Mountain View, AR, Tuesday Oct. 29
This is day two from Mountain View Arkansas. We are staying at the Ozark Folk Center State Park in cabins they offer to the public. They’re quite comfortable, affordable, but have thin walls. The rain that was projected did arrive today. The temperatures were still warm, reaching the low 70s by late afternoon. This produced occasions of fog or mist in the air. This was probably the best day for fall colors so far.
The first morning activity was to visit the Folk Art Center. The state park is here to preserve and educate about Ozark Mountain folk arts. Some crafts are quite repetitious for us, such as weaving, blacksmithing, jewelry, art, etc.
At the copper craft area, we did discover that color is added to copper jewelry through the application of heat. The color produced is a function of the degree of heat applied to the metal. The colors vary as the temperature changes, somewhat similar to the colors produced at the hot pools in Yellowstone.
This late in the fall the number of musicians present is decreased. There was still one group playing throughout the day. At the knife center, the artisan was making knives from hard carbon railroad spikes. The candlemaker presented a detailed analysis of beeswax candles versus paraffin and stearic candles. Lunch was ice cream at the soda fountain in downtown Mountain View.
Our afternoon was spent at Blanchard Springs Cavern. The cavern is operated as part of the United States Forest Service. We have not been in a cave for decades and while I had it on my list, Chris was a little hesitant. But trooper that she is, we gave it a try. It was an excellent adventure.
Missouri and Arkansas are home to 5-6,000 caves due to the limestone geology. The rainfall here is heavier than some other caverns, like Carlsbad in New Mexico, so the formations are dramatic. Blanchard Springs has 11.8 miles of discovered caverns. The caves were only discovered in the mid 1950s with the more impressive caverns not found until the 1960s. It took years to explore sufficient areas and arrange funding to allow normal visitors to view the caverns. They even brought in an international lighting expert to design the lighting and keep it understated.
Three tours are offered. One, the longer one, is only offered during the summer months. Another one involves climbing through small openings, with hard hats, kneepads, lights,etc. provided. We passed on that one.
Our tour was 90 minutes and led by Dale from L.A. (Lower Arkansas). There were about a dozen of us and we were all amazed at the display. (Bats are living in other parts of the cavern, not the area we visited. Although we did observe the bat guano left behind from earlier times when this area was bat habitat.)
The cavern has features like a 6 story column, flowstone, pools,coral, and just plain lots of dramatic stalagmites and stalactites. Water is still seeping in so the mineral deposits are still occurring. The cavern is still home to a stream running through it. After the cavern tour, we visited Blanchard Springs which releases 10,000,000 gallons of water per day from the cavern.
Ed and Chris Oct. 29 10:15 pm