Archive for the ‘south’ Category

My Brush with Klanaganda

November 15th, 2009 2 comments

When we were on the Nachez Trace Parkway and I went and hiked down to Jackson Falls, I ran into this way old guy and another dude. After the younger guy told me how cool the waterfall was, the old guy started talking to me and then handed me this brochure.

nathaniel-bedford-forrestForrest Gump’s namesake!

Their marketing efforts betray a lack of marketing savvy. Frex, I question their font choice. Italicized Fraktur? IMHO, nothing would better convey modern European racial purity like Helvetica. And you’d think they’d avoid using the term “wizard”.

Anyway.With that, in addition to all the pulled pork, country music, and universal gentility, I felt like I’d experienced the full, True South. Although I suppose I should’ve had to go through some race riots as well. Next time maybe.


Categories: south Tags: ,

Seven Hollows Loop Hike Only Has Four Hollows (Day 114)

November 11th, 2009 Comments off

Knowing that, you’d think I wouldn’t have been surprised when a hike billed as “4 to 4 1/2 hours” took two. I guess I wasn’t shocked, actually. It was clearly a hike meant for tourists and it was only 4.5 miles long, just that 4.5 miles in Vermont time could actually *be* a four-hour hike.

And then it turns out this wasn’t the best day to be there. You’ll catch onto that in a second.

petit-jean_grotto-waterfall (1)See, cuz on a day when its wet enough for water to be flowing here, this photo actually becomes pretty.

petit-jean_grotto-exitDeparting the grotto.

petit-jean_arrow-outBlue arrow points the way.

petit-jean_between-rocksBecause otherwise this post would’ve seemed light on photos.

It *was* a beautiful day and not a bad one for a walk, even if the one scenic part wasn’t performing. I got to the trailhead about 7 and was the first one there. Ended the hike at about 9:15 and the lot was full — probably 30 cars. It’s nice to be the first one on the trail sometimes.

I kind of like the blue arrow photo. Huh.


PS, This was in Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas, where I’d stayed the night before. Now you know.

Cedar Creek Falls at Petit Jean Park (Day 113)

November 8th, 2009 1 comment

Spent most of the day driving through various states (MO-KS-OK-AR), but ended up in Arkansas at Petit Jean State Park with (barely) enough time to go check out Cedar Creek Falls, which I think is some sort of park highlight or something. There’s also about a one-mile walk to the other side of the creek where there’s a different place to look at the same waterfall. (!)

I like how exclamation points inside parentheses imply enthusiasm. Which I’m not saying in order to imply the opposite of enthusiasm. It’s just what it is.

petit-jean_cedar-creekThe one thing I’ve learned about myself on this trip is that I really like rivers (and creeks).

petit-jean_ccc-overlookPast peak color *and* past peak lighting.

petit-jean_grasshopperGrasshopper, rock, lichens.

petit-jean_cedar-creek-fallsSame falls, other direction.

I also never knew what a vast body of work is attributable to the Civilian Conservation Corps. They didn’t exactly cure the depression, but they sure left their mark on the country’s and states’ parks, forests, and wilderness areas.

Then I went and slept in the “overflow camping lot”. It was crowded and un-private, but I had a view of the lake.


Welcome to Arkansas The Natural State; Buckle Up for Safety (State #43)

November 8th, 2009 Comments off

Based on my observations of drivers in Arkansas, it’s probably good that the state advises you to buckle up at the same time they notify you you’ve crossed over. (Missouri had some wacky drivers also, fwiw.)

welcome-arkansasNice coincidence with the highway number, eh?

Three gripes mostly:

  • If they saw you were going to pass, they would speed up.
  • They plenty brave enough to tailgate, but were too scared to pass on a two-lane highway.
  • Had a tendency to want to go five under in the 55/65 zones, but ten over in the 35s.

And then I drove to Petit Jean State Park for camping.


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Cathedral Canyon Hike in 16 Photos (Day 112)

November 7th, 2009 2 comments

Because 16 is only one away from being a prime number.

cathedral_canyon 1

cathedral_canyon 2

cathedral_canyon 3

cathedral_canyon 4

cathedral_canyon 5

cathedral_canyon 6

cathedral_canyon 7

cathedral_canyon 8

cathedral_canyon 9

cathedral_canyon 10

cathedral_canyon 11

cathedral_canyon 13

cathedral_canyon 14

cathedral_canyon 15

cathedral_canyon 16

cathedral_canyon 17

Really enjoyed the hike. You go off on a dirt road in the middle of a bunch of farms, hang a left on another dirt road, hike three-tenths to the unmarked trailhead, then hike a mile or so till you’re at the bottom of the canyon. Then you do whatever you want to. There’s no trail, so most of the hiking is in the river. I love hiking in rivers. There aren’t any other people around either. Love having no people around.

  • I probably hiked a total of seven miles — about half of those in the water.
  • When you get to the river, you can delay the inevitable for a little bit, but: you’re gonna get wet.
  • I never got wet above my waist.
  • I should’ve brought an extra pair of socks for the hike back — it worked out okay, I didn’t get trenchfoot.
  • Not a lot of animals here: a few schools of finger-length fish and a frog.
  • Supposedly there are also timber rattlers here, but alas, none were sighted.

Reminded me of Virgin River Narrows, what with the walking through the river and all. It’s not as dramatic, but whatever. The cliffs do rise up 100 feet or so above the river; the pictures don’t do the canyon justice, despite the quantity. Still: very pretty, very relaxing, highly highly recommended for anyone happening through southeastern Missouri.


