Round Spring Camp and Cavern

Eminence, MO – July, 2016 The Current River is so long and varied that it’s like having several rivers to choose from. Round Spring is just 12 miles north of Eminence and the river here is a very nice size. It is so much bigger than it is near Montauk where we floated a couple weeks ago and our kayaks often scraped the bottom. But the river is less than half as wide as it is near Van Buren where we went last week.

I made this reservation almost a month ago because this Monday thru Wednesday was the only 3 days I could get an electric site here before we left Missouri. Round Spring is a great campground even though the 6 sites they have with electric and water are in the center and lined up like a parking lot. The fee for these sites is $22 per night.

The spring for which the park was named is a short walk from camp. This picture really doesn’t do it justice. The spring flows into this sinkhole and you can only look down on it from the 15 or so foot bluff around it. Then it flows under a bluff on one side and down to join the river.

There are several great old bridges in the area. This bridge over Sinking Creek is no longer in use. It has some obvious signs of damage. You can see the new metal bridge behind it.

The 9 mile float from Pulltite into Round Spring campground is one of our favorites. Carr’s Canoe Rental will pick you and your kayak up at your campsite and port you to Pulltite for $15 per person, which is extremely reasonable. But we decided to be lazy this trip and not to float.

Instead we found an excellent spot to enjoy the river for a day. Just over that new bridge in the above picture and less than 2 miles from camp is a gravel road to the confluence of Sinking Creek and Current River. It is a free day use area and they have primitive campsites for $5 per night.

Our favorite part of the float from Pulltite to Round Spring is stopping at Sinking Creek anyway. After spending the day floating the frigid waters of the Current the creek water is like a warm bath. It is probably only 10 degrees warmer but it feels amazing.

We spent most of the day sitting in Sinking Creek. Floaters on the river often stopped to enjoy the gravel bar. A father and kids stopped and stacked these rocks.

After a day of fun in the sun we were looking forward to visiting the Round Spring Cavern the next day. On our previous visits the cave was closed for most of the summer due to the White Nose Bat Syndrome. Apparently they determined that the cave was already infected so they reopened it.

They give 3 tours a day and the cost is only $5. What a bargain! It turned out to be a really awesome cave.

Each person carries an electric lantern and the ranger carries a flashlight. These are the only sources of light in the cavern.

It was really fun and challenging to photograph the cave. Of course to compensate for the low light the camera’s shutter stays open longer. The cave formations were good at holding a pose but the people in my shots were not so cooperative.

Since the bats were wiped out the main cave inhabitant is now the salamander. We saw a half dozen of them throughout the tour.

In the very distant past the cave had a much larger inhabitant. There is evidence that giant short faced bears used this cave over 10,000 years ago. There are bear beds, where they have wallowed out an indentation in the clay. And claw marks, this one was authenticated by scientists.

We have been in quite a few caves and we were very impressed with this one, especially for the price.

Jim and I have enjoyed the last two months bumming around our home state, enjoying the clear, cold rivers, and spending time with our family and friends. But we are excited to move on to places we’ve never seen, spend time exploring on our own, and get back into our routines. My next post will be from some place new to us and much cooler.

A Great Weekend and One Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Van Buren, MO – July, 2016 We have an annual tradition of floating the lower Current River at Van Buren every July with as large a group as we can get together. We skipped that float last year and I missed it. I requested we revisit that tradition this year. Our 4 best friends agreed to join us and we had a really awesome weekend.

There are many, many campgrounds in Van Buren but we have only ever stayed at the Family Campground off M Highway upriver of town. The primary reason for this is that they have an amazing gravel bar that you can drive down to. It is usually busy in the afternoons but about dinner time the crowds disperse and we often serve big meals on our tailgates, build a fire, and hang out in and by the river until late.

For a private river campground this is the least buggy I’ve encountered. Their full hookup sites are $51 per night and are located near the office and pool. They won’t admit it but they are having serious issues with their sewer. If we stay here again we’ll choose an electric only site for $43. We’ll be nearer the river and away from any overflowing sewers. We can then have their honey wagon pump us out or dump at our next campground.

