6th Annual Hassey "Goat Vacation"
After Goat Bluff Trail, we hiked down into the river bottoms where we encountered "Farmer's Farmstead". I thought it was a funny name and wondered whether this was the owners' last name or whether it was given a generic label because no one knew their name. First we explored the spacious old barn. It looked in better shape than some of the barns I've used over the years!  

Not far away, although difficult to see through the dense brush, was the farmhouse. 

The cellar door was broken and I found many empty glass jars still on the shelves. 

And there was ample evidence of wild pigs! I thought they were deer hoof prints at first, but deer don't live in dark, underground places. I've never hiked in wild pig territory before. 

I found this little medicine vial on the porch. I wonder what it once contained? 

The interior of the house was in tatters and looked like it had last been occupied in the 1960's or 70's. There were pieces of glittering formica backsplash in the kitchen, peeling floral wallpaper, and cracked linoleum tiles on the floor. The sole inhabitant (other than the transient wild pigs in the cellar) was a bat hanging from the living room ceiling. I took many photos because abandoned houses fascinate me in a sad sort of way, but this picture stuck with me because of the leaf pattern stenciling on the door. It's the personal touches that made this house a home to the people who once lived in it, and it's sad to think that a house once full of warmth, happiness, and family has sat cold and abandoned through the years. So many events occupied these people's minds--things that at the time were so important but are no longer remembered--a sick calf, a church picnic, an early frost, a dance, a washout in the road, a new foal. Everyday things put color into our lives but are forgotten with Time, and those who come after can only imagine them.          

Right next to the main "Farmer" residence was a completely collapsed house that Phil called the "man cave" because of the large easy chair still standing among the rubble. 

And then there is the necessary house. This one looks ready for action and is double-seated for maximum efficiency. 

I'm not sure what this shed was for. It was leaning at such a crazy angle that I wasn't about to step closer and investigate. Sputnik was foolhardy enough to take a peek despite my protests, but he wouldn't tell me what he spied through that door. 
After Farmer's Farmstead, we hiked up the hill to Cherry Grove Cemetery. It was shady and quiet and the perfect spot for a rest and a picnic lunch. The last person was buried here in 1971.

Here we found the answer to our question about the "Farmer" farmstead. It was a last name after all. Here lies James W. and Sarah E. Farmer. 

Next to them are buried two of their children who died in infancy.

If yesterday's river tromping adventure was Finn's day for photos, this one was Sputnik's. 

I love how solemn he looks.

Finn and Sputnik made themselves very cozy between a couple of Buchanans.
We ended up spending a lot more time in this graveyard than originally planned because reading the headstones was so entertaining. While it's easy for us to take our education for granted in this day and age, I'm sure it was difficult to get formal learning in these remote areas back in the 1800's. Unfortunately, the grave carver chiseled his lack of education (and sometimes perhaps his inebriation) in stone. In case they are hard to read on your computer screen, I have added translations above each picture.  

I don't know why there is a period behind every word, but it seems to be a common (though not consistent) theme with this particular headstone carver. The spacing is rather interesting as well. Didn't this guy ever think of penciling in the letters before he started carving? If he did it all freehand, I'm impressed with his skill, but not with his forethought. 
"Wele. cross. the. river. of. Jordan. hapy. in. the. lord." 

"gods. childorn. are. gethering. home. to.die. no. mo re."

"blesed. ar. the. ded. who di. in the lord"

This was our favorite:
joseph M. Buch.
anan .was Born. 
a prile. the. 9.18 27. 
was killed BY 
Mrach. the. 5 1864 
whilst. in. the. 
service of the 
natianal armey 
as a Recruiting 


I can forgive misspellings, but how does one make a typo while carving in stone? "Mrach"?? And if you're going to misspell in stone, why ADD letters ("aprile", "armey")? I can't help but think that this man might have had a little help from the jug down cellar while chiseling out his masterpiece. I love how the "r" in "Recruiting" was squeezed in afterwards. 

My favorite part is that it is carved into a headstone with books adorning the top--a shrine to education. This headstone is indeed a masterpiece. I only hope mine will be this memorable.  

This headstone was unique in that I've never seen so much age detail given on an adult's headstone.
Margret. Farmer was
born oct the 9day18  58
an died nov the 24 1882
age 24yers 1month an
15 days Born in Newton
           ARK "

Lest we laugh too immoderately over the dead, I bring us back down to sobering reality with this infant's gravestone. Many youngsters were buried here. It appeared that one couple lost at least five or six babies and children. Quite a few women died in their 20's and 40's as well. I wondered if many of them died in childbirth. I'm sure doctors were scarce here back in the 1800's and their medical resources limited. It was not an easy life, and I admire the brave folks who, despite incredible hardship, carved out a place for themselves in these steep, rocky valleys.  
After we left the cemetery we came to a rather difficult river crossing. It was wide and almost waist deep. Going around was not an option at this point--we'd come way too far. So we took off our shoes, held them over our heads, and waded in. Sputnik's panniers floated for a few seconds and then filled with water. Good thing we'd already eaten most of the food! I kept the camera over my head and hoped I wouldn't slip and fall on the uneven bottom. I had some close calls, but since Sputnik was on a leash next to me I was able to grab onto him for balance a couple of times. When we got to shore and replaced our socks and shoes, Phil noticed that his ankles were once more covered in seed ticks. Yuck!    

