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Starting Summer in Arkansas, Day 5: Along Nebo’s Rim

June 5, 2015

Wendy and the Waterfall (click for slideshow)

Wendy and I spent a full day up on Mount Nebo after our migration from Mount Magazine. We made our own breakfast in the cabin, and she joined me for a hike over to the waterfall, where she posed near one of the upper falls. Then she braved the heat and insects to descend the 80 feet to the lower falls.

Waterfall Hike

Near an upper cascade, I spotted a side trail leading south along the mountainside, between the upper Rim Trail and the Bench Trail far below. Wendy waited at the falls while I explored this overgrown path. Later I would find that it eventually ascends to intersect the Rim Trail.

We returned to the cabin, stopping to pick up a few bottles and other items previous hikers had discarded. The trails here are too beautiful to tolerate any trash. Wendy was willing to hike some more in the hot and buggy conditions, but I knew she was still nursing the painful bites on her head. So instead we drove over to the park office and store so she could get some sugar for her coffee. She bought some lavender jelly, although we later found that neither of us liked it. We took in the panorama to the east of the Arkansas and Lake Dardanelle, noting the plume off the cooling tower of Arkansas Nuclear One.

Eastern panorama

We drove to Sunset Point for the view north before returning to the cabin, where Wendy repaired her sunglasses while I read. My peripatetic nature led me to embark on a solo hike later in the afternoon, when the heat was less severe. I headed out along the southern rim of the mountain while Wendy read the news in the cabin and out on the sunny patio.

Rim Trail Hike

My hike on the Rim Trail wound up being 1.25 miles, with me taking a wrong turn at a fork and walking up high on the rim behind some cabins before turning about to rejoin the Rim Trail. This deviation rewarded me with a nice panorama.

Panorama from above the Rim Trail

The trail led beside the base of the upper bluff over to Sunrise Point. It was late enough in the afternoon for me to find plenty of shade. I turned about, marveling at the vista along the trail.

Rim Trail Panorama

Deer in Flight

I passed a ribbon tied around the tree, like ribbons we had seen along the trails at Mount Magazine. I could decipher the first part of the code written on these ribbons, with “MN” for Mount Nebo versus “MM” on the Mount Magazine ties, but the rest of the code meant little to me. The trail back to the cabin was quite beautiful. A deer ahead of me on the trail eyed me warily as I approached. It finally fled,with its white tail bobbing back and forth. Sunlight dappled the mossy bluff on this final afternoon of hiking.

Sunlight dapples

I passed the turnoff for the neglected side trail to the waterfalls, marked by a stone in the trail. Earlier, a teenage boy and girl had looked rather hot and weary as they emerged from the overgrowth along that route.

I returned to the cabin, where Wendy was happy to see me. We had more hot dogs and ice cream and went out on the patio to enjoy the sunset. To the east Wendy spotted a hang glider up in the sky, so we got to swivel back and forth between the sunset to the west and the glider wheeling about to the east. My superzoom camera allowed us to see the pilot more clearly.

Relaxing together

Wendy arranged the last photograph of our trip when she saw our spectacles lying together on the patio table. She noted that sometimes it is nice not to have a laser focus on all of the details of life. Just appreciating the big picture can be a welcome relief.

The next day we packed out and headed home. We had a great time in Arkansas, but the heat and humidity will likely prevent us from returning until late summer. In about a month we’ll be in New Mexico and southern Colorado, escaping July in Joklahoma.

Click here for a slideshow from this day

< Starting Summer in Arkansas, Day 4: Moving Mountains

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Posted by on June 15, 2015 in day hike, photos, travel, video


Starting Summer in Arkansas, Day 4: Moving Mountains

June 3, 2015

After our recovery day at Mount Magazine, Wendy and I moved mountains…we were the ones moving, of course, instead of the mountains themselves. We shifted from Mount Magazine to Mount Nebo, which is an hour’s drive to the east. I’ve been to Mount Nebo a handful of times, staying up top for the first time during Spring Break 2014 with Wendy in Cabin 61. That rustic cabin has a wonderful southwest view from the edge of the mountain, so we booked it for our return. We’d need some food to cook during our stay, since there is no restaurant up top. So we headed to Russellville, located a 20 minute drive just east of the mountain across the Arkansas River.

