Sunday, November 8, 2015

And into Arkansas Oct 29 2015

Our 3 days at Alley Spring complete, we headed south again to Arkansas, another state we've never been in.  This time we went to Dam-Quarry campground outside Mountain Home, AR.  As we drove those undulating hills and past the same small towns and pockets of poverty we'd seen in MO, I was a bit shocked as we came into Mountain Home where the road opened and there were a Home Depot, Lowe's, chain restaurants and, of course, a sprawling Walmart.  We stopped to get gas and pick up a few food items we needed and then drove out to the Dam.  Right on the Norfork River the campground is below the Norfork Dam which holds Norfork Lake above.  Each time the alarm sounds it is to notify people that they are doing a water release and as the water starts flowing the river level rises.  The ever present fishermen tend to leave the river during that time but because this is an extremely popular catch and release site, especially for rainbow trout they are not gone for long. There is a Fish and Wildlife fish hatchery on site as well which we walked through and saw everything from very newly hatched eggs to fish ready to be released.  We arrived to find our campsite overlooking the river and beautiful blue skies.

Norfork Dam looms above the campground

I was sitting in the front seat working on my laptop when I picked up my camera and took this pic.  This was what we saw each time we looked out the window for 3 days-if there wasn't fog, that is!
But, since we had a new "weather pattern" the next day dawned and we were completely fogged in.  I could not even see the dam when I took Phoenix out at first light.

See the dam?  Nope.  Neither did we.

Same view from our window with a little fog mixed in

and this was looking across the river from our side window

but gradually the fog lifted

As you, my faithful readers know, the first day is always laundry day so I set off to town with only 2 bags (I decided the bed linens could wait) and Phoenix, who comes with me so Don can go riding while I am gone.  I drove first to what turned out to be a commercial laundry and ended up staying 45 minutes while the woman there quizzed me about living on the road and the places we've traveled.  She then directed me to the "real laundromat" and there I completed my weekly chore.  When I got back to the campground I convinced Don to hike with me to the top of the dam.  Normally, he is up for hikes but this was alongside the very busy road that came down from there. The road is a major route so the trucks and cars come barreling down and the dirt/gravel/grass pathways on either side do not inspire faith that one will safely make it all the way.  But we did and at the top there is another park which was closed but which we walked around looking at the views of the hills and valleys beyond and then on the other side walked down to the parking and boat area at the lake and took in the sweeping views of the lake.  There was no way we were going to walk across the dam but we did go to the top edge and peer down.  It's a long way.

At the top of the hill in the small park.  It was Halloween and these trees looked like they had their "spook" on

Norfork Lake

Norfork Dam

Below the dam  is the stream that comes down from the fish hatchery

There were fishermen (and women) in the river at all times from early morning until late afternoon.  It is a catch and release with non-barbed hooks area and we only saw one guy get a fish.  Don correctly remarked that this is probably not a sport I should try as the patience is not within me.

The walk back down was easier, though no less harrowing when a semi is coming down, and we took a detour to explore the river before going back. Because I'd driven the MoHo front end in we were able to sit in the front and gaze out at the river and the view, even with cloudy skies, was relaxing and peaceful.  Once again, though the next day was cloudy and cold and we took short walks or bike rides around the campground but did little else.  But, that evening's sunset-it seemed so early with the time change back to standard time-foretold of the beautiful weather forecast for the next day.  Yup, that pattern again.

We left Dam-Quarry on Nov 2 and drove south to Maumelle Campground outside Little Rock, AR. And, true to pattern and as foretold, it was a beautiful day. Getting out of the Ozarks was a matter of the familiar up hill and downhill as well as twisting and turning drive that we'd become used to but in a few hours we arrived at Maumelle Campground- which is on the other side of the river from the town of Maumelle, and is amazingly beautiful.  Our campsite was literally on the shore of the Arkansas River and when we arrived the sky was a deep blue, the river as smooth as glass and just beautiful.  The campsites were huge and, as anyone with an RV will appreciate, completely level.  The day was deliciously warm, too, so we spent the evening soaking up the view and the fresh air.

This was our first view of the river as we drove over it on I-430

This was the first sign we saw and it was kind of cool seeing my family name up there.  But, I have to say that after driving that road several times, seeing the number of places the name is used to name things it actually got kind of creepy.

These two pictures are the view from the window in our MoHo at the campsite.  Most people back in to "back in" sites but I contend that when there is a view like this I'd far rather back out when we leave.  Besides, it's easier backing out onto a road than to back into limited space.  Sure we have great views from the small bedroom windows when we're asleep if we back in but this was SO much better!

The next morning we awoke to fog.  And then mist,  And then rain.  But, since I'd only done half the laundry in Mountain Home it was time for me drive to town and do some more.  And, what did I drive?  Well Cantrell Rd of course!  The main road to our turn off is Cantrell Road and I have to say it was a weird experience driving past Cantrell Dental and Cantrell Realtors, etc.  The weird thing was that that day was Nov 3 and would have been my father's 96th birthday (he died at age 54 of lung cancer) and it was he who gave me my last name.

The laundromat luckily was NOT named Cantrell as it was the only laundromat with which I have been unhappy.  The woman who worked there could not have been nicer and more helpful and but for her I would have been really upset. They have a system where site specific "tokens" come out of the change machine is not great when you only have 2 loads and never plan to return and they seem to have a monopoly on laundromats in the Little Rock area so one is hard put to void the system.  But, another woman came in and needed tokens, bought mine and all was good.  I finished up, did some grocery shopping for which I earned points that gave me 10 cents per gallon off on gas and ended up filling my tank for $1.82 per gallon. After I did some cooking and Don took a long bike ride we made plans to head into Little Rock the next day.  Since the weather had cleared and there was no wind, Don decided to take his kayak for a paddle.  I hoped I would be able to go the next day but...yeah, fog and mist. So it was into the city... (See: Little Rock Nov 4)

When Don kayaked in the Mississippi in Dubuque I missed seeing him go by so this time I stood waiting at the river's edge.

The late afternoon sun lit up the banks of the river and the trees which were in their final stages of fall foliage

The sunset's glow lasted for awhile and kept changing the colors of the river and sky.  Awesome.

We had been camped for two days and, other than an occasional fisherman in a small motor boat, had seen no river traffic.  I had just gone to sleep the second night when I heard what I was sure were the engines of a large ship. At first I ignored it thinking it was a distant train-I mean after all, if barges used this river they'd be here during the day, right?  I got to the front of the coach JUST in time to grab my camera, check the setting and get this pic of the tug boat.  She was pushing a VERY long barge downriver but it was in complete darkness.  Two more barges went by during the night, one upriver and the other down and then we did not see or hear another the next day or night.

As I took Phoenix out for her walk the sky had a faint glimmer of light on the horizon but I could tell it was cloudy and was glad we'd decided to head out early and miss the rain but as I turned to go back I saw the sun literally pouring through the clouds.  I had my camera and grabbed a shot but then got to talking to a couple that was watching the sunrise and I missed more pics.  But, as it rose the clouds parted and began to rise and the day did not look like it would be bad at all.  And it wasn't.

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