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  • Writer's pictureWm Bracknell

2020 Fall Travels

Updated: Dec 10, 2020

Biking and sightseeing in Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas

Sept 26- Oct 14, 2020

It is Tuesday, September 29th, 2020 and we are in a campground at one end of a town park in Hermann, Missouri. The camping is segmented into three areas: full hook-ups, just electric, and tent sites. We choose the full hook up sites even though we did not need sewer or water connections, but it was close to the restroom/shower. No one was allowed to park on the grass around the tent sites and the other area was in a big paved parking lot with no shade. We are towing our very small A-liner camper with the Nissan Rogue in order for Rhonda to be more comfortable with the flexibility in maneuvering, parking and finding the trail heads and camping in the vicinity of the trail.

The park was on the south end of town and a couple of miles from the Katy Trail. The Katy trailhead is actually north of town across the Missouri River in the town of McKittrick. One of the missions of this trip is to complete the ride of the Katy Trail. I had ridden the first half beginning in Clinton, Missouri two years previously and planned to finish it last year. In the late spring and early summer, heavy flooding damaged the trail in numerous places and last fall there was another few days of rain when I got to the trail. That made me decide to postpone the ride for another year.

We left home on Saturday morning about 8:30 and had to return twice after a short distance down the road for things we had forgot. We had reservations at Montgomery-Bell State Park west of Nashville not far off I-40. These days it is almost imperative that one have reservations for Friday and Saturday night most anywhere during prime camping season.

Several times as we were going along at 65 mph, the engine would quit and everything on the instrument panel would go blank. Each time, I would coast to the shoulder, cut the ignition switch off and restart it. Fortunately, after the initial occurrences, it did not reoccur, but we were nervous about it for awhile.

Sunday morning, as we were packing up and folding down to head to Oakland, Tennessee just outside of Memphis for our friend, Judy's wedding (more on Judy later), our camping neighbor on the site next to us had a problem with their pop-up camper. The couple was camping with their grandchildren and as they were cranking down the top, one of the telescoping posts jammed and they could not get it to retract. I worked with them and several others for two hours to no avail.

They lived in Franklin, Tennessee south of Nashville and were planning to pick up their daughter at the airport. When it looked apparent that they were going to have to leave it, I asked the ranger that came by if they had a place it could be moved to and left for a couple of days until they could get someone to look at it and hopefully repair it. They ranger said they did not have anywhere it could be left, but they could leave on the site if it was not reserved and pay the daily rate of about thirty dollars a day. I felt compelled to lambast him and the system for not having some compassion, customer service and common sense. They could have easily found a place for them to leave it or waived the site charges for a couple of days. Sunday through Tuesday or Wednesday is generally not a heavy use time for campgrounds. His excuse was that people would take advantage of it. I told him that is where the use of discretion comes in.

After leaving, we filled up with gas and saw a sign for barbecue and stopped and shared a plate at a roadside food trailer run by a local couple. It was located right across from a Love's truck stop. It was ok, but there was little flavor other than just pork. We are use to having several choices of sauce to enhance the meat. The owner said all they had was some very hot sauce.

We arrived at the church an hour and a half early for the wedding so we drove up the road to find a restroom. We saw a McDonalds and decided to get some ice cream and use their facility, but it only had drive through due to the Covid. Back at the church parking lot, we changed clothes in the camper and went inside to use the restroom as soon as someone arrived to open the building.

Judy Collier had been our music director at church for about four years. She and her husband moved to the area and bought a piece of property out near Rural Retreat in hopes of having a senior adult ministry. They had been missionaries in Belize for over 30 years. Her husband, John, had gotten ill in Belize and came back to the Dallas, Texas area where Judy was from to have surgery and treatment. They ended up at in Durham, NC at Duke for more treatments. He really never got healthy and passed away in 2018. Judy sold the property and moved into Wytheville. We became good friends when I helped them with various jobs around the property while John was trying to recover. I also helped her with music and ministry related projects at the church.

With the job as music minister being part time and having used up the money from the sale of the property near Rural Retreat, she began find it difficult to make ends meet. The ministry in Belize has property that can be sold, but the several buyers that were initially interested have not come through. She had to rely on credit to help meet some of her expenses.

She was invited by a friend to come to live with her and her husband near Memphis (Cordova) and look for a church related music job there since the possibilities would be much greater. When she went to visit the friend, she met a male friend of her friend. She and Billy hit it off right away. He had been a musician most of his life and even was a music director for a church briefly. In addition to church music, his primary genre was Rock-a-Billy. He had a small recording studio behind his house.

