QUOTE-WORTHY: “You will never be happier than you expect. To change your happiness, change your expectation.” ~Bette Davis

On Monday, October 16, we headed out about 8:30 AM for points east. It was another beautiful travel day, although a bit cold in the high 40s during the morning breakdown. By afternoon, though, it would get into the low 70s. Our route skirted us along the southern edge of Kansas to Coffeyville.

Remember talking about the Dalton Gang in the previous post? Well here is where I continue the story. Their end would come in territory familiar to them…Coffeyville, Kansas…but the turn to the dark side for the former peace officers began a couple of years prior to that last hurrah. Although it is said that they began their careers as horse thieves in 1890, the first robbery attributed to the Daltons was a Southern Pacific Railroad train in 1891 for which Bill and Grat would be arrested. (Proof that Grat was elsewhere at the time was ignored.) A second train robbery while Grat was in jail was attributed to other Daltons, although their involvement was never proven. Shortly thereafter, what would be known as The Dalton Gang started to take shape. It included Bob and Emmett Dalton, Bitter Creek Newcomb, Blackfaced Bryant, Bill Doolin, Dick Broadwell, Bill Powers, and Charley Pierce. (They were later joined by Grat after his escape from jail and Bill after his acquittal.) Their heists were carefully planned and included trains, train stations, and banks. By October 1892, Newcomb, and Pierce had quit the gang, and capture rewards for the rest had reached $40,000 as a group or $5,000 each for the individuals. Bob was enjoying the notoriety and looking for a score to rival the famous Jesse James. His plan…rob two banks at once IN BROAD DAYLIGHT. Emmet wasn’t big on the idea, especially when Bob’s target was revealed as Coffeyville. While most of the Daltons were born in Missouri, sister Eva had relocated from Coffeyville to Meade before meeting and marrying John Whipple. Grat had also been there as a lawman when searching for Charley Montgomery, and Emmett Dalton went to school in nearby Robbins Corners and had many acquaintances in the area. So it is safe to say that at least some of the Daltons were well known in town. Knowing all of that, you’d think a better target would be chosen, but Bob’s mind was made up. He thought there would be no shooting and the entire job would be done in a matter of minutes. Bob and Emmett would take care of the First National Bank while Grat, Broadwell, and Powers headed for the Condon Bank. Almost as soon as they made town, though, vigilant folks recognized them and raised the alarm. Word spread quickly, and both lawmen and armed citizens appeared and opened fire as soon as Bob and Emmett came out of the bank. They also began firing on the Condon Bank. (You can still see bullet holes from the gun battle on what is now called Death Alley in Coffeyville.) By the time it was all over, many citizens were injured and at least four were dead. Bob and Grat Dalton, Dick Broadwell, and Bill Powers were all killed. Emmett Dalton received 23 gunshot wounds, but would survive and be given a life sentence to be served at the Kansas State Penitentiary. He was 21 years old at the time. Bill Dalton and Bill Doolin, who had been waiting outside of town with fresh mounts, left when the boys didn’t show and heard the bad news later. You’d think that was the end of the Dalton story, but you’d be wrong. After serving 14 years in prison, Emmett was pardoned. He married and lived in Oklahoma briefly before moving to California. There he became a building contractor and real estate agent, and wrote articles and books about the Dalton exploits. He also played himself in a movie based on his writing, and his book, When the Daltons Rode, was made into a movie by the same name in 1940 that starred Randolph Scott with Frank Albertson playing Emmett. He lived to be 66 years old, and died in 1937. Another interesting fact…Cole and Jim Younger of the infamous James-Younger Gang, were older cousins of the Dalton boys on their mother’s side.

