May 9 - 11, 2008 - Visit to The Inn at Mountain View
Annual Ozarks Ramble
On Friday, May 9th, 15 members of the BSCC gathered in front of the Pyramid in downtown Memphis to start a delightful weekend of driving and friendship fun. Once all were organized (reminded me of the ‘herding cats’ metaphor), off we started across the wide Mississippi River and into Arkansas.
The troupe consisted of Gordon & Tami Gold (Porsche 914), Bob & Patti Possel (Honda Accord), Charles & MaryAnne Coleman (Jaguar XK8), Jack & Janey Reynolds (MGB MK I), Braxton & Sandy Comer (Mazda MX5 Miata), Linda Cooper (Jaguar XJS V-12), Jim & Bunny Hofer (Austin Healey BJ8), Jim & Sharon Duke (MGB MK II). Following the trail blazed on last year’s adventure, we headed west on Hwy. 64 to Augusta where we stopped for lunch at Ralph’s and were joined by Dick Cooper. A short run across to Augusta’s west side, and a final stop to replenish our stores of liquid refreshment, and we were on our way into the hilly countryside of north Arkansas.
The bucolic scenery was warmed in bright May sunshine as we pass through Bald Knob, Pleasant Plains, Flora, Banner, and Wolf Bayou before reaching Mountain View. We were surprised to see clear evidence of tornado devastation on entering Mountain View; the hospital and many structures on the town’s east side suffered heavy damage from a storm that hit in February, on the same day as the storms that hit Memphis and Jackson, TN. Most of the city was undisturbed by the tornado, but it had a notable effect on community life – especially since there have been two nearby floods this spring.
Mark & JoAnn Nelson, the hosts at the Inn at Mountain View, welcomed us and got us settled. We then headed down to a local eatery overlooking the scenic White River to sample a variety of local seafood - Rainbow trout, catfish, crab cakes, etc. Afterward, the front porch rockers were put to good use in between short walks to listen in on the mountain music jam sessions scattered around the park in front of the Inn. The musical groups didn’t seem quite as numerous as last year, but it was Friday and we could look forward to a larger number on Saturday.
Saturday got a wonderful start with the Inn’s full country breakfast before we gathered in the Inn parking lot planning a ‘spirited’ drive through the Ozark National Forest to Mountain Home. The day had started rather chilly and foggy, but weather forecasts called for temperatures to reach the mid 70s before rain moved in during the late afternoon.
Banking on that forecast, the Duke family led the parade with the top securely down – confident that a brightening sun would soon dispel the morning chill.
Unfortunately, that failed to happen. Sharon Duke gently hinted that she’d find a raised top a bit more comfortable (actually, she absolutely and positively insisted on making the sane decision to pull over and PUT THE TOP UP, NOW!). So, we stopped for a moment. Sadly, on again saddling up, Linda & Dick Cooper’s Jag refused to crank.
Would you believe no one had jumper cables? These were, for the most part, old British cars; you have to be crazy to travel without jumper cables!
We had stopped, fortunately, at a liquor store (who’d have thunk it!), so while the proprietor didn’t have cables, a customer told us that a relative had a shop just up the road about “two or three minutes”, and they could help us.
Sharon & I volunteered to run just up the road tp seek salvation. Off we went, over hill and dale, around curves, and curves, and curves. Its just ‘two or three’ minutes up the road he said. He had said there wasn’t a sign, but we could expect to see a bunch of cars and trucks parked in front. And, it is located just before you get to the park.
What park? Well, after driving about ten or fifteen minutes, and thinking we’d missed a turn, there it was! A rather tatty building surrounded by junk cars, weeds, and a few vehicles parked in front. A sign over the roll-up door proclaimed, “Jeff’s.” No one was out front, but there was a metal door in the windowless block building; I opened the door and shouted into the darkness.
A small grease-covered dog ran out.
I shouted again; another small dog (also greasy) appeared from the interior darkness. I closed the door.