After knowing her for about six weeks, he asked her to marry him (he is 79 and she is 74). We met him when we helped her move in late August. After we hauled her few belonging out to Cordova, they returned the next week to finish cleaning out the apartment and wrapping up her responsibilities at church. They stayed with us for a little over a week while taking care of those tasks. The two nine to ten hour drives and being around each other all day for more than a week certainly helped both to get to know each other. As Billy said sort of jokingly, “at their ages, a long courtship wouldn't be practical”.

The wedding ceremony was informal, typical and short. The minister was a friend of Billy's and sang “Welcome to my world” as a part of the ceremony. We went back to Billy's house for the reception. We stayed long enough to get a tour of his very well crafted house, meet some of their friends and relatives, have some very good refreshments, and be in some photos.

Back on the road, we headed for the Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park north of Memphis on the Mississippi River. It took more time to find than we expected. This was partially due to being unfamiliar to a new GPS device and also due to the park having a state forest component to it. As usual for a Sunday evening, there were plenty of spaces available.

The park is a 12,539-acre hardwood bottomland area bordering the mighty Mississippi River featuring mature Bald Cypress and Tupelo swamp. Most of the facilities are on top of the majestic Chickasaw Bluffs that rise from the bottomlands and are covered with large oaks, American beech, hickory and sweet gum. There are 10 state Champion Trees and two National Champion Trees as well as endangered and protected plants in the park. After studying a map of the park, I discovered that we were a ways from the river because the swamp and bottom land.

Early the next morning, I awoke around 6 am to the sound of some light sprinkles on the roof. I laid there wondering how much it might rain. We knew from seeing a weather map earlier that a front was approaching from the west. When I heard distant thunder and saw a faint flash of lightning, I told Rhonda that maybe we should break camp before we had to do it in pouring rain. We quickly had everything packed up and the A-Liner folded down. We were in the McDonald's drive-thru for breakfast at 7 am and shortly afterward made our way the rest of the way around the north and west side of Memphis.

After crossing the Mississippi, we turned north on I-55. It rained until we got out of Arkansas. This area of Arkansas is very flat and agricultural. As we headed north toward St. Louis, we could see the dark clouds behind us and the clearing ahead of us. Our destination for the day was Hermann, Missouri on the Katy Trail west of St. Louis, a drive of 345 miles.

We stopped in Perryville, Mo. for lunch at Stonies Sausage Shop. I saw the billboard for the business along the interstate and was intrigued about the varieties of bratwurst. It was a family-owned business that made forty kinds of Bratwurst. It was opened in 1959 by Stonie Webbinmyer. They also make summer sausage, beef jerky, beef sticks, bologna, salami, and seasoning packets. It was all made there on site. I discovered that there was a large area of German immigrants that settled in this area all the way up to where we were going. I saw a number of other such businesses along the way.

We arrived in Hermann around 3:30 and checked out the campground, but decided to look for a place to camp closer to Jefferson City for the first night where I planned to start riding the Katy Trail. We looked up several campgrounds in our Good Sam's directory and called them. There was only one that had a site available, so we headed that way.

Katy Trail State Park is built on the corridor of the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) Railroad, better known as the Katy. When the railroad ceased operation on its route in Missouri from Machens in St. Charles County to Sedalia in Pettis County in 1986, Missouri State Parks was able to acquire the railroad right-of-way through an amendment to the National Trails System Act. The amendment allows railroad corridors no longer needed for active rail service to be banked for future transportation needs and used in the interim as recreational trails. The right-of-way was secured through a generous donation by the late Edward D. “Ted” Jones, Jr. and his wife, Pat. Construction of the Katy Trail began in 1987. The first section of trail at Rocheport was opened in 1990. The trail’s 25th anniversary was celebrated in 2015.

In 1991, the Union Pacific Railroad donated 33 miles of rail corridor from Sedalia to east of Clinton. Additional purchases and donations were added throughout the years, completing the final 240-mile trail with Machens as the eastern terminus and Clinton as the western terminus.

We drove around town before leaving and saw bikes and riders everywhere. We discovered that a group ride call BAM (Bike Across Missouri) with 120 riders was in town after their second day on the trail going west from Defiance. Hermann was certainly a tourist town with shops, inns, restaurants, wine tasting, craft beer and a distillery.

It is commonly believed that the Hermann area’s resemblance to the Rhine Valley prompted scouts from the German Settlement Society of Philadelphia to choose the site for a colony on the American frontier.

