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CLOUDLAND CABIN JOURNAL - OCTOBER 2010 Journal Archives

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Cloudland Cabin Cam, October 30, 8:10am - cool and breezy

Journal updated Friday the 29th - WOW, just wow...

WORLD PREMIERE WEEK - Monday MENA, Tuesday Little Rock, Thursday Ft. Smith, Saturday Rogers

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October Print of the Month

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Order your autographed copy of this brand new and gorgeous picture book today!

10/02/10 Up at 2-something again this morning - guess my internal clock-setting worked, I now need to turn it back to normal! I stepped outside for a little bit and it was just marvelous out - clean, clear, crisp skies and air, and a lot of chatter going on in the airwaves. There was a pack of coyotes yapping somewhere out in the wilderness that were playing a lively tune, and at least two barred owls calling out echoed through the night. Early fall weather is beginning to settle in and it just feels wonderful.

We left the cabin at 2am yesterday headed for Little Rock, checked into the hospital and had Pam all prepped and ready for surgery in no time. The doctor came into the waiting room at 8:45am after the surgery with a very good report - everything went smoothly - did you hear the YIPPIE, COYOTE!!!!! at your house? Since we had total confidence in this doctor this was no surprise. An hour later Pam got up from her wheelchair and stepped into the car and we headed back home. It was a long drive back up to the cabin but we made it by 2pm and my lovely bride walked up into the loft - amazing, considering that she just had major back surgery a few hours before in another part of the state! THANKS so much to all of you who wrote in with your good wishes and offers. Pam is on the road to recovery today and already feels so much better than she has in the past two months (a disk had exploded, sending material onto her spinal cord, making nearly all movements painful). She won't skip a beat with order processing, although she won't be able to bend or twist or pick anything up for six weeks - but that is what she has me and Amber for!

10/04/10 It is almost frosty outside this morning (38) and it feels GREAT! Fall is upon us for sure, although the colors are ever so slowly beginning to move from an overall green to some warmer colors like yellow, with a few reds here and there. It kind of reminds me of early September in some ways color-wise. I suspect that we will have a rapid change of colors and a brilliant display that probably won't last too long, but no telling when that is likely to happen, and certainly it will change at different times and at different rates in different places around the Ozarks.

A couple of notes about nuts/berries. Dogwood berries are numerous and heavy and BRIGHT red - it is a banner year for dogwood berries! Some dogwood trees have already lost their leaves but the berries are still hanging on, and so you may see an entire tree that is covered with berries shining against a pure blue sky background. The dogwood that hangs over my outdoor shower still has its leaves, but is also thick with berries - a pleasure to shower with!

On the other hand, I've not seen a single acorn, nor a squirrel. There are a few hickory nuts, but nothing special. The big persimmon tree in the Faddis meadow is loaded with juicy fruit that is already beginning to ripen and fall - that is a little early, and we like to see this happen after the first frost. Most of the leaves on this tree are gone so it is just a tree full of fruit! And I never made note of this, but we did have some wonderful pawpaw trees a few weeks ago that were loaded with fruit - yum, YUM!

And those giant orb weaver spiders have been out in full force - at least they were a week or two ago, but they seem to have died back now and I don't see too many.

My lovely bride is doing well after her back surgery and progressing a little bit each day. She got a big shot in the arm yesterday when her parents arrived and her mom cooked up a giant Sunday feast for everyone - yippie! I ate too much, but did manage to only consume two pieces of fried chicken. I've picked up a pound or two in the past week - I busted my ankle really bad and have been wearing a special brace on it this past week - Pam says I'm not allowed to return to my fitness hikes until all of the "color" in my ankle goes away, which I'm hoping is in just a day or two - I really need to get out and hike to help work off granny's cooking!

I've never understood why folks complain about their in-laws - mine are absolutely wonderful, and we could hardly manage without them.

With the other new publications out this fall I almost forgot to mention that we also have a brand new edition of the popular Buffalo River Hiking Trails guidebook (#4). This one contains a complete walking description, map and elevation profile of the newest section of the Buffalo River Trail, which also happens to be one of the most scenic stretches of hiking trail in the entire state - 11.3 miles from South Maumee Road downstream to Hwy. 14/Dillards Ferry. This trail section was just completed a few months ago and hardly anyone has hiked it. There are at least a dozen really terrific scenic views from on top of bluffs high above the river, plus three major waterfalls (and several smaller ones) right along the trail, including Maumee Falls, which is 67 feet tall! The cover of the new guidebook is a scene that you are likely to see now - a big bull elk walking through a flock of wild turkeys with frosty steam coming out as he bugles. These new editions will filter their way into your local outdoor/book store, but in the meantime we have them in stock and you can order an autographed copy direct from us here.

