Tag: autumn

Queen Wilhelmina Lodge

It’s time to saddle up and head out west; west Arkansas that is. Late October and early November is the perfect time to take a road trip along the Talimena Scenic Drive to see the fall foliage at its peak. Arkansas Highway 88 cuts a path through the Ouachita National Forest on its way to the Oklahoma border. The Talimena Scenic Drive offers mountain vistas of forested peaks and valleys with a multitude of outdoor excursions to enjoy fishing, hiking, and canoeing.

And if you’re wanting to make a weekend out of it, make a reservation at the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge perched on Rich Mountain, Arkansas’s second highest peak.

Built to entice railroad passengers in the 1890’s, the original structure cost a whopping 100-thousand dollars (2.6 million in today’s dollars) to build and I’m sure a glorious site to see for weary passengers.

Dutch investors named the inn in honor of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and kept a reserved suite of rooms for her in hope she would visit, which she never did.

The lodge has been through several transformations through the years, but after an extensive renovation, re-opened its doors to the public in July of 2015.

A dramatic mountaintop setting, Queen Wilhelmina Lodge offers 40 guest rooms, fine dining in the Queen’s Restaurant, and is within walking distance of several hiking trails and family oriented activities. Including programs that teach visitors about the mountain, the flora, the fauna and the history of the area.

So saddle up and head west to Queen Wilhelmina State Park.

The Talimena National Scenic Byway stretches 50 miles from eastern Oklahoma to western Arkansas. It takes about an hour and a half to drive the entire route.

I can see why the views alone would lure American settlers to west.

The Lum and Abner Museum and Jot-Em-Down Store not only chronicles the history of the iconic radio program of the same name, but also strives to preserve an important era of American life.




Need a rest? Book a room at Queen Wilhelmina’s “Castle in the Clouds.” The lodge was renovated and reopened in July 2015.

Four Innovative Tools for Raking Leaves

Much like death and taxes we can always count on autumn leaves and the annual backbreaking chore of collecting them with a rake and bag. I’ve decided that this is going to be the year that I get excited about raking leaves. How? Gadgetry of course. I’ve selected five tools to try out with the hope that one of them will make the job easier. Maybe you’d like to try one of these too?

True Temper Clog-Free Rake

It’s hard to beat a rake when it comes to gathering leaves. Even if you use a leaf blower, you still need a rake. My main frustration with rakes is the leaves get woven between the tines. This incarnation has tines that bend down 90 degrees and connect to make a V-shape. Because it’s made of poly instead of metal the tines won’t bend out of shape either. Reviews I’ve read say that the rake works well on leaves, twigs and pine needles. It’s available in 24-inch and 30-inch sizes.

Leaf Scoops from Gardex®

A thought that frequently crosses my mind while bagging leaves is “I wish I had giant dinner-plate-shaped hands.” Well, that wish is going to come true this year with the help of Gardex Leaf Scoops. The promise here is the ability to grab more leaves at one time without having the rely on the awkward rake and hand method. These will also be great for picking up thorny stems when I prune my roses in spring

Bag Butler®

This is a pretty simple concept that I’m hoping will make a big difference in how I bag leaves. The Bag Butler® is a piece of heavy duty plastic with side panels that fold flat when not in use. One slips a bag over the Bag Butler® and bends the side panels backwards so that the tension will cause them to stand open. I feel certain that there will be some finessing required to get the Bag Butler® set up, but I think it will be worth it because the plastic sleeve prevents twigs from ripping through the bag. You can also lay the leaf bag on its side to rake leaves right in.

Leaf Loader from Structured Solutions

This tool is a flexible disc that bends into a cannoli shape. Cover one end with a bag or yard waste bin, rake leaves onto the Leaf Loader then tip everything up and the leaves slide right into the bag or bin. An center strap adjusts to make the Leaf Loader as wide or narrow as you need. This looks like it would be an excellent tool for carrying leaves to the compost bin.