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
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!
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!
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.
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 boots...you 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! :-)