IMG_1442---CopyWell, dear readers, it’s been a year. Over the past 12 months this little blog has gone to dune fields, flooded forests, music-filled streets and crazy festivals. I traveled more than 6,000 miles through nine states, and I stayed put right here in my neighborhood, all of it trying to catch just a fraction of the frames that come together every moment. I hope it’s been worth tagging along.

That mix of far away and right outside the door has been a sort of theme throughout 2015, I suppose. Northwest Arkansas has plenty of its own sights and happenings, but this whole country is home, too, and there is a ton to see. I hiked two national parks and plan to (slowly) keep making my way through all 59 of them — looks like Yosemite might be coming up in a few months. I’ll see more parades, more people and more cities. More vaguely, I’ll keep pushing myself to get better. I try to do something new every time I head out with a camera – a different perspective, a slicker composition, a novel play on light or color. I’ll keep trying in 2016. There’s always more to learn.
































_C1_1441Bottom line is I love doing this, so I’m going to keep doing it. Thanks for looking, everybody. Happy New Year!


Thunder and Flood

IMG_1964No snow for the Ozarks this Christmas, just rain, rain, rain. As of this posting, between 6 inches and 10 inches have fallen almost without pause during the past two days along a band from Oklahoma to Indiana, according to the National Weather Service; for some comparison, here in Fayetteville that’s about the typical amount during November and December combined. It’s not forecast to let up until late tomorrow, either. In the meantime, we have a lot of the image above: overflowing ditches and streams and rivers, sunken roads, flooded fields and golf courses, and constantly overcast skies.

The amount of water flowing around here is almost indescribable. White-water rapids cascade from every bluff and cliff, bridges are overrun and, whether it’s in a gentle shower or a thunderstorm, the rain keeps falling, channeled by northwest Arkansas’ hills into torrents of opaque brown water.

IMG_1973Take Devil’s Den State Park, for example. The photo above shows one camping area along Lee Creek, which at this point usually spreads out placidly into a little lake as it approaches a dam built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Here’s what the dam usually looks like, as shown in a photo from April 2014:

_C1_4371Here’s what it looked like today (notice the turquoise metal spike for scale):

IMG_1980I almost wondered whether the dam was still there, the water poured over it so fast. The roar and spray drowned out anything softer than a yell. On the surrounding hillsides, newly created streams and waterfalls carved through the leaf-covered forest floor like threads of pearl through rust.


IMG_2007We haven’t seen rain like this since May and June, when about a foot fell around here and led to flooding of its own (You might remember the photos of the inundated golf course). Wacky and dangerous weather has struck across the country, with record warmth and several deaths from tornadoes in the past few days. Stay safe out there, everybody. Turn around, don’t drown, the whole bit. It could take days for all of this water to calm down. Thank goodness this isn’t snow, and brace yourself: It’s supposed to drop below freezing tomorrow night.

Hope you had a good holiday! Thanks for looking.


Beaver Lake


The heavy gray sky above Hobbs State Park threatened rain – gusts of wind through the forest’s bare canopy crescendoed as they approached, just like an incoming wall of rain – but that wouldn’t come until later. Instead the weather stayed dry and near 70 degrees Saturday, breaking records all over the state, the National Weather Service reports. I wore shorts 13 days before Christmas. It’s just not right. But I won’t turn down such a perfect hiking day in the middle of December.

I headed up for the first time to Beaver Lake, the seadragon-shaped reservoir that provides northwest Arkansas with most of its drinking water and a few dozen megawatts of hydropower. Forests and hiking trails surround it, including in Hobbs.




It’s been about a year since I’ve done much in black and white, but I’m in the mood for it after getting an early Christmas present, a book of work by photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams, who for decades captured the fantastic beauty of natural parks and other western places in grayscale. (Coincidentally, the National Park Service these days is looking for someone to take up the job, if you’re interested.)

I’m no Ansel Adams, though he and I share a love of the texture of wood, and Beaver Lake, though it’s nice enough, is no Yosemite. But black and white can be a fun little challenge. It strips away the contrast of color, leaving texture, shape and the contrast of light to work with. I couldn’t always give up color, but let me know how well it worked when I did.










The spikes of dead trees that poke up like bones from Beaver Lake’s many branches give away its human-made nature — half a century ago, this lake was forest. The rocky brim showed it was a few feet low, despite being so full earlier this year that the floodgates had to be opened. As of this posting it has risen about 5 inches from today’s rain, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports.

A lone fisherman drifted silently up Van Winkle Hollow as I hiked by Saturday. Up on land, a sea of fallen oak leaves covered the ground and made some stretches of trail practically invisible. Green splashes of conifer saplings poked through every few feet. It was mostly quiet except for crickets, the occasional gust and the gentle gurgle of tiny waves against gravel shores.











I’ve gone through a lot of Ozark forest in this blog, from Devil’s Den and other segments of the larger Ozark National Forest to Hot Springs and now Beaver Lake. I hope I’ve been able to show a bit of each one’s personality, whether it’s rugged and dense to the south or lighter and more open to the east and north, including the lake. Hobbs’ woods were so open the path might easily have gone in any direction. I’ll have to go back sometime and see where else it goes.

Have a good week!



IMG_1650Frost comes in many shapes: needles, fractals and glistening glazes that make spider silk snap apart in the warmth of my breath. Frost in all its forms needs three things: humid air, air that’s below freezing and a surface, any surface, that’s even colder — cold enough to snatch the water molecules right out of their vapor state. All three ingredients were drifting through the valleys around Beaver Lake yesterday during the drive to Eureka Springs. The fog curled off of the White River like dust devils in a desert.





IMG_1634Some of the Eureka storekeepers said their heaviest holiday traffic came last month, but we shoppers still filled the parking lots in that little town. It’s a neat place to get some nifty gifts. I need to get over there more than once a year.






IMG_1709Thanks for lookin’.