Archive for the ‘Trails’ Category


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!

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                 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.



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Don’t panic … it’s not as bad as it sounds!

This was to be the weekend … the weekend for the seventh annual Charlie Brown Christmas Backpacking/Camping adventure in the Ozarks of Northern Arkansas. However, Mother Nature had another idea … not this weekend … unless you want a camping weekend without a campfire.  Sooo … for the first time in seven years, Charlie is not showing up in December in the Natural State at Richland Creek.

Don’t fret … this unique and special event is rescheduled for mid January.  

To refresh your memory, below are some photos from the past … and, with any luck you will see Charlie Brown twice in 2018.


As an FYI, you may look at any of these photos full size if you click on the one you want.







Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  See you soon … 

Jim D … AKA … Charlie B

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Thanks to Sam Walton (Walmart), Alice Walton (Crystal Bridges) and now the Grandsons … this sleepy little town is truly the best example of what a successful city of the future looks like.  

After spending three days attending the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Commission meeting in Bentonville, I am pumped up.  This place is alive … it is exhilirating … it is energizing … it is the place I would choose to live if I were younger… It is the place to be … It is the future!

Patti and I went to the University of Arkansas years ago and would drive  to Bentonville to sit on the park bench in the square.  We were the only ones there … now this place is teeming with commerce, hotels, restaurants, brew pubs, bike shops and people from all over the world.


From the new Buckminister Fuller Fly’s Eye Dome to the soon to be opened inside/outside Dale Chihuly exhibit to a converted church (now that’s pretty funny) into a restaurant and bar called the Preacher’s Son, to a closed cheese factory to be an art and activity center … on and on and on … this place is changing for the good and for the future.  The quality of life amenities such as mountain bike and greenway trails and fun places to eat or have a craft beer, Bentonville is the place to live, be creative, be active, be educated, seek a fulfilling career or simply visit.

I made this comment after one presentation about even more plans in the works:

“I am proud of the things that have been happening in Little Rock over the past 25 years, but after spending three days in Northwest Arkansas, I am convinced that Bentonville is becoming THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE !!

I’m just happy that Bentonville is in our state of Arkansas …                                    




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Visits to Mount Magazine, Woolly Hollow, Lake Ouachita and Old Washington

There are a few of our state parks I have not visited, but as an Arkansas State Parks and Tourism Commissioner, I’m attempting to remedy that.  Just in the last 10 days I have visited the above parks with some of our staff, including the new Director, Kane Webb and new Director of Parks, Grady Spann.

A few highlights along with a picture or two for each of these four parks.

Mount Magazine State Park … highest elevation in Arkansas.

This beautiful state park has wonderful cabins, a magnificent … I should say …  Grand Lodge, miles of hiking trails, beautiful vistas and a cool retreat when it is hot and humid in the lower elevations of Arkansas.



Woolly Hollow State Park

This park is a serendipitous surprise … with a lake, swimming and fishing, camping plus miles of hiking and off road mountain bike trails.



Lake Ouachita State Park

This park has one of the most inviting settings on the crystal clear Lake Ouachita surrounded by National Forest. With hiking, camping, major boating, fishing, kayaking and canoeing, there is plenty to do.  My buddy and I did what the State Parks calls “First Day Hike” on January 1, 2016.  We did the hike and then were treated to a tour by the Asst Superintendent and lead Interpreter. At this park, they are trying some new models of Restrooms and Camper Cabins … Bravo!!



Historic Old Washington State Park

This is just like stepping back into Arkansas History.  In fact this Park/Community was the Arkansas Civil War Capital.  Today it is a well maintained premier historic village staging interpretive tours with character and clothing of the mid 1800s.

Several staff and commissioners were “persuaded” to provide entertainment for everyone else by re-enacting an 1800s jury murder trial. Kane and I shared the Prosecutor role. My wife was a trooper and served as a witness for the prosecution..IMG_3485.jpgIMG_3488.JPGIMG_3494.jpgIMG_3514.JPG

For more detailed info one Arkansas Parks go to:


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The First Designated National River in the United States:

At slightly more than 150 miles long, The Buffalo National River is one of the most beautiful, scenic and free flowing rivers in the nation. It is one of the most stunning natural treasures to see with its towering limestone bluffs and one of the most fun filled National Parks with its canoeing, rafting, horse back riding, camping, hiking … and just plain old sight seeing.

This weekend my buddies and I hiked to the catwalk of Big Bluff overlooking the River.

It was a little warm, making the hike pretty tough … especially the three miles “uphill”. Even though the entire area was packed with people, most of them were out in canoes, enjoying the river. In fact, as seen from above, one might compare the river traffic to holiday Interstate vehicle traffic. Below are a few pictures of Big Bluff and the Buffalo River as seen from several hundred feet above.
Big Bluff


Canoe traffic

Bif Smile

lunch time

Twin falls … sometimes called Triple Falls:

Triple 14



A Wonderful Place to stay after a tough, hot hike:

Thanks so much to a special friend for allowing us to have a comfortable place to stay for the night. Check out the view from the deck … wow!!! And, even though the owner calls it a “cabin” … you decide for yourself. Regardless, a Big Thank You to Mr. Dunn.

The view




I said it was warm … even the snakes were out.

Green Snake

A perfect night for star gazing:

Orion the Hunter

I forget how beautiful our night sky is … what a perfect way to end the day after a hike and dinner at the 1909 Ozark Cafe on the square in Jasper Arkansas.

