Tag: travel

Artober 29: A wee bit more adventure and some middle ground

It’s starting to come together! So far, I’m really liking this one. There is, of course, still time to ruin it. Here’s a link to the tutorial in case you want to follow along.

I came home today after a grand (restful) adventure in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I still haven’t thoroughly gone through the photos on my good camera, but I’ll do that soon and post them. I’m sure they’ll be lovely, as it’s sooooo beautiful up there. Fall colors are a wee bit past peak, which is interesting because they don’t seem to be anywhere near peak around here. Or maybe we don’t have a peak.

Anyway, I had a difficult time tearing myself away from the mountains, so I made one more stop on my way home at Lake Degray, which is about 20 miles from Hot Springs and on my way home to Shreveport. I hiked the 1-mile Island Trail, which had a few outlets to the lake itself, which is stunning, especially on a clear day like today.

And the required panorama:

Those good camera photos are going to be amazing. I’ll do my best to deal with them tomorrow. For now, here’s the full view of painting progress:

(It’s so nice to be home and using a real computer so WordPress actually works. Sigh.)

Artober 28: Adventures and progress

Oh so many adventures. I started my day with a tasty breakfast at IHOP, then headed into Hot Springs National Park for some much needed Nature Time. I stopped by the Visitors Center for a trail map, then headed up what I’d read was an easy trail called Dead Chief Trail. Except it turned out that it wasn’t really Dead Chief Trail but a shortcut STRAIGHT UP the mountain to the top. I got almost half a mile up (there was never a break!), and then had to sit down because I felt terrible. I sat there for a few minutes, feeling like I was gonna puke, and then I puked. There: I’ve puked in a national park. That should be on one of those Facebook get-to-know-me questionnaires. Anyway, after that I felt a little better and eventually headed straight back down to the safety of my car. I spent a couple hours recovering around Bathhouse row and then headed in my car back up the mountain to the Mountain Tower, where I took a bunch of what I’m sure are lovely photos but which are currently stowed on my good camera’s SD card. (The only time I wish having a laptop is when I travel, which isn’t often enough to justify getting one. I have my fancy desktop sitting at home, and an iPad will work as long as I don’t do something crazy like try to post to WordPress. Sigh.)

Anyway, I took said pictures up the mountain tower and then had a lovely hike around the Hot Springs Mountain Trail. It turned into a pretty good day.

After all that, I headed back to my hotel room for some surrious relaxation. And eventually a hamburger. And progress on this totally unrelated painting I’m working on:

Now, to sit here and stare at the internet (or to paint something else?) until it’s time for bed. I’ll be headed back to Shreveport tomorrow, but I think I’ll have a drive around Lake DeGray on my way home. I hear it’s lovely over there.

 

Artober 27: RETREAT!

(Side note: ZOMFG the WordPress iPad app is BROKEN! UGH!)

Aaaand by retreat I mean a little weekend trip to Hot Springs BY MYSELF, specifically sans puppy. Palmer, the Most Fantastic Person in the Whole World, is at home babysitting so I can relax and go hiking for two days. Y(es, I know he’s the Best Husband Ever.

Anyway, I drove up here after work and spent a few minutes sketching and painting this sky for a watercolor that is wholly unrelated to my present circumstances. It’s from another tutorial by The frugal Crafter. We’ll see if I finish it tomorrow or put it off and paint something more like the BEAUTIFUL FALL COLORS presently surrounding me. Here’s the whole shebang so far:

There is, of course, Plenty of Time to ruin it.

In Other News, I’m safely installed in a hotel room in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

It’s lovely, except for the two-plus yippy dogs across the hall and the baby directly above me. Really, though, It’s quiet enough. Tomorrow, I’ll be hiking in the (COLD) national park.

A cold front went through today, causing temperatures to dip to freezing tonight, and it made for a spectacular sunset (which, of course, features the neighboring hotel):

Hopefully I’ll be able to catch the whole thing tomorrow night. My plan tonight was to go to a lakeside restaurant that’s supposed to feature an amazing sunset, but I was just too lazy. And there happens to be a pretty decent local restaurant right in front of my hotel called Bleu Monkey. I’ll have a hard time not just walking over there tomorrow night.

All told, my little retreat is off to a most excellent start. I’ll be hiking for most of the day tomorrow, and I’m contemplating a drive around Lake DeGray before I head home on Sunday. I hear it’s pretty nice to look at, and it was a pretty spectacular scene to drive by on my way here.

