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Archive for the ‘Mayor Jim’ Category

You know, I have a pretty cool job as Tourism Director for the state of Arkansas.  Today was a perfect example  …  I went to Garvan Gardens in Hot Springs, Arkansas with two of our state photographers.  I thought I should get my photos out first before the real professional ones hit the social media.  Several of our amazing tourism staff came along to serve as models and enjoy the beauty of this 220 acre botanical park.  Enjoy!DSC01077 - Version 2

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And … you won’t want to miss the TREE HOUSE

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While I’m at it, I have another suggestion … find our all you want about other treasures and attractions in the Natural State at … Arkansas.com

HAPPY TRAILS!  Jim

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One of the last times I watched a lunar eclipse I was camping with my buddy, JC.  We found a deep dark sky location in the Hurricane Creek Wilderness area on the Ozark Highlands Trail.  It was a cold clear night and a perfect place from which to watch this spectacular natural event.  Sorry folks … I have no pictures.

Last night I watched the eclipse from the back yard of my home.  This time I did take a few photos.  I think they turned out pretty good … not because of my talent but more because of my Sony 7R lll and a SonyFE 100-400 G lens. Even more amazing … these were hand held shots.

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I love this stuff … and in 2017 Patti and I went over close to Nashville to photograph the Solar Eclipse.  This time I was using my Canon 6D with a Canon 70-200 L lens. I especially like the total eclipse shot but am equally amazed with the ability to see sun spots in the top left photo.  Click on any of these to enlarge.

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The wonders of our world continue fascinate, expand imaginations and hopefully make us realize how small we humans are in this great universe.

FYI …  you might consider a trip to Arkansas in April, 2024  … Little Rock will be directly in the path of the  next major North American Solar Eclipse.  Besides that, there are  plenty of other reasons to come and enjoy …

” Arkansas … The Natural State “

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To celebrate Forty years of friendship, we gathered with our wives at the home of SST founder, Loyd and his wife Kaye.  And then dinner at Cheers Restaurant.  

Here is the note I sent to my ski buddies after the 2012 SST ski trip. We had been going on a trip each year for over 30 years. Stanley is the last name of the original founding father of SST … Stanley Ski Team!

Once again, it was a special treat to be with the best friends in the world. In a very small way, I miss skiing with the group but in a very big way I enjoy our time together and will do all I can to attend for as long as the Good Lord allows. I certainly don’t wish to be maudlin, but John made a prophetic and profound statement when he said “we will probably not be doing this ten years from now”.

The evening discussions, especially the evening discussing family histories was a highlight for me … as different as we may be, there is a common thread we all share. We are family oriented, we obviously value true friendships, for the most part we are fairly conservative (a couple maybe more than “fairly conservative”), we are self starting, entrepreneurial guys … in most cases from self starting entrepreneurial roots, we are fundamentally Christian, God fearing men with strong work ethics and, by golly, strong play ethics… I repeat, Strong Play Ethics!!! Who would ever have thought for 31 or 32 or 33 years, a group like ours would click, stay together, take a trip each year together, schedule lunch every Friday together and for all these years keep this exercise right at the top of our priority lists. Who would have thought? Who would have thought a Dermatologist, Ad guy, a coffin salesman, a funeral director, an asbestos tester, an architect, a refrigeration/electric supplier, a jeweler and a politician could find enough in common to embark on this adventure, and even more significant, to continue it for so many years. Ours truly is a unique story..a meaningful, enriching celebration of friendship. I thank each of you.

Now more pictures of our 40th Celebration evening …

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As one can see (above) we have moved from Skiing to golf, to hiking and to “Apre Whatever” around the pool in Scottsdale.  

Below a couple of shots from the beginning days of SST.   Keystone Mountain and Blue Spruce Restaurant in Frisco, Co.  Circa.  1980

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The Group much younger

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Above photo was 2018 in Arizona.

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The two pictures above are of the same group dinner with our Wives … circa. 2014

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Arkansas State Fair 2018

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Yesterday I stopped by the Arkansas State Fair… first to thank Harrison Welcome Center manager, Leesha Miller and her husband for working the Arkansas Parks and Tourism booth in the Hall of Industry and second to stroll down memory lane along the Midway.

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Leesha is one of 14 managers of Welcome Centers along the borders of our state.  These centers greet thousands of visitors to Arkansas each day providing information, printed materials and directions to all the wonders of our Natural State.  Leesha is particularly excited because her beautiful new Harrison Welcome Center will have an official grand opening November 2, 2018 … just a couple of weeks away.  My personal thanks to all of the staff at Arkansas Welcome Centers.  You make us proud!

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Okay … back to the Midway … so many memories.

