Sunday, November 8, 2015

A last minute change and wonderful Alley Springs, Eminence MO Oct 26 2015

I keep resolving to write more frequently but get involved with going through the hundreds of pictures I take (sometimes at one stop!)  

So, now it's November and we are in Arkansas where we have been for a week.  But this is about our last stop in MO.

When we left St Louis (Oct 26) we changed plans again and decided to divert from our plans to follow the Great River Road and head a bit west into the Ozarks in Missouri.  Our really excellent campground owner in St Louis gave us the names of a few Army Corps of Engineer campgrounds near Eminence, MO and highly recommended Alley Spring, so that is where we went.

Since it was off-season (as of Oct 15) the sites were all "walk-in" and with only 3 other campers in the 162 site campground the 3 days we were there, we felt like we had a private retreat.  Alley Spring is part of the Ozark National Scenic Waterway and popular for kayaking and canoeing so with the cool weather upon us it was no wonder we had no trouble snagging a beautiful spot.   Little did we realize that our drive to Eminence, MO and our first evening there, which were in spectacularly beautiful weather, would be the last good weather we saw until the day we left.  Not only were the next 2 days rainy and cloudy but this started a pattern of us traveling on the day that was beautiful and having cool, cloudy and sometimes rainy weather for the rest of our stay.  But, no matter.  It did not dampen our experience nor did it stop us from exploring.

Besides, being of "golden age" we have our National Park Service pass and since this is a federal site we camp for 50% off so for $9 a night we had electricity and water so there was nothing to complain about.  The morning after we arrived we woke to pouring rain and stayed in all day as the rain came down.  It was a good chance to just take some down time and get a few (indoor) chores done and during breaks in the rain take short walks or rides around the campground.




The following morning it wasn't raining and the skies were clearing so we hiked the half mile to Alley Spring and Mill.  We started along the creek, walking alongside cliffs with caves, up to the spring and then toured Alley Mill which has been there since the mid-19th century (the present building is from the late 1800's.)  The spring was incredibly beautiful, clear and turquoise and spilling 81 million gallons  (306 million liters) of water a day and is the 7th largest spring in MO.

Entering the path to the spring from the road

we saw all the bright green vegetation in the stream and I wondered if it was watercress.  Turned out it is.  For several days all I could think about was a delicious watercress sandwich but alas, I did not pick any and I don't think it was allowed.


The path to the spring is bordered on one side with these cliffs with caves (something this region is known for) and the river on the other (below).  The bright green is the watercress.



This photo does not do the spring justice.  Of course, part of the experience is also hearing the rushing waters and my wide angle lens would not allow me to take the entire view but...

once looking into the spring you see how deep it must be (3000 ft/900 m.), clear and then there is the vegetation 


On the other side of the spring is the Alley Mill. 

Alongside the mill is the sluice gate and the runoff from the spring

Story's Creek School- which in 1903 had an attendance of 42 pupils


After walking back to the camp we spent awhile walking along the shore of the Jack Fork River which runs alongside the campground and is a popular place for canoeing and kayaking in the warm weather.  

The clouds were threatening rain on our walk back to the campsite but the walk was beautiful and by the time we had finished lunch the sky was still overcast but it didn't look like rain

Jack's Fork river, crystal clear and green

We then decided after lunch to drive over to Round Spring to see if it was as beautiful.  It was beautiful but in a different way and still amazing.  Within the Round Spring site is also Round Spring Cave  (Youtube link to tour of cave) which, sadly, was closed for the season.  I will have to be content with the Youtube video although I imagine when we go to Mammoth Cave in KY next year it won't matter but still...We then decided after lunch to drive over to Round Spring to see if it was as beautiful.  It was beautiful but in a different way and still amazing.  Within the Round Spring site is also Round Spring Cave  (Youtube link to tour of cave) which, sadly, was closed for the season.  I will have to be content with the Youtube video although I imagine when we go to Mammoth Cave in KY next year it won't matter but still...




Rte 19 bridge which runs over the site


One of the things about driving in this region is the roads, more specifically the topography that the roads follow is mostly gentle, and sometimes steep, rolling hills.  There were areas where the road snaked along and others where a long road stretched out before us revealing its gentle undulations. We could drive for miles and see nothing but trees and fields and an occasional lone homestead, drive through blink-and-you'll-miss-it towns and shamefully (in this nation of plenty) pockets of rural poverty.



The main crossroad at Eminence has a variety of enterprises.

Click on the link to take you to the
Next Stop: Dam-Quarry CG, Mountain Home then Maumelle CG in Little Rock


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