The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

Last Pow Wow at Big Chief RV Park

Last post for this trip. We spent our last night before making it back to the San Antonio area at Big Chief RV Resort on Lake Buchanan near Burnet TX. It is a Passport America park so $15 for full hookups for one night Sun thru Thurs....perfect for us.

We called about 3:00PM for a reservation. The woman answering the phone assured us they had room and asked what time we would get there as they close at 5:00PM. She said if we didn't make it by then, she would leave our information on the board and we could settle up in the morning....perfect. We did actually make it right before closing.

View of some of the many pull-throughs.....oh, wait....that is Mary Jane parked right in front of me, lol.

I think this may be the Indian Chief rock but I have to admit I didn't see it.

There we are again. The pile of dirt/gravel on the right is there for a project keeping sites level.


I didn't get the best picture of the pool as the sun was in the wrong place but it was a lovely pool in a very natural setting.....not large but really nice and a cool spa as well.

Lots of Indian spirits here.

Great deck overlooking pool.

View looking toward Lake Buchanan. Cottages on the water front.


You are right next to the dam.

A nice spot to contemplate the lake view from a bench.  This park is great. The only drawback is that you have to watch for grass spurs......recommend taking your shoes off at the door....this is heading towards west Texas although it is still the Texas Hill Country so grass spurs are not unexpected.
 
I did manage to extend the trip just a little bit longer because Mary Jane and I parked at Lake Pointe RV Park on Canyon Lake....almost home but not there. Dave did manage to come out and spend Thursday night and then Steve and Helen came with the grandkids for the weekend. We did have a great camping spot over the Labor Day weekend simply because a number of people coming from the Houston area cancelled due to all the flooding there from Hurricane Harvey. We had a great time with only one minor hiccup.  I am used to my black tank holding up for about three weeks.  Add four extra people and....whoops...we filled up on Sunday. Morgan woke up needing to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. We had a coffee can in the toilet for emergencies but she came out saying it was full. Grandma was about to take her outside to a bush next to the woods when Dad popped up and walked her a block down to the portapotty. Good thing too because she needed more than a bush as it turned out. Great Dad. Should mention that there was a portapotty because the park was having a leak problem with the bathrooms closest to our camping area. Monday morning, Labor Day, I told the office about our problem and they had someone come in on his day off to pump our tanks. Nice service and he got a nice tip because I was really grateful. Breaking camp and going to the dump station for one day was not an enticing prospect. We had a great time. Kids and grandkids left Monday afternoon late and I stayed one more night before heading into town. By Tuesday afternoon, the RV was unloaded and back in storage. I'm always sad when a trip ends.

Chipmunk Crossing and The Grand Gulf

Before I launch into our trip to the Grand Gulf, I wanted to tell you about the RV park we stayed in near West Plains, MO. First of all, you have to know that the roads in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas are good.....but they are also very hilly and curvy. We found this little gem of a park about 8 miles south of West Plains on Hwy 17. There aren't many choices close to West Plains or Thayer but this was a good choice even if we had dozens to pick from. I found it online and my brother Tim also told me that it was the best choice in the area. I had to borrow pictures from their site, Chipmunk Crossing RV Park as I didn't have ones as good. There are only 17 sites, some pull-through and some back-in. The park is very well kept and the hostess and host are great people.

They have a pool, fire pit, library that could rival some small towns, a washer and dryer, bathrooms, and great sites.


We had a great time here and hope to return. They are open April to September. And I don't want to forget to mention the very neat nature trail they have. You won't want to miss a trip around the trail.

Tim and Cherie came back to visit on Sunday and decided we should see the Grand Gulf. I was there once before but it was probably at least 15 years ago. The Grand Gulf is often called Missouri's "Little Grand Canyon". It was designated a National Landmark is in 1971 and became a Missouri state park in 1984 through a lease agreement between the LAD Foundation and the Department of Natural Resources. The department laid out trails and installed boardwalks in the 322 acre day-use park.

This is a cave system with a roof that collapsed an estimated 10,000 years ago. The result is a vertical-walled canyon about three-quarters of a mile long. Bussell Branch, a surface creek that drains about 25 square miles, empties into the chasm through a process called stream piracy. All of this water passes down the length of the chasm, under a 250-foot natural bridge and back into the open canyon. At the lower end of the chasm, it finally enters the mouth of the remaining underground cave system.




My brother Tim snuck off, climbed down, and took some of these pictures of the bottom of the chasm.


As you can see, it was dry when we were there.

But not too many weeks ago, there was lots of water resulting in all the light green vegetation.

We took the stairs down to a better vantage point. 


This overlook provides a safe look down into the canyon.

Cherie found this picture for me that was taken several months ago at nearly the same spot I took my photo. As you can see, the gulf is full of water!

There was a trail down so you could walk across the natural bridge which is part of the roof that didn't collapse.


