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Adventures in the Villa

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Airstream Club

2022-10-02 Traveling from Mountanview, AR to Cotter, AR

Travel Day today. This caravan is different from our previous caravans. We began the day with breakfast together, then we held our traditional Drivers Meeting, where the route was discussed, then we had another GAM. The reason we have so much time before we leave is that all our drives are short. Only 57 miles today.

When we travel like this between campgrounds we have to leave by a certain time, but we can not arrive at the new campground until after a certain time. This leaves us time to stop along the way and kill an hour or two…

We crossed the White River, then stopped in the town of Calico Rock…

This being Sunday, everything was closed… The White River is famous for trout fishing, so there are several fishing concessions on the river…

This appears to be the Calico Rock…

To quote a song from the musical “Oklahoma”, on the occasion of one of the cowboys going to the big city, “And then I put my ear to a Bell telephone, and a strange women started in to talk…”

There is a nice park in the center of town with a picnic area…

We enjoyed a little lunch before we moved on…

We stopped once more, just to stretch our legs…

We arrived at the Denton Ferry RV park in Cotter, AR, population 886. There is literally nothing in this town. Its main attraction appears to be access to the White River and its trout fishing…

The campground is directly along the river…

Tonight’s dinner is at Colton’s, a chain steak house in nearby Mountain Home, AR. It is had to miss…

We had a nice banquet room to ourselves… Steaks, chops, chicken, ribs, and Salmon were on the menu… Service was a little slow (which is to be expected). It was nice to not eat deep fried Southern food…

We returned to the Villa. An enjoyable time was had by all…

2022-10-01 Mountanview, Arkansas

Today is a free day to explore the area on our own. We chose to drive to the Blanchard Springs Caverns, about a 20 minute drive from the RV park…

Blanchard Springs Caverns is a cave system located in the Ozark–St. Francis National Forest in Stone County in northern Arkansas. It is the only tourist cave owned by the United States Forest Service and the only one owned by the Federal government outside the National Park System. Blanchard Springs Caverns is a three-level cave system, all of which can be viewed on guided tours. The Dripstone Trail runs through the uppermost level of caverns for about a half-mile and opened in 1973.  The Discovery Trail opened in 1977 and loops through a 1.2-mile section of the cavern, descending to the lower level of the cave, 366 feet underground, as well as to the Natural Entrance, about 100 feet below ground at that point, following the stream bed of the springs that created the cavern. This trail includes the Rimstone Dams, which create pools along the stream bed, and the Ghost Room, a small but very well decorated room in the uppermost level, with its huge white flowstone. Also offered is a “Wild Cave” tour which allows access to undeveloped parts of the cave to more adventurous visitors. It follows the upstream section of the cave, allowing visitors to see all three levels as the original explorers did, continuing beyond where the Discovery Trail ends.

Residents knew about the cave by the 1930s and called it Half-Mile Cave. Systematic explorations began in the 1950s and continued sporadically through the 1960s. Explorers discovered a skeleton in the cave in 1955 which was incomplete; a cause of death could not be ascertained. The caverns were opened to the public in 1973 after 10 years of development on the Dripstone Trail.

With 8.1 miles of surveyed passage, Blanchard is the second longest cave in Arkansas and the largest in volume. The limestone rock from which the caves and their formations developed was laid down in an ancient sea more than 350 million years ago. The cave is in middle Ordovician to lower Mississippian rocks and extends through six stratigraphic formations. The cave has shown over 5 levels of passage development but the upper two levels have eroded away as deepening valleys on the surface cut into them. The cave’s formation was largely phreatic in nature (formed below the water table) and passages have elliptical cross-sections typical of these formations. During the cave’s development, active streams have been pirated from one level down to another without much vadose erosion occurring. The present stream currently rises from the cave at Blanchard Springs itself, at the same temperature as the cave, a constant, year-round 58 °F. Most of the lower-level Discovery Route is in the approximately 100-foot thick Plattin limestone whereas the Dripstone tour route in the uppermost level of the cave spans 3 units, the Boone Chert, Cason Shale, and the Fernvale Limestone. Blanchard remains a “living” cave in part because of the care given by visitors and the United States Forest Service. Thus the formations inside continue to grow as calcite is actively deposited by seeping and dripping water. One of the outstanding examples of formation growth is the Giant Flowstone, one of the largest in the U.S., at 164 feet long, 33 feet wide, and 30 feet thick.

