Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mountain View, AR

About 26 single RVers met at Sylamore Creek RV Park, Mountain View, AR, for a week of the Ozark Folk Mountain experience. Mountain View is considered to be the Folk Music Capital and is the home of the Ozark Folk Center. It has exhibits of the Ozark Lifestyle about 100 years ago, including broom making, basket making, weaving, wood carving, and of course the making of musical instruments. Some exhibits even allow you to participate.
This is how they used to wash clothes.
This is how they used to dress.

Feeding the mules.

Listening to some Ozark Folk music.

Usually the mules pull the merry-go-round, but it was muddy, so we were pushed by human power instead.
But there are other things besides the Ozark Folk Center at Mountain View. Round the town square every evening you can find musicians gathering to jam. Here are some sitting under the eaves at Aunt Minnie's Pickin' Porch. You can listen, have some ice cream or fried green tomatoes.

Blanchard Springs Caverns are also nearby. This cavern is listed among the top 10 in the nation for its beauty. I would agree. I have seen several caverns this past year and this is really one of my favorites.

Do you see the ship?

Geocaching was also on the agenda. We had to hike about 1/2 mile along the bluff of Sylamore Creek to find this cache.

The start of the hike was here at Gunner's Pool. This dam was built by the CCC back in the 1930s.

We took the long way back along some rural roads. They showed the devistation from the winter ice storms. It looks as if this tree exploded from withing. Most of the trees had the tops broke off at the least, if they weren't broken over from the weight of the ice and the winds. They are just now clearing some of the roads.

We heard about a parade and Pioneer Days at Melbourne, AR, about 20 miles away. Although it was raining we still decided to check it out. In the rain and all, the parade went on. We had some great cajun food and grilled corn.

Because of the rain I did not go kayaking (a few did one day), but those who did not went hiking instead. You can see I was prepared for the water with my rubber boots.

The five that went hiking the Mt. Sylamore Biking Trail.

The campground owner always provides us a BBQ, with ribs and chicken. We bring all the fixin's.

And of course we had to have campfire, even with all the wet wood and the rain.

Because of all the rain it was inevitable that some would get stuck. Here Phil is getting pulled out by Charlie. I guess some thought this was great entertainment.

Curt was very helpful trying to get Joanne out. But even the campground tractor couldn't pull her out and she eventually called for a tow truck.
Here Bill is getting pulled out by the campground tractor.

And Jim had to also call a tow truck to get out.

But one experience we repeat every year at Mountain View is Taylor's. Taylor's is a Mountain Music Show every Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. We went out twice. It is a family show with John Taylor playing the fiddle, banjo and guitar; his son J.W. plays the guitar and sings, his youngest son also plays the guitar and sings. The drummer is a young lady who also plays the harmonica and sings. I even bought one of their CDs. Bluegrass, country and gospel, they do it all.

Some get out and clog with the music. Barb, in the red blouse, was one of our group and she could keep up with the locals.

Phil, Joanne and Max are trying to look like they are locals. Do you think anyone might just think we were tourists trying to play hillbilly?

We had sunshine one day and the three of us decided to hike the 4.8 mile White River Bluff Trail.

It was beautiful on the bluff overlooking the river.

We found these surveyor markers and realized we really had found our corner of the world.

It looked as if these rocks had been cut just for the trail.

And this moss covered rock formation caught my interest.

There were also wonderful wildflowers blooming.

The colors were just so vivid.
Although it rained most of our stay and we did not get to do the kayaking like we usually do, as you can see, we still found lots of things to keep us busy. I'm finding that no matter where we are, and no matter the weather, we can have a good time.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fort Smith, AR

As many times as I have driven past Fort Smith, I had never stopped. This was the time to stop. Arkansas allows overnight stays at their visitor centers and rest areas, so we parked overnight at the visitor center, exit 3, I-40. After obtaining much literature and directions, we disconnected the vehicle and headed into downtown Fort Smith. First stop was the old fort.

This was the administration building of the second fort. The first fort was built in the early 1800s, but was abandoned by the 1830s. After 14 years the U.S. once again decided they needed a fort to help with keeping peace in the Indian Territory (Oklahoma). The first fort was in pretty bad shape, so a new one was built nearby. Above is the main building of the second fort. I believe it was finished about 1848. It was held by both confederate and union armies during the civil war, but utlimately held by the union. Only the part of the building on the left is the original building. The newer part on the right was built following the civil war. Following the war the U.S. decided they needed a fort closer to the Indian Territory, so they moved the military operation to Fort Gibson in what is now Oklahoma. The fort then was used by the territory for its civil offices, including Judge Parker;s (known as the hanging judge) courtroom and the local jail.

Here is a replica of the gallows used in the 1870s and 1880s. 79 hangings were done here. Judge Parker had a reputation as the hanging judge, but over his 20+ years as judge he heard over 13,000 criminal cases and only sentenced 160 of these to death by hanging. Of those 160, only 79 were actually hung. He only sentenced men and women who murdered or raped to the gallows. Horse thieves were not sentenced to death by Judge Parker.

There is now a museum and this is a reproduction of how his courtroom would have looked. They know this by old pictures.

At the site of the first fort there is this cannon.

Next to the fort is this old train depot. It is being restored to become a U.S. Marshalls Museum.

A few blocks away was the red light district. Miss Laura's was one of 6 houses of ill repute in one block. It is now a National Historical Site. Since it closed as a whorehouse back in the the 1940s, it has been privately owned and also a restaurant. It was restored in the 1980s and has been a visitor center for downtown Fort Smith since the 1990s.
It looks essentially the same today as it did 100 years ago. It was damaged by a tornado some years back, but was restored to its original state. Even the furnishings are as original as possible, several pieces of furniture even belonged to Miss Laura herself.

As you can see, it was quite expensively furnished. This was the parlor where gentlemen would come and relax and visit with the girls before choosing which one he wanted. No money changed hands between the gentlemen and the ladies. The gentlemen met with Miss Laura when they arrived and paid her, then she gave them a token which they would then present to whatever lady they wished to spend time with.

We left Miss Laura's and found the Trolley Museum where we took a trolley ride on one of the original Fort Smith trollies.

This is a picture of a trolley purchased for $1000 some 13 years ago.

This is now how the trolley looks after some $200,000 and 13 years of restoration.

Nearby is a National Cemetary. Most confederate soldiers have their own cemetaries, but this one has both union and confederate. One of only 2 we were told.

We finally figured out the markers with U.S. Soldiers, really meant Union Soldiers. I kept looking for markers that said Union, just like the others said Confederate.

About 10 miles away was another battlefield. It is now a city park at the end of a residential neighborhood.

It's hard to imagine 2 lines of soldiers standing in lines facing each other, so close they could see each others faces, and then firing at each other.
Next we traveled about 20 miles to Van Buren. They still run a scenic train out of this old train depot.

The old downtown is 2 blocks of historical buildings.

There was a book shop which was obviously closed, but carts of books were outside. Then we noticed the above sign.

Notice the name on the side of the building. We never did find out what it meant. Now is is a restaurant.