True Friendship; a Gift

There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”

Thomas Aquinas

There are those friends who only are around when things are good. I refer to them as fair weather friends. Then there are those who are there to share in our windfalls and when that is gone so are they.

Then there are those that are there during the rough times to help you through. I refer to them as the roughneck friends.

A true friend is one that accepts you for who you are even if you have a difference of opinions on some things. It’s hard to find two people who agree with each other 100% of the time. That shouldn’t have an affect on a friendship. True friends inspire one another. They help you find the light at the end of the tunnel when you thought all was lost. They are the ones on the other end of the phone at 3 a.m. who you called just because you needed to talk to someone. They instill confidence within us. They are good listeners and they are there to support us. They overlook our failures and share in our successes. They rekindle our inner spirit. True friendship is the greatest gift of life.

Photography; an Art

St Francis River near Fredericktown, MO

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever…It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”

Aaron Siskind

I remember the first time I saw Ansel Adams work. I was mesmerized by it. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. How could black and white pictures look so amazing? That’s when the photography bug bit me.

In today’s high-tech world, anyone can point and shoot. Novices use photography to record memories. Photography is an art from and a form of nonverbal communication. Good photographers are artists who tell a story through their photographs.

Historical St Joe Mine in Park Hills, MO.

Photography is more complex than just point and shoot. A good photographer is creative and understands composition and its elements. They are 1) light 2) color 3) contrast and tone, 4) line 5) form 6) pattern 7) balance 8) movement 9) positive and negative space 10) texture 11) camera position 12) focal length 13) shutter speed.

A good photographer has to be able to do more than point and shoot. For instance, lighting and color can completely change the mood of a photograph. Many photos are printed dark and brooding in an effort to impart dramatic or mysterious effects when it is better to match the tonalities and contrast level to match the desired mood rather than to a standard formula.

Historic St Joe Mine in Park Hills, MO.

For those photographers who want to improve their photography skills I highly recommend reading, “The Art of Photography” (A Personal Approach to Artistic Expression) written by Bruce Branbaum. He is an internationally recognized fine art photographer. His photographs are held in public and private collections worldwide and represented by photography galleries in the USA and Europe. He is an ardent environmentalist and in 1974 was awarded the Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams award for photography.

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

Ansel Adams

Words of the River

St Francis River in the millstream Gardens Conservation Area near Arcadia, MO.

“They both listened silently to the water, which to them was just not water, but the voice of life, the voice of Being, the voice of perpetual Becoming.”Hermann Hesse

I love sitting along the river and closing my eyes and getting lost in the sounds of the river. Sometimes I wish the river could talk to me. Tell me where it came from, where it has been and what it has seen. It has such a calming effect on the spirit and it soothes the soul. It is my safe place and where I become one with Mother Earth. It is a mystical place and a place of love.

“So don’t you sit upon the shoreline and say you’re satisfied. Choose to chance the rapids and dare to dance the tide.Garth Brooks “The River

Millstream Gardens on an Autumn Day

I headed to Millstream Gardens in Madison County about half way between Fredericktown and Arcadia, Missouri. It is connected to Silver Mines Conservation Area via a trail that runs along the St. Francis River. It’s part of the Mark Twain National Forest. I was to meet a friend and his daughter. We met up around noon. They have a paved trail accessible by wheelchair that goes a mile down the trail to a scenic overlook.

We had a perfect day for a hike. We headed out down the trail. It is an easy hike to the overlook named Cats Paw. Not sure how it got its name but it didn’t disappoint as you an see by the photo below.

We decided to take a trail down to the river. Now this part would be considered hard. Steep and rocky and we had to climb over rocks but it was certainly worth the effort. The scenery was breathtaking. Mother Nature’s beauty at her finest. When they have the kayak races here in the spring the water is usually up quite a bit from the spring rains. I stood there trying to envision the kayakers trying to maneuver their yaks through this swift water around the big boulders that littered the river bed. I think I will lave that up to the professionals.