We drove through typical Arkansas countryside…

It was a nice, easy tour; as with most caves, photos do not do it justice… But we tried…

After the cave tour we drove a mile to see the springs. This is where the water from the caves flows out and forms a creek…

We returned to the Villa and had a relaxing evening. We did have an opportunity to invite a few other caravaners over to share happy hours. And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2022-09-29 Mountanview, Arkansas

The caravan starts today!

Airstreams are arriving all day!

There will be 24 rigs in the caravan. In case you are wondering, no, we don’t travel down the road all together… Maybe two-three rigs together, maximum. Typically Lynda and I travel by ourselves.

We will be exploring northern Arkansas and southern Missouri. Our itinerary is as follows:

Mountainview, AR; Cotter, AR; Eureka Springs, AR; Bella Vista and Bentonville, AR; Branson, MO; Mountain Grove, MO; Mountain View, MO.

Never heard of some of these places? Neither have we… (In 2019, we did visit Eureka Springs, Bella Vista, and Bentonville…)

We received our “Drivers Manuals” – a three ring binder containing everything we need to know about the entire caravan.

At dinner time we trekked about 1/4 mile to “The Skillet” restaurant, part of the Ozarks Folk Center, adjacent to our RV park…

Dinner was a huge buffet of Southern food… Soup, salad, turnip greens, chicken and dumplings, fried okra, fried chicken, meat loaf, and blackberry cobbler. The soup and cobbler were good…

The Mayor of Mountainview greeted us…

After dinner we walked back to the RV park, then we met again to review the drivers manual, job assignments, and other logistical things…

We returned to the Villa, drank the wine we had forgotten to bring to dinner, and turned in early…

An enjoyable time was had by all…

2022-09-28 Mountanview, Arkansas

Quiet day waiting for the caravan to start tomorrow…

We did some cleaning, housecleaning, laundry, and reading…

A few Airstreams arrived. We opted to stay in for happy hours and dinner…

And we walked around aimlessly…

And that was it!

An enjoyable time was had by all…

2022-09-27 Traveling to Mountanview, Arkansas

We hitched up and left Eureka, MO today. We are heading out to Mountainview, AR to the rendezvous spot for the caravan.

We drove about 50 miles along the interstate, then we topped off fuel in Rolla, MO. We left the interstate and said goodbye to civilization…

This is Missouri…

We no longer saw vast field of corn; here was more general farming and lots of rolling hills…

This is Willow Springs, MO, about halfway to the border…

We moved on…

These roads are all marked 55 mph, but the entire way is all curves, uphill, and downhill. The entire way is signed as SLOW – 25 mph, 35 mph, 45 mph for the curves, so there is no way you can go 55 mph…

The Ozarks, also known as the Ozark Mountains or Ozark Plateau, is a physiographic region in the states of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and the extreme southeastern corner of Kansas. The Ozarks cover a significant portion of northern Arkansas and most of the southern half of Missouri, extending from Interstate 40 in central Arkansas to Interstate 70 in central Missouri.

There are two mountain ranges in the Ozarks: the Boston Mountains of Arkansas and the St. Francois Mountains of Missouri. Buffalo Lookout, the highest point in the Ozarks, is located in the Boston Mountains. Geologically, the area is a broad dome with the exposed core in the ancient St. Francois Mountains. The Ozarks cover nearly 47,000 square miles (120,000 km2), making it the most extensive highland region between the Appalachians and Rockies. Together with the Ouachita Mountains, the area is known as the U.S. Interior Highlands.

