LITTLE BLUFF JOURNAL - JUNE 2021 (previous months)


Little Bluff cabin cam June 30 - a textbook summer day - warm, humid, calm, with clear blue skies - blackerries right off the vine were SO SWEET during my three-maile hike early this morning - HAPPY SUMMER!

Journal updated June 30 - ketchup day


Print Of The Week special (above)

Just FYI, all of the guidebooks and picture books that we publish (18 different books) are now in stock and LIVE on the University of Arkansas Press (CLICK HERE) and ready for individual orders It's your BEST BET FOR MAIL ORDER any of these titles (Amazon is frequently out of stock).

06/01/21 Some very nice rain and heavy fog this morning.PERFECT weather for waterfall hunting!

06/02/21 Another 4am departure for me today, which got me to the trailhead at first light. Seven miles of hiking later and I was standing at the edge of another world. It was one of those misty days in the jungle, with a few distant views out over the landscape of a wilderness area (near where the Buffalo River meets the White River). I’d found and photographed a beautiful waterfall back in there almost 20 years ago but had never measured it. My lovely bride has heard me talk about this falls for YEARS AND YEARS - it’s ALWAYS on my TO-GET-DO list.

And it was just beautiful as I stood there at the edge of a tall bluff, surrounded by a wonderful sandstone glade with all sorts of wildflowers, all soaked by the mist and radiating rich, saturated colors of blue, purple, and yellow.

So getting to the top of this waterfall was no big deal - just seven miles along ridgetops (well, sometimes steeply UP those ridgetops). Then a little bushwhack down to the top of the falls. But the problem was I really wanted to be at the bottom of the falls - it was running well enough I wanted to take another photo, of course. I had been to the bottom before, but I had made a long journey from the lower end of the drainage, and made my way up to the base of the falls, then had a pretty dicey climb out - the bluffs are too tall except for one spot, which required long legs and long arms and long stretches to make it to the top. I was prepared to go down in that same location, although I’m always a little queasy doing DOWN a spot like this - one small slip and it would be all over.

So I came prepared, sort of, with a short length of strap, which I attached to the base of a small tree at the top of the climb, which helped lower myself down the narrow, vertical crack in the bluffline. And POOF, I was down below the bluff - I had made it!

And oh my it was even more beautiful than I had remembered the first time being there all those years ago. Waterfalls in general tend to live and thrive where there is beauty, bluff beauty, and this one was a great area - tall vertical layered sandstone bluffs with ions of erosion sculpting waves and pedestals and other shapes, and staining of the bluff face with minerals - blues and reds and blacks and oranges. The fact it had been raining and the air was filled with mist just made the stone and color all the more rich and saturated.

I stood at the base of the waterfall and took my measurements - 65’ tall. Then I set up my little camera and tripod and shot a few pictures, including one with me included for scale.

A funny note about the photo with me in it. I only made one attempt, and it seemed good enough. But oh brother did I PAY for it. I get ten seconds to push the camera shutter button and run/scramble/slip/slide into position, then strike a post and hold perfectly still for about ten seconds (so I’m not blurred during the multi-second exposure). This is normally not a big deal except for the fact that best place for me to stand required me to splash through water that was deeper than the tops of my boots (so my boots filled with water). I was OK with that - just empty out my boots and squeeze as much water out of my socks as possible and hike on. But for extra credit when I stuck my classic pose with my hand on my hips and looking up into the waterfall - trying to hold perfectly still for ten seconds - a part of the waterfall was hitting me in the face, soaking my entire body with cold, clear, wonderful wilderness water! (this doesn't show in the photo)


The climb back up to the top of the bluff was OK, thanks to the little strap, and soon I was on my way headed back towards my van. But then I was startled by a medium-sized bird on the ground right next to the game trail I’d been following - it seemed kind of upset at me. Turns out it was a momma whippoorwill and she had been sitting on a single egg on the open ground, right in the middle of the soaking jungle forest. She tried to lure me away but first I wanted to take a snapshot, then I moved on along. How these ground-nesting birds survive without snakes finding all their unprotected eggs in the open like this I’ll never know!