We didn’t want to leave. It was so peaceful sitting there on the rocks listening to the water rushing past the boulders. We reluctantly started our way back to the parking lot and our vehicles. It is a damn good day when you can share an experience like this with friends. It was a grand day.

Following are a few of the 127 pictures I took. I hope you enjoy them and can feel what we felt being there beside the river. We will definitely be going back for sure. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash.

The Changing of the Leaves

St Francis River in Silver Mines Conservation Area near Fredericktown, MO.

“I hope I can be the autumn leaf, who looked to the sky and lived. And when it was time to leave, gracefully it knew life was a gift.” – Dodinsky

The temp today was supposed to be in the 60s today and if it wasn’t it was close. I was to meet a high school friend and we were going to kick back and enjoy an autumn day. We met up around 10 a.m. both of us needing a “do nothing” day. Silver Mines is the kind of place where one can do that. It offers so much in the way of nature that it is impossible for someone who loves nature to leave without their spirit fully charged.

We had just camped here the week before. We got a lot of rain Sunday night and the river level had came up. The water is usually very clear but today it was stained. The leaves were starting to change to their autumn colors. By this weekend I think they are going to be in their full autumn colors.

There are so many things you can do. Kayaking, fishing, hiking and camping. Daily picnic sites are available. The trails on both sides of the river are rocky and rough. I would rate them as hard. You can make a loop but you have to cross the damn to do so. It can get pretty crowded on the weekends so I limit my visits to the week days where you are pretty much by yourself. Flash floods can be a problem in the spring.

We headed home around 3:30. On the way out I saw the camp ground hosts. They told me the powers that may be notified them that they were going to close the gates November 7 for winter. They have already turned the water off so if you camp in this last week be sure to bring some water with you.

Camping at Silver Mines

St Francis River, in Silver Mines Conservation Area near Fredericktown, MO

On October 18, a good friend of mine met me at the Silver Mines Conservation Area. This area is named for the abandoned “Einstein Mine” where in 1870 was used to mine silver, tungsten and lead up until 1946 when the mine was closed. The area is known for its Precambrian granite and felsite rocks.

After a brief visit we began setting up camp. I had brought my Bushnell one man tent and Clarry opted for a hammock and tarp. I was amazed with the hammock setup. Clarry had it down to a science. When he was done setting up it looked very inviting. It was only his third time at setting it up. The temps got down into the upper 30s and he discovered some things he would do differently the next time.

After breakfast we decided down the dam on the St Francis river. It was built when they were mining the area. The trail actually goes across the dam to get to the other side of the trail and we thought about trying it but we were going to have to wade to do it and we decided against it.

We talked to another camper who had done it and he told us about two graves on the other side marked by two wooden crosses and the mine entrance was on the other side too but it had been closed off. The trail was pretty rocky and in places you had to climb over big rocks and because of my ankle not being fully healed we didn’t walk the entire trail and headed back to camp. When back at camp we sat around the campfire talking and we had a surprise visitor.

It was a great time. Trees were just starting to color and in another week should be in full color. We pretty much had the place to ourselves. We did meet a gentleman there who came all the way from Chicago to a camp a couple of days. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous. It would be hard not to feel at peace with yourself while you were here. If you are looking for a place to camp where you can enjoy nature I highly recommend Silver Mines. It is located near Fredericktown, MO off highway D. In the spring when the river level is up they have kayak races.

Beauty of Nature

It was another hot day in Southeast Missouri. I had the evening off so I decided to head out to the Bismark Conservation area.

The area is made up of 1,188 acres that surrounds the 220 acre lake, DiSalvo. It is the headwaters of the St Francis River. There are good numbers of bass, bluegill, channel catfish and crappie.

This particular day I went chasing channel catfish. It is hot and the humidity was punishing, two ingredients of pop up thunderstorms. It sprinkled on me a couple of times. There was a thunderstorm skirting to the south. Lightning and thunder.

Mother Nature was presenting me with one spectacular show. I watched intently. The wind picked up and I enjoyed feeling it upon my face. So relaxing.

The fish weren’t cooperating. They had very little interest in the bait I was using, shrimp, hotdogs and night crawlers. At dark the bullhead catfish started to show interest in the shrimp. I ended up catching 3 bullheads before I had to give in and call it a night.

