Saturday, January 26, 2008

Exploring Izard County: Mill Creek

The day is fast approaching for our trip back to the Arkansas Ozarks, and we're looking forward to a number of excursions with family and friends.

One friend with whom we'll be enjoying a hike is "D. Daddio Al-Ozarka," a 'professional' hillbilly whom I met online about a year and a half ago when I posted a photo showing an outhouse like the ones that I used to visit whenever 'nature called' back when I was a hillbilly kid myself. Although I had borrowed that image from a different website, I also linked to Daddio's Exploring Izard County for its many lovely Ozark photographs.

Daddio has a real name, of course, but I'm not sure if he wants it used online, though he doesn't appear too shy to appear online, for he posts photos that include himself -- as in this one below, where both the landscape and the hiking party are dominated by his enormous, capped head (though that's probably an optical illusion):

Daddio will be meeting us -- me, Sun-Ae, Sa-Rah, and En-Uk (with possibly a few other relatives) -- on the afternoon of Sunday, February 10 (2008), to act as informed guide to a nice spot on Mill Creek, the end point of a hike that he briefly described in an email to me a couple of weeks back:
If you haven't been to Exploring Izard County lately, check the latest post. Yesterday Rick, Cal, and I were shown an inspiring place on Mill Creek called "Needles Eye and Moon Eye". It is near Boswell . . . waaaAAAAYYY back in the woods. From the parking area, it is about a 30 minute hike on relatively level ground to the site. Our host, Wayne Hill, told us the the UofA had excavated the cave there and hauled off a number of artifacts decades ago . . . including a dugout canoe that his (Wayne) grandfather remembers seeing protruding from the cave floor.
I'm looking forward to this hike, for I haven't seen enough of Izard County even though the Cherokee side of my family mostly hailed from there. In my late teenage years, I used to visit the Sylamore Hills region of the White River in Izard County on my bicycle, and Daddio also has photos of that area.

I sometimes wish that I could land a job teaching in a university back in the Ozarks -- such as the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville (the UofA that Daddio mentions) -- but that's not likely to happen.

Instead, I make these online trips, as can you, too, if you visit Daddio's Exploring Izard County or his Hunkahillbilly site on You Tube.

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At 6:18 AM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...

I'm flattered, Jeffery...and excited about your visit!

Just to let you know..."informed" might be over-doing it a bit. Enraptured? Yes. Enamoured? Yep!
Informed? Somewhat...but my buddy, Rick, is pretty dang good at embellishing things so it will be a memorable experience!

Thanks for the links! See you soon!

At 6:23 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, Daddio, you're more 'informed' about Mill Creek than anyone I know.

As you say, see you soon.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only ever passed through Arkansas once, criss-crossing on a diagonal from Memphis through to Texarkana on the way to Houston. Coming from the flattish midwest, I was impressed by the layers of rock rising on both sides of the interstate. I imagine that the Ozarks, like the Blue Ridge Mountains near where I live, are at their best in spring, when rosebuds, dogwoods, and other flowering trees come alive with pastel colors. Fall colors lure hoardes of day trippers from northern Virginia, but having experienced once the spectacular autumn show in New Hampshire and Vermont, I yawn at what passes for fall colors in the south. There is a quiet beauty in the dead of winter, isn't there? Bare trees and brown meadows aren't photogenic, but the lack of foliage and crisp, clear air make for great views.

At 7:05 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sonagi, I like autumn in the Ozarks, but you are probably right that it doesn't compare with "the spectacular autumn show in New Hampshire and Vermont."

The rock that you saw to both sides of the interstate was probably the Ouachitas and not the Ozarks. The former are okay, but Ozark scenery is more striking because of the deeper valleys.

I'm hoping that the weather is fine on the 10th of February so that the hike goes well -- not too cold, plenty of sunshine, and trees bare of leaves so that we can see for miles.

Only the third of these three is guaranteed.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:58 AM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...

"There is a quiet beauty in the dead of winter, isn't there? Bare trees and brown meadows aren't photogenic, but the lack of foliage and crisp, clear air make for great views." -sonagi

In some cases, sonagi, I would disagree about bare trees and photogenics.'s not the bare trees and brown's what's behind the bare trees and in the brown meadows that make an Ozark winter experience special. In fact, Jeffery and his family will most likely be coming at the most opportune time for wildlife as a late-frost last Spring resulted in a low acorn yield.

Wild turkeys and whitetail are visible in nearly every pasture this year. Two nights ago, Rick and I drove down to Knob Creek (about 3 miles from the house) and counted over 60 deer in the fields (bright moonlit night). Last Friday, we drove a mile and a half out of town and saw a herd of at least 20 Tom-turkeys together and two bald eagles. My equipment doesn't allow for great shots of inconvenience I must rectify.

