Monday, June 28, 2010

Bryant Creek Canoe Expedition

I mentioned in the previous post about the canoe trip that took place on the second day of the annual meeting of the Ozark Regional Land Trust. Now, thanks to this photo by Abigail Lambert, I have a "visual aid" to go along with the description of the expedition. In the photo, I am the one with the long-sleeved shirt, who is waving to the camera. The three guys in the photo had driven down from the Saint Louis area, which is about 4 hours northeast of Bryant Creek. ( It is not everyday that you can have your photo taken by someone with as rich a family heritage as that of Abigail Lambert. In her position as River Stewardship Project Coordinator for the ORLT, she can pursue her passion for protecting our area rivers. It was a passion for all things related to aviation, that resulted in the major airport in St. Louis, Missouri, being named "Lambert Field" in recognition of her family's contributions to the field of aviation.) When I first learned about the canoe trip planned for Bryant Creek, I went to the website to see what they said about the stream. Most of the following information is from their website: Bryant Creek is formed in Douglas County, Missouri, and flows south about 43 miles to Norfork Lake on the Arkansas border. It is normally a gentle stream, with Class I to Class II rapids, willow jungles, rock shoals, and a nearly perpetual flow, though it may run low during periods of drought. The surrounding area is a wilderness of bluffs and farmlands in the Ozark Mountain foothills. It has a moderate gradient averaging about 5.8 feet per mile, which maintains a gentle current that makes paddling easy. Our group put in at the low water bridge on Missouri SH 95, and got out at ORLT's Elixir Farm, but if you continued on to Hodgson Mill, you would be at the site where Ewell Gibbons filmed those Grape Nuts commercials back in the 80's. That makes me think this could be called my first "Culinary Canoe" trip! However, even with such a famous endorsement, Bryant Creek is unknown to most paddlers and is seldom enjoyed because of its remoteness. And, just as the Southwest Paddler website promised, we found that it was a "pristine place to enjoy the magical beauty of the Missouri Ozark Foothills and surrounding wilderness of Mark Twain National Forest." Likewise, Bryant Creek could almost fit the description written by King David in Psalm 46:4 that says "There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells." We can all be thankful for the work that groups like the Ozark Regional Land Trust are doing to preserve the natural beauty of our incredibly blessed, United States of America. And with the special day of July 4 just around the corner, it would be appropriate to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!! Miles of smiles! Tricia
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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ozark Regional Land Trust Annual Meeting

The annual meeting of the Ozark Regional Land Trust ( was held this past weekend in various locations in the Missouri Ozarks. For those who are not familiar with the ORLT, it is a non-profit organization with this Vision Statement: " That people in the Ozarks express their relationship to the natural environment by preserving its unique beauty through responsible stewardship and sustainable economic activity." The business meeting and lunch on Saturday were held at the Ozark Seed Bank ( in the tiny community of Brixey, Missouri. The group then departed for a tour of the Alford Forest ( The Alford Forest is a 4,300 acre oak-pine-hickory forest in Ozark County in central Missouri. ORLT owns and protects 3,200 of these acres. The remaining 1,100 acres are privately owned, but protected by ORLT-overseen, conservation easements. The photos above were taken as the group accessed the edge of a section of the forest where forest manager David Haenke (in green shirt in upper left photo) explained to those present, the use of eco-forestry methods designed to improve the health of the forest.

Next the group drove to a location deeper within the forest with the goal of hiking to the headwaters of a stream that runs through the property. Although it was a very hot and humid day, the green canopy over the access trail helped make the hike more enjoyable. The upper right photo of this collage shows the ORLT Board President, Andrew Thomas, as well as the ORLT Board Secretary, attorney Jillian Hishaw.

Our group found the headwaters of the stream we were following, and took advantage of the waterfall there, to cool off, and go wading in the pool beneath the falls.

