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Exploring Arkansas May 2013

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Bentonville Kite Fest, Natural Dam Falls, Indian Trail Trees
One of the simplest joys of life, that's also quite therapeutic..is flying a kite. At the annual Bentonville Kite Fest, usually every kite imaginable can be seen in the sky, and enjoyed by every generation.all in one location Natural Dam Falls, near the community of Natural Dam in the Ozark National Forest is just what the name suggests-a natural wall of rock spanning the entire length of a creek..creating a dam of sorts. For some, "Indian Trail Trees" are merely shrugged off as misfits of nature…but for others, these bent "L" shaped trees served a specific purpose as the "highway signs" for early Native Americans.

THE NEXT TIME SOMEBODY TELLS YOU, HEY, GO FLY A KITE, WELL, A GOOD PLACE TO DO THAT IS AT THE ANNUAL KITE FESTIVAL IN BENTONVILLE. KITES HAVE COME A LONG WAY.

RADICAL, MAN, RADICAL.

I GOT INTO KITING BY GOING TO AIR SHOWS AS A KID. USED TO GO TO A LOT OF AIR SHOWS TO SEE THE THUNDER BIRDS AND THE BLUE ANGELS AND THE BLUE ANGELS AND THUNDER BIRDS STOPPED COMING TO MY TOWN. IT WASN'T A BIG ENOUGH TOWN TO HOST AN AIR SHOW ANY MORE. SO I TRANSITIONED TO HOT AIR BALLOONS. AND EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE THERE WOULD BE KITE FLYERS AT THE HOT AIR BALLOON RALLY. I ALWAYS THOUGHT IT WAS AN INTERESTING EXPERIENCE. I RECENTLY MOVED AND I MET THE WIND RIDER KITE CLUB AND I WAS INTRIGUED BY THE THINGS THEY HAD AND THINGS THEY HAD DONE WITH THEIR KITES. I GOT ONTO THESE TWO LINE STUNT KITES AND THEY REALLY GRABBED MY ATTENTION. IT IS AN EXCITING HOBBY TO HAVE. IT KEEPS YOU EXERCISING THROUGHOUT THE WEEK RATHER THAN SITTING AROUND DOING NOTHING. I JUST FELL IN LOVE WITH IT INSTANTLY. THIS KITE IN PARTICULAR IS A CUSTOM KITE. THIS, AGAIN, IS CALLED -- MADE OF NYLON. THESE ARE CALLED SWEATERS AND THE ONE ON THE WING IS GOING TO BE CALLED A SPAR. IT'S PRETTY RARE. A KITE LIKE THIS WOULD RUN YOU ANYWHERE FROM 100 TO $300 MAYBE. I HAVE PROBABLY SEVEN OF THESE KITES IN DIFFERENT SIZES AND SHAPES. AND THIS ONE IS REAL NICE. IT JUST DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR IN YOUR KITE, BUT I REALLY LOVE IT. IT'S A GREAT TIME AND A GREAT HOBBY,. OBVIOUSLY GREAT ATMOSPHERE.

TELL US THE TRICK OF THE NOISE.

THE TRICK OF THE NOISE. WELL, I'M GOING TO TURN THE KITE THIS WAY. WHEN YOU LOOK AT IT FROM THIS ANGLE YOU HAVE THESE UPRIGHTS. THERE IS ONE HERE AND ONE HERE. WHAT THIS DOES IS IT CAUSES THE FABRIC TO BE OFF THE CENTER SPAR HERE. THERE IS ANOTHER ONE OUT HERE AT THE EDGE ON EACH EDGE AND THAT KEEPS THE FABRIC TAUT. AS IT'S GOING THROUGH THE WIND AND PASSING OVER IT, IT MAKES THIS FABRIC FLAP RIGHT HERE. I REALLY LOVE THE SOUND OF IT. IT SOUNDS LIKE IT HAS A MOTOR LIKE AN AIRPLANE BUZZING BY KIND OF. EACH ONE HAS A DIFFERENT SOUND. I REALLY LIKE TO USE A TAIL. I TOOK THE TAIL OFF. BUT USUALLY I HAVE A 250-FOOT TAIL THAT I FLY ON THE BACK OF THIS. AND YOU CAN REALLY GET A LOT OF ROTATION, YOU KNOW, AND IT MAKES A GOOD VISUAL EFFECT FOR THE PEOPLE TO SEE. [MOTOR SOUND]

FOR MANY OF US, FLYING A KITE IS REALLY NOTHING NEW. BUT BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THERE IS NOW A GENERATION IN WHICH THIS WHOLE KITE FLYING THING IS NEW.

