Winter is circling the drain

Click on the red barn for our original "Baring it all" post.

Click on the red barn for our original “Baring it all in the winter” post.

Jonquils are blooming, the yellow peril from millions of horny oak trees is beginning to present itself for inhalation, and to top that, the TV weather-woman just reminded me that when we wake up Wednesday morning, we will be in the first day of Spring 2013.

All that said, it I am going to get on the stump for seeing Mother Nature’s wonders in winter months, I have to hustle. To illustrate my point I am sending you back to January 2011 when I addressed this issue with a post appropriately entitled: Baring it all in the winter. The weather was a mite airish and the landscape was unadorned by green.

Old barn in winter

Click the little barn to see the big barn

As is usual, with these photo-articles, you get two versions, one here and one on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com, where you will see another winter barn.  This is a result of a plot between me and Ebenezer Bowles, grand-master, big kahuna, and keeper of the candles at Corndancer dot-com.

We want to make sure you get plenty of exercise with your mouse and simultaneously enrich your web-surfing experience. So we figured since the mayor of New York can act in your benefit by telling you how big your sody-water can be, we can benefit you with this additional mind exercise and eye-hand coordination work outs. That’s what friends are for. ??

Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.


Late bird, early spring

Robin with worm

It was late in the day when when this fat robin, flying in the face of tradition, once and for all proved that the early bird is not the only one to get the worm.

I start looking for the yellow presence of Jonquils at the tail-end of February and the first week in March. Last year, I found my first ones on February 20, this year, I saw fully developed and happy Jonquils on February 7. In that condition, one can safely presume they have been there a few days.

robin on stump

Click on the bird for another picture of him at Corndancer dot-com

Here in LA, it’s been an anemic, puny winter with days topping out in the high 60 and low 70 degree range. That makes for severe weather, sinus trouble, and plants with their schedule out of whack. Which is why I found the bird.

Earlier in the week, on the way to jury duty, I saw the Jonquils but could not stop to shoot. When I returned late one afternoon a few days later to shoot the flowers, Cock Robin was sitting on the broken stump of a tree which had earlier succumbed to a big wind.

I was able to shoot from the truck so he did not spook as soon as most wild critters do. Since the lot is about two feet higher than the street, I got him eyeball to eyeball in the Nikon glass.

See more of the bird and flowers in our Weekly Grist Gallery

In fact when I arrived, he was on the stump without the worm, took a dive, grabbed the worm and returned to his perch most of which I captured. It is always better to be lucky than good. See the first shot of the robin and the early jonquils I was after where this story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. We will wait here while you look.

Early spring volunteer jonquils

The target jonquils, despite their lack of human attention, were doing quite well thank you very much. Originally planted by former residents of the long since demolished house, the plants continue to follow the genetic instructions imbued by the Almighty. Some things are best left alone.

Anytime one discusses spring flowers, my across-the-street-neighbor’s yard cannot be overlooked. She is a master gardener and her yard and flower beds are silent witness to her considerable skills. Her horticultural efforts offset the lack of same in my yard. I suppose it is some sort of vegetative equation if there is such a thing.

yellow and black pansy

This stout little pansy at my neigbhors is tougher than it looks. It has survived a couple of sub-freezing nights.

See more of the bird and flowers in our Weekly Grist Gallery

Large jonquil

This is a large Jonquil in my neighbor's yard. This one looks like a bloom on steroids compared to others. Must be the green thumb.

robin on ground

Click on the bird for our Weekly Grist Gallery

Mother Nature is messing with us and it’s not the first time, nor will it be the last. We simply are not in charge. But we can enjoy birds and flowers without too many foot pounds of energy expended.

In fact, with a mere click, you can see more of them in our Weekly Grist Gallery. Click here and take a gander.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Old barn, young dog

Cardinal in snow storm

A big male cardinal and a lucky snow flake. This is as shot and adjusted for color. No trickery.

This week, we are sending you back in time

Since the nation is in the grips of the heatwave like few others, this week we are sending you back to a February 2011 snow storm. The storm dumped seven inches or so of the white stuff which set up some good shots.

During the storm we replenished our bird feeder on an accelerated basis much to the delight of a phalanx of neighborhood birds. Probably some non-neighborhood interlopers as well.

Using the house as a blind, the birds paid little attention to us as we fired away. While we are now sweltering, take a gander at a cooler experience.

