Saturday, September 8, 2012

Arkansas Adventure

Just returned from a fabulous getaway to Arkansas with the lovely Lita. We stayed in the Old Homestead Cabin at Panther Valley Ranch, a place I had previously vacationed with my mom and  my niece Danielle. This was the first time Lita and I had a full vacation together and not just a weekend. It was all about hiking, connecting to nature, birding, sketching, painting and disconnecting from technology, which was pretty easy considering that we couldn't get cell or wireless internet anywhere...well, except once, at the very top of a mountain. :)

We hiked three State Parks including one inside Ouachita National Forest. We had our 300mm aimed for spotting birds to add to our Life List. Birding is hard. It's hard on your neck. It's hard with a 300mm in a thick forest (maybe a 500mm will be on my Christmas wish list to Santa!) and even harder when you forget to pack your external flash and your binoculars. Still, we snapped away and then back at the cabin, birding books out, set out to identify those we had never seen before. All said, we logged 27 species. We saw lots of wildflowers, waterfalls, turtles, strange spiders and even a giant centipede that looked like something out of Alice in Wonderland. We had some stunning views, amazing adventures, a few iffy moments but always a barrel of laughs. We arrived to a breathtakingly rain-soaked view in Arkansas and we were welcomed home to Florida by a full rainbow. The universe was good to us and we were grateful. I took so many pictures that there is no way I could share them all here in one post. So for now, just posting a few pics of Panther Valley Ranch and of our cabin, all taken with the iPhone 4s.
Welcome to Panther Valley Ranch
Cabin View

Ironic that I stay in the Paddington neighborhood while in London and here was a reminder located in a remote cabin in the state of Arkansas!
Rain-soaked View



The Homesteader

Kisses for Jake

Lita and Dakota

Jake. I rode Jake six years ago. This time around, he had sleep apnea and fell asleep at the hitching post. He was really lazy during the ride and stumbled with me three times. His tummy was rumbling too and after he ate a few leaves and stopped for a drink at a creak, he seemed to be much more alert but he still had a mind of his own. Hmmm...a horse with tummy troubles and marched to the beat of a different drum? Sounds just like me! We made a perfect pair!

The Cowboy
Jacob, our ranch hand and trail leader made for some nice eye candy during our stay. He even saved the day by scooping up a giant wasp that was roaming around inside our cabin.

Chair Pair

 Fence Lines

 In a Field of Wildflowers

Nature Takes Over

They took me alongside Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland and around the Herriot Way in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. They traversed the Highlands of Scotland from Glasgow to Fort William and led me through the beauty of the Lake District along the Cumbria Way. They made it through two climbs of Conwy Mountain in Wales, brought me comfort during a long day in the Brecon Beacons and brought me to the inspiration for Wuthuring Heights atop Haworth Moor. They survived torrential rain, wind and hail. They got me across waterfalls and over rivers. They climbed mountains and crags, rolled over green hills and valleys. Led me into villages offering a good pub meal and a sound nights sleep. They stomped through cow dung and sheep poo. They walked through the muddy bogs and over the harsh landscape of the moors. They shared the trail with old friends and brought me to new ones. They lasted through three hiking trails in Arkansas before the sides ripped open. Farewell, my old friends, my beloved served me well. :-(

We sure will!

Stay tuned for more pics from the adventure as well as some of my watercolors I did while there. Yes! I actually took my sketchbook and paints and took the time each morning to indulge in the passion! :-)


Nichole Renee said...

What wonderful pictures and what wonderful memories! And these just from your iPhone! I cannot wait to see the rest of the creative magic you captured!

And so sorry about your treasured boots. I know the visceral connection to clothing items; they were good friends to you and you paid them a lovely tribute.

Luke A. Bunker said...

Wow, Laura - amazing photos and it looks like you had a truly wonderful time... Connecting with nature always brings out our creative sides. I particularly LOVE the clock photo - life and all of its connections!

Catherine... said...

Hi Laura, love the pictures, nice cowboy... yummy. Glad you had a good time. :)

Samuli said...

Sounds like you guys had a real kick-ass adventure! I can tell by your words and your photos that inspiration has been running rampant over there! And again, sorry to hear about your boots; it really is the weirdest thing how emotionally attached one can get to smelly old shoes... Not to mention I hate breaking in new hiking boots - it takes ages until they feel comfortable on your feet!

Anyway, can't wait to hear and see more from your trip! Have a fun week :)

Laura said...

Thanks everyone for your comments! It was a fab time...the next post will be all about the trails so stay tuned! ;-)