Categories: south Tags: , , ,

Welcome to Missouri, the Show Me State (State #40)

November 6th, 2009 Comments off

The big four-oh!

welcome_missouriYou can kind of see the “O”.

I remember back at the beginning of the trip I was thinking that I wasn’t taking good enough care when photographing the welcome signs and that, later on during the trip, I would realize their importance, start taking fantastic welcome sign shots and deeply regret not having done a more thorough job from the outset. Anyway: not so much.


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Mammoth Cave: The Historic Tour! (Day 111)

November 6th, 2009 3 comments

The one tour you’re supposed to go on at Mammoth Cave is The Historic Tour. It’s the one that people have, historically, gone on. The history involved primarily has to do with the history of cave touring at Mammoth Cave. I’m not kidding.

But first, here’s a deer:

mammoth-cave_deer-in-leavesTired from a night of partying with the cave trolls.

And then this also came before the cave:

mammoth-cave_pardon-progressThere *is* no excuse for progress.

And *then* I went on the tour.

mammoth-cave_big-chamberIt’s called “Mammoth Cave” because it’s big (it’s the longest cave in the world).

mammoth-cave_fat-mans-miseryRemember that one Simpsons where they re-build Ned’s house?

mammoth-cave_graffiti19th-century graffiti artists had much neater penmanship.

mammoth-cave_chasmTarget practice for rock-droppers.

mammoth-cave_exitDaylight at last!

People on this tour had a hard time not standing on the rocks. OTOH, the guide stood on rocks, so why shouldn’t the tourists? The guide also said that the National Park belongs to *us* (as opposed to belonging to the government). I didn’t engage, but I really, really wanted to. Discretion and valor, etc.

Historical facts:

  • They mined saltpeter here for the War of 1812, also known as the Second War of American Independence.
  • Originally, tour guides were all slaves.
  • The slaves got to keep their tips.
  • One of the slaves discovered a whole lot of the cave.
  • You used to be able to take a boat cruise on an underwater river in this part of the cave (the tour guide was proud of having been part of the group that disassembled the boat pier and boats thereby putting an end to the practice).

Anyway. I saw wild turkeys near the deer, but they were skittish and thus the photo was blurry. The bobcat is still the best animal I’ve seen all trip. Although the turtle in Minnesota was also pretty cool.


Another Park with Mostly Tree Prisons (Day 110)

November 6th, 2009 2 comments

So the north part of the park has all these hiking trails, but the ranger informs me that they’re all tree prisons (not her exact words). But then there’s this hike-in lake that, she says, has pretty good fishing.

No park rangers have ever fished. I’m sure of it. Well, whatever.

It was about a 4 mile round-trip hike to this lake and, yes, tree prison. The lake was okay-looking. I saw fish jumping, but none biting. Went to the river nearby — similar story. I’m trying to figure out how this took an entire day. Eh.

first-creek_lakeThe lake.

nolin-riverThe river.

nolin-river_fishingThe fishing gear.

houchins-ferryThe ferry.

I think I needed rooster tails. Was there two and a half hours trying to catch something. That was probably enough to prove the point.

Also! Did laundry at the campground when I got back. And took a cold shower that cost me $2. And it got down into the low-30s that night.


Mammoth Cave, Inside and Out (Day 109)

November 6th, 2009 Comments off

Mammoth Cave is in Kentucky.

It’s a nice enough park, definitely worth spending a full day. I spent two and a half, of course — but that was fine, I kind of needed to have a couple days of not driving 300 miles anyway.

Got there around noon, which gave me time to walk around the six or so miles of “hiking paths” around the visitors center. Then it was still only 2:30, so I signed up for one of the cave tours (“New Entrance” was the name of the tour — you can see how that would have enticed me).

Make photos go now:

mammoth-cave_campsiteMy campsite.

mammoth-cave_trail-trunksFall colors: past-peak.


mammoth-cave_styx-springsStyx Springs (there’s an underground river, you see).

mammoth-cave_looking-upThe bowels of the earth.

mammoth-cave_magic-glowThe NPS does a good job of setting up their lights, imho, fwiw, etc.

mammoth-cave_formationThe only stalactites in the cave.

mammoth-cave_cave-cricketCave crickets: the bottom of the food chain.

A few lessons learned from the cave tour:

  • Cave photos never work out. Maybe if you took a tripod (but the ranger won’t let you).
  • This part of the cave used to be owned by a guy who was jealous of the people who owned the other part of the cave and so tried to make his cave seem like theirs.
  • There are some really dumb people running loose in this world (I mean, just, not intelligent). “Which direction does water always want to go?” “South!” That wasn’t the worst.
  • All caves should come with friendly Filipina-Canadians — a shame they don’t have those in Kentucky.



Welcome to Kentucky Unbridled Spirit, (Signed) [Self-Important Politician] (State #39)

November 4th, 2009 Comments off

I think they put a URL underneath all that even, which is just too much. Really, how much of my time and attention do you want me to devote toward deciphering all the little words on your sign while I’m flying by at over 70 scale miles an hour? Another night photo:

welcome-kentuckyNothing to see here.

And with that, I’m in #39. Only nine left. Man. I find myself waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, scared that I’ve somehow missed a state. But I haven’t. Just Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah remaining.


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