15 September 2010

Devil's Den State Park - Part 3

What? You thought two posts about our trip were enough? Think again. It was one of the best weekends ever, so I'm going to share more of it.
(Plus there isn't much new to photograph at the farm right now. You know those jokes about boring things- watching paint dry or grass grow. We have a lot of grass growing. But I'm not complaining- not at all. We are so thankful for the rain that Hurricane Hermine dropped on us.)
One of the highlights of the trip for me was the top-secret crevice hike. Ok, so it wasn't that big of a secret, it was mentioned on every flyer and bulletin board. It is a guided hike they do each Sunday morning. The thing that makes it secret is that the trail isn't marked or shown on the trail maps. So unless you wander onto one of the trails by mistake or go on the guided hike you will miss some of the coolest geologic features of this park. I must say, having a guide there to explain the geology of it helped.

The hike started out normal enough. Nice quite woods, nothing unfamiliar. But you better watch where you are stepping, because before long you encounter holes in the ground. Deep holes, some of the holes are just a few feet around, just big enough to catch a leg and break a hip, some are long cracks in the surface, but they are all deep. Then we encounter one of the largest crevices.

On a side note, everytime our guide said crevice, I thought of the guide we had a few years ago on a glacier hike in Norway. He pronounced it cre-VAZ.
We hiked down into 2 of the crevices. The deepest one was 55 feet.



The entrances to the bat caves are in these crevices.
So I just got curious and looked up this whole crevice/crevasse issue. Apparently the Norwegian guide didn't just have an accent, it's a totally difference word. You learn something everyday.
Which also means that these humongous cracks in the ground, the ones that are the equivalent of a 5 story building are not crevices.
Back to the crevasse hike. . .
The bat caves are closed to the public currently because of the horrible white nose fungus that is killing off bat populations across the US. The bats in these caves are Ozark Big-Eared bats, which were endangered before the fungus.
Can you see the guide in this photo? She is wearing a tan shirt, and sitting deep in this crevasse. That gives some perspective of how big these cracks are.

In case you were wondering why this area isn't on the maps, it is because it is dangerous. You really do have to watch where you are walking. We were very impressed with the State of Arkansas for not requiring fences and signs all over this area. There is just one sign at the beginning of the hike that warns that it is a natural area and to be careful.
One of the crevasses is called Dead Horse Crevice because a horse (thankfully without a rider) got spooked and fell to an instant death. There wasn't any way for the park to get the horse out, so they did their best to tuck it under rocks and branches and covered it with organic matter. A few years later a hiker brought the skull of Ginger, the horse, to the visitor center claiming to have found a dinosaur skull. (I'm guessing that hiker was a city slicker. I haven't seen many horse skulls, but cow skulls are a pretty common sight around here.)
If you go to Devil's Den State Park, it is worth it to get up a little early on Sunday morning to go on this hike.

14 September 2010

Devil's Den State Park - Part 2

Ok, back to my typical posts. Here are photos from the Yellow Rock trail at Devil's Den State Park.
This is not yellow rock, but this crevice was big enough and deep enough that there were a bunch of people in there when we hiked past.

This was part of the same formation as the first photo. The layer of shale erodes much easier than the sandstone.

The view from the overlook.

There were tons of cool rocks on this hike.

The view from Yellow Rock.


This is the view from another outcropping of Yellow Rock.

I highly recommend this hike.

13 September 2010

We are not that different

There is more variation within groups than between groups.
This is a concept I learned in Psychology courses in college; I find it applies well to life in general.

For a simple example, let's look at gender and height.  The average man in the US is 5 ft 9.5 in, for women the average in the US is 5 ft 4 in. So men are on average 5.5 inches taller then women. That is the variation between the groups, and it may seem significant until you examine the variation within those groups.
Currently the world's tallest man is about 8 ft 11 in. The shortest is about 2 ft 3 in. That is a variation within the group of about 6 ft 8in.  I won't bother you with tall and short women; hopefully the concept is clear.
(I got these numbers from trusty wikipedia.)

So, why am I writing about this today?
Because it applies to much of what makes the news these days.

First example- Religion. There are some Christian saints that live exceptionally virtuous lives. The vast majority of Christians are fairly middle of the road (they make the hump of the bell curve). Unfortunately there are also Christians that fall on the extreme opposite of the saints- doing things that are unthinkable to the majority. There is an enormous range, but most people fall in the middle.
The exact same thing applies to people of all religions, all over the world- including Muslims. The news and the history books may focus on the extremists, but the vast majority of Muslims aren't that different from the vast majority of Christians. They want a safe home, food on the table, education and opportunities for their children and good health for their families. While Muslims don't have the same concept of saints as Christians, there are certainly Muslims that live in a way that would be an example to all of us.