We soon came to a newly mown hay field and another old barn. This one was big and beautiful with a long grain storage area down the center, many box stalls for horses, areas on the side to keep equipment, and a huge hay mow up top. Sputnik is standing in front of the grain storage. I liked the slanted boards. 

Around the corner was a beautiful farmhouse that went with the big barn. We couldn't peek inside because it was all boarded up, but the outside looked as nice as if it were ready to welcome new occupants. 

The Erbie historic church was a little further on, and there we encountered a bevy of park rangers because the church was undergoing restoration. I was a little nervous that they might say something about our goats. After all, the locals had warned us that they might not be welcome in the National Park. But while the rangers were surprised, they were not hostile. They were mostly intrigued, and I told them they ought to look into using packgoats to help with trail maintenance in the non-horse areas of the park. 

When we arrived at our truck we considered going the long way home on the well-maintained 2WD roads that the park service had used to access the church. But since we'd already conquered the rough road coming down, we decided it would be just as well to take the same way back. It wasn't so bad now that we knew what to expect. We had just enough daylight left to take a quick jump in the river at Ponca before heading back to our cabin for one last soak in the hot tub and packing up. It was a grand four days in Arkansas, and our only regret was that we got so many seed ticks. My ankles are still itching two weeks later (although they're finally starting to get better). Next time we're using the waterproof bug repellent and we'll be spraying under our socks as well as above them!
It was foggy when we packed up and left Ponca on Friday morning, but we climbed out of the valley into the sunshine of a gorgeous day--a perfect day for traveling and for...UHFing!

What, you might ask, is "UHFing"? 

Let us go back to 1989 when "Weird Al" Yankovic wrote and starred in a go-nowhere film called "UHF" that later became a cult classic and Phil's all-time favorite movie since childhood. It was filmed in Tulsa, OK, and since we happened to be driving through Tulsa on our way home, and since many of the places in the film are still there, it became a necessary stop.   

Our first stop was "Big Edna's Burger World". This is what it looked like in the movie:  

It has since been painted red and is now the home of the "Knotty Pig" BBQ and burger joint.  

We got there just in time for lunch and boy was it ever GOOD! I've never seen such a variety of big, crazy burgers on one menu, and the BBQ was delicious. It was very reasonably priced too. Highly recommend! 

Loved the welcome sign in the door! 

Next stop was the apartment of Raul Hernandez of "Raul's Wild Kingdom". 

He may not have needed no "stinking badgers," but I'm sure Raul could have used a couple of goats in his apartment!  

Next up was the cemetery from "Plots R Us" mortuary service

We didn't bring our goats in of course, but we snapped a quick shot from the street corner. 

After visiting the cemetery, we walked back to the downtown area on our way to "City Hall" and stopped at a fountain so the goats could grab a drink (yes, I checked it for chlorine first). 
After the goats got a refreshing drink and a rest in the shade, our next stop was the steps of "City Hall" which is actually First Christian Church.  

As we were getting photos in front of "City Hall" our attention was grabbed by an uproar across the street. Catty-corner to the church was a Catholic school where the kids were in the playground for recess. They'd spied our goats and were clamoring along the fence to get a closer look. Not wanting to disappoint them, we moseyed over to say hi. The volume was incredible, as was the number of hands poking through the chain link. Every kid was trying to shout his or her question a little louder than their classmates. I'm not sure why Finn and Sputnik put up with it, but they were incredibly good-natured and sidled right up to the fence so the kids could reach them. Phil and I felt shell-shocked afterwards, but I get the feeling those kids will never forget the day the goats visited their school at recess.

Next up was Kuni's Karate and Weird Al's apartment.    
Some trees and a big truck kept us from getting a good shot, and the building looks a bit different as it's undergoing some remodeling, but this is the place!

Finally, the pinnacle of our UHF tour (drum roll please!)...

The UHF transmitter tower! 

It looks just like it did in the movie except the little shack is long gone. 

Even the parking lot is still there! 

We loved that the registration number ends in "62". For those who haven't seen the movie, it was about TV station U62.

Phil snagged a piece of the parking lot to take home as a precious memento of our wonderful visit to the UHF filming locations in Tulsa, OK. 
And that's that for the 6th annual Hassey "goat vacation!" I hope you enjoyed the tour!
What a great chronology of your holiday Nanno. Thank you for including the interesting snippets of history along with all the brilliant photos. Is the blue pack saddle your new Sopris one from Charlie, and the smaller orange one a Marc Warnke kid pack?
Happiness is a baby goat snoring in your lap
Yeah, the blue saddle is the Sopris and the orange is Marc's. The red one that Finn wears is a Wind River saddle with Acid Rain panniers.

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