We could consider another campground but once again our choice comes down to location. We want to float into camp and the other campgrounds would require a much longer float. We prefer the less than 5 mile float to this camp.

This is the river where we specifically come for the crowds. It can get pretty crazy but I’ve never experienced anything vulgar or obscene here. It’s just a lot of locals and visitors getting together to float a pretty harmless section of the Current that has lots of big gravel bars. We like to keep this float short in distance and stop often.

We had had a few friendly words with a group of folks in camp and so the night before we floated we walked over and asked if they’d be willing to shuttle one of our trucks back to camp the next morning. Twenty dollars for about 30 minutes of their time seemed reasonable and they agreed.

The outfitters put everyone in at a place called Waymeyer. Several years ago we discovered the Chilton boat ramp a mile upstream and we prefer to put in there. We headed there this time and found the rain the day before had washed out the road. So we had to turn around and put up with the crowds at the regular put in.

Whether we float from the boat ramp or put in here we always stop across the river from Waymeyer and watch the spectacle for a while from a large gravel bar. Tubers outnumber kayakers and canoers here and there are a good number of rafts as well.

On most Saturday mornings there is a continuous stream of people from their shuttles into the water for hours on end. This weekend the water was a little high and it wasn’t quite as busy as usual. In past years I have literally looked down river and not been able to see the water for all the floaters.

Since the water was flowing pretty fast we stopped every chance we got and still made it back a little sooner than normal. My friend’s dog, Odie, has become quite the float companion. He knows how this is done.

Sometimes we like to float from camp down to Big Spring. It can be a peaceful float on a weekday or early Sunday morning.

You know you are about to reach the Big Spring takeout when you see these old bridge piers on either side of the river.

I do not recommend floating the 18 miles below Big Spring. The river gets big and slow and there is a lot of boat traffic.

Don’t miss Big Spring if you visit this area or even pass through. It is one of the 3 largest springs in the US. And it is gorgeous!

Some of my earliest memories are of family trips to this park. There are great little tunnels above the spring that young’uns can crawl through. Or an adult can take pictures from.

As a child we always climbed the steep hill next to the spring.

There are now signs discouraging this and I have to agree it no longer looks like a good idea.

The Big Spring is on the right but there is usually at least a trickle of a waterfall just downstream, on the left in the above photo. This trip the water was flowing so good that it almost stole the show.

After two fun days on the river we were making preparation to leave on Sunday morning. This is when the weekend started going downhill. We were just about packed up when I tried to put one of our living room slides in and got an awful noise about 6 inches in. Jim spent an hour under the slide trying to diagnose the problem. He finally had to disconnect the motor so the brake on it would not prevent him using the hand crank to crank in the slide. Then he had to reconnect the motor so the brake would keep the slide in for our trip. We still weren’t sure what was wrong but at least we could make the trip to our friends’ driveway near Springfield where he could work on it more.

An hour outside of Springfield things really went south. It felt to me like we had suddenly run off the road and hit a soft shoulder. Instead we had lost a tire. Jim saw it roll across the road behind us as he struggled to get our rig safely off the road. We got out to assess the damage.

All 8 lug nuts had been sheared off and the tire damaged the aluminum skirting on the rig, broke the fiberglass rear fender, tore up the insulation under the belly, and bent the rack that caries our kayaks and generator. We assessed the situation and decided instead of using our Good Sam Roadside Assistance to arrange a tow that we would use the one good tire to slowly make the 2 mile drive to the nearest campground. I phoned them to confirm they had room for us and we made it there safely.

Jim looked over the damage some more and decided there was nothing more he could do on a Sunday. So we set up for the night including Jim getting under the slide, disconnecting the motor and hand cranking out the slide. Then we went back to the highway and found our tire, which had a finger size hole in it. At least we had the wheel now.

