A break in the soaking and a compendum of critters


This "free-range" rooster gave me a wary look. I stayed in the truck and grabbed him with a long lens. Back in the day, we would have called him a "yardbird," in lieu of the yuppified "free range chicken" designation.

This “free-range” rooster gave me a wary look reserved for interlopers who threaten his hens. I stayed in the truck and grabbed him with a long lens. Back in the day, we would have called him a “yard-bird,” in lieu of the yuppified “free range chicken” designation.

rain soaked camellia

Click the soaked camellia for  more pix and comments.

The drought conditions we groused about several months ago are now reversed here in LA (lower Arkansas). My friend Michael Stubblefield, a transmogrified Arky residing in Seattle would feel right at home. That is, once he made the adjustment to the fact that here one sees a plethora of service stations peddling fried chicken versus the plethora of Starbucks one observes in Seattle.

All that said, this last Saturday was generally a Seattle soaker. Even so, I found some lurking visual opportunities here on the Dempsey premises between cloud bursts. You can see these and peruse the attendant commentary on the Photo of The Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

A break in the soaker came in the afternoon, so bitten with a bad case of cabin fever, I ventured out to see what I could see. Turns out, a few critters had the same idea. One round trip down a short stretch of country road at the outskirts of my fair city yielded unexpected and welcome results manifested as chickens, cows, and horses.

Free range rooster

This rooster was in the same location as the rooster above. He gave me the same suspicious look. I stayed in the truck.

Just across the road from the chickens, cattle were chowing down on a convenient hay smorgasbord in the middle of their pasture. The diners included a Texas longhorn, but unfortunately he was on the far side of the feeding station so we only got a glimpse of his impressive horns.

Cows at hay feeding station.

Across the road from the chickens, cattle munch out on hay. The calf probably probably still visits his mother’s milk supply. Notice the horn on the Texas longhorn on the far side of the feeding station.

Not long after I left the cattle, I was beginning to think I was going to run out of critters when I noticed a some horses grazing in a pasture a couple of hundred yards off the road. I kept going and noticed that the batteries in one camera were running low so I stopped to make the change. While I was fiddle-faddling with the batteries, unbeknown to me, the horses began to demonstrate a tendency shared by most pampered horses. They came to a stopped pickup. As a result, I would up with a close shot of a friendly pony.

I think this horse would have stuck his or her head in the truck had not the gate been closed between us. The horse came a long way to make the visit while I was changing batteries in one of my cameras.

I think this horse would have stuck his or her head in the truck had not the gate been closed between us. The horse came a long way to make the visit while I was changing batteries in one of my cameras.

Some days, you just get lucky. The idea is to let those days outnumber the others. I’m still working on that. I suspect you are doing the same.

Thanks,
Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

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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

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

Barns and cows, how can you go wrong?


In advertising 101, they teach you that when all else fails, default to kids and puppies. Fast forward to the internet, when all else fails, default to barns and cows.

The building in the background is a log structure. The real thing

The building in the background is a log structure. The real thing

The barn in the foreground is more than likely the successor to the barn in the background. Or at least, the building in the background is what I strongly suspect to be a log barn. It’s a log something and I’m figuring it’s a barn. This story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com with an individual, more detailed picture of both structures. Click here to see how the story started along with the other pictures.  The buildings are on Arkansas Highway 310 west of Letona, Arkansas.

An old barn near Lonoke, Arkansas, with a new roof. At long last, someone cares!

An old barn near Lonoke, Arkansas, with a new roof. At long last, someone cares!

This barn odyssey begins in my home town of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. I snapped the first image (above) just south of Lonoke, Arkansas on Highway 31. The barn is in good condition, considering the probable age. The owners obviously are wanting to preserve the barn. They replaced the original corrugated roofing with a new aluminum roof. Not exactly traditional, but who cares if it gets the job done and extends the life of this fine barn.

There's a horse in that barn. She apparently likes the shade or is a bashful sort.

There's a horse in that barn. She apparently likes the shade or is a bashful sort.

