Friday and Saturday, April 29-30, 2022—Traveling to the Land of our Ancestors

We were packed and ready to go Friday morning when Pam picked us up for the ride to the airport. As we were checking luggage, panic struck as Kay couldn’t find her passport, but soon ended when it showed up in one of her bags. After going through a long airport security line, we ate chicken sandwiches while waiting for boarding time.

The plane arrived on time, the turn around was relatively quick, and we boarded the small plane to DFW, sitting in the cheap seats at the back of the plane. At DFW, there was a 2-1/2 hour layover, affording time to visit the Capital One lounge for food and beverages. The plane was almost on time, and we boarded, bound for Heathrow International in London, UK. Even though it was a big plane, the seats were tight, with almost no foot room. The. 8-1/2 flight was long and tiring, and neither of us slept more than an hour or two. 

Entering England at the airport Saturday morning was remarkably easy, despite the airport being crowded.

We picked up our luggage at the baggage claim and waited some 30 minutes for our driver. Our hotel was right across from Windsor Castle, and convenient to the historic city of Windsor. Fortunately a room was available, and they checked us in early. After stowing luggage in the room, we were departing the hotel when the royal guard came by as they were marching to the “changing of the guard” on the castle grounds. By the time we made it out the door, they had just passed the hotel; better luck next time, except we won’t be there next time! We walked around town, looking at the old pubs, eateries, and souvenir and clothing stores. The sidewalks and streets were lined with people as it was a three day weekend, and seemingly all of England traveled to Windsor, resulting in large crowds of people. We saw the River Thames, “Crooked House”, lawn bowling, and old telephone booths.

And how about this wee lad eating ice cream (photo made with parents’ permission).

As we were walking around town, the retiring royal guards came marching by, on their way to the barracks. A short nap helped relieve the symptoms of jet lag, followed by a dinner of fish and chips.

Sunday through Thursday, April 24-28, 2022—Back to Pickleball and another Adventure Awaits

Not much happened through this reporting period. I played hooky from church on Sunday, feeling kind of blah, but Kay did go and represent the family. We played bridge with Jim and Jackie in the evening, and Kay was the big winner.

Golf was washed out on Monday as our spring rains continued. This provided time to catch up on photo processing and blog writing. Tuesday was another washout for golf as the courses are really wet. 

Kay played golf on Wednesday, slogging along the fairways, but conditions yesterday allowed the Hot Springs Village pickleball courts to dry sufficiently for the Paddle Wheelers to play in the afternoon. Drinks and dinner at El Jimador followed.

Good photography conditions on Thursday provided for great visits to the Cooper Preserve and to Barren Forks Natural Area just outside the Hot Springs Village. A number first of season blooms greeted Dan and me, including this Lady’s Slipper.  

These other blooms “begged” to be photographed. 

And, the fern fronds were just too cute to be ignored.

Blue Stars, Shooting Stars, and Fire Pink are among my favorite blooms.

Even a couple of dragonflies landed just long enough for me to snap a picture.

Not to be outdone, a few butterflies “posed” for photographs.

I played pickleball on Thursday, and Kay and I both finished packing for our next big adventure…

Thursday through Saturday, April 21-23—Visitors from the Midwest

Cousin Shelley and Jeff came for a visit Thursday evening; Shelley is a sweetheart, and one of, if not, the youngest cousins in the huge Dunn clan. The last time we saw her was eleven years ago. We spent several hours catching up until the late hours of the evening.

After a light breakfast of coffee and Kay’s homemade lemon blueberry scones on Friday morning, we drove to the Hot Springs Village pickleball courts where Shelley and Jeff witnessed their first game. After that, we did a short walk on Hot Spring Village’s Cedar Creek Trail.

Kay, Shelley, and Jeff

Wildflowers and birds were everywhere, though only the wildflowers posed for photographs. Mayapples, Dwarf Crested Irises, and Spiderwort covered the forest floor.

Other blooms were scattered hither and yon.

Even Dog Vomit Fungus was observed (you can’t make this stuff up)!

Dog Vomit Fungus

And not to leave a bad taste in your mouth (pardon the gross pun), an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail stopped for an overhead shot.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Lunch was at Caddy’s, followed by a visit to Hot Springs National Park. It was a delightful time at the national park, and my first time to see Bath House Row up close and personal. The old carriage paths and trails were awesome, and warrant another visit, as does the Superior Bathhouse Brewery (a craft brewery).

The full day was wrapped up with a Molly O’Brien’s pizza and more telling of family secrets.

