Monday, May 2, 2022

Buffalo National River 50 Year Expedition!

 2022 marks the 50th Anniversary of the creation of the Buffalo National River:

To commemorate the 50 years, they developed a special logo.  The blue background represents the bluffs that line much of the river.  Notice  also, the reflection  below the modern day paddler, of a Native American in a primitive canoe :

This blog has photos of the various parts of BNR that I visited during its 50th anniversary year.

One can log their miles (on foot, by bicycle, or padding) within BNR and get an embroidered patch (after logging 50 miles) with the logo.  A photo of the record sheet is shown below:



One of the records I included, was the hiking trails near the deserted mining town of Rush, Arkansas.  There is a "ghost town" at Rush, with remains of buildings from when it was a mining boom town:

There are hiking trails on the mountain above the ghost town of Rush

 The trail at Rush takes you by equipment left there, from its days as a zinc mine, called Morning Star:
The trail will also lead you to the very scenic Clabber Creek, a tributary to the Buffalo National River:
Another nice winter hike towards my fifty miles, was taken with my hiking group, starting at the Ozark Campground in Newton County:

The icicles I am posing behind in this photo can be a clue that this hike took place on a cold day in January!


The chilly temperatures made a fire at our lunch spot a welcome bit of warmth!

This lunch spot is called Cedar Glade and is an enjoyable hike from Ozark Campground:
One needs to keep in mind there may be some water crossings when you hike this section:
Many paddlers put their boats in at Ozark campgound, but the only creature I saw paddling on the day I was there, was a deer in the river!

Another stop on my journey to get fifty miles was Tyler Bend.

I had come to Tyler Bend to do some volunteer work with the Arkansas Master Naturalists  (, in the native plant garden at the visitor center:
When we finished, we had a sack lunch at the park pavilion:

The river was flowing great from recent rains:

After lunch, I explored the paved path from the river launch:

 It leads over to the group campground:

Another interesting site at Tyler Bend is the Collier Homestead:

Behind the Collier Homestead there is a trail that leads to a scenic overlook:

When I was there, redbuds and dogwoods  were blooming.

Yet another part of the national park where I hiked toward my fifty mile badge was the Buffalo Point area.  The ranger on duty the day I visited, said I could take her photo:

I was there with a group of Arkansas Master Naturalists who came to study the wildflowers:

As we were studying these plants, my mind went back decades, to my very first science project, which was a requirement in the seventh grade.  I chose the subject of medicinal herbs, and persuaded my mother, and elderly uncle, Olney Rudd, to go with me into the Ozark woods, and teach me what they knew about old time plant remedies.  I took photos of our "expedition", and put it on the required poster board, and got an "A" for the project, but no first, second, or third place ribbon.  I determined to do better in the future, and how curious that I am still chasing after "prize ribbons" at my age--but this time in the form of a fifty-year BNR anniversary "ribbon"!   As a youth, I thought my purpose in life was to get as many awards and "A's" as possible,  As I have aged, and started studying God's Word, however, it became evident to me that I had my focus on an ephemeral goal.  Now this First Place 4 Health ( memory verse better expresses my goal: "But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."  Exodus 9:16

In the meantime, one of the ways I am getting my fifty miles anniversary patch is by paddling on the river.  I have published several articles about kayaking, and one of the ones that is based on the Buffalo National River is in the blog archives, dated Tuesday,  May 13, 2014.  Below is a photo I took for that article, and depicts two of my kayaking friends, in front of the limestone bluffs the river is famous for:

Also, you can earn miles by bicycling within the park, and I hope to get at least one mile via bicycle!

In short, if you ever have the opportunity to explore Buffalo National River---JUST DO IT!  If you are like millions of other visitors, it will give you "Miles of Smiles"!  Tricia


The San Rafael Swell can be thought of as a "swell" or "uplifted bump" on the surface of the earth.  The exhibit below helps a visitor  see the unusual landscape in a three dimensional model:
Over time, the effects of wind, water, volcanic activity, floods, and temperature extremes,  caused the "swell" we look at today, to be full of structures with varying heights, shapes, and composition.
On numerous trips through Utah, I have driven through the section of Interstate 70 that bisects the San Rafael Swell.  The red line in the three dimensional model represents Interstate 70.
The photo below shows the divided highway snaking through the jagged cliffs of the Spotted Wolf Canyon, onto the desert floor.  The construction of the Utah portion of I-70 is listed as one of the engineering marvels of the Interstate Highway System.  As a two-lane route, Utah's I-70 was dedicated in 1970; but, the divided highway we use today was not fully completed until 1990.  Most of the area designated as a part of the San Rafael Swell is within Emery County in Utah, and you can access the Emery County Travel Bureau at