Day 4 Travels (click map for slideshow)

We enjoyed a final breakfast at the Skycrest Restaurant and packed out of the lodge by 11 a.m. Scenic Byway 309 would take us down the southeast end of Mount Magazine, and we stopped there at the overlook of the Petit Jean River Valley. It is just across the road from the Benefield area. A turkey vulture was wheeling around the sky above the valley, with Blue Mountain Lake in the distance.

Petit Jean River Valley


Mr. Conductor

We drove across the swollen Arkansas River at Dardanelle, noting how it had filled its banks with the record May rainfall in Oklahoma and Arkansas. I’d hoped to tour the old Missouri-Pacific Railroad depot in Russellville, but it was closed. Mr. Conductor was out front, sculpted by Jim Westbrook, greeting us nevertheless. We decided to walk around the revitalizing downtown district, buying some bottled pop and medicaments at an old-style pharmacy shop and relaxing on a sidewalk bench.

Earlier I’d noticed a restaurant across the tracks, called Stoby’s, had a parking lot packed with cars. It had a train theme, and occasionally someone would pull the steam whistle out front. So we walked across the tracks to enjoy a French Dip and a Chicken Salad Pita while large-scale model trains travelled overhead. I happily sounded the whistle as we left. We stopped at a bakery next door. Wendy purchased yummy cookies and Wedding Cake cupcakes, which were almond flavored, white cakes with white icing, candy pearls, and raspberry filling.

We tried to get back across the tracks to reach our car but were stymied by a stopped train. It was stalled on the tracks, blocking all of the downtown intersections. We wandered about, finding shade beneath a tree as I examined online maps to verify there were no pedestrian viaducts we could use. Wendy laughed at our backlot surroundings, accented by a used syringe lying in the grass nearby. But she later said she especially liked this unplanned break in the day, with us chatting as we waited almost half an hour for the train to get moving and clear the tracks.

Even with that delay, we had some time to kill before we could check into our cabin up on the mountain. So we shopped at an old-style Ace Hardware Store, with many narrow aisles filled with merchandise from floor to way overhead. The wealth of merchandise reminded me of the old Johnston’s store in Cassville, Missouri, where their motto was, “If you can’t find it, we haven’t unpacked it yet!” The store manager was a character too, commenting about one of his employees, “He’s the south end of a northbound mule.”

Hairpin curves to Mount Nebo

We then stopped at the Harp’s grocery in Dardanelle to pick up food for our stay. The kindly old cashier there was funny, too. She asked where we were headed, and when we said we were staying up on Mount Nebo, she exclaimed how she had lived in the area her whole life but had never gone up the mountain, since she hates heights. What a contrast to my love for a high panoramic view, which would soon have us ascending the mountain along the hairpin curves of highway 155.

Mount Nebo

The clerk at the park office remembered me as I checked us in. We made our way to Cabin 61 to unload supplies, with Wendy spotting deer along the way.

The view near our cabin

The view was spectacular from the cabin’s perch on the mountain rim.

Our cabin on Mount Nebo

Sadly, I had to spend part of the afternoon coordinating grant purchases on my laptop computer, which I tethered to my iPhone for internet service. With that accomplished, I eagerly headed out for a short hike while Wendy relaxed with her iPad, recovering from a headache, the result of painful, swollen bug bites on her scalp from a previous hike.

Upper waterfall

I walked north along the Rim Trail from our cabin to the waterfall, which the clerk at the park office had said was in good flow. Back in the 1930s, the CCC built a trail alongside the waterfall cascade. They used only hand labor and mules, setting stones that weigh as much as 500 pounds. Their hard work so long ago allowed me to make my way down from one level to the next, taking photographs and shooting video clips. I followed the trail back and forth, reaching the big lower falls where the trail passes behind the cascade.

Lower Waterfall at Mount Nebo

The cool mist was welcome as I watched the water run onward to be lost in the woods below. The beautiful trail led around to a large rockfall I remembered from a previous hike. It was warm, so I did not go all of the way down to Gum Springs, instead turning around for the arduous but invigorating ascent back to the mountain rim.

The Woes of Frank the Golfer

I was quite hot when I returned to the cabin, stripping off my shirt to cool down on the patio and enjoy the vista. Wendy joined me to relax in the sun and the cool breeze. Dinner was hot dogs and ice cream, with Wendy sharing some of the rap music of Eminem and Busta Rhymes. She had her work cut out for her, as I can’t stand most rap.