During my hike out I “felt” there might be another waterfall in a drainage next door, so I left the main trail on my way back and bushwhacked down through the jungle forest until I came to that same bluffline - only this time it was pretty short and the waterfall I found there was interesting, but probably not noteworthy. So I decided to follow along the bluff and see where it took me, and son of a gun, as the bluff grew in height and character I discovered not one but TWO more waterfalls, and both of them were BEAUTIFUL! And while they were not quite a “twin” falls, they were coming from two different drainages about 50 feet apart.

So I spent about 30 minutes taking pictures - actually I could point the camera one direction for the first falls, then spin the camera 90 degrees and had a perfect view of the second falls without even having to move the tripod. Neither were as tall or grand as the other big falls, but I enjoyed them and will probably include both in the new Buffalo River Waterfalls guidebook.


And as luck would have it, I found a spot on the bluffline next to the smaller waterfall where a series of grapevines had grown down over the bluff and I was able to climb my way up the bluff using the vines has hand and foot holds to the top so didn’t have to backtrack in order to get out. There are literally thousands of waterfalls in Arkansas, and each one - along with its surroundings - is quite unique!

The seven mile hike back to the van seemed almost effortless, making it a 14-mile trip (add another mile for my detours down to all three falls). A SPECTACULAR morning in the wilderness jungle.

While I was in the woods I got word from the University of Arkansas Press that they had checked in all 18 of our books into their warehouse and they were now ready for sale on their secure online store. We had to delay switching the links on our online store yesterday until theirs was all ready to accept orders. So when I got home that was our chore for the rest of the day - setting up our web page to make it easy for customers to be transferred to the UA Press store page. THANKS to my lovely bride we got that task done.

Just before I head to bed near midnight I pulled out my pocket phone and FINALLY check off the last waterfall that has been on my to-do list in the to-do-APP for all those years - DING!!! (that’s the sound it makes with I check an item off) There are actually a 100 more waterfalls I need to visit, but I’ll save those for later...

06/03/21 We had an amazing light show between dawn and sunrise this morning...(and the view keeps changing - I'll keep adding a daily pic to the list below)

















06/09/21 It’s 4-something this morning and a bright flash of lightning woke me a little while ago. I got excited - just “one more” waterfall I planned to go seek out today, and a little bit of rainfall from a thunderstorm would help! As I walked through the cabin to my usual morning seat inside the prow I could feel the sleep drain out through my toes and a new day take hold. I sat in darkness watching the light show, but my hopes dimmed when I realized the storm front was down south and moving across the scene and would not bring even a single drop of rainfall to me. Oh well.

It was kinda foggy out, though there were stars so the sky above was clear. The pups and I stepped outside for a few minutes to soak in the morning air - SO refreshing, clean and pure! The only sound to break the silence was a whippoorwill out in the woods nearby screaming HELLO WORLD, TIME TO WAKE UP! Over and over and over. I hear ya buddy.

So it turns out I decided to add another big waterfall trip to my list after all - mostly to measure several falls I’d already photographed over the years but also to explore around a little bit. (I’m kind of funny about waterfall heights - somehow I think they need to be known - not for the biggest - but just for reference, and so others can relate.) The area has always been known as one of the most difficult to visit - not only for limited access - but also because the terrain is simply some of the most rugged in Arkansas by all measures. Most of the time going to visit one or two spots there requires a good bit of time and many potential hazards, and it’s one of those places where I’ve never been able to have enough time - to photograph or to explore - I always end up hiking out in a hurry as darkness falls.

So naturally I decided to attempt a trek that would visit pretty much all of the major locations, drainages, and waterfalls, including all I had been to before, had known about from others, and the places where there “just had to be” waterfalls living - and there are no trails - just bushwhacking. All in one day, a day when we would get a late start. My friend, Fireman Jeff, for some reason decided to join me for this crazy mission impossible.

