Cloudland Cabin Cam August 31, 7:57am - cool and nice

2012 Arkansas Sceic Wall Clendars are here


AUGUST PRINT OF THE MONTH (this cool waterfall is now available in two additional sizes from small to GIANT!)

Updated Wednesday the 31st - a solid THUD in the chest

08/03/11 It was just beginning to break daylight when I arrived at the trailhead the other morning and loaded up for a quick run down into Boen Gulf to get a height measurement and GPS location for one of the new waterfalls in the guidebook - Hadlock Cascade. I had been there several times this past year but never remembered to measure of GPS. It is an easy hike most of the way in, and it felt great to be out in the woods hiking. There were a few orb weaver spiders along the trail, and I had one or two for breakfast (these are those big fat, juicy guys who like to build nests across trails!). It was warm and I became soaked to the bone with sweat in just a few minutes but I really did not mind.

The trail dropped down the hill into the drainage and to a big bluff that you actually hike underneath for a short spell. Just past this the bluff curves back to the left away from the trail - I bushwhacked along the base of the big bluff and headed towards Wood Boys Falls. It is pretty easy hiking through there and the view of the bluffline is just wonderful. I got to thinking about how beautiful it all was, and realized that even though I knew there would be no water flowing in the waterfalls ahead, that the scene was still quite amazing - I think some folks loose sight of that fact sometimes - waterfalls live in spectacular places and those places remain spectacular even when the waterfalls are asleep!

I made it to Woods Boys Falls and then followed the dry creekbed downstream to the top of Hadlock Cascade. This is not a route you could make when the water was flowing since you are forced into the creek due to the steep sides of the canyon, but on this day it was great to be able to see all the rock faces of the creekbed, all freshly scrubbed clean from all the high water we had in May. I was surprised to discover there was indeed some water dripping from the cascade - everything else had been bone dry. I measured the height at 27 feet, but then discovered the other side of the waterfall measured 38 feet. After careful examination I realized that when the water was really high a second channel forms and pours over a taller ledge on that higher side - this is a really wide waterfall/cascade when it gets up and rolling!

Even though my damaged leg was giving me problems I decided to scramble/hobble downstream a little bit as best I could - I don't really know why I went, but there was something in the air, a feeling I had, and so I went. And soon I knew the reason. I came to a little pool of crystal clear water that was dancing and sparkling - although sunshine had not made it down into the bottom of the canyon yet. It was one of those WOW moments that happens in life - something so unexpected and wonderful (everything else around was bone dry). And then I looked up and realized it was the exact spot where David Hadlock came to rest on that fateful day when he fell to his death trying to reach the very waterfall that now bears his name. An eternal pool of life. Double wow.

The climb out from the little canyon was extremely steep but it was actually easy for me since my leg does better going UP than going down. The hike back to the car seemed almost effortless, I'm sure helped along by the fact that now with the height and GPS info the circle had finally been completed for me with Hadlock Cascade - I had all the facts and it was now ready for the guidebook (I always worry about such things, but knew this specific waterfall held more importance than most).

Turned out this day would be another marathon of driving to different parking spots around the Ozarks and hiking to several places to get final GPS or waterfall height info. I spent some time doing some serious 4WD driving to reach a parking spot, and then hiking up a four-wheeler trail that I wanted to include on one of the maps as an easy way to access a tall waterfall (most folks won't use four-wheelers but it will be a great trail for hiking). The day ended up at White Rock Mountain - one of the roads up there has FOUR different names/numbers! I was a little miffed that the government had a barricade up across the road with a big ROAD CLOSED sign on it, yet there was room to go around, and so I did. The road was not closed at all, only a short stretch on one side that had sluffed off the hill a little bit - heck I drive worse every day out here! But how sad it is that most folks would turn around and not visit what I consider to be one of the most spectacular spots in the United States - the top of White Rock Mountain.

OK, finally, I got all the facts for the new guidebook, yippie! Well, actually not quite. I still had one last long and difficult bushwhack to make to measure and GPS two waterfalls. I needed my leg to heal up a bit more but I was out of time. So bright and early one morning I met up with Jason and we headed out into the jungle towards Beagle Point Falls.