Long story short, my amazing husband managed to do most of the work himself and get us on the road by noon the next day. He took the wheel to a local tire shop where they put on a new tire. In the meantime, he got the hub off and pounded the lug studs out of it. We got new lug nuts from a local trailer dealer. Then he installed the new tire. The whole ordeal cost us about $175.

We made it to our friends’ drive where Jim hammered out the aluminum skirting and started repairs to the fiberglass and insulation. It will never look perfect again but eventually we will order a new fender skirt and it will look pretty near normal.

Jim also took the motor off the slide and found a missing gear tooth. We had to order a new one and here’s is where the wallet took a real pounding. It cost $800 for a new one! But we got it overnighted and from there it was a quick fix and we were able to get on the road by the next weekend and didn’t have to cancel any of our fun plans.

After 18 months on the road, we are grateful that this is the biggest problem we have encountered. It could have been so much worse. Jim could have lost control or that tire rolling across the road could have caused an accident. We are blessed!

If you are in the Mansfield area I highly recommend the Laura Ingles Wilder RV Park, super nice people, clean park, and under $20 with Passport America for an electric and water site.

Montauk State Park

Salem, MO – July, 2016 We enjoyed an awesome 4th of July weekend with family and friends. After the festivities we were looking forward to a few quieter days. We headed to one of our favorite Missouri state parks. Montauk is a beautiful trout park.

It has an old mill that they open for tours a couple times a week.

The source of the Current River is Montauk Springs. The river then flows over 100 miles, growing in size with the addition of water from the many springs along the way. A few years ago Jim and I decided to float every inch of the Current from the state park border to the Arkansas state line during one summer. We divided the river into a series of 13 day floats.

One of the hardest things to accomplish was putting in at the state park border. You are not allowed to float inside the state park and a private individual owns the property immediately following the state park. So our solution was to drop our kayaks off on the side of the road just inside the state park. We scrambled down the steep embankment in the below photo then floated about 150 yards in the forbidden state park waters before reaching its border.

It is only a couple miles to the first commonly used put in, Baptist. The park service does not encourage anyone to float above Baptist so they don’t clear away any trees that might get caught in the stream during flooding. We were told by a fisherman that wades that section, that after recent flooding it is currently unfloatable.

For this visit we decided to float the seven and a half miles from Cedar Grove to Akers Ferry. We hired Jadwin Canoe to shuttle our truck to the takeout for $40. This was more money than we wanted to pay but a fair price for the number of miles involved and cheaper than their competition.

This section has many caves and some drop dead gorgeous bluffs.

We only had one day available to float so even though we knew there was a good chance of some rain that day we decided to go for it. It started drizzling about halfway through the float. Luckily we were able to find this great place to wait it out before it really let loose.

I had some extra layers of clothing with me and we always keep some disposable rain ponchos with us so we stayed pretty comfortable. I was surprised how many people continued to float by during the 2 hour storm despite the lightning. A local couple stopped after a while and it was nice to have someone to visit with and pass the time. Since they had lived in the area their whole lives we learned a lot of interesting local history.

The storm passed and we were finally able to get under way again. A highlight of this particular float is Welch Hospital and Welch Spring. If you don’t know what you are looking for you can easily miss it. You will hear the roar of the spring and you want to stop on the left before the spring water exits into the river. Usually there will be some boats there already.

You can walk over to the remains of the historic hospital. In the early 1900’s a doctor built this room over the mouth of a cave and claimed that the fresh cave air flowing into the room could heal what ailed you.

Walk up the steps for a great view inside the hospital.

Welch Spring flows from under a bluff next to it. You can reach the spring by road and a short hike. You can see that path across the water in the following pic. You are not supposed to wade across to the hospital however and it would be really cold besides.

Jim enjoyed some great fishing on this float. He caught two good sized trout, one at least 14 inches. Unfortunately both times I was too far downriver to get back for a pic. We still had trout in the freezer from Roaring River so we didn’t keep either of them.