Okay, off to some serious Relaxation Time.

A note about Badlands National Park

Several national park rangers have made it clear that they disapprove of the current political climate, especially with threats to keep the EPA hushed, sell off public lands, and keep citizens uninformed (misinformed?) about climate change. The park to start it all was Badlands, and it happens to be one of my very favorites. I figured I’d share some photos since lots of you probably haven’t been there.

It’s been several years since I’ve been to the Badlands. According to our friends at Flickr, I took this photo in 2006. I think I’ve only been there once since, in 2010. It’s situated about an hour southwest of Rapid City, SD, which is in the southwestern corner of the state. That’s also the same vicinity as Mount Rushmore, though the landscape looks entirely different. The mountains pretty much start just on the western edge of Rapid City, the very quickly end with some smaller hills extending into the flat prairie you see surrounding the Badlands.

Suddenly, that prairie cuts off, and it almost feels like you’ve teleported to the surface of the moon.

The National Park has a windy road that snakes through the canyons and around the higher edges with overlooks and interpretive signs. There’s also a small but impressive visitor center with a museum and a gift shop. Somehow, I’ve only been inside once.

The rest of the photos are ones I took the last time I was there, in 2010. I took these with an iPhone and used a filter in Lightroom. I wish I remembered what it was called because I still like how they turned out.

Puddles in Pensacola

Before our weekend trip to Pensacola, Florida, Penny was already an interstate traveler, as she visited the Wildflower Trails Festival in Linden, Texas (at which there were no wildflowers or trails) in April. This, though, was a much longer trip – hours longer, even, than our trip to Mandeville earlier this year. We took the long way there, down I-49 to I-10 because there’s a dog park right off the interstate in Baton Rouge, and I wanted to give Penny a break.

We spent somewhere around 8 hours on the road, and by the time we made it to Pensacola, we were both exhausted. We were very glad to see Palmer, though, who was working for there for two weeks. It was around 6 o’clock by the time we got there, so we headed almost directly to dinner at Jaco’s Bayfront Bar & Grille, which welcomed us with excellent food, a lovely sunset, and a bowl of ice water for Penny.

The next morning, we headed to the beach, where Penny found her true love: big puddles of water. She was so excited and pulled so hard to get out into the surf that Palmer had to hold her because she was about to pull me in.

We couldn’t go to any beach in Pensacola, though. We had to go to the Dog Beach. It was really nice, though, because there were no fences and it was just a section of normal beach bounded with signs. The caveat was that dogs were supposed to stay on-leash. Not that half of them did. Penny, though, followed the rules.

After tiring ourselves out at the beach, we went to Shaggy’s for lunch. I ate a pile of super-fresh fish and had a local beer. I could get used to eating by the water.

26668270503_2e011f5d63_kAfter lunch, we took Penny to another dog park, this time inland, so we she’d really be exhausted. She had a great time and made a new friend! A couple brought their two dogs, one of which was a lab mix, and he and Penny ran around and around until it was time to head back to the hotel for a serious nap.

We had dinner at the Sunset Grille on Perdido Key. There were a few too many children for my taste, but the food was good and the sunset was amazing. They chose their name well. The sunset alone was worth the 45-minute trek from the hotel.

The next morning, Palmer had to do laundry, so Penny and I paid an early visit to the dog park. We played Ball, and she ran around with the other dogs like she was a regular.

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Palmer and I decided that Penny needed more beach time. The first time we went, we weren’t wearing swimsuits, so Penny was limited to the shoreline. We had a really nice breakfast at George’s Artisan Bakery and Bistro, picked up some necessities, and headed back out to the dog beach. We had underestimated the ridiculous amount of traffic headed onto Pensacola Beach on a beautiful Sunday. There’s only one bridge over the bay, and it’s a huge bottleneck. It took us well over an hour to get there, so by the time we made it to the island it was time for lunch, and everywhere was crowded. Since our restaurant choices were severely limited because Penny was with us, we ended up back at Shaggy’s and had a good time.

Finally, we were off to the beach, this time with swimsuits, beach towels, and an umbrella. The trade-off to preparedness, though, was no camera and very limited phone use because Sand. Penny bounded into the water as soon as we got there. Palmer took her farther out in the surf, and I guess she got intimidated because she was almost instantly ready to go.