WELL, CHRIS, I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'VE NEVER FLOWN A KITE BEFORE. WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?

WELL, NEVER HAD THAT ONE BEFORE. GOT TO TRY IT OUT.

WHAT DID YOU THINK?

THEY'RE PRETTY FUN.

IT TAKES A LITTLE PRACTICE, BUT IT'S EASE TOY GET THE HANG OF IT.

WHEN THE WIND IS BLOWING.

WHEN THE WIND IS BLOWING, RIGHT.

DID IT A COUPLE TIMES.

GOT YOUR TECHNIQUE DOWN?

YEAH. IT'S --

ABOUT IT. YOU THINK YOU MIGHT PICK THIS UP AS, YOU KNOW, AS A HOBBY?

I DON'T KNOW, I MIGHT TRY IT OUT AGAIN SOMETIMES.

YEAH?

YEAH.

GET YOU ONE OF THOSE BIG DELTA KITES.

OH, YEAH.

OR ONE THAT DOES TRICKS WITH TWO LINES. THAT'S WHERE YOU GET INTO --

THE FANCIER ONES?

YEAH. THAT WILL GET YOU HOOKED FOR SURE. [LAUGHTER]

YEAH.

AND IF YOU'RE READY FOR A REVOLUTION, THERE IS A KITE OUT THERE JUST FOR YOU. IF THERE ARE SMART PHONES, THEN WHY NOT SMART KITES?

A KITE HAS THE ABILITY TO STOP, AND THAT'S WHAT -- AND GOES BACKWARDS. THAT'S WHAT MAKES THE KITE UNIQUE. THE INVENTOR IS --

IS YOU, RIGHT? YOU WISH YOU WERE THE INVENTOR. [LAUGHTER]

YEAH. DARRELL LEAKY IS FROM THE SAN DIEGO AREA.

THAT'S A GOOD KITE FLYING AREA.

WE USED TO GO OUT THERE. THAT'S WHERE HE WAS WHEN HE INVENTED THE KITE. HE WAS OUT THERE ONE DAY WORKING ON THE KITE AND HE FLEW IT STRAIGHT UP AND CAME BACK DOWN. HE SAID, WHAT HAPPENED? AND HE REALIZED THAT IT WAS THE KITE, IT WASN'T SOMETHING SO MUCH THAT -- IT WASN'T THE WIND. IT'S THE FACT THAT HE ACTUALLY CONTROLLED THE KITE AND HE MADE IT STOP AND HE MADE IT -- HE KNEW RIGHT THEN HE HAD MANEUVERABILITY. HE BASED THE WING ON AN AIRPLANE WING. THAT'S HOW HE COULD GET THE MANEUVERABILITY OUT OF IT. SO, INTERESTING FACT THAT NOT A REAL LARGE COMPANY, BUT THERE'S A KITE ALL OVER THE WORLD. THEY'RE IN EUROPE, JAPAN. THEY SELL KITES TO CHINA. IT'S PHENOMENAL WHERE THEY'RE -- SWEDEN. THE KITES ARE TREMENDOUS. AUSTRALIA, THERE IS A BIG FOLLOWING. THAT'S THE THING. YOU HAVE A HUGE FOLLOWING ALL OVER THE UNITED STATES. BUT KITES IS NOT A MAINSTREAM THING. WE GREW UP WITH KITES WHEN WE WERE YOUNGER. THE YOUNGER GENERATION DID. BUT TODAY I DON'T THINK THE CHILDREN REALIZE THAT THE KITE IS STILL ALIVE AND WELL.