When I visited this overlook in July, 2021, I saw people exploring on the cliffs below the parking lot, and I wanted to do the same!  However, I decided it was not wise to take off down the mountainside alone.
My son is used to rock climbing, so I waited to do my exploring until he was with me!
There are placards at the various I-70 overlooks, that tell stories about the history of this unusual area:
The Head of Sinbad is one of the best preserved ancient pieces of rock art in the world.  It sits unassumingly on a wall a dozen feet off the ground, in the desert wasteland of the northern San Rafael Swell.  Thousands of cars pass nearby every day, but most people do not know these examples of ancient art, lie just a few miles north of the paved highway.   The whole area around the anthropomorphic pictographs is named Head of Sinbad. 
Ghost Rock is a pinnacle along I-70 within the San Rafael Swell.  The legend says a cowboy on a foggy morning saw the top of the pinnacle protruding from a bed of fog, and thinking it appeared ghostly, dubbed it "Ghost Rock".
The name "San Rafael" relates to Saint Raphael, who is considered the patron saint of healing.  He is considered the special angel of apothecaries---meaning nurses, pharmacists, physicians, and others who minister to the sick.  Since both my son and I chose careers in healthcare, we could be included in that group!  Here is a photo a kind tourist took of us, as we started our trek across the rock outcropping:
I was thankful to be making a return visit to this area, so my son could evaluate the feasibility of various routes I wanted to explore.  In this photo, he is studying the rock composition, to evaluate its suitability for various types of rock climbing:
Although I am not a rock climber, I like to pretend!
The rocks here are full of cracks, that beg to be photographed!

Some of the cracks can even serve as a "chair" of sorts!
No visit to a place this amazing, is complete without a gesture of gratitude with my arms uplifted!
There are numerous layers to the landscape that make up the San Rafael Swell:
Just as this ceiling banner covers all the different rock layers of the San Rafael Swell model that is below it, so God's love covers all the different parts of our planet Earth.   And, it is God's love that needs to bind together all the various attributes (virtues) that Christians strive for.  I am using this concept as the visual aid for one of my First Place 4 Health ( memory verses that says, "And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."  Colossians 3:14
Besides providing a visual aid for my memory verse, this trip was a wonderful time to "bind together" with my son (aka "family bonding time"), as we enjoyed the beauty of God's creation!
That is why a visit to Utah's San Rafael Swell, gave me "MILES OF SMILES"!!

Friday, April 1, 2022


There is a "new attraction" in Ozark, Missouri, along the Finley River, that is based on a very "old attraction" along the Finley River, that has been around since 1833!  It is called The Ozark Mill, and is surrounded by an urban farm, called Finley Farms.  There are no Las Vegas-style flashing neon lights indicating its location, just these massive vintage storage tanks, that mark its entrance.

 One of the first things you see as you drive onto the property,  is the shed called the Farmers Market, and it is scheduled to open May 5. 

The inside appearance of the farmers market  resembles numerous other structures in the Ozarks,  that have the look of weathered oak lumber.  The farmers market will operate each Thursday, May through September.  Flowers, plants and produce from the farm will be sold at the farmers market, as the growing season progresses.

Adjacent to the Farmers Market building is the Workshop.  I read this used to be a garage. 
There is a coffee bar inside the workshop that sells a variety of treats:

The tables inside the workshop with the live plants down the center, are a reminder to say that they offer classes in how to start plants from seeds and cuttings, inside this workshop space.  They carry everything you need to "plant your heart out"!  We saw tools and terracotta, starter seed kits, seed markers, and gardening books galore!

One whole side of the Workshop has overhead-garage type doors that open up to enjoy the fresh air whenever weather permits:

There is an outdoor patio adjacent to the Workshop, that also has a live plant area:

In addition, the outdoor patio also has a fire pit and stage area:

When you see the numerous rows of crops spread out across the acreage, along with the green houses, you will understand why the word "farm" is included in their name!!

Picnic tables and playground equipment are also adjacent to the workshop.

After visiting the workshop, our group strolled over to the restaurant location, so we could be there when they opened up at 11 am.  This gave us the opportunity to get an overall view of the restored mill from the front, and envision what a huge endeavor it was to move such a large structure!  Johnny Morris has owned the Ozark Mill for more than 25 years, but did not develop it because multiple floods had washed away the underside of the mill's foundation.  However, after decades of deliberation, he hired a construction company that picked up the entire 30,000 square foot building and delicately moved it to the parking lot.  The washed-out foundation was replaced with a structurally sound basement, and the building was moved back to the river, and placed on top of the new foundation. 

Once the doors opened, and we checked in with the hostess, we used the time they were getting our table ready, to check out the gift shop, and other parts of the building: I took the photo below of the main dining area, before any guests had been seated.  Since one entire wall is windows, all the diners can look out over the Finley River, and see the waterfall below the old mill pond:
The location of the Ozark Mill restaurant, is in an area near where the historic Riverside Inn used to be.  The Riverside Inn was finally torn down, after repeatedly being flooded.  Just before it was torn down, I was able to go inside and see all the wall murals painted by the original builder, Howard Garrison.    
Unlike many waterpowered mills that used a vertical waterwheel, the Ozark Mill was powered by a horizontal waterwheel.  Regarding the mill renovation project, Johnny Morris is quoted as saying,  "This is a very special project to me and my family.  We have deep family ties to this town, the rivers of this area and to the milling industry.  My grandfather Willie was a miller in Willard  Many years ago, my parents lived on the Finley River millpond in the early 1940's, and my family was proud to call Ozark home for a while."

