Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mountain Music

Twelve of us just spent a wonderful long weekend in Mountain View Arkansas.  The town was full of musicians and music-lovers.  The courthouse steps, the park, the street corners and the front porches were full of musicians of all ages just pickin' and grinnin' and entertainin'.  Those of us there to listen could roam from group to group with our camp chairs and enjoy the great sounds - and stop off at the food booths for delicacies like fried green tomatoes!  I don't even have a picture of the tomatoes - they went too fast!

Here's Jane and Joe on the front steps of one of the old B&Bs in town...
Most of the music was "old-timey" - lots of fiddles, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, bass, guitar.  There was a great bass made from an overturned wash bucket and one string.  It sounded fantastic!
 This group had several young players - both were just great!  Too shy to look up very often.  This kind of music gets passed down from generation to generation - so it was wonderful to see these young guys.  We saw lots of kids - singers, players,dancers.
These little girls were so cute!  And the guy got up there and danced to every song!
This was one of our favorite groups - Gone South.  They have all known each other for years and come to this festival every year.  This bunch of old hippies now includes bankers, pediatric cardiologists, pilots, you name it!  There are several more members of the group who don't show up in this picture (sorry!). 
The parade was Saturday morning - it was quite the event!  Kids, politicians, animals, marching bands, floats, flying candy and old-timey music!
I loved this old car - that's an early version of an auto air-conditioner in the window.
This guy walked this poor cow all over town.  Here he is in the parade.  As you can see, the crowd loves it...
And what's a parade without a kangaroo...
 and a firetruck...

and horses...
Here's some of our motley crew right after our spontaneous rendition of Happy Trails to You at the end of the parade.  Somehow it just seemed right.  Accompaniment by Becky and Carol on the kazoo.  I see Ray, Joe, Joe, Mike, Beck, Bobby, Kay, Melva, Jane and Carol.  Where's Fred???
Saturday afternoon several of us went out to Blanchard Springs Caverns which is nearby.  Mike and I chose to explore Mirror Lake and the stream, springs, and waterfalls.  The water is kind of tidy-bowl blue in the lake - apparently an effect of the bat droppings in the cave.  (You can't drink this water.)  Fisherman were pulling trout out of this lake by the handful - guess it is OK to eat the fish???

Here's Joe demonstrating the true meaning of boot-legging.  Mountain View is in a dry county!!!  So, you gotta do what you gotta do - or drive over to Fifty Six (that's the name of a town), in the next county!  We did not go thirsty.  Some of our rooms at Jack's Fishing Resort had adjoining screened-in porches so it was a great place to gather the group - like to discuss boot-legging.
The guy a couple doors down had two baby raccoons.  They were really adorable, at least for now. 
Many Thanks to Becky and Ray for all the planning to get us all there!  Hope to be back next year!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Tallgrass Prairie

We spent a delightful, but smoky, weekend in the Flint Hills.  Mike participated in a hands-on workshop to experience the prairie fires - from behind the camera lens.  I hope to show you a few of his fire photos soon!

Traveling down the turnpike on Saturday toward Emporia we saw these wonderful muffin-clouds.  In my experience, there is often a tornado right around the corner from these babies...  but we were able to escape!

We stayed in Cottonwood Falls at a great B and B called Stonehouse 1874.  It was here we met Lucy and Ethyl (oops... this should be Ethel!).
Lucy and Ethel are European Cream Retrievers.  (Think American Golden Retriever - but European and Cream-colored!)  They live at the B&B and they are beautiful.  Billie, the owner of the B and B, will be raising more of these dogs - they are pretty rare in the U.S. now.
Mike spent his day and evening out in the fields with the fires.  I dropped him off at the Flying W Ranch bunkhouse.  The porch columns were all carved like totems.
Some of the photographers stayed overnight here at the Bunkhouse...  here's the bath house.  Seeing this made me pretty happy we had a room at the B and B!
The sky was very beautiful out there at the bunkhouse.
While Mike was running around jumping through fires and trying not to melt his shoes, I spent some time in Cottonwood Falls.  There were lots of fun things to see!  These photos were taken at an old antique shop.
Check out the tricycles mounted on the side of the building.
Remember these?
And these??
These guys were so gorgeous.  Mike got much better pictures of them... maybe he will share some with me for a future post.
You always feel a little bit like you've gone back in time in those wonderful old towns in the Flint Hills - and being behind a car like this on the road makes you totally believe it!
I am always on the lookout for old stone houses.  This one in Cottonwood Falls definitely caught my eye!  I thought it was in remarkably good condition...  turns out it is brand new!  It is just great!  Just one block off the main street.
Here it is from another angle...

This is the Buck Creek Ranch on the way to our B and B outside of Cottonwood Falls.  This one is definitely old... the real deal!!!  Fantastic...

Traveling north on 177 toward Council Grove is the Lower Fox Creek School.  It has been carefully preserved.  A real jewel.
May 1882.
The prairie all around the schoolhouse had already been burned.
Leaving the schoolhouse and driving north to catch I-70, we saw many fields being burned.  I liked this photo because of the contrast of the two sides of the highway.
And of course, we spotted another old stone house... this one abandoned.
This collie was so funny.  She was not concerned about the fire at all... but she was very concerned about us!  I think she was trying to warn us to get away.  Just like Lassie!!!
We drove through Council Grove - which was along the Santa Fe Trail.  My favorite thing was the old store.  Last chance for supplies between Council Grove and Santa Fe, New Mexico!!!  That is a long, long way!
The store had a great slogan...  Last chance for beans, bacon and whiskey.  Apparently those were the food groups back then!
The Flint Hills are studded with redbud trees and they are beautiful right now.  It was fun to come home to these which grow right outside my office window.  Ahhh... "there's no place like home."