It was almost 10am when we entered the jungle. Cloudy, cool, wet - in fact the jungle was totally soaked from top to bottom, with water oozing from the ground - that’s the sort of conditions I LOVE while hiking, especially when looking for waterfalls during high “snake” season.

I had a general route in mind that would visit all the spots on my list, but no telling how much of it we’d actually make it to. The first part was downhill, and even then we had to push our way through the dense jungle that is summertime in the Arkansas. We waded the main creek and got our feet wet, then up the other side and along across a steep hillside. It was pretty easy cruising for a while and our long strides came easy.

Then we began to work our way up into a minor drainage I’d never been into but wanted to explore - looking at the map last week it just seemed a good place for a waterfall to live. We quickly came to a bluffline as it turned up into the drainage and we heard water - a beautiful bluff with water is usually a good sign. A few moments later we entered a magical jungle paradise with a waterfall pouring into an emerald pool surrounded by sheer bluffs and guarded by towering umbrella magnolia trees with their GIANT leaves. Oh my, this was AMAZING!

I almost never have the time to linger and soak it all in, but I have learned to multi task my senses to maximize the exposure to all the beauty - while going through the routine of digging out my camera gear, finding a nice perspective to shoot 20-30 photos or more, taking the height measurement, then documenting the location, route, and distance. And sometimes come up with a name. Jeff said “UMBRELLA” because the umbrella trees there were so dominant - but there is already a Magnolia Falls and I hate to confuse folks.

While I went through my chores Jeff explored a ruins of some stone something over there under the overhanging bluffline. He said it looked like some sort of fort a kid might build, only out of ROCKS. That’s it I said - Fort Falls!

Oops, LOOK AT THE TIME - I’m already late for a quick run back into the wilderness for that last waterfall so I have to cut this short. To be continued...

06/10/21 Where was I? Oh yea, Fort Falls. OK so we left that area and followed the beautiful bluff around and up and over and hiked for a while on pretty gentle terrain until we came to the next drainage. Nice water flow and there was a waterfall just below us - with a long cascade below it that continued on down the drainage. The terrain got pretty tough after that, but we followed the water and found a VERY steep route down to the bottom of the bluff and landed at one of the most beautiful waterfalls, and it poured into an emerald pool! It had a very rock solid look and feel to it - quite different, multiple layers of stone, quite unique.

There was a smaller falls below, and then it looked like the stream disappeared into a jumble of boulders. BUT WAIT - there was “air” below a ledge and we knew there had to be another waterfall. We had to climb back out a little bit and up onto and around a giant boulder that had a mini forest of its own growing on top - with a perfect view of an angular cascading waterfall.

From there we climbed back UP a very steep slope - literally on our hands and knees at times to scramble up and continue on. We were about to enter another small drainage (which turned out to be dry) when as we were approaching the base of a big bluffline both of us noticed FOG - inside an opening at the base of the bluff. It was a pretty large opening, and when we stepped inside the temp dropped 30 degrees! It was a cavern made by a big crack in the bluff - not dissolved out like a normal cave. And there was a clear end to the passage about 75’ or so inside. I’ve not seen a “devil’s icebox” like this in the wild in a long time - it literally was “cool!”

Nearby Jeff found a mountain of giant slabs of rocks all piled up with a maze of bear cracks leading in different directions. Soon I heard him calling out from the OTHER SIDE of the mountain, and I made my way along and up to the top and joined him down on the other side - amazing maze! No bears though.

Soon we were down on the main creek crossing and then climbing UP a near vertical hillside working our way into the next drainage. It was another hand-over-fist route of clawing our way up and up. Then I heard thundering water - sounded like a big waterfall, yippie - it WAS! But first we had to descend (slide) down an equally vertical hillside until we landed in the creek below. As luck would have it we found not only an amazing three-tiered waterfall, but a tall pedestal rock by itself right in the middle of the creek.

Why was that rock important? Just as we arrived it began to pour, and the tall rock had just enough overhang on one side that I was able to unpack my camera gear and setup right there without getting my camera gear wet - yippie!