Dismayed at how quickly their countrymen were being assimilated into American society, the Philadelphia Germans dreamed of a new city. They wanted to build a new city in the “Far West” that could and would be “German in every particular”.

In 1837 school teacher George Bayer, traveled to Missouri. Appointed to serve as the society’s agent, he purchased 11,000 acres of the steepest, most rugged terrain to be found anywhere on the Missouri River. It was a beautiful, if highly impractical, site for a town.

Meanwhile, back in Philadelphia, city planners were mapping out a brand new city. Their total ignorance left them undeterred by the actual terrain. On paper, Hermann was flat, with spacious market squares and sweeping boulevards. However, the land they found upon arrival was anything but flat. Thinking big, they made their city’s main street 10 feet wider than Philadelphia’s.

When the first 17 settlers stepped off the last steamboat of the season, they saw what one writer described as “a howling wilderness.” In that moment, their starry-eyed idealism died on the spot. Some were furious to discover that the Hermann lots they had purchased back in Philadelphia were what today’s residents jokingly refer to as “vertical acreage.” But, somehow, they persevered. The fact that the town survived at all is a testament to German determination and hard work.

Making the best of a bad situation, the Germans took their cue from Mother Nature. They planted vineyards on the rocky hillsides, where wild grapevines grew with tangled abandon. A decade later, steamboats brought St. Louis visitors to Hermann’s first Weinfest, where they enjoyed more than their share of sweet Catawba wine and marveled at the grapevine-covered hills.

By the turn of the century, Hermann’s winemakers had become wildly successful. Stone Hill Winery had grown to be the second-largest winery in the country and was winning gold medals at World’s Fair competitions around the globe. The town’s numerous vintners produced an incredible three million gallons of wine a year.

In its glory days, Hermann served as a rollicking river port with a tavern on every corner and the largest general store between St. Louis and Kansas City.

The party ended with the one-two knockout punch of anti-German sentiment provoked by World War I and the Volstead Act of 1919. Prohibition sent Hermann reeling into the Great Depression a full decade before the rest of the country. The only silver lining was that economic ruin put the town into a time warp.

Today, Hermann’s Old-World charm attracts visitors in search of the quiet pleasures of an earlier era. Much of downtown is a historic district where brick homes from the 1800s hug the sidewalk in the traditional German style. More than 150 buildings appear on the National Register of Historic Places.

Idle for nearly 50 years after Prohibition, Hermann’s wineries once again serve as the main tourist attraction. The seven wineries in and around Hermann account for more than a third of the state’s total production.

The campground was on the Osage River about six or seven miles south of Jefferson City, the state capital, on US 50. It was small, private, and neat. Most of the occupants were contractors or workers that were there from other areas working on projects. Our immediate neighbor was from Springfield and was a field supervisor for a electrical contractor installing a power line through the area. He had a good sized travel trailer park there long term and when home on the weekends.

The next morning it was quite chilly with the temperature getting down to 43°. I fixed a quick breakfast and we were on our way to the trail head just north of Jefferson City across the Missouri River. I had gotten up with my back trying to spasm. I had had a twenty-four hour spasm a few weeks earlier at home after helping Judy move and driving to Memphis and back. I took a couple of muscle relaxers that I had from the previous spasms and by the time I got to pedaling down the trail, it was fine. I am sure it was the effects of the eight hours plus of driving from Memphis.

With packing up and taking longer than it should have to find the trail head, it was almost ten o'clock before I began to ride. I started out with a light pull-over, but took it off not far down the trail.

Eighteen miles down the trail at Mokane, I came upon the bulk of the riders from B.A.M. Their support vehicle was there in the trail head parking lot providing water bottles to the riders. Rhonda was out taking a walk a block down the street and when she returned, we had a sandwich. I decided I wanted to add a few more miles and rode six more miles to Steedman.

After leaving Steedman, we stopped in Portland beyond where the trail was closed due to a big rock slide. I decided I wanted to ride back to where the trail was barricaded and not do the road detour. It was a mile and six tenths from Portland to the closure. The unofficial detour started at highway 94 and went back down the highway for three-quarters of a mile to state road 646.

From Portland, we drove on to Hermann and set up camp in the city park just across from the restroom/showers. We then went back downtown to look around and pick up a ready made frozen stir fry mix, a loaf of artisan bread and a couple of bananas and apples. After supper, I read until I almost fell asleep and then got up to go shower.

