A Day in the Ozarks

I know it seems like I start just about every blog post this way, but….it’s been a while, guys! I have been so busy with work, home, and mommin’ that when I get a few minutes to myself I tend to just sit there…in a vegetable state. I am mentally wore out!

So quick life update:

*Asa is going to play T-ball this summer! I cannot wait!

*Asa has had the flu this past week so our house has been on lock down and fumigated with Lysol multiple times. The rest of us so far have escaped the bug!

*We took the boys to see Avengers LIVE this weekend! They loved it…and I loved watching them! It was worth it to see the excitement on their faces! Be jealous, Uncle Tadd!

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A few weekends ago, Bray and I had a small day getaway to our home away from home…the Ozarks! We did a lot of exploring throughout the day and I was so exhausted when we finally made it home.

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We started out at Sam’s Throne. First off, this area was confusing to me. You pull in and there is a parking area and a gated road. We couldn’t figure out if we were supposed to walk or drive down the road. We ended up walking just to be safe. Turns out, you can definitely drive down but it isn’t a long walk regardless.

The road takes you through the campground. I thought that it was a neat little camping area. I wouldn’t mind a night or two stay there as long as it is on the cooler side. It was a primitive campground with no electricity or running water. Vault toilets only (which I used and cuddos to the park ranger for that area because they were exceptionally clean!).

At the end of the road is the trailhead. It winds around to a bluff overlooking the Ozarks . Bray did what Bray does best and scared me to death by creeping too close to the edges!

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Being his silly self! I took a picture of him taking a picture of me! I was not flattered to find out I was his impromptu model for the day.

Being his silly self! I took a picture of him taking a picture of me! I was not flattered to find out I was his impromptu model for the day.

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We sat here a while and just enjoyed the scenery and the quiet. It really is great to bundle up and go when there is no one else around.

We met my mom and dad back in Jasper at the Ozark Cafe. I really cannot say too many good things about this place! I had a burger…it was amazing. My mom had a salad..it looked amazing. I have been following them on social media ever since we left. I cannot wait to get back up there to eat! Their specials look amazing. Have I made my point with the word “AMAZING”!

FYI: My parents happened to be up there looking for cabins for the Elk Festival closer to Jasper. We usually stay in Boxley Valley which is the absolute best. But for this, they were looking for something more conveniently located. So, if you have a cabin in Jasper, let me know and you could be my new favorite! I might even use the word “amazing” for you!

After lunch, we headed to Twin Falls at Camp Orr. I think Bray and I have debated this over and over. (I won, of course!) These falls are also referred to as Triple Falls…but according to the signage and a map on Camp Orr’s website, they are called Twin Falls. I go above and beyond to prove my point.

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This was absolutely the easiest hike to do…not the easiest to get to though. Do not try to go down this road unless you have a four-wheeled drive vehicle.

YOU. WILL. NOT. MAKE. IT. OUT.

Definitely a kid friendly hike and we will be taking the boys there in the near future.

Since we were already down in this hole, I had Bray drive on down to the Kyle’s Landing campgrounds. I had a hankering to see the river and I was glad we went. The water was blue and clear and perfect! If it hadn’t been so cool, I would have been happy to take my shoes off and wade in!

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I thought that the campground would make a good option if we get to looking for one. This appeared to be where the park rangers stable their horses and this campground is horse friendly for those that like to bring their horses for trail rides. I, for one, would not want to drag a horse trailer down in that valley.

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We drove over to Boxley Valley because that is always a must to see the elk when we are in the area.

My awesome photography skills! Bray had jumped out of the truck to get a picture with the “real” camera.

My awesome photography skills! Bray had jumped out of the truck to get a picture with the “real” camera.

As we made our initial sweep through the valley, Bray started hollering that there was a baby elk in a barn. I thought he was yanking my chain like he is known to do. But, sure enough on our second round through there was a baby elk that had gotten itself trapped behind the fencing at the Old Barn. We drove on over to Ponca to the Elk Education Center and let them know. The lady informed us that she would call the Elk Biologist (like, for real, they have one of those and I want to know where I can sign up to be one too!).

Bray wanted to put her in the back of the truck and bring her home with us!

Bray wanted to put her in the back of the truck and bring her home with us!

We walked across the street real quick to Buffalo Outdoor Center and scored some snacks and a few new stickers.

Then, we drove up to Compton for the last hike of the day! Let me just say that we completely overestimated our abilities and underestimated the length and intensity of this trail. The initial goal was to go to Hemmed-In Hollow. That didn’t happen. We walked nearly an hour and a half before we came to the fork that took us to Hemmed-In or Goat Bluff Trail. We decided on Goat Bluff Trail since it was marked as moderate on All Trails instead of hard.

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It was the most breathtaking part of our whole day! It was a beautiful overlook of the Buffalo River! I could have sat there the rest of the day! I can’t imagine how pretty this will be come Fall!

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However, it was 4:30 pm by this point and we had a long trek (uphill) back. We were pushing it to get out of there by dark. Most of the way back wasn’t too bad until we came to a monster of a hill that was basically vertical. For some reason, Bray and I don’t remember that hill on the way down. I do remember seeing another couple and the woman was bent over breathing hard and the man was rubbing her back. That probably should have been a sign for me. That ended up being Bray and I on the way back. Exact imitations! I could barely lift my leg by this point to take another step. So, whoever you were on the trail…I feel ya!

We made it back to the truck just as the sun was set. It was pure torture to climb into Bray’s big ole truck! The good ole FitBit says that we walked nearly 9 miles that day!

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This area really is my happy place to be! We have seen so much already, but there is still so much more! If you have a suggestion on what we should see next, let me know!

Also, we are hopefully going to start kayaking the Buffalo again this summer. We’ve been out of the game since we started having kiddos. Tips on taking toddlers? Best stretch of river to get in and out at that is mostly kid friendly? Best swimming holes for little ones?