Of course the view from that spot was not ideal, and we eventually moved over to the base of the waterfall and climbed up on top of a giant boulder that was actually hiding most of the bottom third of the waterfall. And that’s the view you see here - from on top of the boulder. And since it continued to pour, for perhaps the first time in my history I had an umbrella man - Jeff held the umbrella over the camera while I took pictures (see below). THANKS MAN!


The waterfall was great, but it sure did look interesting above and behind the falls, so we attempted to climb up, up, and UP what would turn out to be the steepest climb of the day. When doing really steep climbs up a hillside of loose rocks and trees and stuff it’s always best to always be offset a little bit - if you are the guy on the bottom you should never be directly beneath the guy above - a five pound loose rock tumbling down on your head could be fatal. Since I always wear a bike helmet on these bushwhacking trips, I could survive some rocks,, but others might rip an arm off.

At one point Jeff tried to stand up (almost impossible to do on a vertical hillside), looked down at me and noted that it was “about as straight up and down as you can get!” Yup.

As we continued to crawl up the hillside Jeff said “There’s a waterfall!” This one would be tough to get to. In fact as we stood there on the edge of the abyss looking into an almost hidden waterfall, we realized the most direct route would be straight DOWN - and no telling if we’d be able to make it back up again. But I was game, and 30 seconds of screaming excitement later we were standing on the floor of this little hanging valley near where the waterfall was.

This one was surrounded with lush moss-covered boulders - it seemed like everything was covered with moss, and it was very dark back in there (Hobbit Falls). I shot a few photos and we found an escape route up the opposite of the canyon, and then guess what - another waterfall was above (Flat Rock Falls). Then another one at the end of a nice bluffline. We stopped at both while I took pictures and measured the heights.

After finding another spot to climb out of that canyon, we made it to the base of a big bluff and followed for nearly a mile before dropping down into the last drainage we would visit - one I’d been to before and photographed a couple of really nice waterfalls. At the first one Jeff asked me what we were going to call it, and I noted there were a lot of large boulders just sitting around the base, so I dubbed this one “Lazy Boulder Falls.”

When we reached the base of the next waterfall below, both of us looked up and said “Square Boulder Falls” at the same time! Sometimes names come really easy.

We only had one more waterfall to visit - the largest and most powerful in the area that lived right on the main creek. Took us a while to work our way upstream towards it - crossing the creek several times, once or twice having to climb up and around small bluffs or boulders that blocked the way.

When we finally reached the waterfall area, we were unable to get around a giant boulder that blocked the creek - and the rushing water was just too deep to go around - and the rock face to steep and slick to climb. So we back up a bit and scaled the opposite hillside, then literally fought our way through really THICK jungle and finally emerged on top of a small bluff/boulder right in the middle of this waterfall wonderland. WOW!!! (45' tall from the top of the falls to the pool below - out of sight behind me)


This was my third trip to this spot and it always overwhelms. Many waterfalls and things going on in all directions.

An hour later we began the last leg of our trip, but first we had to find a way UP AND OUT. Normally we can climb up and over one side of the main waterfalls but there was too much water. So once again we backed up a bit and scaled a very difficult jungle hillside to the base of a giant bluff above. LOOK AT THAT COLOR! It was indeed a beautiful bluff, but darkness was approaching so we didn’t admire the view - still a long bushwhack back out to the parking area, and we arrived just in time.

It was 10.6 miles of tough bushwhacking through some of the most difficult terrain in Arkansas - the first time I’d ever completed such a loop in this area. So many terrific waterfalls - each with their own personality and unique brand of beauty. (and as always there are others we did not visit) Very few hardy hikers will ever see them though - this one will be rated XXX difficult (you will probably never see anyone!).

YESTERDAY when I started working on this trip write up and had to leave, I returned to the same area to check on one waterfall in particular we had not visited. It was a three mile hike/bushwhack to get to it, but I came in from a different direction and the terrain was not nearly as difficult. The water flow was much less, but I still got some good pictures of this really interesting waterfall - there’s a short overhang that I bet is 100’ wide and goes back 50’ or more. During high water there are three waterfalls side by side, but yesterday only one was running well. No matter - it’s a really neat spot!