Wednesday morning, we both slept later than we had in the last week. It was the best night's sleep I had had in over a week. I guess that's what riding nearly twenty-five miles in the fresh air will do for you. We drove down to Steedman where I had stopped the day before. I rode three and a half miles to the western end of the detour. I told Rhonda I would call once I got to the road where the detour started and wait for her out at highway 94. When I got there, I did not have a phone signal and we did not have a plan B. I flagged down a car and asked the driver to look for a white Nissan Rogue in the parking area at Steedman and tell the lady her husband was waiting down the road. It worked out fine.

She then dropped me off in Portland and went back to Hermann and I rode the fifteen miles to McKittrick. We had lunch from the car and went to a nothing of a place called Gore, where I rode six miles back to McKittrick. (keep in mind that nearly all the places I have mentioned are former small rail towns). Once the railroad was abandoned, they really became just a small communities and sometimes still had businesses there). Back at camp, I read and wrote in the journal. We also folded up the tarp covering the A-Liner that the wind had partially blown down. We had spaghetti and meat balls along with a good mixed salad and fruit cup for supper. After supper, I studied the trail map and recalculated the mileages I had to ride the next three days. I also looked up the address of Thursday night's campground for the GPS.

It was in the mid-40's when we got up. I fixed breakfast and we were off to the start of the ride at Gore. What there was of Gore was out on the main highway, but the trail was down a dirt driveway. We were greeted by two small dogs that we had seen the day before. They appeared to be a dachshund mix and were very friendly. I had to turn the car and trailer around using the trail because of the confined space of the access road.

When I met Rhonda briefly at Treloar, where there was another biking tour group of about eight or ten riders just getting started for the day. They had started in Clinton several days before. The tour company was from Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. It is a town on the Great Allegheny Passage trail that runs from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland. I was through there in 2012 while riding the 160 mile trail with one of my best friends. We saw them again in Marthasville where we had lunch outside a pizza and sub restaurant. While we were eating, we watched a large dump body farm truck unloading corn into a auger hopper which took it to the top of a big grain bin. The area all around the trail was in the Missouri valley and there was corn and soybean fields everywhere.

I planned to end the day at Dutzow, but I wanted to gain some more miles since rain was predicted for Saturday; so I rode on to Augusta. I arrived in Augusta just behind the tour group after riding 27.5 miles for the day. The tour group had lodging in town. Augusta was an interesting town with inns and B&Bs in abundance. The town had a population of around 250 people and had no real retail businesses. It was in a prominent wine area. We had information on camping in Klondike Park just east of town and headed out to get a place to camp.

The park had been previously been a silica sand quarry and now was a very nice park with mountain bike and hiking trails, six rental cabins and a meeting center. When we got there we found out all the campsites were walk-in tent sites. There was a rule that stated no RV's or trailers. We called the main office and the lady said it was just for tenting. I told her that we were weren't aware of this when we called and emailed them weeks previously. I told her that there were no other camping closer than twenty-five or thirty miles. We went back into town and looked into seeing if we could find a B&B, but one was closed, there was no answer at another and others appeared to be very pricey. When the lady from the county office called back, she had checked with her supervisor and they let us park the car and A-liner at one of the campsite parking spaces just for one night.

There was barely just enough room to get off the road. The sites were just $10 and had a picnic table, fire ring, and post for hammocks. There was a restroom/shower building down off the main parking area. It was also the only place we saw that you could get water. Fortunately there was also a nice, clean pit toilet close by in the camping area

The next morning, we stayed inside until the sun was shining through the trees. It had been a cold night with temperature getting down to 40 degrees. Generally we found that inside temperature was about 6 to 8 degrees warmer with it being somewhat insulated and two persons putting off body heat. I was pretty sure that we were the only camper in the park. I made a small campfire in the fire ring from twigs and small branches that I had gathered the evening before. I did this while a pot of water was heating on the stove. By the time Rhonda had dressed and gone to the restroom, I had breakfast ready.

The ride for the day was to Green's Bottom and I connected to the trail from a short paved access trail in the park. It was a 20.6 mile ride passing by Defiance and Weldon Springs. Just beyond the Weldon Springs trail head I crossed Femme Osage Creek where the Lewis and Clark expedition (Corps of Discovery) stopped to get a few supplies from the Boone settlement at Defiance.

Daniel Boone and his family came to Missouri, then a Spanish territory, in 1799. Lured by an offer of a generous land grant for himself and every family that followed, the Boones settled in the Femme Osage Creek Valley, not far from the Missouri River at present-day Matson. The settlement, arguably the westernmost American village at the time, was noted in the journals of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.