Click here to see the original  February 13, 2011 Weekly Grist post. Also see the original Corndancer Photo of the Week picture and story. Cool places to click. Here’s the Corndancer link to the story of the barn and dog

Dog on Prarie Road in Cleveland County, Arkansas

This friendly little fellow joined me when I was shooting the barn you see below. The learning curve from his initial and natural caution was shortened when I offered him a few month-old Cheetos I salvaged from the back floorboard of my truck.

old falling barn

Click on the barn to see more pix at Corndancer dot-com

Look now before it’s too late

This epistle is actually about an old barn about to drop, but the young dog who interloped on the shoot seemed to deserve top billing. The cute factor outweighed the rustic and historic value offered by the barn. The old barn tells a familiar story to barn observers.

Find out the details and see another picture of the dog and the barn by going to the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com. We will wait here while you peruse those details.

Old falling barn

The camera is level. The barn is not. Get a good look while you can.

See more of the barn and dog on our Weekly Grist Gallery

The old barn is southeast of U.S. Highway 79 on Prairie Road in Cleveland County, Arkansas. There is an occupied home on the property, but no one was there when I did the shot, so details are sketchy at best. What’s obvious from the size of the barn is that it was the likely epicenter of a large and prosperous agricultural operation which marketed cash crops and concurrently produced subsistence crops to support family, farm hands and their families, and livestock. You did not commute to work at this farm.

old crumbling barn

You can see the patchwork applied to the barn over the years. Perhaps it delayed the inevitable, but not for long. Wonder if the generous hay loft was ever the site of a "romp in the hay?"

There would have been a number of mules which called the barn home.  A few chickens roosted somewhere inside and there was no doubt a nearby hog pen, corn crib, smoke house and an “out-house.”  Also on the property, cattle probably found shelter in a cow-barn. A trip to the store took a day or more.

At the time, the folks who lived and worked there, I’m thinking, were happy to be there and could not have imagined in their wildest dreams the ultimate fate of their farm and their barn. They worked hard, enjoyed the fruits of their labors, dealt with the underhanded blows delivered by Mother Nature and sometimes their fellow man. And they survived.

Gives one pause to wonder how happiness is defined. Their happy is not our happy. Hmmm. I’m wondering what the next happy will be. And what will be the format of survival?

See more of the barn and dog on our Weekly Grist Gallery

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.

Hiding in plain sight

trees in pool with sunset light

Trees reflect in a pool of rainwater as the setting sun illuminates the scene. The sun angle splashes reds and yellows on the background and throws a shadow on the foreground.

x trees

See the "x" trees at a nearby creek.

Mother Nature in her contrariness puts a lot of stuff out there for us to see. Much of it, like the imagery above, is fleeting. It its entirety, it is temporary at best and is never the same from day to day. The differences may be subtle, but they are there.  And she hides stuff. This time it was on Monticello Road, which runs north from Junet, off  U.S. HIghway 270. Google maps calls Monticello Road County Road 75, if you clicked on the Junet link.

This story actually started a mile or so down the road from this scene and on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. Check out the start of the story and picture of the “X” trees on this same road. Click here to go there. We’ll wait here.

On the image above, the light will be different tomorrow. The water level will likely drop. Or if it rains, the water level will go up, all depending on circumstances and control far above our collective pay grades. So what we are seeing today is unique, never to be exactly duplicated. If you miss it, you miss it forever. Barring natural or man-made catastrophes or modification, you will see something similar again, but not this exact scene.

Being a stern parent, Mother Nature could be sending us a message. We’ve all heard it before. Live life like this is your last day. Dance like it is your last dance. Hug like it is your last hug, you get the drift. She hides the things of value and changes them daily, sights, sounds, smells, wind, water, and light. Like the rest of life, it is our bounden calling to seek out the good stuff and enjoy what we find.

Old barn on Monticello Road

The light was nearly perfect for this old barn on Monticello Road not far from the trees you see above. It is the real thing, in use as, well, a barn.

For dessert, the old barn came into view. I visited with the owner and his dogs. The barn was there when he bought the place in 1963. He figures it was built sometime after World War II. He has maintained the barn and it is being put to its highest and best use −  as a barn. This trip gives us pause to think: What we miss today is gone forever. It will not be the same tomorrow. But never fear, it could be better.


Weekly Grist Gallery

Weekly Grist Gallery

Every week, we publish a gallery of our photos of the week, some of which did not appear on Corndancer or Weekly Grist. These pictures are larger and generally will reveal more detail than what you see on this blog. There are only five shots this week. My sojurn in the boondocks was shortened by my participation in my spousal unit’s surprise birthday party.