Next we turned south on US-169 and crossed into “OOOOOOOOOOklahoma where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain!” Oops, I get a little carried away with that one, and yes, I do sing it loudly when we cross the border. At Newt, we turned east on US-60 over to Vinita, Oklahoma, where we stopped for a bite at Clanton’s Cafe. (I don’t believe they are related to the Earp nemesis Clantons in Tombstone, but I’m not totally sure.) The place was a basic diner setup with pretty good food. The best part, though, was the service. There were plenty of people working, and they all kept an eye on the entire dining room. We gave kudos for them to owner Dennis Patrick (with wife, Melissa). We also told him it was brilliant to make them wear logo t-shirts that said, “Best Bosses Ever”. LOL Most everyone seemed to be happy to be there, so they must be doing something right. They’ve been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives and in Oklahoma Today magazine, so they’ve definitely got the food down!! Another interesting note about Vinita…President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s re-election train stopped here in 1936. He later signed legislation to help fund the Grand River Dam which formed the 50,000 acre Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees.

After that, we continued east and turned southeast past Afton to Grove. Next it was OK-25 into Missouri and MO-90 over to US-71 south into Arkansas. I think that is the shortest amount of time we’ve ever spent in Missouri. The last jaunt was east on county roads through Pea Ridge to Garfield, where we turned southeast and headed down to Beaver Lake. Aside from farm animals, on this drive we saw some deer, and MW spotted a coyote. We were finally set up in our spot at Lost Bridge North Campground by about 3:30 PM.

FUNNIES: 1) A little wordplay – What idiot called it a flyswatter and not a splatula? @MikeCanRant; Who called it your foot falling asleep and not coma toes? @CHUUEW 2) Seen on a placeholder in the greeting card rack at Walgreens: “Pick a card any card! But not this card. It’s sold out.” 3) Seen on the bathroom wall somewhere – “There’s a skinny girl who lives inside of me that’s trying to get out, but I can usually shut her up with cookies.” 4) On the same wall and put here for Mr. Wonderful’s (MW’s) benefit – “As a matter of fact…I DO need another pair of shoes!” 5) All the way across the back window of a Prius: “I’m Saving Fuel To Buy More Guns!”

Tuesday we headed out just after lunch to see something cool, The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Last Sunday at church, one of the folks told us about it. He thought it was about 7 miles from our campground, which is true…as the crow flies. In the Ozarks, that took 50 minutes to actually drive. Totally worth it, though. (Well, I guess I should ask MW since he did the driving. LOL) In addition to the amphitheater, the property has a Christian art museum with pieces dating to the 9th century, a history museum, a church, gift shops, a petting zoo, a restaurant, the Christ of the Ozarks statue, and replicas showing scenes as they might have been during Jesus’ life. Bible historians will enjoy the Bible museum, which has over 7,000 bibles, parchments, and artifacts in 625 languages and dialects. They include an original 1611 King James Bible, a page of the Gutenberg Bible, and an 1898 Bible signed by all of the original Gideons. Wow! There are also more than 20 miles of hiking/biking trails. We checked out the gift shops and the history museum, then headed down to take a tour. They have various vignettes set up to show times in the Bible stories with actors portraying various biblical people. It was very interesting and well done, and we particularly enjoyed the young actors. Next we headed up to the buffet for supper, which was pretty good, then checked out the church and statue, followed by the art museum. The main event, the Passion Play that has been performed every season since 1968, began at 7:30 PM. It was a beautiful, chilly night in the mountains, but we came prepared with jackets and blankets. The cast of over 100 actors and dozens of animals (including birds and all of the ones pictured below) perform on a stage that is basically the entire side of the hill…at least three stories tall and more than 500′ wide. The amphitheater seats 4,000 with no bad seats, and it was amazing and beautiful! Seriously, make the trip. Plus, I put the town of Eureka Springs on our list for a return visit as it is a beautiful little mountain village. By 10:30ish when we made it back to Petunia, we were exhausted and ready to hit the sack. That’s the latest we’ve been out in ages!

TRUTH: Faith is not knowing what the future holds, but knowing who holds the future.

