The Arkansas Ozark Mountains: A Scenic Journey
An Ozark Hillbilly Vacation: Six days in the hills....
I knew it was time to take a vacation. I was burned out, bored, and summer was coming to an end. Then POOF! Out of the blue comes a friend from the past. And better, she was living in the deep boondocks of NW Arkansas! Oh, it gets even better. ON A MOUNTAIN. Yes, on a mountain in the Ozarks with horses, dogs, cats, goats, and chickens. Not to mention the untamed wildlife: deer and bears.
Now let me tell you, I'm no stranger to the boonies. I live in the bloomin' Sulphur River bottoms myself, surrounded by mosquitoes and buffalo gnats. Tons of armadillos, coon, skunks, and possums too. Ah. And the deer, coyotes, and bobcats. So wildlife is nothing new to me. But a chance to visit the untamed hills of Arkansas was too good to pass by. I took off for the Ozarks only 10 days after contacting my old friend again.
Upon arrival, I first had to master the driveway to her house. OMG! First, it's a straight shot down, then over the creek...up again..curve a little while the car is groaning and straining. Then the tires are churning but the car's staying in the same place. I'm spitting out rocks..bang! Oh rats, sounded like it hit the gas tank. Luckily, all was intact when I arrived at the quaint farmhouse on the Arkansas hill.
Farmhouse on the Hill.
First, I met all the animals.
What a surprise! I expected a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains, but what I got was a woodsy, rustic hilltop strewn with rocks. I mean rocks are everywhere! But a nice view. Lots of animals greeted me. Dogs, cats, goats. Oh! And the Foxtrotters! These little mountain ponies can go go go! Little biddy things, built like deer. Slender as well, but tough as nails. I actually rode one of these fabulous animals. Wow, I loved it! Almost like Snowy River. This little mare, the spotted horse pictured, actually RAN up the side of the hill, kicking rocks in every direction like it was nothing. All the horses have shoes or they'd have tremendous footsores. The foxtrotter has an amazing gate. Smooth, swinging....and fast.
First couple of days sightseeing.
I got the tour of the countryside the next day. Had a great time seeing the hills and creeks, the little towns nestled in the mountains. The towns are remote and traveling time takes a while since you're in the hills. Roads are curvy and slow, so it takes time to get where you're going. We stopped at a couple of souvenir stores. Of course, I had to try to show how brave I was and attempted to climb a lookout tower designed for tourists, only to chicken out at the second level. But what lovely country! We planned to take a trail ride the next day, so I wanted to see everything possible the first day.
We both agreed.....
The next day, we got a late start. By the time we had the trailer hooked up and the horses loaded, it was early afternoon. It took about an hour & a half to get to where we were going. By the time we got the horses unloaded, huge, gray clouds were rolling in. Thunder was rumbling and lightening flashed in the distance. A park ranger drove up and told us the storm was expected to be intense. So we loaded up the horses and headed back. Not too far down the road, the truck starts acting up. Now what? We lost all oil pressure and heard a tapping noise. We pulled over next to a house where there were 2 kids playing. A really nice 'hill guy' came out and talked to us, looked under the hood and stuff. Amazing how the dialect changes when you visit other states. "You'ens from around here?" he asked. Well, we got the truck going and made it almost home, then it started acting up again. So we stopped at a lumber company to let the truck cool off. We had to unload the horses again, to keep them from getting too hot, since it was getting late in the day & it was still August. By the time we made it home, the day was shot. We were really disappointed but managed a quick ride before dark.
How many memories in this old house?
Well, what a bummer. It rained all night so that spoiled our plans for the next day. Since it rained so much, there was a chance the creeks would flood over the road and we'd be stuck somewhere for hours waiting for it to go down. I considered leaving a day early since our plans had been dashed. We were both bummed out about it, but spent most of the day talking and watching movies. By late afternoon, the sun was out, so we headed out to meet another friend of hers who had the same interests. On the way, I found a wonderful old house! And even better, check out the cool hillbilly house! Couldn't figure out if somebody actually lives there or not, but on the side of the old car, it says "Hillbilly Cabin". This was totally tasteless! I loved it!!!!
Plenty of excitement in Eureka Springs
Here we go, the final full day.
Well, it hardly seemed like I'd been there any time! Had to leave in 2 days, so we decided to get an early start for my last full day in the Arkansas Ozarks. Since there's tons of caves in the area, it made sense to visit a cave: War Eagle Cavern. You can read more about the cave here: www.wareaglecavern.com. Very interesting and fun. Privately owned, the cave had an underground stream with cold, clear water. Bats were flying around, too. I was impressed, it was very primitive. Next stop was War Eagle Mill. (picture at top right). We ate lunch in the cafe there and they had a pecan carmel dessert that was out of this world! Talk about a sugar high! After about an hour, my body crashed from the sugar and I dozed off. Next place on the list: Quigley's Castle!! Now this was an unusual tour. The house was made entirely of stone, rocks, and gems. The inside of the home is an actual greenhouse. You'd have to see it to believe it, so check it out. Finally, our last stop of the day was the fabulous, artsy, quaint Eureka Springs.
This little town reminds me of Hot Springs, with a German flair. It's full of old, cottage style type homes built very close together. There's lots of art, so if you are into it, this is the place to be. I snapped a pic of this artist dude who was trying to sell his work. I just thought the work was very colorful.
There's lots to see and do in this town, you really need to go to their website. http://www.eurekasprings.com/ I would like to mention a great leather shop Spring Street Leather at #11 Spring St and another at #37 S. Main. They had lots of leather purses, reasonably priced. It was well worth the visit. At right are a couple of pics I snapped in the area. There's so much more there, I didn't get to see it all. I hated to leave, but It was time to head home for the night. My last night.
What more can I say?
I had a really great time visiting the Ozarks. I plan to go back very soon. As I drove away, down the 'grand canyon' driveway, I felt sad to be leaving it behind. At the same time, I was really inspired to write about the trip. I'd been lots of places in this country, but never the Ozarks. Now I'm hooked!
So hooked, in fact, that I'd like to encourage everyone to visit this deeply cultural area and experience the "down home goodness" of the local people.
If anyone has ever wondered if there is anything to see in Arkansas, the answer is YES! Check out some of these links for information on one of the most beautiful states in the country.
- Northwest Arkansas - Home Page
- Northwest Arkansas Information - Your ONE source for information about America\'s fastest-growing ar
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