Missy and I loaded up the truck two weeks ago and headed south to Arkansas for a week`s stay on beautiful Lake Ouachita west of Hot Springs and east of Mount Ida….I was asked to photograph the scenery down there four times a year and this was our spring trip down there.
I stopped off in Waldron, on the way down, where my parents are both from and my Mom was raised there on the family farm. I have many fond memories of the family farm and my grandparents and many cousins and relatives in that area from several trips down there at various times of the years, and we still travel there for family reunions at the farm in November each year. My grandparents are buried nearby and my parents usually travel down there for Decoration Day at the cemetery, but were unable to do so this year, so I offered to take care of it for them. It was a beautiful drive out to Sehorn Cemetery, which sits up on a hillside overlooking a creek valley near Winfield, just west of Waldron.
Mom takes hanging baskets down each year and changes them out, I set the new ones on the grass and removed the older ones from the Shepherd`s hook and changed them out…
From there, we drove on south to Mount Ida and east on 270 to our turnoff, Mountain Harbor Road, at a wide spot in the road called Joplin. We were staying in a beautifully furnished condo in Harbor East, which was within sight of the lake waters…I photographed the condo and several others when there in November last fall and would mainly be concentrating on scenery around the lake and boating activities on this trip. I had intended to drive on down to Hot Springs and get a good steak dinner at Colton`s, and visit with one of my good friends Scott Effird, who works there, but found myself a little too tired after the long drive down today. We had alot of headwinds on the way down, and I was wore out, so we went over to the Harbor Dining Lodge instead and had a good dinner there. I really enjoy the atmosphere in the Harbor Lodge, very friendly people that work there and there is a great view of the lake there while eating. After dinner, we went down and looked at the big fireboat again, its a retired Coast Guard Cutter retrofitted to use as a fireboat….
…it was purchased by a resident of Mountain Harbor for the Harbor to use as a fireboat….it almost went to Alaska and would have if it hadnt been purchased, from what I understand. It sure is impressive looking and I was treated to a tour of it while there as well.
Missy and I wandered over to Micah`s Pointe after that and photographed some speedboats racing across the west side of the lake as the sun began to set….
…and a sailboat tied up in one of the many docks at Mountain Harbor….
…and then I spotted a couple of fishermen trying their luck from the waters near a beautiful wooden bridge near the Pointe….
..pretty soon after that, the sun began setting and I photographed it….
…this is a great place to shoot sunsets from, the Pointe sits atop a beautiful high bluff overlooking Lake Ouachita with a great expanse of water to the west right in front of you…there is a nice wooden platform built up on top of the bluff and nicely framed with beautiful pines and cedars…I know I`m using the word beautiful here quite a bit, but thats what this place consists of….alot of beauty….and as we stood there and watched, the sunset just kept getting better and better….
…and while we were there, a buzzard swooped down in front of me a few times so I photographed him as well…
…I then repositioned at the wooden bridge to get more water reflections in my images….…and while this sunset didnt fill the entire sky, the narrow cloudline in the middle sure did turn some nice colors as the sun finally dropped….
…and that blossomed into this….
and then this….
Well the next morning, I started photographing a few things around the condo for Sami….she has a very nice condo that she lets me stay in while there, and she runs a management service for other condo owners there…she goes above and beyond for pet owners like me….provides dog bowls so I dont have to bring Missy`s….
…her cleaning staff do a tremendous job as well, and always leave these cute characters on your bed to find when you arrive…neat greeters…..
…and even though she cant be there to greet everyone herself, on your arrival, Sami still makes you feel welcome as you walk through the door….
Missy walked in past the welcome sign, saw her reflection, and prob though Sami had arranged company for her visit…
…and once we got settled in, opened the fridge to stock my bottled water and Arizona Green Tea and found some treats inside waiting too….
Sami also thinks of your breakfast needs too….and she will also stock the fridge and kitchen for you if you have a shopping list, so its all there when you arrive…
I`m never sure if one can find what the basics I have to have…I drink a certain type of bottled water and Arizona Green Tea isnt found everywhere either…so I just take my own stuff when I travel.…but she was right on the mark with cereal for me. She also provides pet pillows for your pet to sleep on and treats…
…so if you ever want to stay there, give Sami a shout at Lake Ouachita Vacation Realty and she can make it happen.