I reached the trail head at Green's Bottom at 12:30 and Rhonda had not arrived. The Ohiopyle tour group was just leaving headed to the end of their excursion in St. Charles. I called Rhonda and she was not far away. She had made a stop at a Salvation Army thrift store. I had lunch out of the car and decided to ride on to St. Charles; another six miles This would leave only 12.1 miles to finish the trail to Machens the next day.

The next parking lot over from where Rhonda was waiting in St. Charles was the Lewis and Clark Boathouse and Museum. Volunteers had built a replica of a Corps of Discovery keel boat and one of the pirogues that was used on the expedition. The museum was above the boathouse where the boats were housed and maintained. One of the volunteers told us that they planned to take the keel boat to Louisville and launch it in the Ohio River the next week. It was an excellent exhibit of the route and events that took place on the expedition.

Before heading out to Babbler State Park across the river where we had two nights reservation, we drove down the brick paved street 100 yards off the waterfront, It was lined with numerous blocks of historic buildings, shops, taverns, cafes, and restaurants.

Saint Charles is a city in, and the county seat of, St. Charles County, Missouri, United States.The population was 65,794 at the 2010 census, making St. Charles the ninth-largest city in Missouri. Situated on the Missouri River, it is a northwestern suburb of St. Louis.

It was in founded circa 1769 as Les Petites Côtes, or "The Little Hills" in French, by Louis Blanchette, a French-Canadian fur trader,when the area was nominally ruled by Spain following the Seven Years' War, St. Charles is the third-oldest city in Missouri. For a time, it played a significant role in the United States' westward expansion as a river port and starting point of the Boonslick Roadto the Boonslick.

St. Charles was settled primarily by French-speaking colonists from Canadain its early days and was considered the last "civilized" stop by the Lewis and Clark Expeditionin 1804, which was exploring the western territory after the United States made the Louisiana Purchase.The city served as the first Missouri capital from 1821 to 1826,and is the site of the Saint Rose Philipine Duchesneshrine.

The state park had a very nice campground with family groups all around with sounds of kids having fun, as to be expected for a Friday night. Across from us, with a good size unit and a tent, was an older couple with three children that appeared to be their grandchildren. Two couples next to us looked like they were putting up a new tent for the first time. We weren't able to get an electric site, but we did get one pretty close to the restrooms and showers.Rhonda fixed one of her delicious scrambled chicken pot pies using a garlic, cheese biscuit mix. We talked to the campground host about the weather forecast for the next day and they said there was a low chance of rain shower for the afternoon.

The next morning, we were up early as usual. I fixed pancakes with a few pieces of the remaining pre-cooked bacon along with a couple slices of ham. We topped the pancakes with fried apples. I made hot chocolate for Rhonda and coffee mixed with a bit of powered hot chocolate mix for me.

We left the campground with a rough destination description of where the end (or beginning) of the trail was located in Machens, northwest of St. Charles. The GPS could not recognize Machens as a location. After searching the approximate area for longer than we wanted to, I spotted a bent Machens sign and found the trail head across some live rail tracks off the dirt road to the right. In the same area, along the railroad, was a sign that said “no trail access”. I think it was because the state park did not own land close to the start of the trail to have a parking lot or an official road to get to it and where you had to park to unload was on railroad right-of-way. It should be one of those things they should consider. There wasn't even a sign up at highway 94 that the trails terminus was down off the dirt road. The next real trail head was a few miles southwest at Black Walnut.

It was very overcast and it was sprinkling as I got to Black Walnut. The rain subsided until just before the outskirts of St. Charles. I waited out the heaviest of the rain under a highway overpass with several other local bikers going in the opposite direction. It was past the normal lunch time as I loaded up the bike in St. Charles so as we started out, Rhonda had the GPS search for eating establishments. It was still sprinkling a little as we pulled into a large shopping center near interstate 64. We saw an Asian buffet and I knew I was hungry enough to get my money's worth.

Across the parking lot, was a Bass Pro Shop. We usually find it a fun place to browse, especially if it is rainy. Also, it was way too early to go to the campground. As it turned out, they had some nice $10 flannel shirts and decent rain parkas on sale for $19.99. I really didn't need the rain parka, but for that good price I could give it to someone or save it until my current 15 year old one needed replacing.

