LITTLE BLUFF JOURNAL - MAY 2021 (previous months)



NOTE that today is the final day to order our picture books and guidebooks direct from us through our web site - starting tomorrow (June 1st) those books will be sold through the University of Arkansas Press and not autographed (unless you come by our gallery).

Journal updated May 31st

05/01/21 The new month began at 2am when one of our security cameras went off (my watch buzzed me awake but the photo on the screen was too tiny for me to see.). I had to get up and go find my phone to see what was going on. There literally was a swarm of locusts moving across the screen - hundreds of them, maybe thousands! (I actually don’t know what kind of bugs they were, but that’s what I thought of, locusts.) I wonder if these bugs were the same ones the kingbirds were after yesterday?

No waterfalls for me today, so I sat in the dark and sipped a half cup of iceland coffee (that’s a generic term I use for a small cup - when I was there they served coffee all day, but only in 2 ounce cups!). I found a generic brand of very dark roast k-cups - in fact the box does not even have a brand name on it. (I’ve tried to use normal ground coffee, but it doesn’t work in either our Keurig machine or our k-cup in the fridge door, but I do always remove the foil cover and coffee grounds and use them on the garden, and recycle the cups.) It was mostly clear with a few colorful wispy clouds floating around before dawn. So calm and quiet, until a tanager broke the silence about 5am - that dude needs to find a girlfriend! But his music was quite delightful.

OK, it’s time for an announcement. Sorry. We’ve decided to turn over the warehousing, distribution, and order fulfillment for ALL of our BOOKS to a third party - the University of Arkansas Press. This will begin on June 1st. What that means is we’ll no longer handle the books nor process any book orders ourselves. ALL BOOKS WILL STILL BE AVAILABLE from dealers and also direct from the warehouse for individual orders and at the same prices as always, your order will just be processed by the UA Press instead of us (UA Press publishes hundreds of titles, but they also handle the distribution for many small publishers like us, and they’ve been doing this for a long time). On June 1st we’ll have links on this/our web page for each of our books that will take you direct to that particular book’s info and order page on the UA Press web site - it will almost be seamless. You can also always just go direct to their web page and find any of our books, it will be the same either way.

The big difference is that I won’t be able to personalize any books, nor will any of the books you order after May 31st be autographed (right now ALL books ordered direct from us are autographed, and we’re happy to personalize them - but not beginning June 1st). Many bookstores that stock our picture books already have autographed copies, but once they run out of those, any new stock they order (after June 1st) will not be autographed. We’re hoping bookstores will stock up on autographed copies before June 1st. (hint, hint) AMAZON and other online stores will continue to stock our books as usual, but those are normally not autographed.

ONE NOTE - we’ll continue to update guidebooks and I’ve got three NEW books in the works for publication this year, so we’ll still be in the book business, just not handling the warehousing, distribution, or order fulfillment. (In other words, we’ll be just like normal authors, instead of doing all of that work by ourselves, which we’ve been doing now for 40 years.) My ARKANSAS GREATEST HITS picture book published last fall was my last picture book - I won’t be publishing any more picture books, just guidebooks. (but some of those will have photos in them)

OUR GALLERY WILL REMAIN OPEN 24/7/365 for appointments anytime, and I’ll continue to keep the walls filled with big, beautiful canvas prints! PRINT SALES WILL REMAIN THE SAME for now. PLUS we will have a small supply of our books that we CAN autograph and sell direct to you at the gallery - we will not be able to ship them to you though.

SO, BOTTOM LINE - if you want any of our books autographed, you will need to order direct from us before June 1st (or plan to come by the gallery to pick them up in person - we'll try to have some on hand - we have to get them back from the warehouse in Chicago when needed). Of course I’m always thrilled to autograph anything you have if you happen to run into me in the woods! Right now we do not have any slide programs scheduled, nor plan to, but we probably will have an Arkansas 2022 wall calendar available through UA Press (or pickup at our gallery, but not mail order from us).

