Sunday, May 4, 2014

Ozark Road Trip

by Pa Rock
Proud Grandpa

This coming Tuesday my oldest grandchild, Boone, will turn fifteen.  In order to get a jump on the big event, several of us took the amazing Boone to lunch at a really good Mexican restaurant (The Imperial) in Cabool, Missouri, this afternoon.  After a great meal, we roamed through a neighboring flea market and then drove some beautiful Ozark roads heading to Eminence, Missouri, and the famous Alley Spring.  The dogwoods along the hilly, winding roadways were still in all their glory.

We passed through the very small town of Birch Tree, Missouri, on the way to Eminence and Alley Spring.  Birch Tree's biggest claim to fame is that it was home to two recent Missouri governors - both Democrats.  Mel Carnahan was born there, the son of a congressman.   Governor Carnahan was campaigning for the U.S. Senate seat in 2000 when he was unfortunately killed in a plane crash just a couple of weeks before the election.  The deceased governor went on to defeat the Republican incumbent, John Ashcroft - thus becoming the only dead person ever elected to the U.S. Senate.

Lt. Governor Roger Wilson completed the last few weeks of Carnahan's term as governor, and he was replaced by Bob Holden who was elected to that office in November of 2000 - the same day that Carnahan beat Ashcroft.  Holden grew up in Birch Tree, and later went to college at Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield where he and I were friends.

Alley Spring is home to a very picturesque old red mill that is often the subject of postcards and jigsaw puzzles.  It is run by the state conservation department and, during the summer, features tours with information on how the old mills worked to grind corn meal, flour, and animal feed.  There is also an actual one-room school house on the site and numerous walking trails up along the crystal clear blue-green spring and brook.  Lots of great places for pictures.

In the summer the state even sets up a working still at Alley Spring and shows tourists how to make moonshine.   (Will future generations get to view an exhibit of a working meth lab?  Sadly, the manufacture of meth, like moonshine, is another flourishing Ozark tradition.)

Unfortunately, the mill at Alley Spring is undergoing some structural repairs and was closed to visitors today.  We did enjoy a walk around the grounds.

Eminence is a great little town on the Jacks Fork River - and the county seat of Shannon County.  It is historical with several unique old buildings.  It also has plenty of canoe camps and facilities to keep the river tourists happy.  On the way back from Alley Spring, we drove through Summersville, another unique small town that is close to the Jacks Fork.

The last leg of our trip took us through Mountain View.  I was able to show my son's girlfriend where Nick started school and where we lived when he was young.  Thirty-five years ago I was the principal of Liberty High School of the Mountain View-Birch Tree School District.  All of my students are now in their early fifties!

It is now growing dark, and all of the members of our traveling party are safely back in their homes.  Our day on the road was a big success!

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