I just realized that today is MONDAY! And it couldn't have come at a better time - I've got a ton of work to do this week, plus the landscape will change daily as fall progresses - 'tis one of the very best times to be living in Arkansas!

ALL of our new products are in stock and shipping, including the new ARKANSAS AUTUMN picture book, ARKANSAS WILDFLOWERS guidebook (by Don Kurz, the master), and 2011 ARKANSAS CALENDAR. And don't forget the HOLIDAY SPECIAL PACKAGE that includes a beautiful 5 x 7 inch matted print.

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A few dogwood berries above the outdoor shower

10/05/10 A funny thing happened on Amber's way home. She came around the corner about a mile from our cabin and sitting right in the middle of the road was a huge 550-gallon water tank! No owner to be found. Luckily there was just enough room for her to drive around it and continue along the road - no way that a ninety-pounder could have been able to move it out of the way. Guilty as charged. Not only was I unaware that the water tank had fallen out of my trailer, but I didn't notice it for another 20 MILES! My mind was certainly involved somewhere else, but in my defense I must say that the entire car - especially the back window - was covered with about an inch of dust. So if you happen to be driving around the Cave Mountain area and find a giant water tank in the middle of the road, it probably is mine!

FALL COLOR REPORT. I've been making a number of trips to St. Paul to fill up that big water tank for a project I'm working on here at the cabin. The stretch of Hwy. 16 between Red Star and St. Paul has some really terrific stands of bright yellow goldenrod, which is absolutely beautiful right now - especially in the right light early in the morning or late in the evening (backlit is best, like most fall color). There are also lots of blood red black gum trees along the route, and other places too. And some stands of sumac are taking on numerous colors, including bright reds. All of this is kind of like early September, so in some ways our fall color is really late (due to the heavy rains we have in September that knocked all the color back). But I have a feeling that at some point the color will come charging ahead and things will turn in a hurry.

I got back to fitness hiking this evening and I can report not a single acorn to be seen - normally there are tons of them all over the ground right about now. It is pretty dusty everywhere, despite heavy dew that we've had each morning for a while. The temp did not get nearly as cold up here on the mountain as we had expected, but crisp just the same. I plan a longer hike early Wednesday morning and will dawn long pants and shirt for the journey.

Oh, I almost forgot - a Cloudland Moment today! Mid-afternoon, bright blue skies and lots of sunshine everywhere. I was at the cabin computer doing something when some movement caught my eye - it was a giant mature bald eagle soaring at my eye level right over Mom's meadow! I yelled up to Pam in the loft to look out her window, and we both watched this majestic bird soar and circle low for several minutes. Of course we were a bit concerned about our chickens, but while eagles love to eat chickens, they generally won't catch live ones - they prefer them dead and ripe. And then it hit me - yesterday while I was doing some testing of a new high-resolution lens - shooting some long scenes off the back deck - I was zoomed in at 100% pixel view to look closely at the fine detail in the hillsides several miles away - and WAM, right there was an eagle sitting in a tree! This bird would not have even shown up as a speck in a 2x3 foot photo, but on the computer I could zoom in to see individual leaves miles away, and this eagle. At first I dismissed it as being a large hawk, but I realized today that it probably was this very same eagle. I don't recall ever seeing an eagle here this early in the season - could be a sign of a big winter ahead!

10/07/10 I did ten miles before breakfast yesterday morning, and it was a one-in-a-million shot for sure. About half way through the first part of the hike I heard the slightest disturbance in the trees above, then a second later, BAM, I was hit right square in the middle of the top of my head with an acorn! I looked around - there were no other acorns anywhere to be seen, either on the ground/road, or up in the tree. As is frequently the case, I had been paying careful attention to the road in front of me the entire way, and I made a special point to hunt for acorns for the next seven miles until I got back to the cabin - not a SINGLE one, anywhere! So what are the odds that not only would I find that single acorn that fell in a ten-mile stretch of road, but got hit on the top of the head by it? I consider being hit on the head by a falling acorn as very good luck, and so I figured that whatever I was thinking about at the time was a golden thought - and I was of course thinking about my lovely bride, as I frequently do when my mind is left free to wander.

So there you go - we will have at least one acorn this fall up here on Cave Mountain!

