The Dusty Sand of Doha

My plan all along was to gather a bit of the sand of Doha before I left for the sand-stony ground of home. As it turned out, it was harder to find than I expected. Everywhere I went was nothing but pavement and cobblestone pavers. Any ground I saw usually was either landscaped medians between highways, or busted up rubble from construction. Eventually I realized that busted up rubble, wasn’t rubble at all, but the way the ground just looks here. So the sand of Doha is all around, even in the air. There just wasn’t any handy enough to scoop up in the places where I went.

Other places have bigger rocks and chunks and it really does just look like busted up concrete.
Other places have bigger rocks and chunks and it really does just look like busted up concrete.

Hourglass Sands Trickling Away

We didn’t do any touring of the countryside away from the city where I might have been able to just get out and scrape up a little into a bag. Today is Wednesday of the last week I’ll be here. My clothes are packed up now except for an outfit to wear out to eat and an outfit to travel home in. I began to worry I might not get to bring any dirt, sand, or rocks home with me after all.

I realize this may not be a ‘typical’ worry of people.

However, I want the sand of Doha so I can try making a watercolor paint from it. I’ll name it “Sand of Doha”. Or maybe I’ll come up with something more imaginative. I’m really jealous of all the names of the paint collections I’ve been looking at online, and every time I try to think of a name for my own first set of colors… it’s just so plain in comparison.

No Easy Way to Find the Sand of Doha

Today it's 108*F and feels like 118*F. I'm standing in the shade of a date palm here.
Today it’s 108*F and feels like 118*F. I’m standing in the shade of a date palm here, right across the street from the apartment. I probably could have swept the street and gathered up a lot of the sand of Doha that way.

It’s been so hot that I haven’t gone any further from the apartment than from the door to the car. Plus, I didn’t know how well the residents of this place would take to a stranger, an obviously western woman at that, walking down the street alone. So I just didn’t want to take any chances and stayed close to the apartment. When I went to town, I took an Uber ride (which by the way, operates fantastically here!). That didn’t offer any chances.

When I went outside to bring the garbage to the bin it didn’t feel as hot as it has lately. I wandered a little bit. On the side of our apartment there was a stretch of un-paved ground.


Found some of the sand of Doha here in this little patch of unpaved dirt.

See those poor shriveled up plants? I’ve seen a few gardens here. They look a lot like that. Most of the gardens are very small and covered with shade cloth, but they’re still brown and shriveled. Maybe they’re done for the season. Or maybe it’s where the chickens are kept. I hear roosters crowing in the mornings and evenings here. Someone nearby, a few someones, keeps chickens somewhere.

Success!

I ran back inside to get my handy little plastic cup I had on standby for such an occasion. The ground looks hard here. It literally resembles concrete dust with bits of construction rubble spread throughout. So when I went to scoop the soil, I thought surely it would be hard and I’d have to scrape.

Not so.

The cup sank down into the earth as if it were butter. I gathered up a nice bit to take home and experiment with.

A little of the sand of Doha and a feather too.
A cup full of sand and a feather.

Soil Texture

The light and looseness of the soil surprised me, but it shouldn’t have. On windy days here, the sand kicks up into the air and lingers even once the wind has died down. It’s more like dust than sand. It’s not like the sand in Florida or any of the coastal places I’ve been in the U.S. This stuff consists of some very lightweight materials, like talcum.

A brutal and hot, hazy day with sand and humidity in the air in Doha, Qatar.
A brutal and hot, hazy day with sand and humidity in the air in Doha, Qatar.

Anyway, if no one takes it out of my bag during a searches at the customs counters, I guess I’ll get to try out the idea of making a watercolor paint from the sand of Doha after all. If it works, it’ll be a very limited quantity color unless I can get Rob to go around scooping up sand for me once I’m gone, ha.

More Sand of Doha

There is still the possibility that I’ll get the chance to go to the Corniche, which is a walkway and park along the coast. I haven’t seen the museum yet, which is in the same area. It’s just been so hot it’s hard to enjoy doing anything that requires walking around outside. But if I go, there will be the opportunity to get a little more of maybe a different sort of sand here.

Closing Notes

An interesting thing I’ve noticed here.

