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An afternoon drive - a sure cure for cabin fever
CABIN FEVER!!! I've got a really bad case of cabin fever going on right now. While the winter here has been fairly temperate, the fact remains it is Winter; the ability to do very much is hampered by the cool temperatures we are experiencing. A few days in the 40's or 50's will give me a desire to get outside in some manner, but the reality of the economy in America today prevents me from doing very much anymore. We have our children to think of, their needs and desires; our home and the upkeep for it; our vehicles; and the ever rising cost of living to deal with. The reality is we cannot afford a vacation. Just can't. In good conscience, we will not spend several thousand dollars on a week long splurge on life. The bills will still be there when we get back, and they still need to be paid. So, we dream, we plan, but we don't do.
But one thing we do is periodically take a mini vacation. It may be a one day jaunt to something in the area; it might be a couple of days to something nearby. We've taken a trip to Jenks, Oklahoma to the Aquarium there; to Bartlesville, Oklahoma to Frank Phillips Woolaroc home and museum; we've gone zoos in Springfield, Missouri (pretty good for a small town zoo) and Tulsa, Oklahoma (big let down). Branson, Missouri always is a hit with the family, if for no other reason than Silver Dollar City. The smells alone there draw me back: the smoke of hickory and oak floating on the air, with pork ribs and BBQ sandwiches on the fire. Ooooohhhh, that's good stuff! Then there's the wonderful Bluegrass music to enjoy. I love the sounds of a fiddle and mandolin. Of course, the kids love the rides, and Tina loves the shops there, as well as the Landing in Branson on Lake Taneycomo.
But we've seen all of those things, and the weather, while nice yesterday (around 50) isn't exactly warm enough for such activities. So, a road trip was in order. Just a drive through the Boston Mountains of the Ozarks in Northwest Arkansas. We fueled up our Trailblazer (cost: $62.00), loaded up our youngest son and hit the road. Traveling down the newest interstate highway in the country, Interstate 49 towards Arkansas was nice. The traffic wasn't too bad, and we flowed along nicely. In less than an hour we have crossed over into Arkansas and were arriving in Bella Vista. For those of you unfamiliar with this town, it has seven golf courses, seven lakes, and is a retirement community. It is quiet, serene, and people enjoy the outdoors virtually every decent day available. We stopped to eat a light lunch (cost $11.00) and drove around a bit before heading East on Highway 62. We passed Pea Ridge National Military Park along the way. This is a must see for anyone interested in the history of the States and the Civil War. After that, the road began to wind up, down, left and right. There were points where I think I could have looked to the left and seen the rear of our vehicle, the road was so winding. For a distance of roughly six miles, the curves dictated a safe speed of around 25 mph, so while I paid attention to the road, my wife and son were able to look across some wonderful vistas.
After perhaps 45 minutes of driving from Bella Vista we arrived at our destination: Beaver Lake. Now, we do not have a boat, and the lake being so dadgum cold right now, we weren't going out on the lake itself; I just wanted to take our son Caleb down below the dam. He has a fascination with pictures he's seen of the Hoover Dam, so we have taken him to Table Rock Dam, and now Beaver Dam on the White River. They are large enough to let him be awed, and close enough to be home by dark. Beaver is not quite as large as Table Rock is, but it is still big to me. We drove down to the parking area and got out to walk around. Easing down to the water, we watched as people were fishing for Rainbow and Brown Trout in the low, slow moving water. The Corp of Engineers were not running any generators in the dam for power, so the river was very low. But when they open up the generators to provide power for the area, it can rise several feet in a matter of minutes. Once the flow stabilizes, the trout come out to feed on the insects and small bait fish that have been dislodged in the rising water. Today, however, not much was moving. We did see one nice trout swimming in front of us; perhaps 18" long and maybe 3 pounds or so. There were several people fly fishing while we were there. This is such a relaxing way to fish. Standing thigh or waist deep in a gently moving current, easing the long rod back and forth before allowing the fly to settle upon the surface of the water, then waiting as it glides along on the current. Aaaaahhhhh!
No fish were offering themselves up this day, though. So we watched for a while, then set off to walk along the river bed, searching for unique rocks among the many littering the shoreline. We found several that caught our eyes, and loaded them into our pockets to bring home with us. I snapped a few photos of the surrounding hills, the dam, and the people fishing there. We searched the skies for any Bald Eagles soaring about, but none showed themselves. They tend to winter in the area and it is common to see them flying about.
Around 2:30, we loaded up and headed home. We decided to turn right and head into Missouri on Highway 37 to Seligman and Cassville. There are some really cool barns in this area, and one of these days I am going to take a trip just to capture them on my camera. I cannot tell you why they do, but they do call to me. As we closed on the small town of Wheaton, Missouri I told Tina and Caleb to keep an eye out for Bald Eagles here, too. There are a number of chicken farmers (ranchers? growers?) in this area and I have heard that they occasionally toss the dead chickens out for the Eagles to feed upon. Believe it or not, I have seen upwards of 200 Bald Eagles at a time here! I witnessed a group of between 50 and 75 young and immature Eagles circling on the unseen wind currents for long periods of time like vultures are known to do. It was amazing. Today, we only saw a few, and none too close. One fully mature Eagle flew above us as we drove. They are such huge, majestic birds!
Before we knew it, we were home. Total trip time was roughly 5 1/2 hours, and the cost was $11.00 for lunch and about a half tank of gas, or maybe $30.00, so just over $40.00 for a nice driving day trip. Not too bad. But the time was well spent, and we came home with our batteries fully charged. Sometimes, you just have to get away. This was a day well spent.
On your next decent day off, take a jaunt around the area you live in. There are sure to be things you haven't seen and would enjoy; but mostly just get out and enjoy the fresh air for a while. It has a way of rejuvenating you and helps you to cope with the other days that may not be quite so decent.