10/09/10 The temp outside this evening is just about PERFECT! Kind of crisp, clean air, and a sweetness to it that can only happen in the fall. The chickens have all been put to bed, no frogs singing (yea!), and just a hint of crickets drifting. A bat darted overhead, munching on a no-see-um I hope. It seemed like I was in the shower forever, in fact long enough for the moon to begin to shine - just a TINY sliver of a silver moon, set in a deep blue sky above, with a pinkish-red sky below, down to the horizon. The moon hung just above the Buffalo fire tower. It was a wonderful scene that sent me running for my camera. I spent the next five minutes trying to capture not only the view of the moonset, but also the feeling and spirit of it all. Wonderful, just terrific!

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And then I realized that those bats had not eaten all of the no-see-ums - what seemed like a hundred of them were feasting on my bare rear end! If you will recall, I had just stepped out of the shower when I ran for the camera - typical.

I was on the road early this morning and wanted to go have a look at the Buffalo River down near Steele Creek. There was a light fog that had settled in overnight and so the first bright rays of sunshine would be a little late, which meant I had time to wander around a little bit and take a few pictures. The very first thing I found was a sea of yellow plants covering part of the gravel bar. There was a stately old and very bright red sweetgum on the far bank, and the big old Roark Bluff towering overhead, everything reflecting in the river. I spent a while there and made a number of different photographs, then the sun burned through the fog and I headed back to the truck, stopping a couple of times to photograph other neat scenes. It was nice to get out with a camera and get my feet wet - a sign of things to come since I expect to have a fast and furious few weeks ahead with my camera in tow much of the time.

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Oh, and thanks for all of the acorn reports from other parts of the state - it seems like all of the nuts have rolled downhill into the lower parts of Arkansas (take that however you like!). I did find a few small acorns up here today, nearly black all over. Lots of deer around to eat them, but still no squirrels.

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View from the back deck on Monday - some color happening.

10/19/10 We are getting some nice rain overnight here - the first in a while. Fall is normally always dry and dusty in the Ozarks and this is a typical year. The rain will settle the dust but won't have any impact on creek levels or waterfalls - we would need a lot more rain before the ground gets saturated enough for the water to runoff instead of being soaked up.

Yesterday I rode part way to school with Amber and she dropped me off at the little church in Boxley Valley. They are in the process of removing the white exterior boards of the church - both sides gone now. This is a long and expensive process to restore this old landmark and no telling how long it is going to take. The old lady looks kind of odd without her bright-white sides right now.

There was a bit of mist hanging low in the valley as I hiked along, and even though it was still dusky dark I could see a number of bull elk in the fields next to the road. It seems like there are a lot more larger bull elk in the valley this year because the "bachelor" herd that was made up of a dozen or more bull elk is now growing up and going out on their own to look for ladies. They are not the biggest bulls in the valley, but they are beginning to sow their oats and challenge the really big guys - we should have some fun elk watching in the years to come.

Just like up on top of Cave Mountain, I didn't see any acorns on the road up the steep hill. There was a lot of human traffic though, lots of folks coming and going to their jobs (obviously everyone who lives up on Cave Mountain works somewhere else other than a few artists). The current rainfall will help out a lot to settle the dust and make hiking the old dirt road easier to handle, not to mention driving the road - I hate to follow cars and eat dust.

We've had a slew of photo workshops in the past week, including group and private workshops. Folks have been getting some amazing photos. I've spent my time helping them and have not been able to shoot much of anything. I'm hoping to be able to get out and shoot some this week and especially next, although besides all of the chores here with the new publications now shipping (which includes many road trips to stock bookstores), I've still got all of the Iceland photos to process, and then need to create two slide programs (one from Iceland and one from the new ARKANSAS AUTUMN picture book) in time for the world premiere of both programs in Mena on November 1st (and in Little Rock on November 2nd). We're going to have 18 programs around the region this fall - more than ever in modern times. There should be one close to you and I hope you get the chance to come visit and see them! (hint - all our books and calendars will be on SALE AT SPECIAL PRICES)

Speaking of Amber, we got some really good news last week. She was accepted by her #1 pick for college, yippie! My girls have been working hard for an entire year doing research and visiting colleges - and of course their most favorite of all was one of the most difficult to get in to, but Amber is such a terrific kid that they wanted her to come study with them! The winner is Drury College in Springfield, MO. It is a small private school with demanding high academic standards. It will take everything that Amber has inside her to excel there, but that is what she wants to do and I have full faith in her abilities. Now we have to figure out how to pay for it - a concern of most parents I'm sure, but you never fully realize this until it hits you personally.

