Saturday, November 10, 2018

Hiking Expeditions in the Ozarks!

If  you are not familiar with the Ozarks, you may have noticed that most of my photos of hiking in the Ozarks are taken during the colder months of the year and possibly, you have wondered "Why?"  There are several factors, such as uncomfortable heat and humidity, annoying ticks and chiggers, and the switch to water sports in warm weather.  But another reason is the ability to see the terrain of an area better whenever the leaves are off the trees.

All of  these photos, except for the very last ones, were taken on a hike with some of the Arkansas Master Naturalists ( )at a location near Mountain View, Arkansas, called "Almus Knob". 

Another popular hiking trail is the Buffalo River Trail (BRT) , that traces the Buffalo National River through land owned by the National Park Service.  Recently, on a different outing, six members of the North Central Arkansas Master Naturalists hiked the six mile section from Spring Creek Trailhead, to the Highway 14 Bridge access.  The outfitter we used to shuttle us to the starting point, took this photo as we began our trek on a VERY chilly day in November. 
No matter where you are along the BRT, at some point you will have some glorious views of the Buffalo River, especially if the leaves are off the trees!
When you hike in the BRT, you will encounter a variety of habitats, from glades, to lichen-covered crevices, to deep ravines.  On this particular hike, we happened to be in a deep ravine, dappled with sunshine, at high noon, so we chose that spot for our lunch break.
Some people keep records of which sections they have trekked on the Buffalo River Trail, with the ultimate goal of "section hiking" the entire trail.  I am trying to do that, so now I can count as completed, the section from the Spring Creek Trailhead to the Highway 14 Bridge access (also known as Dillards Ferry).

Did you ever feel like the "weight of the world" was on your shoulders??  The photo above is a visual aid for that thought!  You can also think of it as a visual aid for "resistance training", as pushing against resistance can make you stronger!  (Not only your physical muscles, but your "spiritual muscles", as well!)

This photo of a group of hikers was taken above the Buffalo National River, and represents a group with the purpose of participating in the annual December bird count, sponsored by the Audubon Society ( ).  I am including it as another example of one of several hiking groups that I have spent time with in the outdoors.  I use it as an example of the Bible verse that tells us a "cord of three" is not as easily broken as a single cord.  (The passage is from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 that says, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up....A cord of three strands is not easily broken." )   As a "Baby Boomer Widow Lady", I have learned that it makes sense for me to hike in the woods with other folks, instead of striking off into unknown forests by myself .  If you are interested in finding a group to hike with, you can start just by Googling "Hiking Groups in my area", where you type in the area to be explored.  If you do not find anything suitable, try starting up your own group!   There are a variety of social media sites that will make it easy for you to connect with like-minded folks.  So get out there and enjoy God's Great Outdoors!  It will give you "MILES OF SMILES"!!  Tricia

Monday, October 1, 2018


There is a little community in northern California that boasts it puts on the LARGEST, small-town walk in America, and I have had the pleasure of participating in that event on two separate occasions in the last few years.   You can find out just about everything you need to know about visiting there, by clicking on

Based on the attire of the runner in this photo, it should be a clue that the event is held annually,  on July 4th.   That means---not the Saturday before the Fourth, and not the Saturday after the Fourth, but the actual day of the week that is the "landing spot" for the Fourth of July each year.  In fact, if you go the website of the group that sponsors the race, , you can see exactly how many more days until the 2019 event! 

I took this photo, as the participants turned the corner at a church along the route.  As you can see from the photo, the event shirts were a light blue this year.  Each year, the design on the front of the tee shirt changes  .  About 1,000 runners/walkers compete in the mostly-flat, run/walk.  It is a family-friendly event, and I saw participants there, ranging in age from infants to 95 years old!

A very unique aspect of this event is that there is entertainment, provided by various groups in the area, all along the route.  These kids were giving martial arts demonstrations as we walked by.

These ladies dressed in the appropriate ethnic costumes of their culture, were giving belly dancing demonstrations, accompanied by the sounds of exotic far-away lands, over their loud speakers.  It is not everyday you can see a belly dancing recital, played out on oriental rugs, laying across the highway roadside!

Another group blasting out tunes of a different nature, was a group of ladies, demonstrating their Zumba exercise class routines. 