The water is HOT. I tried to take a shower around mid-day the other day and nearly scalded myself. Not even kidding. Even the cold tap water gets too hot for a mid-day shower here.

I’ve enjoyed my stay here. Walking through the souq, knowing the people here still shop in that environment and that it isn’t just a tourist attraction, is interesting. The air is full of sounds – of traffic, yes, because the highways surround the blocked off market area. But also sounds that haven’t changed in centuries. Shopkeepers haggling with shoppers, doves cooing, and the clink and clatter of merchandise being traded for in a setting as old as the history of civilized man.

A view from the Souq Waqif.
A view from the Souq Waqif.

There were old men in traditional garb with turbans and gowns pushing wheelbarrows fitted with cushion. They sat in the shade cast by the buildings on the cushions. When one of the local women came out of a shop laden with bags, the old man would jump out of his wheelbarrow and rush over to her to see if she wanted to hire him to cart her bags for her. I asked one of them if I could take his picture, but he said no. I figured he would, but that’s why I asked first. It is against their religion to have their photograph made (I think) and I didn’t want to offend him by taking that from him without his permission. So no pic of that to share, but I’ve seen them online before.

The Food!

The air is full of smells, too. My favorite dining experience was at the crowded little Yemeni restaurant, surrounded by nothing but the sounds of people speaking in a language I couldn’t understand and the flavors of foods whose names I couldn’t pronounce. Tasting the foods of a place is one of my favorite things to do when traveling.

Qatar is a small country on a small peninsula jutting out into the Arabian Sea. Almost everything is imported here from surrounding countries, including the labor force. So there are restaurants with authentic food to represent pretty much every group. There were a lot of western fast food restaurants here, too. We tried one to see how the menu looked, but the food was awful. If you’re in a foreign country, just try eating as the natives there do, rather than trying to find something familiar from home, haha.

What Did I Not Enjoy?

The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the heat. It is oppressive and I am amazed that anyone can ever get acclimated enough to work outside in it. Rob has to work outside sometimes with his job, and it’s very hard to do without becoming heat stressed and sick by the end of a day. There is no way to capture that experience in a photograph. Even telling you the temperature won’t do it. If you’ve never been to the Middle East and want a close approximation of how the heat feels, go turn on your oven and let it preheat. When the alarm dings to let you know it’s ready, lean over and open the door. Don’t lean in so close you get burned, right? But when you feel the whoosh of hot air coming out and blowing across your face, that’s pretty close to how it feels here. Seriously.

I didn’t do a very good job of journaling to write all of these things down, even though I brought a journal and intended to do so. I didn’t get very many photographs on this trip either. While Rob was at work during the weekdays, I spent my time painting and writing on my novel. I wanted to do some sort of painting that would capture the spirit of being in the Middle East, but I also wanted it to be relevant to home.

So I painted a falcon. Except I chose a falcon native to the Ozarks to be that representative, the kestrel. Now when I look at those in the future I hope they stir up the memories of how it felt to be here searching for the sand of Doha.

American kestrels I painted while in Doha, Qatar, 2018.
American kestrels I painted while in Doha, Qatar, 2018.

Art Satchel-A Souvenir from Doha

Camel leather satchel is my new art bag. A souvenir from Doha, Qatar.
This camel leather satchel is my new art bag. A souvenir from Doha, Qatar.

This old, beat-up looking camel leather bag is my new art satchel. I love it. It’s a souvenir from Doha, Qatar, where I’ve spent the last two weeks. It has enough room to hold my paints, journal, a few favorite pencil colors, brushes and rags. It even holds my easel, if I don’t mind the top poking out of the corner. The easel is just a little too long for it, but I think it works well enough. What a great item for a traveling artist to have.

It's easy to be a traveling artist with this awesome camel skin art satchel from my stay in Doha, Qatar.
What a great item for the traveling artist!

Pictures from Doha

If you haven’t been following along on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve missed the photos. It’s easier to post them there than it is to post here, so I usually just skip the website/blog. Here are some, in case you’re curious. Doha is the capital city of Qatar. I’ll be here for another week before heading home. My husband is working here and I’ve been visiting. Next week, I’ll have to pack up my art satchel, computer, and clothes and head back home. Then I’ll just be a traveling artist toting my supplies down the driveway, ha.