Had to get my priorities in order.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

UPDATE: One week later, same place, earlier in the day

trees in water

One week later (Jan. 29, 2011), the scene is completely different earlier in the afternoon. It's the same place with different makeup. Now sunny, formerly sultry.

Baring it in the winter

Old red bard

This old barn, resplendent in its winter mode is a familiar sight to the legion of kayaking, canoeing, swimming, picnicking, and hiking enthusiasts who frequent the Long Pool Recreation area, my destination for the day, on Big Piney Creek north of Dover, Arkansas. You can't miss it.

From the looks of things you are figuring this is a story about barns. You are partially correct.  Actually we are talking about what you see in the winter, when most people are staying home versus what you see in the warmer months when the folks who will venture out, well, venture out. It is my contention that there is more to see in the winter.

Old Arkansas Barn

Click on the barn for a full size picture.

Before we pursue that argument further, take a look at where this story started on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com. You will see another old barn and a close up of a remote intermittent water fall. Click here to go there. We’ll be here when you get back.

I had high hopes of catching a couple of waterfalls in a mid-winter display of their might a few miles from this barn east of the Long Pool Recreation Area on Big Piney Creek north of Dover, Arkansas. There had been plenty of rain in the general vicinity, but Mother Nature, in her fickle mode, chose to steer her latest deluge in the wrong direction to satisfy my hopes. Whom am I to question?

Never the less, the trip was worth it. The falls, one about 10-12 feet tall, and one towering to 44 feet, are ensconced in a huge hollow which is nothing short of spectacular. Boulders as big as a pickup truck line the outflow of the falls. The waterfalls are accessible only by a hike of nearly a mile in each direction and are not frequently visited.

waterfall near Long Pool Recreation area on Big Piney Creek

This is the smaller of two falls at this destination. This one is 10-12 feet tall. The larger one, which I did not have time to shoot properly is 44 feet tall. Just a trickle was coming over it.

There are two trails to the falls, one of which is close to treacherous. The trail, only a foot and a half wide in some places,  follows Big Piney Creek on the side of a steep hill which bottoms out in the creek. The other trail is an old road which leads to and from the recreational area. It is benign, but steep in places. I took the scenic route in and the safer route out.

Small falls near Long Pool Recreation Area

You see a great deal of detail in these pictures due to the even light on the falls. In summer months the difference between the bright and dark spots due to foliage makes a detailed shot such as this nearly impossible.

Listening to the trickle of the falls in their diminished intermittent mode was good therapy and I did not want to leave. However, I was covering new ground and believed it prudent to allow plenty of time to return to the trusty pickup. That being so, I did not capture as many images as I would have liked. However, I will have a keen eye out for reports of big rains in the area and then beat a path back.

white trees

These poplar trees south of Russellville AR on U.S. Highway 64 are a dramatic presence in this field. "Golden Hour" sun splashes over the scene.

If you have an opportunity, or conversely you have nothing better to do and want to do something different, make an opportunity and sally forth to see some winter magnificence. It awaits you.


waterfall closeup

Click here for more waterfall and barn pictures

See our weekly photo-only gallery which has all of the weekly Corndancer and Grist pictures, plus some cool ones which are not displayed on either site.

This week there are nine pictures. See more angles on  the Corndancer barn and views the waterfall you’ve observed on this page. Click to here to go there.

Thanks for dropping by

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Meandering through the mountains (again)

Roasting Ear Creek Stone County AR

Where Roasting Ear (properly pronounced rohsn'ear and spelled roasn'ear) Creek crosses Mitchell Road in Stone County, Arkansas there is a nice low water bridge downstream from which is this vista of winter-bare-bones-pristine boondocks beauty.

My forays to the mountains are not normally as closely spaced as the one week before last, and this one. However it did lend the opportunity to observe the big difference a couple of weeks can make in the boondocks when winter is closing in. Most of the trees were bare this time. Not a bad thing mind you. Now we can see more of what Mother Nature has to offer. Speaking of which, this adventure started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. Click here to go there and see a closer upper of the tree on the creek you see above and a couple of other wild territory shots.

Old barn near Woodward Arkansas

The election is history, but not the signs. This old barn stands on Arkansas Highway 263 near Woodward in Stone County, Arkansas. Note to candidates. Come get your signs.