We perused the cabin guest book, finding our entry from March 2014 and relishing a hilarious entry Wendy found from Frank the Golfer.

Our next day would be spent on the mountain, featuring a longer hike along the Rim Trail around to Sunrise Point.

Click here for a slideshow from this day

Starting Summer in Arkansas, Day 5: Along Nebo’s Rim >

< Starting Summer in Arkansas, Day 3: Cameron Bluff

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Posted by on June 14, 2015 in day hike, photos, travel, video


Starting Summer in Arkansas, Day 3: Cameron Bluff

June 2, 2015

The day after our hike on Mount Magazine, I had breakfast on my own, returning to the room to work on orders for a school grant while Wendy relaxed with funny videos on her iPad. I enticed her to go for a “short walk” on the Old Lodge Trail just off the new lodge’s patio. It wasn’t a very long trail, but it made a steep descent down the hillside then headed east through overgrowth before a steep ascent back to the cabins east of the new lodge.

Mount Magazine After the Great Depression

Old Lodge (click photo for slideshow)

The peaceful era of the early settlers on the mountain ended with the Great Depression of the 1930s as farms wore out, the stock market crashed, and people had no money for leisure. Most of the land on the mountain was turned over to the government because of unpaid taxes during this time. The Greenfields were the last family on the mountain, and they were forced to leave in 1936. That same year, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) began building a road across the mountain, linking the towns of Havana and Paris; it is now the Scenic Byway 309 one uses to visit the state park.

The Forest Service took over the mountain in 1938, and the WPA built 18 cabins on either side of a lodge, which was a two-story building with 26 guest rooms, a kitchen, dining room, and a stone patio with a wonderful view of the Petit Jean River Valley and the Ouachita Mountains. That lodge burned in 1971, and visitors to the mountain declined. A new state park was authorized in 1983 but did not open until 1998. From 2004 to 2006 the new lodge and 13 cabins were built just above the location of the former structures.

Wendy and I could find no traces of the former lodge amidst the overgrowth along the trail, which led down to a bluff line, which it followed for awhile before leading back up. Trails with big elevation changes were not welcome after the trek of the day before, so we opted to take the nearby drive at Cameron Bluff to various overlooks.

Central area of Mount Magazine State Park

Cameron Bluff

After the Civil War, Confederate veteran Thomas Rush Cameron moved his family from Georgia to Arkansas. For a while, they lived near Chickalah, south of Dardanelle. Cameron was advised to seek a higher elevation to help his wife’s respiratory condition. One day while bear hunting on the mountain, he discovered a flat, fertile area above a peninsula of bluffs that overlooked the northern slope of Mount Magazine. His family established a homestead on what is now called Cameron Bluff. What is now a heavily forested modern camping area was once farm fields and orchards. The magnificent background above the bluffs created a romantic site for weddings. The first known wedding held there was that of Lois Cameron to Daniel McGuire, and this scenic setting is still a popular site for exchanging vows.

Cameron Bluff Overlook Steps

Cameron Bluff drive opened in 1967 and is a one-way loop around the perimeter of the former farm. The main overlook is tremendous and features a dramatic series of steps on one end, where we happily posed. To the side one can view the towering layers of rock.

At Cameron Bluff

Cameron Bluff Overlook

Then we drove to the nearby remains of an amphitheater built by the Civilian Conservation Corps for sunrise services. A social trail on one side led to a precarious overlook where we could look across the gap to the steps where we had been a few minutes before.

Our final stop on the bluff was an overlook featuring a stone gazebo and signage to help identify landmarks. We could see the lower wall of the amphitheater on the edge of the bluff to our left.


Benefield Area

We drove over to the Benefield area at the park’s southeastern edge, with Wendy enjoying seeing deer by the roadside. In 1880, Benjamin Benefield was granted title to 160 acres of land. The Benefield family’s first home was a log cabin with a lean-to kitchen. Later a two-story house with four upstairs bedrooms was built. The Benefield’s seven children helped to clear and farm approximately 40 acres of onions, turnips, potatoes, an apple orchard, and vineyard. A grave near the entrance to the park’s picnic area is the final resting place of one of the Benefield children, and the CCC developed picnic and camping areas here in the late 1930s, but they were abandoned in World War II and not revived for decades. On a later visit to the mountain, I will take Wendy hiking on the trails around this end of the park, including the shorter CCC-built East Loop and longer Bear Overlook Trail and Will Apple’s Road.

