Yesterday started out with mist. From my hotel room, I could see the building that houses the Welk shows, and beyond that, the mists over the river leading away from the Table Rock Dam.
When I got to the Dam, most of it was closed, as it was too early. I found one place that wasn’t closed for security reasons and was able to get a picture of the dam. There wasn’t much water running down the dam–most likely due to the drought, again.
The fog was thick, and oddly layered. I could look down into it and saw, barely, the image of a man fishing, noticable more from his bright orange hat than anything else. Driving further down the road I found a spot where people could park and fish the river below the dam.
I walked down the wooden steps to the beach area, by the overflow stream. Seeing them in the fog was a rather amazing experience. They each had their own space, quietly casting their line, and winding it back, only to re-cast it again.
The trip back was very quiet, and primarily overcast, but no rain, luckily. The only real excitement I had was when I spotted a small turtle crossing the road in front of me. I wasn’t going to run over a turtle, so I slammed on my breaks, hard enough to leave markings on the road and smell burning rubber. I watched in horror as the little guy disappeared underneath the car, but didn’t feel a thump.
I sat there in the road, trying to see if the guy was walking around. I couldn’t leave the car parked in the road so all I could do was inch forward until I could see this small, black turtle shell reflected in my rearview mirror. I stopped again and watched, anxiously, until the turtle extended out its legs and head and took off for the side of the road.
Later, I came over a hill to see a row of fire trucks, police cars, and ambulances, driving slowly along with their lights on. It was a funeral procession, most likely for a fallen firefighter, though I couldn’t find anything in the news. I slowed down, but wasn’t sure what to do. One of the firetrucks pulled out into my lane, which made the decision for me, so I pulled over, as did a couple of cars and a truck behind me. I managed to get a few photos, though none were that good.
I stopped at only one place on the way back: Alley Spring. Unlike my last trip, the trees were in full leaf, and the day was overcast — perfect conditions for photos.
The Mill is run by the federal government, and they provide people who answer questions about the Mill in the Summer. The lady who was on duty when I arrived told me about how the farmer’s would bring in corn or wheat, and dump it on the floor next to the rollers (used for grinding grain). It would drop through to the basement where it would be weighed and the miller take his cut. From there, a conveyor belt with little cups would haul the wheat or corn to the upper story, where filters would sift out the larger wheat from the smaller. From there, the corn would go to the corn roller, and the larger wheat to one machine, the smaller to another.
The corn was ground up for making moonshine, the wheat for flour. It was considered a modern marvel of the time at one point, but it only ran 20 years — the Ozarks in that area aren’t good farming land. Luckily, the State bought the Mill in 1920 to preserve it, and aside from some minor wood replacement, it’s all the original materials. They even run it twice during the day, though not the day when I was there.
The hostess was very friendly, as were all of the people I ran into on the trip. At Hodgson Mill, I ran into a couple from Theodosia (isn’t that a pretty town name) who were out looking at mills. They showed me the water line of the Flood of ’93, and I told them about Bollinger, which still ground grain, after a couple of hundred years.
Of all the mills, Alley Spring is still my favorite. The hostess told me that a bobcat had taken a rabbit drinking from the Spring just a couple of days before, and the week before that, a forest ranger had a big black bear pass in front of his truck. I may yet meet my bear face to face this year, and get a photograph.