Saturday morning was a time for chillin’. A big breakfast of eggs, Southern fried potatoes, bacon, and English muffins was followed by more family stories. Shelley and Jeff departed shortly after noon. We so enjoyed their visit, and hopefully can see each other again before crossing to the other side.

Monday though Wednesday, April 18-20, 2022—Muddy Golf and Rain

Rain Sunday made for muddy golf on Monday. Our group played Ponce de Leon Golf Course, which is the wettest golf course in the Village, and today it was soaked. The course was cart path only, and what with hitting every shot from the wet fairways, putting on freshly punched and sanded greens, and applying Friday’s lesson made for a really bad game, score wise. The good news is that it can only get better.

Kay played pickleball a good portion of the day on Tuesday. First, she played with a group of women at the Hot Springs Village pickleball courts, had lunch with the neighborhood ladies, and then returned to the pickleball courts for drills facilitated by Laurie Furney, a really good 4.0 player. I played golf with our church scramble group on Magellan Golf Course, Much to our surprise, it wasn’t too bad and was 90° on all holes but one; it sure made a difference in my game as I played pretty well, at least for a scramble.

It rained practically all Tuesday night and Wednesday. Dan came over for coffee and he and I shot the bull for a while as Kay did some baking.

There were no photos taken this week, but here are some throwback photos from our RV trip to the Yukon and Alaska in 2009. These are of Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada.

Lake Louise, AB
Moraine Lake as seen from the shoreline (near Lake Louise, AB)

Saturday and Sunday, April 16-17, 2022—Easter Weekend

Another “acceptable” weather day for photographs came on Saturday, despite wet conditions and misty rain. Cedar Creek Trail in Hot Springs Village is the “go to” place right now for wildflowers, and the target today was the Lily. However, it’s way too late for that bloom, but there were lots of Dwarf Crested Irises along some sections of the trail. They are such pretty blooms!

Other wildflowers and blooms made for good photographs as well.

Easter Sunday began with light rain. I really didn’t want to go to church, but Kay’s “gentle” urgings changed my mind (I was concerned about crowds and COVID, or at least that’s what I told myself). As usual, our pastor Sieg Johnson gave a great sermon. He is such a great teaching pastor! We drove from church directly to Karyn’s for lunch with Kay’s family—great visit, great food—and returned home about mid afternoon. In the photos below, Ridge and Aker are grandkids, Ron is Kay’s son, Karyn is Kay’s daughter, and Cheryl is Ron’s wife.

Thursday and Friday, April 14-15, 2022—The Book Club Meets Again

Kay, Pam, Jackie, and Martha drove to North Little Rock Thursday morning to the monthly “The Book Club” meeting; it was an all day affair, and all the members were present for the first time in a long while. I was scheduled to play golf, but course conditions were wet and it was cart path only. But, the sun was shining and conditions were right for a few flowers to be blooming and some bugs flying—in other words, great conditions for photography.

I waited until after lunch to allow time for butterflies to warm up, and drove to Middle Fork Barrens Natural Area. A few butterflies landed, but most just flittered by.

Even the dragonflies were skittish, or hungry. And, a few wildflowers presented themselves for photographs.

Good Friday was a relatively quiet day for us. I did fit in a golf lesson with Mike Socha, our favorite golf pro. He is so good at analyzing one’s swing and immediately suggest fixes that work! I was off balance, gripping too tight with the right hand, had the ball position wrong in the stance, etc.—just MINOR issues. I felt good about the lesson, but putting the fixes into action may be another story.

Saturday through Wednesday, April 9-13, 2022—Rain

As you will note from the following paragraphs, we had a pretty dull existence the early part of this week, almost to the point that it is not worth reporting. Rain was forecast practically everyday this reporting period, though Ridge did get in a soccer game on Saturday. He plays his heart out but there are some weak teammates, so each game is difficult. He is well respected by his team, and gets involved in every up and down field action. Close games and losses may be character building, but not too much fun! Anyway, Kay and I were there to cheer him on as were another granddad, Uncle Ron and Aunt Cheryl, and of course his parents. Photos courtesy of Karyn.

After the game, Kay and I shopped at Costco, the first time in several weeks. And then, it was back home again. Later in the afternoon I visited Middle Fork Barrens Natural Area for the first time this year, and despite the wind was able to photograph a few wildflowers.

Sunday was truly a day of rest for us. On Monday, Kay had her semi-annual dental cleaning and checkup; golf for me was cancelled because of wet conditions! And, it hailed in the evening.

Kay played pickleball on Tuesday at the HSV pickleball courts, and I played golf at Granada, despite last night’s hail storm. Kay had a great time, and held her own score wise. The golf scramble for the church group was fun, but our team did not fair so well.

