Along The Path
with Sheilah Smith

Once again the Gypsy's itch is scratched. Years ago I told my husband, Mike, that I was half Gypsy (kinship through love of travel) and half Indian (true, I am part Cherokee and proud of it). Repeatedly I said "When the Gypsy is not on the move the Indian goes on the warpath." After all my journeys and adventures he has conceded he has a wife with itchy feet.

The Ozarks

These adventures took place this summer and fall. I won't relate the trip in early spring when my mother and I were stranded in a blizzard west of Taos, New Mexico, or the flight to California for a reunion with my children to see the sights of San Francisco, Carmel, and Monterey.

Alas, I digress.

On a whim, feeling contraint and stagnation, I pried Mike away from the computer for a short visit to southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas. He had traveled through the Ozarks going from one destination to another but had never explored them.

Our first stop was Roaring River State Park, south of Cassville, MO. We made a tour of the hatchery, where I saw the largest trout in my life. There is a huge spring of clear blue water that comes from a cave. The campgrounds are clean and convenient and the whole area promotes serenity.

Making a southeasterly path we meandered to Berryville, Arkansas, on to Fayetteville, ending up at the Devil's Den State Park for the night. It rained most of the night so our things on the picnic table got wet. I guess I should interject here that this was Mike's first camping trip. He decided that his idea of travel was a motel room with TV and meals from a restaurant.

Heading northwest from Devil's Den State Park we stopped in the small town of Cane Hill, Arkansas.

Mike had a relative who fought at the Battle of Cane Hill in the Civil War and it is said he sewed a Confederate flag to the inside seat of his pants. Anyway, Mike was interested in checking out the area. We saw the old building that had been a college and had a museum on the top floor, along with a great old auditorium with a raised stage.

In mid-September a festival is held featuring music, arts and crafts, and a demonstration of making sorghum which is specially grown for the festival and is processed by mules making a circle around the grinder.

Our second trip to the Ozarks came up unexpectantly when we had the opportunity to help my cousin, Marcia, move my aunt to south central Missouri.

It was also the birthday of Marcia's husband, Charles. Mike and I had gone to high school with Charlie so we were glad to be on hand to help him celebrate.

They live on a large acreage a few miles south of Mountain View, MO and have a family of ten children and twenty-six (I think) grandchildren. Their family grew quickly. Charles has a daughter by his first marriage, then Charles and Marcia were blessed with nine children in five years: twins, two singles, triplets, and twins.

All but three of the children were there to help their father celebrate another birthday. There was much love and teasing and Mike and I certainly enjoyed the family ties. Charlie raises long-horn cattle, and mules which were bred from his Percheron mares and jackasses.

Charlie, Mike, I, and three of the grandchildren walked the woods and pastures looking for a cow who was in the latter stage of pregnacy. It was a very pleasant but tiring afternoon and I ended up having a tick attached to my body. Just one small negative against a whole lot of postives in the beautiful Ozarks.

Our third and most recent trip was made in connection to our starting our Business Directory on Four Corners Postcard.

On October 15th and 16th we took in the area of northwest Arkansas that included Bella Vista, Bentonville, Rogers, and War Eagle as we made the rounds of crafts fairs.

Starting in Bentonville we visited the armory where my lifelong friend had a booth. Searching for something to do we ended up that evening at a crafts fair at the Dixieland Mall in Rogers, Arkansas. It was early so we decided to take in a movie.

Making our way back to Bentonville we ended up in Little Flock, Arkansas   .   .   .   four times! We had a good time with that and finally found our way back to Bentonville.

Saturday morning was spent at the Ole Applegate Craft Fair on highway 72 West. Walking from the parking lot to the exhibit grounds we came upon a sea of tents. There was every kind of crafts imaginable, from antler lamps to wrought iron furniture.

We are hoping to add some of these people to our Business Directory soon.

Leaving Bentonville we made our way to the War Eagle Crafts Fair at War Eagle, Arkansas. This is the Granddaddy of them all! Approaching from the south we drove through the gorgeous colors that signify Fall in the Ozarks.

Winding through the tree-lined road at a snail's pace due to the backed-up traffic we caught a glimpse of what we thought was a river shining in the afternoon sun. When we got closer it turned out to be the parking lot to the fair!

Make sure you wear walking shoes and have plenty of energy as there are so many talanted craftspeople and artisans displaying their creations.

We met Glenda and Randy Allison, who make kalimbas (thumb pianos) at their family-owned Mountain Melody Thumbdrums in Berryville, AR. Glenda and Randy are the very first on our Business Directory.

Glenda sent us a cedar box kalimba and a gourd thumbdrum. I can practice learning how to play one and drive Mike crazy while we're on the road. That's what is nice about them - you can take them with you anywhere.

We were impressed by the beautiful Native American Indian paintings by Pat McAllister, an Echota Cherokee artist who owns Cherokee Mountain Gallery, near Eureka Springs, AR. Through email Pat agreed to be the next addition to our Business Directory.

It seemed we walked for miles and finally I refused to go any further until Mike bought me a cup of coffee to revive my stamina while I sat at a table and enjoyed watching the crowd.

The War Eagle Mill has a working waterwheel that grinds grains made in the baking of homemade goodies at the store and restaurant. It is situated alongside the river where weary craft-hunters were strolling, fishing, or just taking a much-earned rest.

If you ever get the chance to take a trip to the Ozarks of Missouri and Arkansas pack your bags and plan to be in for a pleasant experience.

Did you notice we have a new Business Directory.

Till the Gypsy roams again,

Previous articles: Along The Path Back to Four Corners Postcard

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