A couple miles past Welch Spring is the takeout at Akers Ferry. The Ferry has said “Temporarily Out of Service” for a few years now. The very first time we visited here was the only time I have ever seen it in service.

Montauk is a good sized campground with electric only sites for $24 per night. It is well maintained but they have had some recent flooding so our site was a bit on the muddy side. The park has great cabins, a nice store and restaurant, and plenty of places to walk.

Two Rivers

Eminence, MO – June, 2016 Both the Current River and the Jack’s Fork are lovely, clear, clean rivers that are very popular for floating. Since the Jack’s Fork joins the Current just outside the little town of Eminence, the town is also very popular with floaters who can arrange to float many miles of either river from this location.

We had originally planned to float on the Jack’s Fork from Alley Spring into our camp in Eminence the first day, a Saturday. But some good friends who visit Eminence regularly explained that was the most crowded float in the area. They suggested a float on the Current River from Two Rivers, just below where the Jack’s Fork joins it, to Powder Mill.

This is the view of the rivers joining at Two Rivers. The Jack’s Fork comes in from the left of the photo and the Current from the right.

two rivers

There is a campground here, a store, and outfitter. They agreed to shuttle our vehicles to the take out for $45 each. It was an 8 mile drive to the put in and a 14 mile drive back to Eminence at the end of the float. For this minor inconvenience we had a beautiful section of the Current practically to ourselves. We did pass a large family on a couple rafts and we saw a few boats, but much of the day it was just our group of nine.

The float was about 7 miles long. The water was wide enough in this section that there were no tricky turns, hard to negotiate root wads, or difficult rapids. It was a lovely peaceful float.  There were lots of tall bluffs.

current

A highlight of the float was when a bald eagle flew directly over our group while we were stopped at a gravel bar. He was only about 30 feet above our heads so we got an amazing view of him as he passed. He flew to the other side of the river and perched high up in a tree. He stayed there until we left but was too far away for us to get a picture of him with our phones.

The next day we chose to float out of our camp in Eminence. We shuttled our own vehicle down to the same place we had put in the day before, Two Rivers. We had a few less people in our party on Sunday and were able to get all the kayaks and people that were floating that day into one vehicle. So we only had to move one truck to the take out before putting on the Jack’s Fork.

We had another beautiful day on another beautiful river. This 8 mile float was more crowded than the previous day’s float but still not terrible. The Jack’s Fork is a smaller river so there were more difficult sections to contend with.

We saw a capsized canoe tangled up in a root wad but some guys got it out as we approached. And there were tales of inexperienced kayakers capsizing in the same spot. But most of the river was fairly easy for anyone with paddling experience.

The Jack’s Fork has plenty of beautiful bluffs.

And rocky overhangs.

Our friend Amy got this awesome panorama with her phone showing most of our group and our rainbow of boats.

Our favorite float on the Jack’s Fork is well upriver of Eminence. Highway 17 bridge north of Mountain View to Rymer’s is the float we recommend most. We hoped to float that section this summer but ran out of days on the calendar. Maybe next year.

One con of Eminence being such a popular town is that it can be hard to find a decent campground or a room when you want. Everyone we spoke to said that Harvey’s Circle B was the best campground but I tried calling them dozens of times and there phone was always busy. I found Arrowhead Campground on an outfitter’s website. It had some bad reviews but most of the complaints were about their bathrooms and cabins.

We had no need for either so I made the reservation. They charge $28 for a full hookup site plus $8 for each adult over the first two. The sites were shady, roomy, and a short walk from the river.

It turned out to be a pretty decent campground. My only complaint was the flies. We fought them all weekend and on the morning of our departure they literally ran us out of camp. I’d consider staying again but take an arsenal of bug spray with me.

Beaver Lake & the White River

Eureka Springs, Arkansas – June, 2016 A couple of our friends wanted to dive a local lake. I’m not a huge fan of lake diving so it’s got to be pretty near perfect conditions for me to agree. We picked a beautiful weekend and the clearest lake in our vicinity and made it happen.

