Sunday, March 30, 2008

Chuch Signs #4

In my driving trips across all 50 states, I often spot clever, amusing, and thought-provoking signs in front of churches of all denominations, and long ago I began jotting them down. I'll gradually post them here for your entertainment and edification.

1. Make your eternal reservations now – smoking or non-smoking?
2. Seeking a new look? We have faith lifts.
3. Will the road you’re on get you to my place? Love, God
4. Prayer will put backbone where your wishbone is.
5. If God is your copilot, switch seats.
6. Exercise daily – walk with the Lord.
7. Forbidden fruits create many jams.
8. Lent is a time to fill the potholes of life.
9. God’s retirement benefits are out of this world.
10. God grades on the cross, not on the curve.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Pride of the Ozarks Barbershop Concert - 2008

Today's adventure was attending a barbershop chorus and quartet concert at Bentonville High School's impressive performing arts center (For those who are unaware, Bentonville, just north of Fayetteville, Arkansas, is the home of WalMart.) The Pride of the Ozarks Barbershop Chorus hosted these performances by their own remarkable chorus... well as their talented guest quartet, Back in Business, out of Ottawa and Lawrence, Kansas, composed of comparative youngsters who were music majors in college and competed in world collegiate competitions...

...and also guest quartet, Patent Pending from Kearney, Nebraska, a versatile quartet with extraordinary singing prowess coupled with hilarious comedic talent.

The grand finale united all the talented singers...

... on stage at once, providing a rousing conclusion to a stirring and spectacular 2 hours of outstanding entertainment -- all for only ten bucks! Don't miss their next show if you're in town!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Are you getting old?

Your answers to the following may help you determine if you're no longer a kid:

You're asleep, but others worry that you're dead.

Your back goes out more than you do.

You quit trying to hold your stomach in, no matter who walks into the room.

You are proud of your lawnmower.

Your best friend is dating someone half their age...and isn't breaking any laws.

You sing along with the elevator music.

You constantly talk about the price of gasoline.

You consider coffee one of the most important things in life.

People call at 9 p.m. and ask, "Did I wake you ?"

You send money to PBS.

You know what the word "equity" means.

You can't remember the last time you laid on the floor to watch television.

Your ears are hairier than your head.

You talk about "good grass" and you're referring to someone's lawn.

You get into a heated argument about pension plans.

You have a party and the neighbors don't even realize it.

Or you look like one of these:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hiking Lake Sequoyah's Kingfisher Trail

Today was a mostly sunny 75 degree day, so we hiked an hour+ at Lake Sequoyah, enjoying the scenery as we traveled the hillside overlooking the lake and dam, and then followed the flagged future loop at the northern end of the stem trail. Much undergrowth has began budding, and soon the trees will be greening up too.

We had biked/hiked the trail a few weeks ago and those pictures and comments can be found here.

The numerous up-and-downs and rugged trail, studded with constant rock outcroppings, makes a wonderful hiking trail or a very strenuous and technical mountain bike trail. And once it is extended it will be even better!

After a lunch at Sonic, we then biked 13 miles -- a great way to spend a Spring day of retirement. Ellen got to use her new biking ensemble for the first time, and here it is!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More Points to Ponder

Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day, teach a person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks.

Some people are like a Slinky ... Not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

We health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.

All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200.00 and a substantial tax cut saves you $31.46?

In the 60s, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

We know exactly where one cow with Mad-cow-disease is located among millions and millions of cows in America, but we haven't got a clue as to where millions of illegal immigrants and terrorists are located. Maybe we should put the Department of Agriculture in charge of Immigration?

Conscience is what hurts when everything else feels oh so good.

Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Penguin in Fayettevile?

Yup! His name is Penguin Ed, and he has 3 locations here and some of the best BBQ around, so Ellen got in a picture with him as we biked past today on our 13 mile loop on another grand 60 degree, mostly sunny day.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

This photo was taken by my MacBook, and with it we send greetings from Arkansas.