The Salem Plateau, named after Salem, Missouri, makes up the largest geologic area of the Ozarks. The second largest is the Springfield Plateau, named after Springfield, Missouri, nicknamed the “Queen City of the Ozarks”. On the northern Ozark border are the cities of St. Louis and Columbia, Missouri. Significant Ozark cities in Arkansas include Fayetteville, Bentonville, Springdale, Eureka Springs, and Fort Smith. Branson, just north of the Arkansas–Missouri border, is a tourist destination and popularizer of Ozark culture.

As we drove south we finally crossed over into Arkansas…

This is Arkansas – the countryside is not much different than southern Missouri…

Some fixer-upper real estate is sometimes available…

We arrived at the Ozarks RV Park in Mountainview… Three other Airstreamers were already here – these are our leaders, co-leaders, and a friend who came in early to help out…

We set up the Villa, and met our new friends; soon we all headed out together to go to dinner. At 4:30! We went to The Wing Shack and Cheeseburger Grill, one of the finer attractions in town…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-09-06 – 2021-09-11 – Traveling from Puyallup, WA to Redlands, CA

We are heading home…

September 6; Labor Day…

Last day of summer! (Even though school started three weeks ago – it’s still summer!)

Our grandchildren enjoyed a day at the beach!

We left Puyallop and headed south…

The Columbia River never ceases to please…

Remember when I said one barge on the Columbia River holds enough grain to fill 160 railroad cars? Here is where the barges offload the grain, where it is loaded into the railroad cars…

Portland has some great bridges…

And we are set up at a very nice RV Park in Salem, OR.

With a beautiful sky…

Tuesday, September 7:

We left early – we have a long day… The fog was a nice relief from the heat…

Wait! That’s not fog – it’s smoke!

There are four wildfires to the east of us, just over the hills… The whole length of the state…

At a rest stop we couldn’t see the mountains…

We passed through the delightful little town of Jacksonville, OR, located about 20 miles off the 5, west of Medford… We found out camping spot for the night – Valley View Winery, part of the Harvest Host program…

Still a little smoky…

We were the gusts for dinner at old Airstream friends who live a few miles from the winery… They lave 7 acres and a lovely house overlooking the Applegate River…

Fiery sunset over the river…

After a lovely dinner we returned to the Villa…

Wednesday, September 8:

As we left the winey in the morning we found a few wild turkeys…

We soon returned to California! Yay!

We saw lots of evidence of last year’s fires…

And we had some more smoke as well…

But soon the skies cleared as we approached Clear Lake…

After a tortuous drive over Hwy 175 we arrived in Cloverdale in time for a lovely sunset sky…

Thursday, September 9:

We awoke to clear skies and headed down the road…

We crossed over the Richmond bridge and the San Francisco Bay…

Still a little smoggy, but we could see the Golden Gate Bridge…

Still a little smoggy, but we could make out the city skyline…

Oakland is noted for its giant cargo container cranes…

And downtown Oakland is looking good…

BART running past us… We love cities!

We arrived at our RV park in Marina, just outside Monterey…

We drove into Carmel to stroll the town before dinner…

The beach is lovely, but cold!

We had a delightful dinner at a “Contemporary Mexican Restaurant”. First Mexican food since we left California on July 23… (We don’t eat Mexican food outside California – way too many disappointing meals over the past years…)

Friday, September 10

As we headed out of Marina across the Salinas Valley we saw fields and fields of lettuce…

Soon we saw vineyards…

We arrive in Paso Robles and parked just outside downtown. And a lovely town it is…

We stopped in for a wine tasting, hosted by this charming fellow…

But we are on a tight schedule, so we head south again, arriving at Los Olivos at about 4:00 pm…

We enjoyed a little wine tasting on the front patio…

Plenty of parking in Los Olivos, even on a Friday afternoon…

We parked in the Saarloos vineyard for the night, and shared dinner with Airstream friends at Bell’s in Los Alamos…

Saturday, September 11:

We arrived home in Redlands, California…

We shared happy hours drinking beer on the front porch with our son…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

Seven weeks and one day… twelve states… 7,000 miles.

