Mist and Steam

IMG_0573Even the fountains along the streets are hot enough to steam in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The clear, 140-degree water rippling up through dozens of cracks in Hot Springs Mountain first landed here as rain around 4,000 years ago – around when Judaism was being founded and the first stones of Stonehenge were placed. The rain ever so slowly percolated downward, soaking up the natural heat within the earth before being pushed back out millennia later to be collected and funneled to baths and fountains. A bit anticlimactic, really.

This town was built on that water, with millions of visitors coming to stew in its warmth and fix their health problems from the early 1800s on. I don’t think the springs cured their arthritis and skin diseases, but I imagine days of baths and massages felt pretty good anyway.




IMG_0606The bathhouses and mountains around them became the tiniest national park in the 1920s. It’s an oddity of a park – the only national park in a city, and the only one marked so extensively by what humans have built. The downtown buildings have either the blocky Art Deco look of the Empire State Building or the majorly retro look of the ’70s. It’s a gorgeous place even with those things, and given that it’s the only national park within 600 miles of northwest Arkansas, I really should’ve gone there sooner than this past weekend.





Once I left the historic district, I drove up the highway a ways to Gulpha Gorge, where the park has a campground and trail head for a cluster of winding gravel trails up the mountain. It was a perfectly autumn day: cool, windy and with some rain drops falling every now and then. Hot Springs sits on the eastern end of the Ouachita (pronounced washitah) Mountains, which reached as high as many of the Rockies when they first buckled upward millions of years before the first dinosaurs appeared. Now they’re worn down to manageable heights, covered by forest and color and filled with quartz crystals.







IMG_0654I don’t know exactly what it is, but there’s just something special about being in a national park. Walking in its woods and along its creeks feels different from other forests somehow, older, more primal, even with a town right next to it and a highway literally around the corner. It might all be in my head. But I hope to keep getting more of that feeling.









IMG_0684Not a bad way to spend a weekend, even a rainy and misty one. Thanks for looking!


Inflection Point

IMG_0543Good news, everyone: My brain finally, at long last, is done. All the power lines are insulated and all the relays are built. What a relief.

I don’t actually know when my brain finished developing – they just say the brain keeps going until around age 25, a line I cross this month. The Big 2-5; a quarter-century; 10 years since the beginning of high school (weird); more or less the same age as my parents when I was born (also weird). The brain’s completion of its development sounds final and resolute, but we know it isn’t – the brain’s flexible enough to change and adapt for all of our lives.

Good thing, because life is full of change. My job’s changing from the county beat to the faster-paced, higher-stakes Fayetteville city beat. I’ve been reading a couple pieces of journalism (like this one and this one) that have me jazzed up about being a journalist and telling stories. Where I live and what I do have changed drastically in just a fraction of a lifetime, something I imagine is true for a lot of people. We all let go of old fears and go to new places. It’s good.

Reflecting on this kind of thing just seems appropriate as the world around us begins hibernating and the planet takes another slow breath.






I hope things are changing well for you. Thanks for looking.


Pumpkin Season

IMG_0494I’ve gotten fonder of the warm months in my old age, but nothing beats October. It’s got my birthday and that holiday with all the candy and real historical significance, outside and inside become the same temperature, and trees really get rolling on those striking fall colors, revealing the yellow and red pigments that were hidden under the green all along. Autumn technically begins in September, but nature’s switch seems to flip only in October.

It’s an invigorating and fun time of year, and after a stubborn summer, I’ll take it.



IMG_0489Not many photos this time around; over the weekend I drove down to West Fork’s Bullwick Farms to get some pumpkins and photos of pumpkins. If you live around here and are looking for some, you might try them out, because their specimens are pretty much perfect.


IMG_0516Thanks for looking! And happy fall.