Winter Road Trip -- 2002

The month of February would normally be time for the editor and her husband to be flying somewhere into the wild blue yonder to find blue sky weather and blue bird temperatures near deep blue ocean waters, but the 9/11 affair that caught us away from home, about one block away from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, as a matter of fact,  is still too vivid, so we opted for a road trip to the Ozark Country and any sidebar that we found interesting or inviting along the way.  Join us, won't you?

Does this blue sky scene remind you of the Land of Sky Blue Waters?  Sorry!  It's not related to Hamm's Beer,  but to the Budweiser Brewery in St. Louis, Missouri.  The debut of Budweiser in 1876 gave the USA its first national beer.  Adolphus Busch chose the name Budweiser because it had a slightly Germanic sound that would appeal to both American and German immigrants.

Hi, Fr. B.!  Hi, Allan!  Father Bernardine Hahn, OFM, is a friend who lives at the St. Francis of Assisi Friary in St. Louis and this facility is near his backyard.  Back in the 1950's Fr. B. was the priest at St. Victoria Catholic Church in Victoria, Minnesota.  The editor and Fr. B. became acquainted in the 1980's after Tony Aretz of Victoria introduced him to The Victoria Gazette. 

After the tour, Allan enjoyed sampling the brew in the hospitality room.  Fr. Bernardine had a soft drink.  The editor simply enjoyed the company.

"But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?  It is the east "   and there in the east lay the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.  The shrine is just across the border from St. Louis,  in Belleville, Illinois. And Father Bernardine took us to see it.

This shrine was founded in 1958 and has the distinction of being one of the largest shrines in North America.  Its outdoor amphitheater can seat 2,400 visitors for special liturgies and events.

A close-up view exhibits Our Lady of the Snows, which has ties to the legend about a marvelous snowfall in Rome in 352 A.D.  On a hot sultry day in Rome, a hill was covered with snow.  All Rome proclaimed the summer snow a miracle.

In back of the shrine are rows of candles for pilgrims and other tourists.  Allan lit three candles for special intentions of the editor and himself.  Thank you, good husband.

Scaled to two-thirds the size of the original Grotto in France, this "Lourde's Grotto" is one of the most frequently visited sites at the shrine.  It was on February 11th, 1858, that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette at the Springs of Lourdes.

Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, established in 1866, is located near St. Louis.  Allan said that Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis is the largest national cemetery, but Fr. B. wondered about that.  Jefferson Barracks, shown in background off to the very left, played an important role in the early days of the Civil War in Missouri, providing housing and training for Missouri's Union volunteers.  What's the largest national cemetery?  As it turns out, Fort Snelling is a bit larger than Jefferson Barracks.  Each of them is in the Top Five.

Reliving the day and reminiscing old and new  times, Fr B. and Allan and I enjoy a dinner at Tucker's Bar and Grill in St. Louis.

Fr. B. is the pastor for the Poor Clare Sisters who reside just down the road from the St. Francis Friary on Telegraph Road.  He arises each day at 4 a.m. to say his prayers and then visit the Poor Clares' Chapel to say the 6:15 a.m. Mass for them and a smattering of other early risers.

And then Fr. B. attends a second service, the 8 a.m. Mass at St. Francis, as an ordinary person in the pew, where he prays for many special intentions.   Don't believe that Fr. B. is an ordinary person!  At the age of 86 he just returned from his annual January 23rd bus trip to Washington, D.C., to express disapproval for the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that sanctioned nationwide abortion.

So who ever heard of the Montauk Hatchery?  It's part of the Conservation Department in Montauk State Park, which is located in south central Missouri, which is where Allan has hunted wild turkeys with Victoria friends.  This hatchery hatches and raises zillions of little trout from eggstage all the way up to releasable, catch-able, big time trout.  Turkeys happen to live nearby.

This is a typical stream crossing in rural southern Missouri, where they pave the stream bed with concrete and also embed culverts in the concrete -- as opposed to building bridges over streams.

Ozark territory Allan told me how beautiful and fragrant this part of the world is when it's turkey hunting season and the dogwoods are in bloom.  It was still picturesque, as you can see.

Sometimes the only way to cross a river in southern Missouri is by ferry, and sometimes the only person operating the ferry is a person of the female persuasion.  It cost $2 to ferry our pickup.

If you hop out of the pickup truck really fast, with your camera, but not too fast, you can get a pretty good picture of how you got across the river.  It was called Aker's Ferry.

Just five miles outside of Branson, Missouri, where we enjoyed an entertaining show by Paul  Harris and the Pierce Arrow, we found the Crystal Cove Bed & Breakfast, overlooking beautiful Table Rock Lake.  Allan had lined up this place in advance, over the Internet.

He's not a pyromaniac, but he does enjoy lighting fires.

You might say the same about the editor.  In case you didn't notice, the bedposts are polished spruce trees from which the branches have been removed.

The next morning we followed the landscaped terrace to breakfast.

I don't recall their names, but the fellow on the left said he was going to check my website (and e-mail me!) and the fellow in the middle is the owner of the place, along with his wife, who made us a delicious breakfast.

We could see that Hot Springs, Arkansas, isn't what we've been told it used to be in its heyday, but we found this elegant old spa/hotel, The Arlington, "A tradition since 1875," on the main drag.  It afforded us ample luxury and taste of days gone by.

Elaborate murals and fresh flowers were part of the foyer, and every other corner in the hotel.

Fine dining in the Venetian Room was part of the morning fare.   The Smoked Norwegian Salmon served with fine bread, capers, and garden delights were out this Ozark world.

We continued to encounter the hills and hillbillies of Ozark country and, in stereotypical mindset, I thought there might be a shotgun aimed in my direction as I snapped this photo.

Many different kinds of cattle grazed the hills and hillsides, including Black Angus, Red Angus, Charolais, and other less exotic varieties.  Notice the defining Ozarks in the horizon.

Fort Smith, Arkansas, the western edge of civilization for nearly 80 years, enforced peace between U.S. citizens and neighboring Indian tribes.  The U.S. Army first built the barracks in 1846 and abandoned it when the fort closed in 1872.  There were real gallows at the museum. 

Thirty miles from Fort Smith we found the Spirit Mountain Lodge and Cabins, which Allan also discovered through the Internet. 

The Ozark cat loved the attention.

People in the Ozarks seem of regular height, but some of their doors are shorter than others.

Who could ask for anything more?

Would you believe St. Francis, just outside that short door,  kept an eye on us the whole time?

Spirit Mountain consisted of five separate lodgings, including a farm house ordered from the Sears Roebuck Catalog and built on its original site in 1920.  We had stayed in "Annie's House."

The morning sun highlighted hills and valleys and many varieties of coniferous and deciduous trees as we drove through the countryside.

By accident we discovered that Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is the home of "The Great Passion Play."  The setting of the natural amphitheater is superb and, yes, there are many similarities to the Passion Play setting near Spearfish, South Dakota.

And so was the Precious Moments center at Carthage, Missouri, a nifty place to shop.

In 1974 Sam Butcher created his first Precious Moments drawings.  In 1975 they were introduced to the public.  Since the chapel was completed in 1989, thousands of visitors have come to admire his work, including the Orsens because we've collected his precious figurines for our daughter.

Sam Butcher was born in 1939 and grew up in a poor family.  One of his fondest memories was that of  his grandmother telling him Bible stories.  His work is integral to the Chapel.

We relished the relative solitude of our eight-day trip, and all of the ordinary and extraordinary pieces and places and people we came upon in this particular portion of God's Great Masterpiece.

The End

Love, Sue