There are places, times of the year, events, activities, family, friends, and a limitless array of life influences that can put a smile on your face. When all of those converge at a point in time a person knows that all is well with the world for the moment regardless of what else may happen.
(updated 12/10/11) Click the slideshow images to advance photos. The story continues below. For you bike-junkies, click here to jump to the bike video
Click to start or navigate the slideshow.
That was the case this last Thanksgiving holiday period at the place we know as Jones Valley — a rustically
idyllic place where my extended family has had a reunion since 1923. This year it was different, and still special. It was different because we stayed at the big Bean (that’s a name, ok?) cabin near, but not in the Valley as we usually do. We had too many people for the travel trailer which is our usual abode.
Jennifer’s sister Julie and her family joined us. She and Bill and their daughter Lainey along with their mom, Jo, helped to partially fill this cavernous cabin.
Hardly a “cabin” in the traditional use of the word in Arkansas, this place had several prior lives. The Big Cabin was built in the 1850’s by David Basinger, one of the first settlers in the Caddo Gap area. See Bassinger info at the end.
In subsequent years, the structure served as a general store, a stagecoach stop and Masonic Lodge. Finally, just before the turn of the 20th century, Arkadelphia doctor, J.R. Dale, purchased the cabin and moved it to its present location. He used the cabin as a summer retreat for his family for many years.
The cabin is just down the road from the historical village of Caddo Gap, Arkansas. Caddo Gap is the site where the explorer DeSoto was defeated in battle by the Caddo Indians, which forced him to turn back eastward toward the Mississippi River.
Lainey entertained us with tales of hikes that she and Bill took. The outdoors is what Arkansas is all about and a portion of the time for Bill and me was devoted to running some trails on the mountain bikes.
This shot is from Bill’s GoPro HD camera mounted on his seat post, facing backwards. That’s me in the background rounding the corner. More on the biking later, including a video.
Bosco and Lacey were an endless source of wonder and entertainment. The wonder part came from watching two English Bulldogs negotiate slick, wooden stairs. That is, when they weren’t looking for handouts.
Thanksgiving Day would not be complete without food. Lots of food. Of course, that takes a lot of time in the kitchen. I did not dare to try to shoot the kitchen fervor with all of the “wimmen-folks” out there, for fear of having an iron pot launched my direction. Over my earlier exhortations to “keep it simple” they did the obligatory thing and whipped up a great TG dinner with turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, dressing, sweet potatoes with mini-marshmallows and several pies. It was four o’clock before we ate, but well worth the wait.
I did catch Jennifer in the kitchen and in the end we all enjoyed the meal, several slices of pie each, and remembered to be thankful for our individual and collective blessings. Luckily, I did not blow up after that third piece of pie that evening — I was carb-loading for tomorrow’s mountain biking.
In the background of the dinner table photo you can see the monster fireplace in the Big Cabin. It did put out some heat.
Not only did we enjoy the fireplace, but Bosco took delight in checking out the snap-crackle-pop of the embers. He eventually laid down on a rug in front of the hearth but only after we had some good laughs at his expense.
We played endless games of Scattergories Thursday night. Now I am not a tabletop game player, as Jen will tell you. But this is a pretty cool game and, even if I say so myself, I’m fairly good at it. Recommended if you like a fast-paced game that actually challenges the mind.
The view from the front porch made it an inviting place to sip the morning coffee. In the photo on the left you can see the light fog that hung in the air each day. The weather was pleasantly cool and especially well-received by Bill and myself when we finally got on the bikes. Sunday morning finally brought temperatures below 40 degrees after the gentle rain of Saturday that had Bill and me stashed by the fireplace engrossed in books delivered electronically on our respective iPad and Nook e-readers.
After the girls spent the day Saturday on a day-trip to Hot Springs we came back together to enjoy more reading, some telling of tall tales by the effervescent and precocious Lainey. She and Bill did a little biking and some hiking (thereby gaining a hitch-hiker that Bill thought “sort of” looked like a tick) and Lainey recounted every step as Julie bathed her brain with iPad electrons.
Although we did not stay in Jones Valley this time, we ducked the mile up the road to check out the relatives who were gathered there. In all, six or seven family groups were there. Many of them collaborated and combined their dishes at the family dining hall. We would have tossed ours in as well but would never have been able to drag all of our pieces down there.
What does any of this have to do with falling on leaves?
Then there was Friday, the day Bill and I anticipated: the mountain bike day! We had hoped to ride two days but Saturday produced way too much rain to want to get out and play in the mud. Friday was good. We rode the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail, also known as the LOViT Trail. In all it is 21 miles in length. We rode 6.2 miles of it, and then Bill rode about another 3.5 miles after I was worn out trying not to fall ON the copious bed of leaves covering the trail and the gullys below the trail that seemed to have open arms begging me to come visit. I had not ridden for almost two weeks by then and was still recovering from a cold of the week prior but even had I been up to par, Bill still would have kicked my tail!
Here’s the clip, about 3-1/2 minutes long. The shots over the rear wheel are from Bill’s camera mounted on his seat post which mine are from a camera mounted on a chest harness. You can see the smooth ride Bill’s 29’er gives with its full suspension compared to my very rough ride on the hardnose-hardtail steel frame bike.
David Bassinger info from Roots Web:
- ID: I8729
- Name: David Basinger
- Surname: Basinger
- Given Name: David
- Sex: M
- Birth: 17 Aug 1820 in Tennessee 1
- Death: 15 May 1877 in Arkansas 1
- Burial: Basinger Cemetary, Montgomery Co., Arkansas 1
- _UID: 89E92511B83BB2438A8FEDF264CC65A0BD71
The Basinger-Boyers data was supplied by Vicki Pearl Huggins,
< Duxandroses@aol.com > a descendent of David’s and Anna’s marriage.
David and Anna Basinger moved to Arkansas from Missouri before 1854.On 10 OCT
1856 David recieved deed for 160 acres west of the Caddo River and south of
the gap. This was later to be called Centerville. They had a store here. Source:http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=eagh2910&id=I8729