Tuesday, September 17, 2013


 On my last visit to the Puget Sound area, I had the wonderful good fortune to be there on the day that the beach side town of Oak Harbor, Washington, was having their annual Driftwood Day art competition.  Oak Harbor is located on Whidbey Island, a part of the San Juan Islands chain.  The event is sponsored by the Oak Harbor Arts Commission, and was started about a decade ago, to spur creativity among the participants, and increase visitation to the town's lovely Windjammer Park, located near many downtown stores.
 Even the trophies awarded at the competition are  expressions of "beach combing with a purpose" creativity.  The prizes include High Tide Award, Neptune's Delight Award, Flotsam & Jetsam Award, and Poseidon's Prize trophy.  To involve the spectators, there are also ballots provided so that guests can vote for the "People's Choice" trophy!
 Spectators and participants scour the beach area looking for a "treasure" to add to their sculpture.  This is similar to how hundreds of Twin Lakes area residents will be scouring the shores of Bull Shoals Lake on September 21, for the annual clean up day. ( It is not too late to sign up to participate in the Bull Shoals Lake event.  Go to www.home.arkansasmasternaturalist.org  calendar of events for more information ).
 This driftwood diorama of a bowler and bowling lane, is the one I voted for as winner of the "People's Choice" trophy.  All those who want to "officially" participate in the competition must register at the beginning, and receive their official entry flag of yellow ribbon, so that the judges will know where to look for competitors along the expansive beach.
 Just as giant driftwood logs outlining the perimeter, are a signature mark of beaches in the Northwest, so the symbol of an anchor pays tribute to the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station located nearby.  In fact, the commanding officer of that installation, has been known to be one of the judges!
 This creative artist used both seaweed and driftwood to represent a spider, in its web.
 This young man  sits at the controls of his imaginary transportation machine!
 This sculpture is a experiment in "balance", as all these pieces must be "self supporting", in that building materials cannot be brought from home. 
One of the contest judges tries out a bridge constructed by one of the teams.  Perhaps this is a nod to the famous Deception Pass Bridge, built by the CCC during the Great Depression, that resulted in Whidbey Island being connected to the Washington State mainland.   
 I foresee a future in civil engineering bridge building in the futures of these team members!  It should be noted that participants cannot start early, and can only use materials in their creation, that have been washed up on the beach.
 This " human-skeleton-looking-form", seems to be the reason that  the giant "sea monster" has a big smile on his face, along with the remains of the skeleton's tee shirt!
 This team was recreating a media room with a giant tv screen, as indicated by the girl on the "couch" holding the piece of driftwood representing the television remote control device.
 The lady that created this sculpture went into great detail to tell the spectators that it represented the transformation in her life, where she gave up her bad habits ( as indicated by the discarded beer can and litter ) and replaced those bad habits with things of beauty ( as indicated by the lovely sea shells on the other side ).
 This USA flag "simulation" might be called "shells and stripes", rather than "stars and stripes"!
 This is a very mean-looking leviathan!
 These young ladies did a great job of creating a butterfly to beautify the beach!
 Who knew daisies could suddenly "sprout up" on a beach??
 The daisy sculpture no doubt lured this mermaid to swim onto the sand for a snooze!
 The Native Americans of the Northwest are remembered with this recreation of a teepee.
 When I saw this team of youngsters working on building these walls, I was reminded of a First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) Bible study I did on the book of Nehemiah, because it was all about "wall building".  I learned that God can take the broken-down walls of our lives, and using the "driftwood" pieces that remain---along with the Holy Spirit, His Word, and other people---help us reconstruct our life into something useful.  Nehemiah 4:6 says "So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their hearts."   Watching this team working away, it was obvious they were working "with all their hearts"!!   Taking this Driftwood Day expedition renewed my enthusiasm to be creative with the "driftwood" that surrounds me, so that I can have "MILES OF SMILES" no matter what the circumstances!  Tricia
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


 Each Labor Day Weekend, starting in 1985, the 700 acre ranch of Dan and Peggy Eoff, of Clinton, Arkansas, has been the scene of an ever-expanding phenomena, that is now known as The National Championship Chuckwagon Races ( www.chuckwagonraces.com ).  It is said to be the largest horse event in the United States!!  On the day that I was there, the announcer said there were 5,386 mules and horses "checked in"!  Not all of these animals are there to compete, as the event also includes parades in Clinton, breakfast and sunset trail rides, concerts, and a western trade show. 