Winter offers spectacular views as you noted...but it also offers the chance of seeing something you'd otherwise miss when the trees are green and lush...the undergrowth tangled and obscuring.

Winter has other advantages for those of us who love the Arkansas Outback...absolutely NO ticks or skeeters (mosquitos)!

At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sonagi, if you ever di find yourself in the Ozarks during the fall, try to find yourself in Melbourne and travel south on Highway 9. I have seen the show that you mention and I agree that spectacular does apply. But a fall trip from Melbourne to Morrilton, I consider might keep you from yawning.

Jeffery, I just checked my email and Daddio told me about today's entry so I came to read. And I thought it best to advise you to pack up some victuals because I found out why my local grocery store no longer carried one of my favorites.


At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


My advice to sonagi got my mind to slippin'. Daddio ain't a "professional hillbilly."

He's the real thing.


At 10:21 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Daddio, I'm particularly pleased that we need not worry about the insects. When I took Sun-Ae to see Standing Rock near the Strawberry River, we brought back memories and seed ticks. She certainly remembers those!

As for the animals, En-Uk will be excited to see the deer, turkeys, and eagles, as well as other creatures both great and small, bright and wonderful, domestic and foreign...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:28 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, I hope ye ain't a-insinuatin' that Daddio is jes' some amateur hillbilly.

Now as fer vittels, lemme see hyar . . . ye sayin' thar ain't no Ozark oysters?

Jeffery 'Jethro' Hodges

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At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nope, gotta a surplus o' oysters, we're achully tryin' ta increase our exports. We're thinkin' 'bout declaring war on Scotland now.


At 11:28 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Invade Scotland? Whatever for?! Didn't our ancestors escape that place Scot-free?

Hmmm . . . must be about North Sea oil, for every American invasion has been, fundamentally, about oil.

Like the Normandy Invasion. Yep. Little-known fact. Oil. France has no oil you say? Well, I guess not -- not after our invasion.

At any rate, most Ozarkers ought to be careful about going back to where they came from. Folks back there are probably still looking for them.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:00 PM, Blogger Hathor said...

Will you be posting during your homecoming and giving us abundant pictures.

At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You've been away too long. It will be good for you to return, however briefly.

No, in this case the war talk isn't over oil. It's over the haggis-mountain oyster trade imbalance.


At 1:13 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hathor, I'm hoping that my wife will be taking good photos, but I'm not especially adept at technical stuff (and might not have ready access to easy blogging anyway), so I might not be providing as much as I'd like. We'll see.

By the way, I received that link that you sent but haven't yet checked it. I've been trying to catch up on everything this 'vacation' but have not yet succeeded. Thanks for sending it, and I will check it out -- I'm even looking forward to doing so.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:20 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Oysters are pretty slimey . . . maybe even oily? Just look a little closer. It's always about oil.

Even the return of the messiah is about oil -- think of the foolish bridesmaids who ran out of oil and had none for when the messianic bridegroom returned!

Or think of the meaning of "messiah" itself -- "The Anointed"! Anointed with what? Why, with oil!

You see, it's always about oil.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for the animals, En-Uk will be excited to see the deer, turkeys, and eagles, as well as other creatures both great and small, bright and wonderful, domestic and foreign...

No black bears in the Ozarks? It will be a treat for your kids to see something bigger than a chipmunk in its natural habitat.

At 1:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my book: Ozarks Country by Ernie Deane: Branson MO: The Ozarks Mountaineer, 1978,the western Ozarks runs along a line from Warner, OKto Miami, then northeast to marshall, MO, then east to above Hannibal, MO. the southern edge runs eastward from Warner, OK to a point just southeast of Batesville, then northeast to the Mississippi River at Cape Girardeau. It includes the Boston mountains. The Ouchita mountains are really beautiful near Hot Springs, AR. In our area in north/central AR we have turkey, deer, black bear and mountain lions (rare). Along the Buffalo river are elk.
Come on over & set a spell.
Uncle Cran

At 2:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will be nice to meet you Jeffery, from the son of Daddio.


At 3:54 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sonagi, we still seem to have bear and cougar in the Ozarks, according to my Uncle Cranford (as you'll see from his comment following yours), but I hadn't mentioned them because they're not common.

In fact, I've never seen either, though I did see bear tracks with my Grandpa Archie on the Big Creek Ridge farm -- a place that seemed to my young eyes to be on the edge of the wild. One night back in the mid-sixties, a black bear even tried to get at the hogs, but the dogs and my uncles chased it off.