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Centuries of Inscriptions Protected by National Monument Designation

This is without a doubt one of the most fascinating, interesting and beautiful places I have visited.
Beautiful because of the towering sheer rock sandstone promontory with an ever present water pool at its base. Interesting because of the blending of centuries of travelers who have left their inscriptions carved on the walls of the flat rock surfaces. Fascinating because one can see the remains of a mesa top pueblo that once housed roughly 1500 people in 875 rooms … circa 1275 – 1350.

As beautiful as the hike was, I was most captivated by picturing in my mind the residents and travelers who came to this spot for refreshing water and needed rest. I could hardly look at the inscriptions or the pueblo without wondering what life was like then and what they hoped they might share with us hundreds of years in the future.











Just a couple of closing comments:

First, I am so thankful for the Antiquities Act which gives Presidents the power by executive authority to create National Monuments like El Morro

Second, I failed to mention that the steps seen in one of the pictures at the top of El Morro were hand carved as part of a work program during the depression. Another piece of our history … maybe for another blog.

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It all started rather innocently in December 2010

Here’s the story. Three friends … JC, Bryan and I were backpacking and camping along the beautiful Richland Creek in North Central Arkansas. It was the last night on the trail, dinner and adult beverages were consumed, the campfire was a bed of coals and we were thinking warm sleeping bags. As random as this might seem JC announced that his wife had given him three glow lights … clearly we had to do something with them. Looking around we spotted a scraggly Cedar tree overlooking Richland Creek, activated the glow lights, hung them on the tree and The Annual Charlie Brown Christmas in the Ozarks Tradition began.

IMG_7492 Founders: Jim, JC, Bryan Year two

By Year four our numbers had increased and we were forced to locate a larger camp site. In addition, a new Charlie Brown tree was Christened.

DSC03161 Charlie Brown Tree 2013

Charlie Brown Year 5 happened this weekend.

Our group continues to capture the imagination of many and a hardy few actually put on a pack, a Santa Hat, help decorate the tree and enjoy this unique way to celebrate the spirit of Christmas and the awesome beauty of the Richland Creek Wilderness area.

First we made a short hike to the original Charlie Brown Tree

DSC00113 Notice the red bow placed there in 2010

We had eleven brave souls participate this year along with scores of well wishers … some even promising to consider next year.
All I can say is “you will love it”.

Whenever I get to this point in my blog entry, I figure I’ve said enough and pictures tell the story. Included below are a couple of shots of Richland Creek, the decorating, the campsite and other memorable moments. I hope you will enjoy … and consider joining us next time.

DSC00126 House size boulders, Turquoise Water

DSC00120 Santa’s Helpers

DSC00146 Serious Business

DSC00150 Daryl is proud of his work.

DSC00101 JC makes a pretty cool Santa.

DSC00156 All of Charlie Brown’s Helpers.

Above left to right … back row DJ, Bryan, JC, Charlie’s Tree, Daryl, Daniel, Jim, Randy. Bottom row Morgan, Napoleon, Eileen, Jeff, John holding another Charlie Brown Tree.

DSC00169 The end of a perfect day.

DSC00171 DJ and Morgan … is it time to go home?

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Frost Flower

Frost Flower

Yep … it is known as a Frost Flower and this is the first time I have ever seen one.
First, let me set the stage by telling you two of my buddies and I (see our photo below) were hiking in the Buffalo National River valley near Boxley, Arkansas. It was a cold morning in the mid 20’s and we were heading into a beautiful box canyon know as “The Penitentiary”. Very shortly after beginning the two mile trek into the canyon, we started seeing a forest floor dotted with these strange silky, ribbon like sculptures of delicate ice wrapped around small plant stems. Fortunately Bryan had read about them, knew what they were called so we spent countless minutes inspecting, photographing and marveling at this never before seen (at least by us) wonder of nature. I commented that whether we made it to the Penitentiary or not, this made the trip worthwhile.

Further research on the internet explained the phenomenon … the air temperature must be well below freezing while the ground temperature is still warm enough to send sap up into a stem. At that point, a small crack in the stem seeps liquid slowly that immediately begins to freeze and sculpt into a FROST FLOWER.

The other serendipitous advantage of hiking in below freezing weather is depicted in a few other shots below … waterfalls, unique ice formations, etc. Try it, you may like it!!!





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If one has read other posts of mine, it’s most likely obvious I and three other buddies take a hiking trip each year to some magnificent part of the United States … usually a National Park.
This year, our Fall adventure was to Crested Butte, Colorado where we enjoyed this unique, historic old mining town and the incredible mountain trails in the area.

We arrived on a sunny Saturday followed by a day of heavy snow on Monday and then a magnificent week of crisp, blue sky hiking.

Beautiful setting for this Historic City

Beautiful setting for this Historic City


Treacherous Drive

Treacherous Drive

Dark Canyon Aspen

Dark Canyon Aspen

The above photo was taken on our fourth day of hiking. This was a relatively short hike of four miles but a hike with a rewarding view of one of the largest Aspen groves in the United states.
Below … four friends at this magnificent overlook of one of the world’s larges living organisms.

Friends at the Dark Canyon Overlook

Friends at the Dark Canyon Overlook

Below are a few more random shots including a marker at a cemetery near the top of Kibler Pass and a shot of the 2000 foot deep Black Canyon near Montrose, Colorado.

I could go on and on but the pictures truly do tell the story of a wonderful trip.DSC09992




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