After months of isolation we decided it was time to take a road trip to Santa Fe and Frisco, Co. with our dear friends.  It “was” different … fewer people, many places closed and thankfully a majority of people respecting the Covid protocols of face masks and social distancing.


I’ll not show pictures taken in Santa Fe because I’ve posted most of the high interest spots in previous blogs.  However, I do want to show a photo of our lodging in Santa Fe. Pictured above is one of the units of a small B&B … Pueblo Bonito … just a short walk from downtown. I have no problem recommending this historic adobe option. In lieu of all guest gathering, breakfast was brought to the refrigerator in our rooms …  fresh fruit, tamales, yogurt and coffee.

On to Frisco, Colorado .., lunch stop in Antonito


In the past we have simply blinked and driven right through this little town of 781.  This time we were hungry and an outdoor (albeit on the highway) restaurant was perfect.  Excellent service and food at Das Hermanas.  Plus, directly across the highway. was this wall mural pictured above.  It was painted by F.F. Haberlein and dedicated to the people of Antonitio.  One never knows what surprises reward a slower pace.


Frisco is almost like a second home.   

We have been vacationing in Frisco for years and have toured the West extensively … but there’s a special feeling and atmosphere in Frisco that keeps bringing us back.  Maybe it’s the cool mountain air at 9100 feet.  Maybe it’s the little shops and restaurants.  Maybe it’s the biking and hiking trails. Maybe it’s the refreshing power of roaring rivers and snow capped peaks … it’s all these and more.  However, with Covid19, our 2020 return was a bit different!


In addition to signs like this and most people “actually” wearing face masks, Frisco Main Street was closed.  The photo below shows how this closure transformed Main Street into a “people place” … a place for more social distancing, a place for restaurants to add additional outside seating and a place for bikers, walkers and shoppers to comfortably share the space.


We spent more time eating in and embracing outdoor activities … having picnics, Jeeping 4WD roads and having fun creekside.IMG_2893DSC02880


We covered a lot of territory on Jeep roads but the most fun was on Mayflower Gulch.  I have hiked it several times but this was a ball in a 4WD Jeep.





Of course, the Photo Op on Loveland Pass at the Continental Divide.


Picnic and fun Creekside …

I cannot express how enjoyable it was to have a picnic along the Snake River or the Ten Mile Creek.  And to make it even more enjoyable …  our wives brought bubble making tubes.  What fun, what a treat, what a way to share time with friends.



The new normal ….



New Snow on Mount Arkansas near Leadville.   Arkansas River starts here!


I think this shot “says it all!” 

If you would like the Vimeo slide show … click here.


I guess I’m looking for contemplative moments maybe even solace to help me get my arms around the two major issues of our nation and world today … COVID-19 and RACISM.  With the senseless murder of a black man … GEORGE FLOYD … by a Minneapolis policeman, we are once again reminded there is still a long way to go before achieving equal treatment and justice for all.  Both issues are health issues … both are sicknesses …  both can be deadly … both weaken our economy … both clearly point out our human weaknesses and vulnerabilities.  The irony is this … with the will to do so … BOTH CAN BE SOLVED.  

Included in the photo above is our beautiful natural world.  Within this photo we see  commerce and government.  We see history … the Arkansas Territorial Restoration in the front, the Arkansas State Capitol against the far skyline.  We see where people live and work and we see where people play.  But we often fail to …“see the people.”

On the state level, our Governor, Asa  Hutchinson, does see the people.  He has been an amazing leader both with COVID-19 and with the George Floyd killing protests.  He has been open, transparent, available and he listens.  Thank you Governor.

On the local level, our first directly elected African American Mayor, Frank Scott, has shown understanding, compassion and selfless leadership and … he listens.  Thank you Mayor.

Clearly, it takes leadership but equally important is the role of each citizen … if nothing else … TURN OUT AND VOTE!  your collective voice can make Little Rock a beautiful picture for all.


I was on my morning walk at the old Little Rock City Golf Course … War Memorial. As I passed a hedgerow, I noticed thorny bushes with colorful berries … Arkansas Wild Blackberries …WOW !!! Right here in the city!

Of course, I stopped … taste tested … and picked a few that will top my cereal tomorrow morning.

What a serendipitous find … no doubt I shall pass this way again.


Amazing afternoon and night …

Amazing as it was … it was a bit warm and a little humid.  However this did not dampen out spirits nor our enjoyment of one more night of camping in ARKANSAS THE NATURAL STATE.  And yes, that’s a battery powered fan next to my coffee cup.  Felt pretty good for the first couple of hours in my tent.

Lepidopterist I am not … but that did not stop me from thoroughly relishing the site of this colorful adornment to our camp area.


Out of state visitors often comment about the trees and the “green” of Arkansas.  The Ouachita National Forest is one of the most naturally beautiful areas in the state … actual mountains, heavy forest and pristine streams and creeks. A great place to hike, camp and refresh.

What a way to socially distance during Covid 19 Pandemic.  YES!!!





