Thursday, December 23, 2010

Towering Pines Trail

The hike begins!

Brayden is being pursued by Sasquatch (and a dog). Run Brayden, Run!

Nana, the baby herder. This is no ordinary sheep, Bo Peep.

Little bit cool today (30's), but we just had to get in some hiking. I bought a book at the visitor's center at Pinnacle Mountain State Park called Arkansas Dayhikes for Kids & Families (105 Easy Trails in the Natural State) and it seems that we have about 100 trails left to do with Brayden. The book listed "Towering Pines Trail" at Lake DeGray, so we thought we would go out today and hike it. Now we only have 99 trails left to do; I just hope the weather doesn't get much colder.

The pictures below is what Brayden does on a hike when there are no rocks to throw into a body of water. . . he kicks pine cones. Yes, another gene found on the Y-chromosome.

Pinnacle Mountain

Pinnacle mountain is going to be one of my biogeography field trips this spring semester. I was even able to make arrangements for a short float trip on a small river that empties into the Arkansas River. We should be able to see some aquatic animals and plants. Pinnacle mountain is actually part of the Ouachita mountains, but I am going there to show the students the Arkansas River Valley region. As you can see, Brayden seemed to enjoy the trip as much as we did and I am looking forward to him getting to go on many more field trips with me and I hope some day Brody will live close enough to us that I can take him with me as well.

Low Water

Here is a bay that we use to fish on Lake DeGray. I have never seen the lake so low. The bay is on your left across from the golf course as you enter the state park. Notice the trees with the blocks attached to them; you can see them all over the shore of the lake. For those who don't fish, these are sank to give fish a place to hang out and create a good fishing spot for those who know their location.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chalk it up to fun!

Well, I am out for Christmas break and that means I can spend some time with my little buddy. I knew the chalk was going to be a big hit ever since Nana bought it for him. We just kept forgetting to give it to him and when we did remember it the weather would be bad. But even though it was a little chilly today, we gave the chalk to Brayden and we all had a blast coloring and drawing all over the back patio. I am looking forward to spending a few days with my buddy, so I will keep you all posted on what we do next. Right now he is napping.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Trip to the Ouachitas

The stuff hanging from the tree is a lichen (algae/fungi hybrid) appropriately called "old man's beard"
Fossil field near Waldron a few miles from Oklahoma
An old school house just outside Waldron

I am scheduled to teach a course in biogeography in the the spring and plan to incorporate field trips to all six regions of Arkansas. I really need to visit those sites I plan to take the students to during the course, so I started this week by visiting one of those regions called the Ouachita mountains. Bismarck is actually in the foothills of the Ouachita mountains, but Debbie and I went to the heart of the Ouachitas on Friday. I wanted to check out a fossil site I was at two years ago to be sure the fossils were still unburied. The fossils were unearthed by an open-pit coal mining company and just spread all over the ground. However, the company has moved on and most of the area is now covered in topsoil and grass, but a few bare places remain and a small pit. Debbie and I were able to find a few fossils in a matter of minutes so the trip will be on for the spring. We plan on making trips to the other 5 regions over the Christmas break. The other regions include the Ozarks, the West Gulf Coastal Plain, the Arkansas River Valley, the Delta, and Crowley's Ridge. This is the reason it was so difficult to describe this state to non-Arkansans. It really just depends upon where you are in the state.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hiking with Brayden

We took full advantage of a nice cool fall day and Brayden's visit. Lake Catherine is less than an hour away and the State Park had some hiking trails we had never been on before. Brayden really likes the outdoors and especially enjoyed crossing the many bridges on this trail.

Rock Thrower

There must be a rock-throwing gene on the "Y" chromosome. Every boy I have ever known could entertain himself for hours with rocks and some body of water into which to throw them. Our two mile hike on Saturday turned into a 3 hour excursion due to all the pools of water along the trail. Brayden threw and threw and threw-- left-handed, right-handed, both-handed --big rocks, small rocks-- it didn't matter. So much for all those expensive toys, remember the best things in life are free!


No, we didn't let him eat the rocks. But we did give him chocolate pop tarts for breakfast.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Well, mine wasn't golfball-sized, but a kidney stone gave me a stormy two weeks. After Wednesday's surgery to remove it, I am finally on the mend (I hope). Although, the several attacks of excruciating pain (have to have had one to fully appreciate the adjective) I have been left with a mouthful of canker sores that are a result of the stress caused by the pain (I was told). It was difficult to teach on my first day back to work yesterday because of the nearly dozen sores on my lips and tongue; it may be a real trick trying to preach tomorrow without sounding like I am drunk or making fun of the speech impaired. Nevertheless, I am thankful to God, Dr. Woodward, inventors of pain medication, and my wife for pulling me through yet another kidney stone.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lake Missing!

Hot and dry. We took Brayden to the lake, but it was gone! Instead of water all we found was dirt, grass, and an old armadillo. Brayden didn't seem to mind too much; he just splashed around in the grass. Such a happy, easy to please boy. I hope he stays that way forever.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall Gardening

With Fall temperatures finally arriving, I couldn't wait to get my hands dirty. The strawberry beds needed thinning and weeding. Alex and I had extended the bed by half this summer, so I had more room to plant the extra plants from the thinning process. I made 5 rows that are 10' long and I still had extra plants. So I planted some more plants in pots and placed them on the back patio; the rest of the plants I just threw in the flower bed and covered with the extra dirt. I am hoping for a bumper crop this spring so Brayden can pick and eat till his belly nearly pops. And after the strawberry harvest is over, the blackberry vines (along the fence) will be loaded with big, juicy berries ready for Brayden to pick. This is why I use no pesticides or herbicides, because we like to eat what we pick right there in the garden.

While working in the strawberry bed, I could enjoy the sights of all my other backyard favorites: morning glories, canna lillies, lantana and sweet potato vines.