July’s Weekend Drive

Last Saturday, Tim and I took a drive through 7!!! 7!!! Ozark counties!  We needed to get away and just see water falling out of rocks at Falling Spring Mill.  Alley Spring Mill was on the way, so I took him to see that as well, even though Cole and I had gone last year and taken some great pictures.  Tim also wanted to take me on his daily drive see the site in Texas County that he had been working at through the month of April.  It was a fantastic, scenic drive which I will outline for you.  I have always loved car rides and I would love to share my favorite scenic drives here on the blog with you so you can hop in your favorite car and get out there too.

One of the best parts of the trip was along Hwy H, East of Niangua through Wright and Texas Counties.  There were a few spots to pull off and attempt to take in the view, but the trees along the side of the road have been allowed to grow too high for satisfactory Ozark Highland viewing.  Nevertheless, the drive was curvy, fun and gorgeous.  It would be even better in the fall or on a motorcycle or both.  Taking Hwy 17 out of Houston in Texas County and meeting up with Hwy 106 through Shannon County to Alley Spring Mill Park was also beautiful with tall pines lining both sides of the road all the way to the park.

Alley Spring Mill, Shannon County

Traveling south on Hwy 19 into the very edge of Oregon county is like entering Bigfoot territory.  No cell service and all green.  The county road 3164 makes a loop around the Falling Spring Mill site, meeting up with 156 and then turning into 3170 to make the jaunt back to Hwy 19.  156 was more like a goat path than a real road and parts of the whole loop are probably underwater when it rains a lot.  Signs of the road becoming part of a river were very much evident in the cut away look of the edges of the road and the standing water. 

Falling Spring Mill, Oregon County

We took the easy way back home, traveling through Howell and Webster Counties on Hwy 60 to get back to Dallas County and home. We passed your everyday, run of the mill rolling farmland until we reached this church in Dallas County outside of Elkland.  What a stunning building in the gathering storm.  This area is full of adventure and beauty any time of the year, so get out into the Ozark hills, have some fun and support small businesses while you’re out!

Old church outside Elkland Mo in Dallas County

Check out the Facebook page How to do the Ozarks and Instagram htdto2020 for more pictures and places to visit!

Sunday Drives: February 2021

Disclaimer:  Some areas of the Ozarks require masks, some do not.  Please keep a mask available and please wear it if requested.

What a month!!!  Nothing but ice then snow here in the Ozarks so far this past two and a half weeks!  Luckily, the ice melted off before the snow began to fall on Valentine’s Day, locking down the already pandemic weary population hereabouts with about 6” of snow.  I was able to make it out of my driveway and to work each day though not always able to make it back into my garage without help.

It’s been a cold 2 weeks in the Ozarks!

So when the opportunity to take a drive presented itself, I dangled the carrot of ice cream in front of my husband and made the hour and a half drive north to Eldon, just past Lake of the Ozarks, home of the Ice Cream Factory.  We both work hard every day and have to remind ourselves that taking time to do something that doesn’t involve remodeling our houses, chopping wood, or working for money is still important.

The Ice Cream Factory Eldon Missouri

Of course, in February, the drive up 73 to 54 is less than spectacular.  Snow covered the ground and the wind blew my little Kia Optima around the highway, but Tim enjoyed the chance to check out the scenery while I drove-a rare treat for him as he generally has to be in the driver’s seat.  Since this was my idea, he was more than happy to let me take the reins and guide us through what little traffic we encountered and the hilly terrain of the Lake of the Ozarks region.

We stopped at Donut Palace in Camdenton for a quick bite before moving toward Eldon, our final destination.  I had the sausage and egg croissant while Tim devoured a chocolate covered Bavarian cream donut declaring it delicious.  A good friend of mine also likes their biscuits and gravy.  We also made a stop at a little drive thru/eat in diner with the quaint name of Eldon Drive In.  Tim figured some real food before eating more sugar might be a good idea.  The locals certainly seem to frequent the place and the deep fried mushrooms were as good as any I’ve had elsewhere.

