2019 Jones Valley October Visit

Hey Cousins, This is not exactly late breaking news, since I’m reporting about my trip to the Valley the previous week, but it was such a good time I needed to pass it along.

The weather was perfect, and the one day it did rain I had plenty to do in the Cabin so it was all good. One thing, when you visit not at Reunion time, you get to see nature’s unexpected beauty with unexpected treats like these flowers around the Cubage Cabin – .”Red Surprise Lily”

I can report progress on the new Cameron Cabin (Five Brothers) is continuing, especially with the roof being installed. It is looking really nice, nestled in the pines.

Also to report is the Arkansas Forestry Department is continuing to make progress putting in fire-breaks for the Controlled Burn which is scheduled for this winter. Of course this is dependent on the weather conditions being suitable. The Controlled Burn is part of the Forestry’s recommended plan to maintain Jones Valley’s natural resources in a safe and responsible manner.

A side benefit of the fire-breaks is that many of them make good rugged hiking and off-road ATV trails. The photo, taken by Cousin Gil Jones is from Larry Braswell’s side-by-side ATV as Larry takes Gil on a tour – a very exciting one at that. I can testify to how exciting, because Larry took me on one the previous day – a little “white knuckles” at times. (:

All the best, and thanks Gil for the photos.

Cousin Mike

My first visit to the Valley

(originally posted Jul 15, 2005)

I hope that everyone will reminisce a bit.  It comes more naturally with age, but then so does forgetfulness. If you have fond memories, it might be best to write them down now.

My first trip to Jones Valley was when I was about eight years of age, as I recall. That’s been a while now.  I went with my grandparents, Guilford and Jeannette. My cousin Mike (Michael Merriman) was along and I think his sister Jeannette may also have been but I’m not sure. I do recall distinctly, and with some relief at the time, that my own sister, Janet, was not there. Continue reading

Sounds and sights of the forest

(originally posted Jul 1, 2006. This was a stop on the Valley for the reunion which was the start of a 3-week motorcycle trip through the Northwest and Western U.S. on the trusty R1100RT BMW, which I still have in 2017 as this blog is being re-posted on the new site)

Date of this writing: Saturday, July 01, 2006  7:16 AM
Riding date:    Day No.  2
Location:  Still in Jones Valley — on the occasion of the 85th family

Last night while all tucked snugly in the tent on top of the sleeping
bag (you see, it’s a down-filled mummybag that is rated to something
below 0!) I was surrounded by sounds and, even in the dark of the night,
sights. The rain fly was still safely tucked away in the bike trailer as
there was not even a hint of rain. Had it rained on me I would simply
have taken credit for bringing it in. Thus the “roof” of the tent was
open to the almost clear night sky and the stars were surrounded by the
sounds of locusts, crickets, small frogs, and occasionally the throaty
croak of a bullfrog.

For all I could see were the stars above and the only sounds were those
of the forest night. Moonless, the night allowed the stars their
resplendent glow.  The senses then wrapped those sounds around the stars
and I was immersed fully into it.

Not far away, just over at the dining hall, the “young people” (that
would be the 20 and 30 somethings) were getting reacquainted and making
the memories for the tails they will spin when they, like I, venture
into their 60’s.  I recall my own gatherings with cousins I hardly knew.
Those particular cousins I cannot now recall but new family
acquaintances have been made since my 39 year reunion hiatus which was
broken in 1998.  I still recall having arrived on a motorcycle (the 1998
Harley Wide Glide) and the wonderment by some of the family at this new
arrival, a motorcycle-riding judge! Huh? Incongruous they thought.

This morning started with a brisk walk of about two miles. It’s about
70, maybe even a little cooler. The sky is clear and the birds are in
full voice as the world slowly awakens. I walk by the family cemetery
and say a quiet thanks to those who have preceded us and who made this
wonderful place where we have gathered for 85 years. As I write, the
sounds and smells of bacon frying and the warm coffee in my cup tell me
the morning is moving toward the day. Hunger pangs strike when I let it.
Will the food never get done?

Another day in that paradise called Jones Valley

(originally posted Jun 29, 2007)

Ah, the comforts of home this year … an air-conditioned popup camper instead of the tent. Of course that means I brought a 4-wheeled vehicle rather than the usual two. Maybe the crazy judge from Texas is finally growing up? Nah! It’s just kinda nice to sit here under the A/C and contemplate a real bed tonight and still wake up in the Valley. A photo gallery has been begun.


Larry Braswell created a mighty fine location for the trailer. Pictures to follow. Arrived late after starting awfully early. It’s hard to turn 500 miles into a 12 hour trip but it can be done. First, you forget a couple of things and stop at Wal-Mart. Since that one didn’t have the dog leash (yes, I HAVE a dog leash but, well, it’s back home), you stop at the Wally World in Lampasas but it doesn’t have it either. The third one I stopped in did. Then you stop to get the female receptacle for the 75 foot extension cord you’re building cuz there’s no sense bringing the camper unless you can run the A/C, right? And once you get really going good and are almost there, then have a blowout on the trailer. Not good, but rescued by Zack and his younger brother Scott who not only had a jack more adequate than mine, but did most of the work to boot! Was happy to make a nice contribution to his beer fund. Zack’s, not Scott’s … he’s the younger brother you see.

But I did make it and Larry and Bob had hot dogs going so I got to eat. Bailiff, oh, right, that would be the dog for whom the leash and stake out was needed — Bailiff has had a ball getting acquainted with the area and has been quit good about sticking close. She’s on her bed with eyes hanging heavily wishing I would turn out the light.

Cell signal is good again this year. Amazing. May be able to get the webcam going. We’ll see if anyone out there not in attendance wants it. At the moment, however, it’s late and I’m rambling. More later after what promises to be an adventure about the blown tire tomorrow.

Family and church in the Valley

(originally posted July 1,2007)

After a lazy wake-up, I suppose due mainly to the wonderful rain and gentle storm during the night, Bailiff and I took a stroll down the road to the highway. Nose to the ground and traversing the road from side-to-side, Bailiff owned the world for that 20 minute walk. As a house and yard dog she has revelled in the freedom granted by the open spaces punctuated by about 100 people ever-ready to pet and render attention to her. This is the proper environment for this 60-pound bundle of activity. Continue reading