I photographed a great sunset last night that decided to just hang on forever in the night sky….I shot it from a pond near my parents house and then from the Highway FF bridge over I-44 as well….
Mom and I traveled down to Arkansas a few weeks ago for the fall season and I figured there would be more color down there, since the state of Arkansas received more rain than the state of Missouri did over the summer months, but it was about the same actually, and spotty as well. Normally when we cross the Boston Mountains on Hwy 71, the leaves on the trees are brown and falling off, but we were mildly surprised to see a little bit of color on the south side of the mountain range, from about Chester southward, and just in spots, too.
I dropped my mom off with my Aunt Dorcas and after having lunch with them there, Missy and I headed south to Waldron…where my mom and dad both grew up and we used to spend time visiting my grandparents out on their dairy farm…lots of fond memories there. I drove over to Sehorn Cemetery to change out their flowers on their graves for my parents, who always try to take care of that around Memorial Day but were saddled down this year with major roof damage from the small tornado that tore through Sullivan back in May. Missy and I changed out the flowers on the shepherd`s hook….
…and the drove over to the dairy farm, which is taken care of these days by my Uncles Joe, Harley, and Harold….
…I remember so many times during my childhood, of coming down this road, gravel back then, and approaching these tall pine sentinels on both sides of the road, and seeing my Grandpa`s dairy farm ahead just around the bend…Uncle Joe added the white fence in recent years and has restored the old farmhouse as well. After visiting with my uncles that afternoon, Missy and I headed back to Highway 71 by way of Ross Creek Road and then continued south toward Lake Ouachita.
I was seeing a bit of color up in the mountains on the way south toward Y City, but the heavy cloud cover was making it hard to see anything near the top of the treeline….
As I drove south through Y City, I was able to survey the flood damage from earlier this year when one of those hundred year floods ravaged the entire valley floor there…ripping homes from their foundation walls and washing out roads and bridges, sweeping vehicles off the roadways….minutes before my uncles were telling me about their Sheriff and Game Warden who risked their lives that day to float across the raging Fouche La Fave River to a home on the far side where two people were trapped inside by the violent floodwaters….they were both wearing life jackets, however the swift flowing water collapsed the house upon all four once the rescuers were inside and all four perished. I could see the barren foundations left behind as I turned on to Hwy 270 from Hwy 71, and the remains of a mobile home as well, only the steel frame remaining and twisted violently as well.
They told me of a pickup truck, occupied by a man and his girlfriend, who had attempted to flee the rising floodwaters, swept off the highway into a deep culvert…the woman had opened the passenger side door and was swept immediately under the truck where she soon drowned, and the man stayed inside the truck. Firefighters were unable to get to him until many hours later when the floodwaters receded..then waded out to the truck, carrying a ladder, which they lowered down into the truck, and he was able to climb up to safety. There was evidence of destruction from high floodwaters for at least ten miles down that valley floor, til I reached the base of the first mountain.
We arrived at Mountain Harbor and got checked in with thirty minutes to spare before the sun began to set…I had figured from the heavy cloud base on the way down there, that we might just have a beautiful sunset tonight, and boy, was I right…..take a look at the series of photos of it…
…and as I was shooting the clouds gathering and turning colors, with areas of blue sky in between, I heard a sound and looked up to my right and saw a flock of vultures flying around in circles above….
…I was shooting the approaching sunset from the wooden bridge shoreline, which is quite rocky and rugged, and while there have always been a few vultures along this shoreline in years past, it was quite evident to me that evening that the flock had increased in numbers this year as they flew over me to the south…..
…and while waiting for the clouds to turn into their beautiful colors, I pulled out one of my sunset filters to play around with it over my lens….
..but a few minutes later, it was obvious I didn`t need it any longer, the colors were turning out just fine without it….and looking to the right, I saw a splash of color along the rugged rocky shoreline…
…this turned out to be one of those sunsets that just hangs up there for an extended period of time…def not your normal sunset that is over in about ten minutes or less….God had a great canvas tonight and the colors and clouds just kept turning colors and getting better every minute….I just kept on shooting….
…now this one above is dead center and the next one is to the left, where the clouds are lighter on the fringes….
…and even lighter to the right side….
…and deeper colors dead center…..
…I call these types of sunsets, cotton candy sunsets, cause the clouds resemble whispy pieces of cotton candy much of the time. I decided to drive on down the road to another spot, called Micah`s Point, where the staff of Mountain Harbor built a lookout platform at the top of the hill, and there is a trail down to a rocky point below it…when I pulled up to the lookout platform and saw the sunset getting even deeper and the cotton candy forming up in lines, I practically ran down to that rocky point and began shooting once again….
…I backed up a bit and looked at the sunset through these pines and it looked great, so I decided to shoot it….
…and then I drove back up to the bridge, thinking it had to be fading away now…but no, it was just hanging up there….so I stopped and shot some more there.
In all, I believe I shot about two hundred images of it, before heading back to the guestroom and then meandering down to the lodge restaurant for a great plate of fried catfish strips with their famous baked potato salad and steamed veggies. They have several great food entrees there, no matter what time you are there to eat…and from what I have heard, they also bake some great tasting cinnamon rolls for groups. The only bad thing I can think of, is that they actually shut down the restaurant from the first of December to about the first of March.
Missy and I woke up about 7 am the next morning and headed out for a good walk, getting in about a mile of small hills just walking around the immediate lodge and marina area. Below is what the main lodge looks like from the lake side, guestrooms are to the left, dining area to the far right…
There was some light fog out on the lake, covering some of the boats and docks, and I took my camera and photographed some of the scenery with the fog rolling across the waters….
