Meandering through the mountains, again

Barn below the highway grade

This old barn at the crook of a right angle turn sits well below the grade of Arkansas Highway 9 south of Mountain View, Arkansas. A slight telephoto effect sucks it a little closer to the road for your eyes only. This barn is a “been-gone,” as in: “I been-gone shoot this booger for a long time.” Now I finally have. Another “been-gone” bites the dust.

Though 48 years of residence in L.A., (lower Arkansas), has revamped my genetic code to become an altered denizen of the Delta, there is a nagging sub-dominant gene, implanted at birth in the shadow of the Ozarks, which still floats around in my little pea brain. Occasionally, that gene can take no more of the beloved flat lands and seizes control of the behavior module.

Large cat

Click on the kitty to see the Country cathouse

A country cathouse

When that happens, I find myself in the midst of the Ozarks, the nearest and coolest mountains to L.A. — preferably on a remote gravel road. Such was the case when I discovered the “Country cathouse.”

If this peaks your interest, go to the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com to see the cathouse and nearby barn. You’ll get in on the start of the story as we meander through the mountains one more time. We’ll wait here.

The big kitty at the cathouse seemed to be well fed. I could not figure whether she was playing hooky from home or was fattened by the rodent grazing through what has to be a rodent smörgåsbord in the old barn across the road from the cathouse.

Big country cat

I was shooting the windows in the uninhabited house under which this cat resides when she decided to become the center of attention. Just like a cat! She patiently watched me shoot and scurried under the house when I got too close for her comfort.

See more of the cat in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

 Bluffs on County Road 22 in Stone County, Arkansas.

County Road 22 is not without other natural aesthetics. As you leave the cat neighborhood and head east to Highway 9 on the left you will find these rugged bluffs. On the right, for a good part of the way,Turkey Creek, a fine mountain stream gurgles by. It’s a good idea to stop and look lest you become an accidental part of the landscape while attempting to look both ways.

A cluster of photo opportunities

Occasionally, you stumble across a wad of things to shoot nicely clustered and in plain sight. This old barn was the first in the lucky cluster on highway 9.

Barn with corrugated roofing sides

This old barn on Arkansas Highway 9 south of Mountain View is sided with corrugated roofing metal, better known in these parts and other American environs, as “roofin arn.” The original zinc galvanized coating has long since faded.  Note to the candidate: The election is over.

Cows in pasture

As I was photographing the barn, a bevy of bovines gathered across the highway to observe the shoot. These were the first two on the scene.

See more shots from the cluster in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

old log cabin on Arkansas Highway 9

Just past the cow pasture is this nicely preserved log cabin. On this one, the builders squared the logs. I reckon this was the “uptown” cabin in the neighborhood.

 We shot a few more mountain scenes and then began to head south with more serious intent. As the land flattened the truck velocity increased. We were headed home to four dogs with their legs crossed. The errant gene was temporarily satiated again. In a month or so, it will stir again. The mountain mystique will well, mount, with predictable results. May you answer your own siren call as well.

crumbling wall

Click the wall for our Weekly Grtist Gallery

SEE MORE of the cat, the cows, the cluster and this old house where the wall came tumblin’ down in our Weekly Grist Gallery. You will also find an old country church and a closeup of the church belfry, a low water bridge crossing and some other stuff.

You’ll also see all of the Corndancer and Weekly Grist pictures in a larger format. Click and see. All natural content. May contain nuts. Non fattening. Shoes and shirt not required to view.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


The Crain Loop calamities

Old yellow house on Crain Loop Road in Cleveland County, Arkanas

A collapsed storage building in the front yard of this home is a harbinger of things to come. This one has been abandoned for a while. The particle board on the left window is already grayed.

Old house on Crain Loop in Cleveland County Arkansas

Click for more Crain Loop pictures

Crain Loop in Cleveland County, Arkansas is a pristine country road. You can almost hear the music. Gentle curves and an idyllic environment make the drive worth the trip regardless of the season.

Along the way, we encountered four old homes in stages of disrepair from nearly at the point of no return to near collapse. Before we continue, check out the beginning of this story on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. Click here to go there. We’ll wait here while you peruse that content.

The old home in the top picture shows signs that someone still has a sentimental attachment and cares about the old place. The grass has been cut and there is no litter or trash in the yard. The other three former homes we found on Crain Loop do not enjoy a fan club like this one does.

Tar paper cabin

A structure like this is frequently the butt of the colloquial moniker, "tar-paper shack." There is a ladder barely visible next to the tree. It provides access to a platform wedged between the lower branches of the tree.

