Thursday, February 14, 2008

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...

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At 5:10 AM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...

Joy got out to enjoy the sparkles yesterday. I've been unable to...flu or something.

You sound as if you're enjoying the hills, Jeff! You might even have something to add to that conversation on the blog a day or two before you left Seoul...about the advantages/disadvantages of winter in the Ozarks.

I'm glad Sun-Ae and the kids are enjoying their trip.

At 5:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes this is your niece. I am loving each day! I have read countless months so far. It is wonderful. Keep reporting and I will keep reading. I did not know you wrote in a column. Very neat! By the way...fug! LOL


At 6:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I happened to have a need to be in Mtn. View that day. I honked when I saw an empty white auto. Well no, not me, I pressed the thing in the middle of the steering wheel. The red thing honked.

It was a sparkly diamond day. I hope the kids are well... kids.


At 8:39 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Daddio. I've heard good things concerning your report on your EIC site about our Sunday together, but I haven't been able to check it yet because the browser on this computer shuts down if I try.

When I get back to Korea, I'll need to devote a blog entry to this Ozark trip so that I can post photos.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 8:42 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

CG, I'm fugging glad that my fug column didn't offend . . . yet.

By the way, you can comment on any entry, and I'll receive a note alerting me to the message, so you need not post a comment on the most recent blog entry unless you want to.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:46 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, we didn't quite make Mountain View because we needed to get to Uncle Woodrow and Aunt Pauline's place before dark, so you probably got some poor hillbilly all riled up for no reason (that itself becoming the reason).

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We got a shiny coat of ice ourselves yesterday morning, but it melted by late afternoon. I was thinking that winter wasn't the best time to appreciate the Ozarks, but it sounds like Mother Nature put on a dazzling show for your family.


At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Jeff,

Since it obviously wasn't ya'll I'm certain the person(s) had a dry leaf (leaves) near at hand and wasn't much bothered.

Now I'm glad I didn't stop. Leaves are alright for certain things. But I wouldn't want to have to shake hands with a new acquaintance.


At 1:30 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sonagi, it was the most beautiful winter day that I've ever experienced in the Ozarks.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:32 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, it is better if one 'leaves' such people alone.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:46 AM, Blogger jeanie oliver said...

Dad and mom's e-mail is very cranky. Mom is at my house reading all your e-mail and now I have introduced her to your blog.
It was good to see you and meet your family,
Jeanie (Scott) Oliver

We really enjoyed your visit. Jim and I will now enjoy a part of your life by reading your blogs.

At 7:36 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Jeanie and Barbara, thanks for the visit.

I wasn't expecting any prompt reply, for my wife reminded me that Jim remarked that he checks his email about once per month

Nevertheless, I'm open to prompt responses, and I hope that my blog will prove entertaining despite the quotidian quality to my life.

Fortunately, my life was lifted above the mundane by the Ozark trip, so there might be something of entertainment in that...

We enjoyed seeing the three of you even if only for one short evening.

Jeffery Hodges

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