Ozarks: Sylamore Hills and Blanchard Springs Caverns
After yesterday's outing, I really regret not being able to post photos from this computer. We drove through hills whose forests had been transformed into silver and diamond jewels by the previous days' ice storms and were glittering in the early morning sun. The sixty miles from Salem to Blanchard Springs was absolutely stunning in its etherial beauty, especially through the Sylamore Hills.
We pulled over at the first lookout in the Sylamores just to gaze at the sparkling panorama. I led En-Uk above the road a hundred feet so that we could see even better, but he was more intent on breaking off the icicles clinging to rocks where water seeps out from underground to freeze in cold weather.
As we drove on and left the Sylamore Hills to descend into the White River valley, Sun-Ae scrambled for her camera to get a quick photo of the bluffs towering over the valley's other side, but the forest soon hid them again, so that image will never make it to this blog, I suppose.
Soon, we were climbing the hills opposite and heading for the caverns only 10 miles further on. One of our maternal relatives, Hugh Shell, along with Hail Bryant explored the Blanchard Springs cavern system back in the late 50s and early 60s and enabled the cave to be opened up by the US Forest Service, so I have that tenuous link to fame through Hugh's spelunking adventures.
We went on the Dripstone Trail and saw beauty below rivaling that of the ice storm above. Sa-Rah especially loved the natural wonders formed by the calcite deposited from the dripping, evaporating water, but En-Uk got most excited by a red-spotted cave salamander that he saw near the beginning of the trail and couldn't stop talking about that for the rest of the walk.
The high point of Sa-Rah's day came late in the afternoon when we were returning from our excursion and stopped for dinner at the home of my paternal uncle Woodrow Hodges and his wife Pauline. Sa-Rah found out that one of her cousins, 'Shiney', has a horse gentle enough to ride, so we drove a mile back to where Shiney lived. The cousin turned out to be Sa-Rah's age, eleven, so they got along well and took turns riding the horse, with Shiney showing how.
Even En-Uk overcame his trepidation enough to sit on the horse's back, but he tended to make the horse nervous because he kept making sudden movements that spooked it, so we made him get back out of the corral and play on some nearby haybales.
We soon returned to Woodrow's home, where Aunt Pauline had made one of her delicious dinners and where I finally met the little boy named "Rifle," whom longtime readers might remember from my posting of a "Letter from Home" about a year ago.
Actually, I didn't so much meet him as glimpse him on his hyperactive run. When Pauline asked if I'd seen him, I said, "Yeah, I saw Rifle when he shot past." Some folks caught the pun.
Enough for now, another day begins...