Mother’s Day, Dad’s Day, graduation, weddings, birthdays, CHRISTMAS PRESENTS! Think about all of that - right now we still have six picture books in stock (plus copies of 12 different picture books of mine that have been out of print for a while, but may have battered covers, all for sale here at the gallery - check with me to see what we have), plus all of our guidebooks, and you can order direct from us and have everything personalized. But that will end on June 1st. Just sayin’.......

Here's a small part of the long post I made in the Cloudland Journal 20 years ago - the day that Haley Zega was rescued - in fact this is my note about the moment I told Haley's mom she had neen rescued -

It was just before 5:30pm, and the cabin was filled with folks as is had been all day. There were also a number of searchers outside milling around, all having just completed sweeps. The phone rang and I answered it. The person on the other end said that TV 40/29 had just announced that Haley had been found alive. "What?" "WHAT!?" After quizzing the caller a bit more, I hung up the phone. I went to find Kelly (Haley's mom), and pulled her outside and away from the crowd. It was just the two of us out on the front porch. "Do you know anything?" She looked at me very puzzled. "No." "OK" I said, now please know that this is strictly rumor, but it was just announced on TV that Haley has been found alive." Kelly gasped.

The next couple of minutes were a frantic attempt to find some way to communicate with the command center - their cell phone was not working, and no one around had a radio to contact anyone. We were all collectively holding out breaths and frustrated at the same time. Could this be true? Then a police vehicle pulled up. Kelly and Steve (Haley's dad) were together on the front porch, along with a growing crowd around them. The two officers got out and walked towards the cabin, both with frowns. "We've got a little girl looking for you!"

The place erupted into an incredible blast of shouts - the loudest sound that I have ever heard here at the cabin. The officers talked with Kelly and Steve for a few moments and they all quickly loaded up in the vehicle and sped away towards the command center where Haley was. None of us at the cabin were told anything other than she had been found and was alive. I have been a part of many celebrations and moments of elation in my life before, but NOTHING to match the feeling of pure joy, relief, and utter euphoria of this.


04/03/21 A beautiful sunrise to start a new week!


04/04/21 Here's a few snaps from a tough 12-mile bushwhack hike in the Upper Buffalo Wilderness this morning - I fell on my read end more than oonce, but always bounced back up!





05/05/21 OOPS - a 54' tall oak tree was blown over during the big storm night before last (with winds approaching 60mph). We got 2" of rain within 15 minutes...


I made a quick run before sunrise this morning to see some of the waterfalls in Leatherwood Creeek (near Ponca) - here's a shot of the creek and small falls/cascade, and also one of Leatherwood Creek Falls & Grotto at the far end of the hike -



05/06/21 Another early morning dash today took me to Calypso Falls at dawn (and four other waterfalls in the Falling Water Falls area).


05/07/21 A beautiful sunny FRIDAY today! (Notice the big tree that blew over has been removed - thanks to a battery-powered chainsaw and our little tractor!)


05/08/21 Today is ketchup day. It’s been a long and wild first week of May but I’ve been able to get out and do four waterfall hunting trips, adding 14 new waterfalls to my list that will be included in a new waterfall guidebook I’ve been working on (Buffalo River Waterfalls). Each trip has had its rewards with beautiful - at times SPECTACULAR waterfall locations and great light. But I had to fight for that light sometimes, only getting an hour or two of good light and many miles to cover!

I was up at 4am most days and then a drive of an hour or two before hitting the woods - most of these areas don’t have trails, so lots of bushwhacking. One day I covered 12.5 miles and almost all of it bushwhacking. That was a TOUGH day on my old body parts, but I pushed on across and UP and DOWN very steep hillsides and at times almost impossible Arkansas jungle to reach my goals. Sometimes I had to hurry up as fast as I could travel - often ending up sliding down a muddy hillside - then standing there in front of an amazing waterfall as sunshine broke through clouds - and then I’d have to stand there and wait for clouds to pass in front of the sun to take pictures. Then pack up and charge off again, hoping for more clouds!