Pam continues to recover from back surgery, although she also continues to be a little stir crazy. She has been cabin-bound since early August, and still won't be able to travel anywhere until next month - and only then down to the doctor in Little Rock. This is tough on someone who has so much work to do each day and is so active. She HAS been doing a lot of her daily chores still, but is only allowed to be up for an hour at a time, then back to bed again. Each day is a little bit better, and eventually you will see her smiling face again at programs.

Deer season has been going on all month, this past weekend muzzle-loading season was added to the bow season. I was surprised to learn that they have a quota on bears that are killed in each of the hunting zones in the state, and the zone that includes Newton County has already met that goal - 200 bears (hunters are required to call in each day before they hunt to see if the quota for their area has been met yet). The first time they opened bear season in Arkansas in modern times the entire kill for the state was less than 20, now it is probably a thousand or more - and this is only a fraction of the total population. We have a LOT of bears in Arkansas!

We will have our annual holiday open houses in November and December - details will be posted here as the time draws near, but the main holiday open house at the gallery will be on November 27th, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I spent most of yesterday putting away all the tables and chairs from the workshop classes and putting up the large black panels down the middle of the gallery so that we can hang more canvas prints there for everyone to enjoy. In the weeks ahead I'll be making new canvas prints and getting the gallery ready for the open houses.

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Roark Bluff and the Buffalo River

10/20/10 I could always tell when a new day had begun the morning after a Bushwhacker party at Cloudland - I could hear voices on the back deck, even though it was still dark outside. Bob and Dawna always were the first to rise and greet the new day, talking and carrying on like they had not seen each other in years. I've known very few couples that were as in tune with, and enjoyed being around, each other, and Bob and Dawna were at the top of the list. And of course, they just made everyone else happy to be up too - early morning is certainly the best time of the day! I don't know what Bob is going to do without Dawna, but I suspect he will continue to get up early and head for the woods where he will be closer to her. I'm not much for funerals or memorial services, and I probably will not be able to make Dawna's tomorrow, but I will be thinking about her early in the morning, just as I was today. It was Dawna that brought me out to wander around for an hour in my favorite stand of maple trees, and tried to capture some of the great glory of the heavens that she certainly is now a part of. So this is my tribute to a great lady, our dear friend of the earth - she will forever shine down upon us during the most special part of the day, as she was..

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10/25/10 Cool and breezy early this morning with a clear-blue-sky day on the way. The fall color is peaking in the Buffalo River area this week, and it is a splendid time to be out and about. Some areas will remain with great color next weekend while others will be past peak - lots of wind to blow those leaves off the trees, which produces a magic fantasy land if you happen to be underneath and are showered with color!

We had a terrific group of workshop folks for our fall class at Harmony Mountain Retreat which included folks from three states. We found lots of great color and pools of water and tall painted limestone bluffs to photograph. Unfortunately the food was a little too good and I am not over my target weight (actually I'm just guessing - I'm afraid to step onto the bathroom scale!). But since I had programmed in a few extra pounds of weight loss I'm hoping to be able to recover this week, which will mean lots of miles of hiking and not so much rich food.

I spent a good part of Friday with my photo assistant, Ray Scott, running around the area scouting potential shooting locations for the workshop. It was great to be out with camera in hand and trying to record all the great beauty before us. Sometimes it gets to be a bit of color overload and you really don't know which direction to look, but I guess there are worse jobs in the world so I can't complain too much.

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Above is a "camera painted" photograph (one of the techniques that I teach in my weekend workshops)

And below is one of my favorite photos of the season so far - a quiet pool that had been cut off from the river by lowering water levels that I came upon. Looking down into it I could see reflections of overhanging trees and blue sky above - a scene I see frequently when stumbling around along a creek like I often do. When I got down on my belly to have a look up close at something in the bottom of the pool, I happened to look up and saw a completely different scene at the far end of the pool - towering bluffs above and reflected in the water. It was one of those scenes that made me need to catch my breath.

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On the other side of the coin, fall color can be quite fickle - one hillside might be blazing away with amazing colors one minute, then the light changes and that beautiful hillside can turn to dull. The opposite can happen as well - it really all depends on LIGHT and where you are in relation to it. The best way to get out and experience great fall color is to GET OUT and see what you can find - especially early or late in the day. Sometimes I have to return to a spot many times before I'm happy with the color; sometimes I find it just perfect the first time, but that is quite rare. The important thing is to be out in nature enjoying - color will find you if you let it!