My folks told me that there were still cougar in the wild, rough land near Lake Norfork, about five miles away, and that these creatures could be heard at night screaming through the dark . . . but I never heard any of them myself.

But I've seen crows, buzzards, hawks, eagles, various other birds (but, oddly, no turkey), squirrels (but no chipmunks), woodchucks, foxes, and even what looked like a wolf (although in Missouri), and I've seen deer, but only photos of the elk and buffalo, the latter of which have been reintroduced to the Buffalo River area. The former might simply have been introduced to that area without ever having been native.

Then, of course, there are the critters that we never tell about to outsiders -- such as the Woolly Mammoth herds that still roam the hollars and which are particularly plentiful near a watering hole not too far up the road that has been named after them: Mammoth Springs.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:59 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Uncle Cran, for setting forth the precise geographical dimensions of the Ozarks.

For all you Ozark hillbilly wannabees living beyond those borders, tough luck, but a man's gotta draw the line somewhere.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:00 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hey, TheHillbillyKid, good to hear from you -- and see you soon.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:32 AM, Blogger Bill said...

Thanks for the new Izard link. Some places I haven't seen, so in future travels that way I'll do a little more exploring.
The photos made this Arkansas born boy homesick.
Taking nothing away from the Izard (or Fulton & Baxter) vistas, your family would, if schedule allows, enjoy seeing the elk in the late afternoon near Ponca on the Buffalo.
Stuck here in Kansas, I frequently compare Arkansas scenery to my personal vision of Heaven. Last October (fall color time), Uncle Woodrow and I were driving from Elizabeth toward Gepp, and I commented "this has got to look a lot like Heaven". Woodrow grinned and said "yep, close, everything except the streets of gold".
See you in a couple of weeks.

At 5:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think from articles I have read that all the name animals were at one time native to the hills of AR.
Arkansas was known once as the "Panther State" (actually cougars). It is also called the "Land of Opportunity," even though the only person I recall who took advantage of it was William Jefferson Clinton, and now an attempt by former governor Huckabee. Many of my associates, including my wife's parents, close neighbors, and my son James & a friend of his one mile from our house. We have on rare occastions heard one scream at night. Our neighbor claimed he had a "Wampus Cat," part lion/part bear that he kept in his smoke house (always padlocked). I learned later that it was actually his whiskey still.
Uncle Cran

At 5:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I meant to say those mentioned had actually seen mountain lions (cougars) on occasion. We hill-billys are not to up to date on grammar, sentence structure, or spelling. My mail address is Gepp
(pronounce Jeep). this should tell you something.
Uncle Cran

At 6:12 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Bill, we might make a trip to the Buffalo River if the kids seem interested. Usually, what interests the kids are other kids, and I'm hoping for a lot of those -- a whole crowd, if possible -- so that Sa-Rah and En-Uk can play a lot and get to know some Americans who are actually related to them, whether by blood or Ozark water.

See you soon.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:18 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Uncle Cran, for the cougar update.

I figured that they were still around, but I'm happy not having seen one in the wild -- unless I were with a bunch of other hillbillies for protection. I've read reports of cougars attacking and eating people in the Rockies.

Are you sure about the elk being native? I'd always associated them with the Rockies.

On grammar and such, I'm curious to see how my kids react to the Ozark dialect...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Uncle Cran the farmer who is full of "ki"?

Bill, I feel sorry for you living in Kansas. I was in Illinois for one year before fleeing the mind-numbing monocultures of soy and corn for the forested hills of Virginia. Prairie is an underappreciated, endangered biome. Prairie wildflowers whisper beauty as they rustle in the wind. Big bluestem and Indian grass greet September with dizzying heights of 8-12 feet. Have you been to the Flint Hills, Bill? There are tiny patches of original prairie in Illinois, much of it located in state parks or around cemeteries. South of Chicago is Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, an old armory being restored to prairie (from guns to grass, isn't that progress!); it hopes one day to rival the Flint Hills in size. Midwest scenery would not suck so much if 99% of nature's artistry had not been plowed under to grow grains that fatten livestock and are transformed, thneed-like, into 10,000 different foodstuffs that fatten humans.

At 3:42 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sonagi, yes, that's Uncle Cran -- though I should clarify that being full of "ki" is a good thing, not quite like being full of natural fertilizer...

As for Bill's Kansas homestead, I seem to recall that some of the prairie is still natural there. But I'll bet that Bill prefers the Ozarks.

Uh . . . what means "thneed-like"?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thneeds were the manufactured goods produced by the Once-ler and his relatives using truffula trees in the Dr. Seuss pro-ecology classic "The Lorax." A thneed was a knitted garment that could be molded into a number of uses. "Thneeds are what everyone needs!" declared the Once-ler to the angry Lorax, self-proclaimed spokesperson for the truffula trees.