The next stop was Pangburn, Arkansas. By the time you get to Pangburn, the Delta flatlands are far behind you. You are getting into the mountains. The nice barn above and 654 souls (according to the 2000 census) call Pangburn home. This barn can’t be much more than a block and a half from the epicenter of downtown Pangburn. Is that a cool town or what? The barn was behind a fence which did not appear to present a problem in crossing. Before taking that fateful step over the fence, I noticed a well worn path inside the fence, prima facie evidence that a critter was ensconced there. Not seeing the critter or wishing to find out the hard way, I shot on the street side of the fence. I took a closer look at the barn after the shot. A horse in the barn was taking a closer look at me. He looked friendly enough, but in the words of the immortal Fats Waller, “ … one never know, do one?” The barns at the top of the page were the next stop.

No one was available to reveal the barns provenance. Pity.

No one was available to reveal the barns provenance. Pity.

The next barn is on Good Springs Road off Highway 310 south of Pickens Chapel. There was an occupied residence on the same property, but unfortunately, no one was home to reveal the secrets of the barn.

Cows cooling it. Good work if you can get it.

Cows cooling it. Good work if you can get it.

Wandering off Good Springs Road, I came across these cows. When temperatures soar to the discomfort stage, certain enlightened, but not all cows will repair to the depths of their friendly local stock pond and spend the afternoon taking a dip. Why didn’t I think of that?

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/index.html
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

More of the Cossatot River story


See the original story here. Gustav was not quite finished when I left for the Cossatot River. The skies were still overcast, a misty drizzle was falling and winds were still whipping through the trees. I almost always take back roads on my exploration trips. During inclement weather, this often means you encounter acts of nature that have not yet been addressed by those officials whose duty it is to fix what Mother Nature hath wrought. This was the case when I came across a couple of trees laying across the eastbound lane of the highway upon which I was traveling. Fortunately for me, the fallen giants had dropped across the other lane.

2008 Joe Dempsey

Flooding on AR 51. © 2008 Joe Dempsey

Not quite thirty minutes later, close to Arkadelphia AR on Arkansas Hwy. 51, I had to turn back due to high water covering the road.

Apparently, this was such a rare occurrence, folks decided to just stop and visit at the water’s edge. Though the conversation appeared to be lively, being anxious to get to the river, I did not stop to discover the topics being discussed. Hope that wasn’t a mistake.

Exiting from the fording experience, I was still on a new route, one which I had never traversed before. I came upon a rural residential area which looked like a subdivision laid out with 40 acre or so plots. There was a large pasture inhabited by a herd of cows and one favored and fortunate bull.

2008 Joe Dempsey

Queen of the pasture. © 2008 Joe Dempsey

One of the cows was a bit out of the ordinary. She had not been dehorned and she was wearing a stylish brindle striped coat. She apparently was the queen of the herd. She watched me like a hawk and appeared to be nonchalant about being photographed. Perhaps even a little snooty. If you are the queen, I suppose being snooty goes with the territory.

Glenwood AR, a pleasant town of 2,000 or so souls was my base camp. Having spent plenty of time sleeping on the ground and preparing food under primitive conditions, I have nothing left to prove along those lines. So I made arrangements to reside at the Riverwood Inn for a couple of days. The accommodations were very nice and the proprietors are most congenial. I recommend it heartily.

It’s forty miles or so to the Cossatot River State Park, my target, from Glenwood. After the check-in routine, I headed west toward the Cossatot. The sky was still a bit overcast, and the section of the river with the falls is best shot it the morning. But my blood was boiling and I did an 80 mile round trip and fed the pickup its diet of gasoline anyway to see and hear the river at its best. I was not disappointed.

2008 Joe Dempsey

AR 246 Cossatot bridge. © 2008 Joe Dempsey

However, due to shooting in the afternoon and in the wrong direction, the 200 or so shots I made that first day were nothing to get excited about, with one significant exception.

The Arkansas Hwy 246 bridge over the Cossatot is something you would expect to see in the Alps or at least in the Rockies of Colorado. I can’t tell you for sure just how tall that sucker is, but I’m guessing, from a comparative standpoint, 10 to 12 stories.

The bridge is supported by a single vertical truss. The view off the bridge is spectacular. Unfortunately, the bridge is two vehicular lanes with precious little space for a human being to stand and photograph what’s below.