This week begins our REALLY busy season that will last until just before Christmas without a day or even an hour of time off - in fact every minute that I take to sit down and relax is one more minute I fall behind! It will be somewhat of an odd week for me since I have put off doing so many things that absolutely must be done this week - yet the color will be terrific outside and will be calling, yelling, screaming out to me to come photograph! But most of the time I will have to disappear across the ocean into the great land of Iceland as I look through 5,000 photos that I took there in August, picking out and processing about 120 of them for the new slide program that will debut next week in Mena (then the next day in Little Rock, plus Ft. Smith and Rogers a couple of days later). Once all those photos are in order then I have to create both slide programs (ICELAND and ARKANSAS AUTUMN) - my lovely bride has already selected many great bit of music for me to select from for the slide programs, and that is half the battle.

So since I won't be able to get out and travel much this week I'm hoping that YOU will be able to do so for me! Soak up as much of this terrific color as you can, then pass on some of that great joy you received to someone else that you happen to meet during the week - do something nice and completely unexpected for them just for the heck of it without expecting anything in return - then it will be a great week for both of you!

10/26/10 It's 3-something and I've been up ever since a big storm rolled through a little while ago. Actually it was not a big storm - only a few miles wide - but it was enough to cause me to jump up and run around shutting down and unplugging computers and printers and other electronic things and anything connected to a phone line. And oh my goodness it was WONDERFUL being outside in all that wind and COLD rain hitting me in the face as I ran over to the print room! Few things in life are as refreshing. I really wanted to just stop and stand there and soak it all in, but I knew that any second a lightning bolt could destroy a lot of stuff, so I had to press on. As luck would have it, by the time I returned to the dark night outside, the storm was over. I did spend a little bit of time just wandering around out there as the forest began to light up from a moon up there above the clouds somewhere. The temp dropped about 10 degrees or more, the air was damp and sweet, and the earth was soft underfoot.

I spent a good part of yesterday wishing to be outside instead of inside working. It was one of those days when every time I made a trip over to the cabin for something, I found myself veering off course just so I could spend a little bit more time outside. The wind blew hard all day, and with it came millions of colorful leaves. More than once I sat down and leaned up against a tall oak tree and just let the blowing leaves blast me in the face - oops, I hope my lovely bride did not ever happen to look out the window and catch me loafing! Actually one time she did catch me - or perhaps I caught her - both of us out in the woods embraced with swirling leaves all around us. (She can get up and out and walk around a little bit each hour that she is up - in fact next week she'll work up to doing a full mile on the treadmill - yippie!)

It was kind of like a leaf blizzard with the leaves blowing horizontally - all coming from the south, which was kind of odd. By the end of the day the roads and trails and forest floor were covered with jewels.

I spent a lot of time in Iceland yesterday, and in fact I'm headed back to Iceland here in a few minutes. I've never looked close at most of the images I took in Iceland, and while it is quite exhaustive physically and emotionally going through these thousands of photos, it has been an uplifting experience all over again looking at and finally getting around to processing these images. HOLY COW you should see some of them! And indeed you will be able to - I'll have 18 programs around the region this year beginning on Monday, November 1st in Mena. All will be free and open to the public, and we'll have all our books and calendars on sale at special prices.

We got up early one morning and drove for a good long while, then wandered around amidst steaming holes in the earth in near darkness. This was not Jellystone - there were no boardwalks nor barriers - you can go right up to the very edge and step in and burn your feet off is not careful! I inched my way as close as I dared to, composed a scene, and took many photographs. Having never been to this spot before it was tough to know exactly what to shoot, and what to move on looking for. So many people expect to be able to just arrive at a scene and get that once-in-a-lifetime shot within minutes - but most of the time it does not work that way. Even right here in my own back yard it may take me many trips and long hours of hard work before that great scene appears. It is true that nearly everyone on the planet has a digital camera now, but equipment does not create the art - it is the photographer that does. The camera is merely one of the tools used.

Anyway, I've not seen the images from that early morning shoot on the steaming hillside until yesterday. Wow, that an incredible place it was! I shot several hundred images but only scratched the surface. I processed three or four that I hope will make it into the slide program. Can you smell the rotten eggs?

