Clear The Cobwebs

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On The Lake Fayetteville Trail. Blackberry in full bloom.

Into rewrite of Chapter 26 of my wip titled “The Corpsemakers” since very early morning. Hit an idea block on one of the sub-plots and a pesky antagonist acting out of character, dialogue stilted, not convincing. Hard to believe characters won’t play nice with your well-plotted scenario, huh? What’s a writer to do? Answer:  Keep working on it!

By nine thirty, I was ready for a break.

Clear blue skies, no rain, no wind. A big change from the rains experienced recently. Time for a another bike run around Fayetteville to clear the cobwebs and get the ideas flowing. Hit Fayetteville’s wonderful bike trails, headed out around Lake Fayetteville and parts beyond.

Back home now after logging just over 18 miles and feeling refreshed.

Enjoying a quick meal of fish, cucumbers, and tomatoes before jumping back into writing.

Now, where did I leave that pesky, uncooperative character?

 

A Little Too Much Water

My previous post found humor in two canoes being pulled behind a plumbing and repair van. However, after more than a week of storms bringing massive rains to the area leaving roads, bridges, bike and hiking trails either under water, damaged, and/or washed away, having a boat might have been a good idea.

As an example, this is a picture of the beautiful War Eagle Mill now flooded from the heavy rains. The mill was originally built in 1832.

War Eagle Mill April 2017 Flood

Photo by Clayton-Taylor FayettevilleFlyer.com

 

Book Review: A Fame Not Easily Forgotten

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Eureka Springs, Arkansas is one of my favorite places to visit. It is quirky, beautiful, full of unique artists, craftspeople, writers, entertainment venues, and natural scenery. It is a town built seemingly overnight in July 1879 following the discovery of what was then and is believed to be now curative powers in the waters of the many natural springs in the area.

In “A Fame Not Easily Forgotten”, researchers, historians, and authors June Westphal and Catharine Osterhage spent four years culling newspaper articles, historical records, written accounts, and rare photographs to compile a reasonable and accurate description of what many call the “City That Water Built.”

In mid-December 2015, just prior to my departure on a thirty-day winter holiday, I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with June Westphal at her book signing at the Eureka Springs Historical Museum. I was impressed by her extensive knowledge of the town, its inhabitants, and the entire region.

Here’s an excerpt from the Preface of A Fame Not Easily Forgotten: An Autobiography of Eureka Springs:

Eureka Springs, Arkansas is a remarkable place—and utterly improbable. Why would anyone in the late 1800s, traveling on horseback or in wagons, traverse dirt paths through the steep Ozark Mountains to what must have seemed like the end of the earth? Why would they settle and build elaborate structures on sharp, rocky inclines?

The answer is, water. Pure, abundant spring water reported to have extraordinary curative properties—hope of healing was that powerful and that compelling. So, come they did. Build, they did. And while the water may not have reached expectations, the beauty and magic of the place captured the hearts of so many, they stayed, or kept returning. They still do…

The extensive research is well documented, includes many old pictures of the early days of expansion and growth of the town, and makes for interesting, informative, and entertaining reading. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in the area and its history. You can order your own signed copy of this book from the Eureka Springs Historical Museum.

Winter Holiday Lights Are Going Up

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The square in downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas has been cleared of the summer Farmers’ Market and is once again making ready for the annual Lights of the Ozarks, a virtual festival of lights and winter celebrations. It is one of the area’s most popular and colorful holiday events and one I always enjoy attending.

Here’s more on the event from our local online newspaper Fayetteville Flyer:

 

Lights of the Ozarks, the annual holiday light display on the Fayetteville square, kicks off with a parade and lighting ceremony beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20.

Fayetteville Parks and Recreation crews spend over 3,000 hours decorating the Downtown Square each year with nearly a half-million LED lights for the annual Lights of the Ozarks display.

The event will include holiday-themed floats created by area clubs, organizations, and local businesses. The parade will start at the Fayetteville Public Library and make its way up Mountain Street and around the square, and then down Block Avenue and Dickson Street before circling back to the library along West Avenue.

In addition to the over 400,000 LED lights in the display, Lights of the Ozarks also includes nightly carriage rides, camel and pony rides, hot chocolate and coffee vendors, and other activities. The display will remain lit nightly through Dec. 31.

 

 

Farmers’ Market

Autumn is my favorite time of year. Weather is cooling, leaves are turning brilliant colors, and Halloween (my daughter’s birthday!) all make it an enjoyable season for me. The downside? It marks the end of the Fayetteville, Arkansas Farmers’ Market held outdoors on the square in downtown Fayetteville. Thought I would take a break from writing and post some pictures.

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Fresh, locally grown herbs, flowers, and vegetables

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Looking East from the Fayetteville Bank

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Taken from the old Post Office Building grounds

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Sidewalk at the old Post Office

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West side of the square looking north

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Street musicians on every corner!

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Fayetteville’s old post office on the square

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One of the many flower vendors

Looking forward to next year’s market!

On The Road Again

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Me at Iron Bridge Spillway Lake Fayetteville, AR

In June, doctors and specialists completed their blood-drawing, prodding, poking examinations. They decided prescribing a drug called TEGRETOL to help manage the pain until they could diagnose the exact problem was the right thing to do. It wasn’t. Side effects (among the many) include depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, and death. Yes, death.