Here is the Beaver Dam with Beaver Lake behind it. The arrow shows where we dove. Beaver Lake generally has the best visibility of any of the local lakes.

On this trip the vis averaged 15-20 feet. We chose to dive on a Friday and arrived at the site around 8 am. Luckily we had it entirely to ourselves for a couple hours.

The site which I believe is called Dam Site North Bluffs Park had many items purposefully sunk by local divers. There was a large houseboat, a jet ski, and an airplane fuselage among other things. Our favorite was a VW Beatle.

I know that is a horrible pic but it is a fairly good representation of what things look like in the lake. We were able to find most of the items that were there and then we returned along the shore and stopped to feed hot dogs to the fishies. Here is our dive buddy, Danielle, with one of the many fish friends she made.

I was enjoying the fish immensely until one of the perch mistook my ear for a piece of dog. I didn’t realize they had teeth! We did see several really big fish but none of the larger ones stopped for a snack.

This is one of the two best lake dives I’ve ever experienced. The other was also in Beaver Lake where they have sunk a school bus and placed mannequins in and around it. The bus is only accessible by boat though. If you want to dive any of these places C&J Sports will turn you on to all the details.

More friends joined us on Friday night and we planned a float for Saturday morning. The White River flows from the Beaver Dam when the Corp of Engineers chooses to release it. There is no current to speak of when they are not releasing water.

We put in just below the dam. All of the following pictures were taken by our friend Amy who had the foresight to bring a phone. Here’s a pic she took of us at the put in with fly fisherman wading behind us.

The water is incredibly cold because it is released from the bottom of the lake. It actually hurts to wade in it. But on a hot June morning floating through the mist created by that cold stream was like having outdoor air conditioning.

We planned a short 2 mile float since there would be no current. They were scheduled to release water that afternoon but we had no intention of floating past lunch. Being on a river too cold to comfortably swim in on a 100 degree day was not our idea of fun.

So we slowly paddled the two miles in a couple hours. There were plenty of places to stop. The rocks at one stop looked like they had been purposefully placed there.

We saw lots more fisherman but only saw one fish caught all day. Jim didn’t have any luck at all and soon quit and just enjoyed the view. The scenery all along the float was breathtaking.

The water was crystal clear as well. So the scenery under the surface was equally intriguing.

In the afternoons we stayed cool by hanging out in the lake. Our favorite spot is the gravel bar on the island where the Dam Site Lake Campground is located. Since only campers are supposed to use it, it is never crowded.

We weren’t able to get a campsite on the island this particular weekend so we were staying at the Dam Site River Campground in the Parker Bottoms loop. This gave us access to the gravel bar on the island however.

Even though this campground wasn’t our first choice, it turned out it probably was the best alternative for us. Did I mention it was HOT? The lake campground has little shade and we likely would have baked. All the sites at the river campground were under a canopy of very tall trees. The electric only sites were just $20 per night.

The river ran beside the campground but there was no reasonable access to the river from it. But a short ways down the road past the campground was a beautiful access where you could fish, enjoy the cool breezes off the chilly water, or even dip your toes in if you were feeling really brave.

The Elk River

Noel, Missouri – June, 2016 Jim and I are planning to spend June and most of July around southern Missouri. We are looking forward to spending some time with our friends and family, especially our granddaughter. But we are also very excited about spending time on the many beautiful rivers here.

We have been surprised how few beautiful, clear, floatable rivers we’ve encountered in our travels thus far. We can count them on one hand. The San Marcos, the Colorado River, the other Colorado in Texas, and the Chatoogo are the ones that spring to mind. There were some possible candidates in the state of Colorado but the water there was pretty high and very cold when we visited in May.