On the way to the mountain snippets of coolness, one always passes the omnipresent old barns and commercial structures which stand as silent witnesses to times which were simpler and less cluttered with “conveniences.” I say that with my tongue firmly ensconced in my bewhiskered cheek because were it not for several of these conveniences, namely digital cameras, butt-kicking computers and software, and high-speed internet, I could not send nor could you receive this dispatch. And we would not want that.

fifty six arkansas

Fifty Six Arkansas, population 163. It is the nearest town to Blanchard Springs Caverns, one of the nations premier underground cavern attractions.

My friend, Frank Girolami, creator of  the fine blog A Frank Angle, asked that in my wandering around my home state if I had the opportunity to post something about the town of Fifty-Six, Arkansas, would I?  Well Frank, I was in the neighborhood so here it is.

old store at almond arkansas

This old store and a cross roads are about the crop at Almond, Arkansas. At one time this was probably the epicenter of what was happening in the community.

On the way back to my weekend temporary headquarters at a friend’s lake house on Greers Ferry Lake, I took a wrong turn (imagine that!). As a net result, I happened across the old store above. Methinks that one more time Providence steered me toward a worthy target I would have missed otherwise. And who is one to question Providence. Certainly not I.


See our weekly picture only gallery with all of the Corndancer and Weekly Grist pictures plus some that are not published elsewhere. See some big ol’ truck ruts where some poor soul drove a bit to far, a lake cliff and more. Click here go to there.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Kirksey Country

Fendley Store, Fendley AR

Fendley Store was opened by Kirksey family members in 1907 and closed in the forties. The Kirkseys have kept it in serviceable condition since its closing. Seemed like the right thing to do.

When you pull into Fendley, Arkansas it’s hard to miss Fendley Store. There’s not much else from an urban development viewpoint and that’s not a drawback if you happen to be a Kirksey. As a matter of fact, it’s close to ideal.

See the old Kirksey house at Corndancer dot com

The family has lived on this real estate since around 1874. Across the road from the store in one direction is the home of one of the original Kirkseys, still in use by a Kirksey.

To see the house (complete with tire swing and a neat little stone bench),  click here and go to the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot com where this story started, a very cool thing to do. Also see one of the Spring Creek Nursery greenhouses and three generations of Kirkseys.  Take your time, we’ll wait here while you look around a bit.

Across the road in another direction is Spring Creek Nursery operated by Brian Kirksey and his family. The nursery is just part of what the Kirkseys do. They also raise cattle, build greenhouses and are in the timber business as well.

Spring Creek Nursery Greenhouse

Spring Creek Nursery greenhouses are designed and built by the proprietor, Brian Kirksey. They are good stewards of the environment. Diligent recycling is a part of their business.

The Spring Creek Nursery is a sophisticated operation in a rural setting. Low traffic. Low noise. Low hassle and a zero mileage commute. The family has five dogs, four of which are normally part and parcel of the daily “work-flow.” What is commonplace at Fendley is spectacular to those of us who see far too much asphalt and traffic. Take Moorman Road for example. The road runs through the Kirksey Farm. Not far from one of the greenhouses, the summer foliage of trees lining the road form a verdant tunnel. Not too shabby for less than a block and a half from Main Street.

Moorman Road

Moorman Road running through Spring Creek Nursery forms this living tunnel.

Just a few miles west of Fendley, on Still Creek Road, you will see the perfectly restored Loy Kirksey “dog-trot” house restored by relatives of Brian Kirksey. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a perfect example of this popular style of 19th and early 20th century rural architecture.  Sometimes you hear of these houses being referred to as “shotgun”house, which is a misnomer.

Loy Kirksey house

The Loy Kirksey House, originally built prior to 1874 is on Still Creek Road northwest of Fendley. Dog trot houses got their name from the style of two living spaces separated by a breezeway, through which one's dog could and would trot.

But wait, there’s more

More pictures

More pictures

Each week, we post all of the “keepers” of the shoot or shoots for Corndancer and Grist posts in an on-line picture-only gallery. There is normally not room to publish all we shoot and like. The pictures are high-resolution and larger that the posts.

This week the additional shots include some more green house, dog-trot, tunnel and tire swing shots in color and good ol’ black and white.  Click here and take a good look.

Thanks for dropping by and taking a look at how things are in a completely rural setting. I’m giving it a dozen thumbs up.

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Woolly Hollow

Woolly Hollow Falls
I would guess Woolly Hollow Falls drop around 40 or 50 feet from top to bottom, but not in a straight line. The stair-stepped falls make for good eye candy.