Fortunately, you can access the river, just downstream from the bridge via the state park visitors center. I caught the late afternoon sun through the bridge. Since the photo was shot with an extreme wide angle lens, the bridge does not look as high as it really is.

After a good night’s sleep, I ventured forth the next morning enjoying a spectacular day. On the way, I mused to my self that Chuck Haralson, legendary and long-time photographer for the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism should be there. After all, the river was at its category V best on a glorious day. Little did I know that he was just minutes ahead of me on his way to the Cossatot.

When I pulled into the park, I noticed a man unloading camera equipment, I glanced as I drove by and, heavens to mergatroid, the guy was Chuck. Chuck and I exchanged the pleasantries that friends exchange. Then he told me, “Get your stuff, I have some kayakers on the way.”

Chuck Haralson firing away on the Cossatot

Chuck Haralson firing away on the Cossatot

Did he ever. He had made arrangements with world-class paddlers Tommy Wingard, and Jason and Sabrina Mellor to shoot the rapids that day. Tommy, Jason and Sabrina, all Arkansans, are members of the Arkansas Canoe Club, a 500 member organization of canoe and kayak enthusiasts. These three have regularly negotiated some of the most difficult and dangerous class V streams for years. As most experts do, they made what would be suicidal for all but those of their skills, look easy.

Chuck and paddlers confer before the next run.

Chuck and paddlers confer before the next run.

These kayakers are a cooperative sort. After shooting several of the rapids, they would calmly pull their boats up to the rock where Chuck was perched. They conducted impromptu conferences with Chuck on new approaches. Then, it was off to the races again.

They portaged their boats back upstream for repeat performances. They kept shooting the rapids, we kept firing. As the good ole boys say in the south, ” … it don’t git no better than this.”

Kayakers portage their boats for another run. Yippee!

Kayakers portage their boats for another run. Yippee!

Later, a couple of rafts came around the bend. After no small amount of reconnaissance and consideration, they shot the rapids and made their merry way down the river, sopping wet and grinning like a jackass eating saw briers. The Cossatot generates adrenalin and the rafters were apparently pumping a healthy dose just like the kayakers.

Rafters shoot the white water.

Rafters shoot the white water.

Tired, but happy, we decided we had what we came for and it was time to make our way back over the rocks to our waiting vehicles. There was a problem looming. To get from the parking area to the prime shooting area, you have to negotiate some large, craggy rocks.

Happy rafters headed downriver.

Happy rafters headed downriver.

This is by design. Unlike many state parks, where access to the sights is made easy by constructed paths and foot bridges, the Cossatot has been left in its natural condition. While I approve of this, it makes for an arduous and perhaps a bit dangerous passage to get where you need to be.

To get to the last shooting setup, it was necessary to descend a rock nearly my height, just under 6-6.” It’s not a problem to get down the rock. You merely scoot down it on your backside. Getting back up the rock was another story. I made a step with my hands to give Chuck a boost. With that small bit of help, popped up the rock like mountain goat. Not so for me.

Yours truly, wet and happy.

Yours truly, wet and happy.

After several furtive, grunting attempts, I knew it wasn’t going to happen for moi. On to plan B. I handed all of my gear and pocket contents to Chuck and proceeded to wade around the rock. About midway through the wade, I was up to my chest in Cossatot. At the conclusion, Chuck shot me, still ankle deep in the water, wet and glad to be where I was — in one piece.

We plodded on for what seemed to be an eternity, occasionally pausing to take a swallow or two of bottle water. Seems crazy to drink bottled water when 1,000 cubic feet per second of clean, pure mountain water is coursing past you just a few feet away. But in this case, discretion is the better part of valor. To access the river for a drink would probably result in an unceremonious dunk.

Chuck Haralson, world-class photographer.

Chuck Haralson, world-class photographer.

Close to the parking lot, we stopped and talked over what we had done. Negotiated some difficult territory and watched and shot world class kaykers shooting rapids on one of the best class V stretches of water in the nation. Not just everyone gets to do that. We were grateful.

Not a bad way to spend a day.

Thanks,

Joe Dempsey

The Cossatot rocks! Figuratively and actively.

The Cossatot rocks! Figuratively and actively.