Wednesday we headed over to Pea Ridge to get another green flag for our map at the Pea Ridge National Military Park. (This will be the last one added on this trip, but we’ve increased the green by quite a bit over the past 6 months.) During the first year of the Civil War, one of the Union’s prime objectives was to make sure other states did not join the Confederacy. In Missouri, the battle at Pea Ridge was key in determining whether they would swing blue or grey. The campaign to keep the state actually began a couple of months earlier when the Union put Brigadier General Samuel Curtis in charge of the Federal Southwestern District of Missouri. In a few weeks, most of the Confederate and Confederate sympathizers had been driven down into Arkansas. Major General Sterling Price’s Confederate troops were among the ousted, and in the Boston Mountains near Fayetteville, they joined forces with Brigadier General Ben McCulloch’s troops. Command of their combined force of 16,000 men would fall to Major General Earl Van Dorn. They set out north, planning to enter Missouri and capture St. Louis, but Curtis’s line, 10,500 strong, was right in the way. Since the Union forces were already dug in, coming from the front was not a viable option. So Van Dorn snuck his troops in behind him for a surprise attack, planned for the early morning on March 7. There were several issues that would plague the assault, though: 1) The troops had marched with little sleep or food in the freezing weather for three days. They were exhausted and arrived late. Van Dorn also decided to march ahead of the supply wagon, which would cause a low ammo situation later. 2) Van Dorn decided to split the troops, sending McCulloch’s group around the west end of Elkhorn Mountain to meet up with Price’s troops near Elkhorn Tavern. Along the way McCulloch’s troops had a skirmish that would end up killing him and his second in command, Brigadier General James McIntosh, the latter while leading the charge after his commander fell. (It is easy to armchair quarterback these things, but McCulloch died when he came to the edge of the trees to survey the field before ordering the charge. Seems like you’d send someone a little less imperative for that task, but I know nothing about the art of war. MW says that sometimes you just need to see stuff for yourself.) The third in the line of succession, Colonel Louis Hebert, had been sent with his troops in another direction, and never realized that he was now the big dog in charge. The troops waited for direction for over an hour, but momentum had been lost, and it wasn’t long before chaos ensued. Meanwhile, Van Dorn and Price were doing a little better over at Elkhorn Tavern. They pushed the Federals back and held the ground. That is until Curtis hit them with a new wave in the morning. The Union was still smarting from their disastrous loss at Bull Run, and they weren’t backing down now. Their defenses broken and ammunition running low, Van Dorn ordered retreat. The battle was over, and Missouri would remain in the Union. The state never actually took a stand, though, and sent men and supplies to both sides for the duration of the war. Maybe they should be renamed Switzerland. Just kidding! Like all of these old battlefields, it is a beautiful, peaceful place now. There is a store, museum, and film at the Visitor Center that gives you the lowdown, and you can take a driving tour with narration from their website. Eventually four soldiers on this field won the Medal of Honor…Private Albert Powell, Captain William Black, Colonel Eugene Carr, and Corporal Samuel Churchill. A cool thing noted on their signage…in 1926, survivors of the battle from both sides came together at the battlefield for a reunion. They included veterans from Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Wisconsin, Arkansas, and the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. Yes, Cherokee riflemen took part in the Confederate charge.

The Ozarks cover most of northern Arkansas and the southern half of Missouri, as well as a little bit of Oklahoma and Kansas. Bordered on the south by the Boston Mountains and the east by the St. Francois Mountains, the area is most often referred to as the Ozark Mountains. I was surprised to learn, though, that the vast majority of acreage associated with the “Ozarks” is actually fairly flat. Between/around those two mountain areas sit the Springfield plateau and the Salem Plateau. These highland areas, along with the Ouachita Mountains, are known as the U. S. Interior Highlands. (You really do learn something new every day.)