Today was the first day I ventured out by myself. I went to get some groceries and used Uber to get a ride. My phone battery was almost dead so I didn’t want to use up battery life taking photos. Next week I might take another trip out to the museum if we don’t get to go to it this weekend while Rob is off of work, and I’ll definitely take more pics then.

I’ve never used Uber before and was a bit nervous but everything went great! The driver was quick to get here at the apartment to pick me up and again (different driver) to pick me up from the Geant’s grocery store when I was ready to leave. You might be wondering what kind of groceries did I get out here…

I got hummus, tomatoes, orange juice, and flat bread. Almost everything sold here is imported from neighboring countries. For instance, the tomatoes are from Holland and the Orange Juice is from Lebanon. They make the hummus and breads daily here.

Art Satchel for Me, Souvenirs for Others

I’ve only just now gotten a couple of souvenirs. A couple of friends sent money with me to buy them something interesting while I’m here, plus I wanted to get some things for family members. There’s no telling when I might get to travel again, so I want to get unique, ‘full of place’ items.

It’s unlikely that the items will be from Qatar, though at the Souq Waqif I did see several stalls that had signs stating the crafts were handmade by Qatari artists. As I said earlier about the groceries, most things are imported here. But there are some things that say ‘Qatar’, and there are things from the Middle East, so I should be able to mark some off the list soon. It’s okay if it’s not something made in Qatar, but it needs to at least be something made in the Middle East.

Traveling Artist, Signing Off

It might be after I get home before I get a chance to post again. This traveling artist and writer will be heading home soon. I’m sure I’ll have a lot of catching up to do with things at home, too. I’ll be back at the Kingston Square Arts shop on the 29th of July, and back at the market sooner or later.

Before I go back to the market I have to come up with some things to sell. I’m pretty sure all the fairy gardens will be dead or in need of repotting before I can sell them. I have paintings to make and paints to make, too.

Guest Post: A Nature Enthusiast’s Guide to Southwest Missouri

A note from Madison: I get many requests by content providers to do guests posts here on the Wild Ozark blog. Most of the time, the subject matter isn’t closely related enough to nature or any of the site topics. However, southwest Missouri is a destination for folks all over the Ozarks and British Solomon’s post is a good fit.


A Nature Enthusiast’s Guide to Southwest Missouri

Though many people are familiar with St. Louis and the Mississippi River, there is a lot more to Missouri. The southwestern part of Missouri is filled with numerous recreational activities, including a wide range of outdoor adventures. In southwest Missouri, the Great Plains meet the Ozarks. This mix of terrain and plentiful access to public lands makes the area an ideal destination for the nature lover. Though it isn’t possible to list every site of interest in the area, here is a look at a few of the area’s outdoor attractions.

Roaring River State Park

As its name implies, Roaring River State Park is home to a fast-moving river that sweeps through the park. The park is home to 3 separate campgrounds (with another one nearby). The campgrounds have a mix of sites for campers using tents and RVs of different sizes. Roaring River also offers a lodge for overnight guests as well as rental cabins. Roaring River State Park is one of the few state parks in Missouri to be stocked with trout, making it an ideal destination for the avid angler.

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is a 10,000 acre park that offers many different activities for visitors. The park offers tram tours, horseback riding, hiking and biking trails and much more. Much of the park is handicap accessible so everyone can enjoy the scenery and wildlife. Park visitors can expect to see elk, bison, waterfalls and lots of peace and quiet.

Dogwood Canyon, Branson
(Picture courtesy of Dogwood Canyon Nature Park)
Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
(Picture courtesy of Dogwood Canyon Nature Park)

Table Rock Lake

Table Rock Lake is one of the most visited sites in southwest Missouri. The flood control dam provides many water based recreational activities. Boating, fishing and water skiing are some of the more popular activities. Table Rock is served by a number of marinas, restaurants and other related businesses. Sky Harbor Resort is a waterfront resort built on Table Rock Lake with its own private dock for guests to enjoy. Table Rock State Park provides other recreational options and more accommodations, so you never have to leave the beautiful scenery.