Perhaps the best part of that long day though was coming home to my lovely bride! While that is ALWAYS a special treat, she had a terrific dinner and homemade dessert waiting for me - I was a very happy camper!

One day I just made a quick run down to take a picture of and measure a small waterfall but discovered it was MUCH taller than I realized - although low water flow so the photo was not terrific, but it will do. Then I spent two hours exploring the drainage and took pictures of more waterfalls - all before breakfast.

The last day I made a mad dash to see if I could photograph one waterfall before the sun hit it (it would be clear blue skies all day). After a two-hour drive and short hike I got the photo I wanted - in fact the flow was better than expected (Calypso Falls photo above). I managed to photograph five or six more waterfalls in the area that were all in shadow for a full hour - YIPPIE!

The next day (yesterday) I got up, helped my lovely bride with a few chores, then loaded up the camper van and headed west. After a grueling drive across the high plains of western Oklahoma battling 40-50mph side winds, I parked for the night in New Mexico near a volcano.

This morning I completed the drive and arrived at our campsite property near South Fork, Colorado. I have to do this each spring to check on and repair the electric fence that surrounds our campsite. ELK are the problem - they move through our little plot of burned out hillside and tear down the single-strand wire fence, so then I have to make a trip to repair the wire before they turn cows loose for the summer.

But SURPRISE!!! No damage this year - YIPPIE COYOTE! The elk were here - they scrape a lot of the young aspen trees - but I guess they jumped the fence instead of going right through it. The last thing I did back in early October was to install the same type of plastic mesh dog fence that we now have at home, and it appears the elk prefer to jump over that instead of tearing it up.

A second surprise was the fact that I was able to hike to the TOP of our mountain here without passing out from elevation shock! It usually takes me a couple of days to get used to coming from 2,000’ at home to 9033’ feet here, but I buzzed on up the hill at full speed with no issues.

05/09/21 A typical sunrise from our campsite this morning - 29 degrees with a wind chill of 19, but great color!


05/10/21 Still in Colorado this morning but I’m already headed back home later today (after I get parts and fix a busted waterline). Yesterday I got some chores around our campsite done (including collecting more granite stones for Pam’s rock garden at the cabin) - AND went on a five mile hike that included up to the top of the hill and back. My legs and lungs remained fresh all day.

I’ve been up since 3-something this morning and got quite a shock when I looked out the window as daylight first began to creep into the landscape. ELK, we got ELK in our yard - in fact an ENTIRE HERD of elk!!! As noted above we’ve always had elk here during the fall/winter/spring, but we’ve never actually seen one at our campsite while we’ve been here (which is always in the summer and early fall) so this is a first. Oops, I just happened to think - I hope these guys don’t tear up our fence after I leave!


Otherwise the light is just beautiful here right now - our young aspen trees are just beginning to leaf out and it’s like spring is happening all over again! But I’m anxious to get back home to Arkansas and we have a TON of work to do to get the book warehouse packed up and ready to ship to the new warehouse in Chicago, and maybe MORE WATERFALLS too!

05/14/21 I'm in the Ouachitas today working on a trail guidebook update - the trail is gettin' kinda grown up - good thing you've got a guidebook to tell ya where to go! BACK home for PIZZA NIGHT!




05/15/21 Beautiful color at dawn today, plus I found 13 FOUR-LEAF CLOVERS, and got to hug my lovely bride - what a GREAT WEEKEND!



05/16/21 A delightful dawn today with a sea of cloud below and color above... We spent the day in the warehouse packing up pallets of books getting ready for the big move to Chicago...


05/17/21 Here's a serviceberry tree I came across on our trail today - the entire tree has POPPED into fall color - looks very odd surrounded by the Arkansas jungle of GREEN. I've seen this once before as I was exploring Native American Falls (near Pelsor) - and took the single-leaf photo below that appeared in the Arkansas Autumn picture book (and also as canvas prints). You just never know what you're gonna find in the jungle!



