Hey Folks, it’s Winter!

The Community Bicyclist

I have heard more whining about the cold winter this year than ever before. What short memories us Arkansans have. It was just a few months ago when we couldn’t wait for the summer heat to end. We are really lucky here in Arkansas. We get four, three month long seasons per year. That is one of the blessings of the Natural State. I have lived in some pretty diverse climates. California, Montana, Florida and Maryland, I’m familiar with the weather on every side of the Continental United States. For four years I was a weatherman in the U.S. Navy (Aerographers Mate) where I did weather observation from below the equator to above the arctic circle. So I get weather.

To me long seasons are boring. Long summers, long winters, it doesn’t matter, the same old thing is just the same old thing after awhile. Each season offers up its own opportunities, it’s own reasons to enjoy the outdoors. One of my favorite times of year is what we call “Leaf-off”. You know, between the time the last leaf falls from the trees to the first blooms come out in spring. This is the best time to enjoy an Arkansas overlook. As a matter of fact during other times of the year some of these overlooks can’t be classified as such. They are merely wide spots in the road or trail where if you look real hard you might catch a glimpse of the distant mountains, rivers, hollows or even a good cityscape.

During the winter sunrises and sunsets last a little longer. The colors are overwhelming and the crisp air adds to the sharpness of the view. The photo above was taken on January 22nd, 2009 on the Talimena Scenic Drive near Queen Wilhelmina State Park. I could not have gotten this in the summer. Some of the best mountain biking I’ve done was during the winter in Arkansas. The trails are not as crowded, you can see the path far ahead of you and when you are on a ridgeline you have views for miles. It’s truly a magical time to ride.

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Even if you are not into being out in the cold you can still take a drive down the hundreds of miles of scenic highways in Arkansas. Believe me, it looks a lot different in the winter than in other months. You’ll see things you never knew were there. You’ll see more wildlife like the deer and opossums that we saw running through the woods on a bike ride this past weekend. You can go to some of the Arkansas State Parks that have eagle tours and see our national symbol where it belongs, in the wild.

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Spring and then summer will be here soon enough. Take some time to enjoy all the seasons that Arkansas has to offer.

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