We have always taken the rivers of our home state for granted. Most of our lives we’ve lived within a few hours of dozens of beautiful floats. I can easily think of 6 rivers just in southern MO that are so clear you can easily see the bottom most of the time. I like to see what I am swimming in and what might be swimming with me.

The rivers in South Carolina’s lowcountry really brought this point home. They have blackwater rivers which are exactly what they sound like. The water is dark as night and you can’t see a foot into it. Not a place I’d want to stick a toe into, and I wasn’t too keen on kayaking them either. You have to assume there is always a possibility, however remote, that you are going into that water you are floating over.

I’m afraid if I went into the drink in a blackwater river I’d have a heart attack imagining what might be swimming around in there with me. Alligators are a very real possibility in SC. Even though the reasonable part of my brain knows they aren’t likely to attack a person, I don’t think that is the part of my brain that would be in control if I unexpectedly found myself immersed.

So while we are back in our home stomping grounds we hope to visit some of our favorite floats and share them here. I encourage anyone passing through, or near, southern MO to stop for a while and see what it has to offer. And if you are passing through this summer and need any ideas about what to visit or want to see if our paths are going to cross feel free to comment or email us.

Now I’ll tell you about a beautiful place that we only just discovered. Our friends asked us months ago if we wanted to join them on the Elk River in June for the Chicken Coop. Huh, the Chicken what?

It turns out that last year they stumbled upon an annual dart tournament that has taken place in Noel, Missouri for over 30 years. We have no real interest in darts but they promised us it was a redneck party that was not to be missed. So we said “what the heck, count us in.”

The people involved in this event take over Wayside Campground the first weekend of June. Our friends have visited this campground several times and claim that on normal weekends it is not terribly busy. But on this weekend we knew not to expect any privacy and we were right. We had tents pitched all around us.

The campground was $35 per night for water and electric. Like so many riverside campgrounds rustic is a nice way to describe it. It’s a gravel bar with water and electric and not much else. But the staff is super friendly and it’s in the perfect location. There is a small dam that makes the water in front of the campground lake-like and perfect for swimming. Here was the view from our camp. There is another campground across the river.

To get to the campground you have to drive along a road with this scary bluff sticking out. Even though the sign says there is a 13’10” clearance it is still nerve-racking to drive your rig under because it looks so much closer.

The dart tournament consisted of a large tent with maybe 30 dart boards being played all hours of the day and night. That is why we insisted on a campsite as far away as possible. People were driving in and out all the time but that didn’t bother us. We walked down each evening to see what was going on but didn’t spend a ton of time there. The tournament did host a good band on Saturday night and some fireworks that we saw from our site.

We had super neighbors. We shared their campfire Saturday night and were treated to a midnight snack of the best BBQ ribs I’ve ever eaten. Yes, we can’t believe we stayed awake ’till midnight either!

The river was the big surprise for me. I just didn’t have very high expectations for it. But it turned out to be very clear, clean water with some stunning scenery along the way. Since I didn’t expect it to be very scenic I didn’t take a camera, or even a phone, so I missed some really beautiful shots. I stole a few of my friends’ photos and took some later from the bank.

There were many beautiful bluffs.

The water was generally very calm. It flowed slowly but steadily. So there was plenty of time for visiting with friends.

This river does have a well-deserved reputation as a party river. We generally try to avoid crowds on rivers but every now and then we just embrace the crazy and go with it. This was one of the wildest river atmospheres we’ve encountered. I mean loud music, occasional public nudity, don’t bring your grandkids kind of crazy.

Jim had fun catching more than a dozen fish even though only one would have been large enough to keep. We did chat up some of our fellow floaters now and then and met a nice, young couple from Kansas among others. This would be a really beautiful, likely serene, weekday float which is how we hope to experience it next time we get a chance.

Rainy Days

Missouri – May, 2016 We arrived in Missouri in time to spend the week ending on Memorial Day at our family’s home on the Current River. It rained for most of the time that we were there so a good bit of our time was spent watching the river rise and fall. But it was a great place to meet up with friends and family, hang out, and catch up.