KID, I GUESS THERE'S TOO MANY OTHER THING THEY OCCUPY THEMSELVES WITH, OR GET INTO TROUBLE. AND LIKE YOU SAID, THIS IS A REALLY NEAT THERAPEUTIC SPORT.

YEAH, THE AMAZING THING ABOUT IT IS I DON'T WATCH WHAT I EAT. BUT WHEN I STARTED FLYING THIS KITE, I LOST 10 POUNDS THE FIRST FEW MONTHS. IT WAS A GOOD THING. IT GOT ME BACK OUTSIDE. IT MADE MY MIND WORK TO KEEP IT INVOLVED IN FLYING THE KITE, AND LEARNING HOW TO FLY THE KITE. AND, SO, IT'S JUST AMAZING. LIKE TODAY, THERE'S LOTS OF THINGS ON YOUTUBE. I TAUGHT MYSELF TO WHAT I SAW ON YOUTUBE. I THINK MODERN TECHNOLOGY KIDS ARE THRIVING ON TODAY, AND I MADE THAT A PART OF HOW I LEARNED TO FLY THE KITE AND DO EVERYTHING BECAUSE THE SIMPLICITY OF THE KITE IS WHAT AMAZED ME, TOO. THE GENTLEMAN THAT DESIGNED IT WAS TRULY A GENIUS BECAUSE HE MADE IT WHERE I CAN TAKE IT DOWN IN LESS THAN 10 MINUTES AND HAVE IT FLYING IN LESS THAN 10 MINUTES. AND IN THE AVERAGE DAY, THAT'S WHAT MAKES THE KITEV SO NICE. ~ KITE SO NICE

THIS PARTICULAR KITE CAN ALSO BE NOT SO NICE, SAY, WHEN GETTING INTO A DOG FIGHT WITH A PTERODACTYL. TERRY RANKIN HAS ALSO TRAINED HIS KITE TO PAINT. AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, THERE'S ALSO KITE-THORITY. OF COURSE, WHEN THE WIND IS COOPERATING. RADICAL, MAN, RADICAL. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪

IT LOOKS MAN-MADE, BUT IT'S NOT. AND THUS THE NAME, THE NATURAL DAM FALLS, SPANNING NEARLY 200 FEET ACROSS THE WIDTH OF MOUNTAIN FORK CREEK, THIS ENTIRE AREA IS QUITE PICTURESQUE TO SAY THE LEAST. AND IT'S ALSO AN OFFICIAL RECREATION AREA IN THE OZARK NATIONAL FOREST. NATURAL DAM FALLS IS A REAL EASY LOCATION TO GET TO. FROM INTERSTATE 40 AT VAN BUREN, TAKE HIGHWAY 59 NORTH FOR 15 MILES TO THE COMMUNITY OF NATURAL DAM. TURN LEFT AT THE COUNTY ROAD THERE, AND AFTER ABOUT ONE-8TH OF A MILE OR SO, YOU'LL SEE THE FALLS OFF TO YOUR RIGHT. OBSERVATION OF THESE FALLS CAN BE DONE RIGHT FROM YOUR VEHICLE, BUT GETTING OUT AND DOING SOME EXPLORING IS EVEN BETTER. NATURAL DAM IS JUST WHAT THE NAME SAYS. ALTHOUGH IT MAY LOOK MAN-MADE, THE ROCK LEDGE IS ALL NATURAL, SPANNING THE ENTIRE WIDTH OF MOUNTAIN FORK CREEK. A LITTLE HISTORY OF THIS AREA, ONE OF THE FIRST SETTLORS BY THE NAME OF WILLIAM LARRIMORE BUILT A GRIST MILL HERE IN 1918, AND OTHER PIONEERS EVENTUALLY SETTLED AS WELL. LARRIMORE EVENTUALLY ESTABLISHED A CHURCH CAMP AND FAMILIES FROM A 50-MILE RADIUS WOULD GATHER FOR WEEK-LONG CAMP MEETING REVIVALS. BY 1838 A STORE AND A POST OFFICE OPENED. NATURAL DAM FALLS PRESENTS A PERFECT LOCATION FOR A PICNIC OR JUST TAKING PICTURES OR VIDEOS. YOU CAN ALSO DRIVE FARTHER ALONG ON THE ROAD THAT CROSSES THE CREEK AND UP TO THE TOP OF THE HILL WHERE EVENTUALLY YOU'LL COME TO AN OVERLOOK OFF TO YOUR LEFT. THIS IS ALSO ANOTHER SPOT WHERE YOU CAN SPEND SOME TIME AND JUST ENJOY THE AREA'S SCENIC BEAUTY. >>> WHILE OUT AND ABOUT IN THE WOODS, SOME OF YOU MAY HAVE STUMBLED UPON SOME OF THESE ODD-LOOKING SHAPED TREES AND WONDERED, NOW, WHAT THE HECK IS THIS ALL ABOUT? WELL, THEY'RE REFERRED TO AS INDIAN TRAIL TREES, AND ONE PART OF THE STATE WHERE YOU CAN SEE QUITE A FEW OF THESE IS AT HOBBS STATE PARK NEAR ROGERS. >>> NOW, THERE ARE THOSE WHO SAY THAT THESE TREES, SOME DATING BACK TO THE 1700S, ARE JUST NATURALLY OCCURRING MISS FITS OF NATURE. BUT OTHERS HAVE QUITE A DIFFERENT THEORY.