At 2:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading Sonagi's "Bill, I feel sorry for you living in Kansas", I'd better get the word out that some beauty does exist here, including the Flint Hills, before some irate native Kansan torches me and property.
Note I did use the word "some".
Kansas does have some trees, some hills, some clear streams, and I've taken some photos over the years capturing some of the Kansas scenery. Hopefully, these "somes" will appease any readers not having ventured past the Kansas borders.
As for native prairie, very little remains, most having been plowed under long ago.

At 3:23 AM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...

"Ki"....I have to that short for the frightenly delicious, Kim-Chi?

While stationed in the U.K>, I had a couple of guys in my shop who would prepare the stuff, talk about it every day it was fermenting, and "force" it down my throat when they brought it to work...every day...until their supplies were depleted.

I've not had any since. I really loved it.

At 3:24 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sonagi, I seem to have missed that bit of children's literature, but I missed out on a lot of that sort of thing. The Ozarks were still so isolated back in my youth that I'd never even heard of the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis until I got to college, where the other Baylorites introduced me to him.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:28 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Bill, I didn't imagine that there was much prairie in Kansas, but I do recall that some still-natural prairie was discovered there only a few years back.

And I also recall seeing some lovely Kansas landscape . . . but the Ozarks provide scenery that Kansans drive down to see...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:45 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Daddio, "ki" is a supposed life-force of some sort that East Asians believe pervades the world and is concentrated in certain objects, areas, foods, etc. It's a part of what's often called 'Oriental' medicine.

The word is unrelated to "kimchi," which supposedly derives form "chimchae," meaning "soaked vegetables" -- but this is disputed, and I'm no expert. Sonagi could probably explain this very well, for she knows Korean and, I think, Chinese.

By the way, Daddio, I've been showing my kids your You Tube videos of the Ozarks to get them prepared. En-Uk really liked the armadillo. I told him that these creatures aren't native to the Ozarks but have come in from Texas over the years. I never saw any back when I was a kid. Can you or some other 'hillbilly' confirm what I said? Or was I wrong?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:48 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

P.S. I meant to ask, Daddio. By "stationed" in the UK, you meant military, right? I seem to recall that you were in the US military there. But what did you mean by "shop"? Did you stay on for a few years working in a shop?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not know the origin of the word "kimchi." Chinese call it "paocai," meaning "soaked/pickled vegetables." The latter syllable, "cai," means "vegetable" and is pronounced in Korean as "chae."

As for the Lorax, most kids of my generation did not experience the story by reading it; it was made into a popular 30-minute TV special that ran annually for years. I read the story to a class of fourth grade ESL students last year on Dr. Seuss' birthday. If I had access to Youtube, I would have shown them the video, which really brings the story to life. The book is banned, apparently, in some states because of its unbalanced treatment of logging. The timber industry produced its own kiddie video, but it couldn't match the story-telling brilliance of Dr. Seuss.

At 8:07 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I may have to go to You Tube and see the story on video with my own eyes.

Seuss, by the way, may have been disposed toward anti-business views, for if I recall, his political position was pretty far to the left.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oxnssThe armadillo has invaded Arkansas, even southern Missouri, migrating from Texas. They were a curiosity at first, but now a real pest, digging holes in pasturelands, hay fields, yards, etc. You see them all the time on highways, where they have the unique ability to leap upward several (3) feet as you pass over them, doing some vehicle damage. They dig for grubs and insects, I assume. Farmers are trying to keep their numbers down, but I won't say how, as PETA folks might read this.
Uncle Cran

At 8:40 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Uncle Cran, for the info. When did these critters reach the Ozarks?

And what's "oxnss"?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

when I originally tried to send, it didn't go, and a new word verification showed up. I typed it, and it got on my comment without me noticing. Armadillos were here in fewer numbers when we moved back in 1981, but their numbers have increased. The holes they did in pastures could cause a cow to step it and break a leg. That's why farmers use them for target practice with their "varmint gun." One told me that you can eat them, and called it "possum on the half shell," but I think he was joking.

At 5:41 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

That farmer's expression "possum on the half shell" is pretty funny.

I don't recall seeing a single armadillo in all my youth in the Arkansas Ozarks, but at age 19 in 1976, when I rode my bicycle from Talequah, Oklahoma to Waco, Texas, I saw a few flat ones on the road south through the Oklahoma Ozarks.

I guess that rolling up in a ball didn't help in their encounters with vehicles...

Jeffery Hodges

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