Neosho Bicentennial Park

Southwest Missouri is dotted with little gems that are easily overlooked. The city of Neosho is home to the Neosho Bicentennial Park. The park offers a meandering bike trail that mountain bikers will love. Prairie State Park, located near Missouri’s border with Kansas, offers visitors from the east an up-close look at the topography of the Great Plains. The park is home to native grasses, bison, cactus and other plants and wildlife indigenous to the area.

These are just a few of the outdoor recreation spots in southwest Missouri. The area is well served by Interstates 44 and 49, making the region easy to reach for those looking to enjoy the area’s natural beauty.

© 2018 British Solomon

British Solomon is a contributing writer and media specialist for Sky Harbor Resort. She regularly produces content for a variety of travel and lifestyle blogs.

Ginseng Garden Open to Public May 2017

Announcement: The garden will NOT be open during May 2019. It will be open during April, and from June through September.

The Wild Ozark Ginseng Garden

This is a restored habitat where you can see and learn about American ginseng in a natural environment.

The ginseng and companion plants are sleeping away the winter, awaiting the public in this "virtually wild" habitat at Wild Ozark.
The ginseng and companion plants are sleeping away the winter, awaiting the public in this “virtually wild” habitat at Wild Ozark.

A Re-Established Habitat

A few decades ago this land was logged but not clear-cut. Then it was unoccupied for a number of years. Between being unoccupied (which made the land a sort of “free for all”) and the ecosystem destruction that comes with logging, most of the wild ginseng was here was wiped out.

Still, some pockets survived. Microhabitats that provided the perfect environment for ginseng persisted because they existed in spots too difficult to reach for loggers.

The ethical diggers who frequented these hills protected patches they found by pulling off the leaves of plants they didn’t dig. They made a point to not dig all they found in a habitat. They did this so they could come back year after year to harvest without taking too large a toll on the population.

ginseng in summer with red berries
ginseng in summer with red berries

It helped that this all occurred and then we came along to occupy the land before the frenzy caused by the popular television shows romanticizing the pillage of American ginseng.

The Garden Habitat

In the area I’m using for the public garden there was no ginseng left and very few of the companions because of the logging that happened long ago. Now the trees have grown back and although the transition from pioneer cedars to mixed hardwood is still underway, the area is once again suitable for plants that enjoy the deep shade, like ginseng, goldenseal, ferns, bloodroot and cohoshes.

I’ve made trails, planted “virtually wild” ginseng, transplanted companion plants, and labeled or marked everything (this will be ongoing). Many thanks to my friend Layne Sleeth and her husband Brian for the help with labor and donation of maidenhair ferns!

Unique and Destination-worthy

I don’t know if there’s anything else like it in the country. If so, it hasn’t shown up in my internet searches to find one. If you know of any public ginseng gardens in natural habitats, please let me know so I can link to it here. We can create a “ginseng trail” for ginseng lovers like the wine trails from cellar to cellar enjoyed by wine lovers. It would be interesting to travel from habitat to habitat in other areas to note the differences between them all.

Details

Where is it?

CALL OR EMAIL AHEAD use the contact information (click here or see menu) to get in touch and I’ll mail the address and directions.

There is NO CELLPHONE SIGNAL in this area, so make sure to call before you leave Kingston or Huntsville to make sure I’m here if you haven’t emailed ahead of time to set an appointment. You will need a truck or car without low profile tires. If it has rained a lot recently, the bridges could be flooded. See below about “About the Road to get Here” for details about the drive here.

What are the Open Hours and Days?

Usually we’re open from May through September. For 2019 we will not be open during the month of May. It is by appointment only. If the response to this project is great, I’ll set regular hours and days. I’ll always make the best effort I can to accommodate visitors, especially those who are travelling from a distance and are on tight schedules. CALL OR EMAIL AHEAD use the contact information (click here or see menu) to get in touch and I’ll mail the address and directions.

How Much does it Cost?

Free. I will have a donation can handy for those who are willing and able to support the garden.