WELL, I THINK THAT THE HUMAN HANDMADE THIS SHAPE. AND THE TWO 45-DEGREE ANGLE IS ONE OF THE MAIN CLUES THAT THEY THINK THAT IT'S MADE BY HUMAN HANDS, POSSIBLY BY THE EARLY NATIVE AMERICANS RATHER THAN NATURE, WHICH WOULD KNOCK TREES DOWN AND MAKE A SIMILAR SHAPE. THESE ANGLES ARE QUITE PRONOUNCED. AND THE WHITE OAK TREE WHICH IS OFTEN USED FOR THESE TREES, THEORY IS THAT WHEN THIS WAS A SMALL SAPPLING, JUST SO BIG AROUND, THAT THEY WOULD BUILD THE TREE OVER AND MAKE THE TOP POINT IN THE DIRECTION THAT THEY WANTED TO TRAVEL, OR THE DIRECTION THAT THEY WANTED TO CALL ATTENTION TO A FEATURE LIKE A SPRING OR A RIVER CROSSING OR --

SHELTER?

SHELTER, CAVE, A VILLAGE, OR COULD HAVE BEEN ANYTHING. THIS IS PART OF A MYSTERY OF THESE TREES. SO, PEOPLE ARE STILL VISITING WITH TRIBAL ELDERS, RESEARCHING OLD DOCUMENTS. THIS IS AN ONGOING STUDY TO TRY TO UNCOVER THE MYSTERY OF THE TREES.

AND THESE, YOU MENTION, CAN BE FOUND OR HAVE BEEN FOUND IN LIKE 40 STATES.