It turned out to be a great evening and it was much needed. Mother Nature was spectacular and gave me some great shots and I had it all to myself.

A Day in the Arcadia Valley of Missouri

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Welcome Center Fort Davidson Pilot Knob, MO

My long time friend David Tripp journeyed from Texas to visit his parents and he got in touch with me and we decided to take a trip to the Arcadia Valley in Missouri.  The temperatures were bitter cold but we didn’t let that stop us.  We decided to start our day with lunch at the Fort Davidson Restaurant in Pilot Knob, MO.

After an excellent lunch we headed to the site of Fort Davidson. The only thing left of the fort is the earthworks of the fort, surrounding the huge hole that was caused by a powder explosion.  The site is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

The Civil War Trust (a division of the American Battlefield Trust) and its partners acquired and preserved 41 acres of the battlefield that are now a part of the state historic site.

The Battle of Fort Davidson, also known as the Battle of Pilot Knob, was fought on September 27, 1864.  It was the opening engagement of Price’s Missouri Raid during the American Civil War.  Price had the Union army  outnumbered by more than 10 to 1 but Thomas Ewing’s men held off Price’s Confederate army during the day and when night time fell they were able to slip away leaving the Confederates with possession of the fort.

On the site is a granite monument that marks where a mass grave is.  Maps are available at the Visitors’ Center that can be used to do a self-guided tour.  The visitor center offers a narrated version of the battle and its context within the Civil War.

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Dam of the Iron Mountain Lake  in Missouri

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Wooden bridge spanning the creek that handles the overflow.

After visiting Fort Davidson we headed over to see Iron Mountain Lake in St. Francois county of Missouri.  It is located in the city of Iron Mountain Lake whose population was estimated in 2016 to be around 736.

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View from the top of Taum Sauk Mountain in Missouri

Our next stop would be Taum Sauk Mountain which is a part of the St. Francois Mountains.  It is the highest natural point in the state of Missouri coming in at 1,772 feet.  It is believed that Tom Sauk Mountain was named after Sauk-Ton-Qua a Piankeshaw chief.  The view on top is quite breathtaking in the least.

There is a state park on Taum Sauk that is made up of 7500 acres.  There are a series of trails in the park including a portion of the Ozark Trail.  There is a 12-site basic campground and a special use area for non-profit youth organizations.  For day use there is a picnic area.

The park has its own legend.  It is a Native American “Romeo and Juliet” story.  The daughter of Piankeshaw chieftain Sauk-Ton-Qua’s daughter Mina Sauk fell in love with an Osage Indian warrior.  They met secretly and one day she was caught in his arms.  There was a trial and he was found guilty and he was executed.  Mina Sauk was so heartbroken she plunged from a cliff and took her own life.  This tragedy unfolded at a place on the mountain now called Mina Sauk Falls.

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View on top of Tom Sauk Mountain

We loaded up and headed to Elephant Rocks State Park, a geologic marvel. The park encompasses an outcrop of Precambrian granite in the Saint Francois Mountains.  The name comes from a line of large granite boulders that resemble elephants.  Recreation is available in the form of picnicking, rock climbing and trail exploration. It is managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.  The land that makes up the park was donated by geologist John Stafford in 1967.

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Elephant Rocks

 

The last stop was the historic Caledonia, MO., a small town located in Washington county.  The town was laid out in 1819 and was named after the Roman Empire’s Latin name for Scotland.  The town has had the presence of a post office since 1819.  The 2010 census showed a population of 130.  The town is also known for its annual Pumpkin Festival.

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Two historical homes of  Caledonia

It was a good day and there is so much to see in the Arcadia Valley.  There is also Johnson Shut Ins, Royal Gorge, Marble Creek Recreation Area and Immanuel Lutheran Church 1861.  There are places to camp or one can choose to stay in one of the many Bed and Breakfasts, Inns or motels.  The towns of Arcadia, Ironton and Pilot Knob are located within the valley.  It is a great way to spend the day or weekend.  I highly recommend Fort Davidson Restaurant if you are looking for some great cooking.

Spread the love and be kind to each other.

 

A Day on the St. Francois River

The St Francois River is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is 426 miles long and meanders through northeastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri.

In the springtime they have kayak races on the part that goes through Silver Mines Park. Fishing is fair with a large variety of fish.

They were calling for a high near 70 degrees for today. That was all I needed to hear. I was river bound. I decided to try a new place that I had found. It was on the St Francois River in an area I had never fished.

I really didn’t think the fish would be hitting anything that I had in my tackle box. Just 3 days ago the high for the day was 9 degrees and a front was moving into the area today bringing rain with it. Well that wasn’t enough to stop me. I loaded the yak in the truck and headed out for a day of peace and relaxation.

The air temp was 55 degrees when I got to the river and the water temp was damn cold! It would not be a good day to flip the yak.

The water clarity was clear and water level was normal for this time of year. I didn’t go upstream 20 yards before I had to get out and pull the yak through the riffles. Once through there was a good 300 yard stretch with numerous deep holes and lots of structure and cover for the bass to suspend in. I knew to get them to hit I was going to have to drop my lure right under their nose.

I knew as cold as the water was I was going to have to fish a slow moving lure. This time of the year bass are lethargic and slow to attack the food source. So my choice was a pig and jig and a Charley Brewer slider worm.

The morning really started off slow. Not one single hit in 4 hours. Then a little after one p.m. I got a hit and set the hook. Didn’t appear it was going to be much of a fight then I guess it decided, not today bucko and the fight was on. After about 5 minutes I got it close enough to the boat so I could see it. OMG!!!!! He was big. My heart started beating 200 beats a minute then crap: I forgot the dip net.

Well he dove under the yak and popped up on the other side. With the help of the cold water it tired quickly. I got it up to the yak and I lipped it and put it in the boat.

OMG! What a beauty. I put it on the board and it was a hair over 20 inches. I admired its beauty and returned it to the river. It was a spotted/Kentucky black bass.

I caught two more spotted/Kentucky black bass.

Eleven and a half inches

Thirteen inches

All in all it was a great day. When I pulled out of the river it was 68 degrees. I felt good. I really needed that.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It is very much appreciated. Remember to spread the love and be kind to each other.

All photos are property of Double D Acres LLC and May not be reproduced without written consent from me.

Until Next Year!

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“Time will pass and seasons will come and go.” – Roy Bean

The end of the fishing season on the rivers here in Missouri for me has come to the end of the season.  On sunny days I will still float the river but fishing will have to wait until spring.

I know you all are probably getting tired of hearing my fishing stories so I will keep today’s blog short.  I put in the river at 8:30 a.m. and the temperature was 30 degrees. The “weather guessers” were calling for a high of 60.  The fourth cast of the day I caught a largemouth bass.  It appeared the fishing would be good toaday.  So I thought.

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The wind was a force I really didn’t want to deal with.  At one point I was going through a shallow, swift area of the river when a wind gust hit me head on and actually pushed me and the yak back up river against the current.  It made it pretty difficult to fish.

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That morning I caught 2 large mouth bass and one smallmouth bass.  Oh well a bad day on the river is better than a good day at work.  After lunch it didn’t get any better.  I caught 1 smallmouth and 2 perch and that was it.  It wasn’t the way I wanted to end the fishing season but next season will be here before we know it.

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It was a good year.  The Big River really is becoming a trophy smallmouth bass area.  The largest one I caught, actually put in the boat, was 16 inches.  Here in Missouri it takes approximately 7 to 9 years for them to grow to 15 inches.  I also caught a 19 inch largemouth and an 8 pound channel cat.

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I want to thank my high school friends David Tripp and Mark Nelson for taking time out of their busy schedules and doing some fishing with me.  I had a good time and hope you two did also.

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Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  It is very much appreciated.  I hope you enjoyed the photos.  Photography is one of my passions.  Remember to spread the love, be kind to each other and above all, respect each other.

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All the photos were taken on the Big River near Desloge, MO.