On my way back I detoured down a drainage I’d wondered about and found a really nice double-decker waterfall (Three Big Beeches Bluff Falls), with a couple smaller ones downstream a bit. Then followed a big bluffline along for a scenic mile or so to another nice waterfall (Mossy Rock Falls). It was getting kinda warm by the time I ended my eight mile hike/bushwhack. Is my waterfall hunt over I wonder?

06/11/21 A couple of items today. First, I spent a good bit of time last evening working up the table of contents for the upcoming Buffalo River Waterfalls guidebook that I’ve been working on. It will be organized with the very first waterfall in the Buffalo River drainage listed first, then continue on downstream of the waterfalls drainage by drainage. Most all of the Buffalo River waterfalls from the regular waterfall guidebook will be included in this new guide, but I just realized there will also be about the same number of brand new ones - for a total of around 150 waterfalls, oh my! (I’m still tweaking the list, and it will take me most of the summer to complete, so nothing available anytime soon.)

And secondly, I spent a little bit of time this morning with the guy who is perhaps the most famous resident Arkansan alive today. He (and his videographer) were working on a new TV project (not his normal series) and shot some video footage of me and my camera at the Buffalo River near Pruitt. Two kinda funny things happened. First, at the end of the interview I suggested that instead of just filming me walking along the river that I bushwhack through a thick jungle next to the river and out to the riverbank - which is what I’ve been doing the past few weeks. So I disappeared into said thick jungle, and when they were ready I came hiking through out of the thick jungle and into the sunshine - then promptly slipped and fell flat on my FACE - all caught on camera, hahahaha! Which come to think if it is quite realistic since I do that from time to time while bushwhacking (which is why I normally wear a protective bike helmet, although I was not wearing on today).

An the second funny thing happened back at the parking lot when a confused lady came over to us holding some papers with a photo of the Pruitt Bridge on it - she wanted to know where the trail to the bridge was. “Ma’am I’m sorry to inform you that the bridge you seek was blown up two days ago!” And of course it was. By this morning almost the entire blown up bridge had been hauled away - won’t be long before that site is cleaned up and ready for inspection.

(I now have an autographed Chuck Dovish hat!)

06/15/21 It seems that I’ve gone and done it again. Last Saturday I was on the trail at 5:30am heading down into a steep canyon as the first hints of daylight kissed the forest. The first bit was easy as I followed a social trail, then when it disappeared so did my legs and feet since the Arkansas Jungle was in full swing. Felt a little like Tarzan - or a monkey - sometimes having to hang on and swing from tree to tree as gravity took hold, once in a while tossing me to the ground.

After nearly a mile into the canyon I came alongside the first of two waterfalls I wanted to document. Probably been 40 years since I’d seen either of them, and then only a passing fancy on my way towards the bottom. The creek was not running high but I was pleased to see enough water to create a pretty nice waterfall. I set up my camera and took pictures, measured the height (35’), and recorded my position in the GPS. Later I would discover that none of the tree GPS readings I took were very close together - GPS’s are not very accurate when doing a quick location in a steep canyon like this - they need much longer to acquire an accurate signal. When that happens I will average them and pick a spot on the map where the likely waterfall spot is.

The only pictures I’ve seen of this waterfall showed it running much stronger and about double the width - which was the first thought that came into my mind when I saw it on Saturday - DOUBLE-WIDE would be a good name, since it doubles in width with higher water. (on second thought that brings a mobile home to mind so maybe I need to come up with something else?)

Sunshine and blue skies now and I had to scat on down the canyon to reach the second waterfall before that harsh light beat me to it. And it was not far downhill, although most of the way I was in the creek since the hillsides were too bluffy - but I had to retreat to one of the hillsides and climb up and around and find a narrow, slickery slide to get down close to the bottom of the waterfall to take it’s pictures. I ended up climbing part way back up the slope and hanging on to a sapling while I took pictures, hoping my tripod would not slip and fall into the drink (or me along with it!). There is another waterfall in the same canyon that looks a lot like this one but is larger, so I think I’ll call this one Junior. I had beat the sun and got a good photo so I was a happy camper!

