Sybel’s Memories Camping at Blue Mountain October 1998

26 Feb

“Want to go camping this weekend?” Al asked me as we sat with our feet up, watching TV.

Bill Bailey, our Siamese cat, skidded across the floor, crouched in the end of the sofa where he had hidden his toy mouse. He crouched there until Al got the flashlight and the yardstick to rescue the mouse.

When Al return to his recliner I answered his question. “Yes, but we’ll have to take Bill Bailey with us since Lorene has gone to Missouri and can’t take care of him for us.”

“No problem. We’ll take his Carrier. He’ll be safe in that. I thought we’d go Wednesday to Saturday, that way we wouldn’t miss bowling Tuesday and be back to church Sunday. Where do you want to go, shoal bay or blue Mountain?”

“Either one is okay.”

“Okay, we’ll go to blue Mountain.”

So it was decided. I began collecting camping gear from the garage and making a list of food to take. Bill Bailey dogged my footsteps, watching with interest everything I did. Toby, our former Siamese, hated to travel, and went into hiding every time he saw the suitcases being filled.

Tuesday after bowling, we stopped by the storage place and picked up our pop up camper and brought it home. Early Wednesday morning we packed our food, clothing, life jackets and canoe paddles in the car, caught Bill Bailey, put him in the cat carrier, and slid the carrier on the backseat, where we strapped it in with a seatbelt. Then we were off!

“What a lovely October day to go camping” I thought as we crossed chaffee land and drove along  highway 10. “I think that’s a wild turkey” I said, spotting a big bird scuttling across the road and up into the bushes.

As we drove on by I looked up the bank and saw the bird with the blue head. I took my bird book from the glove compartment and looked up “wild turkey.” Sure enough the wild turkey in my bird book had a blue head. I marked the date in the book… My first spotting of the wild turkey in Arkansas.

When we arrived at the gate to the campground, the keeper said “I’m sorry, we don’t have any campsites open. We are repaving the campsites, and the ones that are finished will be occupied by the campers already here. Then they will have to move out of their sites so we can do them.”

Our hearts sank and in my mind I was already thinking how to get to shoal bay from there. Just then the Ranger we had asked directions from when we were out on the highway, drove up to the gatehouse.

“We have three more pads up on the hill finished, ready for people to move in.” He told the gatekeeper.

“Would you mind being up on the hill?”

“No”, we answered.

“Jump in” he said to Al, “and we’ll go look at them.”

Al chose site 50 and when they came back we filled out the papers, paid our fee, and drove on. “We need to go down to the beach and unload the canoe.” He said, and turned the car in that direction.

After the canoe was tied to a sturdy tree limb another boat came ashore.

“Catch any fish?” I called, as a couple tied up their boat. They walked over as we walked to meet them. I saw the Assembly of God motif on his shirt and Al had his Habitat for Humanity hat On. As we talked of them all spoke of our joy in helping build houses for Habitat for Humanity, and the fisherman said he and his wife went around helping build churches for their denomination.

“He has one trailer fixed up into a workshop with all his power tools that we take with us on the job” his wife told me. After further pleasant sharing we drove up to the campsite and parked our trailer. We were busy for a while, getting our trailer set up in our camping equipment stowed. Afterward we drove down to the beach and put our canoe when the water.

It seemed good to dig our paddles in the sparkling water and push off. We paddled up out around the point, breathing the fresh air, drinking in the sundrenched air, watching the great blue herons lift their huge wings and fly further up the cove

Far out in the lake an occasional fisherman moved his boat to a more likely spot. We paddled around the little island, watching birds fly and turtles duck their dark heads as we paddle near. Soon our paddles brought us to the nearshore. Al Held the canoe steady as I climbed out then I pulled the bow ashore and he climbed out. We tied to canoe rope onto a big granite slab, then carried our lifejackets and paddles across the hill to the other beach to stow our gear and bring the car up to the campsite.

After lunch we rested in the shade of a big tree, I looked up and saw Bill Bailey walking through the leaves away from the campsite. As I ran to pick him up, Al examined the camper and found the canvas unsnapped in one place. After that when we went anyplace we fastened Bill Bailey and his cat carrier, turned him so he could look out the window, and went on with our activities.

Sue and Bo Brown came up from their camper to visit us. They brought us some filleted catfish for supper and Bo gave us a bulb to replace a burned out one in our camper, so we could have lights.

Every day we paddled our canoe out into the lake, enjoying our favorite sport. As we moved quietly around small islands and into shallow inlets we looked at the cypress trees lining the shore, with the cypress knees surrounding them. We saw formations we’d likened to groups of people.

Some looked like shrouded women going to church. Around the trunk of another cypress tree the roots look like people sitting in a circle. That afternoon we came back with our cameras and took pictures of the cypress root formations. After supper we walked to the shore and took pictures of the red sun going down over an island offshore.

Friday night the wind came up and hit our little camper with all of its fury! Bill Bailey forsook the shelter of his cat carrier and climbed on the bed with us. We listened to the roar of the wind and the rain and waited for daylight.

Saturday morning we took down our camper and packed everything in the car, except the paddles and lifejackets. We drove around to the shore where we tied our canoe and took one last look before we lifted the canoe and tied it down the camper top… Double checking to see that we had all our belongings, we got into the car to head home.

So ended Bill baby’s first camping trip with us. We hope it won’t be the last.


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