Brown Spring

West end antennas from Cameron Bluff

We then drove to the opposite end of the mountain, the area called Brown’s Spring. It was settled by Benjamin Brown, a farmer who made extra money by supplying tourists with mules to ride. His two sons settled adjoining land to the west. Someday I’ll take Wendy along the unofficial trail leading west along the north rim of the mountain here over to the antennas which dot the western tip of the mountain.

We were spent for the day and returned to the hotel for a nap and a dinner featuring tasty Baby Bear Burgers and a shared slice of Possum Pie.

The next day we would head east to Russellville and Mount Nebo.

Click here for a slideshow from this day

Starting Summer in Arkansas, Day 4: Moving Mountains >

< Starting Summer in Arkansas, Day 2: Hiking on Mount Magazine

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Posted by on June 13, 2015 in day hike, photos, travel


Starting Summer in Arkansas, Day 2: Hiking on Mount Magazine

June 1, 2015

The day after we drove to Mount Magazine, Wendy and I found the clouds lifting from the Petit Jean River Valley.

Mount Magazine Day 2 (click image for slideshow)

We enjoyed a tasty and late breakfast in the Skycrest Restaurant. Then we got our hiking packs and sprayed down with Cutter. To thwart ticks, we both wore long pants. We ended up hiking 5.2 miles, setting out from the lodge along a side leg of the Signal Hill Trail to take the scenic North Rim Trail over to the park visitor center. From there we used the Greenfield and Mossback Ridge Trails to return to the lodge in a large loop. The overall hike had an elevation gain of 885 feet, with the trails generally descending on the path to the Visitor Center and then climbing steeply up to Mossback Ridge before descending back to the Signal Hill Trail to return to the lodge. The average slope on our hike was 5.7%.

Mount Magazine Hike

Signal Hill & North Rim Trails

Mossback Ridge Trail

A fairly dry ascent up Signal Hill was followed by a muddy descent to reach a brief segment of the Mossback Ridge Trail, denoted by yellow badge blazes. We then shifted onto the North Rim Trail, which thankfully was drier, punctuated by occasional creek crossings. This trail featured wildflowers on the south side and a series of panoramic views to the north. The tree badges changed to red. We saw Spiderwort along with many Carolina Rose or Pasture Rose blooms. The aroma of the latter flowers delighted Wendy. We were afforded repeated glimpses of Cameron Bluff across the Gutter Rock Creek Valley, with the bluff’s towering layers of rock jutting from the tree cover.

Stream on the North Rim Trail

Later we could see past the end of Cameron Bluff to the lowlands beyond, and Wendy enjoyed more Carolina Roses, holding one up to a Spiderwort for comparison. We passed a beautiful stream, and I shot video of the waterfall. Then we posed at Dill Point, enjoying the panorama during a trail snack break.

Wildflowers compared

At Dill Point

The trail wound onward, with a panoramic north view to our left.

North Rim Trail

Along the trail beyond Dill Point we passed trees covered in fungi and found a Fire Pink wildflower, more Carolina roses, and enjoyed more panoramas. Wendy spotted a spiderweb covered in droplets. The trail led on to Dill Creek, with its pretty little waterfall.

Dill Creek

We found a Lanceleaf Coreopsis and rock with mold spots before we reached School Creek, which wound through the woods to a rocky ford for our crossing. Wendy got a picture of me from behind as I was considering shots along the creek. We were 2.5 miles into our hike when we reached the park’s Visitor Center.

Granger at School Creek

Visitor Center


We refreshed ourselves at the center, with Wendy browsing through the shop and purchasing a Mount Magazine coffee mug for herself and some local black raspberry jelly for me. Meanwhile, I surveyed the exhibits and found a side room with large lounge chairs and a bank of windows looking out over the forest. There we relaxed and watched hummingbirds flit at a feeder, including a ruby throated bird which warily eyed an intruding insect. Then we bought some sodas and snacks and ate them out front in preparation for our hike back to the lodge.

Greenfield Trail

We walked across the highway to the Greenfield picnic area to find the matching trail. That area was once the Greenfield family’s farm.