The river got low enough one day that we did float it. When the river is high it can be a boring, short float. The water moves so fast and since all the gravel bars are under water there is no place to stop. But we had friends along that made it fun and we found one great little gravel island to hang out on for a while. The river was roaring by us on one side but on the other was a perfect stream that we could cool off in.

That night the sky let loose with another round of storms and the river rose pretty steadily for the next several days. They actually closed the river, or at least barricaded the public accesses to it, over the Memorial weekend. I’m sure that put a kink in a lot of holiday plans.

We were watching the river forecast pretty closely since our camper was parked on its banks. The river would have to get to 13 feet before the camper was in any danger. But our river bank is higher than the yard we have to drive across to get to it. So at 10 feet the water starts backing up into our yard cutting off our exit.

We weren’t terribly concerned because they were forecasting it to top out at 8 feet. But as the days and the rain wore on we got more nervous, especially when the river reached their forecasted height time after time and they would raise the forecast once again.

It finally quit raining but the river rose for another day. It topped out at 11.5 feet. Not sure I want to ever cut it that close again! We got one more dry day and then it was supposed to start raining again. Thankfully that was enough time to let the yard dry out a little so we didn’t make a huge muddy mess pulling the rig out.

At least we had a nice house to enjoy while we watched the rain. My family built an adorable 2 bedroom home several years ago and we all share it as a second home. I enjoyed just puttering around the house. It was nice to have a washer/dryer at my disposal. And I took long luxurious showers and baths enjoying having more than 10 gallons of hot water at a time and the ample sized tub and shower.

We sloshed back and forth between our rig and the house many times a day. Most days there was a stream running through the yard that we had to wade through. We got pretty sick of mud and I literally got sick with a yucky cold. But it was still a great week.

We didn’t have any solid plans until the next weekend so with a few days to kill we headed to one of our favorite rivers that wasn’t flooded. The North Fork of the White River is smack dab in the middle of the state and flows almost straight south for about 20 miles before it runs into Norfolk Lake just north of the Arkansas state line.

It is a very clear, cold river with excellent trout fishing. It was a little high so Jim didn’t bother trying to fish this trip. We absolutely love to kayak this river but since I was fighting a cold and it was a bit on the drizzly side we contented ourselves with driving around visiting some of our favorite places. Since we were there mid-week we only saw a few floaters

There are many beautiful bluffs along the river.

Patrick Bridge is a low water bridge that you can generally float under or if the river is too high you can easily port over it.

One of the special places on this river is Althea Spring. It is a short walk from the river just below Patrick Bridge if you are floating by or can be reached from the parking lot for the Patrick Bridge Access.

After a long, hot float in the summer it is a cool, shady place to explore. The water comes out of a hill with a gentle gurgle then flows toward the river a bit before reaching a small dam built by a private individual who owned the property from 1958 to 1977. It was a domestic power plant.

You can imagine how cold that spring water is. But on a hot, summer day you can usually find people playing in the waterfall. One of the fun things about it is that you can wade across the stream below the fall and climb into the concrete structure on the right and actually get behind the waterfall.

At the end of the day Dawt Mill is a great place to relax and have a beer. On weekdays it is a little slow and they close at 3 but on summer weekends you can hang out on their deck overlooking the river and watch the floaters. Here is a view of it from across the river.

We checked out their campground thinking we might stay there on a future visit. I definitely cannot recommend it. It is very cramped and pricey. I don’t know how we’d get our rig out once we got back there as the road around it was so tight I wasn’t crazy about driving the truck around it. I wouldn’t take a trailer back there period. A small motorhome would probably be OK.

After visiting Dawt we loved our site at Sunburst Ranch Campground more than ever even though it is a little rustic and the bugs are occasionally thick. They charge per person and the rates are higher on weekends. So for our water and electric site we paid $33 per weekday night. It is owned by a very nice, young couple that have always gone out of their way to make us feel welcome.