War Memorial Golf Course is a significant piece of the recreational history of Little Rock, Arkansas.  Now it is closed!!

I loved this golf course … partly because it was short, partly because it was in the middle of the city and partly because this is where I spent much of my time attempting to learn  to play this mostly fun, often frustrating game.

In reality, the game of golf has been on a national downswing … Pardon the pun!   Courses have been closing all over the country due to reduced rounds of play and other recreational choices.  I must admit that I too, very seldom play any more and have probably had a cavalier attitude regarding the closing.  So why the big deal today?  …               COVID-19 isolation, fitness center closings and my need for a place to exercise and get some fresh air.

What better place than an abandoned golf course … 

For the past week I have been going to War Memorial where I power walk the cart paths.  Rather than drive the fairways, chip from the fringe or putt the greens, I now enjoy the fresh air, soak in the Redbud tree beauty and refresh my spirit with memories of three hundred yard drives, eagle putts and that occasional  hole in one …  I Wish!!


What about that 3 under par?  Here’s how that came about.  As I walked from hole to hole I began to remember specific rounds from the past.  I remembered the eagle from 125 yards on number 12, the sloping side hill 40 foot putt on number 7, the blind over the hill to two feet on 15 and …  on and on and on for 18 holes … I was mentally playing a phenomenal round of golf.  Maybe it was a compilation of best shots from multiple rounds or maybe it was just fatuous dreaming or oxygen depletion … regardless I was having a ball and all I can say is  …  I was having the best round of my life!


Back to reality … sure, the golf course is closed. And maybe it’s only hitting me now, but I do feel sad about the closing.   I don’t know what the future uses will be but I do know this beautiful spot on the map will always be for our citizens to enjoy and celebrate. In the meantime, I offer this suggestion to anyone who wishes to get a little exercise, walk the dog and breathe in the beauty of Arkansas the Natural State … It’s right here for you at the Former War Memorial Park Golf Course in Little Rock.  Enjoy!


Eileen and friends … Jeff the photographer.  The picture says it all!

A 41 year bond of friendship …

Yes, for over four decades a group of guys has shared lunch together once a week and an annual trip … the first three decades we went to ski country … now we go to Scottsdale, Arizona.  The pictures are almost self explanatory … however I will add brief comments.

Most all flew from Little Rock but JC and I drove so we could hike in route.

These next few photos are from the Acoma Pueblo area, then a few from Window Rock and then from Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Northeastern Arizona.  The canyon is beautiful and our hike to the bottom was awesome.




Below are photos from Scottsdale.  We have stayed in this beautiful home for several years where we enjoy cooking in as well as eating out and where we explore the museums, golf courses and other many assets of Scottsdale. 

First … our group … matching shirts of course.

Tim, Loyd, John, Renie, Bart, Bill, Jim, JC




One of the most important parts of a full healthy long life is the power and bond of friendship.  We are blessed to have this shared life story.  We are unique individually and we are unique collectively.  As we age I even say ” we are every bit as smart collectively as we once were individually” … LOL … We are a beautiful mosaic of different opinions, political persuasions and upbringings.  Truly, we are a special tale for the ages.

I doubt there is another group like ours … SST … 41 years and Counting.  Thank each of you for holding this family of friends together.  May God allow us a few more!

Anyone who has traveled with me during the past 5 or 6 years knows that around 3:00 each afternoon, there is a mandatory stop at McDonalds … partly because McDonalds is America’s restroom but more importantly because I must have my Carmel Sundae and a Senior coffee.  Also, my first dip of ice cream goes in the coffee to cool it a bit and create my own frothy vanilla ice cream/coffee latte.  WOW!IMG_7754

The story doesn’t end there! Not by a long shot!

For the past two years I have been Arkansas Tourism Director.  Naturally I did a bunch of traveling around our beautiful state.  By the way, Arkansas is called The Natural State for good reason … the beautiful Ozarks, our lakes, rivers and streams, etc.  Anyway, each afternoon somewhere around 2 or 3:00 we would find a McDonalds and take a break.  Just looking at the picture above makes my mouth water.

On with the story … what does a Tourism Staff give to a retiring Tourism Director? Of course … McDonalds Gift Cards.


Believe me … I could not have been more surprised or excited! What a special gift!

The beauty of this to me personally, was the creative thought and presentation that went into the gift.  Plus each member of my Tourism team wrote a note personalizing the gift even more.  And now …  each time I stop at McDonalds, I will read a note, think of the one who wrote it and have a big smile as I enjoy my Carmel Sundae and Senior Coffee Ice cream Latte.

ADPT Staff Portrait 2018 Mount Magazine DSC_5723ps

      Arkansas Tourism Staff … THE FACES OF ARKANSAS TOURISM … thank you!!



                 January 1, 2020 … Lake Ouachita … Hot Springs, Arkansas

It was one of those absolutely perfect mornings for a hike at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa near Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Mountain Harbor is one of the finest places in Arkansas to “get away” for a few days with family or friends.  For the past four or five years Patti and I have been doing just that … getting away over New Years with our life long friends, Gwen and JC.  Each morning, JC and I … plus his dog, Herkie, wake up early and hike 2-3 miles.  I took the above photo on New Years Day 2020 … what a special moment to welcome the new decade!


           Bill, Merle, JC, Gwen, Patti, Jim celebrate the season and friendship

Not only are Patti and I thankful for friends of nearly half a century, but also slightly newer friends like Bill (Mountain Harbor Owner) and Merle.  Bill and I served on the Arkansas State Parks Recreation and Tourism Commission together for a number of years.  Mountain Harbor Resort is truly one of the great Arkansas Tourism destinations.

                        Garvan Woodland Botanical Gardens, Hot Springs, Arkansas

While in the Hot Springs area we visited Garvan Gardens to experience one of the most spectacular Christmas Light displays in Arkansas.  A stroll (or golf cart ride) thru this amazing lighting extravaganza is a “must see” that rivals any I have seen in theme parks from Disney to Silver Dollar City.  Just as I touted Mountain Harbor as a tourist destination, I classify Garvan Gardens as a Tourism Attraction Destination.

Also of note, don’t miss seeing the Tulips at Garvan Gardens in the Spring.

                                                            TULIP TEASER Photos !!  

More information on Mountain Harbor and Garvan Gardens,  check them out online.




Eight Years and still counting.  This year, Left to right, Jeff, DJ, Daryl, Bryan, Don, JC and Jim/Charlie Brown showed up on a crisp beautiful Arkansas day to camp overnight on the Buffalo National River near Jasper, Arkansas. Our friend, Don, let us cut a small pine from his nearby property.  Now you understand, to qualify as a Charlie Brown Tree, it need not be proportional or have thick foliage  … it just needs to look like a tree that could use a little love.  So that’s what we do … give a little love and share the Christmas spirit of the season and the beauty of Arkansas … THE NATURAL STATE.




In most past years we have backpacked to remote wilderness camp sites.  This year, 2019, we car camped … still slept in tents but drove to the campsite.  Of special note, for the fourth year, Bryan’s wife, Betsy made her world famous culinary milestone, homemade lasagna … WOW!!! Thank you Betsy.  And to finish the meal, JC’s, wife Gwen, made her award winning homemade apple pie.  Thank you Gwen.







                                  ARKANSAS TOURISM DIRECTOR POST SCRIPT

For the past two years I have been privileged to serve as Arkansas Tourism Director … clearly one of the greatest honors of my life.  I will step down the end of December.  Our Natural State hosts over thirty million visitors each year with over seven billion dollars in economic impact … second only to Agriculture.  I want to thank Governor Asa Hutchinson for the appointment.  I want to thank former Director Kane Webb and now Secretary Stacy Hurst and the Arkansas Parks Recreation and Tourism Commission for your support and leadership … but most of all I want to thank my amazing, hard working, caring and dedicated staff …



Love you all …

JIM/HUGGY BEAR  …..  (my staff will understand)

So … what’s a Hamfest?  It’s not a pork sandwich festival or an event to celebrate the best/worst of being funny (a la …  being a “ham”).  Whatever it is …  it’s gotta be something special to celebrate  50 consecutive years on top of the second highest mountain in Arkansas … Rich Mountain, in the beautiful Ouachita Mountains at Queen Wilhelmina State Park.

Okay … so what is it?  Simply put, Hamfest is a gathering of amateur Ham Radio operators.



The black and white photo above is of the founding Hamfest  attendees taken in 1969 … fifty years ago.  And once again, hundreds of vendors, radio operators and curiosity seekers came together these first few days of September to learn, have fun and communicate with Ham radio folks from all over the world.  I was pleased to attend for the second time … this time as Arkansas Tourism Director.  My real fascination is watching and listening to an operator skillfully using Morse Code.  Wow …  this is so amazing that one person can click away with dots and dashes at 25 to thirty words a minute and actually communicate with another person hundreds or thousands of miles away.   AMAZING!IMG_9511.JPG

If the main event is not enough, there are plenty of other options.  One can stay in the beautiful lodge, or camp.  One can eat at a campsite or in the wonderful lodge restaurant. One can hike or relax and for sure enjoy the awesome 360 degree views.  Put this on your bucket list … it is a must visit.  This is truly one of my favorite spots in Arkansas … and did I mention … there’s always a breeze and cooler temperature.

Finally, I cannot say enough about our Park’s Staff at Queen Wilhelmina State Park … they are without a doubt …THE BEST!  

Below … Janelle, Jackie, Brent and yours truly. My personal thanks to each of you and your entire dedicated team.


Queen Wilhelmina State Park  at: Arkansas.com



Finally, thanks to you … our Hamfest guests.  Not only do you bring uniqueness, you bring tradition, friendship and your warm smiling faces.  … see you next year.

Jim Dailey … Arkansas Tourism