Will and Lulah Greenfield

Greenfield Family

Will and Lulah Greenfield established a home near the head of Bear Hollow in 1893. Nine of their ten children were born on the mountain. The Greenfields expanded their house to rent out rooms and, in addition, built seven cabins to accommodate tourists escaping the summer heat in the valleys below.

Wendy’s Commentary

Wendy was less than delighted that we had a big climb ahead to make our way up Mossback Ridge. The little drawing she made on our daily log illustrates her viewpoint as I merrily traipsed up the slope, with a tick along for the ride on the outside of my protective clothing. We crossed Big Shoal Creek and admired a colorful tree fungus and a rock shining with crystals.

Mossback Ridge Trail

After about a mile of hiking along the Greenfield Trail, we turned west onto the Mossback Ridge Trail, which began as a straightaway of taller grass through the forest. There was moss on the ground, but that is not the true origin of the name for this trail and ridge; “Mossback” is actually a corruption of “Morsbach”:

Morsbach at the Summer School

Albert Morsbach

Albert was the son of Friedrich August Morsbach. Friedrich was a Union veteran from the Civil War who hailed from Germany. He had arrived on the mountain in 1880 and was granted title to 80 acres on the northeastern leg of the mountaintop five years later. Like other homesteaders, he cleared his land for farming, a difficult task including removing an endless supply of rocks. All around his farm, these rocks were used to form fences and buildings. Friedrich’s son, Albert, and daughter, Clara, settled on what is now called Mossback Ridge. Albert’s first wife, Serena, died in 1896, and was buried on the northern slope of Mossback Ridge.

Albert married Susannah Walker the following year, and they raised four children. Children on the mountain attended classes in a one-room school house on the northern slope of Mossback Ridge not far from Serena Morsbach’s grave. The “Summer Home School” started in the late 1800s and had as many as 40 students. Albert Morsbach was one of the early teachers. Some of the students, like Tony Brown, became teachers in the school even though they lacked formal high school educations. The original building burned in 1920.

Butterfly Feeding

Along Mossback Ridge we saw many colorful butterflies flitting from one wildflower to another. The trail wound on for over a mile along the undulating ridge before descending to where we could cross the valley toward Signal Hill and the lodge. On the final stretch of the Mossback Ridge Trail we passed a small ruined building and other signs of abandoned park development.

Soon we were climbing the hill back to the lodge, where we carefully isolated our clothing and checked for ticks, and then bathed and rested. I know I was quite relaxed, since I actually sat out on the balcony with only my bath towel for modesty. It had been a great hike, and we wrapped up the day with dinner at the Skycrest and enjoyed the dusk view from the mountaintop, walking back to our room with the moon up in the evening sky.

Moon over the valley

The next day would be one of recovery, featuring a drive to the overlooks of nearby Cameron Bluff.

Click here for a slideshow from this day hike

Starting Summer in Arkansas, Day 3: Cameron Bluff >

Starting Summer in Arkansas, Day 1: Lodged Atop Mount Magazine

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Posted by on June 12, 2015 in day hike, photos, travel, video


Starting Summer in Arkansas, Day 1: Lodged Atop Mount Magazine

May 31, 2015

Mount Magazine Lodge (click for slideshow)

The end of the school year meant that Wendy and I should be free to escape for a much-needed vacation, but, once again, I had to wait until our board of education adopted a budget, a critical event before contract bargaining in early June. So Wendy and I did not head out of town until the last Sunday in May. Summer heat has arrived, so we targeted two high mountains in Arkansas, which would be cooler than the fields and forests below. Wendy had enjoyed her first visit to Mount Nebo during Spring Break 2014, so we plotted a return there preceded by a stay on top of the nearby Mount Magazine, the highest point in Arkansas.

In June 2010 I first visited Mount Magazine. I hiked 7 miles on my first day there and 12 miles on the next day. But I had not been back since, except for a brief pull-in at the overlooks in October 2012. I’d never stayed at the nice lodge up top, so this time I booked us a room for three nights, figuring that would give us enough time to work in at least one good hike.

Trip to Mount Magazine

Day 1: Making Our Way to the Mountain

Eiffel tower of Paris, Arkansas

We left Bartlesville Sunday morning, driving south for an hour to have lunch at Oliveto’s in Tulsa. We’d be near the Arkansas River for the remainder of our vacation. We took the Muskogee Turnpike and I-40 to Ft. Smith, Arkansas. I’d hoped we could order refreshments at the antique soda fountain in the Ft. Smith Museum of History, but it is not open on Sundays until June, and we were a week early. So we walked the grounds of the old fort under overcast skies, picking up some biting bugs that presaged the insects we’d battle throughout our stay in “The Natural State“.

