the distance.  They were a different geological feature from the wooded shorelines that we had encountered for most of the trip, up to that point. 

The
scenery is so beautiful in this calm area of the White River, that it could be the "visual aid" for the poet's words in Psalm 46:4 that say "There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God..."  Being able to soak in the majesty that surrounded me certainly made me glad!!

The tall limestone bluffs like the ones in the photo are prevalent along the Buffalo River, and so it is not surprising that we were approaching the area where the Buffalo River runs into the White River.

Hence, the access area at this location is called "Buffalo City", and is a popular place for swimming, fishing, picnicking, photography, and river strolls.  The location includes paved parking and portable potties.  It took our group about 5.5 hours to make the trip from Rim Shoals, down to Buffalo City, with the current defined as "Minimum Flow".  Your trip could vary, however, depending on how much water is being released from the dam. 

Our group started seeing more kayakers as we approached Buffalo City, as the river here is so wide, that some people bring their kayaks just to paddle around from this one location, instead of floating to a different takeout point.

I am thankful to be able to say that none of our group turned over during our day on the river!  However, we went through a few rapids that had such high waves, that we got lots of water inside our kayaks, but nothing that was unmanageable.  Also, some of the river guides based out of the Cotter Trout Dock ( www.cottertroutdock.com ) were extremely helpful to us by showing us the passages through treacherous areas, where we were least likely to encounter rocks that would tumble us over.  We were very appreciative of their assistance!  I would heartily recommend a day of floating the White River.  It will give you "MILES OF SMILES"!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

ART EXPEDITION WITH THE GRANDKIDS!

The theme for this year's Grandma/Grandkid outing was "ART", and the first stop was to see the CREATION ART of God, by visiting the Arkansas Champion Sugar Maple tree, which is located in the Confederate Cemetery in Fayetteville, Arkansas  The Arkansas Forestry Commission has designated the champion tree of each species of tree throughout Arkansas, and the location of these trees can be found on their website at www.forestry.arkansas.gov  .

The grandkids are standing at the base of the champion, with its stone and bronze marker in front of them.  The sugar maple tree is the species from which maple syrup is made, so it is a great illustration of the verse in Genesis 1:29 that declares:   And God said, "See I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food."

Our next stop to view art, was in the home of former President Bill Clinton, and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton  ( www.clintonhousemuseum.org )  We learned that this is an example of "Tudor" style architecture, which Kaitlyn found out from her smart phone, is reminiscent of the end of medieval architecture styles.


The  art  begins in the front lawn, with one of the painted Razorback hogs on display there.  Various renditions of these "painted pigs" can be found throughout the Fayetteville area, each one a reflection of the imagination of the artists involved.  For locations of these colorful characters contact the Fayetteville CVB at 1-800-766-4626.

Inside the museum, we were able to see examples of photographic art, as the kids had their picture taken with these photo cut-outs of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Examples of landscape art are on view in the First Lady's Garden, that has been developed in the back yard of the Clinton House Museum.  The garden contains markers that show the favorite flower of various "First Ladies" throughout history.  The markers include a portrait of the First Lady, her favorite flower, and a bit of history about her time of living at the White House.  Jacob is pointing out a hydrangea, which was said to be one of the favorite flowers of Hillary Rodham Clinton.  There are English garden benches, where the visitor can sit and enjoy the lovely flowers, or simply pose for a photo!

Our next stop was Lake Wedington, just outside Fayetteville.  This wasn't a "planned" part of our tour, but Jacob read on his smart phone that there was another  Arkansas Champion Tree out on Wedington Drive, so we started on a quest to find it.  Alas, we could not find the correct address, but what we DID find, was a place that we want to return to, with the appropriate attire to go kayaking!  The folks there  that rent kayaks (and a host of other types of water craft!) are called "Love To Float Outfitters", and you can contact them at www.lovetofloatoutfitters.com .

Since it was lunch time, we decided this would be a good spot for our picnic.  The time at Lake Wedington brought back memories of a time I was there during the spring of my freshman year of college.  My roommate and I had gone to the lake to sunbathe, while we studied for final exams.  While there, a beautiful young woman who was an OSU student on a mission trip with Campus Crusade for Christ ( www.cru.org/ ) shared the Four Spiritual Laws booklet with us.  When we told her that we were already Believers, she shared the verse from John 10:10, that challenged us to have the ABUNDANT life that Jesus promised, through a personal relationship with him.  Her testimony to me about the truth of that Scripture has proven to be a life-altering encounter, for which I am eternally grateful!  Spending time with these wonderful grandchildren is part of that "abundant life" I have been blessed to experience!

Lake Wedington has a swim area, volleyball courts, picnic tables, cafe, and playground.  We had a great time being "Swingers" on some of their equipment!

Our next stop was the Walmart Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas ( www.WalmartStores.com ), which is located on the historic Bentonville square, and easy to spot because of the red and white pickup truck parked in front.

Sam Walton's actual truck is parked inside the museum, as shown in this photo.  In keeping with the "Art Theme Day", we saw how skilled museum curators can take an artifact, and make it stand out, by the use of lighting and interactive components with the viewer.

