Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Program Visit: OZAR

The visit to Ozark Scenic Riverways began with a flight to St. Louis where we stopped to visit the Jefferson Expansion Memorial.  It was great to see alumnus Dan Sweeney and to get some feedback on the changes we’ve made to the program.  Then Junior (Pro)Ranger Finn and I went up the Arch and completed the junior ranger programs at both the Arch and the Old Courthouse.  We learned from some of the rangers that there was another local park, Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, located on our way out of town.  We stopped by there and toured the home and farm of Ulysses S. Grant and earned a third junior ranger badge before (a late) lunch.  Score!!

Ranger Sweeney and Junior Ranger McGarvey

McGarveys and the Arch

Swearing in.

We arrived in Van Buren, MO late in the afternoon and met ProRanger Julia Klejmont for a visit to one of the park’s many springs, and quick tour of the park’s cabins that were built the Civilian Conservation Corps.  They looked beautiful but are unfortunately closed for restoration.  Next visit!

The next morning Julia and Emily, one of the other rangers, picked us for a canoe tour of the Current River.  

Ready to tour the park by canoe
Although we could see the concessionaire’s huge inventory of tubes, rafts and shuttle vans, it was hard to believe this peaceful and quiet river (on a Tuesday morning) is a crazy party scene on the weekends.  We only saw one other boat the whole morning.  Julia described the patrols she’d done on the river and many of the interesting cases that she’d had the opportunity participate in this summer.

Then we headed back to headquarters to present the plaque to Superintendent Larry Johnson and Chief Ranger Dennis Weiland.

Weiland, Klejmont and Johnson
Entering Round Spring Cave

After lunch, we headed to the Upper Current District to tour the Round Spring Cave. Unfortunately this is the only open cave in the park due to White Nose Syndrome which is affecting the bat population. The inside of the cave is about 58 degrees year around, which was a welcome respite from the heat index of over 100 degrees outside!  We finished the evening with a visit to a Van Buren institution, The Jolly Cone, for a cold treat!

Disinfecting shoes to prevent the spread of White Noise Syndrome

On our final morning, we headed to the Visitor Center to finish the junior ranger program and earn another badge!  Finn was asked to pose for the OZAR Facebook page!  

Another day, another badge
Bob the cat and Finn the junior ranger

Then stopped by the Fire Cache while we waited to see if the storm was going to pass.  While we were there, we tested out some equipment.  

Testing out the equipment

The rain stopped so we paid a visit to Alley Mill where we got to check out the old flour mill’s working equipment.  Maintenance was removing a damaged tree nearby so we didn’t get to see the turbine in action.  

Grinding by hand
Finally, we took a picnic lunch to a popular family swimming spot that Julia had learned about while patrolling.  Finn enjoyed swimming and climbing on the rocks while Julia and I sweated in the hot, hot sun. 

We said goodbye to Julia and hit the road for Buffalo National River a few hours away in Arkansas.

Up next:  BUFF

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