The Ozark Jungle was very kind to us on the hike in, and in fact the woods were beautiful. Then we hit the dry Whitaker Creek creekbed and had a grand time exploring the geology that was normally underwater and now exposed for easy view. Most folks hate being outdoors here in the summer, but this is the only time I know of to see and experience all the great hidden treasures of the creekbed! I really enjoyed it. But then, all good things must come to an end and we needed to CLIMB nearly straight up the hillside to reach the tall waterfall, but I was getting pretty good at doing that while down on all fours so I was OK. There was even a narrow deer trail we found that led up to the base of the bluffline.

I sent Jason to the top of the bluff from there while I scrambled to the bottom of the waterfall. Along the way I stepped in a hole and messed up my fragile knee, then lost control and slide down an incline out of control for about 20 feet and landed at the very bottom - good thing Jason was not witness to this comedy! And then WOW!, what an incredible location!!! 'Tis very humbling to be witness to such beauty on a grand scale, with the bluff towering high above, guarded on top by a giant old cedar tree leaning far out over the edge, and everything surrounded by tall umbrella magnolia trees. Sure it would be even nicer with lots of water, but really, I find most of these dry waterfalls to be very scenic spots and I always shake my head when someone talks about being disappointed by a lack of water flow in the summertime - OPEN YOUR EYES!!!

Jason appeared at the top of the bluff and lowered the measuring tape. At 76 feet tall this waterfall is the second tallest waterfall in all of the Buffalo River headwaters, with only Hedges Pouroff being taller (it is a lot taller at 113 feet). Next we measured Wild Burro Falls and Jason got to explore upstream a bit in the hanging valley above this falls - there are more waterfalls up there but they are really tough to get to. Wild Burro Falls is much shorter, but it is quite unique and a very scenic spot that is much easier to reach than Beagle Point Falls.

On the way back up the main creekbed I wanted to explore a side drainage on the way back, and we discovered not one but two more waterfalls - both will look really interesting when there is lots of water later on. One of them had some special layered moss-covered ledges that were just amazing and actually would be covered up at other times of the year so I'm glad we got to see them now.

It was up, up, and up all the way back to the car, but it was not too tough, the main obstacle being the orb weaver webs, but a headnet took care of them just fine.

So OK, NOW I can FINALLY say that I am FINISHED gathering all the facts for the new guidebook, double YIPPIE COYOTE! I have of course been spending all this time writing the text and working with Pam on the new maps - there are thousands of facts that have to be found, written, and rechecked. The guidebook is shaping up nicely, and we are getting closer and closer to the end all the time.

One funny note about the maps. There will be five different maps that contain waterfalls discovered this past year by Brian Emfinger. Each map will have some major waterfalls that I visited and photographed. Each will also have "small w's" to indicate where other, unnamed waterfalls are for you to explore. Late last night I sent Brian copies of all the maps with his waterfalls on them and asked that he add some of the small w's for waterfalls he knew about but that were not shown on the maps. One map came back with SEVEN new waterfalls shown! Brian has found more than 60 new waterfalls in this area near his home, and still has many more to discover in the coming year - many of those will be in the new guidebook and you'll get to be some of the first to go explore them!

OK, I'm back to real time and the trees outside have just begun to glow with the first rays of sunshine. I know it has been really hot in most places but I must say the heat has not bothered me all that much, even when I've been out in it all day. I think it is a mental thing for me - I used to FLEE Arkansas and be gone all summer because I could not stand the heat, but now it is just not so bad out here in the wilderness (keep me away from town though). We have kept the little creek in the front yard filled up and flowing 24/7 for birds and pets to drink/bathe in. Seems like most critters are out at night now - in fact it is really LOUD here at 3-4 am outside! But by the break of day it is very silent, except for the gurgle of the little waterfall in the front yard.

THANKS to everyone who called this past four days to find out what was wrong, and I'm sorry we were offline for so long. Stay cool, go find an emerald pool somewhere to jump into!

08/04/11 NEW HEAT RECORD. It reached 105 degrees F here at the cabin yesterday - a new all-time high temp for us.

08/05/11 'Tis a warm and humid Friday afternoon as I'm writing this, and I wanted to give a couple of bug updates. But first, it seems like we're going to have one heck of an acorn crop this year - at least for some of the trees. The big red oak that lives in our lower deck (and is featured in many of the deck cam photos), is LOADED with acorns. It dropped a few dozen of them a couple of weeks ago that were nothing special, but when it dropped a few the other day I think the entire cabin shook - they were HUGE! And brilliant green.

One of the plum trees up near the Faddis cabin is so full of fat plums that you can see them from the road while driving by at a pretty good clip - yet other plum trees are bare this year.

Oh yes, bugs. Normally you would see little bugs of a particular species first and then as they grow larger, well, you see larger bugs. That is not the case this summer for walking sticks. The other day I saw the very first one of the year - and it was one of those tiny bright green guys only about an inch long. Yesterday I saw one that was about TEN INCHES LONG! I wonder if they are related? Lots of other walking sticks in between sizes too so it looks like a really good year for them.

I've seen a bunch of fat grasshoppers this week too. One was right up on the deck railing yesterday. I remember seeing these guys back when I was a kid - we used to collect them in the fall and use for fish bait. But most of the ones I've seen lately have been much smaller. But these guys now are larger and remind me of some cartoon character - wasn't there a grasshopper on Saturday morning TV once?

And finally to the other end of the size range. While Jason and I were bushwhacking into Beagle Point Falls the other day it seemed like every time I put my hand on a big boulder in the creek for whatever reason, the boulder would begin to MOVE! Not the entire rock, just the surface of it. Took me a few minutes and several boulders to figure out what was going on. The movement happened every time I put my hand down, but then when I took my hand off the rock the movement stopped. Looking REALLY close I could see that the movement was being made by some tiny black bugs - there must have been thousands of them on every rock, and when my hand would come down on the rock the group of bugs would flee in all directions. But the bugs were so small and so well camouflaged that I could not see them either before I put my hand down or after - they were invisible unless they were moving!

We also found a pool of water that was probably five or six feet across and only a foot deep that had dozens of crawdads in it. All were just about the same size - probably an inch and a half long - and it was like they were all asleep as none were moving. I did not stick my hand down in the water to see if they would move, but I bet they could move quickly if they needed to.

OK, I have bugged you enough for today. But I am happy to report that we are just about done with the waterfall guidebook project so I hope to be able to get out into the wilderness and write more in the coming weeks. With a hot weekend ahead of us I hope you find an emerald pool somewhere to go jump in to!

Oops, one last note. I decided to make the new 24 x 36 Print Of The Month on super heavyweight photo paper instead of printing it on lightweight poster paper (as I had originally planned to do when I priced it so cheap). This is actually a $432 print for only $99.95! And oh my goodness does this print look TERRFIC at that size!!! I will only make 20 of these special prints, each one signed and numbered...


Pam's Flower Pot (above), young bull elk on Cave Mountain (below)


08/07/11 I spent 30 minutes early this morning before first light sitting out on the back deck listening to a party that was a real hoot! There were at least four different barred owls out there in the wilderness calling back and forth to each other. It took me a while at first to figure out how many different ones there were, and were they were - the sound sometimes bounces around in the canyons. Often when you get to listen to conversation like this for a while you can hear one of the owls moving towards the other - hum, some hanky panky about to go on! But this morning I never heard that happen - everyone remained on their own perch the entire time. So I guess they were all just really flirting and not ready for any prime time action...

Later in the day we got a good rainshower that lasted for a half hour or so, longer with just sprinkles. During that half hour of real rain the temp dropped TWENTY DEGREES from the mid-90s to the mid-79s. You could just hear the flowers and the landscape smiling and soaking it all in. A while later the sun returned and the temp was back up into the 90's.

08/09/11 A Cloudland Moment was about to happen. I knew there was an approaching storm but needed to make one more print before shutting down and unplugging everything - it was of Paige Falls that was going to her family for a charity event they do each year. They provide three scholarships for local high school seniors in Paige's name - a great tribute to their daughter that was lost way too young in life. Anyway, I cut things a little too close and the skies grew dark and thunder approached and I anxiously awaited the end of the print so I could shut down the computer before a big bolt hit. Whew, the print was completed and I successfully shut down and unplugged before anything blew up, yippie!

This was a something like 4pm, but when I headed out the door back towards the cabin I realized something was wrong - it was dark as night outside! Looking towards the cabin I could see bright lights - but they were coming from the sunlit Beagle Point off in the distance beyond the cabin - the cabin itself was completely dark and silhouetted. It was kind of neat and eerie at the same time. As I took the first step it began to rain. With each slow advancing step the rain and wind increased. I had a large ice pack and aluminum brace on my bum leg so I could not bent it nor go very fast. In fact it was taking me 4-5 minutes earlier to make the 100 yard trip from the gallery to the cabin. It got darker, and the rain really started to come down.