The canyon was so steep that much of my job was hand-over-fist grabbing onto anything I could grasp as I clawed my way a mile back up and out of the canyon. I was back home having some java on the front porch as the temp by 8:30am had already reached into the upper 80’s (would be into the 90’s with a heat index above 100 by mid-afternoon - good thing I got an early start!

I spent a good part of the rest of the day doing yard work - lots of weed eating and mowing on the tractor. My lovely bride normally takes care of all that but she’s been sidelined a bit the past several months with a shoulder issue (probably a rotator tear - from wrestling heavy cases of books around that her hubby can’t handle). Oh, and her mower broke down in the middle of the yard. They just don’t make John Deere tractors like they used to (this one has been in the shop many times for repair).

My last chore of the day was to hammer down some metal stakes to secure an above-ground wire going from our gate to an auto-opener - to make sure we could mow over the wire without it being sucked up into the mower. Bending over doesn’t work for me, so for jobs like this I end up on the ground, and that’s OK. But for some reason the angle I was hammering at was not good, and by the time I got to the end of the row of stakes I was unable to stand back up again. I’ve been through some pretty tough things this year and my body has taken a beating and held up well - much better than I could have ever imagined. Yet this small act of hammering stakes in the ground did something to my back to put me on the ground.

The past couple of days have been a struggle, and I’ve spent most of them on my back in bed or laid back in a chair. Fourth time that’s happened in the past four years. Oh well, at least we don’t have all those heavy cases of books to slug around any more, so that transition of our warehouse to the U of A Press was well timed! I’m slowly on the mend and walked up to the office twice today, then stood around watching as Pam’s dad loaded up the crippled John Deere mower for a trip to the repair shop once again. Think I'm done chasing waterfalls for a while...(THANKS to Doc Monfee for getting me some relief!)

This afternoon while we were having lunch I looked up and saw one of the giant military C-130’s was coming over Round Top Mountain and dropping down into the Little Buffalo River canyon and heading right towards us - we LOVE to see them! He crossed the river and flew up Henson Creek - right past us and below our cabin - what a thrill! Then he pulled her up and sailed right on through Keys Gap and over towards Parthnon. Just one plane. Perhaps he was just checking on us.

It’s almost 10pm tonight as I’m typing this and three more 130’s just flew by, though they were just above us and all of the surrounding ridgetops this time - they banked left as they passed us and headed towards Parthanon.

One program note. We just finished watching the show CLARKSON’S FARM (first or maybe only season, 8 episodes). It’s one of the best things we’ve seen on TV in a long time (it’s on Prime Video). Such an unusual, refreshing, and unexpected show (there is a LOT of cussing though!). We don’t get regular TV - can’t stand the commercials or most of the programming these days. And we use Amazon Prime anyway so the video part is free. We do pay for Netflix - those are our two vices, and I’ve been giving them a workout while on my bum...

Some other shows we’ve watched this year: Emily In Paris (3 times - YEA!!!); Derry Girls (so funny, but the conversations are so difficult to understand - like a lot of the British shows we have tu turn the volume UP); Longmire (I watched it all for the third time); the entire Last Man Standing (FIRST SEASON was perhaps the very best season of anything ever on TV - but it went downhill every season since, especially when they switched to Fox); British Baking (watched them all at least twice, and now my lovely bride is baking pies!); Queen’s Gambit (before we knew it was famous); The Crown (but the past two seasons were not nearly as good as the first two); The Kominsky Method; and several good documentaries on musicians like Cher, Pink, and just last night an interesting Jacob Dillon production called Echo In The Canyon (about folk/rock singers who lived/worked in LA’s Laurel Canyon in the mid-60s - very interesting if you like that era of music)...