Since the temperature was only about 50 today, we hiked 6 miles on the hilly mountain bike trail around Lake Fayetteville, enjoying the sunny day and the incipient budding of the bushes and early blooming trees. Then we celebrated with a tasty dinner at Outback. We hope your Easter was as wonderful too!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Children's Bible in a Nutshell

Children don't always get it right. They are introduced to new concepts, but may not know the vocabulary or have sufficient background knowledge or life experiences to take the new information and integrate it into their understanding. Hence, their summary of what they have heard or read may not exactly reflect what they actually heard or read. Below are some short essays, supposedly written by kids (though I wonder if some adult came up with this and blamed it on kids.)

In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas.

The Bible says, 'The Lord thy God is one," but I think He must be a lot older than that. Anyway, God said, "Give me a light!" and someone did.

Then God made the world. He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren't embarrassed because mirrors hadn't been invented yet.

Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden. Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn't have cars.

Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel. Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.

One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.

After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast. Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.

Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh's people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable. God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti.

Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments. These include don't lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor's stuff. Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother.

One of Moses' best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.

After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn't sound very wise to me.

After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed upon the shore. There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don't have to worry about them.

After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of the New Testament. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn, too, because my mom is always saying to me, 'Close the door! Were you born in a barn?' It would be nice to say, 'As a matter of fact, I was.')

During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Republicans. Jesus also had twelve opossums. The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.

Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount. But the Republicans and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn't stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead.

Any way's, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again. He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Bikin' the back roads

It was another beautiful 70 degree sunny day so we biked 18+ miles, again through sub-divisions and along back roads of Fayetteville and Farmington, Arkansas. Since I've mentioned back roads several times, I thought I'd give you an idea of the sights we see on these rides, like these Longhorn cattle in a field...

... and meadows with horses...

As we biked by a shopping area, they had a traveling attraction allowing young children to ride ponies, and they also had this little guy who was so cute I had to snap his picture...

Love this weather, especially since back home in the northern suburbs of Chicago, they are getting another blizzard with 9 to 12" of additional snow. I understand they've had over 40" since I left! "Ha," I say, but not too vociferously because in 2 weeks I head back home and am fearful their rough winter weather might not yet be finished.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Blue skies again!

After 3 days with chilly temps and rain totaling 7 inches, we availed ourselves of the sunny skies and mid-60s to bike 15 miles. Even the strong breeze didn't slow us down. Knowing the dirt trails would be muddy and/or flooded, we stayed on pavement, biking back roads and sub-divisions. The rain and sun and warmth reminded me that this was the first day of Spring, and indeed it was proven to me as we saw a roadrunner scamper across in front of us and much foliage starting to bud out and blossom. Great day to be in Arkansas!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Punishing Language

Yes, puns can be punishing. But for some reason, the English teacher within me relishes the clever word play they display. And besides, my father was a punster and infected me with them at a very young age. I, of course, tried to pass the love of puns down to my sons, but for some reason, they managed to resist developing a love for them. Anyway -- I've had this blog for nearly a year now and never even once foisted this love upon any readers who happened upon this site -- until today, that is!

1. I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

2. Police were called to a daycare where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.

3. Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He's all right now.

4. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference.

5. To write with a broken pencil is pointless.

6. When fish are in schools they sometimes take debate.

7. A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

8. A thief fell and broke his leg in wet concrete. He became a hardened criminal.

9. Thieves who steal corn from a garden could be charged with stalking.

10. We'll never run out of math teachers because they always multiply.

11. When the smog lifts in Los Angeles, U CLA.

12. The professor discovered that her theory of earthquakes was on shaky ground.

13. The dead batteries were given out free of charge.

14. If you take a laptop computer for a run you could jog your memory.

15. A dentist and a manicurist fought tooth and nail.

16. What's the definition of a will? It's a dead giveaway.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

When it rains...

It's been raining for over 40 hours now, with sporadic thunderstorms and lightning which have had M&M scampering for safety into her "den" which she found in a bathroom cabinet. She opens the door with her claws, climbs in, and the door shuts behind her, giving her the feeling of safety, I presume. A round of thunder will sound and you'll see her hunch down and slink towards the bathroom, and seconds later you'll hear the cabinet door close behind her. Pretty cute!

