Buffalo Weekend Getaway
October 23-29, 2009
Stacey and I continue to go on a weekend getaway every fall, but it has been a few years since we chose the Buffalo River area as the destination. We found great lodging at Mountain Springs Cabins northwest of Ponca, and had a fun weekend.
We left town early Friday and drove an indirect but scenic route, stopping at one of our favorite restaurants, Granny's Kitchen in Huntsville, for lunch.
The overcast and misty weather made the rugged, colorful mountains around Kingston just that much prettier. We stopped to check out the Color Fest at the Elk Education Center in Ponca; we visited with Glenn Wheeler, who was there exhibiting some of his outstanding fine art photography prints.
After checking in at the cabin, Stacey stayed to take a nap while I headed out to see how well Settler Falls was running. My felt boots enabled me to walk quickly up the middle of the creek. The water was cold, but the hike got my blood pumping and I never got chilled.
We drove to Jasper for dinner at the Ozark Cafe, which is always a treat. Stacey had the chopped steak and I got the green chile chicken. We returned to the cabin and watched one of my favorite movies, Sideways.
I got up early the next morning to be at an overlook on Highway 43 for sunrise, but the sky didn't look too interesting so I headed to Broadwater Hollow to visit the waterfalls before the sun got too high. The foliage along the stream was pretty drab but I took a few photos anyway. By the time I got back to the cabin, Stacey had a delicious breakfast ready for me.
We drove to Mount Sherman to tour Nelms photography gallery. We saw a lot of great photos. From there we drove through Jasper then headed north on Highway 7 to the old Marble Falls community, where we took a county road west to the old Erbie community. I noticed an awesome bluff line to our north and told myself I needed to find out more about it (it was Newberry Point). We found a road across from the Erbie church leading to Cove Spring, where water from a spring runs down a fern-covered bluff before dripping into a clear deep pool on Cove Creek. We drove to the nearby historic Rulus Jones barn, which sits at the edge of a wide field with a great view of Mutton Point on the southern side of the Buffalo River. I was hoping to cross the river at  the county road ford, but the water was too high. We headed back to the church and turned left on the road heading west toward Highway 43, but we encountered big mud holes and deep ruts so we turned around and headed back to Highway 7. Back in Jasper, the Boardwalk restaurant was full so we went to the Ozark Cafe which was also packed, but we were able to get a table. Stacey had the green chile burger and I got the zesty burger. Yum!
We went to the grocery store for stuff to make dinner, then returned to the cabin to put everything in the fridge. We got back in the Tahoe and headed to Steele Creek campground (whew; lots of driving!) to hike the Buffalo River Trail.
The downstream trail ran along a steep hillside under a canopy of giant old trees. The deep dark woods were dotted with colorful golden fall leaves. The trail eventually passed a bluff-top clearing with an amazing panoramic view that included the campground, Roark Bluff, the Buffalo River downstream, and the mountains beyond. We hiked back in fading light and reached the Tahoe with barely enough light to see.
Back at the cabin, we baked potatoes in the oven and I cooked pork chops on the grill. We watched "Radio" on DVD.
Sunday morning I got up early and saw that the sky was cloudy and the valleys were free of fog so I didn't go out to take pictures. It even rained a little. Once Stacey got up we drove down to Boxley to watch the elk, then returned to the cabin for breakfast. From the porch I shot a few photos of the pastures south of Mountain Springs. I also remembered to take a few photos of the interior of the cabin.