Few things command ones undivided attention better than a waterfall. You don’t have to turn it on and you can’t turn it down, or off. And, in all likelihood you are viewing its magnificence voluntarily. Since it has your undivided attention, you might as well take advantage of the therapeutic benefits accrued while standing in awe of one of Mother Nature’s most powerful creations. Even better, it will not attack or bite and unless you decide to personally sample its turbulence, surviving the experience is a virtual lock.

Waterfall therapy techniques are addressed along with some other pictures of the falls on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. Get in on these revelations and photos by clicking here, a very cool thing to do.

We are visiting the falls below the dam which makes 40 acre Lake Bennett at Woolly Hollow State Park near Greenbrier, Arkansas. The falls are easily accessible from a trail near the entrance to the park. The park is very popular. There is an office and gift shop in the park which freely dispenses information about the premises.

dam forming Lake Bennett

The top of the dam forming Lake Bennett. While the vegetation may look a bit unkempt, it is nature’s way and a good thing, adding its tendrils to the overall strength of the dam, which was built by the CCC in 1935. This is one of the few places were you see rip-rap embedded in concrete, pointy-side up. One presumes to prevent using the dam as a playground.

While accessing the falls from the bottom is no trick due to the well constructed and tended trail, seeing if from the top at water level is another story all together. One descends from an impromptu parking place on the entrance road near the dam to the lake’s edge. From there follow the lake’s edge until you are even with the dam. At this water level, that required a small wade, not a big deal.

bluff just below the Lake Bennett dam

This bluff is just below and past the east end of the dam, and above the falls.

From there, it would be better if you had the sure footedness of a mountain goat because the top of the dam is laced with rip-rap. You gingerly walk across the top of the dam and wind up near the small bluff you see above. Traipsing across small rip-rap is not my strongest point, but the visual reward at the end of the walk was worth it. Not recommended for anyone with mobility limitations.

above Woolly Hollow Falls

Further downstream from the dam, this is the last stretch before the falls begin to drop. I decided here to curtail my southerly trek along the creek and return to the truck. It looked a tad woolier than I wanted to deal with, if you will forgive the pun.

I followed the stream about another 75 yards or so. The trail was visible, but not well-worn. Not recommended if you take exception to wading and breaking your way through some underbrush. Since I have absolutely no objections to any of the above, I crashed on through like a bull in a china shop. When I got to the stretch of creek above, I shot and turned back, believing at my age that discretion indeed may be the better part of valor. The drop of the falls was not far ahead, but substantially more easily accessible from the bottom.

But wait, there is definitely more

See high resolution versions of all Corndancer and Weekly Grist pictures in our weekly high-resolution gallery. Click here to go there. This week we are including a black and white version of all pictures in this gallery.

A good hike along a wet, rocky, and overgrown trail is one you walk away from in one piece. Thank goodness for small favors and thank you for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Frozen opportunities

For it is written,

“ … when languishing in front of a roaring fire place in the aftermath of an ice storm, remove thyself from thy duff and go forth to shoot stuff covered with ice.”

The revelation made sense to me. As I departed with this mandate directing me, listening to Little Richard holding forth with Slippin’ and a-slidin’ would have been good background music. Thank goodness for anti-lock brakes and FWD!

Switch engine locomotives parked

Awaiting further orders, these ice crusted switch engines appear unfazed by the light coating of ice they are wearing. I saw them as I was crossing the viaduct barely visible in the right center background. They were saying "shoot us, shoot us .... ." Who could say no? Not I.

bell with ice

Click on the bell and see the big bell picture

Had I not obeyed the aforementioned Divine guidance, I would not have seen my friend Jon Phillipi and he would not have joined me as we toured the frozen underbelly of our environs. The first thing we encountered was not the line of locomotives above, but an icicle encrusted bell. See it where this story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to go there, a very cool thing to do. We’ll wait while you click.

Open door policy?

Close up of locomotive cab

A closer look reveals an open door (and windows). Perhaps this is a defensive move. After all, miscreants generally will not break an open door. And the temptation is removed. You can also detect the rows of icicles. When you look at the door which will admit a grown man, you begin to get an idea of the size of the locomotive. Ain't a small thing.

One may safely presume the railroad had other things in mind for these switch engines when they placed the order and signed the check. Our good wishes to the railroad that the intended use of these locomotives be fulfilled. It will bode well for us all. When these engines are running, so is our economy. It can’t happen soon enough.

head on photo of locomotive

Under normal circumstances, this is not a healthy place to be. It's not often one of these monsters holds a pose for you.

In the meantime, cameras love trains and people like pictures of trains so there is at least one good outcome.