Noteworthy Quotes

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." (Mark Twain)

"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." (Winston Churchill)

"Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently." (Henry Ford)

“For the friends life has given me, for the life friends have given me." (Lois Wyse)

"Without change, something sleeps inside us...The sleeper must be awaken." (Frank Herbert)

“I think it could be a good idea.” (Gandhi, commenting about what he thought of Western Civilization)

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not." (Dr. Seuss)

"Insanity is endlessly repeating the same process, hoping for a different result." (Einstein)

"People will forget what you said,
People will forget what you did,
But people will never forget how you made them feel." (Maya Angelou)

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." (Thomas Alva Edison)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Poem # 27: Being Alone

Many of my adventures have been done solo -- especially backpack trips. This self-exile allows much time for introspection, and the majestic scenery of the wilderness magnifies the exhilaration of the solitude. Such desirable aloneness starkly contrasts with imposed loneliness, giving birth to this poem:

when mind-shadows haunt
every moment, every thought,
and cobwebs of the past
ensnare the present
and darken the future.

comfortable, secure, welcomed introspection,
a mirror-still mountain lake,
inviting you to throw in a thought-pebble
and expand with its concentric rings
as they explore outward,
delving the profound depths and
plumbing its pristine clarity.

Loneliness and aloneness,
two sides of one coin,
contradictory kin,
one imposed, detested, shunned,
the other volitional, desired, sought.
Equivalent yet unequal,
one bankrupt, one priceless,
sometimes commingled
(as when lonely in a crowd,
or in fine company in solitude)
but never the one mistaken for the other.

Lonely-ness or all-one-ness?
Your mind.
Your choice.

Copyright 2005 by Chuck Morlock

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Poison Ivy?

One of my adventures bit me this week! On Wednesday's ride at Lake Sequoyah, I had a minor mishap. I stopped to get a photo of Ellen, and as I dismounted from the bike, my foot came over the seat and landed on unstable ground -- loose leaves actually, which were hiding a hole -- so the bike and I went down onto my back. I was fine, with no injuries or abrasions or contusions. I had on jeans and at that time, a long-sleeve sweatshirt. Two days later, we discovered several rashes on my back and side. We've theorized/self-diagnosed it as possibly poison ivy, or chiggers bites, or shingles.

We've researched all 3 on the web and have come back to the diagnosis of poison ivy. Of course there are no leaves to warn you away at this time of year, and the plant's stalk and branches still carry the urushiol oil even when leaves are not present. Five hundred people could itch from a mere pinhead size drop of the oil, and as little as a billionth of a gram can cause the rash.

I haven't been bothered by itching too much and am not scratching at all, but there is some small amount of discomfort and sleeping on these areas is problematic. So I really do think it is poison ivy (or oak.)

Any differing opinions based on what I've stated and the photo below? Double click to enlarge photo. (You can comment below or respond by email.)

Naps are the greatest!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Random Facts #10

1. The short-term memory capacity for most people is between five and nine items or digits. This is one reason that telephone numbers were kept to seven digits for so long.
2. The average human will drink about 19,215 of water in a lifetime.
3. Wherever you go, there you are.
4. “Stewardesses” is the longest English word you can type with your left hand.
5. Male monkeys go bald in the same way men do.
6. Buckingham Palace has 600 rooms.
7. Humans produce about 10,567 gallons of saliva in a lifetime.
8. You are more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than by a spider.
9. Leonardo da Vinci invented scissors.
10. Lemons contain more sugar than strawberries.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Lake Fayetteville (AR) Mountain Biking Trail

Lake Fayetteville is comprised of 458 acres of land and 194 acres of water. In 1948 bonds were issued to construct Lake Fayetteville with the lake being completed in 1949 and named Lake Fayetteville in 1950. A new paved trail traverses about half the distance as of early 2008, with extensions planned to encircle it completely. The lake can be seen several times as you bike, mostly when on the south edge of the lake (as in the photo below).

