Buffalo River Arkansas

“Take my hand in yours, walk with me this day, in my heart I know, I will never stray”
Neil Diamond- Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show-2/69

Hey Bubba,

Just returned from the Ozarks in Arkansas, where folks pack up the babies, grab the old ladies and head for the revival. This is where you consider a six pack of beer and a bug zapper to be quality entertainment.

After landing in Little Rock, I turned my car rental’s radio to one of the many cryin and dyin stations and headed for the Zig Zagg mountains and Hot Springs National Park. Hot Springs was the child hood home of Bubba Clinton. This was our first National Park and unusual in that it is a blend of highly developed park in a small city. It is number 43 of our 54 US National Parks that I plan to visit in my lifetime.
After visiting historic bathhouse row, I returned to Little Rock and found myself a $30 minus five star motel room with a biker bar located conveniently down the street. The Buffalo River, the next day’s driving destination is located in a dry county so the biker bar was my best shot at a beer.
It seemed like a good opportunity to take in some of the local culture and discuss ecosystem protection with the boys.
This establishment had an impressive Confederate flag that spanned the length of the building. I ordered a local beer (BUD) from the bartender, but apparently I needed to be screened, and qualify for service. “You just passin through, son? You ain’t one of those Yankees are ya?” After explaining that I was from Arizona, not a state, but a territory during the civil war, I still did not have my beer. However, when I explained that I was going to a family reunion and viewed it as a great chance to meet some girls, I was finally served.
The next day I headed for the Buffalo River where I would do some volunteer work for the National Park Service, and spend some time fly fishing, hiking and canoeing the River. The Buffalo National River is one of the few remaining unpolluted, free flowing rivers in the lower 48 states. The Buffalo originates as a trickle in the Boston Mountains. It drops steadily for 132 miles to it confluence with the White River.

I stopped for gas at the wonderful hamlet of Toad Suck on the way. It took a half- hour to pump $2.00 worth of gas.. The attendant told me that the pump was not workin so good. A young fellow driving a low rider 1972 Pontiac, drove up. Bullet holes riddled the hood and windshield of the car. Since it would take me another hour to fill the tank, I had plenty of time to chat with him, and he told me that the car used to be his daddy’s but his daddy was now with the lord. He also told me that he had lost his three dogs when the family porch collapsed and killed them.

The frequent road kills along highway 65 included several dogs and cats that made it a more scenic route. I stopped at Wal Mart in the Metropolis of Harrison to pick up some stove fuel. Camouflaged style clothing appeared to be the attire of choice by the shoppers. Displayed on a mannequin was matching green camouflaged bra and panties on sale for $15.00. I seriously thought of gifting a set to my wild woman but was not in the extravagant mood.

I camped at the Tyler Bend Campgrounds, the group next to me woke me up with a prayer meeting at 11:00 that night. The Tyler Bend Visitor Center is a very nice facility and the area is absolutely gorgeous. The fall colors had just started but already were brilliant.
In between building some trail steps and clearing some of the Park’s trails I took the opportunity to drive some of the Ozark’ s back-roads and see some of the historic cabins built by early settlers. Many families have multiple generations in the area. (This is where some folk’s family tree mayt be a straight line) The NPS leader, Zed was a fifth generation resident.
The Ghost town of Rush, where zinc ore was mined in the late 1800s was particularly interesting and included several well preserved structures. During my visit I saw an abundance of wildlife that included elk, wild turkeys, beavers, white tailed deer, armadillos, opossums, and raccoons. In the evening several skunks with long white tails visited my camp. The fishing was very good, the Buffalo contains long pools and I caught several large mouth bass and catfish.
The hiking in the surrounding thick forests of Oak and Hickory offered wild mountain beauty and was easy walking on the fallen leaves. Hiking the trails in this area took me back in time to an era when the natural and cultural world, were one.
I did have some anxious moments when I lost my trail in the dense forest. This spur trail was not on my Trails Illustrated Map and I had difficulty back tracking.. The only sound that I could hear was blood curdling howls from hound dogs in the distance. The sounds seemed to get closer and closer and I felt like an escaped prisoner being tracked down. I used my compass and was able to find a back-road and followed that back to Rush.

"Now let's you just drop them pants."
Don Job-Deliverance- 1972

The highlight of the trip was a twenty mile canoe trip down a stretch of the Buffalo. I started this part of the adventure with thoughts of mountain men with sodomy on their minds. My partner on this float was Stan. (Da Man) Stan is a 75 year old retired chemist from Yugoslavia. He was also helping the NPS with trail work. He is just a delightful guy and I thoroughly enjoyed his company. Stan is a worrier and worried when we were in shallow water that we would get stuck and have to portage the canoe. When we were in deep water he would worry that we would fall out. “I would not like to fall out here” was voiced several times.
We did not meet up with any weird mountain men and saw absolutely no one. We enjoyed total serenity and solitude down the River that cuts its way through massive limestone buffs. Our isolation and the wildness became dramatized by side trips into a number of hollows flanking the river. We were later told that these served as guerilla hideouts during the civil war.
After the trip Stan was a real happy guy –“I think we did good”.
I just love the guy. He lives in up state New York.

Men Behaving Badly

Bubba Clinton-It’s no wonder he developed dysfunctional behaviors growing up in these parts!

This was a fabulous adventure, a real slice of life. I rate this trip a 10++++ Arkansas may be a little different to some of us, but the state’s natural beauty will take your breath away. Touring Arkansas completes El Lobo’s USA 50 state roam. I would like to do the same in Mexico and Canada.

Now, let me leave you with a little down home foot stompin verse.

Old Zip Coon was a very fine scholar
Old Zip Coon was a very fine scholar
Old Zip Coon was a very fine scholar
And he played upon his banjo, coonie in the holler

What do you think old Sukie had for supper
What do you think old Sukie had for supper
What do you think old Sukie had for supper
Chicken foot, sparrow grass and apple butter

Consider cheap retirement in the Ozarks!!

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