Sunday, November 22, 2015

From Greers Ferry Lake to Wright Patman Lake in Texas

Leaving Greers Ferry Lake and Heber Springs, we follow a nice country road, Route 25, to Route 65 south to Conway, Arkansas.  Our modern GPS and apps like Yelp help us to find groceries.

From Conway, we head west on Interstate 40 for a few miles and then take back roads , Route 9 south to Route 60 west to Scenic Route 7 and Nimrod Lake.

Our choice is Quarry Cove Corps of Engineer park.  Not very many in camp and the ones who are here are hunting. Duck season has opened.  Jan and I are happy to find a high campsite to give us the view above.

The rains and wind have brought down a lot of leaves and branches, but we are intrepid scouts and find the road anyway.

We had to laugh at this building next to a gas station.  No---it is not  a wash for Harley Davidson motorcycles. This is a chain of car washes. The hog is a reference to the razorback hog , a wild boar, that is also the symbol for the University of Arkansas out of Fayetteville.  These links will give you a reference to the 350 member Razorback Marching Band and the Razorback Hog   Razorback Marching Band ,   Razorback, the hog or wild boar .

From Nimrod lake, it is another beautiful , country drive on a scenic road, Route 7 , south through Hot Springs, Arkansas. Then on to Bismarck and DeGray Lake.  Jan and I choose Arlie Moore COE for this stay.

There are some nice campground roads through the three campgrounds( only two are open right now) and the day use area.  Sometime we might look for a small tripod , then you might see the two of us in the same picture.

Arlie Moore is another inexpensive Corps of Engineer Campground.  The offseason, America the Beautiful Senior Pass price is $6 per night.  The park is popular for fishermen and also for a few fulltime campers.
One that we talked to was from New York State, a retired State Public Works man from the Finger Lakes area.  He enjoys a quiet campground and the Corps allows a two months or more stay at this campground from November to March.  He might have to change sites once or twice, but he had a small motorhome like ours, so not a problem.
Lady Blue sometimes attracts different  birds.  This Carolina Wren? spent a bit of time perched on Bruce's bicycle.
Yes-----that is a coffin on a trailer.  And, yes, we did see the owner hitch it up to the motorcycle for a ride.
He mentioned that it seemed a good addition to have close by, in case he ever needed it.  Maybe a little gallows humor, but we wished him good luck and not having to need it. He actually had it open sometimes. It was quite nice inside.  Maybe a new way to get groceries on your motorcycle. Or , how many friends do you suppose are willing to take a ride?
Speaking of different vehicles, this 1933 Chevrolet Master Eagle was on display in the Imax Theater back in Branson, Missouri.  They had used it for their movie on the Ozarks in the section about Prohibition.
From DeGray Lake, we had hoped to visit Millwood Lake COE, but we found out that it had been flooded in the spring and had not been repaired yet.  That was a disappointment, especially since some campers we met said the campground was quite nice.  Instead we continue on Route 30 past Texarkana and into Texas and Route 59 south.  A short distance and we can revisit Piney Point COE Campground on Wright Patman Lake.  We are welcomed by another wonderful sunset.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Greers Ferry Lake, Arkansas

We have put fewer miles on Lady Blue this week.  It is a fairly short trip south on Route 65 from Tyler Bend on the Buffalo River to Choctaw Corps of Engineer Park on Greers Ferry Lake.

These pictures are of ,we are told, Osage oranges. A softball sized fruit on many trees in Tyler Bend.
Not edible we are told.

We are still in the Ozark Mountain area.  Some rolling hills with beautiful open country.  Jan is really getting used to using the Canon camera as we travel on the highway.  We note a number of beautiful , newer homes on the tops of hills that were pretty likely former grazing pastures.
At Choctaw COE, we are happy to have one of the best sites for a very quiet few days. The outrageous price--just kidding--is $10 per night.
Choctaw is on Greers Ferry Lake. This is a huge lake in north central Ozark mountains. Extremely well stocked lake with every fish known in Arkansas.  It is 40,500 acres with over 460 miles of shoreline. For reference, Sebago Lake in Maine has a shoreline of 105 miles.
There are a number of corps parks on the lake and many marinas as well.
As you can see, there are some larger boats on the lake.
Choctaw refers to the Choctaw Nation, Native Americans, from Oklahoma. Choctaw Nation
And, if this is not familiar to you , a little reference to a less proud time in our history under the presidency of  Andrew Jackson in 1838 to 1839. It was called the Indian Removal Act and the purpose was to remove Native Americans from "valuable land" in the east.   Trail of Tears The Trail of Tears basically ends up in Oklahoma , but it also included Arkansas. Andrew Jackson had a mixed legacy. "Old Hickory" was a war hero from the War of 1812, defeating the British in New Orleans.
These trees are mixed in with pine trees. the fruit is soft like a tomato.