The End

2021-09-05 – Puyallup, WA

Sunday, September 5:

We had an easy time boarding the ferry in Clinton, heading to Mukilteo, near Everett, WA…

We like ferry rides, and we usually leave the truck and go to the top deck. But this ferry ride was so short we stayed below…

It was nice that the traffic was light – no giant trucks to squeeze between…

Back on the mainland we headed south on the 5 and passed through Seattle…

It is a short drive today. We were soon parked at Courtesy Parking in Puyallop… The other two Airstreams belong to our host…

We spent the afternoon visiting with Lynda’s sister and her husband. They must be camera shy, because we have no photos…

We drove into downtown Puyallop and found the other feature of Puyallop: The Washington State Fair!

We also found a very good Cajun restaurant. Who knew?

After dinner we walked along the Puyallop River…

We returned to the Villa…

An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-09-03 to 2021-09-05 – Whidbey Island – Langley, WA

Friday, September 3:

We left Bellingham and drove south on the 5. After about 1/2 hour we turned west and drove onto Fidalgo Island, then south, across Deception Pass, onto Whidbey Island…

After an hour or so we arrived at our Courtesy Parking near the town of Clinton. (Courtesy Parking is a feature of the Airstream Club International (ACI) whereby Airstream owners who have room can offer free overnight parking to other club members…)

We traveled about four miles to our good friends’ house, a short walk from the town of Langley. They have spent three years building this spectacular house on a high bluff overlooking the bay, across to Camano Island…

This is a small harbor about 1/2 mile way…

The interiors are stunning as well…

We went for a walk and saw a few deer…

We enjoyed the view and the setting sun…

Saturday, September 4:

We walked to the town of Langley, about 1/2 mile away… It is a nice town, where residents shop and eat and take care of civic responsibilities…

We stopped to buy breakfast sandwiches which we enjoyed sitting in the park across the street…

After breakfast we walked along the beach and along the bluff…

Later in the day we drove a few miles north and picked wild blackberries…

Then we visited the local Whidbey Island Winery…

Upon our return back to the house we could see kayakers and paddle boarders in the bay below…

We enjoyed another fine meal and enjoyed the view…

Sunday, September 5:

Time to move on. We returned to the Villa…

And we joined the line waiting for the ferry to Mukilteo, on the mainland

An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-08-28 to 2021-08-30 – The Oregon Trail caravan … Day 31, 32, 33 – The end of the trail – Oregon City, OR

It’s the end of the trail. The emigrants who made it past The Dalles or who took the Barlow Cutoff ended their trip here in Oregon City. We are actually camping in Wilsonville, OR, right next door…It is a beautiful RV park – concrete pads, grass, blue skies, and even a few trees…

The emigrants sold their wagons and oxen and headed out to find land that they could homestead. We will do some grocery shopping, visit with old friends, celebrate at a final banquet, and travel on to 20 different destinations. On August 30 we will head northeast and travel to Spokane, WA.

August 28: We traveled from Welches to Wilsonville. As is normal, we followed the printed driving directions provided in the Caravan Manual. Big mistake. The directions took us in the wrong direction, forcing us to drive through tiny roads with sharp turns and corners, until we were back on the correct route. Then the directions took us over about five miles of narrow, windy, back country roads. We don’t normally mind small roads, but when we arrived at the RV Park we could see the off-ramp at the Interstate about 1/4 mile away. We had just wasted a lot of time and frustration for no reason…

But we are here… And it is nice…

August 29:

We had an uneventful stay here. Most of us spent the time preparing for our post-caravan travels. Some are heading home to Virginia, Texas, and New York. Some are heading out for extended travels here in the west. We did some shopping and prepared to head northeast to Spokane, Washington…

On our last night we visited the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, in nearby Oregon City… The buildings were simple boxes, but they are all outlined above with the skeleton of the covered wagons. It was impressive – it made it seem like we were under the ghosts of the wagon trains…

Inside we viewed the various exhibits, then we gathered for dinner, catered by a fine restaurant in town, serving Argentine fare…

After dinner we move to the auditorium for the final presentation and awards for various caravan members and leaders…

We returned to the Villa… An enjoyable time was had by all…

August 30:

We left for Spokane at 5:45 am, driving north through Portland and then east…

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