Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Camping In Big Spring

**I have no idea what happened the first time I posted--none of the photos showed up.  SOOO, let's try it again.

After Michael and Adellelyn went home, Ron, Tyler and I headed up to Missouri for a few days of camping.   When I was a kid, we used to camp at Big Spring, MO and I was anxious to return and see if any of it still looked the same as I remembered.  We stopped to spend the night in Pocahontas, AR on the way up.  We made the reservations over the phone, sight unseen.  Turns out, it was a brand new RV park----nothing but a lot of gravel with hook-ups and a beautiful view of the junk yard next door.  It was fine for our purposes, but I was glad we were just spending the night.
The next day, we arrived at the park and did a little exploring before check-in time.  Our first stop was the Big Spring itself.  It was just beautiful, with cool, bubbling, aqua water spilling over the rocks.
The water was so cold that you could only dip your foot in and the air around it was so cool that you could fell the temperature change as you walked closer.
We spent some time exploring the small caves nearby behind the springs,
and walking up the trail behind the spring.
As we drove around, I didn't see much that reminded me of the images in my memory, but I was pretty young at the time and the memories could be a bit distorted.  The old lodge, which was vaguely familiar to me, was closed for a major renovation this year.  I hope that it will soon be restored to the beauty of the 60's and 70's that I recall.
We found our campsite and got settled in before walking down the trail to the river.
There seemed to be plenty of butterflies and may flies around the park, but thankfully, the mosquitoes held off until the last day.
Early Tuesday morning, I got up really early and went for a walk around the park by myself.  There seemed to be no one else awake and it was so nice and peaceful.
I saw lots of bunnies on my outing,
and enjoyed the cool mist that had settled over the Big Spring during the night.

We went into town to get fishing licenses, groceries and to drop the boys off in their kayaks.
It was the first day for the river to be open since rains had caused such high levels, so the current was swift, but not white-water.  It just meant that their trip down to Big Spring (where I picked them up) went much faster than normal.
While I waited for them, this turtle stopped by to say "hello".
Early Wednesday morning, Ron and I walked down the trail to the Current River with camp chairs in hand.  It was so pretty to watch the sun rise over the treetops and to listen to the birds and frogs as the world awoke.
With no one else around, I even talked Ron into a few jumps on the "beach".
After breakfast, we loaded up and drove up to the Devil's Well, in the northern portion of the Ozark Riverways National park.  Devil's Well is basically an underground lake that was created when a cavern roof containing a lake collapsed, creating a huge sinkhole.  It was discovered in the 1950's by owners of the land.  The road to the Well was steep and rocky and we were glad to be in a 4-wheel drive vehicle.  It was very secluded and when we arrived, I was surprised to see a group of men with tents and equipment set up.
We were greeted by a Park Service employee who explained that the Well was closed to tourists for a couple of days while a major cave exploration took place.  He invited us up to watch them prepare for the exploration, although we were not allowed down the staircase to the platform.
There was a reporter there taking photos and documenting the event that she declared was quite historic since no exploration had been undertaken since the early 70's.  It took quite a bit of time to gather just the right team of people that could carry out this exploration safely, since a variety of rappelling, diving and transfer skills were necessary and we watched and listened as these guys discussed the best way to enter the well and drop down into rafts safely.
While we were disappointed we didn't get to see the well itself, it was exciting to see this bit of history unfolding.  If you'd like to read more about the exploration, you can click here and here.
From there, we traveled along the Riverways to Rocky Falls, a steep cascade of water that pours into a small pool of water.
There were lots of people picnicking and enjoying the falls.  Ron and Tyler both climbed up to the top, while I waited below, taking photos and dipping my feet in the water to keep cool.
No one was actually sliding down the falls because it was too dangerous, but many people crawled around on the rocks and swam in the pool beneath.  It was a refreshing break from the summer sun.
If I'd known that Ron was actually going to dive into the pool, I probably would have been hiding my eyes rather than snapping a picture, but he did check it out carefully first and made a very shallow dive.

Our campground was rather small, with only about 15-20 families there at a time.  We cooked outside most evenings since there were few mosquitoes (until the last day when they ate me alive) and enjoyed s'mores a couple of times.
I even tried out a new recipe that called for mini marshmallows and m&m's in a small waffle cone.  I wrapped them each in foil and put them over the fire.
They melted into a gooey, yummy dessert.
Each evening, after taking showers, we drove slowly through the park to look for deer.  And each night, we saw herds of deer grazing on the grass and laying in the grass near the spring.
All week, I hoped to see the otters playing in the Current River, just as they did when I was a little girl, but the only evidence we found were footprints in the sand each morning.
It was such a relaxing week.  We spent most of our days sitting on the shores of the river fishing or wading.

Our evenings were filled with wildlife sightings, dinner over a campfire and poker games in the camper.
It was great to enjoy the outdoors, the wildlife and being with Tyler.

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Samaira Siddiqui said...

Amazing post. Thanks for sharing your camping experience. The pictures are really beautiful.

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