Speaking of equipment, I had a major breakdown yesterday evening that I'm afraid might be fatal. Our beloved giant printing machine - that Pam dubbed "Sue" way back with the printer had taken over our living room at the cabin - made its last print. I had just completed two important canvas prints when she gave up the ghost. I spent several hours trying to revive her but it was no use. It is possible for me to call out a service tech from Texas to come fix her, but the cost would be greater than a brand new machine. She has been a grand lady for sure, producing the most wonderful prints of my entire career. She will be missed. However, as luck would have it, only two weeks ago I took delivery of a brand new and even larger printer (weighs over 400 pounds) - Pam has already dubbed it "Johnny Cash" - don't ask. Somehow I knew that it was time for Sue to retire, and since we are getting into the really busy printing season I wanted to make sure I would not skip a beat so the new printer is already in place - only issue is that it will take me an entire day to get it up and running correctly with proper paper profiles.

So it is an early day for me and I need to head over to the print room and get started. I suspect it will be a long trip as I plan to get lost in the darkness and wander around a bit to soak up the wilderness before getting to the office...

10/29/10 Kind of an odd morning here - but SPECTACULAR of course! It was 42 degrees just before daylight up here on the mountain, but was 28 degrees down in Boxley. What a difference 800 feet in elevation can make! There is not a wisp of air movement anywhere, and that air is crystal-clear - the fast-moving cold front that dumped a little bit of rain the other night swept the air clean. Our little mountain cabin is surrounded by colorful trees that really light up in the early morning, although the leaves continue to pile up at the bottom of them.

I worked long into the night last night, and the night before. But last night was something special. First off, I FINISHED the Iceland slide program. All I can say about that is WOW!!!!!!!!!!! If you get to see this program in person you will be blown away - it will leave you breathless. The landscape is just so powerful, and the COLORS, oh my. For the many of you who asked me "why I went to Iceland?" - this program will answer that question. Wow. Just wow.

As I returned to the cabin late last night from completing the program, I was stuck by the stark beauty right here literally in my own front yard - there was NO COLOR at all in the nighttime sky, but there were a million stars twinkling, shining down and lighting my way through the dark forest. And the stars went all the way to the ground - the air was so clear and the stars so bright that they shown right through the trees all the way to the base of the tree trunks. We don't get many nights like that in this part of the country. Such a stark contrast to Iceland, yet both equally beautiful in my eyes.

ERNST ON FACEBOOK - could this be possible? I'm not a Facebook kind of guy - I'm a CLOUDLAND JOURNAL kind of guy! But we have decided to join the crowd and so my lovely bride put up a Facebook page yesterday. I am not a Facebook user and so won't be posting there myself, at least not at first. But it is a place where you can go and find information and discuss things. So, as they say, invite your friends to join. Lord help us.

WORLD PREMIERE WEEK. Next week is going to be the world première of both the new ICELAND and ARKANSAS AUTUMN programs. I'm putting together the new picture book slide program today and tomorrow (if I didn't wait until the last minute to do stuff I would never get anything done). I'll be showing both programs in Mena on Monday, Little Rock on Tuesday (this will be the ONLY Little Rock show), Ft. Smith on Thursday, and Rogers on Saturday. Plus I'll be hanging a major canvas print exhibit of mine at the Mena Art Gallery on Monday - it will be up for the entire month of November. All 18 programs will be free and open to the public.

One funny note from the trail. I got a call the other day from a guy who said he was on a backpack trip, had just been attacked by a bear, and needed to know the quickest way to get out to a road so his dad could pick him up (he was lucky to have cell service). That was all in his first sentence. I got him to slow down and talk a little bit, and was able to direct him to a highway just a short distance away. He said that a bear had come into his camp during the night and tried to get his "oranges" that he had hung in a tree, but the oranges were still there at first light. When he went to get his food bag the bear attacked him. "I beat him off with a baseball bat" he told me. As he was packing up to leave, the bear returned and so the hiker "beat on a tree with the baseball bat and the bear climbed another tree to get a better look at me." The hiker then left the area but told me the bear continued to follow him (the hiker was breathing really hard as he was talking to me on the phone). The hiker was on a two-week backpack of the entire Ozark Highland Trail. I had to ask the obvious question - "Were you really carrying a BASEBALL BAT with you on this hike?" Yes he said - his parents would not allow him to carry a gun so he carried a baseball bat. Note to self - don't camp near this guy...

OOPS, I almost forgot. All of the Iceland images from the new slide program (129 of them) are now in the online gallery - so you can go have a look for yourself! ICELAND GALLERY

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