06/18/21 We made a quick dash across the burning dust bowl of Western Oklahoma yesterday - up to 103 degrees much of the way. Stopped at 11:30pm for a few winks at the Cibola National Grassland near Felt, OK - and woke up to cool 63 degrees this morning at a beautiful spot near the edge of the grassland (almost to New Mexico). We always have issues going through Oklahoma because so many grassy areas where we can walk the dogs have terrible thorns - and our pups get embarrassed when we put bright orange protective boots on them! But no thorns at this grassland, or at least none in the mowed area we visited at the Felt Picnic Area (THANKS USFS!)

By noon today we had arrived at our campsite in Colorado, passing many wildflower-fields along the way. Everything is SO GREEN AND LUSH here! Yet still some snow on the peaks and high ridges. The temp was in the 80’s but cooled into the 60’s this afternoon as a rain shower moved through. Puppies loved being able to run around without getting covered in ticks (and we loved not having to pick them off, haha).

I had planned on a three week visit to our campsite, but we’re only able to squeeze in seven days total this time so it will be a quick trip. We’re hoping to be able to erect a replacement gazebo for the one that got smashed when nearly two feet of wet snow got dumped on it early last September. Both of us are a bit handicapped at the moment but all the pieces are lightweight and there are a good set of instructions...

It is SO quiet here. Except for the birds - there are dozens and dozens of swifts tweeting and darting and dive bombing, and many other birds all around us singing - I think they all are enjoying the Rocky Mtn. High summer so far. There have been reports of several different bears on connecting property - mostly cubs or young males - and there’s still a mountain lion lurking. Only a few neighbors up where we are, and mostly it’s very still and lush and beautiful...


06/19/21 - quick update at 5am this morning as the eastern sky begins to glow - I can see the silhouette of the Sante de Cristo Mountains clearly - they are 40-something miles away and they are the ones that tower over the Great Sand Dunes National Park (which we can’t see from our property). The temp is 46 degrees and it is dead still and calm outside - no birds awake yet so it’s really QUIET up here in the high country....


06/21/21 My lovely bride is attaching the 245th of 254 parts as we complete the replacement gazebo that will be the centerpiece of camp life (our five-year-old original gazebo was totally destroyed by a freak snowstorm last September) - note the Georgia O'Keefe aspen sapling fence that I started building last summer from young aspens we're thinning out. HAPPY LAST DAY OF SPRING!




06/28/21 Wild plums are beginning to fall (way too green to eat!)



06/30/21 Ketchup day again. Where did the month of JUNE go?!

We had a nice fine long weekend visit to our Colorado campsite, with the main chore being to erect a new gazebo (after two feet of snow destroyed our old one by a freak storm in early September last year). It took us a good long full day to do, but actually it went faster than I thought, especially given the fact there were more than 200 parts that all had to be connected! Pam did most of that connecting (using mostly just one arm). I mostly sat in my zero-gravity chair and tightened screws and bolts.

When it came time to connect all the assembled sections (some of them 12 feet long - last time there were FOUR of us, all with two good arms apiece), we had to use our brains to figure out how to get everything tied together. Ended up using a step ladder, table, a couple of chairs, plus each other - having to balance sections at times on everything at once. It was kind of funny, and thank goodness the wind was not blowing. And then VIOLA, everything fit together exactly like it was supposed to! The gazebo is pretty much the center of activity at our campsite (or in most cases, non-activity), so it was important to get the job done. CHECK!

We rewarded ourselves with a GIANT wood-fired pizza (takeout of course- we’ve not eaten inside anywhere in more than a year) from the local wood-fired pizza place (they have a large round oven and the cooking surface and pizzas rotate around the fire below - unique and seems to work) - unfortunately we ate the ENTIRE pizza. OOPS.