I had to make a quick decision - head back to the gallery to take cover, or continue on towards the cabin at my snail's pace and just take what was about to happen. I was about half way so the distance and time to cover would have been about the same. I decided to just stop where I was and wait it out. I was standing next to a large red oak tree that had a wide canopy of limbs and leaves to protect me, so what the heck.

When it rains in the forest you can stay pretty dry hanging out at the base of a big tree like this on - it takes a while for the rain to make it down through the canopy top the ground. As the rain got harder I leaned up against the tree. And then the winds began to swirl, and howl, and the trees all around began to sway back and forth. My plan of keeping mostly dry under that big old tree was not working - I was soaked in just a few moments. And anyone who has been out in a summer thunderstorm like this knows the rain can be really COLD!

The velocity of both the wind and rain and noise increased and my soaked body was quickly chilling. I realized that the big tree trunk had retained the warmth of the day that just a few minutes before had been 90-something degrees. I turned around and hugged the tree and oh my goodness it felt GREAT! So there I was in the downpour, dripping wet with just a thin t-shirt and shorts, with the forest thrashing like crazy all around me - and it began to hail. The hail did not directly hit me from above, but it did sprinkle me with pea-size ice from the sides - I held onto the tree even tighter.

And then I thought about Paige, the young lady who was actually the reason I was late shutting down the computer and leaving the gallery since I needed to get her print done before the storm hit. I knew she was up in heaven and was sending down all this mess, but since I had just done something good in her name why would she do this to me? And then it hit me - kind of like one of those soft pea-sized hailstones - it was indeed Paige up there in heaven sending all of this my way, and I was LOVING every moment of it, and I just had to smile! I've been caught in many storms like this and I do believe I've loved them all. 'Tis something you cannot buy a ticket to, or produce on demand, and getting to experience a part of raw Momma Nature in the flesh is a rare treat. CRASH! BOOM! The ground shook and so did the tree as bolts of lightning flashed all around. I laughed out loud - the storm was in full force right on top of me.

And then I realized that perhaps hugging a tall tree in the middle of a lightning storm was not such a good idea after all, even if it provided warmth. So I sucked it up and left the tree behind and hobbled on to the cabin, getting pelted with the heavy downpour and more small hailstones. But really, once you are soaking wet, a little more is no bother, especially when I looked up and saw four hairy faces looking over towards me from the protection of the front porch - our cats and dogs - all with this silly grin on their faces.

We got about an inch and a half out of that storm, and the landscape all around soaked it up, and within a minute after the rain stopped the ground was dry once again. The earth has had much of the moisture baked right out of it this past month and the sponge needed lots of water. Thankfully it rained more during the night - in fact several inches more rain - and it has been raining for about 30 minutes already this morning - double and triple YIPPIE! The thirst has been quenched, at least a little bit in the Ozarks. Thanks Paige....


Paige Falls in Broadwater Hollow

Just FYI, here is a link to a recent magazine spread with some photos of mine in LIVING IN ARKANSAS.

08/11/11 The lights were on in heaven all night long, with flashes coming from all directions. I got up at four and spent the next hour out on the back deck watching, soaking in as much glory as I could. So many times it would all start with a single flash low on the horizon, and it seems to ignite the rest of the sky as the lightning would spread upwards and out in both directions, fanning out wider and taller until the entire visible sky was filled with tiny streaks of light. And the sky behind it lit up purple! Each one was unique, and just when I thought I had seen the most amazing one ever, the next one would top it!

When I shoot lightning photos at night I set the camera to take a 30 second exposure - any lightning that happens during that time will be captured by the camera sensor. Then the camera has to "rest" for another 30 seconds before it can be used again to take another picture (actually it is making a "dark slide" exposure but I prefer to call it "rest"). Eventually if you are patient enough and spend the time to take picture after picture after picture, you will end up with some really nice stuff.

As luck would have it, many times the really great bursts of lightning like I just described above will wait until the camera is resting before happening - and I miss it completely! Well, I should say that I don't get a photo of it. I get to see the display in all its glory in person and it is recorded in my own internal memory card. Several times when this happened I know I woke everyone in the cabin up with my WOW!!!!!!! It was quite remarkable. (And sometimes that "wow" was followed with a few choice cuss words because I knew I had missed the shot since the camera was resting!)

