My love of nature and outdoors began almost as soon as my favorite oldest memory, somewhere in the mountains near Little Rock Arkansas. It was a family vacation with the drive being hot and torturous. Six kids including parents were packed into one very old station wagon. But when that long drive there was over, the time spent was full of fond memories. I have them captured on mental Polaroids and stories that I pass down to my children and friends. Allow me to pass those memories on to others and start my hiking blog with my first hiking experiences.
We stopped first in Little Rock to visit our in laws back in the mid to late 80’s. Their home was situated so far away from town and “civilization” the nearest television was a two mile hike upward and in the mountains(their closest neighbor). I had never been so away from the city, or walked such long distances. I recall feeling a little unsure every time we went out for a hike, but my warm and loving family in Arkansas had a solution for all my little worries. In those days I was still small enough for my scrawny cousin Donna to carry me on her shoulders, which she did almost always when we hiked down to one of my favorite spots, the river. I still remember beautiful stones glistening in the water beneath a fall. They shone like gold and I imagined myself to be a genie surrounded by gems. I might have thought those rocks were really gold at the time. We picked up pyrite and collected other rocks like limestone and beautiful rose quartz to take home. We splashed around in the river, watching with amazement a brilliant water fall that we swam a few feet from. The fall seemed so huge then I am sure it was mini, nothing was ever as big as I thought it was when I was so young! I remember one day swimming towards a deep black hole. I could see the hole clearly above the water it appeared very black, Donna splashed by and warned me not to go close to it and pulled me back. Though I lost touch with Donna, I have to be very thankful she looked after me so well! Well she told ma a giant sea turtle lived in that hole and it was known to attack people! She made it seem so frightening, I listened and backed away from the deep dark abyss. Our last night there, we took a dip in the river and on our way back home fears struck my pounding heart as I heard wild animals whopping and hollering in the distance . Donna was screaming like crazy which triggered screaming among everyone else, I stayed quiet with big eyes as I bopped up and down on her shoulders ! I remember like it was yesterday propped on Donna’s shoulders as usual we were screaming like a pack of wild wolves ourselves and running miles back to my aunts home as hungry wolves howled for blood. My cousin Donna swore they would eat us if we did not hurry home, I still question if we did not overreact as children? I imagine a picture would have been funny with a bunch of little kids-9 of us- screaming and running down a mountain road from hungry wolves…That was my fondest memory, and I could not wait to go back to them.
In my later teens those days of past in Arkansas and Tennessee would haunt me with beautiful memories of green trees, roosters crowing, peacock tails, honeysuckle, rivers pure enough we could actually swim in, and even wolves howling at night. I could only think to get back to them and I did…I got back to find things were horribly different. The lands were totally gutted in less than a decade, when I asked my family where certain spots we once played in were? They gave me a sad look and simply said, “capitalism”. Corporations took trees for housing projects or other “developmental” projects. The lay out of the land and lush trees were just not the same anymore…Even worse was, that beautiful river used for swimming and fishing where the giant turtle lived, it had been all eaten up by acid. I thought it impossible! How can anyone ruin such a gift from above!? Well an acid jeans wash company could. It seems the 80’s styles and trends were such a horrid and regrettable thing, those acid jeans that were at one time so fashionable polluted and spoiled fresh water lakes and streams. The fish died and so did many future memories, like the ones I planned to make there that summer. I was bummed the rest of the summer. Made a trip to Hurricane Mills to kiss Tennessee goodbye, took my money for farm work enjoyed the outdoors while I could before heading back to Texas.
My love for nature was still strong however. As soon as I made back home, I made it a point to make nature a part of my life. I studied geology so I could get free rides to camp sights, caverns, and learn valuable skills for hiking, which I did. I also took courses in camping and high activities, it was like Boy Scouts for adults. Texas was a whole other set of fond memories I can get into later, especially the Big Bend! Any trip that involved the outdoors which I could make, I took full time advantage of. I always tried to live by the philosophy, “the best things in life are free” Learning the ways of nature was almost free and you get something back almost every time you take a hike. So, I learned parts of Mexico, Texas, and Colorado, I learned Florida too and now I am learning a whole new country, Iran.
I have to make this post short but I will leave you with one of my many photos from my hiking trips in Iran, a reward and a memory at the same time…I hope to carry on with this subject in a few days, it’s coffee time for now!