Wednesday, October 24, 2012—The Mulberry River

Plans today included an 8:30 AM departure to Mulberry Mountain and scenic areas along the Mulberry River—all in the mountainous area of Ozark National Forest, with Jim and Cheryl from Springfield, and Jim and Joan from Fayetteville, all members of the Ozark Ridge Runners.

Our drive took us up (north) Arkansas Highway 23, aka the Pig Trail, to the Mulberry Mountain Ranch. The Mulberry Mountain Ranch hosts a couple of music festivals each year which are mini versions of Woodstock. Thousands of people attend these festivals; look them up on the internet; the huge crowds will blow your mind. The Ranch has RV hook-ups, a small store, etc.

121024_E05From Mulberry Mountain Ranch, we backtracked south to Arkansas Highway 215, the Cass-Oark Road, and drove in an easterly direction, stopping at an overlook for the Mulberry River. 

The riffles and large, deep pools, with an occasional rise causing concentric circles on the otherwise mirrored surface engendered visions of tail walking smallmouth bass. This is definitely a place we have to visit again, preferably with our kayaks or float tubes and fly rods.

121024_E07Further along Arkansas Highway 215, we stopped at the US Forest Service’s Redding Campground on the banks of the Mulberry where there is modern CCC-built access to a large swimming hole. 

This is a primitive campground, i.e. no hook-ups, and the sites are large enough for motor homes; we would opt to "park" at Aux Arc Park at which we are currently parked, or tent camp and commute. Though primitive, the campground has flush toilets and a shower house.

The rural mountain highway between Cass and Oark tracks alongside the Mulberry, with numerous scenic overlooks. As we made our way eastward, we stopped at Byrd’s, an outdoor resort catering to off-road vehicles. Our rally host, Jim, is a pilot and has built 3 airplanes. He was very interested in their short and long air strips for a possible future fly-in.

121024_E12Our original destination this morning was the historic Oark General Store, where they serve home-cooking style food. It is the oldest store in Arkansas that has been in continuous operation. Their breakfast was good, and the biscuits were the biggest we’ve ever seen.
From the Oark General Store, we drove some 3 miles further east to the Swing’n Bridge across the Mulberry River.  121024_E14As a civil engineer I opted not to cross, but all the others did. The area was strikingly beautiful, particularly with the many colors wrought by fall and leaves quietly drifting down to land softly onto the surface of this deceptively deep reflecting pool. 

A quick stop at the large grocery store in Ozark brought us back to reality.

Back at the park, we enjoyed a quiet afternoon working on photos, posting to this blog, and catching up on emails, etc.

Most of the rally goers arrived during the course of the day, and we met at 5:00 PM for a "meet and greet" happy hour. Kay and I have only been to one other Ozark Ridge Runner’s rally, in Lafayette, LA, in April 2011, but have been to a couple of dinners with this group. Still, there were several new couples whom we met, and it was great to renew old acquaintances.

We spent the rest of the evening watching last night’s episodes of NCIS and NCIS Los Angeles.

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