Mid-week rains over much of Arkansas meant that it was worth burning some vacation time Friday to go out in search of something to photograph. But it wasn't the prospect of shooting waterfalls or boulder-strewn creeks that had me up at two in the morning and loading up gear and Junie for a drive halfway across the state. It was instead a certain overlook on Rich Mountain high above the rolling country around Mena, and the view to the east toward a certain mountain that the sun would be rising behind this 27th day of April, and the fog that was sure to be rising from the still damp landscape in the still chilly air of a spring morning in the Ouachita mountains.
So after making pretty good time in the drive down, and not missing my turn-off to Ft. Smith and having to drive to Oklahoma before being able to turn around, and meeting almost no cars in the sparsely populated country south of Greenwood, we pulled over in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Mena at about 5:30, where I closed my eyes for about 15 minutes before we took the short trip up the mountain to the first overlook on the Talimena Scenic Drive.
When we jumped out of the car at the overlook, I was grateful that I had remembered to put on an extra shirt that morning, and then promptly forgot about the cold for the next hour or so as I concentrated on the grand expanse of landscape stretching for miles to the east and northeast.
Now and then I would snap out of it and look around to see what Junie was up to, only to find that she was being, as usual, the perfect hiking dog, close by and responsive to my calls, sniffing at this and that and noodling around here and there. Unfortunately, she also at some point engaged in that distressing canine habit of rolling gleefully in some kind of noxious substance, the nature of which is all too often completely apparent, but which this time remained and still remains a mystery. Some things are better left a mystery, don't you think?