Storms on Wednesday kept us practically housebound all day. The area received about an inch of rain. Trees have almost all leafed out, Dogwood trees are blooming, and shrubs are beginning to grow.

Wednesday through Friday, April 6-8, 2022—Finally, More Photographs

Kay played golf Wednesday morning, and I forced myself to walk Cedar Creek Trail in Hot Springs Village to photograph a few flowers. Unfortunately, Kay played golf at the Coronado Golf Course on rain-soaked fairways, making for a “sloppy” game. I had been waiting for the perfect day to take photographs since returning from Arizona in mid-March. And, of course, the perfect day doesn’t come often; we have been beset with wind, rain, and/or cold since returning. Today was no exception as was windy and overcast—but overcast is good. My target bloom today was specifically the Trout Lily, but I had waited a bit too late. However, upon entering the trail, a Fire Pink stood to the side beckoning for a photograph. It is one of my favorites.

And several Rue Anemones and Violets were blooming.

It is difficult to capture the detail in yellow wildflowers, but they were too beautiful to ignore.

And Wild Cherry trees were still in bloom, and the first Dogwood tree bloom of the season appeared, hidden off the side of the trail.

The forest floor was carpeted with Mayapple plants, and upon close examination, a bloom exposed itself, facing the good earth rather than the overcast skies. I couldn’t refuse.

And this spring beauty appeared, perhaps a Violet?

After the long walk, photographs were downloaded and Kay and I met Ron and Cheryl for dinner at the Copper Mule in Bryant, catching up after a long winter absence.

On Thursday, Kay played pickleball at Diamante and I played golf—very badly—at Isabella Golf Course.

Friday was haircut day for me, and it was so good having Melissa do a trim. She is such a good “barber” and stylist. She was able to fix the horrible haircut I got in Arizona in early January when the stylist practically did a buzz cut—and I don’t have that much hai

Saturday through Tuesday, April 2-5, 2022—Up and Back Down

Saturday was not a fun day at the Dunn household. My fever continued to rise during the night and early morning, finally peaking at 3° above base temperature. I remained in bed most of the morning as aches, headache, and fever declined to near normal. We played bridge with the Morrises in the evening.

By Sunday, the effects of the COVID booster has dissipated. We attended church, and played pickleball at Diamante in the afternoon; there were 16 players for two courts meaning a lot of waiting and not much playing.

Sunday afternoon pickleball at Diamante Country Club

Late afternoon we participated in a potluck for the HSV crowd at Palm Creek hosted by the Starrs. It was so much fun seeing everyone together again, including the Seitz’s who had just returned from Arizona. 

Monday was mostly about church business, with a little pickleball and some golf at Desoto Golf Course thrown in; our play is so inconsistent.

Heavy rain early Tuesday morning shut down all outdoor activities, and I used the time to catch up on computer “stuff” while Kay attended a monthly PEO meeting. Late Tuesday afternoon and into the evening, we participated in a Seder ritual at church. The Seder is a ritual performed by a community or by multiple generations of a family, involving a retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. This story is in the Book of Exodus (Shemot) in the Hebrew Bible. The Seder is the traditional Passover meal that includes reading, drinking 4 cups of wine, telling stories, eating special foods, singing, and other Passover traditions. It is held on the first night of Passover (and the second night if you live outside of Israel), the anniversary of Israel’s  miraculous exodus from Egyptian slavery more than 3,000 years ago. During the course of the evening we had:

  • four cups of wine
  • veggies dipped in saltwater
  • flat, dry cracker-like bread called matzah
  • bitter herbs, often horseradish (without additives), dipped into charoset (a paste of nuts, apples, pears and wine)
  • a meal that included grilled chicken with mushroom sauce, roasted vegetables, rice, and peach cobbler 

The Seder ritual is one of our favorite and most meaningful celebrations.

Since I’ve made few photos in the last five weeks, here are some throwback photos from a trip we made to the Southwest USA in 2008; these are from Mesa Verde National Park in New Mexico, a magnificent exhibition of Native American ruins.

Friday, April 1, 2022—This Makes Me Sick!

During the early morning hours, I awoke feeling achy, stuffy, and feverish reaction to the COVID booster. Thus far, I’ve had four COVID vaccinations, and four reactions. The ill effects last about 48 hours and generally consist of the symptoms described above. Nevertheless, Kay drove us to Memphis to visit with Jenny, Linc, and Sutton, and to attend Grandparents’ Day at Harper’s school, First Assembly Christian School. We sure enjoyed seeing everyone, but the kids are growing like bean stalks. Harper is such a beautiful young lady, dimples and all! The short program allowed us to return home, where I immediately went to bed.