Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Perfect Birthday!

I'm fell behind with my posts, so I'm starting with November and working forward. I had a fabulous trip to Arkansas to visit our daughter and her husband for Thanksgiving and also for my birthday. I love to visit my family there, but I also look forward each time to visiting the state's beautiful natural areas. There is so much to offer in Arkansas, a place that calls itself "the Natural State" and proudly promotes its natural resources. All of the state parks are free!
Delicious Birthday Cake!
My daughter thoughtfully planned out visit with days of feasting and celebrating, starting on my  birthday with a trip to Lake Catherine State Park. How fitting! We spent the morning walking a pretty trail by small waterfalls. We followed that with a picnic lunch and then went to the lake shore to watch ducks and skip stones.

Tree trunk growing around a rock

Ripples in a small pool

Trail fungus

Witch Hazel

Skipping stones
We were puzzled by this sign at the lake shore. As far as we could tell, the lake did not fluctuate in a way that warranted a sign. Just ripples and waves.


I think these are Greater Scaups

Beautiful Lake Catherine

From Lake Catherine, we headed to Garvan Woodland Botanical Gardens where there would be an evening Christmas Lights show. We wanted to see the gardens in daylight in order to better appreciate the decorations when night fell. We also wanted to get in early because this is a very popular holiday event!

As we explored, I practiced new camera settings to catch sunbursts through the trees, with some success. We found the garden's Sasquatch (a "whimsical garden feature") and ran into a small flock of juvenile peacocks who let us get very close before they realized we were there and scattered. We walked along a nature trail and sat for a while at the edge of a huge lake, enjoying the view and looking for eagles. It was a beautiful day!

Holly berries

Decorated stream

Clueless Peacocks



At dusk, we made our way back to the start of the trail just as the lights were coming on and the effect was magical. It was cold but the park had warming fires and hot drinks. You could hear the energy level increasing with the happy voices of children. It was all very merry. We made one more walk around the garden in the dark and took in the pretty lights. And then we headed off to dinner. What a great birthday!

Sunburst and Lights

Lights coming on

Lights in the stream

Lights along the water

Creative Decorations

Flowers and Butterflies

Christmas Decorations

Sasquatch all lit up

Hanging light closeup

Happy Holidays!

A trip to Arkansas would not be complete for us without a visit to the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock. It's a very interesting presentation of an important era in our nation's history. This time, there was also a special exhibit of glasswork by Dale Chihuly at the museum, which made the visit even more special. I think his glasswork is brilliant and I love the way the colors and shapes evoke the natural world. I've seen some of his pieces in botanical gardens and they are absolutely gorgeous in a natural setting. These works were indoors, but were still breathtaking.

Glass Ball

Glass Tower

Sea life--I'm thinking Octopus?

Sea Life--Shells?

Sea Life--More Shells?

I think it looks like a jellyfish

Sea Life

Sea Life

Letters between Mr. Rogers and President Clinton

There are thousands of documents, photos and videos on display at the library and the correspondence between President or Mrs. Clinton and important world figures are fascinating to read. And occasionally you'll find a gem like these--letters to and from Mr. Rogers, one of my heroes. I recommend a visit to the library to anyone who visits Little Rock. All in all, a perfect Birthday!

Chihuly Glass Installation outside the Presidential Library, by the Arkansas River