Memorial Day at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch
May 24 - 26, 2008

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For Memorial Day weekend, we took a road trip to HCR near Jasper, Arkansas with four great friends - Steve & Helen Faketi + Luc & Cassy Gruenther.  And yes, we do actively seek out friends with more complicated names than our own.

It was a great weekend of rock climbing (for them), geocaching & kayaking (for me), hiking (for all of us), with some great porch-sitting and fire-watching thrown in.  Many tall tales were told and many more laughs were shared.  As I said to Eric on the long drive home, "We made some memories." 

The gang arrived at our house from Wichita Falls late Friday night and we took off
early Saturday morning - but only as far as the nearest IHOP!  After that, the trip 
really began.  Here we are arriving at our pancake utopia.  
5 hours later, here we are arriving at our vacation utopia - Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.  
 The lodge is in the background, our cabin was just out of view of this shot. Everyone is unfolding themselves after the long drive.

The first thing we did was to take off on a hike to a climbing area.  We encountered this guy along the way.



 Here are two attempts of mine to capture the group - we were actually happier than they look.  Or at least I was, anyway. 


 Scenes along the walk up to the climbing area.


 It is really beautiful there.

 Here I lie in wait for them to walk by so I can photograph them as they walk. 
Maybe this kind of behavior is why they weren't looking happy?!!  J/K

 Roping up for the first climb Eric led this one which they all proclaimed was a fun route
Here Luc climbs it in his Tivas, just because he can.
He tied himself in at the top and took pictures from there.
 Next Helen climbed with Cassy belaying 

Jess - widely recognized as the greatest climbing dog (pause here) ever

  Helen in action

Jess loves fetching more than almost anything, can you tell?

 All done  
Now it's Cassy's turn to climb Cassy - pulling a fancy, "Cotton-eyed Joe" move on this route

Luc, doing some fancy moves of his own as expedition photographer. 
Steve just wants to finish the climb but this big guy is in the way.
  The boys & their gear - they are truly in their element here.
An ecstatic Eric holding Flat Stanley for the camera 
At this point I left them to their climbing and took off to do a geocache and explore the town.
This is a view of the opposite bluff line as I left the climbing area.

Views from a hike I did in search of a geocache, "Arkansas' 1000th Cache: B-25 Crash Site"  
It is a hike around the top of Round Top Mountain, the site of a B-25 crash in 1948.  
It was a lovely hike but I was sad that I did not find the cache.  

 This tree looked like it was coming out of this tilted rock.
 I put myself in the shot for scale but mostly blocked the subject.
This is the memorial and some plane debris that was gathered from the crash site.
 This is neat old hotel/restaurant/health food store in Jasper.  The owner gave me a
 little tour and explained that each county of Arkansas was done in a different type
 of natural stone in the sign pictured above.  
I didn't get to go inside Emma's Museum of Junk but it
sounds like my kind of place.
 A view of Round Top Mountain, which I had hiked earlier.  
 Wonder how they came up with that name for it?
Meanwhile, back at the ranch....

 Session 1 of our evening porch-sitting begins

 Jess sure loves her dad Jess, making friends with a fellow ranch visitor

 The gang went out for another day of climbing on the ranch and I headed to the Buffalo River to float in my kayak.
Sorry for the poor quality of the pictures, it was one of those waterproof disposable dohickies.

 I have a photo series I call, "Put your feet up" - someday I'm going to gather all
 the various shots of beautiful scenery that I've taken like this and make my fortune.
The water was very clear & cold, but also shallow
Most of the crowds went downriver where the water level was higher, 
I did not miss them.
 This was a beautiful bluff area where I stopped for a swim
Here Eric gazes lovingly at me over the porch railing as I return from my trip. We all made it back just before the big storm moved in.
 Jess, getting the treatment she deserves
There were two groups of Eric's friends there from OKC - this is one of them, 
a bit soggy after a long walk across the ranch in the rain.
 Here our gang of dry people laugh at the misfortune of others.
 Jess, getting a father/daughter talk about
 the reasons not to roll in poop.  
 (We have reason to believe that she wasn't listening.)
 After the storm it turned really beautiful.  

Showdown in the pool room - Eric & Steve battle for the title of, 
"who is worse at this game?"  It was neck & neck.  
   Then we found out that the end of the rainbow was our cabin.
 Here we're on a walk down to see the puppies. They have these amazing goat-herding dogs on the ranch - here are 3 of their puppies
 Adorable baby goats Hope it was OK to feed them
 Helen makes friends She's always up for having fun
 Here Jess sneaks into Mom's lap while we sit around the camp fire This was seen on our way home - he was strapping this onto his 
old bike and we thought it was priceless.

The following are pictures graciously provided to me from Luc


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