This photo shows the participants going in two different directions.  It was taken on the overpass bridge that is above Interstate 5 in Mt. Shasta.  The group walking forward in the photo have reached the turn-around point, while those shown with their backs to the camera, are still headed for the turn-around. 

One of the sponsors of the race is the Mt. Shasta Medical Center, operated by Dignity Health.  All of the participants walk or run by the hospital, and there were volunteers/employees from the hospital manning a "relief station" in front of the hospital. 

Another one of the sponsors was Crystal Geyser water, which comes from a source very close to Mt. Shasta.  It is only appropriate that they be a sponsor, since the word "shasta" originally meant "precious water".  Shasta is an African female name originating in the Sahara.  The desert origin of the word explains why water would be called "precious". 

Besides water, there were other free beverages to sample, including kombucha, a fermented tea.

The big surprise for me along the race route came, when I saw there were little bowls of lettuce for the participants to sample.  As those who know me can attest, I have a "thing" for lettuce because it is low-calorie, and helps "fill me up".

In addition, there were samples of freshly-baked pizza along the walk route!!  What a deal!!

This photo shows some walkers as they are on the bridge above Interstate 5.  The jagged peak in the background is a landmark along I-5, and is called Black Butte.  I am thankful to be able to say my son and I summited that mountain last year, and you can read about that experience in a  previous blog I published (It can be seen in the blog archives, under the date of September 10, 2016, and titled "Siskiyou County Expedition")

In addition to the food/beverage sampling stations that appear every other block along the walking route, there are musical stages set up every other block along the race route.  This photo shows a musician using a seldom-seen stringed instrument, accompanied by the traditional violin. 

There are also country/western bands, solo artists, brass musicians, vocalists, and drummers, both Native American and Oriental. 

All of the things I have described in the previous comments explain why it took me so long to finally make it to the FINISH line!  I wanted to sample each and every product, and take a photo of each and every exhibit!

My steps were easily distracted by the activities and foods along the way, which explains why I did not come home with one of these medals!

When there were so many food and beverage products being handed to participants, there was a potential for litter to desecrate the streets of Mt. Shasta, but this issue was resolved by having refuse containers placed strategically after each sampling table.

I was especially pleased that the refuse containers were clearly labeled so that plastics could be disposed of separately, and hence more easily recycled.

The race route goes by the Catholic Church in Mt. Shasta, and every year, that community of believers sponsor a  fund-raising pancake breakfast that provides a good excuse to load up on carbs before the race----it's for a good cause!!

Just like the sign in this photo says,
MT. SHASTA SMILES on the Fourth of July!!

And for those who have an emergency that interferes with their smile, there is the Mt. Shasta Ambulance service!

After the race was over, we went back to my son's house, and he grilled us a delicious, healthy dinner outside.  He is shown in this photo, and I am using this opportunity to apologize to him for getting distracted taking photos during this event, that we had intended to walk TOGETHER!   After it was over, he told me had spent several minutes concerned, worrying, and wondering where I was (thinking that I had possibly brought on a Reactive Hypoglycemic fainting spell by cramming too much food into my mouth, too fast), because he waited so long at the finish line, with no sign of me.  When I told him that I was taking photos and videos of the performers, I think it hurt his feelings that I was more interested in taking photos, than I was in walking with him.  Therefore, I am using this experience as the visual aid for one of my First Place 4 Health ( ) memory verses that says, "Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."  Hebrews 3:13.  Instead of concentrating on the precious time I had to spend with my son--the "TODAY"--I was focused on getting photos to write a blog about the event.  Perhaps my behavior demonstrates how sin's deceitfulness made me think it was more important to publish a particular blog post, than it was to spend time encouraging my son.  Hopefully, I will get another chance, and promise to do things differently next time I get to spend time with him!  That is because doing activities with my son gives me "MILES OF SMILES"!!  Tricia