Before heading back to Petunia, we had lunch at the Cannonball Cafe in Pea Ridge. The food was terrific…liver & onions for MW and country fried steak for me…and we took some of their specialty, fried pies, with us to sample later. Excellent! The weather was great for sittin’ outside in the afternoon. There was a lot of activity at the boat ramp, so that became our entertainment. A work crew was down there at the dock fixing something, but they had parked their truck in the middle of the ramp, so no one could back down. I don’t know if someone said something or they just figured it out, but they moved it when there were two boats waiting to put in. Before the second was in the water, a large houseboat was waiting to come in and the giant semi the would pull him out had arrived. Unlike the first boat that got out of the way quick, a woman with the second boat just pulled it right there up to the dock and tied it off instead of moving it around to the other side and out of the way of the ramp. She sat there until the man came down, then they puttered around for a bit. By then the semi had backed all the way down the ramp and as far into the water as he could without hitting their boat. There was just no way they didn’t know they were clogging up the works, and yet they continued to take their sweet time. I’m sure the boat captain out there was about ready to push them out of the way. When they finally moved, we got to watch the giant boat come out. It was as long as the flat bed that had three axles on the semi. They had pulled another one out earlier, so we assumed they were storing them for the winter.

Lost Bridge – North Recreation Area & Campground is located in the beautiful Ozark Mountains on the shore of Beaver Lake, about 7 miles from Garfield, Arkansas. Amenities include the marina, a boat ramp, picnic areas, dump station, vault toilets, and a bathhouse. Most of the activity centers around the water with lots of fishing and water sports. There is lake access for swimming, and hikers can find mountain trails nearby. The campground is laid out nicely with most sites shaded by large trees. There are a few sites like ours that are right at the water’s edge, too. There is a group section, and the regular sites include electricity (mostly 30-amp) and picnic tables. Most have fire rings, and there are nine pull-throughs. Water is available nearby. Cell signals were okay for both Verizon and AT&T, and we had some over-the-air TV, too. The only odd thing about this place is the bathhouse, which is located A MILE from the campground! No kidding!! Vault toilets are available, but if you are like MW and like to shower, you are going to be hiking or driving. For that reason, we probably would not return. For this stay in October 2023, we paid $66.00 for 3 nights.

Thursday we were up and out about 8:15 AM, continuing our trek east. We passed through Garfield to Gateway on US-62, then crossed into Missouri on MO-37. We passed through Cassville and Galena, then took MO-13 up to Nixa. Then it was east on MO-14 through Ozark. At Ava, Missouri, we stopped in for lunch at Backroads BBQ. We picked it because there weren’t a lot of options and this one had a place to park. Turned out to be terrific, though. MW’s smoked meatloaf special and their vegetables were particularly good. The slogan on the wall said “Why take the highway when you can take the back roads?” You know we were down with that since it’s pretty much the way MW and I travel!

Back on the road, we continued east on the MO-14 scenic route over to US-63 north. Then at Willow Springs, we turned on US-60 east, passing through Mountain View and Winona before turning off on CR-HH. That took us across the Clearwater Dam to River Road Park. It had been a beautiful drive. The main animals for the day were turtles crossing the road…and one squirrel whose indecision cost him. **stomach flip** After getting set up, we sat out enjoying the lake view and our heron neighbor. Later we were treated to a spectacular sunset.

We didn’t have a lot on the schedule for the next few days, so the plan was to spend a LOT of time catching up on writing and tax stuff. Cell service at the park was nonexistent, so that mean’t finding a place to park my rear end. Friday that ended up being Robbi’s Zephyr Cafe in Piedmont, Missouri. (Shout out for a terrific, freshly-made roast beef sandwich!) While there I found out about the 46th Annual Ozark Heritage Festival that was going on at the park in town. AND…there was a parade scheduled!! Before heading back, I ordered the catfish special and some coconut pie for MW, because I’m a nice wife. Back at the campground, I found out that both of our nearest neighbors come to town every year just for the festival. Hmmmm!? It didn’t look that big from the road when I drove past the park, but I guess there is more to it. In any case, you know MW LOVES fair food, so we’d be heading to town in the morning! On the way back from town I found out something else…Clearwater Lake (where we are) is the UFO CAPITAL OF MISSOURI!!! Now I’m going to have to keep my eyes on the sky all the time!