$20/car for the optional escorted “Herb Drive” (see below)

About the Road to get Here

  • A long dirt road– Wild Ozark is in a very remote location. It is six miles down a dirt road. There are 6 low-water bridges to cross, so if it rains more than an inch or two, the road could become impassable.
  • Lots of photo opportunity– beautiful scenery to see along the roadside. You will see beautiful fields, pastures, old barns, old homesteads, forests, and possibly wildlife. You’ll definitely see a lot of beauty and tremendous biodiversity in plants.
  • Herb Drive – For $20/car you can take an “Herb Drive”- there are lots of plants and herbs of interest down this road. I will conduct a driving herb walk by meeting you at the front end of the road and escorting you back here with lots of stops along the way to get out and see plants like black cohosh, blue cohosh, green dragon, jack-in-the-pulpit, wild hydrangea, giant solomon’s seal, trout lilies, etc. Here’s a post I have about the plants and sights I often see and photograph on the way here.

Nearby Lodging

  • There are no nearby hotels, and the nearest rental cabins are about an hour away or more. Your best bet for hotels would be Rogers, Springdale, or Fayetteville. The cabin rentals at Azalea Falls are gorgeous.
  • Canoe, hike, and stay at Cedarcrest lodge in Ponca. There are other cabins in the Ponca area, too. Just do a Google search for “lodge in Ponca, Arkansas”. It’s about an hour and a half away. You’ll find almost everywhere is about an hour or two away.

The Nearest Town is Kingston, AR

In the town of Kingston there are places to eat and other things to see. Kingston is only 12 miles away, but it takes about 40 minutes to get there from here if you drive slow on the dirt road. Driving fast gets you there faster, but increases the odds of punctured tires and developing new rattles in your vehicle 🙂

  • The town square is tiny but teeming with antiques.
  • You’ll want to visit The Place on the Square. Make sure to go all the way to the back to see The Artroom Gallery, too.
  • And don’t miss Grandpa’s Antique store.
  • Look through the window if the bank isn’t open and you’ll see the old safe on display.
  • It’s okay to be amused at our micro-library, but don’t diss it. It’s come a long ways since the first one!
  • Dining options include The Valley Cafe, The Kingston Station, and Sugar Boogers which is a little farther north on Hwy. 21 near the junction of 412.

Visit the Wild Ozark Ginseng Garden & Nursery

Eventually I want to have a little storefront here, but for now it’s just a little spot across the creek where ginseng and companions are growing. Here’s a little schematic of the plan:

Plans for the Wild Ozark Ginseng Garden, Boutique & Nursery
click to enlarge

Where else can you see ginseng?

You also can see American ginseng growing at the Compton Gardens in Bentonville, AR. Wild Ozark received a grant from United Plant Savers to install a sanctuary garden there. It’s still immature and will be for a few more years, but the little recreated habitat will fill out over the years. Each spring, we’ll bring new plants to replace the ones that don’t survive the squirrels or whatever other hazards might befall the plants in a tended garden.

There might also still be one specimen plant at the Ozark Folk Center’s Herb Garden in Mountainview, AR. It’s been many years since I’ve visited there, though, so can’t say for sure.

What’s the Difference between the Wild Ozark Ginseng Garden and those others?

The garden here is a natural setting, it’s not a park in an urban environment just growing a few ginseng plants. Wild Ozark’s Ginseng Garden is a true habitat and demonstration of the ecosystem that supports wild American ginseng.

Email today and set a date to visit the Wild Ozark Nature Boutique & Ginseng Garden!

Panning for Gold in the Rockies

One of Rob’s lifelong dreams, panning for gold in the Rockies, has been fulfilled.

After finding out how relatively affordable such a thing can be, we bought mining rights to a small claim, sight unseen except for photos, in the Rocky Mountains.

This week, we’ve been out here in the mountains getting our first look at the property and trying our hands at panning for gold. I was afraid we might have been ripped off. I was ecstatic to find that we had not. All was exactly as described in the listing. It’s accessible and beautiful!

Heading for the Hills

On Tuesday we headed out from Breckenridge to see what was what.

The roads to get there are unbelievably curvy. I thought the Ozarks had curvy, hilly roads!
The roads to get there are unbelievably curvy. I thought the Ozarks had curvy, hilly roads!

Our “mine” isn’t the kind that has shafts or machinery, it’s a “placer mine” which means the owner of the claim can pan or use sluices up to a certain measurement to find gold dust, flakes, or nuggets. We don’t own the land – it’s BLM property. But we have the rights to go there anytime we want and look for gold. And on that particular acreage, those rights are exclusive.