On to the Ice Cream Factory!  https://www.icecreamfactoryco.com/

A small town success story, this locally owned factory sells its product in various grocery store chains around Lake of the Ozarks and beyond.  The Eldon location has a small dine in area as well as a drive thru. I had to try the Gooey Butter Cake in a waffle bowl and it was a delicious as anything I could ask for.  Tim had a vanilla sundae with chocolate syrup but, unfortunately the cooler the ice cream had been stored in had not kept the ice cream as rock hard as usual.  He ended up with a soft serve consistency sundae, which while still good, was not as delicious as my Gooey Butter Cake.  I am tempted to get a pint at our local Harter House and see if it tastes better.  When we are in the area again, we will definitely be back to try another flavor or the sampler which gives you the option of choosing smaller portions of 4 different flavors.

Though one of us was a little disappointed with the ice cream treat the overall experience was one we desperately needed.  Marriage takes work, time and sacrifice.  Tim had planned to work on Sunday but I convinced him we needed the break and he capitulated.  I treated him to everything he wanted and even drove him around so it was almost like he was King for a day.  We talked, laughed, and he badgered me on how to frame my shots for this article.  We got to reconnect and see something different.  It was a win-win.  So get out there my friends, alone, with your significant other, with friends or family-time moves ever so quickly.

Check out the Facebook page How to do the Ozarks and Instagram htdto2020 for more pictures and places to visit!

Alley Spring Mill

Located just outside of Eminence, Missouri in Shannon County, Ally Spring Mill is part of the beautiful Ozark National Scenic Riverway.  If you are a photographer, this is the mill!!!  Beautiful scenery from above and across the mill pond, a heron which stood for a close up and rushing water pouring out of Alley Spring.  Cole and I visited this spot in June and it was worth the drive from Springfield!  The only disappointment was the missing water wheel.  I believe it would be worth it for the Federal Government to rebuild and install a historically correct water wheel if only to add to the authenticity and beauty of the mill.

Alley Spring Mill

Great Blue Heron waiting for lunch.

Alley Spring is part of the National Park Service and so staffed by federal employees.  The gentleman at the counter was very helpful about answering questions about the surrounding area, especially more scenic trails and the Ozark National Scenic Riverway.  We were provided with maps which whetted our appetite for more adventures, possibly this fall or next spring floating the Current River or Jacks Fork.

There are several short hiking trails at Alley Spring, but being in somewhat of a hurry to get to our destination at Taum Sauk, we only took time for the 0.3 mile hike around the spring.  This particular spring pumps out 81 million gallons of COLD water daily.  The trail is beautiful and gave us plenty of opportunities for excellent shots of the roiling water and the mill.

Alley Spring Mill

A photographers dream spot!

Originally built in 1868, Alley Spring Mill was the hub of country life as folks brought wheat and corn to be ground for use in homes across the area. Walking around the mill you can almost see the horses and wagons lined up, women gathered with babes in arms gossiping, men on the porch whittling and swapping stories.  Throughout the years the area held a school, blacksmith shop, and store to serve the intrepid homesteaders in this remote area of the state.  Situated as it was, the mill flooded quite a few times and was never very profitable for its various owners.  In the end it was taken over by the National Park Service to be preserved and enjoyed by thousands of visitors every year.  So next time you are in the Eastern Ozarks, Alley Spring Mill is worth a look in any season.

Tons of water!

81 million gallons of water a day flows out of Alley Spring.

Check out the Facebook page How to do the Ozarks and Instagram htdto2020 for more pictures and places to visit!

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

WARNING:  Do not go to Eureka Springs Arkansas on the weekend if you do not like driving!  Lucky for me, one of Tim’s favorite things to do is drive on twisty, turny, crazy steep roads as fast as he can get away with.  Arkansas in October is a must do for drivers who love fall color and great roads so Eureka Springs is full of people on the weekends looking for craft fairs and fun fall drives.  The weekend we were there was no exception.

Whoever laid out the town of Eureka Springs may have been drinking too much “Fountain of Youth” water because it is not car friendly.  They do, fortunately, have a park and ride tram system that will take you down the main roads allowing you to relax while someone else navigates the twisting, narrow roadways.  If you are planning on spending the day checking out the neat shops, historic springs, and maybe catching a ghost tour or riding on the dinner train; parking and riding the tram may be your best option.

