Details

IMG_7731.JPGEvery time I think I know a place I end up wrong. Some of us went camping this past weekend in the stretch of the Ozark National Forest just beyond Devil’s Den State Park (the same place I camped about a year ago, in fact). You’ve seen it before: hills, valleys, creeks, outcrops. Got it. But even now there’s always some new or unnoticed detail. I know I keep saying that, but it just won’t quit being true. Take flocks of delicate blue damselflies mating, for instance.

IMG_7655.JPGOr there’s the fossilized burrows and trails that little worms or other critters left behind some 300 million years ago — that’s tens of millions of years before the first dinosaurs arrived. The burrows coil over and between the ripples of some ancient shore or seabed that have also been petrified into the rock along Lee Creek.

IMG_7622.JPGThen take the boulders of shale in the creek that are about the same age as those fossils and have somehow managed to stay the size of a car while being made of rock you can break in your hands.

IMG_7660.JPGNearby a plant I haven’t found the name of creeps between the creek bed’s rocks.

IMG_7725.JPG

Hundreds of feet above the creek there’s the funnel-weaver spider, its delicate front legs poking menacingly from the bottom of its translucent, 3-foot-long trap.

IMG_7726.JPGIt was a beautiful weekend. Even the loud music from the college campers didn’t ruin it.

IMG_7639.JPG

IMG_7634.JPG

IMG_7620.JPG

IMG_7664.JPG

IMG_7721.JPG

IMG_7662.JPGGoodbye, summer, and hello, fall. Thanks for looking.

Adding Water

IMG_7527.JPGYes, that is a bride beating her groom to the end of a water slide while in her wedding dress. A lovely couple of friends of mine got married at their home on the edge of town over the weekend. It had your usual emotional vows, goofy dancing, exaggerated cake-slicing, all of that fun stuff. The water slide was a new one for me.

IMG_7485.JPG

IMG_7490.JPG

IMG_7491.JPG

IMG_7505.JPG

IMG_7568.JPG

IMG_7526.JPG

IMG_7528.JPG

IMG_7538.JPG

IMG_7534.JPG

IMG_7555.JPGThe double-barrel slide for the wedding was the largest I had come across for less than 24 hours — by some coincidence, Fayetteville had to show them up the very next day.

_C1_8102.JPG

_C1_7919.JPG

_C1_7937.JPGA few thousand people turned out for the Dickson Street Slide on Sunday, a thousand-foot, all-day inner-tube ride that raised money for Soldier On Service Dogs, a nonprofit that places service dogs with veterans who could use their company. The street was filled with flowing water and chatter and happy shouting as kids and adults slid down and ran back up again. A troop of volunteers and staff did their best to corral the flood of people.

Other than a brief downpour, when I took shelter on the roof of the 21st Amendment bar, the thing went off without a hitch.

_C1_7973.JPG

_C1_8065.JPG

_C1_8315.JPG

_C1_8383.JPG

_C1_8348.JPGThanks for lookin’, and congratulations to Joe and Susannah!

Dan

Back to School

_C1_7647.JPGI loved lots of things about marching band at the University of Nebraska, but one of the subtler pleasures was moving in a week before almost anyone else for the 14-hour days of band camp. I (goofily) felt like the campus was ours and the rest of the students were intruders, coming too late to know the place as well as we did or to pour as much of themselves into it. But I loved their return anyway, because it also meant returning to great friends I hadn’t seen all summer and soaking up the infectious energy that boomed from the loudspeakers at every pep rally and welcome ceremony.

The excitement’s not really aimed at me these days, but it’s hard to avoid when roughly one-third of Fayetteville’s population learns or works at the University of Arkansas. The 27,000 undergrads are a pain to some and a boon to others, as my colleague Stacy Ryburn cheekily wrote for today’s paper, but you can’t deny they have a good time.

_C1_7513.JPG

_C1_7480.JPG

_C1_7582.JPG

_C1_7571.JPG

_C1_7594.JPG

_C1_7674.JPG

_C1_7754.JPG

_C1_7767.JPGGood luck to all of the students, and to the people who have to deal with them. If all goes well, the undergrads will get their names etched into the university’s sidewalks when they graduate, an Arkansas tradition that I caught a glimpse of as I left campus.

Thanks for looking!

Dan