Saturday, August 01, 2009

Ozark Vacation: Scaling a Summit and Shooting Some Rapids

I finally have a clearer image of my lovely wife, shown here above in the photograph -- which you can click to enlarge (as also for all photos below) -- along with two, too-tired kids on their trip to visit the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, home of the Razorbacks. Today's post, however, is drawn from Sun-Ae's report about a subsequent trip, not westward within Arkansas but northward into Missouri:
"It's nice to receive your email saying that you're missing us. Sa-Rah and En-Uk miss you, too. They said that it would be nice if they can talk to you about things that you know well. Especially, today when we went to the Elephant Rocks, we missed you and thought that it would be nice if you were here. You would enjoy the scenic view and the Johnson's Shut-Ins."
Readers will be surprised to hear that even the oft-ironic Gypsy Scholar has a heart, but let's move on to the report. First, however, you might want to know something about the Elephant Rocks and the nearby Johnson's Shut-Ins. Both are Missouri state parks located within the St. Francois Mountains (sometimes known as the St. Francis Mountains), a region of Precambrian igneous rock uplifted 1.5 billion years ago that rises higher than the regionally surrounding Ozark Mountains, which were instead formed by water eroding an uplifted plateau of sedimentary rock. These two state parks thus have very hard igneous formations of volcanic and intrusive rock differing from the Ozarks' typically softer, sedimentary rock layers of sandstone and limestone. My wife and kids were taken to both parks by my mother (Grandma Gaye) and my second cousin (JoElla). They first visited the Elephant Rocks State Park.

Below, you see the typical pink-granite boulders of this park, with Sa-Rah providing a sense of scale.

Sun-Ae writes that while Grandma Gaye and JoElla took the walking trail that ascends the height, she and the kids attempted the more exciting but also more rigorous clamber up the rocks:
"As you can see from the pictures, it was fun for the kids. At the Elephant Rocks, we tried to climb up the rocks to reach the top, but it was not easy, and at some point, we had to go down and take the trail that leads to the top, an easy way."
Here, you see Sa-Rah and En-Uk edging their way up.

But they begin to have second thoughts about the slope, which inclines them to go down.

Although unsuccessful, they experienced a gratifying spirit of cooperation:
"But when we three . . . tried to go the hard way, we were a kind of team on an adventure. Climbing, jumping over rocks, and finding a way were not easy, sometimes dangerous, but we were in team spirit, and kids were very mindful of me. They were worried about me, telling me to be careful, and I felt quite nice about that, that they were the ones who took care of me. Finally at the top, the view was great."
Let's look at some glimpses of this view.

From kid-less rocks to kid-ridden rocks . . . both offering an obscured view.

Now, the same kid-ridden rock from another angle.

As you see, Grandma Gaye and JoElla also reached the top. Most important:
"En-Uk found even tadpoles in the little pools up there."
Here, we see En-Uk and Sa-Rah checking a 'little' pool for signs of life.

Which they succeeded in finding.

One more glance around, and we find an enormous riven rock.

But the day was getting on, and so were the explorers:
"We came down around noon."
We here see their easy descent, Sa-Rah leading the way.

Once at the bottom, they deserved a hearty lunch:
"[We] went to eat at a restaurant. JoElla treated us with a big meal. We had two kinds of appetizer, plus the usual meal. The appetizer would have been enough -- they tasted good and were a lot. But we ate the rest of the meal, too. En-Uk had hot dog with french fries, and later another portion of french fries. He has more appetite here and has been eating quite well."
En-Uk is usually a finicky eater, but American foods seems to suit him. Both kids have been eating well, perhaps too well, but if they continue getting enough exercise, like today, all will be fine. Anyway, after this big meal, they got on with their experiences, heading for Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, where the Black River enters a narrow channel over the hard, igneous rock and splits into many separate streams that at times cascade along natural water slides. But let's return to Sun-Ae's report and see some photos:
"After lunch during which it showered, we went to the Johnson's Shut-Ins. And that was real fun for [the] kids. We [had] left our swim suits in Gaye's car, which we [left] parked at Jo's place, so [the] kids just went into the water as they were. En-Uk took off his upper [clothing] parts."
We see below a 'crowded' pool at the Shut-Ins.

The kids soon begin a deeper adventure.

They 'shoot some rapids' along the way -- and look at those heartfelt smiles!

And they do try to take care of each other, with Sa-Rah being a good big sister:

However, they get too far from their mother:
"They had great fun, but at the end, they were in trouble. I was watching most of the time, but at some point, I couldn't see them. They were behind some rocks. They went to some place where the water was quite deep, and En-Uk was showing the place to Sa-Rah. She jumped in, and it was very deep. In panic, she grabbed anything [she could], and pulled En-Uk into the water. As he got into the water, he panicked and could not breathe, and bumped somewhere his head. But Sa-Rah somehow got out of the water and pulled En-Unk out. This is what they told me later. I found them sitting down and talking after that all had happened. I think Sa-Rah was talking to En-Uk and trying to comfort him. When I called them and made them come to go home, I asked what's wrong, and then they started telling about what had happened. Then En-Uk got upset and complained about his headache (although he denied the bumping of his head at this point). He was difficult, but we got him on the car. While we're driving back to Jo's place, he was sitting head down on his lap, his arms around his head, angry and upset, but then fell asleep in that position. When we arrived, he woke up and seemed to have forgotten his "Alptraum" (what's the English?)."
Sun-Ae means En-Uk's "nightmare," but uses the German that she and I spoke together back when we first met. Literally, the German word seems to mean "Alp dream" -- like a 'mountain' dream, oddly, even if appropriate for this adventure in the mountains -- but I'm not certain that the word "Alp" is derived from "Alps." Anyway, all ends well:
"They took showers with warm water and got hot chocolate and were happy then."
We see their warmth and happiness.

Sun-Ae concludes with some kind words for JoElla:
"Jo was very nice and kids and I had great time today. Kids want to go there again, especially to the water, and Gaye might take us there some time again. We can stay the whole day there and have picnic."
Sigh . . . . If only I could have been there, too.

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At 4:55 PM, Blogger mrstkdsd said...

What a neat adventure for your kids! Wonderful scenery. It looks like they are having a great vacation. It must be hard for you, not being able to be there to experience it with them. Thank goodness for digital pics and email!


P.S. Wish I was there too!

At 7:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As soon as Sun-Ae gets her latest photos delivered to Jeffery, and Jeffery sorts out hers and mine, which contain both pics from her camera and mine, he will have some neat pics of their stay with Uncle Cran and Aunt Gay.
Jeffery is correct. His wife is a sweet and wonderful person. This says a lot about her patience with dealing with my nephew.
En-Uk has a keen mind, and is a powerful opponent on the WII games.
Sa-Rah is a marvellous pianist and guitarist. She is also a good WII player, and in addition, mastered the ATV.
We drove to lake Norfork, but it was steadily raining before we got there, and only Sa-Rah had the fortitude to go wading in the lake for about 15 minutes.
Sun-Ae wanted to return to nephew John's house at Salem so they could attend church there tomorrow.
Ironically, thirty minutes after we dropped them off there, the rain stopped and the sun has shone ever since.
But we had a good visit, and maybe before they finish their vacation, we can have them back and swim in the lake.
And at that time, nephew Jeffery can say with all sincerity, "Uncle Cran, go jump in the lake!"


At 2:10 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Cynthia, they are having a great time. I do wish that I were there, but I'm coping.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:12 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Uncle Cran, I'll get your photos up sometime . . . but I've been having some technical difficulties with my internet connection.

Thanks again for taking care of my family.

Jeffery Hodges

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