After that, Missy and I got outside and took a walk around to re-acquaint ourselves with the layout of Harbor East, and get a good walk in as well….we were walking down a hill and I noticed in the ditchline and hillside that there were chunks of massive quartz sticking out of the dirt all over the place….
…I rarely see any crystals in the quartz in this area, found a few small ones, but I have heard that they can be found in the wooded areas surrounding Lake Ouachita and there are a few old abandoned mines along the trails outside this area as well. I talked to one of the maintenance men working that morning outside and he told me that he lives just a few miles west of Mtn Harbor toward Mt Ida and there are quartz crystal clusters that pop up on his property each spring during the spring thaw season…so they can be found in some areas in the woods for sure.
We walked on down and saw that the Harbor East pool was being prepared to open soon for the season….
…there is a nice pavilion on top and restrooms down below…there is a nice tennis court behind me and a basketball court to my left, right there with the pool…and the lake is right below the hill from the basketball court about 100 feet….as we were walking back to the condo, I saw some neat wind catchers in the form of hot air balloons….
…on returning to the condo, I got word that a buddy of mine couldnt make it down to visit, so Missy and I loaded up and headed to Bear Mountain Mine to look for quartz…as we got to the entrance to Harbor East, we saw a doe feeding in the grass…
We had a great time over at Bear Mtn Mine, for that story and photos visit my rock collecting site at http://jwjrocks.com
I was driving in a different route than I normally take, and we came across some deer on the very east side of the property along East Basin Road, and I understand they are there every day at various times…this one was standing up at the top of a road cut…its a little fuzzy, mainly because the truck was running and my arm was resting on the windowsill while shooting….
…I drove down to a different section for my sunset photos this time…down to a boat ramp in Harbor East, right below and just east of the pool and pavilion area…we found it during our morning walk and it looked like a great place to shoot some photos…and it was….
The next morning we got up bright and early and headed over to Miller Mountain Mine, on the northeast corner of Lake Ouachita and about 12 miles west of Jessieville off Hwy 298…another of my favorite quartz mines to go dig at…that story is also in my rock collecting site. I wore out there by 1 pm and then we headed down to Hot Springs to grab a pizza and headed back the condo to rest up the rest of the day. I think the heat must have worn me down two days in a row, it was early May and already hot and muggy down there. I didnt shoot the sunset this evening because there were no clouds in the sky and it was just not very pretty at all, which is highly unusual for Mtn Harbor cause its a very pretty place to shoot sunsets and this time of the year they are normally very nice.
Friday morning I waited for Sami to get back from some errands, and while waiting, I visited with Stu Schmidt, who is a rock collector and buyer, he used to have his own quartz mine near Mount Ida, and a wavellite mine near Avante, on the north side of Lake Ouachita, but recently sold both mines and now he just buys and sells rocks and minerals. I went to see what he had in green wavellite and wound up purchasing a few specimens from him that were covered in bubbles and cats eye. Pretty stuff.
When I returned to Harbor East, I stopped off to photograph a trailhead for Sami, located next to Turtle Spa….
Apparently its a nice trail to get a good cardio workout on…located next to Turtle Spa…
Friday afternoon, Sami picked me up and we went out on Lake Ouachita to shoot some boats and scenery…here are some friends of hers coming into port as we were going out on to the lake….
…we first motored over to the marina to get some gas and I met a few of the marina boys there…Connor is one of the marina boys and he showed me the fire boat up close, gave me a tour of it, and let me tell you, the interior storage room on it was like a sauna…it was quite impressive though. After filling the gas tank, we motored out into the middle of the lake and saw boats all over the place….
We went by the cove where my condo is located…you can see the corner of the roof, right above the lake side condos….
..the next photo shows an island where someone requested their ashes buried at because they loved this lake area so well…
…and here is what the north shoreline looks like in many areas….rugged beauty at its best….
We motored into another cove and found a guy had stretched out a big hammock and was sound asleep in it…
…and on the other side of the cove was an island that has a memorial bench placed up above the waterline…the son of a family well known in the area, an area the son really liked to visit and enjoyed during his time on earth…friends placed a concrete memorial bench here in his honor….
…very pretty place for it and well thought out and designed……and here you see the bench above and closeup below…
…and then we continued motoring across and east on the lake, seeing boats everywhere…
Sami then pointed out Brady Mountain Overlook, sits up above Lake Ouachita on the south side of the lake, we were planning to go up there the next day and get some photos of the lake from there…
…and here it is with a nice houseboat in the image….