A couple of nice "red spots" on the radar map moved through during the day, dropping more wonderful rain and the temp. In fact by afternoon the temps were so low (in the 60's) that I opened all the windows in the cabin to let all that cool air in, which lowered the temp inside by nearly ten degrees (we keep our AC set pretty warm). The girls spent the day at Amber's future home-away-from-home, Drury University in Springfield (getting books, parking permit, etc. - her arrival there is only one week away). Lucy spent the day following me around in "hyper" mode as low pressure cells seemed to always be in the area and those drive her nuts. I spent most of the day over in the print room working, or back at the cabin working.



08/12/11 I was up again at 4-something this morning and knew something was up. There was a glow outside that lit up the entire south side of the cabin. It didn't take me long to realize what was going on - the nearly-full moon was setting to the west through the trees, and it was very orange. The canyon below was filled with fog, and that orange moonlight turned the entire scene into a golden dreamworld. I grabbed the first camera I could find, moved the tripod out to the very far corner of the deck, took a guess at the exposure, and held my breath - it was one of the most incredible scenes I believe I've ever seen here! It was just one of THOSE moments of intense emotional satisfaction, almost disbelieving that I was seeing. Of course, my eyes were not fully awake and open yet and that probably added to the scene! I made four exposures before the moon had set and the light was off the fog. The entire moment lasted less than the time it took for me to type this (and I'm a fast typist). One of the photos turned out - the others did not. But one was all I needed. Five minutes into my new day and it has already been a great one - and I don't normally like Fridays!



08/19/11 Amber has left the building. It was nearly 19 years in the making, and at 5:07 this morning the girls headed for Springfield where Amber will begin the next chapter in her life at Drury University. A rather large void has been left behind, one that will never be filled - a feeling I'm sure most parents have to deal with whenever their child goes off to college for the first time. 'Tis the ultimate Catch-22 - you work and live for this day much of your adult life, yet when it finally happens it is not much fun at all being a parent! All I can say is that Aspen and I have been most fortunate to have had Amber in our lives for these past ten years, and we know there are many great things in store for her out there in the real world - she will touch the lives of so many for a long time to come. CONGRATS on all you have accomplished, and Godspeed...

We've had some really cool mornings here on the mountain with temps in the upper 60's and lower 70's and that special sweet crispness in the air that makes you think of fall. The forest got a much-needed drink a week or two ago and now it looks so much healthier - creeks are back to pre-rain levels though. I think we are going to have a grand fall color season in the Ozarks this year.

The new 2012 Arkansas scenic wall calendars arrived here a couple of days ago and are now available. We also received the first copy of the new Arkansas Portfolio III picture book, although the actual books won't be here until October. AND we just received a new Happy Holidays greeting card - it has been a big week for arrivals at Cloudland! I need to order envelopes and clear bags for these cards and will soon have them posted for sale. I can say without reservation that the image quality reproduction on these new products is excellent - the very best we have ever had.


We will have three open houses at our canvas prints gallery here this fall - two in November and one in December. I'll post those dates soon.

Acorns have quit dropping and the trees are holding on tight. We're seeing more and more deer - so many more with spots than ever before - seems like someone planned this all out, to have a large mast crop to feed all the new baby deer! Funny how that works out.

We've had some nice baby clouds too, early in the morning before sunrise mostly, although one day we had a thick sea of clouds covering the canyon floor below. A couple of days ago I was up at 3-something sitting out on the back deck letting my eyes wake up. The landscape was lit by moonlight and was actually pretty bright. I did not see it at first, but there was a small cloud hiding in between one of the big pine trees and Beagle Point. The cloud slowly grew and grew until it was several hundred yards wide. Normally baby clouds like this one will grow and rise up and move on, but this guy decided that he liked the view and stayed put. He just hovered there in space, not moving back or forth or up or down at all. I suspect the world could have come crashing around me and I might not have noticed since I was so focussed on the little cloud. Eventually the cloud got smaller and smaller and smaller until, poof, he disappeared into thin air! It was nice having a conversation with this little guy.

08/20/11 We had some pretty heavy thunder-boomers early this evening - pure white billowing thunderheads that went up tens of thousands of feet into a pure-blue sky. I loaded up my camera gear and drove out to a field at the other end of Cave Mountain that had a good view to the east, which is where the storms were headed. By the time I got there the big thunderheads had disappeared, or were covered up from below by a lower layer of dark clouds.

