"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime"-MARK TWAIN

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Taste of the Buffalo


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As I happened to have the inflatable in the truck, and we were staying just a couple hundred yards from the Buffalo River, a float seemed in order.  The only negative was an East wind that was blowing steady with some big gusts.  What the heck, might not be here again in the near future.

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Just a few minutes later, thanks to a 12 volt pump I modified to fit the kayak, I was on my way.

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I only floated four miles or so, which took about an hour.  Though I don’t really think it did, the wind seemed to have me going backward at times.  The scenery was nice, alternating between high bluffs and rocky sand bars.

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Lots of slides and trails on the shore.  Not sure if they were beaver or otter.  Maybe both.

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The skies were overcast and the light didn’t make for good pictures, but you can get a feeling for the beauty of the area.

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Many caves in the rocks.

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And the dogwoods were putting on a show all by themselves.

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Soon it was time to hit the shore.  My shuttle was waiting.

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I actually had planned to do a longer trip the next day, but the wind was even stronger with a chance of rain.  I still have a little fine tuning to do on the kayak as to finding the best seat position.  Otherwise, I like it.  It’s definitely not as swift or sleek as the real thing, but it fits my purposes.  I hope to get it back to the Buffalo for a longer float, soon….jc

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Gilbert, Arkansas


We departed Petit Jean with a destination of Gilbert, AR.  We agreed that we didn’t want to take the most direct way there, but the most rural and scenic.  We found both along our route.  Arkansas highways 105, 27, 377 and 74 fit the bill.  Rural and scenic, all the way.  Old communities like Smyrna, Nogo, and Snowball.  Mountain vista’s as we rode the ridge tops.

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Soon after you cross the Buffalo River traveling North on Hwy 65, you will see a sign for Arkansas highway 333, and the town of Gilbert.  Blink and you might miss the sign, as your eyes are drawn to a big tourist trap type business at the intersection.  Three miles down, at the end of  highway 333, and along the banks of the Buffalo River, lies Gilbert.

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Gilbert was first settled around 1900 as your typical river and railroad town.  For the first few years, thousands of cedar logs were cut upriver, and floated down the Buffalo during high water. These were corralled at Gilbert, loaded on rail cars and shipped out to be used for railroad ties and pencils.  Main street, looking both ways.

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As the river and railroad traffic began it’s decline around 1920, the town had a revival of sorts. The arrival of over forty families from a division of the Church of Christ.  They picked Gilbert as the printing and distribution hub for their worldwide missionary network.  That industry thrived until the late 1940’s, and they are responsible for most of the original housing that still stands today.  From the early fifties, Gilbert just sat there, on its way to becoming a ghost town.

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The creation of the Buffalo National River saved Gilbert from becoming a memory.  People began purchasing and restoring the old homes remaining in the town. Cabins were built along the river, both rentals and homes.  Many of the old houses along Main street are now guest cottages and B&B’s.

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The river is once again the lifeblood of Gilbert.

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The old grocery store is now the headquarters of a major float trip company, and there is a great little restaurant on Main street.


A new RV park has also opened with eighteen full hookup sites.

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We were told Gilbert resembles Disneyworld from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Hundreds of folks in town each day to enjoy the river.  The two days we were there, the four of us were the only tourists in town.  We had a ball……jc

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Petit Jean


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Nestled into the rocks which make up the Southeastern end of Petit Jean mountain, you will find the historically recognized grave of Petit Jean.  The story is that a French explorer was engaged to a beautiful girl from Paris before he left on an expedition to the New World.  She wanted to accompany him, but he refused and said they would be married upon his return.  She disguised herself as a boy and got a position on his ship.  She become known as Petit Jean (little John) to the crew.  After traveling up the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers, they stopped at  a beautiful mountain near the river, became friends with the natives, and spent a Summer there.  All this time, no one knew she was the explorers fiancĂ©.  It was only after she became very ill and was approaching death that her identity was discovered.  She again pledged her love to her fiancĂ©, and asked to be buried at the top of the beautiful mountain. Her request was honored, giving name to her burial site.

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Petit Jean State Park was the first state park in Arkansas.  On land donated to the state, the CCC built roads, a lake, lodge, trails, and much more.

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With not much more than a double bit axe and shovel, they constructed so much of the State and National parks we love.  The only remnant of there facility at Petit Jean is this double fireplace; which they constructed for their recreation/mess hall.

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But their work can be seen throughout the park.

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We only spent the night there, so I didn’t get any pictures of the lodge, cabins, or trails.  If you are ever in the area, do yourself a favor and visit this park.  The scenery is awesome, and the campgrounds are very nice.

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On to Gilbert……

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Crawfish Day

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Today we had our annual extended family crawfish boil.  Some even had new outfits to recognize such an important event.  There was plenty of help with the washing and purging of the main dish.

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Two boys, a water hose, and a tub of live crawfish.  Makes for great entertainment.

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Chef’s table.

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The brew.

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Getting there.

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Five of these were prepared today.

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First pot on the table.

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Everyone seemed to have a great time while consuming all the crawfish, potato’s, corn, and sausage they could.  The birthday girl seemed to enjoy the day also.

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We caught up with our friends at Ameristar RV park in Vicksburg, MS for the night.  We’re to Arkansas tomorrow…..jc

Friday, April 19, 2013

Time to hit the road, again!


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Did we feel inadequate? NOPE!!

Tomorrow, we hit the road for Arkansas.  Our ultimate destination is Mountain View.  Known as the folk music capitol of the Country, it is a music players nirvana.  Just bring your acoustic instrument, stroll the square or surrounding area and find a group to join; or create your own group on any spare corner or storefront.  We’ll be traveling with fellow Casita owners James and Brenda.  Both of them, along with Wanda, are musicians of varying degrees and are attending a dulcimer workshop next Thursday through Saturday at the Ozark Folk Center.   Brenda plays the hammered dulcimer, with James and Wanda both playing the old time mountain dulcimer.  So far, Sally and I haven’t figured out what we’ll be doing while they are attending school.  I’m sure something will come along to keep us occupied.

As we have until Wednesday afternoon to arrive in Mountain View, we’ll be taking a roundabout way of getting there.  Possibly make a stop at Petit Jean state park, and drive some of those crooked little blue highways I love.  We’ve also been told about a little town at the very end of an Arkansas highway.  Population 27, but important enough to have its own highway.  Gotta check it out.


We will be delayed on our departure tomorrow by a little family cookout.  Two hundred pounds of crawfish are meeting the boiling pot at my brothers home.  We will be stopping there to assist with the preparation and consumption of those tasty little crustaceans.  Hope to have a few pics of the event in the next blog….jc