05/23/21 Lots of color at dawn with a giant chicken-of-the woods that's getting bigger too!



05/25/21 Another ketchup day, although I only have a few minutes to pour it out of the bottle. How about just last Friday? When the alarm went off at 4am I was already reaching out to push the button to fire up the Kcup machine in the door of our fridge as I walked by (takes about two minutes to brew). I slipped on a pair of socks, pants, snake guards, and hiking boots. I had already made my standard smoothie (almond milk, lowfat yogurt, protein powder, ground flax seeds, water, frozen fruit, and a giant wad of fresh spinach) and I grabbed it from inside the fridge as the java was finishing up. All my gear was already loaded in my bride’s car (I would not be able to make it to the trailhead I was headed for in my low-slung cargo van - needed her subaru to get there and back). So within ten minutes of waking up I was gone - we had RAIN overnight and I still had a few WATERFALLS in my sights!

I had visited the same area I was headed for a couple of days before and found four really night waterfalls - including on EPIC beauty - but there had not been enough water flow to for good photos, so I was hoping for more this morning after another inch or so of rainfall. ALSO good friend Fireman Jeff told me about another waterfall in the same area.

Since we had a ton of work to do today (actually more like FIVE TONS) my plan was to arrive at the base of Jeff’s new waterfall just about daylight get a picture or two, measure the height, document the route to and from, then visit the other new waterfalls in the area for hopefully better photos that I already had.

The best laid plans of mice of men. My route involved hiking in the dark along an old road, then down a horse trail, then another trail, then bushwhack down a creek (that was flowing well - got my feet wet and cold - that was a good sign!), then find the bottom of a small drainage and follow it on up to the new falls. I arrived at Jeff’s waterfall without aid of a light (amazing what you can see at dawn), but it was just a trickle - OOPS!

Since this waterfall was literally just across the drainage from all the rest I was after, I was kinda disappointed since they most likely would be just trickles too - but each of the other falls were in scenic locations anyway so I decided what the heck - I was already in the neighborhood.

Ten minutes later I was standing at the base of a beautiful waterfall that was flowing well - YIPPIE! It was one of those wet, dripping days with light rain - which meant GREAT LIGHT - and I was not rushed trying to beat harsh sunshine - there probably would not be any on this day. But we did have a time schedule back at the office so I set up my tripod and took a dozen photos of the as yet unnamed waterfalls, then packed up and pressed on to the second one. But first, I got down on my hands and knees and looked carefully in the thick brush where my tripod had been set up - couple of days before I lost an important part of it (a stainless steel spiked foot that allows me to jam the tripod legs into the earth for a more solid setup - it had come unscrewed and lost somewhere). No luck so I motored on.

The next waterfall (also unnamed) was just SPECTACULAR, and oh my I was a happy camper - YIPPIE COYOTE!!! Flowing well, beautiful painted bluffline and calcite flowstone, and of course all the vegetation was wet, saturated, and LUSH - an amazing paradise! I took about 100 photos, including one with me included for sale, something I used to do all the time but had not done in the past several years. This is one spot I would visit even without water - an SSS anytime.


But I didn’t have much time and so I packed up and headed to the next waterfall, one that I think I’m going to call Shark Fin Falls. It was another bushwhack but not too hard, and soon I was at the base taking pictures - and trying to keep the front of the camera lens dry - it was raining by this time. I also spend a bit of time looking closely for that missing spiked tripod foot, but still no luck.

Then I was off to bushwhack up the steep hillside then horse trail then old road bed back to my bride’s car, and back home, just in time to meet up with Pam’s dad.