Next day we planned to get takeout from the local Mexican place, and called to place our order the very moment they opened for the day - SORRY, WE ARE TOO CROWDED ALREADY TO TAKE YOUR ORDER. Oops. We really like that Mexican food (inexpensive and really good), but oh well. Since we were already in town we decided to take a scenic drive upstream along the Rio Grande River (beautiful!) and ended up in the little mountain mining town of Creede. We pulled over to park and figure out what to do and son of a gun - directly in front of us was one of our alltime favorite spots to eat on the planet - KIPS!!! We could not decide between a veggie black bean burger and grilled chicken, so we got one of each, and split them. WONDERFUL!!! (this is a great way for a couple to eat when neither has a favorite) Unfortunately, we both LOVED them BOTH - so next time we’ll probably do the same thing, haha.

On the drive back we decided to stop at an overlook and do a little people watching - there were many rafts and kayaks - most of the folks were fishing - and it was just amazing to sit there with our brains in neutral and enjoy the rhythm of the whitewater river and the colorful boaters.

We began each of our days in camp with a hike around the short loop - about a mile. At first I could hardly walk up the first hill with my ailing back, but by the second day I was able to complete the entire loop, and on the third day I was able to hike all the way to the TOP of the hill - so great to know that I can still hike, at least a little bit.

NOTE that we both used my high-altitude trick that really worked to stave off those first few days of being affected by being above 9,000 feet - gatoraid zero and tylenol - we started taking them on the way out and continued for the first several days. Neither of us had any issues with the altitude.

A couple of wildlife notes. Last summer we had an explosion of chipmunks - the most I’ve ever seen anywhere. So many in fact that by the end of the summer they were literally crawling up the side of our screen door on the camper van trying to get in - and sometimes they DID get inside and it was a hoot trying to get them back out! The puppies of course spent all day every day in constant motion chasing and digging them up.

This year we only saw a total of ONE chipmunk on our property. The dogs at first were in disbelief, then later they gave up altogether. There must have been a die off over the winter - the result of OVERpopulation last summer. We’re hoping the community only grows at a very slow rate in the years to come.

The other wildlife note is that we didn’t see hardly any large critters in the meadow below - it’s normally a wildlife highway. This trip the only critters we saw were a few mule deer - and each one of them seemed to be chased by something, or at the very least really concerned about something - none of them ever got comfortable in the meadow and they always left in a hurry, always looking back towards the giant ROCK that is the center of our view, just on the other side of the meadow.

While I still don’t believe it, we’ve seen neighbors post online several times about the mountain lion that has been reported the past couple of months may have a den on the big rock - that would explain the odd wildlife behavior - their main diet is DEER and CHIPMUNKS. We really worried about our pups, especially at night.

Our final day arrived all too soon and we packed up and headed home, stopping for the night at a roadside table in western Oklahoma. The wind had been horrible all day, and this continued all night with the van rocking constantly - and then again all morning as we made our way to Tulsa, and finally HOME!

OH, I ALMOST FORGOT, it was so interesting as we crossed through the dust bowl after having learned so much about farming from the Clarkson’s Farm TV show (we’ve now seen the entire season twice). We saw quite a few combines working the wheat fields, others using cultivators and other implements to work the vast fields - first time we’ve ever actually known what we were looking at!

BACK HOME now the past few days I’ve been trying to hike a little bit each day and today I did three miles on our trail and the county road. I was also able to mow our trail from the cabin to Pam’s Swing, about a half mile that we can hike without worry of brushing against plants full of ticks. I’m still a long way from being back to normal (I’m not allowed to lift anything, even dragging boxes around is not good), but at least I can hike!

Pam’s shoulder continues to be an issue (but a little improvement), and tomorrow we hope to get a game plan from the physical therapist that’s been working on her - to continue PT or get an MRI. In the meantime we continue to shelter in place and avoid most all public contact (we ALWAYS wear mask in public if indoors or near others) - the pandemic seems to be getting worse, especially in Arkansas. I fear we’ll have it with us for quite a while longer (certainly the rest of 2021) - at least until MOST folks get vaccinated (not likely to happen though - still too many selfish people on this planet - which I continue to be baffled by - why NOT get vaccinated - it just doesn’t make any sense).

Anyway, looking back it’s been one heck of a month of June, one that included MANY great new waterfalls! We hope you’ve had a grand one too and look forward to a terrific July for all!!! (please get vaccinated...)

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