There is a variety of flora and fauna in natural settings as well as beautiful views of the lake. The park has benches, playgrounds, picnic areas, restrooms, informational kiosks, boat launch and marina, baseball fields, nature trail, the North Shore Disc Golf Course, and the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, which is alongside the trail's east end on Crossover Road.

From the marina parking lot going clockwise, you first ride the short entrance road. When you reach the start of the paved trail, you'll notice a single track following the park's perimeter. If you take the paved trail, it will end about 2 miles up and then the single track continues. The south section of the trail is the most interesting and challenging. Three or four fingers of the lake extend into hollows and the trail drops down into each, skirts, the water, and then re-climbs the hillside.

Most circle the loop clockwise, but don't hesitate to go the other way -- it makes it an entirely new trail, with downs becoming ups and left turns becoming right turns. The uphills are short but will keep you honest if they catch you in the wrong gear. Loose rocks and numerous tree roots abound, especially on the north side. The trail is popular with hikers and even dog walkers, so mid-day is a good time for some solitude.

There are no water crossings. Two bridges built by Boy Scouts carry riders across water on the north side. Several areas will be muddy following wet weather.

More photos and info

and here

Lake Fayetteville trail map available here

Parking for this trail is located at 1350 E. Zion Rd and 1208 E. Lake Fayetteville Rd.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mountain Biking Lake Wedington Trail

Lake Wedington Trail, 13 miles west of Fayetteville, Arkansas on Highway 16, is within a segment of the Ozark National Forest. The lake was dug and the rec area built by the WPA in the 1930s and then in the 1950s it became part of the national forest. This trail is advertised as a hiking/backpacking trail and is open to bikes, but the outstanding scenic value of this trail makes it a must either for hiking or biking. Short sections are relatively flat and free of loose rocks...

...but the trail continuously negotiates ravines, generally by going into them and up the other side, making this a strenuous and technical ride (double click to enlarge photos.)

The young and/or fit rider can bike the tougher terrain, but I admit that we 60-somethings did a bit of cross-training (walking the bikes.)

The uphills and downhills often were strewn with hundreds of large rocks and a fair number of tree roots, making traction iffy at times. Use caution!!

The trail is an out-and-back and travels 7+ miles to the banks of the Illinois River. The section alongside and then through a cut in the bluffs can be avoided by biking the gravel road, but don't miss at least walking this section as it is the most beautiful part fo the trail.

Faucet water is MUCH better...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lake Sequoyah Mountain Bike Trail

Lake Sequoyah is a 160 acre lake on the White River located upstream of Beaver Lake. The lake is presently owned and managed by the Department of Parks & Recreation of the City of Fayetteville, Arkansas and serves as a recreational fishing lake.

This singletrack trail begins next to the parking area near the Fayetteville boat ramp and marina by a sign reading "Kingfisher Trail." Built by Jacob Taylor as an Eagle Scout service project with help from his troop and others, it runs well over a mile to and beyond the dam. The start is flat and parallels the road until it dips into a deep ravine and then climbs steeply to a bench overlooking the lake.

We walked the bikes here (call it "cross training!") due to the huge boulders used to stabilize the ravine from rushing water after storms, and though this was the biggest build-up of rocks, it wasn't the last. The photo below doesn't do the rock pile justice, but gives you an idea (double click photo to enlarge.)

You’ll continue biking up and down along the hillside...

...until you reach the section overlooking the dam, at which point you are quite a bit higher than the water level (to left in photo.) At frequent intervals, the trail crosses drainages where more rocks have been placed at each crossing, making the ride pretty technical and difficult.

As you can see from the photos, the scenery is flat-out awesome. I can only imagine the beauty after the trees leaf out, but then the rare, infrequent views of the lake are probably non-existent. We both suffered minor mishaps, so nearing the dam, we left our bikes leaning against trees and walked to the dam and beyond it. I can hear you twenty- and thirty-something athletes calling us wimps for engaging in cross training, but let's see if you're still doing this sport when you are in your 60s!