OH, YES, YES. AND I BELIEVE TO DATE THERE'S OVER 2000 OF THESE TREES IN THE DATABASE FOR THE MOUNTAIN EXPERIENCE ORGANIZATION THAT IS ONE OF THE MOST PROMINENT GROUPS IN THE COUNTRY. SO, THE GROUP IS APPEALING TO THE PUBLIC TO SEND IN A PICTURE AND SOME INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR TREE IF YOU HAVE ONE LIKE THIS ON YOUR PROPERTY. YOU KNOW, SEE WHAT THE ANGLE IS THAT THE NOSE IS POINTING. TAKE THE DIAMETER MEASUREMENT, ABOUT A FOOT HIGH FROM THE TRUNK, AND THEY'D LIKE TO SEE AROUND AT LEAST 20 INCHES ON THE TRUNK. RECORD YOUR GPS COORDINATE, THE LOCATION. TAKE A PICTURE OF IT, AND GET ON THE WEBSITE FOR MOUNTAIN STEWARDS OR INDIAN TRAIL TREE PROJECT, AND YOU CAN GET INFORMATION ON HOW TO GET YOUR TREE IN THE DATABASE. HOBBS PARK HERE HAS 21 TREES LISTED IN THE NATIONAL DATABASE. SO, WE HAVE PEOPLE THAT KNOW ABOUT THE GROUP FROM THE CIVIL WAR THAT THOUGHT THESE WERE TREASURE MARKER TREES. ONE FELLOW CALLED IN AND WANTED TO CUT THE PARK IN 10% ON THE TREASURE THAT HE MIGHT FIND. WELL, WE CAN'T ALLOW THAT, AND THESE ARE NOT RELATED TO TREASURES AND IF THEY WERE, IT'S STATE PARK, AND PEOPLE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE DIGGING OR HUNTING FOR TREASURE. OUR TREASURE IS THE HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE OF THE NATIVE AMERICANS' WAY OF NAVIGATING IN THE FOREST. IT'S THEIR HIGHWAY SIGNS. AND, OF COURSE, YOU KNOW, THE WHITE MAN LEARNED ABOUT THAT AND, SO, IT'S POSSIBLE FOR A TREE NOT TO BE A COUPLE HUNDRED YEARS OLD, BUT IT WAS MAYBE MADE BY THE WHITE MAN WHO LEARNED THE INDIANS' WAY. THIS PARK HAS A HUNDRED RIDGES A QUARTER OF A MILE LONG. IF YOU'RE OUT HERE, YOU'D APPRECIATE HAVING A SIGN LIKE THIS TO GUIDE YOU ALONG THE TRAIL OR OFF THE TRAIL ESPECIALLY. SO, THAT'S THE WAY THE INDIANS USED THESE MARKERS. THE CHEROKEE CALLED THEM DAY STARS SO THEY CAN NAVIGATE. IT'S LIKE OUR HIGHWAY SIGNS. THIS COUNTRY USED TO BE FORESTED, YOU KNOW, FROM CLEAR TO THE EAST COAST. THESE TREES PLAYED A BIG PART OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF OUR COUNTRY. AND, SO, WE FEEL THAT IT'S IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE TO SAVE THESE TREES FROM DESTRUCTION SO THAT YOU'RE SAVING A PIECE OF AMERICAN HISTORY. AND THEY'RE DISAPPEARING BECAUSE THEY'RE GROWING OLD, THEY'RE DYING. PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT THEM AND THEY CUT THEM DOWN. THEY'RE OBVIOUSLY NOT USED FOR LUMBER OR TIMBER BECAUSE OF THE CROOKEDNESS. BUT I'VE SEEN PEOPLE USE THEM FOR MAILBOXES, CUT THEM OFF. SO, ALL WE'RE ASKING OUR VIEWERS TO CHECK THEIR PROPERTY. IF THEY'VE GOT A BENT TREE OR SIGNAL TREE OR THONG TREE, WHATEVER YOU CALL IT, WE'LL CHECK IT OUT AND HELP YOU OUT. NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN SIGNAL TREES OR MOUNTAIN STEWARD WEBSITE AND YOU CAN GET INFORMATION ON HOW TO GET YOUR TREE IN THE NATIONAL DATABASE.

IN ESSENCE, THEY'RE ARTIFACTS.

THEY'RE LIVING ARTIFACTS, THEY'RE LIVING HISTORY, YES. WE THINK IT'S VERY IMPORTANT THAT WE TRY TO PRESERVE THEM.

THE INDIAN TRAIL TREES AT HOBBS STATE PARK CAN BE FOUND ON JUST ABOUT ANY ONE OF THE HALF DOZEN TRAILS. >>> LOOKS LIKE THIS ONE IS ALL KNOTED UP.