Eureka Springs is interesting in that is was established as a resort for the wealthy to take “treatments” for medical issues in spas supplied by any one of the 42 original springs the town is founded around.  Ozarka bottled spring water was founded from these springs.  The American Indians of the area had known about the healing powers of the spring water even going so far as to carve out a basin in the limestone for the water to collect.  For a look into the history of the city and its origins, I highly recommend the Historic Museum located on South Main (Hwy 23) on the south end of town.  There is a small fee of $5 per person, but if you’re interested in finding out more about the town it’s worth the cost.  After the tour they provided us with a helpful map of the town with markers for all the current springs and of course, businesses along the way to them.

Due to the popularity of the town in the late 1800’s, the railroad built a spur line to the town which is how Rogers, Bentonville, and Springdale also received shipments of supplies to help build those towns into what they are today.  Buggies awaited the train passengers, whisking them up the steep streets to numerous hotels and spas helping the small town grow and prosper.  Judging by the size and variety of the Victorian era houses that march up the hills of the city, money came quickly to Eureka Springs throughout the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

The Eureka Springs and North Arkansas Railway train depot is worth a look even without the ride.  They are closed on Sunday, which was when we were there, but looking through the windows you can see the attraction has tried to maintain the original furniture and accouchements that would have made the station unique to the time period.  That train line continues to take on passengers today as a lunch and dinner attraction covering 4 ½ miles in 2 hours from May through October.  Excursion trains with no meal run from April to October.  Buy tickets ahead at http://www.ensarailway.com.

Now a tourist destination for many reasons from spas, to shopping, to ghost hunting, Eureka Springs is eclectic, busy and beautiful.  With our combined interest in history and antiques, Tim and I spent more time looking at Victorian houses and in the antique and junk shops than anything else.  Driving around early on Sunday morning was much easier than the previous evening and gave us a chance to really see what was what.  We had breakfast at Main St. Café, checked out the historic Carnegie Library right next to the Crescent Spring, and gaped at the architecture of the Crescent Hotel.   Some of the original structures are still standing from the towns founding including the St. Elizabeth Cathedral which survived the fires that swept through the town in earlier years.

After asking a local where to eat Saturday night, two contenders were Sparkys and The Rockin Pig Saloon.  Since we weren’t in the mood for BBQ, Sparkys won.  Though busy, the place was large enough that we were seated right away.  My spicy chicken enchiladas were delicious, though I did not care for their guacamole which had a lot of onions and not enough avocados.  Tim decided he did want BBQ and went with the pulled pork sandwich with fries.  After removing some of the copious amounts of sauce, the sandwich won final approval and the fries were perfect.  BBQ is a very subjective dish, to each his/her own.

Eureka Springs pretty much beds down in the winter months and not much happens after Christmas.  Even the Main St. Café closes some days and the residents rest up for the next tourist season which begins in late March and April.  We will go back next year to ride the dinner train, visit some of the springs when they are running high after our Ozarks spring rains, and maybe catch that Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour.  I may even grab the kids and head down there this Christmas to see the town lit up and look up at the Crescent Hotel when the leaves are off the trees, standing over the town like a sentinel marking time until the tourists return, bringing it back to life.


War Eagle Mill, Rogers AR


Once again in celebration of our anniversary, Tim and I decided to visit a mill site within driving distance of Springfield, MO.   War Eagle Mill, just a few curvy, steep miles outside Rogers, Arkansas was our choice this past weekend.  Built in 1832, this is the only operational mill still grinding grain for sale in Arkansas today.  Of course, the mill has been rebuilt several times over the last 185 years, due to fires and flooding, so it’s not the original.  The folks who rebuilt the mill in 1973 followed the original footprint for the new three story structure which sits alongside War Eagle Creek.   The mill standing on the original site today was reconstructed for a fourth time with the mill machinery powered by an 18 ft. cypress waterwheel instead of a turbine.

