Fall As I See It

Normally I would just post these on my photoblog but I’m in a dry spell for here.  Click over for the rest.

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Toad Suck Daze

Every year there is a three day celebration in my town called Toad Suck Daze.  Where did the name come from you ask?  Well the story goes like this:

The legend behind Toad Suck is that long ago, steamboats traveled the Arkansas River when the water was at the right depth. When it wasn’t, the captains and their crew tied up to wait where the Toad Suck Lock & Dam now spans the river near Conway. While they waited, they refreshed themselves at the local tavern. The dismayed folks living nearby were heard to say: “They suck on the bottle ’til they swell up like toads.” Hence, the name Toad Suck. The tavern is long gone, but the legend lives on at Toad Suck Daze.

But why they have a celebration named this in the first place, I have no idea.  An excuse for a party I guess.  And the really weird thing is that the first Toad Suck Daze was only celebrated in 1982.  So it’s not like it’s some old tradition dating so far back no one can remember why it’s still around.  Nope, only 28 years old.

It’s free admission and is for everyone except, well me.  Friday and Saturday night really belong to the Jr. high/high school kids, Saturday morning is for the kiddies to come out and race their toads and do a little face painting, Saturday afternoon and Sunday are for the *ahem* old folks and those into crafts, and the music every year is heavily influenced by the country genre.  Of which I’m not a big fan.  Plus every year without fail, it rains Toad Suck Daze weekend.  Needless to say I haven’t been since high school.

As a matter of fact, the weather was pretty severe this year.  I’m sure you’ve heard of all the tornadoes that swept through the state that flattened some towns and took the lives of a few people.  I was in Illinois for the weekend and happily missed out on all the excitement.

Though I missed the actual Toad Suck Daze celebration, all the preschool kids brought toads from home to race at school Thursday morning.  Talk about chaos.  When I showed up kids were all in a frenzy wanting to show everyone their toads.  Already two had either jumped out of an open box or had been taken out and then dropped, and were on the loose under the couch.

The madness continued outside as we began to race.  Some kids wanted to race but wouldn’t hold the toads, some kids wouldn’t put the toads down when they were finished racing, and all of the toads took every opportunity for freedom as they all scattered in different directions when placed on the starting line.  Imagine 17 preschool kids and 10 toads in an area that looked to be about 5 ft. squared.  There was a moment where a toad was actually dropped by one of the kids on the head of another.  I swear it couldn’t have been scripted better for a Little Rascals movie.  Talk about insanity.  But hilarious at the same time.

Maybe next year I’ll attend and blog first hand about what I see.  Maybe even include some pictures.  Maybe, just maybe, there’s something for me there after all.

Saturday Hike

How’s that for a fancy title?  Saturday morning I got up and went with a friend to a local trail in hopes to capture the beginnings of fall in the trees.  I can hardly remember the last time it was cloudy and rained here but wouldn’t you know that as we drove towards our destination the mountains were almost hidden beneath black clouds.  We decided to go anyway and it ended up being the perfect hiking experience.  We got out of the car and I began my love/hate relationship with the idea of a jacket.  Not thinking I would need one, I didn’t bring one.  It was pretty chilly when we got there but of course as we started hiking it became hot and I was glad I didn’t have one.  Then it would get chilly again.  And back and forth it went between being cold and hot.

We quickly realized the clouds were a godsend because full sun would have been sticky and unbearable.  But the clouds would part on occasion allowing for some great pictures.  It did rain a couple of times and even hailed.  Yes, you read that right I said it hailed.  Little BB sized pellets came down at one point.  But none of these episodes lasted for more that 15 or 20 seconds and they all seemed to come at a point of the hike when we were starting to get a bit heated so it was a nice refreshing break.  I think one of the best parts of the whole thing was that even though there were tons of people hiking as well, none of them were going in the same direction we were at the time we were going.  On the way to the falls it seemed like everyone was leaving and as we were leaving throngs of people were coming.  So we would go for long stretches without anyone around and that was heavenly.

Ever notice when you’re out in nature like that people are usually happier?  I don’t think we passed one group without someone saying at least hello.  Even the kids we passed were friendly and polite.  I realize the area I live in is dubbed “happy valley” (seriously, it really is referred to as happy valley) but I think it has more to do with nature itself and leaving all your stresses and worries in the parking lot and enjoying the view at the top.

The hike took a little over two hours to complete and was better than going to the gym.  It wasn’t so extreme  you thought you were going to die but it wasn’t a flat sidewalk either.  We definitely had to exert energy at different parts along the trail but then it would level a bit for us to catch our breath.  Even still I’ve been running a couple of miles regularly the past few weeks so I wasn’t completely out of shape.  At least that’s what I thought.  Sunday morning I went to get out of bed and just about fell flat on my face.  Man, I wish I had that on video!  My right calf muscle is so incredibly tight you would think I just started using my legs for the first time that morning.  As I walked around it loosened up and was fine but two days later it still hurts when I stand up after sitting for an hour or more.  No clue what that’s all about.  I’d like to think my muscles are bulking up at such an alarming rate the rest of my body can’t keep up (as I sit here shoveling M&M’s in my mouth).

Overall the morning could not have gone better and it was the highlight of my entire week.  As usual here’s a teaser picture but others are posted here: