Saturday, August 30, 2014


It doesn't take much for me to get lost, so when I passed through the log cabin structures above, with only "make shift" signs indicating where I was, it seemed that this second attempt for me to find the Lost Canyon Cave  was going to be as unsuccessful as my first attempt a month ago.

Fortunately, on this attempt, the one-way road leading into the woods was not blocked by heavy equipment at work, the way it was on my first visit.  The narrow, paved roads through the woods finally came out into an opening where a sign pointed me to the Welcome Center (upper left of collage).  The building was surrounded by dozens of golf carts, lined up like soldiers, as if they were guarding the building.  However, since I had read that golf carts were an integral part of the cave tour, I thought I must be at the right place!  The weather on the August day I visited was more suited to rocking on the porch, than gathering around the outdoor fireplace---either of which are available to guests at the welcome center.

It was shortly before 8 am when I arrived, and not surprisingly, I was the first cave tour guest of the day, so I was able to take photographs of the rustic, lodge-style decor of the Welcome Center.  The Welcome Center is where you will purchase your $20/person ticket for the cave, and also sign the Waiver of Liability, acknowledging that you could die while you are on this tour. 

This is also the place where you will need to use the rest room one last time before you embark on your quest to find the lost cave, as there are no potties at the cave or along the route.  However, it is a unique restroom, and deserves a "look-see", even if you do not need to actually use it!  The Welcome Center is also the place where you will be instructed on the use of the 4-person golf cart, which you will drive yourself, on the paved pathway to the bottom of the mountain.

The paved trail to the cave has more of the "amateur-looking" signs, that reassure you that you must be on the right road.  Since the preserve covers a 218 acre forest in the Ozarks, it would be possible to get lost, if it were not for the trail!
Even though television weathermen will caution you to NOT DRIVE OVER A FLOODED LOW WATER BRIDGE, that is exactly what you are expected to do, as you pass beside one of the roadside ponds, that serves to collect the cascading stream coming from the waterfall that starts at the top of the hill.
Since I was still the only guest on the cart path at this hour, I stopped to take lots of photos!

This wrought iron fence has a lovely oval in it that makes a perfect frame for the woodland landscape.

You will have the opportunity to cross several artistically  designed overpasses, as you wind your way up and down the two and a half miles of paved trail around the  mountainside.

When I got to the flat platform just outside the cave entrance, the attendant there was very gracious to take a photo of me driving the snazzy Top of the Rock golf cart, complete with a front headlight (which you have to turn on when you go through the cave).

Once inside the cave, you will go through a short tunnel to get out into the larger room.

When you arrive in the main part of the cave, there is a railing that will keep you from driving off into the small lake at the center of the main room.

Some pretty stalagmites and stalactites are visible in the main room.

I could even see a column, where the ones growing from the top, had joined the ones growing from the bottom!

After the main room, you go through another short tunnel to the exit of the cave.

I have been through many caves, but this one is the first one with a bar in it, that was selling alcoholic beverages.  If one plans on partaking of the selections at this bar, I would recommend that you pay the extra $8 to purchase the liability insurance on the golf cart you are driving!

This old-fashioned barn door marks the end of the tunnel at the exit.

Once you are outside and back on the large platform, you will see some wood frames placed around the space.  The attendant told me these were "skeletons" of possible future structures that owner Johnny Morris may build at the cave entrance.

Since I was still the only guest taking the tour so far, the attendant said I could drive through again, which, of course, I did!  This time I got a photo of the entrance, with a reflection of its entrance sign being captured in the puddle of water in the front of the doors.

On my second trip through the cave, I tried some different settings on my camera, and was able to capture a glimpse of the four-story waterfall that is the highlight of the cave tour.

The attendant said the Lost Canyon Cave is not very big, but it is very tall! I read on their website that Johnny Morris had first explored this cave as a child, when his family's friend, Dr. Graham Clark, owned the property. 

Seems like this would be a beautiful 
location to spend the night!

From the large platform at the entrance of the cave, one can see the magnificent covered bridge, that was handcrafted by Amish craftsmen.

When one is down at the covered bridge, you can look back at the cave entrance, and see the wooden framing of future structures, as well as two magnificent waterfalls, gushing out from beneath the entrance way to the cave.

A guest takes a different loop out of the valley to get back to the Welcome Center, so you get to see some new and different vistas, including another gorgeous waterfall!

And once again, you are expected to drive through the water.  I remember when my husband and I were riding our Harley-Davidson motorcycle through Big Cedar Lodge property, and we were always a bit leery about going on two wheels through a slippery, cobblestone pathway similar to this.  However, we made it then, and I made it through with my golf cart as well.

noted a lovely stone arched bridge at the top of this waterfall, high up the hillside.

The steep "hills and hollers" of the Ozarks make it a great location for waterfalls---whether they be natural or man-made!

Notice how the cart path (outlined with a metal railing) is built right into the side of this mountain.  Keep your eyes on the road!

I hope I can return to take the tour when the leaves are changing colors, as the one red-leafed tree in the upper right of this photo gives a hint of the hues to come!

I had a nice little shower of water to cool me off when I went through the turn beside these waterfalls.  That is because I was trying to drive with one hand and take photos with another hand, which prevented me from taking the turn wide enough.  That meant I had to put my camera away, put the cart in reverse, and try to make it again---all the while feeling the cool spray of the waterfall on this hot summer morning!

The curves of the cart path make for a pleasing composition, in the rock bluff area shown in this photo.

trail development of the road to and from the cave is still a "work in progress", as shown by these guys working on a section near the end.

I would recommend that you not have a fear of heights if your job involves working on the side of a cliff, as this guy is doing!

The cart path has a pullover area near the top, where you can stop and take in a view of the lake and the Ozark Mountains.
Once you get back to the Welcome Center, you can take the free shuttle over to the main buildings of the Top of the Rock campus.

This lovely outdoor seating area and stone fireplace is located adjacent to the Arnie's Barn Restaurant, and the General Store.

The Top of the Rock golf course, restaurants, museum, and cave all make up what Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris is calling the "Ozark Heritage Preserve".  And this really IS the "top of the rock", as it is the highest elevation in all of Taney County!

On the edge of the hillside is the three-story Chapel of the Ozarks, which Johnny Morris added as a salute to country churches.  It comes complete with arch windows, copper roof, steeple, and bell tower.  Since the chapel is at the Top of the "ROCK" property, it naturally brings to mind the phrase in Matthew 16:18, that says "and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it."  I am hoping that this Chapel of The Ozarks will be an enduring symbol of God's blessings on the people of the Ozarks! If you would like to plan a visit to this new attraction in the Branson, Missouri, area, just log on to  .  This is a gorgeous venue that will give you "MILES OF SMILES"!!  Tricia

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


This photo shows the Carson Mansion in Eureka, California.  It was built by lumber baron William M. Carson from 1884-1886, in part to keep his mill workers busy during a slowdown in the lumber industry.  It encompasses a variety of Victorian architecture styles, with the Queen Anne style being the predominant one.  Although it may be the most photographed example of the Gilded Age in America, it is not available for public tours, because it has been a private club since 1950.

The Carson Mansion, along with this "Pink Lady" across the street, can be found in downtown Eureka---a place where the entire city is a State Historic Landmark!

I was mesmerized by the way the evening sun was making the house glow, as it passed through the stained glass windows, and onto the intricately carved posts of the front porch.

There are hundreds of significant Victorian homes in Eureka, and all of them are made from the building material that made this place famous---REDWOOD!

Downtown Eureka is adjacent to a waterway, where sailboats can be moored, that may find their way out to the Pacific, by navigating through Humboldt Bay---the second largest bay in California.
The Old Town Historic District is a lovely place to watch the sun fade into the West, as it sinks into the Pacific.

No visit to the Eureka area is complete, without a trip to the Samoa Cookhouse ( ).  My first visit there was about ten years ago, on St. Patrick's Day.  Not surprisingly, corned beef and cabbage was on the menu that day!  The occasion for this visit was a Road Scholar trip I took ( ) to hike in the redwood forests around Eureka, California. 

Since it was opened in 1890, the Samoa Cookhouse has been serving their food "family style", rather than "a la carte".  Their goal is for no one to leave hungry!

Just like in the old days, meals are still served on long tables covered with oil cloth.  During the height of the lumber industry activity of the region, every large or small logging/mill operation in redwood country had a cookhouse.  The Samoa Cookhouse is significant, because it is the last surviving cookhouse in the West.

Besides the main dining room, there are smaller adjacent rooms where private functions or groups can dine together.  This photo shows our group getting a history lesson on the saws that were adorning the walls of the room.  We found out that the term "Misery Whip" was originally the nickname for a very long cross saw.

My 2014
visit to Samoa Cookhouse was LOTS more enjoyable than my first visit a decade ago
 because I was able to enjoy the meal with my son!

Fresh baked bread is still a staple at Samoa Cookhouse. I read that in the early history of the cookhouse, the bakers were some of the favorite people of the local school children, because they would often have enough cookies and treats to share with the youngsters of Samoa.

The table setting for a cookhouse always called for turning the drinking cup upside down on the plate, to keep out dust and insects.  However, I read that sometimes (especially if one of the lumbermen had been rude to a waitress), the lumberjack, might lift their cup to have water come streaming out of it, after it had been carefully placed there by a prank-pulling waitress or coworker.

One of our Road Scholar participants was having a birthday, so the Cookhouse staff made the extra effort of bringing him a piece of delicious cake, complete with burning birthday candles!

The Samoa Cookhouse Museum is under the same roof as the dining establishment, and displays a multitude of the tools that used to be used by the loggers and mill workers that made up their clientele.

Many of the tools were ones I did not recognize, but fortunately, there were placards that explained the purpose and use of the various pieces of logging history.

The walls are covered with historic pictures, such as this one.  I counted one dozen full grown men standing on top of this tree trunk!  That was what I call a TREEmendous-sized platform for a group photograph!

Since I have a history of working in institutional group feeding, I was very much interested in the stoves, steamers, mixers, grinders, scales, and other cooking equipment they displayed in the museum. 

In the hospitals where I used to work, we were always faced with how to keep the food warm, before it was served to the patient.  This old piece of equipment showed how the Samoa cookhouse workers achieved that goal, before the advent of electric food carts.
Most commercial kitchens had a solid wood meat block that looked similar to this one on display at the Samoa Cookhouse.  Back in the last century, I happened to be working at a hospital kitchen in Arkansas, during the time that the State Health Department made a rule that institutional kitchens had to get rid of their wooden meat blocks, due to the possibility of them harboring germs that could foster food-borne illnesses.  Therefore, I had the opportunity to purchase the old meat block from that commercial kitchen, and I still have it today!  However, since there was no room for it in my kitchen, the legs were cut off to make it a coffee table.  It is the most SOLID coffee table you are ever going to see!

Since the Somoa Cookhouse also fed longshoremen, the building adjacent to the cookhouse showcases artifacts from the sea.  This giant bell buoy makes it easy to see why sometimes shipwrecked mariners were able to survive by climbing onto the platform until they were rescued.

The propeller from one of the shipping fleets is also on display.

smaller boat like the one shown here could be used to ferry men back and forth from a big cargo vessel, into shore to have their meals at the Samoa Cookhouse!

Seeing the work "maritime" on the sign for this museum is the visual aid I am using for one of my First Place 4 Health( ) memory verses that says  "But I trust in you, O LORD: I say, 'You are my God.'  My times are in your hands."  (Psalm 31:14-15)  That means my maritimes are in your hands, my merry times are in your hands, and my sad times are in your hands, because I trust in you!  It is a trust that gives me "MILES OF SMILES"!  Tricia