Amazing what a creative farmer can do with 5 bales of hay!  Amazing what one can see driving the Blue Highways of Arkansas.  

Searcy, Arkansas is a mid-size city of 25,000 located roughly 50 miles North of Little Rock.

I’ve always appreciated Searcy as a growing center of commerce and education in White County.  My opinion was even more reinforced last week when I was invited to meet with long time Mayor David Morris and other community leaders.  This city has a lot going on.  However, what prompted me to blog about this visit is the City/Community commitment to Historic Preservation … namely restoring and reopening the 1920’s Rialto Theater.



The theater is open for family friendly movies Monday to Friday in the evening and Saturday-Sunday with show times 2:00 and 6:30.

I was so touched by the leadership that would save and actively reuse this awesome historic building … right downtown on the square across from the County Court House …  that I wanted to feature it.

Well done Searcy … more another day about Pioneer Village, Holiday of Lights etc. etc. 

Now for Higginson, Arkansas …

On my way back to Little Rock, I decided to take the blue highway (remember William Least Heat Moon) and thoroughly enjoyed experiencing Kensett, Mcrae, Cabot and Beebe.  Most of all I enjoyed my visit with Mayor Randell Homsley of Higginson.

I simply love small towns and I love small town Mayors.  In the larger cities, Mayors have staff to run departments and do most of the heavy lifting.  In small cities like Higginson, the Mayor is  “the Mayor” plus part time volunteer fire fighter, manager of the sewer and water and “whatever it takes”.  In Higginson the Mayor and City Council did most of the work building City Hall and managed to do it for $50,000.  Wow!  In my eye, this is a $200,000 dollar building … maybe more and they did it for $50K.  Take a look!


As the new Arkansas Tourism Director,  I have said that every city has a story to tell. What I hope to do is help share these stories in some meaningful way that relates to tourism and brings visitors to look, listen and learn.  The real heart of America and of Arkansas is in the grit of small towns.  We stand tall on their shoulders!




Charlie Brown Christmas Camping:

Our annual Christmas camping trip did not happen in December because of burn bans and bad weather.  Thus, the already scheduled camping trip on the Buffalo River just happened to be the place where a few decorations, Santa hats and Glow sticks materialized to adorn the iconic scraggly Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.  Renie B showcased his tent with a string of twinkling battery powered lights.



Super Bowl Weekend 

For a number of years, Super Bowl weekend has been on our calendars as a designated three day camping extravaganza.  We eat well, sip well entertain ourselves well.  We also embark on a hike or two in the scenic Buffalo River Valley (incidentally, the Buffalo was the first Federally declared National River.  Located in North Central Arkansas, it is a destination for hiking, canoeing and kayaking as well as fishing and sight seeing.  ) On Saturday we hiked to one of the most beautiful and iconic spots in Arkansas … Whitaker Point … aka Hawksbill Crag!






Cozy Campfire, fine food, beverages and fellowship …




Awe inspiring Sunset and Sunrise …



Finally, Jasper, Arkansas and the 100 year old Ozark Cafe …



Until next time … See you on the trail!



Don’t panic … it’s not as bad as it sounds!

This was to be the weekend … the weekend for the seventh annual Charlie Brown Christmas Backpacking/Camping adventure in the Ozarks of Northern Arkansas. However, Mother Nature had another idea … not this weekend … unless you want a camping weekend without a campfire.  Sooo … for the first time in seven years, Charlie is not showing up in December in the Natural State at Richland Creek.

Don’t fret … this unique and special event is rescheduled for mid January.  

To refresh your memory, below are some photos from the past … and, with any luck you will see Charlie Brown twice in 2018.


As an FYI, you may look at any of these photos full size if you click on the one you want.







Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  See you soon … 

Jim D … AKA … Charlie B



Nestled in the Arkansas Ozark mountains near Fayetteville this park is easily one of the most enjoyable and treasured places to visit in The Natural State.

While attending college at the University of Arkansas, my buddies and I spent countless weekends camping and hiking the trails and canyons along Lee Creek within Devils Den. With little camping gear we rounded up blankets, pillows and our warmest clothes to survive cold … sometimes snowy … winter nights.  I even remember one night we slept under the canopy of an old military parachute.