IT SURE IS. THERE'S TWO ROWS OF FOUR KNOTS PARALLEL. HIGHLY UNLIKELY THAT NATURE WOULD DO THAT. I HAVE READ THAT THESE KNOB COULD HAVE BEEN MADE BY THE INDIANS TO COMMUNICATE SOMETHING. IT'S A MYSTERY WHAT THAT COMMUNICATION WAS, BUT I READ THAT THEY WOULD CUT A SLIT IN THE BARK AND PACK SOME MOSS OR CHARCOAL IN THERE AND PUT SOME METAL OVER THAT. THE TREE, THEN, WOULD SECRETE WOODY MATERIAL TO MAKE THE KNOB. AND I'VE NEVER SEEN ONE JUST LIKE THIS OUT OF THE 30 OR MORE I'VE SEEN HERE AT THE PARK. SO, SO, TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE, WHICH IS NOT VERY MUCH, ~ I HAVE TO ASSUME THAT IT'S A SECRET CODE THAT THE NATIVE AMERICANS USED TO EXPLAIN SOMETHING. THE DIRECTION OF THE TREE IS POINTING DOWN THIS CORRIDOR TOWARD EAGLE CREEK. AND, SO, YOU CAN SEE -- I DON'T KNOW IF YOU NOTICE COMING DOWN, IT LOOKS LIKE AN OLD LOGGING ROAD RIGHT THERE BEFORE THEY GET UP TO THE MORE MODERN ROAD. ~ WAR EAGLE CREEK THAT COULD HAVE BEEN AN OLD TRAIL RIGHT THERE. THIS AND ANOTHER SMALL TREE BACK HERE, THOSE SEEM TO POINT DOWN TOWARD THE WAR EAGLE CREEK. ♪♪ ♪♪

AL KNOX DEMONSTRATED FOR US HOW TRAIL TREES MIGHT HAVE BEEN SHAPED UTILIZING, IN MOST CASES, A WHITE OAK SAPPLING.

THEY WOULD USE A FORKED STICK, POSSIBLY BEND IT OVER LIKE THIS SO YOU COULD GET A NICE PARALLEL TO THE GROUND BEND LIKE THIS. THEN THEY WOULD MOVE OVER HERE, LEAVE ENOUGH STUCK IN, BRING ANOTHER STICK AND PIN THE TREE DOWN TO THE GROUND. SOMETIMES THEY WOULD CUT THE LAYER RIGHT HERE, CUT THIS OFF. SOMETIMES THEY WOULD LEAVE IT. THEN THE IDEA WAS THAT THIS SAPPLING WOULD GROW EITHER A NEW CHUTE LIKE THIS, OR IF THEY CUT IT OFF, A NEW CHUTE LIKE THIS LITTLE ONE HERE MIGHT GROW. AND THEY WOULD CUT ALL THESE OFF ALONG HERE. ONE CHUTE GROW UP WHICH WOULD LOOK LIKE THIS WHEN IT WOULD COME OUT RIGHT HERE. SO, THAT WOULD HOLD THE BASIC SHAPE OF TWO 45-DEGREE ANGLES. THAT WOULD BE A CLUE TO MAN-MADE VERSUS NATURE IF YOU HAD THE SHARP 45-DEGREE ANGLE HERE AND BACK HERE. ♪♪ ♪♪

SO, THE NEXT TIME YOU'RE OUT IN THE WOODS AND YOU SPOT ONE OF THESE TREES, YOU, TOO, CAN USE IT FOR YOUR BENEFIT, KNOWING THAT IT'S POSSIBLY POINTING THE WAY TO WATER AND/OR SHELTER. ♪♪ ♪♪

SO, HEAD OUT ON THE TRAIL AT ARKANSAS'S LARGEST STATE PARK HOBBS, AND EXPLORE FOR YOURSELF THE MYSTERY BEHIND ALL THE NATIVE AMERICAN TRAIL TREES. AND FOR MORE ON THIS DESTINATION PLUS MANY OF OUR OTHERS, OR TO ORDER A DVD OF AN EPISODE, VISIT OUR BRAND-NEW AND EXPANDED WEBSITE AT AETN.ORG/EXPLORING ARKANSAS. AND WE'LL SEE YOU AGAIN THE NEXT TIME FOR ANOTHER EXCITING ADVENTURE ON EXPLORING ARKANSAS. ♪♪ ♪♪

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