On Sunday, the group convened in front of the house at the Elixir Farm, as shown in middle, right photo (, for instructions on the canoe/kayak trip planned for a long stretch of Bryant Creek, which runs through the Elixir Farm property. The upper right and lower left photos in this collage show some of the structures at the Elixir Farm. Our local guide for the waterways part of the trip was Kyle Kosovich ( . He is shown in the upper left photo as he gives us some details of what to expect during the next few hours on the water. Fortunately, he had done the trip the day before---with a chain saw---so that any large trees crossing the river in such a way as to block our passage, could be appropriately trimmed. This was very helpful, but a few of the canoes tipped over anyway, when faced with an obstacle they could not maneuver around. However, with the temperatures hovering near 100 degrees Fahrenheit, no one seemed too upset about getting an unexpected "baptism" in the cool waters of Bryant Creek. And speaking of preserving the Ozarks, we cannot forget the common practice in the Ozarks, in days gone by, of a church group, all meeting at the creek, for the baptism of one or more of a congregation. Old photography records preserve numerous examples of this Ozark tradition, and I heard my parents speak many times of the "creek baptisms" they had participated in. Such a practice is based on Bible verses like Mark 16:16 that say "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." You will notice that in this blog, there are not photos of actual "in the water" activities. That is because I have been on enough canoeing and kayaking trips to know that my odds of unintentionally immersing my digital camera are pretty high, and there was such an incident with someones digital camera today. So you will just have to use your imagination in this particular blog post to visualize a clear, peaceful stream in the Ozarks, shaded with lush, green, overhanging sycamore trees,flowing beside beautiful limestone bluffs; imagine the sound of water rippling over river-smoothed stones, birds chirping, herons and red-tailed hawks soaring overhead, and great conversation with folks who share a passion for being good stewards of our earth. Better than just visualizing it---why not get out there and experience it yourself!! Wishing you miles of paddling smiles! TriciaPosted by Picasa

Thursday, June 17, 2010


You may have seen the term "Destination Wedding" in travel brochures and bridal magazines, and this blog is about an expedition to participate in what might be called a "Destination Wedding". The destination was the tiny town of McCloud, California (, at the base of the massive, snow-covered peak, known as Mt. Shasta. (see previous postings on this blog---December 4 and December 28, 2008---for additional information on McCloud.) In the past, the village was known as a "company town" because most everyone there worked for the McCloud Lumber Company. More recently, it was known as the departure point for the Mt. Shasta Sunset Dinner Train. However, since neither of these businesses are still in operation, visitors to the town can pretty much have it to themselves. Such was the case for the couple pictured in the "Kiss and Ride" area in front of the McCloud Railway, in this photo collage. (The first time I saw an official-looking street sign that said "Kiss and Ride" near a large, metropolitan train station, I had no idea what it meant! ) The actual wedding ceremony for the couple in the photo (Grover and Stacy) was held at the lowest of the three McCloud waterfalls, in the nearby area called Fowler Campground ( I did not have my camera with me at the actual wedding ceremony, held at the overlook above the falls, so I don't have any photos of that portion of the wedding. However, in reading up on the area, I learned that the Fowler Campground/McCloud Falls area is one of THE most visited places of all the U.S. Forest Service properties. While there, I saw several hikers taking photos of our wedding party, so I know there are pictures out there somewhere in cyberspace!! I have stumbled into my fair share of weddings being held in scenic locations outdoors, so I was not at all troubled by the numerous on-lookers.

You know you are in a small town, when the bride and groom can casually stroll across a wide, paved road to a lemonade stand, being run by some young girls, smack dab in front of the post office. In fact, the upper right photo of the collage shows the groom pulling out his wallet to make his very first purchase for his bride, following the exchanging of the wedding vows. He bought her a cup of the cold beverage, which served as their first wedding "toast"! (middle photo) Since no where could be seen, a "cloud in McCloud" on the warm, summer day of the wedding, the young girls attempt at the free enterprise system was a welcome sight!

The couple loves the outdoors, so it is not surprising that their wedding photos would include something like a bicycle and an RV (The RV is named "Franklin"). Note the difference in the appearance of Franklin, "before" the wedding reception (upper left) and "after" the wedding reception (lower right).

The location for the wedding reception was the former "company store" (as in the old Tennessee Ernie Ford song) of the McCloud Lumber Company. It is called the McCloud Mercantile ( The lower floor of the Mercantile houses shops reminiscent of the last century, while the upper floor has been converted into guest rooms and a large banquet space. The catering for the delicious food and beverage service was by Lily's in Mt. Shasta ( The fantastic party band from Bellingham, Washington, (lower right photo) known as Yogoman Burning Band ( provided music to raise the rafters and dance the night away. However, since all the guests staying overnight at the Mercantile were members of the wedding party, the loud music bothered no one! In fact, the Bible says it is good to "raise the rafters" with songs of celebration! Another verse from the Bible is my prayer for Grover and Stacy, and goes along with a necklace wedding gift they received: "Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man." (Proverbs 3:3) Wishing them miles and miles of married smiles! Tricia
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