May, 2019 – Cape Fair, Missouri

The trip north was a short trip of just over an hour as we moved from the southern end of Table Rock Lake in Arkansas, to the northern end in Missouri at Cape Fair Campgrounds.  This was another Corps of Engineers campground that are all around the lake.  Unlike Cricket Creek, Cape Fair was an older campground designed for smaller RVs.  Most of the sites were nicely laid out with rock walls and asphalt pavement.  However, the road through the campground was narrow and winding with sharp turns and rocks to be avoided on both sides.  Our campsite was also narrow with a rock wall on one side and a drop off into the site next to ours.  It would have been very difficult to get into if we showed up later in the week.  Thankfully, on Monday the campground was fairly empty and there was nobody camped in the site across from ours.  I was able to pull straight into the sight across the road and then back the RV into our site with no difficulty.  We got set up quickly and settled in for another week on Table Rock Lake.

Campsite

Tuesday was cloudy, but thankfully no rain so we headed north to Springfield to explore Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield.  With all the Civil War battlefields east of the Mississippi it can be easy to forget the Civil War was fought west of the Mississippi as well.  In fact, the fighting in Missouri and Kansas started years before the Civil War following the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854.   Unlike the Missouri Compromise years earlier that allowed Missouri to be a slave state, Kansas and Nebraska would decide their own fate.  This led to men and their families flooding into Kansas that wanted to influence this decision.  Both pro and anti slave supporters.  Violent clashes between them, as well as, atrocities on both sides occurred on both sides of the state line.  “Bloody Kansas” became a common term for this conflict before the Civil War.  Missouri was also violently split on the issue.  When the Civil War began in 1861, Missouri narrowly voted to stay with the Union.  Governor Jackson did not agree with this and called up the Missouri State Guard to “protect Missouri from all invaders”, which to him meant the Federal troops.  He created Camp Jackson outside of St Louis to train the Guard, which was a direct threat to the vital Federal armory there.  General Lyon understood the threat and surrounded the camp to break it up.  After a couple failed attempts at peace, it was obvious the Governor would settle for nothing less than war.  Most of the Union soldiers in St Louis under the command of General Lyon were from Missouri including a large number German immigrants from St Louis.  The Missouri State Guard were all Missouri natives under the command of General Price.  So began the Civil War in Missouri which was already a civil war between those in favor of and opposed to slavery.  In the spring of 1861, there were a number of skirmishes between the Union and Missouri Guard soldiers until General Lyon was occupying Springfield, the state capitol.  General Price intended to retake Springfield and joined with the Confederate army out of Arkansas commanded by General McCulloch.  With this combination the Confederate army finally outnumbered the Federals, by more than 2-1.  General Lyon knew he needed to withdraw back to St Louis, however, this Confederate army was a serious threat to a safe withdrawal.  He decided to surprise the Confederates, hitting them quick and hard, to allow him an opportunity to withdraw without opposition.  The Confederates were camped along Wilson Creek, south of Springfield and also had plans to attack at the same time.  They broke camp to advance towards Springfield on August 9, but a late afternoon thunderstorm stopped them as they were concerned about keeping their powder dry.  They returned to camp, but failed to reestablish pickets that night, so they had no warning.  The Federal troops also left Springfield on August 9 with plans to attack at dawn the next morning.  Without pickets, the Confederates never saw them coming.  General Lyon was not only going to attack with inferior numbers, but he also split his command with a third of his force, all German immigrants under the command of Colonel Sigel circled around to attack the Confederate rear.  Initially the attack west very well for the Federals with Lyon driving the northern part of camp allowing them to obtain the high ground on what became known as Bloody Hill.  Sigel also successfully made his way around to the rear without detection and hit the camp with an artillery barrage at dawn.  The sleeping Confederates initially scattered allowing Sigel to establish a position across the Wire Road cutting off Confederate retreat.  However, later in the morning he mistook a counterattack for Lyon’s Iowa Company who also wore gray uniforms at this point in the war, allowing them to get within point blank range.  Sigel was routed and scattered to the woods.  In the meantime, Lyon was stopped on top of Bloody Hill and thus began a 5 hour defensive battle.  Three times the superior Confederate forces, now more than 3-1, attempted to drive them from the top of the hill and failed.  On the third attempt General Lyon was killed, thus becoming the first Union General to die in the Civil War.  With the loss of their leader and no sign of Sigel, the Union army withdrew after the third attack.  The Confederates were already running low on ammunition, which was in short supply at this point in the war and chose not to pursue.  So the Confederates won the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, although Lyon achieved his objective which was to eliminate the threat to his withdrawal all the way back to St. Louis.

Kal and I had actually visited this battlefield years ago, but it was during the winter and very cold.  We did not spend much time exploring the battlefield and I really did not remember much of the battle, so it was great to see it again when we could spend the day exploring it.  Once again we purchased the auto tour CD of the battle, which gave a lot more information about the battle, the stops we visited, and the principals involved in the battle.  The auto-tour had 8 stops on it taking us from the northern end of the Confederate camp around to the southern end where Sigel hit them in the rear.  Highlights of the tour were the Ray House, which is the only structure to survive to today, that sits on the Wire Road.  The other highlight was the only monument erected at the battlefield to mark the location of General Lyon when he was killed in a countercharge during the battle.  It was interesting that at the time General Lyon was a national hero for the Union with a funeral train all the way back to Connecticut where he was buried.  In comparison to the monuments at other battlefields, this monument is very modest.  I suppose the reason is that this battle was primarily Missouri versus Missouri soldiers.  It was also interesting to learn that the monument replaced a cairn of rocks that had been built over the years to over 8 feet high.  It was a nice day to be out without dealing with rain.

Wednesday was spent with Kal finding a laundramat in West Branson while I cleaned the RV.  Thursday was also spent in the campground as it rained most of the day.  When I stepped out of the RV after dark, the steps suddenly sagged on the left side.  We got out the flashlight and had a look to discover that the brace that attaches to the RV had broke.  I put some wood under the steps to help hold them up until we could get it fixed.

The weather on Friday was marginally better, at least it was not suppose to rain, so we headed back to Arkansas to explore Pea Ridge National Military Park.  The Civil War battle that took place at Pea Ridge was the next major chapter in the Civil War after Wilson’s Creek.  Following the loss at Wilson’s Creek the Union forces withdrew back to St. Louis where they got a new general, Brigadier General Curtis and reinforcements increasing their number to 10,500 soldiers.  Since Wilson Creek, General Price and the Missouri State Guard had essentially a free run of Missouri during the fall of 1861.  However, this was about to change as General Curtis’ objective was to drive the Confederates from Missouri and keep the state a part of the Union.  By mid-February, 1862 he had chased Price and the Missouri State Guard into northwest Arkansas.  There they once again joined up with Brigadier General McCulloch’s Confederates in the Boston Mountains, south of Fayetteville.  On March 4, Major General Van Dorn took over command of the combined forces that now numbered 16,000 soldiers and led them north.  However, Curtis was now dug in across his path on the bluffs above Little Sugar Creek, not far from Elkhorn Tavern on the Telegraph Road and Elkhorn Mountain on the Pea Ridge plateau.  Knowing a frontal assault would be a mistake, he decided to swing north to come in behind the Federals.  This meant a grueling three day march leaving their supply wagons behind to catch up.  Plans were to strike Elkhorn Tavern at dawn on March 7, however they arrived far behind schedule.  In fact, the Confederates were strung out and General McCulloch’s forces were miles behind General Price.  So Van Dorn decided to divide his army and ordered McCulloch to cut east short of Elkhorn Mountains and approach the Tavern from the west instead of the north.  However, this put McCulloch running into the left flank of Curtis’ forces who had quickly repositioned from the bluffs.  In fact, the intense fire from the Federals killed both McCulloch and his second in command, McIntosh and captured the colonel next in line.  The command structure was practically destroyed, leaving McCulloch’s men scattered without command in the field and effectively out of the fight.  Meanwhile, Van Dorn and Price fared better slowly pushing Curtis south of Elkhorn Tavern when night fell.  The Confederates thought the battle the next day would be short and decisive, however, they forgot that their supply wagons were still attempting to catch up.  On the morning of March 8, Curtis counterattacked the tavern area.  This began as a two hour artillery barrage which for once was terribly effective.  They managed to knock out one Confederate battery after another and then turned on the soldiers dug in on Elkhorn Mountain.  The Confederates thought they had a good position, but against artillery that exploded in the rock walls behind them turned it into a death trap.  They had to withdraw to tavern area.  Meanwhile, Curtis lined all of his soldiers in a long line over 3 football fields long and charged the Elkhorn Tavern.  Even though the Confederates still outnumbered the Federals, their ammunition was dangerously low and they had no choice but to retreat to the north and east and the battle was over with a Union victory.  They had driven the Confederates out of Missouri, securing it for the rest of the war for the Union, although there continued to be guerilla fighting in Missouri for the rest of the war.  This was the second major battle in the Civil War west of the Mississippi and the last.  Nearly all of the troops from both sides were moved east of the Mississippi River for the remainder of the war.  Missouri continued to be technically neutral although it continued to provide men and supplies to both sides.

The Pea Ridge battlefield is actually not very large and the driving tour around the battlefield is only 7 miles long.  Once again we purchased the auto-tour CD which gave some valuable insights on the battle, although it was still difficult to understand the battle itself.  Part of the problem was due to the fact that Van Dorn turned the battle around by circling around to the rear of the Federals.  This meant they were attacking to the south and the Union to the north.  Also the maps in the brochure were terribly confusing and did not match with the very well with the interpretive signs at each of the stops.  We never did figure out the battle near the town of Leetown where McCulloch and McIntosh were killed.  The short trail to the town site did not help since there is nothing left of the town today.  The best part of the trip was the overlook on Elkhorn Mountain.  From there you could see the field where the battle for Elkhorn Tavern took place.  They placed cannon along the line through the field where the Federals lined up for their advance on the morning of March 8.  I was surprised to find that Elkhorn Tavern had survived all of the fighting until I found out it was a replication of the tavern.  There are a number of trials that circle the area around the tavern, however, after walking no more than 100 yards, Kal found three ticks crawling up her pants.  At this point we decided not to take a hike, which turned out to be a good thing as we talked with some other hikers that were very busy picking off ticks!!  Without any hiking, it did not take long to explore the battlefield and we returned to the campgrounds early in the afternoon.

Once again Saturday threatened rain, so we decided to drive back into Branson, this time from the west, to play another couple of rounds of mini-golf that we were both enjoying.  Kal had seen a pretty fancy course last week, so we headed to the Shoot For The Stars Mini-golf.  Visually it was very fancy with a lot of objects depicting Hollywood, including mockups of Gramans and the Hollywood Bowl among others.  The idea was it represented the 18 steps to becoming a movie star.  They had an agent with prerecorded messages at the beginning of each hole, when the recordings worked.  In fact, the course was more glitz then substance.  The holes were very easy with few challenges, but still was enjoyable.  After we finished that course, we decided to go back to Pirates Cove for another round on their more challenging course, Blackbeard.  Of all the mini-golf courses we played in Branson, this was our favorite.  We also checked and found out we had played fewer than half of the mini-golf courses in Branson!

Sunday was spent just relaxing in the campground while it rained once again.  This weather has gotten ridiculous and did not look like it would change anytime soon.

 

May, 2019 – Branson, Missouri

While I have titled this blog as Branson, Missouri where we spent most of our time, our campsite was actually just across the state line in Arkansas.  We were located on the shores of Table Rock Lake in one of the many Corps of Engineer campgrounds on the lake, Cricket Creek Campground.  The trip was a short trip west from our previous location, mostly along US highways, which were still slow and twisted.  Once we got through Harrison, Arkansas, we were on US 62 which is today a 4-lane highway where they have taken out most of the curves and steep gradients.  Just before we crossed the state line into Missouri, we took off to the west for 5 miles down to the shores of Table Rock Lake.  The reservation page on recreation.gov had listed the campground without water hookups, so we showed up with full fresh water tanks, only to find out the webpage was wrong.  Every site had water hookups and 50 amp electrical service.  Each site was also paved with nice stone work around the site.  The site we had also had two stone picnic tables for some reason.  Unfortunately, the trees blocked any views of the lake, but otherwise was a very nice, small campground.  The only challenge was a tree right in the way of backing the RV into the site, making me having to make nearly a 90 degree turn into the site.  Thankfully there was another site across from us, so I was able to use it to get the truck back around in front of the RV.  I had to pull the RV up and back a couple of times to get it all straightened out and then it was easy to put it where we wanted for the week.  It was also great that our site had a paved area to the side where we could put the truck.  Kal really liked this feature.  Thankfully, TV reception was not too bad although it would be nice to have CBS.

The weather on Tuesday was cool and partly cloudy, but thankfully no rain.  So we headed south to the Visitor Center on the Buffalo National River south of Harrison, Arkansas.  Years ago we had visited Buffalo National River with my sister on vacation, so it was a repeat.  The time before we floated down the lower river in a canoe and kayak.  However, that was late summer and this was early spring.  Not only was the temperature too cool for floating down the river, but most of the river was closed due to high water from the all the rain.  This time we were interested in doing some hiking.  After getting information from the Visitor Center about hiking trails in all three sections of the river, we traveled on down to their picnic area where they had tables set up on the bank of the Buffalo River.  It was a very nice spot for lunch.  After lunch we decided to do just an easy 1.25 mile trail near the Visitor Center that started at the Collier Homestead which was settled by a family from Kentucky until the land was sold to the National Park Service.  They have done a little work on preserving the small cabin on the site and their orchard behind the house is still there.  The trail to a spectacular overlook of the Buffalo River was an easy trail.  For those of you not familiar with the Buffalo National River, it was the first National River dedicated back in 1972.  Up to that point, there had been multiple plans and attempts by the Corps of Engineers to dam the river, primarily for flood control and this finally put an end to those attempts.  The Buffalo River is a pristine natural area for plants and wildlife all along the 135 miles within the park.  If I had paid attention, we should have gotten out last week to see some of the lower areas of the park as we were quite close.  I suppose all the rain was another reason we did not take advantage of it.  In any case, we enjoyed the hike until we came back around on the return trail.  This trail started with a steep downhill section along the bluff on the river with a couple of more nice views and then returned back to the farm site through the woods.  Of course, this meant the return trip was mostly uphill and we both regretted not getting in more hikes over the past few months!  By the time we returned to the truck, we had both had enough of hiking, so we returned to the campgrounds.

By Wednesday the rain had returned once again, although there was no severe weather to deal with.  So it was another easy day in the campgrounds.  Thursday also threatened rain, although we saw only a few brief showers, so we headed into Branson, Missouri to see if we could deal with our time share mistake.  We really knew better, but 10 years ago we entered into a very small time share to try out that approach to retirement.  This was before we had made the decision to full time in an RV.  We purchased a single week every other year at a reasonable rate, that came with points that could be used in their transfer program.  As it turned out, it was not cheaper to use a time share, even though the accommodations were a LOT better then we would book ourselves.  We used the system only a couple of times over the years and now that we are living in an RV, it makes no sense at all.  If it were not for the maintenance fees every other year, we would just ignore it.  While these fees are not huge, they are irritating that we continue to pay for something we no longer want.  Since the time share company has the right of first refusal, we figured we would give them their opportunity while we are in the area.  However, the time share office is not open on Thursday and is only opened on Friday, so it was a wasted trip.  So the day was not a complete lost we decided to check out one of the many fancy mini-golf courses in Branson, Dinosaur Canyon.  They had two 18-hole courses that wound around the many dinosaurs and water features in the park.  We played both courses before heading back to the campground and had a great time.

So on Friday, it was back to Branson to meet with someone to discuss the time share property.  We got there early, but had to wait for a 12:00 appointment since we needed to see someone who was not a salesperson.  So we headed out to check out another of the mini-golf courses, Pirates Cove.  Like Dinosaur Canyon, Pirates Cove consisted of two 18-hole courses that wound around some fun scenes and water features.  We took on their more challenging course, which not only included a hole on their pirate ship, but also through and on top of their “mountain”.  The most interesting feature was a hole which was nearly impossible not to bounce the golf ball into the small stream running to the side.  It turned out that this was actually the best chance for a hole in one, since the stream went under a small rock feature which somehow shunted the ball into a pipe that shot the ball at the hole.  Very cool feature!  We did not have enough time to play both courses, as we needed to get a quick lunch before heading back to the time share office.

What then occurred was the most amazing sales pitch I have ever witnessed.  We had the “privilege” of meeting with an independent agent of the time share “police”, although he was still being paid by the time share company.  He was under an “obligation” to inform us of the impact of a relatively new Florida law which is suppose to protect the consumer.  We looked up this Florida law and could not verify anything that he told us about.  It was his “duty” to inform us that this law addressed the three major problems with time share.  First, was the inheritance tax when the time share passes on to our children, none of which are interested in inheriting the time share.  Since time shares have been classified as “luxury items” that are not subject to the exclusion cap for estates and could be taxed as high as 30% of their value depending on the state.  This Florida law, supposedly, remove this luxury tag and our estate would not be hit with this tax.  However, I fail to see how a Florida law would have anything to do with how Alabama wants to define luxury.  Second, is the maintenance fee which you have to pay whether you use the time share or not.  Under this new contract, the company had to refund part of the maintenance fee so long as you relinquish your weeks early enough in the year that they can rent those weeks to non-members.  According to our agent, it was “fortunate” that we bought our time share when we did.  The property we owned had now gone through two owners and the current owner was based in Florida and thus subject to this law.  Our maintenance fee was still tied to the original rennovation schedule for the first company and therefore was quite low by industry standards.  If fact, according to him, the fee was going to jump by over 6 times the current amount and become a significant burden.  Supposedly we had already been notified of this although we never got anything in the mail that we recognized.  In addition, he could not show us what we should have received.  However, under this new contract we would be getting most of this back IF we gave up our weeks each year in January.  Now came the real sales pitch!!  Under our current contract we earned a set number of points each year, which under the new owner was worth 10 times more!!  In other words, our points, which supposedly would not change, would now be worth 10 times as much under the new contract.  So instead of one week every other year, we would have enough points for 5 weeks a year!!  This meant that instead of getting refunded for one week every other year we would receive 5 weeks of refund and still only being paying the original maintenance fee.  So, instead of paying out each year, we would be making a lot of money on the maintenance fee.  Does this sound like a reasonable business model for time shares to you??  Now remember, this guy was “not” a salesperson for the time share company and assured us the time share company does not want us to sign the new contract.  It was important to him that we understood that signing the new contract could not be for purchasing additional points, which it was not.  Each point we currently had would just be worth 10 times more.  Now came the real kicker.  In order to sign a new contract we had to invest additional money up to the current value of the property.  Part of his hand waving now entailed being amazed by the low amount we originally paid for the property which on average everyone paid 5 times more for the same contract.  When asked how this could be possible, he made up a wild story about someone must have defaulted on their deal and the company could only sell it for what was still owed them.  I have never of this kind of restriction on any repossessed property.  Because of this difference, we had “forced equity” which for some reason reduced the amount we would have to pay for the new contract.  This is entirely backwards, since the “investment” was to bring us up to the current value of the property which should mean we would have to invest more not less.  I bet you can guess what the final investment figure was after all his magic was done.  If you guessed 4-5 times our original investment, then you were right.   However, he was not done performing his magic.  The third aspect of the Florida law was that once the company sold off all of a property, they had to establish a “resales office,” the purpose of which was never made clear.  He made it sound like at that time the time share company would begin to buy back property, which makes no business sense at all, without ever actually stating this was their purpose.  Projections are that the current property in Branson would be all sold in less than 3 years, which means at that time we could sell them back our property instead of having to hold it for a minimum of 5 years as required by the Florida law.  So in 3 years we would be able to make a killing on our investment, which has not only increased significantly in value all ready, but would skyrocket because the company is building a new time share in Branson.  For his finale he showed us how the crazy refunds of the maintenance fees would more than offset the monthly payments.  So we would not only be able to make money on the maintenance fees every year, but we would be able to sell this new contract in 3 years for a minimum of triple our investment.  Talk about a “no-brainer”!!!  When asked if he would put all of this in writing, he quickly steered the conversation in another direction and we left after 5 hours with loan forms to fill out overnight and a promise to call to set up a meeting on Saturday.  Of course, we never heard again from this idiot with his no-brainer deal.  Bottomline:  we talked with a non-salesperson who could not sell us additional points, but for an additional huge investment we could get 5 weeks a year and be in a position within 3-5 years of trying to sell back a property in no better position then we are today.  I suppose I am one of the 5 percent of time share owners that could not see the benefits of this new contract.  While it was a waste of time, they did give us a check for $150 for attending their “enrichment seminar.”

While the weather on Friday was not great, it was certainly better than Saturday, when once again it rained off and on all day long.  Sunday was certainly an improvement and since we enjoyed the miniature golf so much, we decided to head back to Branson again to check out some of the other courses.  First, we played the easier course at Pirates Cove since we got half off from the time before.  This second course was also fun, but not as good as the more challenging course.  We still had plenty of time on our hands so took off looking for another course.  The first one we saw was at Bigfoot Fun Park, where the single 18-hole course was around other attractions in the park for young kids.  While this course was not as good as Pirates Cove, it was more difficult.  Not only were there a series of three holes in the dark with black lights, but they had a par 5 hole on top of the cave which it would have been easier with a wedge instead of a putter.  In any case, we had a good afternoon playing around in Branson for our last day in the area.  It was going to take a while to get over the bad memories I now have of Branson.

April, 2019 – Mountain Home, Arkansas

The trip north from Heber Springs to Mountain Home was not very far, but since it was along state highways winding their way through the Ozarks, it was very slow.  It took over two hours for the trip, but it was very scenic the entire way.  Our next destination was Robinson Point Campground, another Corps of Engineers site, on the shore of Norfork Lake, just outside of Mountain Home.  We were now deep into the Ozarks with its oak/hickory forests along with a few shortleaf pines.  Our campsite was actually in the center of a small loop of campsites, which gave us a view of Norfork Lake in three directions.  I was not sure why I had chosen this site, since it was in the middle of the loop until I realized we had the only site with a water hookup next to the RV.  The other sites have water spigots in between two sites that might have required more than the 100 feet of hose we carry with us.  However, I was able to back the RV into the site with no problem and we had both electric and water hookups.  We were soon set up for the week.

Campsite

It was good that there was no state parks or other historical state parks we were wanting to explore, since the weather did not cooperate all week.  In fact, we saw rain every day of the week, including Monday before we pulled out of Heber Springs.  Tuesday was the worst, since there were tornadoes all day long in Missouri and west of our location in Arkansas.  We spent a significant part of the day watching the local TV broadcast of their continuous weather alert.  The storms stayed mostly to our north and strong storms did not hit us until after dark.  Wednesday we got a break although the forecast was for rain throughout the day.  It would have been a day to get out, if you wanted to ignore the forecast.  By Thursday it rained all day long, although no severe storms this time.  Friday was a little better, although there were still periods of rain, so for something to do we both went into Mountain Home to do laundry.  While Kal did the laundry, I ran errands and we both got done at about the same time.  I guess this was the highlight of the week, as it rained again for most of the weekend, especially Saturday night.  Hopefully, the weather will be better next week as there are a couple of places we want to visit.

April, 2019 – Heber Springs, Arkansas

The trip north through Little Rock took us into the Ozark Mountains from the Arkansas River Valley.  The terrain quickly went from the flat floodplain to the hills and mountains of the southern Ozarks.  The trip itself was only 1.5 hours, about an hour of which was along the Interstate and four lane US 64, so it went by very quickly.  Our destination was another COE campground, John F. Kennedy Campground, located just below the Greers Ferry Dam on the Little Red River.  The name surprised us until we learned that President John F. Kennedy dedicated the completion of the dam just a few months before his assassination in 1964.  In fact, it was his last public event before the trip to Texas.   The campground is very nice strung out along the bank of the Little Red River.  Our campsite backed up to the low bluff overlooking the river, which unfortunately we could not see very well due to the trees and brush in the way.  However, it was still a very nice spot in a quiet campground until the weekend when it literally filled up and became very busy.

Campsite

On Tuesday we drove over to the COE Visitor Center on the other side of the dam.  There we found information about a number of hiking trails in the area that we could choose from ranging from easy to challenging.  Not being all that interested in climbing up to the top of Round Mountain, we choose to explore the Mossy Bluff trail at the Visitor Center.  It is a 1.5 mile trail travels just below the bluff overlooking the Little Red River below the dam.  It was suppose to be an easy trail that could be made into a loop by traveling one way along the paved road at the top of the bluff.  The volunteers at the Visitor Center recommended starting out on the road to avoid climbing up the nearly 100 steps to get above the bluff at the dam overlook.  I am not sure this was such a good idea, since the hike along the road was 2 miles long with some serious up and down hill sections.  By the time we got to the overlook, we were both ready to call it a day.  However, after taking some pictures of the dam, we headed down the steps to the bluff trail.  As advertised this trail was fairly level all of the way back to the Visitor Center and had some really great views of the Little Red River over 100 feet below us.  They also had a nice brochure giving information at over 20 marked stops.  Unfortunately, nearly half of these stops were missing and it was too early in the spring for most of the plants being pointed out.  Still it was a good hike on a beautiful spring day in the Arkansas Ozarks.

Wednesday was spent doing laundry and cleaning up the RV with rain in the evening and most of the day on Thursday, which we also spent in the campgrounds.  The weather on Friday was great so we headed north to Mountain View, Arkansas to check out the Ozark Folk Center State Park.  This was actually a repeat for us, as we visited the park over 10 years ago on a trip with my sister. I remembered quite a bit about that visit, especially the wooden broom we bought and are still using in the RV.  If you are interested in the arts and crafts of the Ozarks, then you must visit this park.  It consists of over 20 artisans working in a picturesque setting.  Each artisan has their own workshop or area to demonstrate their craft.  We visited with the artisans in each shop and had a great time.  I am not sure I can name all of them, however, I know they included an apothecary, blacksmith, painter, leatherworking, glassworking, toy making, brooms, candles, pottery, carving, and others.   They also have local music performances throughout the day and we enjoyed listening to the band of 4 musicians performing traditional mountain music.  While I don’t generally enjoy shopping, this was totally different as we spent more time talking with the artisans about their craft and lifestyle.

Saturday was another nice day with occasional light showers, so I decided to explore the disc golf course over by the Visitor Center.  I have played a number of courses over the years and this course is one of the best I have ever played.  They have put a lot of effort in designing and maintaining the course.  It starts out in a young pine plantation where they have created grassy fairways by clearing out some of the trees.  It then winds uphill through a mature pine/hardwood forest where they even have moved the rocks out of the fairway to line the course.  The even had one hole that was completely lined with rocks on both sides and all around the cage, which they called “the island”.  You slowly climb the hill and then after a couple of holes on the top you start back down.  This is done quickly with a couple of short fairways where a good tee shot could easily be birdied, which I actually did on one hole.  Except for the one hole that went across a small pond, the course is not very technical, but still there are plenty of trees to hit on either side of the fairways.  While I hit fewer of these trees then is normal for me, I still hit a fair number of them.  It was a beautiful day on a beautiful course.

Sunday was spent relaxing the campground as all the campers once again cleared out turning the campgrounds back into a quiet place.