Whalechaser's Musings

No Matter Where You Go...
There You Are
Make the Best of It

Monday, May 31, 2010


Well, what can I say. After living here in Arkansas for better than four years; I have to admit I'm a convert. That is not really the right word. I was never "against" Walmart. You may find this hard to believe...I had never been in one. That, my dear friends, was because where I used to live...there weren't any! Yep. NONE!

Why was that? I can only surmise (since I am reading Sam Walton's book: "Sam Walton Made in America" and (I am only about 60% through it) his big gamble was establishing discount stores in very small rural towns in the Midwest...actually Arkansas and Missouri then on to neighboring states and then on and on...

Since I spent most of my time in the very populated Northeast it should be no surprise that I had never been inside a Walmart. I don't think they have any in my old stomping grounds yet, but that may all change in the near future. Anyway, it did not take me long to discover Walmart and all its wonders. I went there immediately after getting most of my stuff out of the car and into the house when I first moved here. Food was the main reason for the trip, but even I could see that inside these super-centers one could pretty much satisfy any material need.

Well, for example, I was there just getting the basics so I wouldn't starve to death during the first week of my move. You know, milk, eggs, bread, some meat and veggies etc. and I found myself wandering a bit away from the food aisles and into the kitchen gadget and cooing utensils. Wow...pretty cool! I had never been in a store where one could buy food and the tools to cook it with, and the garbage cans to store the trash and the exercise equipment to work off all those extra calories, and the clothes you would need if you overdid the food thing, and garden stuff so your house looks nice, and jewelery for rewarding yourself for being good. Well the list goes on and on!

I found myself making excuses for why I had to make a trip to Walmart. I needed...shelf paper. Yep, they got that. I needed brushes and cleaning equipment..Yep they got that. I didn't know I needed new jeans, but when I passed a display of jeans for $17 (YES that's right $17.00..not the $45 I was used to paying back in the east) I knew I needed jeans and plenty of them! I was beginning to sing the praises of Walmart.

I know there are some people who don't feel a nice warm and fuzzy feeling about Walmart because they seem to drive the mom and pop stores out of business; that may very well be true. But I believe, if Walmart didn't do it, another company would have. It is just the trend and process of doing business more efficiently. In his book, Sam seems to be a pretty fair and caring person (a little cheap maybe, but fair) So all in all, I think it was a good thing that he went to bat for the consumer. We really are the one to benefit from his cunning business approach.

Did you know that there are banking branches inside most Super Walmarts? Eye centers where you can get an exam and glasses while your spouse does the shopping? Income taxes, yes, they have temporary offices during tax season and you can get your taxes done there too! Did you say you needed a haricut...Well, there's hardly anything that you can't get at Walmart. I found myself using the phrase "If you can't get it at Walmart; then you don't need it!" I don't know if I read that somewhere or if I actually invented it, but I sure became a believer pretty quickly.

Today they put the icing on the cake for me! I found myself suffering from a medical flareup that required a visit to the doctor. Me, sick on Memorial Day! I panicked for just a minute or two and then I remembered that back in the fall they were advertising flu shots at the CareExpress at the Super Walmart at the mall. I went on line and found the phone number; yes they ARE open today. I went down signed in and 30 minutes later I had finished my exam and had my prescription in hand. I just walked over to the prescription section and had it filled for $4. Now, here it is only seven hours later and I am already feeling better. I think it is true, if you can't get it at Walmart, seriously, you don't need it!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Biking the Neighborhood

Since it has been so warm here the last week or so, I've taken to going for a ride on my bike after dinner. The temperatures are usually lower and there is a kind of cool serenity in the air, little traffic and the winds are usually diminished as well...all in all a great time to be riding.
Here's some of the stuff I have been seeing lately:

This was a very skinny green snake that I saw last night. He was catching the last few rays of sunshine on the roadbed of a new development near me. There are no houses yet; just grasses trees and streets. It is actually a great place to ride since there is no traffic at all.

I have seen this fellow many times cruising a few hundred feet above the neighborhood houses. and while it may look like a lot of fun, the thing is noisy and disruptive. No one has any backyard privacy with this guy around!
Another shot of him riding off into the sunset

Friday, May 28, 2010

Arkansas Flag

I have been asked several times about the Arkansas flag. What do all the stars mean; what's with the diamond. Ok, I decided that I should remain ignorant no longer. I checked it out on Wikipedia and here is the short and official story on the Arkansas flag; I think it is quite interesting

The flag's elements have a complex symbolism. According to the 1987 state law defining the flag,[1] the diamond represents Arkansas' status as "the only diamond-bearing state in the Union". (Crater of Diamonds State Park was the only diamond mine in North America at the time, before more recent discoveries in Colorado and Montana.) The number (25) of white stars around the border of the diamond represents Arkansas's position as the 25th state to join the union. The blue star above "ARKANSAS" represents the Confederate States of America, which Arkansas joined in secession.

