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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Ames to NOLA


As I was driving down Rt 35 to Harry S Truman SP this morning, I reflected on the old growth hickory grove that is Ledges SP. The trees are the face of Ledges. At my site there were six giants around me and they were those that I used to watch the earth move, the gnarly, twisted, scaly, limbs, huge limbs that depart each trunk perpendicularly and create a canopy for the campers. The black and white images of the trees’ limbs and the moon filled sky is so powerfully imprinted in my memory. After three mundane hours, I exited 35 and took local roads, on numbered routes and lettered routes. The road that the SP is on is Rt UU. GSP tells me to turn left on double U, which is on a curve to the right and the yellow triangle just tells me a right curve, but no left turn stump. It was a dicey turn and I could only imagine that turn on a busy weekend. I’m looking for Rt UU, not W. I arrived as the all day rain stopped at 3. The Spurs won big, four nil over Stoke and Harry Kane scored two more goals as he leads in the golden boot category. They picked up two points on the foxes and two more to extend distance on third place MCI and the Gummers. It’s getting exciting. I haven’t disconnected car from Scamp for quick getaway to Hot Springs. This SP is expansive with over 200 campsites in six different camps; a boat launch for the Truman Lake and other waterways; and various beaches along the shore. I have a site on the lake etched into the side of the hill. It reminds me of Ross Creek Giant Cedar Park in Montana on the Idaho border off Rt 2 on 56. The place is almost empty. I got a good fire going and enjoyed the evening until the rain came. When I woke at 5:45, the rain had stopped. I lounged in bed going in and out of sleep until 7:30. I left at 8:30 after a shower and headed for Hot Springs.
I followed 65 south to 40 to 30 and various other roads to Gulpha Gorge Campground. I was expecting a rustic campground; instead I found a very modern one. I took a prime site on the stream that had electric, water, and sewage for $15 because I’m a senior. Rain threatens so I put the awning up, make dinner, sit by the stream and take in the coming of spring. The flowers litter the ground; the trees are leaving and flowering while the stream babbles over the rocks. As it gets dark, I head into Hot Springs’ Central Ave, the strip of all the baths. It is an easy ride and when I arrive, I am back in either Bath, England or Saratoga Springs, NY. I went to Hot Springs for the Superior Bathhouse Brewery. The brewery is in a historic building that was a bath. All the fixtures, tile, ceilings and such have to be kept. This is the only brewery on a national park. They have regular flights but one of all 18 is called a beer bath and I had that. I left with three growlers: Foul Play Stout, McClard’s Barn Burner Farmhouse, and Whittington Park Wheat. While sitting at the window, I saw a duo unload a car of musical instruments and take it into the Ohio Club. When I was done at the brewery, I dropped off my growlers in the car and went into the Ohio Club. Well, the Ohio Club has history, it is famous, and it is awesome. Look up the Ohio Club on the Internet to see the history of this place and gaze at the pictures of the bar back, which is one of the most unique and impressive I have ever seen. Another was one I saw in Cody WY. It was a good cover band as I took in the history and aura of the Ohio Club. I clear out at 9 since I’m tired from the drive. The Rangers lost, bummer.
I woke to thunder at 615. Then the rain came pouring down, pummeling the roof, maybe hail, for what seemed liked eons but was only minutes in the scheme of things, what ever that means, I hibernated until 855 when more thunder stirred me. Lots of thunder and lightning for a half hour and steady hard rain. I made tea, which nicely warmed the cabin and then me as I finished Walker’s Bruno novel, The Patriarch. I love this series. There is more culinary in these delightfully rambunctious mysteries set in a magical part of France. It’s all about our heroes. I love this series because Walker invests so much time in the history of the story and provides such real or imaginative detail to make the convoluted story flow around the real intention the culinary experience. The mysteries are merely distractions in an otherwise calm life except of course for the femme de fatale.
The book was done. The rain stopped, it was 11. I grabbed the two books I had read and headed to the post office to mail books to library and to get stamps for the postcards I had to buy.  I then went to the NP main office and scanned their postcards and took ten of the source fountain. I then crossed Central Ave to walk opposite the bathhouses. I stopped in each shop inquiring about postcards. I have discovered that postcards are hard to find. They are either way too expensive or too inappropriate. I was directed to a certain shop to satiate my need. I wasn’t disappointed. I found some rare postcards printed in the fifties about Hot Springs in the 50’s. I then crossed the street and went into the Quapaw Baths and took a Sportsman. Two hours later I’m back at camp writing postcards on a table by the steam going by the back of my site 25. I spent the entire rest of the day sitting by this stream. Fires are discouraged here it seems so I don’t have a fire. They provide pedestal fire pits in bad places, not conducive for fire. So no fire, do I make. Another thing that has stunned me is nature. When I was in Ledges the buds were just that, buds. In Harry S Truman SP, small leaflets were prevalent. Here in Hot Springs the leaves are ‘youts’ and the spring flowers are everywhere along the babbling brook.  I’m in Eden along with other campers. I am reminded of the Hoh River in Olympia NP. Just reminded, no comparison. The solace, the peace of where I am is astonishing and overwhelming. I see how people can be seduced by the fervor. But then again, I’m intolerant of stupid. I was wondering while soaking in the calm, the rhythm of the brook why the old man hasn’t fallen on his sword yet.
I woke at 4 and slowly broke camp. I was out of there by 530 and went into the post office in Hot Springs to mail the postcards and then followed GPS to St Bernard SP in NOLA. I’ve started a new novel, The Puffin of Death by Betty Webb, which takes place on Iceland, one of my favorite places in the world.

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