 This is billed as a "family friendly event", so it is not surprising that it has drawn an estimated 20,000 spectators the last few years.  I had as much fun watching the people, as watching the horses!  The left side of this collage shows two "wanna be" young cowboys, and below them, a "wanna be" old cowgirl for the day (me!).  Since the Amish are famous for their horse-drawn vehicles, it was logical that they would be there as well.  Many ranch families use this event as a time for their families to visit and reconnect, as the men in the lower middle photo illustrate.  I even saw a guy wearing a KILT!  Two little girls dressed in "cowgirl" dresses caught my eye, because the boots of the little girl had flashing lights on them, that twinkled every time she took a step!  There are plenty of "authentic" cowboys, as well, like the one in the lower left photo. 
 Besides the feed and furniture store that the Eoffs operate on Hiway 65 in Clinton, there was also a general store at their ranch, that was full of local handicrafts, race tee shirts, videos of previous races, and cups/magnets, etc. with the Chuckwagon logo on them.  When I asked the clerk at the store the history of the "oF" brand/logo of the ranch, he dodged the question graciously.  I can only assume it has something to do with the middle letters of the owners name "Eoff.   The general store at the ranch was also the location of the bulletin board that had the "penciled in" results of the various competitions held the previous day.
 A large pavilion is equipped with picnic tables, benches, paper towels, trash cans, electric lights, and washing facilities.  In addition, one wall had a flat screen tv  mounted, with a repeating reel playing  previous year's races.  That wall also was "paneled" with wood, bearing the burned-in brands of hundreds of folks.  I even found a brand with my initials!
 There is no shortage of food available for purchase at the event.  Although hundreds of people bring their campers to the campsites available at the ranch to rent (and hence cook their own food), "day trippers" such as myself will not go hungry.  I had a delicious taco salad for lunch! 
 Naturally, with all this eating and drinking, there is a need for  "pit stops", and portable toilets are available throughout the venue.  All the horses, wagons, and people stir up great clouds of dust, so a water truck was constantly making the rounds, spraying water over the dusty roads and trails. 
 The Western trade show ( aka "Cowboy Yard Sale" ) had every kind of Western attire, horse tack, and Western home furnishings that one could imagine.  Winners of various competitions during the races, are given "Western Bucks", that can spend with the vendors.
 Some very skilled riders put on a magnificent display of flags and horsemanship, at the beginning of the big event, on the afternoon I was there. 
 As is traditional for Western horse gatherings, the "missing rider" ceremonial  circle was completed.  During this time, the names of folks who were significant in the chuckwagon races of previous years, who have died during the past year, are read out loud by the announcer.  I have no idea how they were able to get this team of horses to make a perfect circle around the field, but they did it "without a hitch"!
 The one-fourth mile bottom land track, is bordered on one side by some natural bluffs, that have been "terraced" to accommodate spectators.  As the photo shows, many participants "stake out" their claim to this unusual viewing area, by setting up portable canopies, on the various levels of the bluff.  In spite of this, I had no trouble finding a rock to sit on, under a shade tree, during the time I was there.  I had taken a lawn chair with me, but never really needed to take it out of my car!
 There was no need to have a lawn chair, because I spent most of my time milling around taking photographs!  When I saw this vendor offering a mechanical bull ride, my mind went back to a popular scene from a movie of the last century.  That memory put a "no way!" on the prospects of me trying it out!   However, the youngsters who were standing in line to try their luck at holding on to this "animatronic" contraption, were all smiles in anticipation of proving their riding skills!
 It was the "grown-up" cowboys who were given the opportunity to try out a REAL bucking bronco!  Now when I hear the phrase "smokin' hot", this image of a bronc rider surrounded by a cloud of smoke, is what I will remember! 
 This photo is a reminder to mention that the announcer pointed out that this annual spectacle in Clinton, is the ONLY "bucking bronco" competition, where the horse and rider, are NOT encircled with a fence.  The spectators are the fence!  As one would expect, this meant there was some chasing after stray horses in the pastures surrounding the completion area!