…and another speedboat with flags flying as well….
…we then motored over to Micah`s Pointe…here is the pretty wooden bridge where I shot sunsets on Tuesday night….
…you can see the glass house at the top of the hill on the right side above the bridge…this house is owned by friends of Sami, and there is a tremendous view from there as well…I met them the next day at the Parking Lot, too…very nice people. The next photo shows Micah`s Pointe….
…and here is a close up view of the pretty wooden bridge and the marina behind it…
…we motored around a little more and on this island below, found another houseboat tied off…
…and saw some nice sunbeams as well….
…and then saw some friends of hers coming into port as we were finishing up as well…
We got back into the marina on the east side and returned the boat to the owner, a super nice guy who is the Subway District Manager for that area and we docked next to his houseboat there at the marina….
...it`s one hundred feet long folks…I never knew houseboats were that big, never seen one that long, never have seen any that big out on the water, but there were several tied up in the three marina`s there….and he gave me a grand tour of the inside and it was absolutely beautiful, very nicely furnished and just immaculate interior…six or seven bedrooms…we saw so many I lost count after four, each has its own bath, the master bath has a hot tub, there is another hot tub up on the roof, full size kitchen, dining room,and living room, and a full size deck outside the living room.
Sami dropped me off at the condo and after cleaning up, Missy and I headed to the lodge to get some supper…we then headed over to the east basin boat dock to see how well the sunset would look tonight…we were pleasantly surprised this evening….
…it was absolutely gorgeous !!! I walked down to the waters edge on the shoreline and started shooting immediately…there was a couple there taking a boat out of the water and a young lady snapping photos of the setting sun with her Canon camera…I gave her some tips on how to get some better sunset photos while her husband was placing their boat on the trailer…
…after snapping many photos of this beautiful setting sun, another truck showed up wanting to launch their boat and so she jumped in her truck and removed her boat and trailer from the ramp…as the new truck backed into the water on the ramp, a beautiful red Dodge pickup, I moved to the other side of the ramp and shot it as the foreground for the sunset…
Saturday morning, Sami picked me up and we went for a ride up to the top of Brady Mountain to the Hickory Nut Overlook, where there is a commanding view of the vastness of Lake Ouachita….
I was simply astounded at the view from up there, one could see for many miles and then some…I wished I had taken my haze filter with me as it was fairly thick up there…but here are more of the views…there were a couple of boats zipping around down there as well…
…we then came back down the mountain and as we entered the Harbor area, we came upon a doe feeding in the brush on the side of the road….
…and then as we made our way back to the condo, we came upon a doe and fawn on the east side near some homes……they crossed the road in front of us three times as we slowly made our way through the area, and the last time we saw them they were feasting on some azaleas roadside….
Sami picked me up Saturday afternoon and we went out with a friend of hers in his speedboat, so she could get some water skiing in and I could photograph her water skiing…he had a beautiful boat and we were soon out in the middle of the lake once again and Sami was in the water getting adjusted to the water temperature….
…and soon after that she was up on her waterski on the surface of the water….
…she did a great job considering she hadnt been out on the water for at least two years. We picked her up and headed over to the Parking Lot to meet up with her friends Julie and Joel, her neighbors across the street from her house in Harbor East…I had met them the day before and found them to be very nice. As we motored over to the island, we saw this guy zipping across the water in a pretty speedboat with a flag….
…we soon arrived at The Parking Lot and found Joel and Julie with Sami`s friends from the Glass House, relaxing in the water at the beach….
Joel came over and helped Sami and I make a safe transition from the speedboat to his houseboat, since we both had our hands full of stuff, and then after Sami`s speedboat friend took off to join up with some of his buddies on the other side of the lake, we sat down on the comfy boat seats and relaxed, waiting for Joe to arrive in his bass boat with Sami`s dogs….
Then after a grilled dinner on the island, DJ and his family headed back to their house in DJ`s beautiful sleek speedboat….
After another hour of relaxing on the beach, we finally loaded up Joe`s bass boat and headed back across the lake to Mountain Harbor…I shot this mid day setting sun across the lake….
…and then later that evening, I went down to the main marina at the dining lodge and tried to shoot the super moon, but folks, it looked like a normal moon to me….
…maybe just a little brighter, but thats the only difference I saw.
Well that wrapped up a nice six day stay in southern Arkansas in May, Missy and I loaded up the next morning and headed home.