To kill some time while something else developed in the sky I went on down the road and stopped at the place we call the "honeymoon" cabin. It is the small log cabin of ours that I have photographed a time or two before - once with bright yellow daffodils in the front yard. I discovered that someone had broken into the cabin and "cleaned up" the back room, moving an old chemical toilet and no telling what else - plus a few items were missing. They swept the stone floor clean too. I can only guess that it was a photographer who was trespassing and figured he would make himself at home on our property. I guess we'll have to put a security camera on that place now - what a shame! We certainly don't mind folks stopping to take pictures, but breaking and entering is a crime.

Anyway, the evening light coming in from the windows was soft and beautiful and the rustic walls and stone floor were soaking it all up. I spent some time taking pictures and enjoying the place from the doorway, and wondered how many times the residents of yesteryear stood there with the same feelings. There are several interesting compositions in and around this old place, but I fear one of these days the roof or wall is going to cave in so I try not to spend too much time inside. We really would rather folks not enter this old building for safety sake if nothing else.

Mike Beebe called yesterday to say that he had some special tamales he just picked up from Izzy's restaurant in Little Rock. I LOVE tamales so I was standing at his front door in about ten minutes. We have trouble getting pizza delivered way out here, but no problem getting tamales!

On the way back to our cabin I came upon a doe and twin fawns crossing the road. The momma ran off into the woods a ways, then stopped and turned around for her children. The fawns paused in the middle of the road for a few moments - as I came to stop - and then both headed for the woods too. The first one leapt over a ditch and up into the woods - so graceful and so QUICK! But the second fawn launched herself into the air and didn't touch ground again for a LONG ways into the woods. In fact I was so impressed that I got out and stepped it off - she had flew 21 feet in the air!!! And this was a fawn that was probably born in May. Wow. Still spotted, but she could compete in the Olympic long jump for sure.

I turned to look at the mom - her coat was bright tan, shiny and very healthy, and her ears were back-lit and glowing in the warm evening light. And oh my gosh, those EARS were huge! In fact I had to do a double-take to make sure she was not a mule deer, the western cousin that has even larger ears.

Oh yes, and the tamales - WONDERFUL!

I saw a timber rattlesnake today that was a black as I'd ever seen - about three feet long with six rattles. Striking markings set off by that black background. I've not see hardly any snakes this summer, although I've not been out much this past month - my bum leg has prevented me from getting very far from the car, but I am getting a little better every day.

The National Weather Service has just issued a Flash Flood Warning for our immediate area - they say that 4-6 inches of rain have already fallen in this watch area - hum, still not a drop here, but I hear and see it coming! I must post this and shut down before the lightning gets too close..( update - we got only a little rain, but some areas in southeast Newton County did get three-four inches)


One other quick note as the rains begin here. My lovely bride and I - now official "empty nesters" - spent some time on the road today that incuded a visit to the place where we first met and then got married - at the Lake Leatherwood Traihead.It has been more than ten years of bliss already, and we renewed our vows for another 40 more - I'm shooting for a golden anniversary!

08/23/11 Pam was up early and looked out the window of the loft bathroom and saw a man walking slowly across the yard wearing NOTHING but a tripod! Oh the joys of living at Cloudland - you get to see some unique wildlife!

Rewind about five minutes. I was outside in the shower when the first giant CLAP hit. The thunder bolt exploded and felt like it was very close. The sun was just beginning to peek out from above the far ridge to the east, and I had no idea there were thunder-boomers in the area. I headed around the cabin to go inside and shut down the computers, but when I came around the corner I saw a beautiful rainbow arching over the far end of Beagle Point - a rainbow in the morning? I don't recall seeing them here in the morning before.

And then I was hit with a dilemma that sometimes works on my mind - should I run around and disconnect all the computers in both buildings, or should I grab my camera and take a picture? I decided to kind of do both. I hobbled on over to the gallery and shut down the computer there but also grabbed a tripod and then hobbled back across the compound to see if the rainbow was still there so I could take its picture - and that is when I got spotted by the lovely lady up in the loft!

While Pam pulled the plugs on the cabin computers I took the picture of the rainbow, and just in time to as it soon slowly faded away. I did not notice my state of undress until I got back into the cabin and sat down - 'tis one reason we are not normally open to the public around here - you just never know what you might see! (had I bothered to stop and dress I would have missed the rainbow completely - sometimes you just have to go with what you got on)


08/26/11 I've been gone a couple of days and it is GREAT to be back home on the mountain - the temp is in the 60's with a crispy-cool and clear sky and air - it really does feel like fall today!