Tools were scattered all around on the gravel parking area; ratchet wrenches, a couple of impact wrenches, a torque wrench, a couple of trolley jacks – someone must be nearby and will be back shortly. Maybe they’ve gone to lunch? I glanced into the bed of a pickup that was sitting on jack stands; Eureka! Jumper cables. I quickly retrieved the cables, and we returned to the liquor store.
Once the Jaguar was started, Dick & Linda retreated back to Mountain View while the rest of the caravan headed back to Big Flat, Arkansas to return the jumper cables. There still wasn’t anyone around, other than a very greasy Beagle, when we arrived at Jeff’s (Shop? Garage? The sign didn’t say - just Jeff’s). The cables quickly went back into the pickup bed; no one will ever know!
What red-blooded American male can pass up a chance to take a quick tour of a auto bone-yard, so Hofer, Comer, Duke, and Possel had to check out some of the treasures that probably ‘ran when parked’ - a mid 70s Corvette, an Opel GT, a DKW sedan, and several old air-cooled VWs. The Opel, especially, looked salvageable. Ah, well - not to be this day.
Fleeing Jeff’s garage, we again began puttering at a moderate pace north along windy National Forest roads toward Mountain Home. A watch was kept for photographic scenery to satisfy the artistic (Hah!) craving of Jack Reynolds and Jim Duke, and the real artistic desire of Patti Possel. We took advantage of the bridge crossing the White River near Norfork to rest our cars, and to snap photos of the scenery and wildflowers at hand – see photos on the web site.
The sky darkened as we reached the Court House square in Mountain Home shortly around 1:00 p.m. Grabbing umbrellas, we tumbled out of the cars only to find that there isn’t much to Mountain Home. We were sadly misinformed that the picturesque town teemed with quaint shops and antique stores. It doesn’t. A pizza café called us in from the showers (they have a coin-operated soft drink machine that must have been invented by a descendant of Rube Goldberg), then we headed back south toward Mountain View.
A two-storey stone antique shop in Calico Rock grabbed our attention, so we rolled in for a visit. Gordon & Tami decided to head on back to Mountain View, followed shortly by Braxton & Sandy; a fateful (ominous drum roll at this point, please) decision for both early departure cars.
The rain came back while we were in the shop, and this time it came with frequent lightning, sharp peals of thunder, and pounding rain. We headed for the Inn at Mountain View once the rain ended, and had a damp but uneventful return.
That wasn’t the experience of the Gold and Comer travelers, though. They met the thunderstorm near the little town of Sylamore, about half-way back to Mountain View. And, the storm was packing hail – big hail – when they ran into it. Gordon’s 914 suffered five or six hail dings, including an area where the paint was knocked from the roof. Sandy and Braxton seem to have gotten their Miata through unscathed, but they had an exciting drive through the pelting hail all the same.
The rainy weather and threats of tornadoes put a real damper on the outdoor music scene Saturday evening. Front porch rockers were put to good use, though, so that we could work on getting our coolers light enough to handle on the drive home. A few folks were too hungry to wait for the group – they grabbed a barbeque across the street from the Inn.
The rest of us drove over to a steak house.
Sunday (Mother’s Day) morning’s breakfast was another tasty delight, thanks to JoAnn Nelson. We posed for the obligatory good bye photo on the front steps, then headed home. Dick & Linda Cooper were stopping in Batesville where they had arranged to drop their Jaguar off for repair and pick up a new Cadillac as a loaner, hence we were headed home that way. But, we got separated even before leaving Mountain View. The Coopers, Possels, and Golds went ahead while the balance of the crew stopped for gas. On leaving the gas station, Jack Reynolds’ MGB developed a flat tire, necessitating a stop for exchange with the spare.
That was the last big stop. The remainder of the trip went smoothly and happily. Getting everyone home by 3:00 p.m. for Mother’s Day dinner with the children.
Want to go next year?.