We drove east for 90 minutes to Paris, Arkansas, which advertises itself as the gateway to Mount Magazine. I playfully told Wendy we should look for the Eiffel Tower: we’d enjoyed the cowboy hat atop the replica tower in Paris, Texas during our Fall Break of 2013. Sure enough, we then drove by the Arkansas replica tower. Unsurprisingly, it was smaller than the one in Texas, but it had a nice fountain and a wonderful background mural.

Low clouds over the magazines

We ascended toward the largest of the Magazines, the name French explorers gave to a series of mountainous plateaus in what is now west central Arkansas. The name reflects how the blocky plateaus reminded them of huge storehouses. Both Magazine Mountain and Huckleberry Mountain to the east had low clouds spilling over their peaks.We were giddy with excitement, having escaped the hot plains for the cooler cloudy mountaintops.

We drove up into the state park, passing a typically beautiful custom sign of the type which adorns all Arkansas state parks, and drove to the lodge, situated south of the Signal Hill peak and overlooking the Petit Jean River Valley. Wendy posed by the water feature out in front of the main entry, and the impressive wooden front doors silently and automatically swung open to greet us.

Wendy in front of the Mount Magazine Lodge

We checked into our top-floor room and enjoyed its balcony, with low clouds obscuring the view to the south of the Petit Jean River valley. The panorama was tremendous, with Blue Mountain Lake to the southwest.

View of the Petit Jean River valley

Possum Pie

I discovered some bugs I’d picked up in Fort Smith were leaving little red welts, so I showered, and then we relaxed in the room before having dinner at the lodge’s Skycrest Restaurant, where we would have all of our meals during our stay, charging them to our room. The best part of our first dinner was the wonderful Possum Pie, which thankfully has no possum in it but does have three delicious layers, including a thick one of rich chocolate.

I worked off the Possum Pie with some vigorous rocking chair action on the patio. Sparrows ducked and dove around us as we walked along the mountaintop to our room, to rest up for our hike on the following day.

Click here for a slideshow from this day

Starting Summer in Arkansas, Day 2: Hiking on Mount Magazine >

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Posted by on June 10, 2015 in photos, travel, video


The Meat in the Sandwich

May 29, 2015

My first week of Summer Break was filled with school work, as I labored on:

  • finalization and adoption of a budget recommendation by the local board of education
  • summer curriculum revisions in five different science courses
  • slotting in two newly hired science teachers at the high school
  • purchases and planning for the Phillips 66 STEM Innovation Labs grant
  • updated floor plans and room numbers at our expanding high school
  • putting the high school website into summer break mode

among other things. I relaxed some during the week, but not much. Unfortunately, the week ended with my less-than-one-year-old Toyota Camry as the meat in a car sandwich:

A Mercury Grand Marquis says hello

A wet kiss from a Pontiac Sunfire

A Mercury Grand Marquis slammed into my car at a stoplight, propelling mine into a Pontiac Sunfire. The red Sunfire gave my car a wet kiss.

I was wearing my seat belt and that, along with the seat headrest, ensured I was properly supported for the unexpected rough ride. The car’s rear crumple zone absorbed the energy of the crash, and helped ensure that no one in any of the cars was injured.

Physics Lesson #1The seat belt held me in position as the car lurched forward, ensuring that the seat applied a more distributed force across my body to accelerate me forward during the initial impact. When my car struck the car in front of me, my body’s inertia sent me flying forward, but the seat belt provided the necessary restraining force to keep me from striking the steering wheel and dashboard. In a worse crash, the seat belt would stretch and the increase in stopping time would lower the force on my body while the belt surface would distribute it more evenly. In a severe crash at the correct angle, the air bag would rapidly inflate and increase the stopping time further and distribute the force across a larger area, both factors reducing the pressure on my body.

Physics Lesson #2I keep my car headrest high and positioned behind the back of my skull, not merely behind my neck. That ensured my head was properly supported as I was propelled forward, preventing whiplash.