One of the creeks where we are panning for gold in the Rockies!
One of the creeks on the claim. This one is moving a bit too fast for easy panning…

Gold Fever?

So we’re not thinking we’re going to strike it rich with gold. This is just for fun, and we’ve been having loads of that. Rob’s son’s family flew in from Florida to join us for vacation. We panned all day yesterday.

Rob doing the first test pan.
Rob doing the first test pan while Tina, Chris, and Nickolas watch.

Let me tell you, it’s not as easy to do as the videos make it look.

Me trying my hand at panning for gold in the Rockies.
My turn 🙂

But the excitement that makes a heart beat quicker when you think you’ve spotted gold in your pan is awesome and I can see how it easily can be addictive.

Whoa! What-is-that?!
Whoa! What-is-that?!
Is it gold? I don't know but it sure looks promising!!
Is it gold? I don’t know but it sure looks promising!!

Once I found what might or might not be gold, everyone went back to work, harder than ever.

Heads down, hard at work. Chris panning.
Heads down, hard at work. Chris panning.
Rob hard at work.
Rob hard at work.
Nickolas was bored after a while and decided he didn't like panning so much.
Nickolas had fun, but in the end decided he didn’t like panning so much.

Practice Makes Perfect

I’m not good enough yet at the panning to risk losing what little bit of gold I might have found, so I put it all (the fine black sand with the gold dust and flakes) in a little vial to bring home and work on in a more controlled environment.

Even if it turns out to be mica or fool’s gold, I had a blast and will look forward to working our claim whenever we can find the means to get up here. We’ll be camping the next time we come, so that will add a new dimension of adventure to the trip.

If you like to camp, try RoverPass to find campgrounds in the Breckenridge area.

 

Gold in them thar hills? Ozarkians in the Rockies

I doubt there’s any gold in them thar hills of the Ozarks. Right now, though, we’re on a prospecting mission in the Rockies.

Part of my soul lives out there where the mountains are a mile and more high.  However, the Ozark hills make more sense for doing all the other things I enjoy doing, like growing the ginseng and wildcrafting medicinal plants.

Gold in them thar hills?

Rob also has longed for the Rockies all his life and so we decided to just get ourselves a little placer gold mine! Supposedly there is a little gold there, but there’s no real telling whether we’ll actually find any or not.

But we sure intend to have fun trying.

Here’s some pictures from yesterday and today.

On the way there I noticed some power lines that were still using the glass insulators. This was somewhere outside Pueblo, CO.

A photo from our trip to see if there's gold in them thar hills. Glass insulators on the power lines.
Glass insulators on the power lines.

Not in Kansas Anymore

The first sight of mountains always excites me, especially when coming in from the plains. I even enjoy seeing our Ozarks on the horizon upon returning when I’ve gone out of the hills for whatever reason.

The first sighting of terrain variation was of the Devil's Backbone (I think that's what these are). They're artifacts from volcanic activity and erosion over time.
The first sighting of terrain variation was of the Devil’s Backbone (I think that’s what these are). They’re artifacts from volcanic activity and erosion over time.

Some more of the early foothills near Cañon City, past Pueblo.

Some more of the early foothills near Cañon City, past Pueblo.

It’s sad that it’s only a memory, and hard to imagine that once these magnificent animals ranged free in herds so large the path of their passing stretched a mile wide.

Buffalo grazing.
Buffalo grazing.

Bad Weather

The skies darkened the stars and moon during the night and blotted the sun out the next day. We took turns with the driving and napping so we could drive straight through and save the cost of a motel for the first night.

Between lightning flashes, we saw a tornado forming in Kansas. I didn’t get a pic of that.  And once in Colorado it was still raining.

Boiling clouds in the valley.
Boiling clouds in the valley.

Finally the Big Mountains

The snow capped peaks appeared finally as we rounded the next curve and were able to see over the hill.

Snow capped peaks in Colorado.

 

That’s all for today. As soon as I get a chance, I’ll post again with pictures from our gold-panning adventure! I’m pretty sure there IS gold in them thar hills and I sure hope to find a few flakes or sprinkles of dust in my pan.