We were still trying to decide whether to go back to the campground or head on out I-44 and find a motel in the direction we would be going the next day. With the rain still looming and the prospect for a damp night, we chose the motel. There was also the element of catching a good college football game and scores from the ACC.

The car was right at the mileage for an oil change, so after we got on to the service road at Eureka, Missouri, we looked for a quick lube place. We found one and they changed the oil and filter, did a multi-point inspection, and even lubed one of the buddy bearings on the camper trailer for a reasonable price. I noticed that there was an excessive amount of grease on the inside of the left wheel. That is usually a sign that the bearing seal is bad or going bad. A damaged bearing on the road in not a pleasant thing to deal with.

Sunday morning was clear and brisk. For some reason, because of Covid, there wasn't breakfast available at the motel. I guess it was that most motel breakfast rooms operate in the self-service mode and that would be hard to keep from contamination. We did the McDonald breakfast again.

We drove until mid-afternoon and arrived at the Blowing Springs campground in Bella Vista, Arkansas south of Springfield, Mo. The campground was in a large park off US 71 and soon to be I-49. The park's biggest attraction are the 40 miles of mountain biking trails, named the “Back Forty” and the connection to the Razorback Greenway. It was evident as we checked in that biking was the thing that was happening. The campground layout wasn't the best, in that you felt that you were in a parking lot with big Rvs and various sized travel trailers all in a line with not much between each space and no vegetation. The only shade was around the boarder. There was an nice small creek coming from the springs running down one side. The park did have a very nice restroom/shower facility with an economical, very convenient laundry and good WiFi. One reason for this destination was to ride the 36 mile Razorback Regional Greenway which began in Bella Vista and went through Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale, and ended in Fayetteville.

We did not realize that this area was a mountain bike Mecca. In addition to the greenway and the "Back Forty", Bentonville had a three mile bike trail that ran along beside the greenway. It was more like a technical riding course with a huge variety of jumps and features that test riders skills and daring. There were plenty of young adults using the track and riding trails in the park and the surrounding designated areas.

After we got settled in, we biked out a few miles south to where the trail was closed for construction of a section of I-49. When we returned, we inquired as to where the spring could be found. We walked up beyond where the primitive camp sites and saw a picnic area and a stage next to the spring and a big cliff with several caves. The caves were small with the largest being about five feet high and twenty or thirty feet deep. It had been very dry in the area so the spring's flow was diminished.

Monday morning, we drove to Bentonville and rode the trail back to Bella Vista. It was in heavy use. An article in the ArkansasTimes states that the third generation Waltons are making major investments in their home town. “Bicycle trails that crisscross the town’s outskirts are the first step in plans by Tom and brother Steuart, both in their 30s, to turn Bentonville into a cycling mecca”. The Walton presence was obvious all around town. The Walton museum was still not open from the Covid restrictions.

We returned to the campground to move the camper. We had decided to stay another night, but our site had an alleged reservation for later that day. (we later observed that no one ever showed up to use it.) After the move, we went to Rogers and I rode 10 miles back to downtown Bentonville. Rhonda checked out a Target before meeting me back in the public parking lot. I lost the trail twice and rode a little more than I planned.

Tuesday, Rhonda dropped me off in Rogers and I rode to the Jones Center in Springdale. We had the camper with us and went out to a Hickory Creek campground on Beaver Lake a Corps of Engineers lake. I got a campsite for two nights using of federal senior passport ($10.50 per night). There were forty-eight with electric hookups and water close by. The lake appeared to be down somewhat due to the amount of shore exposed. There were about three-fourths of the sites occupied.

After setting up, we drove back into Springdale and took in a very nice botanical garden called the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. It encompasses forty-two acres and had twelve themed sections with a big circular grassy lawn in the center. We were pleased to see so much in bloom and well displayed and labeled. It was good we went when we did because we discovered it was closed on Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday morning, it was back to Springdale for the last thirteen miles which would take me through and to the south of Fayetteville. I only lost the trail briefly once. In the reviews I read on line about the Razorback Regional Greenway, the biggest complaint was the poor directional markers. I saw for myself the need for some improvement. Before looking for a place for lunch, we took a spin around downtown.

We stopped at a local restaurant whose parking lot was almost full. That is usually a good sign that the food should be good. The menu was much like Denny's. As we entered, we saw that it was free pie day. In the pie case, we could see they had about a dozen kinds to select from. I had a Ruben and Rhonda had a salad and soup and we shared with each other. For desert I had pecan pie and Rhonda had cherry. It was extremely good pie.