Traditionally, mills were the place for the folks who lived in the area, to gather and visit, while their grain was milled into flour or cornmeal, back in the olden days.  The spacious retail area of the mill will allow this tradition to continue, as there are game tables, wall dart boards, and lounging chairs spread across the space. 
In today's high tech world, the visiting that goes on within the mill can be shared with your friends across the planet, as their is free Wi-Fi throughout the building.

The staff of the mill restaurant was friendly and helpful, even taking a photo of our group together on the bench in the waiting area.  Note the date on the boards reads 1833, and that relates to the fact that there has been a mill at this location since 1833!  If only these walls could talk---imagine the tall tales they would tell!

Our group wanted to get to the restaurant as soon as they opened, so we could all have a table together.  When I phoned about making a group reservation, the operator told me they do not take reservations, but if our group got there when they opened at ll am, they could get quickly get a table ready for a large group such as ours.  They seated us in a prime location, with a view of the river and millpond out the windows. 
Outdoor seating options are also available for dining:
About an hour after the restaurant opened, every single table on this outdoor deck was filled with diners enjoying a sunny day in the Ozarks!
The photo below shows the newly-restored basement level of the mill property.  It is being made into a "speakeasy".  The speakeasy will be called the Garrison, named for Howard Garrison, of the old Riverside Inn.  This relates to the legends that say, during Prohibition, Garrison had several run-ins with the law, for offering bootleg liquor and illegal gambling. 

Once we finished lunch, we strolled across this historic bridge, which used to be adjacent to the Riverside Inn.  Locals called it the Riverside Bridge. 
The bridge was originally a railroad bridge built in 1909.  It carried the Frisco Railroad's Chadwick Flyer passenger/freight train across the Finley River. 
When the bridge was severely damaged in the flood of 2015, it was scheduled for demolition.  Instead, Morris bought the old bridge and had it moved to Finley Farms next to the mill. 

Some tourists who were also visiting the property for the first time, agreed to take a group photo of us:
The bridge is open for visitors to use, unless there it has been rented for a private event.  The bridge leads to a spacious outdoor venue across the river from the Ozark Mill Restaurant.
That area has an open air chapel, which is available for weddings and other festive celebrations, and has a great view of the river:
The rafters, trusses, and lofty ceiling, have the aged look of an old barn made from oak, that one might see in the Ozarks.  Even though our group arrived at the chapel via walking the bridge across the river, there is also access to the chapel via automobile, using the adjacent street.
There is a gothic-style metal archway, that provides the perfect frame, for a view of the millpond waterfall and Finley River.  I can only imagine how this view would be enhanced, when that arch is covered in colorful, fresh flowers, for a wedding celebration!

I am using this visit to Finley Farms as the visual aid to help me learn one of my First Place 4 Health ( memory verses, because the verse starts with three words that seem to be the mantra of conservationist, Johnny Morris---the words are "Let us fix...".  For example, Let us fix  a small fishing lures area of a Brown Derby store,  into the nation's largest outdoor supplier, called Brass Pro Shop; Let us fix an old stone house, into Big Cedar Lodge; Let us fix a rugged undeveloped hillside, into Dogwood Canyon;  Let us fix a burned down golf course restaurant, into Top of the Rock five-star dining destination;  Let us fix a vacant glass pyramid on the Mississippi River, into a Bass Pro Shop with a hotel and bowling alley; Let us fix an old Ozark grain mill and historic bridge, into a restaurant,  and educational farm on the Finley River; Let us fix an unexpected sinkhole developing on a golf course, into a major tourist attraction; Let us fix an abandoned wildlife museum in Springfield, Missouri (which was vacant from 2007-2017) to the nation's top new attraction for the year it opened, (called "Wonders of Wildlife"), and his current project---Let us fix an  abandoned amusement park in Newton County, Arkansas, (Dogpatch, USA),  into a major rural tourist destination, for travelers wanting to experience the beauty of the Ozarks.  LET US FIX, indeed!

The Bible verse I speak of, is from Hebrews 12:2 and says, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  

I want to extend a big THANK YOU to Johnny Morris and team, for the conservation and preservation work, they have done, and are doing, in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri and Arkansas.  Your efforts and your "Let us fix" attitude, are appreciated!

If you would like to plan your trip to the lovely Finley Farms destination, you can visit their website at  The expedition I had to Finley Farms,  with a great group of friends, gave me "MILES OF SMILES"!!  Tricia