 Chuckwagon racing is an equestrian rodeo sport, in which drivers in a chuckwagon, led by a two to four  horses/mules, race around a track.  In addition to the driver, they are supported by 2 - 4 "outriders" on individual horses, that accompany the chuckwagon. 
 The design of the wagon, and the number of animals, determines which event it is eligible to participate in.  The first time that a chuckwagon race was held as a spectator sport was at the 1923 Calgary Stampede.  Although I have not been to the annual July event in Calgary, Canada, my son and I were able to attend some "exhibition events" of the stampede, when we attended the 1988 Calgary Olympics.
Most all of the races include making turns around barrels, before running down a track or field.  The first wagon and outriders to cross the finish line wins, although various penalties may reduce their placement in the final results. 
 In a scene reminiscent of the "Old West", the outrider must "break camp" by tossing "tent poles and/or camp stove" into the back of the wagon, before mounting their horses and following the wagon. 
 So even if you have the fastest horses, a bad toss by an outrider, can slow you down so much, that you do not win the race.  This makes for some exciting moments, as "Murphy's Law" seems to be ever-present with the unpredictable animal behavior!
 The "thrills and spills", so commonly associated with chuckwagon racing, mean that sometimes the participants will find themselves in a "jam" (hence, the "JAMBULANCE!")  In addition to this converted ambulance that a radio station used to provide music for the venue, the REAL ambulance on hand was called out the very first race I saw!  (upper left photo).  There was also a "horse ambulance" that had to be summoned, when one of the horses pulling a wagon, got its legs tangled up in the wagon rigging.  The horses in the lower right photo are the reason some government officials think there needs to be a "fish ambulance" to protect a small endangered fish species, that lives in the stream flowing through the ranch.  Supposedly, all the horses in the stream are affecting water quality.  To address this issue, special water crossings were constructed, to minimize the environmental impact on the stream.
 I was very thankful to be able to attend the Sunday morning worship services, held on the shady bluff overlooking the bottomland.   It gave me time to reflect on a the "gear" used in the mouth of a horse, that is mentioned in James 3:3 of the Holy Bible.  THE MESSAGE paraphrases the verse to say, "A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse.  A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain, sets a course in the face of the strongest winds.  A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything-----or destroy it!"  I want the words out of my mouth---and this blog----to accomplish GOOD things-----things that will bring the reader "MILES OF SMILES"!!  Tricia
Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 6, 2013


 The most common vehicles seen on a typical day in the quaint hamlet of Jasper, Arkansas, are pick-up trucks and SUV's, with canoes strapped to the top.  But Thursday, Sept 5, 2013, was not a typical day!  That was the day when a whole "herd" of fancy cars would motor into Jasper, as a part of the annual Crescent Classic Car Rally ( www.crescentclassicrally.com )
 All this excitement was enough to make the local folks (and their pet dogs!), strain their necks and point, to the magnificent works of art, sitting atop a car chassis.
 The director of the Crescent Classic Rally is Mr. Chris Parr, shown here with the Ferrari he was driving for the event. 
 The custom-designed logo for the rally starts with the crescent moon shape, which ties it in with the historic 1886 Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas ( www.crescent-hotel.com ), shown on the lower right of this collage.  The Crescent Hotel is the Rally Headquarters.  The head of the prancing steed, typical of the Ferrari logo ( see medallion in lower left ), has been replaced with a Razorback.  This reflects the fact that all the roads traveled in northwest Arkansas during the rally are firmly entrenched in  Arkansas Razorback territory---mascot of the University of Arkansas, headquartered in Fayetteville.
 In spite of an entry fee of almost a thousand dollars, the rally filled up its quota of participants!  Some of the "perks" of being a participant included the wristband, various designs of rally clothing attire, the official rally, day-by-day, turn-by-turn, notebook (center photo) and use of a GPS preloaded with the necessary routes the group would be traveling.  There was also a reception, costume ball, race-watching party, trips to Mt. Magazine via the "Pig Trail", and gala at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
 I was able to catch up with the group for photos and interviews, when they stopped for lunch at the Ozark Café ( www.Ozarkcafe.com ), on the square, in Jasper, Arkansas.  Jasper is the county seat of Newton County, Arkansas, and, as is typical for county seats in Arkansas, the courthouse sits in the middle of a grassy, square-shaped plaza, while various retail businesses surround the square on all four sides.  This design, with the crosswalk leading from the courthouse doors, directly to the front door of the Ozark Café, probably accounts for the fact the  Ozark Café has been in business for over 100 years, first opening in 1909!