The next of four abandoned home places, an old tar-paper covered structure was where I encountered the only other human being on the shoot. As I was banging around on the truck while loading my ladder this individual appeared out of the woods with a curious look on his face. I came forth with “Howdy,” the most disarming rejoinder that immediately came to mind. He returned the gesture and said my noise peaked his curiosity. During deer season, I normally like to make lots of non-deer noise. We mutually explained each others presence. He said he was camping with his son and I told him I was photographing the house. I know the truth and veracity of my end of the conversation and I presume his was as well. But I don’t know for sure.

old crumbling house on Crain Road in Cleveland County Arkansas

This is the back of this house. The underbrush was thick around the front. You can catch a glimpse of Crain Loop through the doors.

From the number of jettisoned glass containers in the trash pile behind the crumbling house above, the place may have briefly enjoyed the lofty status of  “deer club” after it ceased to be a family residence. If not, the last residents had a terrible thirst.

I suppose there are more pleasant pursuits than puttering around old houses. The redeeming value, one would presume, of such structure stalking is that we gain or increase appreciation for what we have. Or did not formerly have. Or formerly had and no longer do.


Old house on Crain Loop

Click for the Weekly Grist Gallery


Every week, we publish our Weekly Grist Gallery with larger pictures of all of our weekly “keepers,” some of which are not published in Corndancer or Weekly Grist. If you missed the other two links to the gallery, it’s not too late: Click here.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Looking for a fall

Fall foliage and barn

Since fall has postponed its grand opening here at home, I went north to the Ozarks to find fall. This fine looking barn at the foot of a fall splashed hill helped satisfy my gnawing desire for the third season. I found it on Arkansas Highway 74 east of Snowball.

Fall is dragging its feet in the Delta. Here it is the first of November and most of the trees are still green, our ground is as dry as a powder house, and for the most part, there’s not much of a fall nip in the air. Hungry for fall, I set out to find the elusive season in the mountains of Searcy County, Arkansas. I am a denizen of the Delta by natural selection, but was born at the feet of the Ozarks. I suppose my underlying DNA pushed me north. See the beginnings of this trek on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot Com. See the dog’s sculptured partner and some fine fall color.  Click here to go there. We’ll wait here.

dog statue

On the way to Marshall AR, our starting point in our quest for fall, I found this dog offering a welcome to the Smiley's Blueticks enterprise. For those who do not know, a Bluetick is hunting dog of the hound persuasion. Although the dogs make fine pets, they are highly valued as coon-hunting dogs. Really good ones fetch a high price.

We headed for Snowball AR looking for County Road 12. County Road 12 runs west from Snowball and t-bones a forest service road which will carry you south, provided you turn right which sounds crazy. Logic tells you that if you are traveling west, a left turn should take you south. At this junction, guess again. To go south, turn northwest. In any case, good ol’ County Road 12 runs through some rugged territory and gives you some good higher altitude fall scenery.

country road and fall foliage

Not far from Snowball AR, this country road meandering through the boondocks is a macro show stopper for fall splendor. It may get even better when the rest of the trees start to turn.

County Road 12  runs through valleys and winds its way to the top and back down, around curves, switchbacks, and other temptations of gravity set to swallow you if you do not pay attention to driving. Views from the top remind you of Robert Goulet singing “On a clear day you can see for ever and ever . . .  .” Bumps and road conditions notwithstanding, it is well worth the trip.

View of fall foliage from mountain top

As the road crawls across the top, the view is spectacular, particularly with great fall light and brilliant foliage.

As the sun began to drop in the afternoon, the warm fall tones became warmer and colors intensified. In the fall, the sun does not have as far to drop since it hangs lower in the sky to start with. The result is good broadside light to taller objects and dramatic long shadows.

Overlooking a valley with fall foliage

A parting shot. As we began descending from the mountains, we found this colorful valley showing its fall hues, chromas, lights, and shadows. Some kind of cool!

The dropping sun also signals a time to seriously aim for home before dark, but not before grabbing a few more images. In the words of John Wayne in The Cowboys, ” . . .  we’re burnin’ daylight.” We made our retreat shooting our way out. In addition to these foliage and color shots, we grabbed a cool barn, a bridge and other buildings in the boondocks. You’ll see these next week.

Update, December 6, 2010

The night before I did these shots, I dined at the Sunrise Cafe in Marshall. It was not my first trip. The quality and quantity of good southern comfort food had not diminished.

Sunrise Cafe Marshall, Arkansas

It is always a good sign for out-of-towners when a good crowd of natives are at the feed trough. It portends well for good eating. The crowd at the Sunrise Cafe in Marshall welcomed me. I was served a whopper meal of catfish. Notice the pie safe by the door. Yum!


See all of the Corndancer and Weekly Grist pictures, plus those “keepers” from the shoot that we did not publish. Click here to see this picture-only gallery.

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

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