In whose world is death a side effect?

Maybe it’s the mystery writer in me or my sense of humor:

Doctor: “Yes, Mr. Cotner, we have a cure for what ails you: Death.”

Me: “Thanks, Doc, but I’ll pass if it’s all the same to you.”

Anyway, I’m not dead (yet) and now that the full body and brain CAT Scans are over and the results in, they’ve determined the problem causing pain and occasional paralysis in hands and feet is not a brain tumor as they first suspected but it is pinched nerves in my spine caused by deteriorating spinal discs.

I’ll live with the pain and have opted out of drugs and surgery (at least for the foreseeable future).

I’m back on the road again, a few pounds heavier than usual but that will soon be lost when I get my daily hiking and biking regime back in full swing. Managed to ride seventeen miles around Lake Fayetteville on the day these pictures were taken with no problem and little pain. It’s good to be out and about again. I’m cheering for the return of normal (whatever that is).

Good to be back blogging again, too.

 

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Taking a rest at Iron Bridge below spillway

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Bridge across the spillway on the lake’s bike trail

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Wildflower Meadow On The Fayetteville Bike Trail

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Taking A Water Break At Wildflower Meadow

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Wildflowers Lake Fayetteville Meadow North

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Bike Trail East Of Lake Fayetteville

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Winding Bike Trail East of Lake Fayetteville, AR

Hiking An Arkansas Ghost Town

Jim Warnock and his dog, Hiker, trek the mountain trails of Arkansas exploring hills, hollows, and ghost towns such as Rush, Arkansas. Read about all his adventures and enjoy beautiful photos at ozarkmountainhiker.com. While you’re there be sure to read about how Jim and Hiker came to be trail buddies. Inspiring story.

Small communities like Rush are scattered throughout the Ozarks, Ouachita Mountains, and all across the state. Many of the sites Jim and Hiker explore are reminiscent of the locales featured in my short story collection. My thanks to Jim for sharing his post!

HIKING RUSH, AN ARKANSAS GHOST TOWN

Taylor-Medley Store on the left. Home of Lee Medley on the right.

I was pleased to find the old town of Rush to be a great day hike location! I was afraid the trail would be too short and tame, but it’s just right.

I could have spent the entire day exploring and ended up pushing the limits of remaining daylight. A van full of college kids offered me a ride while I was walking along the creek after my hike. It was nice of them to offer, but I said “no thanks” since the Jeep wasn’t far away. College kids who hike and camp tend to be pretty good folks.

Rush was a mining community that began in the 1880s and thrived in the 1920s when zinc was in high demand during World War I. Rush declined along with the demand for zinc and was finally abandoned in the late 1960s. According to Neil Compton, “by 1969 Rush was bereft of inhabitants except for Gus Setzer and Fred Dirst, an old miner who conducted tours into the mines for wandering visitors…”

Rush eventually came under the ownership of an industrialist who planned to make a tourist trap of the place, but he sold it to the National Park Service. I hate to think of what this place might have been if a developer had gotten hold of it.

Today, interpretive signs are placed along a short trail that loops through the center of Rush. A longer trail follows the mining level up above downtown. If you have several hours to spend, you can hike the 1.7 mile long mine route to the National Park boundary as an out-and-back.

Trailhead

A prominent structure is the blacksmith shop, an essential business for a mining community. This is the “new” shop built in the 1920s during the height of the commercial activity in Rush. Ore was transported down Ore Wagon Road to the White River and loaded onto barges. When trucks became dependable enough to transport zinc and replaced wagons, the blacksmith shut down his business and went back to farming.

Blacksmith shop

Blacksmith shop

ore smelter

This ore smelter is the oldest structure in Rush, built in 1886 by the claim-holders of the Morning Star Mine. They hoped the smelter would reveal silver in the ore. No silver was to be found.

Ore wagon

This cart was next to the trail. I was impressed with its heavy construction and how it had stood up to the elements.

Ore wagon

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This large machine was next to the trail at the Clabber Creek end on Ore Wagon Road. I’m not sure what it was used for, but I was impressed with the large wheels and chain sprockets.

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Mine entrance

You’ll pass many mine entrances as you hike the trail. The grills keep visitors out of dangerous mines, but allow bats to come and go freely.

Spring flowing into the creek.

Finding “Boiling Springs” was a treat. The water was clear and cold. A grist mill was once located close by in Rush Creek.

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What follows are several historic structures along the road in Rush. Many of these houses were built around 1890. I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into the historic town of Rush. If you’ve been there before, maybe my pictures will bring back good memories. If you’ve not visited, I hope I’ve inspired you to grab your hiking shoes and explore it for yourself soon. It’s a special place!

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I was running low on light at the end of the day, but had to stop and photograph these daffodils that caught my eye. The inhabitants who planted these bulbs many years ago would be surprised to learn that their landscaping would be appreciated by a weary hiker on an early spring evening in 2015.

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Thanks to Jim and Hiker for sharing their adventures with us.  And speaking of Hiker, here’s one of my favorites photos of the dog who loves the trail!

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