We stopped at a big thrift store on the way back to the lake. I bought a pair of shorts for twenty-five cents and Rhonda got a pair of carpis for a dollar. When we returned, we discovered that someone had taken a small plastic fold-up table we had left next to the camper. It didn't appear that anything else had been disturbed or taken.

The nights and early mornings warmed up considerably. The dawn temperature was around 60°; a far cry from the upper 30's and low 40's the week before.

Urban trails aren't nearly as good a ride as those out in the rural areas. There are miles and miles of trail without having to be alert to traffic, directional signs, road crossings and abrupt turns. The urban trails are great for neighborhoods and inter-city commutes. Fortunately, there were some nice rural stretches between towns.

Thursday, we moved the camper to another site and drove to Rogers to see what the downtown had to offer. We found the Daisy Air Rifle museum. It was very interesting. They had every air gun displayed that Daisy ever made. The attendant was extremely knowledgeable about what was there and the history of the company.

The company began in 1882 in Plymouth, Michigan as the Plymouth Iron Windmill Company. The windmill business was declining and the board of directors was about to vote to close the factory, but it failed by one vote; that of the general manager, Lewis Cass Hough.

Around the corner from the windmill company, Hamilton also operated the Plymouth Air Rifle Company, to compete with the Markham "Challenger" — a new type of wooden spring-powered airgun shooting BB-size roundshot invented by Captain William F. Markham (though some argued that the real inventor was George W. Sage) in 1886 — manufactured by the Markham Air Rifle Company just across the ChesapeakeandOhioRailway. On March 6, 1888, Hamilton approached the windmill company board with an all-metal airgun design of his own and sought to use the factory blast furnaces to mold and stamp the metal parts necessary to build his gun. General manager Lewis Hough test fired the gun and exclaimed, "Boy, it's a daisy!",and the new gun was named the "Daisy BB Gun". The board of the Windmill Company then decided to offer the gun as a bundled premiumitem to every farmer who purchased a windmill.

This began many years of intense competition between Plymouth and Markham, who responded by introducing their metal "Chicago" (1888) and "King" (1890) model BB guns. However, Plymouth's marketing strategy was much better, as by 1900, 15% of their sales was being spent on posters and magazines space, with the net result of such intensive promotion being to make Daisy virtually a household word, while Markham paid little effort on advertising. The Daisy BB Guns continued to outsell its competitors, and by 1895 its sales and popularity had grown to the point that the Plymouth Company ceased the manufacture of windmills, began producing airguns exclusively, and the board voted to change the company name to Daisy Manufacturing Company.

In 1916, Markham sold out to Daisy and they changed the name of Markham's old company to King Air Rifle Company after the primary model of air rifle that the Markham had been manufacturing. It continued making them until 1935. In 1958, the corporate offices moved to Rogers, Arkansas.

There was one air rifle that fired one shot at a time and had to be charged with a special pump, giving it a pressure of 3000 psi and a velocity of over 1000 fps. The attendant said there was a guy that hunted wild boar with it. We found out that there was a meat processing plant in town that sold packaged and frozen rabbit. They had a store that sold fresh rabbit. A whole rabbit was $19 and the smallest amount you could get was ten dollars. We decided against having hare.

Friday, we headed east over to Harrison, about 50 miles south of Branson to camp and set up a kayak or canoe day trip for Saturday, but much to our disappointment we discovered that all the outfitters for the Buffaloe River had closed for the season. After looking around Harrison and picking up a few groceries, we spent the afternoon relaxing in the shade at the campground.

Saturday morning was very overcast, but no rain was in the forecast. We drove down to see natural area surrounding the Buffaloe National River south and west of Harrison. It was established in 1972 as the first national river. It flows for primarily southeast for 135 miles and is one of the few remaining undammed rivers in the lower 48 states. A trip down the river will take you from running rapids to quiet pools while surrounded by massive bluffs as you float and paddle through the Ozark Mountains down to the White River.

Since there were no kayaking or canoeing available, we decided to find a place for a short day hike. One of the places recommended by the owner of the RV park, was Lost Cove. It was in the vicinity of a small place called Ponka. There was also a herd of Elk in the area. We talked to a ranger and she told us where the elk were most likely to be, but it was generally in the early morning around dawn and at dusk. We rode by the area and back, but none were sighted.

The Eastern Elk (Cervus elaphus canadensis) subspecies was native to the forest and forest-edge habitats of Arkansas. Historical records indicate that this subspecies was extirpated from the state by the 1840s and extinct by the end of that century. Over hunting, habitat destruction, and competition for food with domestic livestock are the most likely causes for its disappearance.