The three stars below "ARKANSAS" have three separate meanings[2]:

  • The three nations to which Arkansas has belonged (Spain, France, and the U.S.)
  • The Louisiana Purchase, which brought Arkansas into the U.S., was signed in 1803.
  • Arkansas was the third state (after Louisiana and Missouri) formed from the Louisiana Purchase.

So now we all know!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

More from the Buffalo river

Well, as I reviewed the post from the river trip, I see I focused mainly on the wildlife. There is a bunch more to show from that trip so I thought I'd do another post and include some of it as well.

Like this really serene view from the front of the canoe; you ONLY get this view if you are the first of your group in the water and the weather cooperates. All in all very much worth the effort!
Here is a shot of the many, many bluffs to be seen along the river. Doesn't matter where you put in or take out..if you do any part of the river you WILL see gorgeous bluffs

The view from the front is the best, as far as I'm concerned

Here we are having lunch on the river; just an informal affair enjoyed by each in their own way.

A special breakfast hash, made by our able guide Graham.

And whatever you do...don't forget dessert!

We made it to Gilbert and got out to get some supplies. This store is very much like a general store from the turn of the century. They had pretty much everything we needed as well as Good Humor frozen eclairs! Man o Man...that was good after a few days of paddling.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Woody's Morning routine

Woody has gotten used to being the only pet in very short order. First he sleeps until eight or later and then is happy as a clam just to sit on top of his cage and wait for me to fix my breakfast. (Before he would be anxious while I fix HIS breakfast) But, now he is content to just eat mine!

Of course, he does like to be clean, so after breakfast he gets a shower and does a little preening! All in a days work for birdie!

He looks so pathetic when he is all wet, but he sits on top of the cage and lets me use the blow dryer on him until he is nice and dry and fluffy again! Then he looks at himself in the mirror and sings and sings. Ah..la dolce vita!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hummingbirds Like Never Before

This is a phenomenal podcast on hummingbirds. Sit back and enjoy!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Buffalo River, Arkansas Canoe Trip

Just got back in from a six day canoe trip along the beautiful Buffalo River in Arkansas. We put in at Pruitt and took out at Buffalo City, Arkansas. Altogether we paddled over 100 miles in the six days we spent on the river. This is, without a doubt, one of the best rivers in the USA. Anyone who loves paddling should seriously try and get here to enjoy it. It is brimming with wildlife and it has no private residences nor farm animals along any of its banks. Just pure nature at its best. Take a look at some of the wildlife that I managed to catch with my camera.

Here is a beautiful blue and black butterfly...the place was loaded with them. They are so tame that they land on you or very near by
This is a blue one closed up...so he appears brown, just camouflage so he blends with the rocks and forest floor better.

We must have seen over a hundred turtles this week, it is so refreshing to see so much healthy wildlife so near to home! This state is truly amazing for the variety it has.
After spotting over five eagles flying over head (one with a fish in its claws and landing in a tree across the river from where we camped) we saw this immature eagle learning to fish for himself on the last day of the trip. So calm and focused...what joy!
Then (I guess one might say this was the highlight of the trip) after beaching for the day and setting up the tent, I was returning from a potty call and found this guy slithering not more that two feet from our tent. He was so close, that I could not pick up my camera until he had passed me and continued his journey to the river...he was heading for the other side. It is a timber rattle snake and mighty healthy looking I might add! Double click the photo for a larger view.

Here is a shot from behind the tent, once I was finally able to get my camera.
This was another exciting natural occurrence. we were watching a blue heron that appeared to be fishing as we were going down the river and then he flew a few hundred yards to the other side of the river and swooped down to catch this snake..for his dinner that day. The snake did not have a chance of survival.
Here is another butterfly. He landed on my towel (that was drying out on the canoe as we paddled) they have no fear of humans; so we got many good close up looks at these guys.

There was so much wildlife that just before the end of the trip I took a poll survey and here is what I came up with:
Green Heron
Snake (at least five different kinds)
Eagles and immature eagles
blue butterflies (very small light blue, none of those shots came out though)
black with blue butterflies
black with brown butterflies
Luna Moth (this was absolutely gorgeous..but my camera battery died..I am hoping to get a photo from a fellow paddler to post in the near future!)
fish (suckers and trout and a bunch of others I could not identify)
Piliated Woodpecker
Road Runner

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bumper Cars

Remember when you were a kid and the very best thing about any amusement park that you visited was the bumper cars? Gosh, I could spend the entire night in those things! Driving around deliberately bumping into whoever was nearby! In fact, most of my money was spent on tickets for this ride or pizza, everything else paled by comparison for me.
Well there is a fellow Tom Wright, in San Diego, California who has taken that thought and jacked it up just a little bit...
See his link here
or just take a look at some of his cool renovations! They are street legal and sure do look like a lot of fun!