This trail is not for beginners. It requires a good bike, a level of skill, and some stamina, but if you don't want to bike it, I highly recommend you at least hike it. It is well worth the drive to the trailhead and the exertion.

I read that future trail construction will route the trail all the way around the lake. (More photos and info here.)

We then drove over to the 2+ mile Mud Creek Trail to check it out, and the simple, flat, paved trail was a nice respite from the magnificent but somewhat grueling trail detailed above.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Words to Live By

  • Praise loudly, blame softly.
  • If you’re going around in circles, maybe you’re cutting corners.
  • Don’t count the breaths you take; count the moments that take your breath.
  • What you did yesterday is your reputation. What you do today is your future.
  • Always be a friend worthy of that name.
  • Don’t think there are no crocodiles because the water is calm.
  • Immigration is the sincerest form of flattery.
  • It can’t be true that everyone hates you. Everyone hasn’t met you yet!
  • Failure isn’t falling down. It is staying down.
  • Never say “never.” Never say “good enough.”
  • Self-discipline is critical to achieving a goal.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Florida signs you won't see in Chicago

Never saw a sign like this on a Lake Michigan beach...

... or this sign, either...

I know there are risks to paddling, but never encountered a sign like this one:

Like - who's going to actually HARASS an alligator?

Warmer weather...

... has returned, and we've availed ourselves of the sunny warm days and hiked the 6 mile hilly Lake Fayetteville Trail, biked a dozen miles on back roads in the area, and today drove back to Pea Ridge National Military Park and biked 10 miles of its hilly terrain, stopping to read the historical kiosks telling of the Union forces' victories here which ended Confederate attempts to control these areas.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Points to Ponder

  • Blessed are the cracked, for it is they who let in the light.
  • If you can’t recall it, forget it!
  • Don’t mistake the edge of a rut for the horizon.
  • Victory belongs to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake.
  • Never miss a good chance to shut up.
  • Schizophrenia beats living alone.
  • He/she who laughs, lasts.
  • Keep your small mind open so it can grow bigger.
  • Handle every stressful situation like a dog. If you can't eat it or hump it, piss on it and walk away.
  • Do not ask the Lord to guide your footsteps if you're not willing to move your feet.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Florida Wildlife Photos

One of the thrills of spending large chunks of time in the outdoors is observing wildlife, and we had the good fortune to spot a great deal of wildlife as we paddled or biked Florida the last 4 weeks. Here is a sampling of what we experienced, starting with one of the dozens of alligators we spotted while paddling 9 different rivers -- this one on the Wekiva River... (double click to enlarge photos)

This anhinga dutifully posed for this shot:

Here was an armadillo that didn't run away as we passed:

A southeastern kestral...

... and a barred owl...

... and another gator, this time of the South Withlacoochee River...

The docile manatees are another wonder to behold. Unfortunately, most days it was too cold to swim in the springs, but we did see over a dozen manatees on our paddles...

After paddling the magnificent Ichetucknee River, we visited the education center where the ranger introduced us to Sebastian, an eastern indigo snake that lives there...

One of my favorite birds is the roseate spoonbill (or "rosy-ass spoonbill" as Ellen calls it.) Here's one in the water and another in flight...

The reddish heron is a frenetic bird, constantly on the move, flittering about to the right and the left and back and forth as it seemingly frantically searches for food to stoke its constant movement. Just watching one makes you tired!

The majestic wood stork is another of my favorites and it is said that James John Audubon traveled to Florida just to see them.

Here's a grey catbird...

It was breeding season and we spotted several birds with their breeding plummage, first the great blue heron...

... and also the snowy white egret...

I have over 200 photos of critters from this trip, but I'll finish with these 3. First, a red shouldered hawk...

... then a tricolored heron...

... and finally the endangered Florida scrub jay.

Thanks to my buddy, Greg Pflug of Adventures in Florida, who helped identify many of these birds.

I do have additional photos of wildlife on my photo gallery and these photos can be downloaded to your computer if you want any. Enjoy!