The mouth of the portion of the cave that has not collapsed is blocked only a short distance inside by mud and debris that allows the water from Bussell Branch to percolate through but bars human access. Before this portion became blocked, someone tossed a rectangular bale of hay into the Grand Gulf and it popped out at Mammoth Spring some time later.
 
Early explorers likme Luella Agnes Owen, in her book "Cave Regions of the Ozarks and Black Hills" (1898) related her explorations in the Grand Gulf. She said the ceiling dropped until they couldn't stand up straight but she had a light boat that she was able to explore the underground system for some distance and to report on the small, eyeless, pure white fish that swam around her fearlessly.


The Mammoth Spring in Arkansas

This weekend was all about visiting with my brother. Mary Jane and I planned to arrive on Friday so we would have the whole weekend.....it has been way too long since I have seen my brother Tim. Saturday morning, Tim and his friend Cherie showed up at the Chipmunk Crossing RV Park where we were staying. We sat around and had a nice visit and I whipped up some tacos for lunch then they wanted to take us for some nearby sightseeing. My parents moved to Thayer Missouri when Tim was young so he more or less grew up in this neighborhood of Thayer MO and Mammoth Spring AR.

We drove the back roads over to Mammoth Spring. First stop was the Mammoth Spring National Fish Hatchery, a place I had never been. It is one of the oldest in the nation, established in 1903 and producing fish for the public waters.

There is a pretty waterfall right in front of the building which helps to aerate the pond with big fish swimming around in it.

Once inside, we found some information on the Spring itself. Mammoth Spring is the largest spring in Arkansas and one of the largest in the world. It averages an output of 347 cubic feet per second. It has been a National Landmark since 1972. Rainfall over a 100 mile radius seeps into the ground to underground passages and eventually finds it's way to the spring. The temperature of the spring is 58 degrees. There is a very high concentration of oxygen and nitrogen which combined with the cold temperature makes the spring itself very inhospitable to fish. Once the water goes over the dam into the Spring River releasing most of the nitrogen, it is a very healthy environment for fish.

The Ozark Mountains cover southern Missouri and northwest and north central Arkansas. They are considered a highly eroded ancient plateau that may have once been as high as the Himilayas. There are numerous springs and caverns in this area.

The hatchery was built here because of the high quality gravity flow of water and proximity to the railroad for transport of the fish. The hatchery produces 40,000 paddlefish and 2500 sturgeon each year. They also produce around 5000 mussels annually and 2 million Gulf Coast striped bass along with 400,000 walleye, 100,000 small mouth bass, and 100,000 largemouth bass and/or bluegill.

Natural scenery is also on display.

An Indian legend says that the son of a chief died while he was searching for water during a drought. As the chief was burying him, water sprang up from the grave hole and the chief believed it would flow forever. The town of Mammoth Spring can trace its roots back to 1820 when William Lindley claimed squatters rights to 40 acres surrounding the spring.
In 1929, George D. Hay visited the springs and was invited to an Ozark musical and dance performance. He later credited that visit as inspiration for starting the Grand Ole Opry.

The fish were originally transported to new locations in fish cars on the railroad.


They were transported in containers like this.

The Hellbender is a unique and environmentally sensitive species only found in the Ozarks. They are unique salamanders whose population is diminishing. Scientists are currently studying the reason for the lack of reproduction of the last decade.



Mammoth Spring's nine million gallons of water hourly forms a 10 acre lake that flows over a dam into the Spring River. There is a lovely park surrounding the spring.


Also located in the park is the Mammoth Spring Depot. My niece Savannah met us at the depot and joined us for dinner at a very popular Mammoth landmark restaurant.

It is a Victorian style depot with brick walkways and slate roofs.

The Mammoth Spring Depot was built in 1885 for the Kansas City, Ft. Scott & Memphis Railroad and was a social hub for the community.



Notice the fancy cornices on the top of the columns. There is a museum inside the depot but it was already closed when we arrived. The outside was just as interesting.

The Frisco Caboose was an RV for the railroad brakeman and conductor. They could fix meals, sleep, and set the inside up to their liking. They also carried repair parts here.

Mary Jane is checking out the schedule of arrivals and departures.

We saw a muskrat swimming in the thick green vegetation in the corner of the spring.

This is part of the dam across the edge of the spring.

The spring is surrounded by a lovely park with picnic tables.

Inside the building housing the generator on the edge of the dam. It was taken out of service in 1972 because it was no longer economical to operate and was donated to the Arkansas State Parks the same year.



The water thunders over the dam into the river.

I don't know what this little building was originally used for but Cherie said the grate was put over the door some time ago to keep teenagers from using it.


It was an interesting visit to the park...too bad they don't have a campground here but it is only day-use. As I said, we headed to Fred's Fish House in Mammoth for dinner. Just be aware that they are very popular and portions are huge.