 It is a rare thing to see Ferraris double parked on any street, not to mention, a city street in tiny Jasper, Arkansas!  However, when the Arkansas State Policeman observed this phenomena, he asked the owners of the cars that were double parked to move their cars.  This was out of concern for the well-being of those pricey vehicles, since this corner of the Jasper square doubles as the busy State Highway 7, world famous as the most popular official "Scenic Byway" in Arkansas.
 Fortunately, this Italian "Polizia" Ferrari had obeyed the law, and did not have to move. ( Since I am a photographer taking photos of famous Italian cars, I guess that makes me a true "paparazzi"!  However, I think a true professional photographer would not let their reflection be seen in the photo, as I did !)
 This photo is enough to make the viewer think there were color-coded parking spots (each adorned with flowers to match the colors of the cars!) for each of the special guests in town that day!
 Drivers came from all over the United States to participate in this event!  They paid a lot of money for the sole purpose of driving on the very roads that us locals take for granted!  This should make us realize the treasure of scenery and culture that we have here in the Ozarks!
 One does not need to see the manufacturer's logo on this car, to determine what type it is!
 The Crescent Classic Rally also includes other brands, besides Ferrari.  The USA manufacturer of the popular Chevrolet sports car---Corvette---was also represented.
 This photo made me smile, thinking of how us local folks---driving our beat-up old pickup trucks---are sometimes called "Hicks".  So here we have this beautiful, and very pricey Ferrari, parked in front of the "Hicks Auto Parts" store.  Funny, huh??!!
 Judging from the looks of this very impressive piece of machinery, visible through the back window, it will probably take more to keep it running than what is available at a small-town auto store!
 This impressive line-up of classy red sports cars along a two-block stretch of Hiway 7, had several drivers of big rigs, giving out peals of "happy honks" from their horns, as they slowly motored past them.
 This brand new Bentley convertible was being "chauffeured" by special 2013 Celebrity Guest Driver, Brian Redman, who very graciously let me take his photo before he got behind the wheel.  Mr. Redman ( of course, driving a red car, to go along with his name!) started his racing career in 1959, and eventually progressed to become one of the all-time greats in motor racing.  After racing extensively in Europe, he moved to the US, winning the US F5000 championship in 1974, 1975, and 1976---beating the likes of Mario Andretti, Al Unser, and David Hobbs.  He now is a well known spokesman and promoter of vintage racing, through events such as "The HAWK with Brian Redman" and his Targa 66 Club. 
 This photo shows the crowd enjoying the atmosphere of the Ozark Café, complete with live music.  Race director, Chris Parr, is jokingly pointing out a "traffic offender" to the Jasper Police Chief, who was on hand to welcome the visitors to his town.
 Chris Parr told me that this 1939 Lagonda was a VERY SIGNIFICANT car.  Later I looked up info on the Internet about Lagonda collector cars, and saw an auction where one sold for over a million dollars!
 This photo shows Scott Ashcraft, who along with Doug Crews, helped develop the routes used by participants in the Crescent Classic Rally.  It seemed fitting to have his photo with the Ferrari law enforcement vehicle from the last century, taken in front of Newton County's historic old jail---also a relic of the last century! 
 When I was researching history of the Ferrari brand, I learned that "Ferrari" is the Italian word for "iron worker"!  I finally understood why "Fe" is the chemical symbol for iron in the Periodic Table of the Elements.   ( I would think this would be a bit of trivia that could help chemistry students memorize those chemical symbols they have to know for the exams!)   That word "iron" also brought to mind the Proverbs 27:17 wisdom that says "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another".  This wisdom is evident in the Crescent Classic Rally---car enthusiasts being around other car enthusiasts---sharpens both their knowledge and zeal for their pursuits!   Scott Ashcraft told me he thought Hiway 123, in Newton, County, Arkansas, was THE BEST auto rally road he had EVER been on!!  That should make you want to get up off the couch, and get out to enjoy these beautiful Ozark Mountains---they will bring you "MILES OF SMILES!"  Tricia
Posted by Picasa