Thursday, November 4, 2010

Heart of the Ozarks


One of the highlights of the trip was having a chance to visit with our son, Dane, his wife, Sapna, and our two grand daughters. They drove to the Ozarks from Texas and rented a cabin. We stayed in one of the few RV parks in the area, located about 30 minutes from the kids’ cabin. Day One entailed a hike. A very grueling hike, to be more precise. Dane thought it was 2.8 miles total. But because there was so much climbing involved, including what seemed like endless stone staircases that the Dept. of Forestry had built up some of the steepest paths, the hike seemed to go on forever.

We packed a lunch and carried it with us, stopping to picnic on some rocks beside a slow moving stream. Like so many areas in the Mid-West, Arkansas is in the midst of a draught, so rivers and streams are the lowest they’ve been in years. Without enough water, the trees turned quickly from green to gold to, well, dead and brittle leaves. A few hillsides near water sources were splashed with colorful leaf changes: orange, crimson, gold.

But I digress. Back to the hiking trail. The reward at the end of your effort is a cave containing a small waterfall. Portions of the cavern have ceilings so low that you have to crawl on hands and knees to get through. Here and there, water drips from the rock ceiling to the earth floor, making the crawl space a muddy mess. Still, it’s worth the trek. Even in this bone-dry season, the cascading waterfall, called the “Hidden Falls,” was a fascinating sight.

Anyone who knows our Dane will recall his love of the out-of-doors. Now a doctor with a family and little time to enjoy nature, he revels in things that involve outside activities. So, on Day 2, Dane wanted for all of us to canoe on the Buffalo ??? River. Never mind that all but one of the canoe rental places were closed for the season. And never mind that the river was so low, we could see sandbars from the bridges. Off we went in search of canoes, paddles, and life vests.

We were taken by van to a launch site, an area underwater in a normally wet year, and set off for a three-hour journey that involved scraping the bottom of our canoes over rocks and sandbars. In spite of the fact that it was more work than any of us had anticipated, it was a great day of fresh air, family fun, and exercising muscles that Rick and I hadn’t used in years.

To my surprise, I enjoyed canoeing, something I had never done. My first love has always been sailing, but now, canoeing is a close second.

We spent a great deal of time with our son and his lovely family. Sapna did a bunch of cooking at the cabin, and we had a great time playing with the girls. It was over too soon, but we hope to repeat the experience somewhere else next year. Hopefully, there will be more water in Oregon, where we plan to meet in the summer of 2011.

Now, it’s time to turn back towards home in So. Calif. We’ll go back the same way we came, though we’ll avoid the noisiest campgrounds when possible. We’ll eat at Cracker Barrel Restaurants until there aren’t more along the highways. California and Nevada don’t have CBs, so we’re trying to get our fill of their homemade biscuits, fried apples, chicken salad, and (for Rick) the chicken and dumplings.

So, it’s good-bye for now. We’ll be taking another big trip in the spring, so stay tuned…. And thanks for joining us on our first big adventure with Shamu. (One of my friends suggested that I call the blog “Stories from Inside the Whale’s Belly.” What do you think?

Rick & Colleen at the start of the hike up to the waterfall / cave.
We didn't look so spry after the hike !

Inside the cave where the waterfall lands.
Pitch black inside, so you just point
 and  shoot and hope to get something.


Roof of the cavern with a watefall inside... had to spelunk to reach it.

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