Ron had already been to Harrison to picked up a covered cargo trailer that I’d rented just five minutes before closing time the day before - that’s when it just felt like it might rain all day instead of the zero rain chances they were predicting. I was right, and oh boy did we need that covered trailer! The next few hours were spend loading the bulk of our book warehouse - including up to 600 copies of 18 different book titles we publish - they all had to get to the FedX terminal and on their way to the new warehouse storage facility in Chicago. Turns out that process all went quite smoothly thanks to Pam’s dad, and also to Pam.

Trying to figure out how many of each of those 18 titles to pack up and ship to Chicago - we can only have a “four year supply” of each book, but that number is adjusted each year - too many books and we have to pay for EACH box EACH month! Too few books and they will run out of stock and we have to ship a case or two at a time, which is very expensive. But Pam had been working on her spreadsheet for more than a week and I think did a marvelous job of making it all work out. Pam’s dad had spent several days stacking all the cases on each pallet - per Pam’s careful instructions (neither Pam nor I are physically able to move those heavy cases around any more, hence the reason we are having to pay the University of Arkansas to handle the distribution now).

My main contribution was spending most of the day before wrapping wide pallet wrap around each stack of books - again and again and again, always under pressure to stretch the wrap, around and around and around - the more wraps I made the faster I moved, and oh my I nearly passed out a time or two! The worst position for my bad spine is bent over with my arms outstretched - guess what, hahahaha! I was one happy camper when the job was completed.

OK, back to Friday. Once Ron got all the pellets safely to FedX I reloaded and sped off once again - this time in my old cargo van - to another waterfall location. I already had pictures of the most beautiful waterfalls in Dismal Hollow, and had been going there for years (page 90 in the ARKANSAS NATURE LOVER’S GUIDEBOOK), but I wanted to go back and measure the height of the waterfalls and collect some other data, plus - what the HECK - it was PERFECT conditions for waterfall photos! So I took my camera gear.

And oh my - it was a THICK JUNGLE down in there, but OH MY it was also GORGEOUS!!! This is one of those locations that you NEVER can spend enough time, and this trip was no exception. It was one of the most special SSS’s in prime form, and I was not making much progress. I managed to photograph and measure the tree main waterfalls I was after, but when I looked up to begin the trudge back UP it was almost dark. It must be easier to make that much effort at the end of a very long day if there is a giant SMILE on your face because the tough hike out seemed SO EASY! It was one of my most enjoyable days in the woods ever, even if I was only shooting with my little old point-and-shoot camera. (photo below is one of the falls in Dismal Hollow)


AND since I had not eaten anything since noon, I stopped in Jasper on the way home and had ICE CREAM for dinner! There ya go - I had a GREAT Friday - hope you did too!

By the way, even though bulk quantities of our books are no longer here we do still have a limited supply of all our books in stock at the moment - we’re still accepting orders direct on our online store - and all of my books will be autographed - but the last day to order will be May 31st - after that all the links on our web site will take you to the University of Arkansas Press web site to order (and they will have ALL books in stock for immediate shipment, just not autographed). We also will keep a supply of at least all our picture books for the time being at the gallery for direct sales - but you have to come by the gallery to purchase - we can’t ship them. PLUS at the moment we still have all of the maps and a few guidebooks from other publishers that we have on the shelf - check the GUIDEBOOKS AND MAPS page to order.

05/31/21 In the September 1983 issue of BACKPACKER magazine there was a feature article that I wrote about the Ozark Highlands Trail. At the end was a plug for a map of the trail I had drawn and published - “Send a check for $4” and my mail order business had begun! My lovely bride and I have written and published many guidebooks and picture books since then (currently we have 18 still in print), and have always sold direct to customers - both retail and wholesale (something authors rarely do). TODAY is the last full day before we turn that process over to the University of Arkansas Press. All of our books will remain available on the web and at the normal retail store outlets, the only real change is that the books won’t be autographed (we’ll have links on our web page to the UA Press online store). I’ll be announcing some new books later this year and those will also be available at the UA Press online store, and all books going forward.

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