Also along the shoreline are cypress type trees, not the bald cypress with the strange roots and knees.
These seem strange to us northerners, because they are deciduous, losing their greenery in the fall.
From Choctaw, Jan and I travel south and east around the lake to Heber Springs.  This is a small town with some very nice people.  We stop at the Real Deal BBQ for a wonderful pulled pork sandwich. In talking to the owner, we discover he also owns a few Subways nearby and often travels to Connecticut for meetings.  Loves lobster.  So, of course, we told him all kinds of places to have great lobster. He was well into Memphis barbecue.
The picture above is of Ellen Hobgood's art shop. Her website  Ellen Hobgood Gallery
As you can see from the link, she has become well known for her Santa paintings.
If you visit, you will find that she is happy to chat.
Our campground is nearby, on Greers Ferry Lake, called Dam Site COE.  But this bust above is of John F. Kennedy from the Greers Ferry Dam . President Kennedy dedicated this dam in October of 1963.  It was his last public speaking event before Dallas, Texas. 
This dam, like many in the area, was necessary to stem frequent flooding as well as control water for agriculture.  It stems the Little Red River. It joins the White River--remember Table Rock in Branson-- and flows eventually to the Mississippi.
While here on Greers Ferry Lake, Jan and I have had only PBS stations over air.  But that allowed us to watch a few Explore Arkansas programs.  We learned that The Little Red River and others in the area are prime fly fishing locations.  We are adding this link to the program episode which covered expert fly fishing, small mouth bass fishing, and an expert log craftsman.  Jan and I were impressed by the log cabin technique and especially this beautiful log cabin in the program.  The link Explore Arkansas.
This next link gives you pictures from that program , including pictures of the log cabin and Robert Runyon, the log master craftsman who lives in Winslow, Arkansas   Pictures from the program
Scroll down , once in the link, to see all the pictures.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Into Missouri and Arkansas

Being right along the Mississippi River, we begin to think it's just a short ride to the bridge.  Not always so.  However , from Columbus we take State Route 123 to Route 51 north to Route 60 west.  There was heavy fog, so we waited for it to lift a bit. Still fog over the river.
A number of barges tied up waiting for a tugboat.  Wonder where they are headed.
Do you see the headlights?  Don't worry . Eustis is watching!!!!
Yikes!  Note the truck is hugging the yellow line and we have nowhere to move either.  This bridge was narrower than the Cape Cod bridges.  Quite a long bridge. The semis heading towards us slowed to about 15mph , as did we.
After the bridge, there is about one mile of southeastern Illinois and then---Missouri.
 We are headed to Big Springs Campground in Mark Twain National Forest.  If you look at the state of Missouri you will see a number of Mark Twain National Forests.  And, they say, Mark Twain probably never visited any of the areas.  But, he was born in Florida, Missouri and shortly after, the family moved to Hannibal, Missouri---on the Mississippi. There is a museum there and also at his birthplace.
The Ozark Scenic Riverways is the first national park area to protect a riverway.  Big Spring feeds the Current River.
The Big Spring Campground is quite nice with well spaced sites.  You might notice that we are the only ones here.  What did we say?????
Big Spring bubbles up through jumbo rocks after traveling as much as 40 miles from the west underground.
The dissolving minerals keep the water clear with an aquamarine tint. Always 58 degrees.
This spring is the largest in Missouri and one of the largest in the world.
The daily flow is 286 million gallons.  Yes, 286 MILLION!
It also carries away 173 tons of dissolved minerals----every day.
There are also a number of examples of CCC(Civilian Conservation Corps) work from the 1930's.
The structures are still sturdy. This lodge is out of service now, but it will be renovated next year to update services.
Along Route 60 we found a quiet, small, well maintained private park in Mountain Grove, Missouri RV Park. There was a bit of a search earlier for propane.  You would think it would be simple, but some propane businesses were closed and many of the stations now just do the exchange 20lb bottles. We had luck in Dexter by calling an RV dealer who steered us to an open local dealer.  Ah, the things that keep our brains working.
Route 60 takes us west to south of Springfield where we find Route 65 south to Branson.
The road gives some picturesque views of the local hills and cuts of limestone.
Jan and I stop at Turkey Creek RV Park in Hollister, Missouri which is just a little south of Branson. This is an Escapee park--one of our membership parks.  Branson is a center for live shows.  It compares itself to Nashville , but also has a little feel of a Pigeon Forge(think Dollywood) Tennessee in the Great Smoky Mountains.  We arrived during what they list as Veteran's Week.  We don't think we have ever seen a city give such attention to veterans and there were busloads and carloads of them heading to the theaters,  restaurants, and  shopping.  Many businesses were offering veteran discounts with some offering free admission.  One of the Imax shows was Dday.  
This view is from the Table Rock visitors center.  Branson is over the hill to the right.  Another large dam project, this one needed to wait until the 1950's to be completed.  Besides producing electricity, it protects the region from flooding and provides a larger area for recreation. This is on the White River which flows to the Mississippi River. The large building on the hill is Chateau on the Lake Resort and Spa. Check out this website for those not RVing.. Chateau on the Lake
This map shows a giant Table Rock Lake. While we will stay at the state park this time, there are a number of COE parks around the lake.  Most of them are closed at this time.
A short walk from our campsite on a lakeside trail takes us to the Branson Belle.
This is a paddlewheel showboat with a theater for 700 people.
Busloads arrive for breakfast, lunch, and dinner cruises. The meals are prepared on board.This boat was built on the shores here in 1994.
Here is the link for the showboat Branson Belle
From Branson it is a very short drive to Akansas.  We are headed to the Buffalo National River. This will be Tyler Bend Campground , a COE campground.
This is America's first national river, 1972.  It flows from the Boston Mountains for 135 miles to the White River.  It is unusual because it is one of the few rivers in the lower 48 states that remains undammed. The residents of Arkansas worked hard for this and the area is quite popular for tubing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, and also hunting. This is part of the Ozark Mountains
From no color to a bright sunset. Very short but quite enjoyable.
During the rain at our campsite, we get visited by a dozen or so deer.  They are chasing each other and having a great time.  They must not realize that there are hunters in the site to the left.  Oh wait---they probably know there is no hunting in the park.