We had fun using their machine to spell out our name in the "bar code" language that is seen on every Walmart product.

The museum also has a large, touchscreen, interactive Google Earth map, that shows the location of Walmart Stores around the world.  If you know where you live from the closest Walmart store, you can find your home on the map, which the kids were able to do in a snap!

From the Walmart Museum, we walked across the Bentonville square to the new 21C Museum Hotel ( www.21cMuseumHotels.com ).  The art displays start even before you enter the lobby, as shown by the luggage-sculptured bench that is adjacent to the entrance.

I told
 the kids before we went inside that "21C" stands for 21st Century, so we would be looking at Modern Art, which is VERY different from the types of art we had been viewing up to this point.

One of the exhibit rooms had a continuous feed of a video of people in ostrich costumes.  Since the room contained this very comfortable ottoman to stretch out on, while watching the video, we decided to watch the video SEVERAL times, as we rested from our busy day!

Kaitlyn and Jacob also enjoyed sitting on this very artistic couch, that is in the lobby of the 21cMuseum Hotel.

Next I told the kids we could see an example of a type of Mural Art that was used during the Great Depression of the 1930's, to provide work for various artisans across the USA.  This type of art was found in public places like post offices, train stations, and government buildings.  In this photo, Kaitlyn and Jacob are looking at a mural that was originally in the U.S. Post Office in Springdale, Arkansas.  The mural is entitled "City of Industry", and shows that the strong connection Springdale has with the poultry industry, was evident even back in 1939, when it was painted.  It is now on display at the Shiloh Museum in Springdale.

The campus of the Shiloh Museum ( www.shilohmuseum.org ) also is the home of this picturesque log cabin, that seemed to be the perfect setting for a black and white photo of a very fine set of siblings!

This collage is an example of some "Do It Yourself" Art, by some very famous Americans.  The tile the kids are pointing to in the upper left, was laid by the hands of Bill and Hillary Clinton, in their Fayetteville home.  The tile shown on the lower right was laid by Sam Walton himself, in his original 5 and 10 store in Bentonville.    The museum worker smiled when she told us that it was not a solid color, because Sam Walton was able to get a better price, by buying the contrasting colors that were "odd lot" pieces from other installations.                                                             I am hoping that the grandkids enjoyed out "Art Day Expedition" as much as I did, because it gave me "MILES OF SMILES" that I will cherish for a lifetime!  Tricia

Saturday, June 28, 2014

LAKE POINT EXPEDITION!

The Lake Point Conference Center, near Russellville, Arkansas, was an ideal location for the 2014 Teacher Conservation Tour, sponsored by the Arkansas Forestry Association ( www.arkforests.org )

A wheelchair accessible walking trail encircles the grounds of Lake Point, and make it an ideal location for a stroll along the shores of Lake Dardanelle, at any hour of the day or night.

As one can tell by a look at the website for Lake Point --- www.atu.edu/lakepoint --- it is a part of the Arkansas Tech University, also located in Russellville, Arkansas.

This photo shows that wildlife enjoys a sunrise walk along the lake, as well as human beings!

One can see the flat-topped Mt. Nebo, in the distance, on the opposite side of Lake Dardanelle.

The building where our group met, had a large center meeting space/common area, which was surrounded by private rooms on two separate floors, in a U-shaped arrangement, around the common area.

The large two-story windows looked out onto Lake Dardanelle, and a patio.

The dining hall was in a building adjacent to where our lodging was located.

That room also had large windows that took advantage of the magnificent view of water and mountains.

Arkansas Tech University students who are studying to be hospitality professionals run the food service and hotel management aspects of the conference center.  I would give the students who created this beautiful dessert an A+ !!

All the meals were buffet style, with plenty of healthy food groups to choose from,.

I convinced the chef to pose in this photo of one of sandwich lunch buffets.  Their kitchen also supplied the "picnic" lunches for us, when our group was away on field trips at a distance from the conference center.

I was impressed with some of the garnishes for the meals, such as this fish.  It was especially appropriate because our after lunch exercise involved working with Arkansas Game and Fish employees to study the fish that were in the adjacent lake!

This "blooming onion", with its special color touches, was a garnish I had not seen before.

All our meals had lovely table service, with cloth napkins, tablecloths, nice china, flatware, centerpiece, and pretty desserts!

The buffet service enabled people to create their sandwiches in the way that best suited their likes/dislikes, and food preferences.

One of our supper meals was held outdoors, and was the traditional favorite of grilled hamburgers, chicken, and hot dogs!

The outdoor pavilion was set up with red checkered tablecloths, which added to the festive mood!

One of our group activities was each person putting a colored fingerprint on the "Thanks" tree card that was to be sent to the speakers to our group.  This is also a reminder to me to say THANKS to all the presenters, van drivers, industry sponsors, city officials, leader Rob Beadel, and  the Arkansas Forestry Foundation who made this conference possible!

We are so blessed to live in a state with so much natural beauty, and with citizens who are working to preserve that beauty, while at the same time providing jobs to keep our economy moving forward.  So here are my thoughts regarding the 2014 Teacher Conservation Tour:  "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you." (from Philippians 1:3).  This past week gave me "MILES OF SMILES"!!  Tricia