Flash forward to a couple of weeks ago, my wife and I had the pleasure of “indoor camping” in one of the historic 1930’s CCC cabins (pictured above).  These cabins were built by the Civilian Conservation Corp as part  Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal .

Whatever your outdoor choice, there’s plenty to choose from … mountain bike trails, backpacking trails, hiking trails and horse trails … you name it.

For more information, go to:   Arkansasstateparks.com and while you are at it check out our other parks and attractions.  You may just find an unexpected surprise that will take you outdoors for fun, exercise or good old mountain air relaxation.  Plus, I promise … you will make a memory!


Livin’ the Farm Life (well sorta) for the weekend.

The romance and spirit of adventure just happened to land on Patti’s Birthday weekend.  She wanted to do something … maybe rent a cabin … and spend the weekend with our good friends, Gwen and JC.  However, she specifically said “No Cooking”.  Well, since i’ve become a big fan of Ruth Pepler and she has been coaxing me to bring Patti to the Dogwood Hills Guest Farm … Perfect!  As good fortune would have it, Dogwood Hills had a cancellation in the three bedroom cottage … in addition, Ruth said Patti could have her wish … No Cooking. 


Pictured above right to left, Ruth, Thomas and Grace Pepler, owners, operators, cooks, farm hands, construction workers … they do it all and at the same time make guests feel at home.  We loved sitting around the big kitchen counter top visiting, taste testing and then enjoying as fine a meal as one can get anywhere.

This is a “hands on” working farm … so, the four of us jumped right in and milked one of the cows.  


One can easily tell by the look on this cow’s face, we were new at the art of milking.  Fortunately Grace took over … happier cow I’m sure!

There were plenty of other Farm type duties … animal and otherwise. 

Possibly most fun was what we called The running of the chickens!

There were lots of other farm animals but now I want to turn to meal time … exactly like one would expect on a farm … only in this case better than expected, more of it and true farm to table.  Wow!!

Elk meatballs and spaghetti, buffalo brisket that melts in your mouth and special desserts such as apple pie, rhubarb pie and Birthday cake for Patti.

And then, as if all that wasn’t enough, this morning, Grace treated us to the most amazing Crepes i’ve ever eaten.  Wow again!


This is one of the most unique weekends we have ever shared with our friends … plus we now feel like we are family with the Peplers.  I will just wrap up with a collage of more photos … Thank you Ruth, Grace and Thomas … you are Arkansas Treasures.





Truly a new adventure for me … 

I’ve been to the incredible Queen Wilhelmina State Park before.  I’ve been camping most of my life … attending a Ham radio festival is a first for me.  Wilhelmina State park and Lodge is located in the beautiful Ouachita Mountains of East Arkansas.  The Lodge is fabulous, the scenery hard to beat, the mountain temperature refreshing, the trails invigorating … and at over 2600′, a perfect spot for a Ham radio Festival.


A couple of my backpacking friends are Ham radio wizards.  They can hammer out more dots and dashes and translate faster than I can type. I jumped at the chance to join them on a campout not knowing what to expect at the festival. To my pleasant surprise, it was fun, educational and an amazing experience to see the fellowship and seriousness with which one hundred or more Ham radio operators demonstrated their skills.


As an Arkansas Parks and Tourism Commissioner I am always eager to celebrate the dedicated Parks and tourism staff.  Pictured here are a few of the host staff for the weekend.  They made everyone feel at home … you make all Arkansans proud.  Thank you!!!


While at the dinner, Parks staff took the time to recognize 20 plus year volunteer … Bill Glassco.  I also need to mention his wife, Toby.  I was honored to be there and have my picture made with Bill.  Later in this post you will see even more about Bill and Toby.


Wow … what a beautiful place to camp and enjoy the festival.

A few random shots above of our staff, the vendors, the hourly drawings…  My friend Phillip won something … he was excited but I have no idea what he won.


At the end of the day a few of us gathered around the campfire where we played guitars, sang old songs and listened to Toby Glassco sing the song she had written about her love of Wilhelmina State Park and the Ouachita Mountains.


As one can see, the views up here are spectacular.  It is also a great favorite of Motorcycle riders.


Thanks again to our staff and to the volunteers that make Arkansas State Parks the best and most friendly in the nation.


What a special weekend and serendipitous adventure.  I may not become a ham radio operator but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience … can’t wait until next year.