In 1981, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission began an Elk Restoration Project and stocked 112 Rocky Mountain Elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) in the Buffalo National River area. Reintroduction restores a native large herbivore to the ecosystem which in turn restores habitat for other plants and animals.

Elk also provide recreational value, both for those who prefer to watch wildlife as well as those who hunt elk. Buffalo National River provides suitable habitat for elk and the herd now numbers nearly 500 animals.

We parked at the trail head and had a light lunch before starting out on the 2.2 mile round trip hike to Eden falls and Cobb Cave. The parking lot was almost full. It appeared that quite a few folks were out enjoying the fall day.

It was a nice hike on a beautiful day, but the falls were only a trickle and the cave was closed due to Covid. Just before starting back, Rhonda fell and sprained her ankle and achelies tendon. It was a slow and uncomfortable mile walk back. I found a downed limb and broke it to the right size to make her a hiking stick. She will likely be using one of my hiking poles when we take hikes on rocky trails in the future.

We took a different highway route back to Harrison and crossed the Buffaloe River twice. The water level was extremely low. It had been very dry in northwest Arkansas for sometime, apparently. The mountains all through Nelson County and the upper part of the Buffaloe River were much like the mountains between Wytheville and Bluefield, W. Va. near us. The leaf color was just beginning to show here and there.

Sunday we drove east across the northern part of Arkansas and stopped at Crowley's Ridge State Park outside of Paragould. The campground was in a nice setting and had only about 30 sites and about three quarters were occupied. I asked for a site near the restroom and shower and told them my wife had a badly sprained

ankle, so they gave us one of the handicapped ones.

The tarp was folded up and put away without it fully drying so I took it out and hung it up to for it to completely dry. I then took the bike off the rack and went for a ride all around the park. When I returned, I started working a crossword puzzle sitting at the picnic table. That is when we met Wyatt, a cute little seven year old boy who was camping with his family several sites away. He was very friendly and talkative. His mother came down walking their dog and she told us that he never met a stranger.

The next morning he came down while we were having breakfast. I offered him some, but he declined. He still had his pajamas on with shorts and a tee shirt over them.

We crossed the Mississippi River on US 412 west of Dyersburg and headed for Jackson. I still had a craving for pizza and knew that Jackson was a big enough town to have just about any restaurant there was. We found a listing for a CiCi's pizza on the GPS, but when we got to the shopping center it wasn't there. Someone in the parking lot told about one that was very similar and we headed back toward the shopping center at the interstate. Snappy's was the name of the place and was pretty much like CiCi's only a little better. I satisfied my craving with pizza, salad and pizsert from the buffet.

We were in no real hurry to get home since we had planned a three week trip and we on the seventeenth day. The traffic through Nashville is always pretty hectic with three interstate highways coming through town. We got out to the east side and decided to stop at Cedar of Lebanon St. Park just forty miles east. It would be our third stay at the park. We had stayed there on the way home from Memphis after moving Judy. We also stayed there in October of 2012 on the way to ride the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Later, just as we had settled in for the evening, we heard what we assumed was the wind. It turned out to be a very quick unexpected downpour. A couple of things we left out got wet.

They next morning we stopped in Knoxville to check out a portion of their 40 miles of greenway. We didn't have much information, so we called the Parks and Recreation person connected with the greenways and he recommended a couple of sections to ride. It turn that the one I rode wasn't that great. We didn't really take much time to see what the other section was like since it was close to lunch time and we both needed a restroom break and there were none at the park.

Since Knoxville is less than a half day's drive from home, we talked about returning another time for a few days to see what the town had to offer and investigate the greenways more extensively. They also have a zoo.

A little later we stopped at the Corp of Engineers campground at the dam on Douglas Lake outside of Sevierville. We had stayed there several times when visiting Pigeon Forge and Dollywood. The campground was almost full. After setting up, we drove into Sevierville to get some ice and something different for supper at the Kroger grocery store. Traffic was horrendous. Not sure why, except that it was a beautiful fall day and maybe the tourist were out in full force. Also, there was part of one of the main roads under reconstruction.

The next morning we packed up and headed out to have breakfast at McDonald's, but the one we found not far up the road was only drive-thru, so we opted for the Hardee's across the street. We were home right at lunch time and began they task of unpacking. It was another great trip with a wedding, mostly good weather, plenty of bike riding, and some new sights with great companionship.

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