Sunday, September 30, 2018


Considering its relatively close proximity to where I live, it may be surprising that I had never visited Oxford, Mississippi ( ), until this past year.  Even more surprising to tourism marketing professionals might be the motivation for what brought me to finally make the effort to visit this well-known university town of the South.  The photo below shows the iconic columns of the University of Mississippi's most famous building, The Lyceum. 
It is the events of the 1960's that beckoned me to The Lyceum.  That is because just a short time ago, I learned that one of my California cousins had a "front seat" to the events involving James Meredith's attendance at the University of Mississippi.  During a meet-up with that cousin at one of Branson, Missouri's numerous theater venues that honor veterans, he stood up when the call was made for veterans to rise and be recognized for their service.  Afterward, I realized I did not know exactly where his military service had been, even though I was aware of where other male cousins had completed their military service.  Later, when I asked him, he told me he had served in Mississippi, and when I asked, "Where in Mississippi?", he answered that he had been one of the armed forces Military Police that had been assigned to drive, and otherwise escort/assist, in integration process of the University of Mississippi.  There are several reasons that can explain the fact that it took me fifty years to find out this most interesting fact.  Some of the reasons include the thousands of miles that separated our families, and the relative high cost of long-distance calling and travel during the 1960's.  However, I tend to think it was the realization of the vast cultural differences between his growing up in the cultural melting pot of Los Angeles, California versus my growing up in the "WASP" location of Northwest Arkansas.  
Sometimes, when you are going through your daily life---especially in your youth/young adult days---you don't have a clue that you are a player in significant historical events that will go down in record books in the future.  My cousin's positive comments about James Meredith prompted me to want to find out more about this man whom my cousin had helped protect.  Meredith was a 29-year-old veteran when he entered the University, and while reading up on him,  I learned about the memorial that was constructed on the University of Mississippi campus to commemorate those events, and I wanted to see it in person.  The photo below shows that bronze statue of James Meredith, walking up to the symbolic columned facade of the Lyceum, to enroll in the University.
In 2002, the University of Mississippi ( ) remembered the 40th anniversary of the Meredith's admission, with this statue of him, installed on campus in his honor.  Meredith humbly commented that he was in a "war" to get the constitutional rights held by any American, and not as a participant in the civil rights movement.  Strangely enough, he later supported the 1967 gubernatorial bid of Ross Barnett, who had been one of those who blocked Meredith's admission to Ole Miss.  There are numerous books written by, and about, James Meredith, that can easily be found at Amazon, and similar book sellers.

This statue of James Meredith is my visual aid for my First Place 4 Health ( ) memory verse from  Hebrews 10:36, that talks about perseverance.  It says, "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised."  I am thankful for James Meredith's perseverance, and also for my cousin's perseverance in fulfilling his military duties. 

There were a few other reasons I wanted to visit Oxford, Mississippi, and one of them was to check out the woodland trail that leads from the University of Mississippi campus, to the former home of famous Oxford resident, William Faulkner.  The trail is shown in this photo, and goes through Bailey's Woods.

This photo shows Rowan Oak ( ), the name of William C. Faulkner's property, which is now owned, operated and maintained by the University of Mississippi.  The home sits on 4 landscaped acres and 29 acres of largely wooded property, known as the aforementioned Bailey's Woods.

This brick sidewalk between the street and the front door of the home was planted with cedar trees, because at the time the home was built, there was a theory that cedar trees helped purify the home, and thus made the home occupants have better health.  I saw this same landscape concept used in the approach to The Hermitage, in Tennessee, home of former president Andrew Jackson. 

Visitors enter the Rowan Oak home through the front door, as this tourist is about to do.  This architectural style has been described as "primitive" Greek Revival.  This style was seen in the United States more frequently in the late 18th and early 19th century , because travel was made easier to Greece after the Greek War of Independence in 1832.  Faulkner purchased the home when it was in disrepair, a century later, in the 1930's  He did many of the renovations himself. 

This photo shows that there are Plexiglas barriers that restrain the visitors from tromping through the restored rooms, but if you want more of an "up close" look, there are videos on the Internet that take the viewer through the home, and talk about details of the furnishings.  In addition, a lifelong learning organization called Road Scholar ( ) conducts week long programs in Oxford, Mississippi, that will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about this town and its famous residents!

One of those interesting details that is most famous is this outline of Faulkner's award winning book, A Fable.  The outline he wrote in graphite and red on the plaster  bedroom walls shows how the plot of the book unfolds on each day of the week leading up to Easter Sunday, during a story set in Europe during the War I. 