Kings River Falls – Photos from our hike

On Sunday I went hiking with my two oldest children and their children, one of my daughter’s friends and her children, and my parents to the Kings River Falls. This trail is a little north and east of Fallsville, AR in Madison county. Here’s a link the Arkansas Natural Heritage website for the trail.

Kings River Falls Natural Area

The sign marking the trail head to the Kings River Falls Natural Area.
The sign marking the trail head to the Kings River Falls Natural Area.

The Kings River Falls trail was a relatively short one at about a mile. It’s not a loop, so you’ll come back out the same way you went in, making the total trip about two miles. It’s not a hard hike because there’s no hills, but a lot of it was very rocky. It was not handicap accessible.

We started out in one big group. Everyone quickly got ahead of me, but I managed to get a couple of pictures of a few who straggled around the parking lot for a little while.

Kady's first hike!
Kady’s first hike!
So sweet. Karter and my mom.
So sweet. Karter and my mom.

I’m the slow one on trails when I bring a camera because I’m always stopping to take pictures of things like leaves, flowers, bird nests, etc.

Here you can see my son, the last straggler, finally pulling far ahead of me.

I'm always getting left behind.
I’m always getting left behind.

I dare say my exercise workout from hiking is still sufficient, though, because all those things need a lot of stooping, bending, and near yoga postures to get good pics sometimes. (If you click the photos they should enlarge).

 

Most of the trail was rocky. It didn’t seem to bother the younger folks, but it could be a bit of an ankle twister for others. Some stretches were relatively smooth. And there was hardly any change in elevation the whole way.

Rocky path at Kings River Falls Natural Area in Madison county Arkansas.
The path was rocky.
And sometimes the path was smooth.
And sometimes the path was smooth.

This trail is near the headwaters of Kings River. I’m not sure exactly how many miles upstream is the source, though. Even alongside this one mile trail you can see the many personalities of this river. The bottom is most often tumbled with rocks, both large and small. But there are some stretches with interesting sandstone formations.

Eventually, near the end of the trail, I almost caught up with my party. But as soon as I came into sight they jumped up and ran off. This is why I usually stick to photographing plants and rocks. They don’t move when I’m trying to get pictures. Unless the wind is blowing.

Every time I almost catch up, they get up and leave.
Every time I almost catch up, they get up and leave.

But finally I did catch up at the end of the trail. I always bring water on hikes, but since we had left around lunch time and I hadn’t eaten yet, I wished I had brought some lunch, too. Besides, it’s always a good idea to carry at least a snack in case there’s a delay on the trail for whatever reason.

End of the trail

I took these while the kids were playing on the rocks and near the water’s edge and everyone was resting and getting ready for the hike back out. My card was full by now, so I was able to keep up on the way out since I could no longer take any pictures.

I spent a fair amount of time trying to get a perfect photo of a drop of water falling from some lush moss at the base of the falls running into the river. But I never did get a good one. Here’s a so-so attempt.

Water dripping through lush moss.

Oh. And here’s a few of the destination falls.

Hope you enjoyed this “virtual” hike to the Kings River Falls Natural area in Madison county Arkansas!

Abu Dhabi Engages All Five Senses

There are three sounds I’ll associate with Abu Dhabi for the rest of my life.

Sounds

The first is the sound of prayer during the dark wee hours of the night. It’s a haunting sound, one I liked even if I couldn’t understand the words and don’t follow the religion they’re from. The sound of it is broadcast from the many mosques (all villages/neighborhoods have a mosque). I found it comforting and it immediately brought me to a state of meditation and reflection.

Doves calling and the wind rattling through the dried acacia pods on the trees outside my husband’s villa.

This sound I tried to capture, but I couldn’t get a good recording.

Abu Dhabi engages all of the senses, all of the time

Here are just a few of the things that stood out during my trip to visit my husband who was working near the city during 2015-2016.

  • humid furnace-like heat
  • flavors of world cuisine
  • expanses of desert wasteland
  • cultures of many peoples
  • haggling for carpet
  • architecture
  • immense commercial growth
  • shopping
  • wealth
  • beauty
  • perfumes

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