Saturday we headed out for the fun. After parking, we found a shady spot to enjoy the parade. There were a lot of classic cars, beauty queens, and of course, tractors. Floats represented local businesses, clubs, and schools. My favorite was a float from Greenville High School that had the Greenville Modern Band playing. The “modern” music was about 40-50 years old. Face it, the 70s and 80s are still the best! All of the parade participants were tossing out candy to the kids, and there were two little girls in front of us, maybe 6-7 years old, that were SO excited. One of them yelled a thank you to every passing vehicle. Too cute!! Oh, and I saw a UFO. Really!!

MEMORY: The unhappy Miss Wayne above is just a reminder that you can’t predict what little ones will do. It took me back to my little sister Kate’s beauty pageant debut. I think we lived in Pembroke, Georgia, which would have made her 4ish. She was wearing a beautiful little blue dress and black patent leather shoes with white socks with lace trim as she lined up across the stage with the other contenders, all holding long-stemmed roses. Adorable, right?! The other little girls were, too, but Kate was gonna win this thing! At least until the girl two spots down said or did something that was not appreciated. Suddenly reaching her limit, Kate leaned out and swatted the tar out of that little girl with her rose. Mom was mortified, but I’m pretty sure Julie and I laughed our rear ends off. To this day, Kate will put up with so much, then watch out. I don’t think she hits people anymore, but just to be safe, stay out of reach of the rose.

We walked over to the park and were really surprised at the number of vendors spread out in several directions. It definitely was bigger than it appeared from the road. MW surprised me by only having a hot dog and no other junk. I did check him for fever. We found folks from the church we picked for Sunday and enjoyed checking out all of the vendors’ wares. After finishing up there, MW dropped me at McDonald’s to get a little more writing done, then picked me up later. I’m starting to get caught up, finally!

Sunday we headed out to Tabernacle Baptist Church in Piedmont. Our campground neighbors, who come here often, recommended it. Their former pastor, Jim Stewart, is there. We were welcomed by many of the congregants, and the service about the judgments that will happen during the end times was very good. Next we headed over to Patterson, Missouri, for lunch at Wally B’s Seafood & Steakhouse, another recommendation from the neighbor. He was two for two! We shared the gator bites, which could have been a little smaller since alligator tends to be tough, but were nicely seasoned. (My grilled shrimp was the star, although MW might tell you it was his seafood pasta.) On the way back we stopped to get a shot of some longhorns and buffalo. After changing clothes back at Petunia, I once again headed to McDonald’s, this time to get some tax stuff done, too. I REALLY don’t like it when we have no signal at a campground. A lot of this stuff I typically do in the early mornings or late afternoons while the boob tube is on and don’t have to focus on quite so much at a time. Plus, I just don’t like being unreachable by the fam. The evening was perfect for sitting outside again, and we enjoyed watching a large flock of black birds fluttering here and there as a group. I also walked around getting campground pics before we called it a day.

ANOTHER QUOTE-WORTHY: “It pays to know the enemy – not least because at some time you may have the opportunity to turn him into a friend.” ~Margaret Thatcher

River Road Park sits on the Black River just below the dam for Clearwater Lake and about 10 minutes from Piedmont, Missouri, and there is a convenience store just down the road, too. Amenities include a boardwalk, fish cleaning stations, dump station, several playgrounds, picnic pavilions, picnic table areas, a sand volleyball court, basketball court, boat ramp, and bathhouses. People come to this park to ride bikes, hike, swim, spend time on the water, hunt, fish, bird and wildlife watch, and just hang out. It is very popular with folks coming to town for the festival, too. There is a group camping area, RV sites, and non-electric sites, all spread out in the woods and along the river bank with plenty of trees for shade. Most sites have electric (30 with 50-amp and 77 with 30-amp) and water, along with picnic tables and fire rings. The bathhouses are older, but clean, and the roads aren’t bad. We liked this campground. Sites are spread out nicely, mostly shaded, and paved, and we particularly liked the pull-throughs that overlooked the water. A family could come hang out here for a week, too. For this stay in October 2023, we paid $80.00 for 4 nights.

That’s it for this week. Next up…Tennessee, Friends, and ANOTHER Festival!!


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