After working most of the day on Wednesday I made the eight-hour drive to Nashville, TN. It had rained much of the way just in front of me and so the temps were in the 70s and everything looks fresh and clean out the window at 70 mph. I got into the big city late and had a few winks before setting down in a classroom the next morning. I was there to lean the finer points of some photo processing software.

When the all-day class ended I headed home and eight hours later was back up in my beloved Ozarks and almost home. I'm always leery driving at night around here because of all the deer that like to graze along the roadsides, so I was just a few MPH slower than normal, and spent as much time watching the shoulders as I did the road. Somewhere between Fallsville and Cave Mountain Road my car began to scream at me and started to brake - it has an auto-warning and braking system. I looked up and could not believe my eyes - right there in the middle of the road was a big BEAR!!! He was walking away from me down the center line of the highway. I immediately stepped on the brakes but the bear kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger until......I tapped him firmly on the butt and came to a halt. He finally turned and looked around at me, then lumbered off the road and into the woods, stopping at the edge of the forest to look back once again. Both bear and car survived but I was a little shaken. That auto-alert-and-braking system worked perfectly and no doubt saved both from sure death and serious damage.

I got a good look at the bear as he lumbered away - he was healthy, but long and tall and lanky, not fat like some bears are at this time of the year. He had a beautiful glossy-black coat.

My lovely bride had been up in Missouri all day and beat me home by less than an hour. It was great to be back home, especially with no bear blood on the car!


The Big Dipper as seen from Aspen's meadow.

08/31/11 It is a delightful morning early today with a heavy cloud cover, cool temps, and swirling breezes. Fall is inching closer and closer with each passing day. Last night the bugs and frogs were screaming at max levels - I think perhaps they knew that summer was coming to an end and they LOVE summers around here.

We continue to see a lot of spotted fawns - more and more twins and triplets, and also groups of fawns and moms. It seems that normally those spots have almost faded by this time of the year. Yesterday we saw a fawn that looked to be only a few weeks old.

I was able to get out and hike a mile yesterday - a very slow mile on the road but a mile one the less. I've begun rehab on my damaged leg and it is getting better each day. I'm hopeful to be back up to maybe not full steam but at least on the tracks by the peak of fall color in October.

Speaking of fall color, I started getting THAT question a couple of weeks ago - "Will we have any fall color this year and when will that happen?" The answer to both parts is easy - Neither I or anyone else has a clue. I DO suspect we will have some COLOR color, but it may come and go in a hurry. Seems like the underbrush that has normally started to turn a little color by now remains green - so does that mean fall will be late? No telling really - we'll just all have to wait around and see!

A pair of odd/interesting wildlife notes. While I was out on my slow hike yesterday I was hit square in the middle of my chest by a critter that not only stopped me in my tracks but knocked me back just a little bit (probably a reaction to the blow rather than actually being knocked back). It was a giant grasshopper! And he was flying through the air at top speed. He looked up at me from the ground after the collision with that stunned "Where did you come from?" look.

And the other day I was standing in the middle of a cemetery taking a picture. It was very early in the morning - still kind of dark and spooky - with a little fog moving around. I felt something under my feet - the EARTH actually moved, DOUBLE YIKES!!! Really? Yes, really. Then it happened again. Naturally I figured I was dreaming, but I stepped away from the tripod and waited - and sure enough, the EARTH MOVED UP again! There was a mole underfoot pushing up the ground. If that would have happened at night I probably would have fled the cemetery right then.

We have some to the end of August and the long hot summer. Seasonal changes are always the best times of the year - going from hot to cool or cool to warm, or in my case even cool to COLD feels great! We have a couple of weeks here to get our ducks all lined up for the fall and holiday season rush of photography workshops (all full); photography trips all over the state (I'm working on TWO new picture books); printing (I've got to make about 75 new canvas prints for our open houses; plus NEW 24x36 poster prints that will become available tomorrow); slide programs (many more programs to add to the schedule in the next couple of weeks); and BOOKS (the new picture book will arrive on October 12th). Beginning September 30th we have just about every single day scheduled until just before Christmas. It will be another marathon season for us, but we love it!

THANKS for spending the summer with us here on the Journal, and we look forward to sending you some wilderness karma all fall.