After taking Missy back to the room and getting her fed, I wandered down to the lodge restaurant for a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and toast with grape jelly. Besides the great atmosphere there, they also have a great view of the lake and marina area from the restaurant windows. After checking my emails, Missy and I then headed to Miller Mountain Mine on the northeast corner of Lake Ouachita. We drove in and I stopped up at the mine entrance office, to find Bill and Faith sorting through single quartz crystals on the front porch. There was a new guy working the office with them this time…I found out a bit later that Bill had recently undergone some cancer surgery and was recovering from it, with doctors orders not to do any heavy lifting for at least another three to six weeks, so the new guy was one of two replacements now working there to do the work that Bill normally does there. Bill brought me up to speed on the current mining conditions in the Mount Ida and Jessieville area, and several events that had occurred since I was there last year in the fall. The short of it was that four mines were now shut down and no longer open to the public for digging at in the Mount Ida area alone, making for a sad state of affairs down there this year.
I had a few hours to dig that day, before meeting a friend for lunch in Hot Springs, so I drove on up and parked, cracked the windows for Missy, and got ready to walk around in the wet mud. It was way too muddy to release her from my truck and Faith had a dog running around outside as well, and it was cool enough to leave her inside, about fifty five degrees at that time of the morning.
After about two hours of walking around in the ooey gooey mud, I had my bag filled completely and I had found a couple of yard rocks as well. I took a break and checked on Missy, she was doing fine,but obviously wanted to get out and stretch her legs. I decided to wait til we got to Gulpha Gorge to check out the fall color in the creek and campground area. I wrapped up my crystals and cleaned up, then drove back down to the office to get a couple of baskets of quartz crystal plates and talk with Faith and Bill a bit more before heading out.
I drove down to Hot Springs to meet up with Tre, stopping off at the National Park campground to check on the colors there first. Missy and I drove over to the racetrack area where we picked him up, and then drove down to the waterfall south of town to check it out as well. With the two inch rainfall a few days before, it was up and running pretty good….
….higher than I had ever seen it in the three years that I have photographed it.
It runs down over a huge shelf of novaculite that is mostly gray to black, but there are areas of beautiful colors mixed in that make one think it would make great cutting material for jewelry, if one only possessed enough strength to break off a nice chunk of it. I tried one time to break off a corner piece, and it just laughed at me….very strong stuff. That evening, Tre and I went over to Harbor north to see if we were going to get another pretty sunset when we came across some beautiful deer grazing by the road on the plentiful acorns….
Later that evening, I met up with Aaron, a private area collector who I had corresponded with online earlier in the week, and we made arrangements to meet up and trade some material. Aaron had some great minerals and crystals from the Magnet Cove area including some smokey quartz with phantoms, pyrite cubes, brookite crystals, some with pyrite, magnetite crystals, and some novaculite suitable for cutting material. I had brought Aaron quite a bit of druse quartz from Missouri, at his request, as well as some purple fluorite cubes from western Kentucky, and some Doe Run minerals too. He also brought me a nice large cluster of quartz crystals from the pit at Miller Mtn Mine and handed it over to me….it was quite beautiful !! Thanks again, Aaron !!
I had a bit of trouble with acid reflux that night and lost a few hours of sleep…so I opted to do nothing at all on Friday til later in the day… afterall, it was a vacation and I felt that I needed at least one day of doing absolutely nothing, so after a good hike at daybreak, capturing more fog on the water…
….we moved from the guestroom, to a log cabin at Harbor North. While out hiking, we came across this neat outcrop of layered, colored shale on the lakeshore…….
Later in the day though, I drove into Mt Ida and met up with Jeff Burrows of Collier Creek Crystals and saw some of the prettiest quartz crystals I have ever seen…aura quartz, irradiated quartz, smokey quartz, golden healers, large clusters, and then he showed me some Mexican minerals including dogtooth calcite crystals in flower form, selenite, fluorite, and huge pallets full of geodes coated with druse quartz, Jeff was able to fill me in on some more happenings in the quartz mining of the area as well. He said he could remember a time when there were about twenty five mines operating in the area, but these days, due to the extensive regulations by the present administration, only a few mines remained open to the public. You can view more of the crystals Jeff has for sale at www.colliercreekcrystals.com and as soon as I get caught up, I`ll photograph some of the crystals I got there and post on here, believe me, everything there was quite pretty !!
Saturday dawned bright and clear and cool, and after a good hike with Missy around the north lakeshore, I had a good hearty breakfast at the lodge, and then we drove down to Charleton Lake and hiked down to the waterfall to check out the fall foliage…
I had received a call from a good friend the night before, and he decided to drive down to visit that afternoon so I spent the rest of the morning repacking the truck, redistributing the rocks and minerals in the bed especially. After a short nap, I drove up to the firehouse to wait for my friend Pierre to show up. We had a great visit, went for a nice hike to some beautiful fall foliage areas and then had some great food at the lodge restaurant before he headed back home that evening.
The next morning, I headed back up to Waldron to the family farm for an annual reunion with family and friends, and a big dinner. On the way up, we spotted some pretty foliage along Hwy 270…
Mom and I visited with several family members and area friends before heading for home about mid afternoon. Luckily, this year I had taken a few extra days off to catch up and rest up before heading back to work.
On the way home from rockhunting in Eminence a few weeks ago, my new rockhunting friend Ray Pohlkotte from St Louis at the wheel, slowed down enough for me to photograph a beautiful double rainbow at the junction of Highways 21 and 72….’
…and then farther west up Highway 72, we came across this beautiful pastoral sunset near Highway TT….