Those of us who remember the steam whistles silenced long ago by the air horns of today, can also remember the huffing and puffing and magnificent displays of steam and smoke. Several years ago, just a few miles from this forlorn machine, I had the opportunity to shoot Union Pacific’s magnificently restored engine 3985 under a full head of steam.

The big iron horse sped by with little noise and clanking, much quieter than its modern counterparts. An amazing machine. Thanks UP! Send her back again.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Ice had covered one of my front yard camellias. A couple of years ago, about this time, I posted a story on Corndancer dot com, the subject of which was the cussed toughness of a camellia bush. One simply does not normally think of flower plants and the word tough in the same breath. Check it out here, if you missed it on Corndancer.

Camellia with ice

The coating of ice does not deter the hardy camellia from its destiny to bloom and survive.

The shoot was  yesterday and today the ice is melting from the trees. It’s like another storm, except this one is in winter sunshine. The water stored in trees and shrubs as ice is now filling drains, puddles, and ditches. Mother Nature’s seven-fold amen to an ice storm. Or perhaps an encore.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

If you’d like to see a gallery high-resolution versions of our Corndancer and blog photos for this week, click here.

The “Wow!” stuff: seek and ye shall find

These falls at Lake Catherine State Park, near Hot Springs, Arkansas are about midway in a relatively easy hiking trail that loops from a camping area along the lake shore. A healthy rain the day before this shot gave the falls a bit more oomph, a plus for the

These falls at Lake Catherine State Park, near Hot Springs, Arkansas are about midway in a relatively easy hiking trail that loops from a camping area along the lake shore. A healthy rain the day before this shot gave the falls a bit more oomph, a plus for the “WOW!” factor.

The “WOW!” stuff we encounter in our lives is analogous to life’s desserts. Sure we can live without ’em, but why? As a dessert, these experiences are non-fattening, low cholesterol and may, as in the case of the waterfall above, offer an opportunity for a tad of exercise. We actually started this “WOW!” exploration on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot Com. To see some more pictures from “WOW!” experiences and get in on the start of the story, click here, a very cool thing to do.

Water rushes over a low water bridge on an abandoned road off Arkansas Highway 171 west of Lake Catherine State Park. When the water is not up, you would probably miss it.

Water rushes over a low water bridge on an abandoned road off Arkansas Highway 171 west of Lake Catherine State Park. When the water is not up, you would probably miss it.

Granted, you do not have to take a trip to a waterfall or other special location to experience a “WOW!”, but for the most part, you exponentially increase the odds of being WOWED, if you put yourself in position to be WOWED. This means that occasionally one must cut the umbilical to daily or even weekend routines and nose about for something new. You may not know where you are going. A discovery is even more delicious if it is uncovered due to a random act of deciding which way to turn. Sally forth in a new direction and see what can be discovered. You never know what you will see. As an example, take a gander at the road sign below:

Lick Skillet Road

Lick Skillet Road off Arkansas Highway 80 east of Waldron, Arkansas.

When I saw the sign, I, in the words of W. C. Fields, ” … was compelled … ” to turn and drive down the road. This was not the first Lick Skillet Road sign I saw, but was the most skewed, so it made the cut to be published. I encountered a friendly young man in a pickup and asked if he knew how the road got its name. He allowed as how he understood that around the turn of the 20th century, a woman operated an eatery on the road. The good ol’ boys of the time observed that the food there was so good, you wanted to lick the skillet. And thus the name.

Further investigation by Googling the term indicated that this appellation, Lick Skillet, at the time, was popular. Turns out there are a bunch of Lick Skillet places and other Lick Skillet roads promiscuously scattered around the nation. There is indeed precious little new under the sun. Sooner or later, someone will claim to be “The Original Lick Skillet.” Or perhaps that claim has already been made.

Mad Dog Road

Abandoned house on Mad Dog Hill Lane near Bluffton, Arkansas on state highway 28.

After having followed Lick Skillet Road until it terminated on Arkansas Highway 80 east of Waldron, I more or less folded the tent with the idea of beating a path back home. When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but an abandoned house with some Victorian trappings on the confluence of highway 28 and  “Mad Dog Hill Lane.”  In my time, I’ve known a few people, who will remain unidentified, the address of whom would appropriately contain such a street — you know who you are.

No one came forth with an explanation for the name, so I folded the tent again and headed south. Our imagination can fill in the blanks on Mad Dog Hill Lane until something better comes along.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

%d bloggers like this: