Friday, April 23, 2010


April 6-April 14, 2010

We are camped at the Horseshoe Bend Recreational area on Beaver Lake at Rogers/Monte Ne, AR. It is an absolutely lovely area. The woods are glorious with the bright colors of redbuds, dogwoods and other wild flowering trees. As you wind down the road to enter the recreation area the view is breath taking. You occasionally catch glimpses of the lake through the trees with its high cliffs, and heavily wooded islands in the middle.

As you come out to Rogers into Monte Ne you can kiss your Sprint cell phone service good-bye. It’s spotty at best as you ride the curves, climb the hills and drop into the valleys and climb back up again for about four beautiful miles. You pass large homes with glorious views of the lake and then suddenly you find yourself at the Corps of Engineers campground.

When we pulled up to the booth we were greeted by a pleasant couple. It turned out she once lived in the same small town we live in. It is a small world after all. They seemed surprised when we said we wanted to camp for a week. I guess because it was so early in the season.

The female booth attendant asked if we had an America the Beautiful Park Pass, then went on to explain that this was one of the Corps of Engineers parks that gave a 50% discount for camping. We had already included in this season’s travel budget to pay the $10 fee for one, but had not purchased it yet. When we asked if we could purchase it at the booth we were sadly told no. We could, however, pay for one night and then go over to Pea Ridge Military Park, a short distance away, and purchase one for the rest of the nights. This was the option we choose.

Because it was mid-week we pretty much had our choice of campsites. Gary had done his research when choosing this campground and knew from studying the Sprint service area map that the campsites on the tip of the peninsula would have service. So that is where we headed. Sure enough, campsite 36 had a 3 bar service, so that’s where we choose to camp. It was an easy parking job.

The campsites here have a level paved area that held our 30 ft camper, and the pick-up with ease. It took only seconds to park the camper. The site is gorgeous. Looking out the living room windows of the camper we have a great view of the lake and the cliffs on the other side. Our closest neighbors are a flock of Canadian geese that wander through during the day. They are often accompanied by a decent size herd of deer as well. We hear the geese periodically throughout the night softly calling to each other.

What time we are at the camper we have enjoyed sitting outside watching the geese as they wander around peacefully grazing. We saw little of them over the weekend when the campground partially filled up. As soon as the main group of campers left on Sunday the flock was back. They brought with them some beautiful hawks, ravens and miscellaneous small water fowl. Occasionally a large blue heron will sweep past as well. Overhead four or five large birds that were bigger than buzzards, but not marked quite right to be golden eagles rode the air currents as graceful as the lightest of ballet dancers. All this beauty played to music of frogs singing their spring song as evening approached.

As we sat we looked around for beavers. We could see numerous trees bearing the results of their need to chew, but we never did catch sight of them. Each evening we’d hear loud splashing of water that at first we thought to be really large fish jumping, but the more I think about it the more I think it might have been beavers slapping their tails against the water.

By the way the trees here are a combination of tall straight lodge pole pines, stately oaks, and of course redbuds and dogwoods.

Our campsite has electric only. It is normally $19 per night, but with the America the Beautiful card it is $9.50 per night. A huge savings. There is a water hydrant just across from our campsite, so if we should run low in our holding tank we could hook up the hose and refill. However, they are under a “boil” notification right now because they had a water main break. So we are doing without putting their water in our tank for now. The main has been repaired and they expect the boil notice to end today or tomorrow.

There is a free dump station for campers near the entrance booth, with a $5 fee for non-campers. It has been blocked off while they worked on the water main, but we noticed they were taking the barricades down as we were leaving today.

If you come here for daily use the entrance fee is $4 and there is a deadline for you to vacate the area. It has a designated swim area as well as a nice boat dock and then there is a marina in another area.

Most of the toilets are vault toilets and port-a-johns, however a few single stall flush toilets do dot the area. The one near our campsite has one toilet and two showers in each of the two sides.

The window is missing in the men’s shower house. Gary said that makes for a breezy shower this time of year. He said the scalding shower quickly made you forget about the breeze though. Once again the shower head is high on the wall and it is a non-adjustable push the button type set-up. I choose to do fast showers in the camper rather than drown showering.

The next morning we went to Pea Ridge before doing any mystery shops and purchased the National Parks Pass. Because Gary is now 62 he qualifies for the senior citizen version of it. It was a one time purchase price of $10 and is good for the rest of his life. With the amount of travel we do that is going to be a huge money saver for us. It has already saved us a total of $76 on camping and entrance into Pea Ridge to tour the park last Saturday.

If you are not familiar with this pass I suggest you go to and check it out. You can purchase one if you are not a senior citizen as well, but it’s $80 annually. Basically it includes discounts for all national parks, and corps of engineers, locations, as well as some state parks for anything that has a fee. Many entrance fees for the museums and such are free to the pass holder and three other adults in their party. It can add up to some major savings if you travel very much at all.

Speaking of Pea Ridge Military Park, located at Pea Ridge Arkansas, we went there to tour the museum and battlefield on Saturday. It is one of the numerous civil War battlefields that dot the United States. This one is of particular interest to my husband and myself because in all likelihood we both had great grandfathers that fought there on both sides of the conflict.

The information center, from what I was told, has recently undergone a renovation. It is modern, clean and well done. There are the usual uniform reproductions, cannons, cannon balls and such located throughout the two main areas of the building.

The third area has a movie theater, complete with comfortable cinema seats that shows a well produced movie that follows the battles of the area up to and including the one at Elkhorn Tavern. The movie is approximately 30 minutes long. If you don’t have the America the Beautiful pass visiting this battle site will cost you $10 a carload. The movie and museum are included.

The fourth area of the building is of course the gift store. It is mainly books on the Civil War and the Trail of Tears, which came through Pea Ridge, with the usual gift store type pricing.

They close access to the seven mile driving tour at 4:30 pm, it has approximately 10 stops along the way, so allow plenty of time in your schedule to take the tour. Once again we were treated to the beautiful spring scenery that this part of Arkansas has to offer in mid April.

We had been told we could gain access to the Elk Horn Tavern until 4:30, but when we arrived at just after four we found it locked up tight and no caretaker around. However, the curtains were conveniently pulled to the side to allow us to look in to at least the lower level.

Throughout our driving tour I thought of those brave soldiers on both sides that fought there for a principle each believed to be just. The movie had depicted the hard march they had participated in to come and fight. I looked at the steep hills they had to climb in the snow to fight and knew in my heart that my ancestors were of far sterner stuff than I am.

The park is a simple affair, but it is well maintained. It includes special horseback riding areas as well as hiking trails, picnic areas, and biking trails. It is truly a place you could spend a lovely day enjoying. I know we did.

We leave this area for Branson, Missouri on Wednesday morning. We haven’t decided yet how long we’ll stay there or for certain where we’ll go next. Because I have a good chunk of jobs waiting for me at home we might swing by there for a few days, do laundry and head out again. It just all depends on what work we find where.

Jan who is enjoying spring in the Ozarks away from OK

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


April 6, 2010

The computer bounces on my lap as we head down highway 412 in northeast Oklahoma. It’s the Dan P. Holmes Expressway leaving Tulsa. I actually remember Dan P. Holmes. To me he was just a face on the television. He was a gentleman who was always complaining about the horrible condition of highway 412. He constantly campaigned to get that little two lane road that lead from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Arkansas repaired and widened. As a kid growing up I had no real grasp of why this interstate road was so important, or why the man was constantly campaigning to get it improved.

Now as I type I appreciate Mr. Holmes. It’s a nice divided highway that allows you to move safely and freely from Oklahoma to Arkansas and back again. Sadly the highway was completed after Mr. Holmes passed, but I like to think he’s up there somewhere smiling, knowing all the good he did for all the travelers.

In the two weeks we’ve been home from Davis the world flying by my truck window has turned from winter brown to varying shades of spring green. The landscape is dotted with colorful redbuds and stark white wild plum trees. As we drive through the towns on our way to Springdale, AR I see jonquils blooming in the yards. Spring has finally come to the area.

Pastures along the roads are filled with new calves, lambs and kid goats. Easter was last weekend and we’ve been blessed with a nearly storm free spring so far. I hope it stays that way. Tornadoes are very scary things.

I’ve actually been in about six and would prefer to never be in one again. I’ll do a blast from the past post soon about one such tornado when I was rendezvousing fulltime. It was an experience that is funny now, but back then it was really pretty scary.

Right now I’m simply enjoying the spring day.

At home Sean is taking care of the gifts of spring we’ve recently received. Easter night Gary had gone out to do some late chores when in the pitch dark he heard the sounds of new life. The sounds of a tiny chick strayed from its mother. He called into the house and told us what he was hearing.

Sean grabbed up a flashlight and headed into the woods where the sound was coming from. He soon realized it was more than one. Climbing through the underbrush he found two tiny chicks. One was white and the other was brown, plus a nest of pipping eggs. No mama chicken to be seen.

He knew that this late at night if the hen wasn’t on the nest she was permanently gone. Gary verified this later when he told us he had found the Mama dead not far away. The chicks were gathered first and placed in Sean’s shirt tail to keep them warm until he could pass them off to Gary, who then passed them off to me.

I took them into the house and warmed them up while the two men gathered the ten chirping eggs from the nest. All were far enough along in their hatch there was no sense in firing up one of the two incubators we still owned. Instead a cardboard box was setup in Sean’s bathroom vanity with a 100 watt light bulb.

By morning we were up to five healthy chicks, by bedtime last night only three eggs remained unhatched. One of them was nearly finished hatching, the 9th one is rocking and rolling but no cracks in the shell as yet. We feel no life in the 10th egg. Sean will candle it tonight to see if anyone is home and still alive. Sometimes there is one chick that hatches as much as 48 hours after the rest of a clutch.

We had not even set up brooders yet for the season, so that’s on the top of Sean’s to do list today. That way the birds can be raised properly and not stink up the bathroom.

When we last spoke with him he hadn’t decided if he was going to work on the small pen or the garden roof today. Fairy goose, Elf’s mother, is sharing a nest with a banty turken in the small pen coop. Which is very comical to see the turken trying to warm the five goose eggs along with her own tiny eggs when Fairy is off the nest.

The pen needs some major repair due to the big tree, of the emergency room fame, fell on part of the pen. The guys removed the tree Sunday, but Sean will need to do some fence and roof repair to make the pen safe for the little ones when they hatch. So he’ll probably do the pen.

The garden roof may sound strange to some of those who haven’t heard me speak of this before. My poultry all free range, so my garden is caged, complete with a chick wire roof. The repetitive snow and ice storms of this last winter knocked the roof down, as well as taking down many limbs of nearby trees.

We’ve been cleaning that up and doing the repairs ever since we’ve been home. All the limbs are now either firewood for next winter, or have been burned as brush. New saplings have been cut as uprights and the two men have restrung the chick wire.

The roof is essential because most of my birds can fly right over the fence and take up garden seeds as fast as we put them in without it. Only a small amount of work is left to complete it. Sean has plans on finishing it this week.

He’ll then start putting in his “first” garden. I had planned on getting it all planted, but life happens, so he’s decided to do it since he was “downsized” three weeks ago out of a job. He’s hoping to be employed again quickly. However, in the meantime he’s going to intensely plant the garden. The seeds are all sorted and ready. I have told him the choice of what and where is his. I’ll be curious as to what he does plant.

The fish we placed in the rain water harvesting pool (yet another post I need to write) have over doubled in size in the last two weeks. We actually thought the ducks had eaten them all. So imagine Sean’s excitement when he realized he was looking at a four inch long goldfish late last night and three three and half inch long ones today. More on this version of aquaponics another time.

Right now I’m just enjoying the bright greens of spring and the warm day.

Jan who is thankful winter is finally over in OK