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Luckily, though, she came to her senses and enjoyed herself after that. I, on the other hand, finally came to terms with my absolute hatred of sand. It gets everywhere and it’s hard to clean off. I think Penny will probably be limited to rocky seashores and lakeshores for most of her future, but I’m pretty sure just about any puddle of water will suffice.

After allll of that adventure, we were exhausted again. We’d planned to go to a restaurant/bar called The Oar House, but when we pulled into the parking lot, it was already crowded. Bad music was blaring, and it was full of sun-baked partiers, most of whom were over 50 and generally gross-looking. We decided instantly that it wasn’t the place for us and ended up back at Jaco’s. At least we knew the food was good and they like dogs.

I was so tired of seafood, so I ordered the filet mignon, and it came out in a pool of barbecue sauce? It was good enough, but it tasted more like the sauce than anything else, so I was disappointed. The server said the kitchen must have used the wrong bottle because it was supposed to be steak sauce. They also said the chef was new and was working out the menu, so I’m not sure which was the actual case. So I’ll call that meal adequate.

Penny, however, had an excellent time. She got all of the attention and tasted her first filet mignon! She liked it so much that she refused to eat her puppy food afterward. We watched the sun set, then crashed. I think Palmer and I were both Done for the weekend.

On Monday morning, we took the shorter route home through Mississippi. Penny was so good, but she really hates long car rides. She spent most of the time napping, but every time she’d hear an unusual noise, she’d jump up and look out the windows. Then she’s lean her head against the back seat and look pitiful for several minutes before lying back down. Just before we got to Vicksburg, I stopped in a green area next to a Tractor Supply parking lot to give her a break and let her eat her lunch in relative peace. I think she was grateful.

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When we finally made it home, we were both tired but glad not to be on the road anymore. Penny seemed to have a good time, but it’ll be a while before we take another field trip that involves driving 8 hours each way – maybe even until we make it to the Rocky Mountains, which will hopefully happen next summer.

I should also note that I took most of these photos with my sparkly new camera. It’s a Sony a6000, and I love it. I was planning on getting a new Nikon DSLR because mine is almost ten years old and is totally outdated, but then I stumbled on this new mirrorless trend. They’re smaller than DSLRs but have interchangeable lenses and take photos that I think are just as good. I don’t need a professional-level camera because I’m not a professional, but I wanted a nice mid-grade one. This Sony fits the bill. (A super-duper thank you to Palmer for choosing a most excellent birthday present!)

Here’s a link to the entire Flickr album in case you need to see even more photos.

Let’s try this again…

Yeah, yeah, it’s been a while. We’ve had a couple of false starts, but we’re going to get back on track…right?

The truth is that I haven’t been reading much lately. Hardly anything, really. In my defense, I’ve been busy. Besides work, I’ve started a second round of grad school (this one is Thesis Monster-free!), and I have a puppy that I mentioned in the last couple of posts. That doesn’t allow much time for reading unless you count the journal articles I’m assigned for class, and no one wants to hear about those.

So what am I going to do with this book blog, you ask? For now, at least, I’m going to broaden the scope. I’ve been doing some photoblogging elsewhere (here and here if you’re interested), but I decided that my own damn site, which I still pay for, should be home to the primary posts. So here we go. I’ve made a pretty drastic change to the theme that’ll better reflect what is happening here.

There will still be books. I just read Into the Wild, which had been on my Do Not Read List for a long time, and I really enjoyed it. Now I’m trying to get through A Walk in the Woods before a new DeLillo novel comes out on May 3. We’ll see how that goes. I’m also still kind of in the process of reading Redwall, which is super fun. There’s also a game called Stardew Valley, but we won’t talk about that here (except to say that if you like Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon and have a PC, jump on it).

Does all this mean I’m back for good? I hope so. It won’t all be about books, and it hopefully won’t be about the dog, either, though you can tell from the featured image that she’s super-cute. She also goes with me everywhere the rules allow her to go.

One of which was the Linden Wildflower Trails Festival this past weekend, which involved neither wildflowers nor trails but did involve free puppies. I’ve posted some photos from that event:

My 35th birthday is coming up, and my lovely husband is getting me a sparkly new camera, so hopefully I’ll be able to spend lots of time taking pictures and posting them here. Most will be of hiking and (hopefully, before it gets too warm) camping. Otherwise, who knows. The school semester is about to end, so I should have a good month of free-ish time on my hands.

Zelda went to Houston!…a few weeks ago.