Postcard From Zanoni Mill & Beyond!

Regretfully putting beautiful Hodgson Mill in the rear view mirror, we proceeded in a drizzling rain about 5 miles north on Missouri SR H to SR 181.  While we were there, we had been the only visitors at Hodgson Mill and on this 5+ mile drive we only saw one other car on the road. This is a very rural area, but there are homes along the way and it is a 2-lane paved road so although I love and seek out places where there are few or no other people, those places are usually out in no-man's land in Utah, Montana, or Arizona. To see basically nobody for several hours and over 5 miles of driving in this area was a little weird; not scary, just weird.
Zanoni Mill from the entrance of the 
circular driveway.

We found our destination, the Zanoni Mill easy enough, but I was a little uncomfortable driving up to it because it is privately owned, located inside a fenced property (and all Texans know, at least in Texas, if you are on fenced property, the owner might very well hurry your butt off his property with a shotgun!), and sits just a few yards from the owner's home. However, the brochure stated you can drive up a long circular driveway to see it close up so we did. The property is beautiful with woods behind the mill and a large pond in front. We didn't get out of the car since it isn't open and I wasn't about to go walking around right there by someone's home.

The brochure informed us it was available for rent for weddings, reunions, and parties and a small house behind it has been made into a bed and breakfast. I did take a couple of pictures as we drove around the driveway and back out again. We were there for only about 5 minutes, but nobody came out to say, "Hi there!" or "Get the hell outta here!" As we pulled back onto the empty road, I started thinking maybe aliens had abducted everyone. The marathon Twilight Zone shows I had watched on TV 2 weeks earlier certainly gave my imagination free reign.

It was at this point that I made the fateful decision to drive 50 miles out of our way to visit Grand Gulf State Park, often referred to as Missouri's "Little Grand Canyon" - at least that's what the Missouri Department of Natural Resources calls it. I'll quote from their brochure and you can see why I thought it would be a great place to visit.

"Grand Gulf State Park offers visitors a chance to view a variety of natural wonders. From a canyon to a cave to a natural bridge - this state park has plenty to see and much to do. The 322-acre park presents the most spectacular collapsed cave system in the Ozarks. The Grand Gulf stretches for nearly a mile with walls almost 130 feet high, making the chasm deeper than it is wide."

Sound interesting? It did to me. I wish it hadn't. This was without a doubt the most disappointing site/place we went to during the whole trip. I'm sure part of it was the fact that when we got there it was 98 degrees with humidity so high we started sweating within 2 seconds after exiting the car. It was miserable. But being hardy little soldiers, we hiked the trail to lay our eyes on Missouri's Little Grand Canyon.

Missouri's Little Grand Canyon
It wasn't a long trail; it wasn't a long hike, and it certainly wasn't much of a grand canyon. There it was. That's it. That was the reaction from me, from Mamma-woman and from Youngest-daughter. "Is that all there is" comes to mind. We hiked another trail. Same thing. We hiked a little ways down the 3rd trail and not seeing anything different except for the sweat now dripping into our faces and our shirts now plastered to our bodies, we said "I don't think so," turned around and hauled our tails back to the car. The good thing - no cost. I would have been really upset if I had paid to see that. Sorry, but if the Grand Gulf State Park is what Missourians have to be proud about, no wonder you don't here them bragging.

Happily putting Grand Gulf State Park in our rear view mirror, we headed to Mountain View, Arkansas. Not to be confused with Mountain Home where we had previously spent the night, Mountain View is smaller and is the self-proclaimed "Folk Music Capital of the World." It's one of my favorite places to visit throughout the year as there seems to be something going on almost every weekend - some kind of fun festival, a hootenanny, or just the impromptu jam sessions that happen every weekend around the town square. We've been there a number of times, but have never been to the Ozark Folk Center State Park which is located just outside of town. We intended to rectify that omission.

There are a number of nice bed and breakfast establishments in Mountain View, but we were only staying for the one night so the Best Western located just a couple of miles away from the park would do just fine. It is an older establishment and I wouldn't call it anywhere close to upscale, but it was clean, quiet, the TV with the Disney Family channel for Youngest-daughter worked  fine, the beds were comfortable, and the Internet connection was reasonably fast. What more could you want? We even found a bunch of people hanging around the pool. Evidently we were safe now from the alien abductors who, thank goodness, had not made it into Arkansas. A quick shower to wash off the dried sweat from our ill-fated stop at Grand Gulf, an iced Dr. Pepper, a good book on my iPad and all was right with the world.