Another example that is literally close to home is US citizens and immigrants (specifically those immigrants crossing our southern border). My great-great- etc. grandparents came to the US for a better life. They were willing to work hard and sacrifice for what they saw as the land of opportunity. Are the folks coming to the US today any different? I certainly don't think so.
- - - - -

When I started this blog I really intended to stay away from politics and similar issues. I thought that the calm, reasoned, balanced perspective had to win out. I didn't think that I could add anything. Now, I feel that the extremists in our country are winning, only because they are screaming the loudest.
It tears me up to think that people just like me believe all Americans are hateful, because a few of them are getting all the attention. 
Please excuse my time on the soapbox, but I just couldn't keep quiet any longer.

08 September 2010

Devil's Den State Park

We went to Devil's Den last weekend (for my birthday!). It was lovely, so here are some photos.
First the view looking up while laying on the campsite picnic table.
Got to love those trees and clear blue sky.

Home Sweet Home

This was the view out of our tent. We saw some deer over here.

More to come... 

12 August 2010

Everything is bigger in Texas

We have dozens of these spiders around the outside of our house and yard. They just keep getting bigger as the summer goes on.
-Thanks to The Texan for being my hand model. I sure wasn't going to stick my hand that close. These spiders are harmless, but still, look at the size of that thing!

11 August 2010

Somewhere. . .

. . . over the rainbow. . . .
. . . bluebirds fly. . .
Ok, I'm done singing. Time for the riddles. What kind of rainbows are there in Texas?
Big rainbows. . . . . Everything is bigger in Texas. . . . Big skys. . . etc. . . get it? ha ha? Anyway. This rainbow was so big I couldn't fit it all in on shot.

10 August 2010

Rodeo!

The cowboys and cowgals get the best view at the rodeo. Those of us walking around on our own two feet, get a good view of the horses' behinds.
Our local rodeo is held in an outside arena. It doesn't start until the sun goes down. So if blurry photos give you a headache, you may want to skip the rest of this post.
 We were walking around checking out the booths and people watching during the breakaway roping. When we sat down the tie-down roping was about to start.
Next came an event that may shock some protective parents.
All the children in the audience under age 12 were invited down into the arena.
The kids lined up and. . .
several calves with ribbons tied to their tales were released at the other end of the arena.
The goal for the kids was to be the first one to grab a ribbon and run it back to the announcer. That kid won a bike.
Back to the professionals. . . actually,  not quite professionals. As the Texan pointed out- in rodeo events at this level more contestants fail then succeed. But I can't judge, I've never even ridden a horse.
What is a rodeo without clowns?
They had a skit that involved small explosives and some political jokes (which didn't lean the way I would have expected at a rodeo).
Then some team roping. Did you know that roping teams can be co-ed.
None of these teams were.
But then came barrel racing, which is all ladies. This is my favorite event. It is fast and the horses are amazing athletes.
Oh yeah, there was one more event. That one that everyone thinks of when you say 'rodeo' - bull riding. There was some of that. As I mentioned this is a fairly small local rodeo (not that I have anything to compare it to). Most of the contestants are from towns within 200 miles of us. The guys that can consistently ride a bull for 8 seconds aren't doing it in small town rodeos. So no impressive pictures of that.

09 August 2010

Horse Parking


Seen in my local grocery store parking lot. There were actually two horses and I would have taken more pictures, but I didn't want to look like some city slicker who had never seen a horse before. ;)

(Please note the bumper sticker on the truck.)
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21 July 2010

Hay!

20 July 2010

Boars

I finally got pictures, too bad it was almost dark and they were a ways away.
I am guessing there were about 8 of them, all fairly small.

11 June 2010

Garden Update

I spoke too soon when I said that I was having a good gardening year so far. The plague of grasshoppers continues.
I read somewhere that grasshoppers don't eat tomatoes. Well they do in Texas.
Here is a  picture of an herb/flower bed by my kitchen window. It was taken on May 21.
Here is a picture taken on June 11.
Notice anything missing? Yep, the grasshoppers ate my chive plant down to the ground. In case you are wondering why I don't fight back, trust me, I've tried. Since these are herbs and veggies, I don't want to put anything too toxic on them. I applied Nolo Bait to my whole yard earlier in the spring, when the hoppers where little. More recently I have been applying a plant oil based insect repellent that was recommended by my local gardening center guy (sorry, can't remember the name.)
It's hard not to take it personally, when there are 100 acres of hay for the little punks to nibble on, but no, they want to eat my tomato instead. I  guess the one upside to the whole thing is that they eat Johnson grass (a weed that grows in the hay field.)