When I was a child, my parents always took us to the State Fair. We rode the rides, tried our skills at the ring toss and enjoyed greasy burgers and sticky taffy.  We usually went to the rodeo but always walked through the animal barns …  I fondly remember this even more than the rides because this is where my dad taught me the importance of farming, agriculture and Animal Husbandry.

Sure, it’s fun to play on the Midway … however, to walk the cattle and pig barns,  is to better understand the fundamentals of our Arkansas history and economy.

After all, Agriculture is our Number one industry.

But don’t forget … Tourism is #2 at over $7 Billion.

And,  at the Arkansas State Fair there is a blending of both.

 

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With this full rainbow sighting, we knew we had hit the motherlode.

And, sure enough, we had … hitting the Rockies when the Aspen color was at it’s peak.  Just like rich veins of gold and copper, the iridescent brilliance laced itself through the forest beckoning us to explore every trail, road and vista.  Had we been panning for gold, we could not have been more richly rewarded.

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Daughter, Donna and Son in Law, John

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Patti and Jim

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In some areas, many of the trees were beginning to lose their leaves.  Even at that, there is something really beautiful about the huge clusters of white bark trees … especially if the colors subtly appear as though an artist has dabbed his brush randomly onto the tree tops.

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To make things even more comfortable and relaxing, each day after mining for gold and retail treasures, we returned to this modest (give me a break) home located between Breckenridge and Frisco, Co.   As John would say ” this is Patti and Donna’s idea of roughing it“.

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For many years we ventured to Colorado for family snow skiing.  Now we go to enjoy cooler, drier weather in the Summer and Fall.  This time we truly did hit the jackpot with the most beautiful Fall Colors we have ever experienced.

September is not a bad time to tour the Rockies!

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For years Patti and I have intended to visit the Little Portion Hermitage near Berryville. Well yesterday we did just that … and what a special treat it was. This Catholic Community of Brothers and Sisters of Charity live a monastic life of prayer, service to the poor and the neighboring communities.

In my role as Arkansas Tourism Director, I was the keynote speaker at the Berryville Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Banquet.  Following the dinner, a spirited … and I do mean spirited … woman named Viola, cornered Patti asking “where is that tourism guy?” From the moment I met her she was a bundle of energy backed up with a bundle of printed cards and information on the Hermitage and it’s 40th anniversary celebration happening over the next few days.

Below are a few pictures from our visit. The first picture includes monastic community founders, Viola and John Michael Talbot. Viola has an idea for Tourism. She suggested a Road Trip Trail including the Little Portion Hermitage, Saint Elizabeth Bell Tower entry Church in Eureka Springs and the Passion Play. I think this is worthy of discussion.

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This past weekend was a wonderful example of an Arkansas Discovery Road Trip.  You will hear lots more about road trips on our web site:  Arkansas.com

Randy and Gayla Wolfinbarger, owners of the Inn of the Ozarks,  made the weekend even more special. Breakfast at the Inn was great.

Finally, I must mention that we stopped to check out our new Arkansas Welcome Center in Harrison, Arkansas.  This building is beautiful, functional and loaded with friendly staff and info …  all there to make your Arkansas experience the best possible.

For further info regarding the Hermitage … services, bakery, tours, etc. go to littleportion.org

 

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2018 Gridiron production a phenomenal success.

Last night with our friends Nancy and Steve, Patti and I attended the 2018 Gridiron performance at the beautiful Arkansas Repertory Theatre in downtown Little Rock.  The performance was awesome … what with humorous and pointed political musical scripts and a cast of characters representing familiar State, National and International leaders, an hour and a half literally flew by.  Circuit Judge Mary McGowan was the producer … well done Judge.  Craig Wilson was an amazing President Trump, Janis Kovalscik had the audience cheering with her representation  of Sarah Huckabee Sanders singing “Stand by this man” and our neighbor Judy Trice singing “I’m Still Here” hit a home run portraying Nancy Pelosi.

Yes … a great night in a packed house!  Now, the reality check … the Rep announced earlier this year that the theatre is closing due to financial struggles.  Last night was a reminder of how good it has been and how blessed we are to have the Repertory Theatre all these years. 

It’s not too late to SAVE THE REP … BUT IT WILL TAKE ALL OF US.

Founding Director, Cliff Baker reminded us last night that many have stepped up to contribute and great progress is being made toward  reopening and financial stability. There are some major donors but the long term success depends on the broader community support … a few dollars donated now and then the purchase of season tickets once reopened.  This certainly has gotten my attention … Patti and I commit to do our part.  I encourage each of you to do the same.  Thank you and Long Live the Rep!

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In the photo above, one can see world leaders and Presidential Press Secretary singing “Stand by this Man”.  My thanks to all of the 75 performers and volunteers.

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