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Archive for the ‘Mayor Jim’ Category

PIKES PEAK MARATHON 1984

My wife just found my official Pikes Peak Marathon T Shirt …

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And … here is the story of that 1984 adventure:

My buddy, JC and I often ran 10K and 15K races plus a marathon or two together… more in his case.  We had also spent time skiing and hiking in Colorado.  When it was suggested, or I should say, when we were summoned by the Marque de Sade (from which the word “sadist” comes) we had no option but to sign up for this ultimate challenge. With a height of 14,115 feet and a vertical of almost 8000 feet (that’s 16,000 feet up and down) we started training.  I was so nervous that Patti and I went to Colorado one month before the marathon so I could train at altitude.  To cap that off I had her drive me to the top one afternoon and I ran the 13 mile Barr Trail downhill so I could see and assess what I was in for. Frankly,  this scared me even more.  In fact I could hardly walk for two days. Needless to say,  back in Arkansas, I spent countless additional hours training by running up and down Pinnacle Mountain, a 1000 foot vertical peak in West Little Rock.

Saturday, August 18, 1984. 

JC and I plus our wives actually arrived on the 17th to join about 50 other slightly insane Arkansans at a Manitou Springs pizza and pasta restaurant for a little carbo loading.

Race Day …  after a relatively good nights sleep, I added hot water to a packet of instant oatmeal, called that my breakfast and drove to meet JC at the starting line.  Even at base elevation it was cold … in fact there was a slushy snow on the ground and on the trail all the way to the top.

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Full disclosure, JC was and still is a much better runner than I and he finished about two hours before I did.  I’m proud of my buddy because subsequently he qualified for Boston and also ran the NY and Marine Marathons.  I must add, I am proud of myself as well for completing this challenging marathon.

The two pictures above show JC and me almost at the top of Pikes Peak where we would turn around and start the quadricep pounding downhill for the next 13 miles.  This is clearly one of the most personally satisfying and memorable achievements of my life.

So, what do my other buddies do when I return to Little Rock?  They were ready!

Yes … they were ready.  Unknown to me, DKR, one of the guys in our group that takes a trip together each year, reached out to Patti, got my Marathon shirt, had copies made and surprised me one evening,  We were all getting ready to go to dinner.  I went to change clothes and when entered the room, eight smiling guys were sitting there proudly wearing their own Pikes Peak Marathon T Shirt.  We were an impressive bunch at dinner that night.  Nothing like having good friends that can keep you humble. Thank  you guys for another special memory.  

 

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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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