Physics Lesson #3The over $4,000 in damage to the rear of the car as it crumpled helped reduce injuries. The kinetic energy of the car behind me had to be conserved, and the bumper and crumpling metal parts of the trunk converted that energy into broken and stretched chemical bonds and heat, rather than passing it along to my body and the rest of the car as kinetic energy.


Thankfully the person responsible for the crash was insured, apologetic, responsible, and friendly, as were I and the person in the car in front of me. A helpful and polite police officer (and BHS graduate) issued the necessary citation for inattentive driving to the person behind me and gave all three of us handy information for our insurance claims. I spent some time on the phone with State Farm making a claim on the policy of the person responsible, and got an estimate from Coachworks, my preferred local body shop. They’ll fix up my car in a couple of weeks, with me driving a rental car provided by the insurance company during the repairs. The folks I dealt with throughout the day commented on my positive attitude about the damage to my car, which I purchased new less than a year ago.

Human Lesson #1: We all make mistakes, and no one benefits from someone pitching a fit over a non-injury car accident.

Human Lesson #2: Being responsible about having good car insurance and owning up to your mistakes makes everyone’s life much easier.

Human Lesson #3: People are grateful when you are positive and pleasant in your interactions with them, even when you have been greatly inconvenienced.

Funnoodle weatherstripping

Wendy and I are booked for a week away in Arkansas, and we’ll still be taking my car, even with its crumpled rear end. Her car has a CHECK ENGINE issue her mechanic will work to resolve when we return. Our region of the country has had heavy rain for a few weeks, so I knew we needed to do something about the gap in the Camry’s trunk lid. Thankfully the latch still works fine, and Wendy had the clever idea of splitting one of our Funnoodle lake floaters to turn it into extra-thick weatherstripping for the trunk lid. It worked well!

After we return from Arkansas I have to lead contract bargaining with the district, build new district and high school websites, and get my car repaired. Looks like a busy June ahead.

Click here for photos from the accident

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Posted by on May 31, 2015 in photos, random


Rose Festival

May 16, 2015

Regular readers may wonder what is going on offline, since I haven’t posted at MEADOR.ORG for over a month, and my hiking spreadsheet reveals that Wendy and I haven’t been out of town for a hike in weeks. Frequent rains are part of the reason; Oklahoma has enjoyed drought relief as of late. Compare the state drought map of a year ago, three months ago, and how it appeared this week:

That’s a most welcome improvement even though it has dampened (pun intended) our enthusiasm for day hikes as of late.

The other reason is that both Wendy and I have had a lot of school work. In my case, I have spent a great deal of time working through the selection and quoting of furnishings and technology for the new Phillips 66 Innovations Labs at the high school, funded by part of a $1.7 million grant to provide improved facilities and equipment for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in our secondary schools.

But on a Saturday in mid-May we finally ventured out of town for a stroll. The draw was the Broken Arrow Rose Festival. Wendy loves growing roses; she currently is growing a Social Climber at her apartment, and tends for a Perfume Delight and a Dream Come True planted by my patio. Her Social Climber gets daily attention and has been putting on a show. To make it easier for her to tend the roses at my place, this weekend we put together a storage bench for the patio where she can stow her implements.

Dream Come True (click image for slideshow)

Several weeks ago I was perusing the Tulsa area events calendar and learned about the Rose Festival in Broken Arrow. I’ve never spent any time in the old downtown of Broken Arrow, a town which has evolved into a large bedroom community southeast of Tulsa. So I had no idea that they had planted roses all along Main Street as part of their Rose District initiative, along with improved sidewalks and a growing arts and entertainment scene.

Given her love of roses, there was no question that Wendy and I would be at the rose festival this year. We first went into the Historical Museum to view some rose paintings and photographs, but the somewhat creepy dolls with their long eyelashes were more memorable than those works. We strolled over to the adjacent Farmers Market to see the various prize winning blooms, arranged by color.

But the most fun was to be had strolling in a long loop along Main Street, stopping at each planter for Wendy to admire, identify, and often sniff the blooms.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This coming week we wrap up the school year. Then we’ll spend a week recovering our wits before heading out to spend the first part of June in Arkansas at Mount Magazine and Mount Nebo, getting in some hiking before the heat and humidity make Arkansas hikes too miserable to contemplate.

Click here for a slideshow for this post

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Posted by on May 17, 2015 in photos, travel


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