My tour guide pointed out this "phone nook" in the home, where Faulkner was notified of his winning of a prestigious literary award, and well as the phone numbers he had scribbled all over the walls.  (Apparently, writing on the walls is acceptable if you happen to be one of the most famous Southern writers of the twentieth century!)  The young woman who was showing me around the home is one of several University of Mississippi students who work as "caretakers/guides" for Rowan Oak. You can read a complete biography about William Faulkner on the website, .

While touring inside, I mentioned to a professional photographer on the property that I was particularly interested in the Underwood typewriter Faulkner used, because my father used to sell Underwood typewriters that looked exactly like the one the writer used.  So the pro photographer offered to take my camera and go behind the barriers I was not to breach, so that I could have this closeup photo of Faulkner's famous typewriters for my blog.  (Daddy would be proud I was promoting Underwood typewriters!)

There are dozens of artifacts enclosed in glass cases on the second story of the home, representing different decades of the past.

I was especially intrigued by the old fashioned Glenmore brown and white whiskey jug on display, because ever since I was a child, this "evidence" of a product called "whiskey" was the only alcohol-related I ever saw in my childhood home (my parents were teetotalers).  My mom always said it was an item left behind on a camping trip by one of dad's fishing buddies.  I still have the jug, at my home, and use it as a vase. 

The second story of the home has videos playing that show Williams Faulkner at various public appearances he made throughout his lifetime.  William Cuthbert Faulkner (September 25, 1897 - July 6, 1962) is described as an American author who won the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature. 

Later, in 1954, his book, A Fable, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as the National Book Award.  He spent more than a decade and tremendous effort on it, and aspired for it be "the best work of my life and maybe of my time." 

I was pleased to get to see a live production of a William Faulkner re-enactor, when he put on a production at The Sheid, on the ASU campus, in Mountain Home, Arkansas.

At the time of the live performance, I had just spent long periods of time watching actual videos of the real Faulkner, so I found this presentation fascinating!

The young Faulkner was greatly influenced by the history of his family and the region in which he lived.  This photo of the government building in downtown Oxford, Mississippi, was likely the inspiration for some of the scenes in the "mythological" county of Mississippi where his stories took place. 

There is a bronze statue of Faulkner on the building's front lawn, and although it is gated, the gate is unlocked, so that visitors can go in and get their photo made setting next to the famous author.  Speaking of famous Mississippi authors, it was the generosity of former University of Mississippi law school graduate, author & lawyer John Gresham, (along with other law school alums) that provided the funds to complete a thorough renovation of Rowan Oak, which led to it being rededicated in May, 2005. 

This photo of the roots of one of the majestic trees on the Rowan Oak estate serve as a reminder to explain the origin of the name "Rowan".  The story goes that Faulkner chose the name because in European folk lore, the rowan tree was said to have magical properties that would keep away evil spirits. 
Rowan Oak, in Oxford, Mississippi, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1968.  Its linkage to the University of Mississippi is extensive, even though Faulkner only attended the University of Mississippi for 3 semesters, enrolling in 1919, before dropping out in November, 1920.  He was able to attend there because his father worked at Ole Miss as a business manager.  Young Faulkner skipped class often, and received a "D" in English.  That would be the first, of many literary disappointments, as he received MANY rejections from publishers of his writing.  (Unlike today, when ANY author, can publish ANY written manuscript, for ANY person to read on the Internet!)  William Faulkner had other connections to Ole Miss, in that he served as the university's postmaster from 1921-1924.  Also, in 1929, Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying (my personal favorite of his literary publications) in the University Power House, where he worked as a fireman and night watchman.  The moral to this story is "Perseverance Pays Off" in the end!  Seeing examples of perseverance in Oxford, Mississippi, gave me "MILES OF SMILES"!   Tricia

ADDENDUM:  This blog is dated as "September 30th", in honor of the birthday of my cousin, who is mentioned in this article.  He celebrated 80 years of PERSEVERANCE on this day, in 2018!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!  Also,  since I am writing this blog to help give me visual aids for the Hebrews 10:36 Bible verse about PERSEVERANCE, I want to quote a statement given by James Meredith to The Durango Herald just this month.  At age 85, he stated, "I've been in the God business all my life.  Ole Miss to me was nothing but a mission from God.  The Meredith March Against Fear was my most important mission from God, until this one coming up right now:  Raising the moral character up, and making people aware of their duty to follow God's plan and the teachings of Jesus Christ."  Now THAT is what I would call Christian perseverance!