Unlike Dillard Mill, one cannot get close to the machinery used to grind the flour and corn sold by the pound or in bulk by War Eagle’s store.   The mill grinds corn, wheat, buckwheat, rye, barley and spelt into different flours and mixes which are all available through mail order service at www.WarEagleMill.com.  There are also cereals, popcorn, syrups and biscuit mixes available as well.  I bought unbleached whole wheat flour and yellow cornbread mix to try in my recipes at home.  The second floor of the mill also boasts local artists’ work including photos and prints of the mill in different seasons.  Situated in a huge valley between two turns of War Eagle Creek, the mill is incredibly photogenic along with the one lane iron bridge running alongside.

Several employees give informal and formal tours and are well versed in the area’s history; especially the history of the families involved in settling the area and bringing commerce to Rogers, Bentonville, and Springdale.  The challenges the owners of the mill faced both in the past and today make a great story.  The history is written on the walls and in the markers both low and high indicating rising flood waters and is well worth the time it takes to listen or read about it.

The Bean Palace, the mills restaurant, occupies the third floor.  Once upon a time the menu consisted of beans and cornbread and not much else.  Thankfully, the proprietor of the restaurant expanded the menu  and the weekend breakfast buffet is a hit.  The blue corn pancakes, spicy sausage, and hash brown casserole were all wonderful, though the brewed coffee and the sausage did not agree with my palate Saturday morning so I switched to soda.  Though it’s a buffet the servers are attentive to your need for drinks and dish clearing as well as answering questions about the restaurant and mill. (Hint: tip them if you agree)

October is craft fair month in northern Arkansas, with over 125,000 people flooding into War Eagle Mill and the surrounding area.  This coming weekend, October 19-22, is the area’s Black Friday, when everyone has an opportunity to get back into the black.  With 350 vendors, you should be able to get some Christmas shopping done or at the very least have a good time walking around and checking out the latest in craft fair art.  Everyone we spoke with is getting rested up for this big weekend, so if you decide to go, they are ready for you! As for Tim and I, we will take the slow times, the off season times and be content.

Dillard Mill

Tucked back in the hills of Crawford County, Missouri, along the Huzzah Creek sits a time capsule of days gone by-Dillard Mill.  One of my husbands favorite things to do when we have a little drive time is visiting old mills in southern Missouri.  Dillard Mill is a wonderful example of a real working mill as it would have been found in the late 1800’s.

Historically, the mills in our area were ransacked for metal when the world wars were raging in Europe.  If your mill was not in operation, the machinery was taken, melted down and used to fuel the insatiable need for metal for aircraft, bombs, tanks, etc.  Fortunately for us, Dillard Mill was in operation and so the machinery sits on site today, ready to delight us with this peek into the past of how something as common as wheat, coffee and corn was ground from raw material to usable flour and grounds.  I don’t want to take away from the story of Dillard Mill, I only want to let you know, it’s the best mill tour I’ve been on so far and the most well preserved.

Last October, my husband Tim and I took a few days to explore some parts of Eastern Missouri we hadn’t been able to see yet and a coworker recommended this site for a good hike and of course, the mill itself.  We were fortunate enough to be able to interact with the gentleman who actually cares for the machinery, not your usual tour guide.  I quickly learned to shut my mouth and not interrupt with questions, or he quickly lost the thread of his story.  And what a story; Dillard Mill has a unique and interesting history one of the best parts being that it was started by a woman and her brother.  She was the miller, not him which is an interesting take on a male dominated vocation.

Be prepared for a short hike to the mill site from the parking lot, and be warned, the drive to the mill might make you think you are wandering down someone’s driveway about to be met with a coonhound and a shotgun.  Following the directions on Google maps down Hwy 8 through Steelville (worth a look if you’ve got time), to Hwy 10 and then to Hwy 49 in Cherryville-the mill is located just south of Dillard on Dillard Mill Road.  Also, there is a small fee for the full tour, but it’s worth it.  Watch your head and keep your children close.  This mill and its machinery was built before OSHA standards and safety regulations were put in place.

The Huzzah creek runs alongside the mill, originally running the equipment through the mill pond.   There are hiking trails, picnic tables and benches throughout the facility.  If it’s raining, you may want to wait to see this mill.  The tour guide admitted to being stuck once when a flash flood came through and buried everything around the mill in feet of water.  Though being in such a beautiful place, surrounded by sounds of the past, I’m sure he didn’t mind too much.