Testing Our Mettle

Anyone who’s ever been camping knows that it’s more fun to camp in great weather than it is to camp in the rain. Judging on that standard, this has been the week from hell.

We started out near Tulsa at Washington Irving Recreation Area, a Corps of Engineers campground on Keystone Lake.20170427_170244 We knew bad weather was coming – we are well armed with weather-watching tools when we have a bit of internet access. Since the shit was scheduled to hit the fan Friday night/Saturday, we decided to stay until Sunday morning, so that we weren’t trying to move down the road in severe weather. Smart Decision #1.

We never heard specific rainfall totals, but we believe we got between 6-8″ of rain from Friday night to Sunday morning. In the hopes of giving ourselves a bit of extra shelter, we deployed our large yellow awning when we setup camp on Thursday afternoon. So, at 4:30am on Saturday morning, we found ourselves outside in 60mph winds trying to wrestle the awning off the Campshack (our new name for the Fireball). It had totally pulled out of its stakes, but remained attached to the keder rail, which hooks the awning to the trailer. We got soaked, and were nearly flogged to death, trying to get a grip on the flailing awning (which miraculously was undamaged). We were absolutely pounded by rain and high winds (40-60mph). We got about four big bangs of hail, but mercifully escaped that ordeal. Here’s one telling photo.20170501_113921 The following photos tell the story of this storm. Check out the rising lake level.20170427_17033820170429_10180220170429_15563520170430_073231We escaped Sunday morning, driving through Tulsa to have breakfast with a fellow T@Bber, and headed toward Fayetteville AR to Lake Wedington, a somewhat shabby little National Forest Service campground in the Ozark National Forest. 20170430_144012Fayetteville got hammered by the storm, absorbing 10″ of rain. Fields were submerged, and ditches alongside the road were filled with rushing water. This sure doesn’t look like any river view I’m familiar with. 20170430_124435-120170430_124502-1Our campground had several sites underwater, but we grabbed a decent site, and hoped for the best. A bit of sunshine helped, and we put everything up and out to dry. Our awning and patio mat were soaked, and the inside of the Campshack had that ugly, wet feeling that comes with a perennially damp dog, and eight wet feet traipsing in and out. We were desperately seeking sunshine. While we were there, a boat drifted up and beached itself on our campsite. We immediately adopted it, and named it Plan B.20170430_180220 We were rewarded with sunshine for a day. What a lift to our spirits that was.Fayetteville is gorgeous. We drove into town to check out one of the many breweries. Good beer/marginal food at the Bricktown Brewery. It’s near the campus of University of Arkansas in a beautiful old downtown area. I was especially taken with this little garden area, and one of the sculptures there. The old lady knitting was so realistic that I could have struck up a conversation.

After lunch, we headed to the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. It was a pleasant diversion, but small and not really notable. But it sure was a great feeling to be out and about in the sunshine.20170501_150459They either did a fantastic repair job, or had little storm damage.

Our next two choices for campgrounds moving eastward were both closed due to storm damage. We had hoped to camp alongside the Buffalo National River, but had to move east to Robinson Point, a Corps of Engineers campground near Mountain Home AR. The drive though northern Arkansas was incredible – rolling hills with every shade of green you can imagine. May must be the best month for this area – not a lot of color, but green and fresh. We passed through towns with names like Flippin and Yellville. I had thought that our route would take us right through Flippin, and was disappointed and surprised to find that we just passed closely. I really wanted a photo of the town name.

The amount of water at Robinson Point is astonishing – probably 45 of the 70 campsites are fully submerged, as well as is an entire island in the lake about 50 yards offshore.20170502_15130220170502_151442(The photo above shows an area of about 30 campsites which are wiped away.) This is primarily due to the fact that dams above this campground along the river have been opened up to release flood pressure upstream. We were told that the usual flow from the dam at Bull Shoals (the first one above us) is 20,000 gal/sec, but it was increased to 60,000 gal/sec. The lake here is the color of a latte – no resemblance to any kind of water color you’d ever want to see. We grabbed an available (high) site and set up. Jezzy and I wandered over to find the registration station to pay for our two nights. Couldn’t find it. We patrolled the entrance area – nobody home at the Camp Host site. I was heading back to camp when I spotted a Corps of Engineer truck heading my way. I flagged the driver down, and explained that I couldn’t find the registration box. The driver shrugged. “Just camp” he said. “Free?” I asked. He nodded. I remarked what a gorgeous campground this was, and said that I was sad to see such extensive damage.

He just kind of stared off ahead, nodded, and pulled away. It’s shocking to see this kind of damage. Some of these places will take weeks or even months to recover. Tomorrow (Wednesday), we’re supposed to get another 1.5″ of rain here.

18 thoughts on “Testing Our Mettle

  1. I love this part of the Ozarks in the spring, I hope that you were there while the redbuds and other flowering trees were in bloom! Too bad about the weather though, I’m sure that it was hard to appreciate the scenery while dealing with the flooding.

    I used to fish a bass tournament based in Mountain Home every spring for years, I hope that you get a chance to see the area when conditions are better.


    • This was our first time in this particular area, and were looking forward to a return in more ordinary times. This was our first experience with so much rain all at once. We really withstood any damage or mishap, other than the sheer boredom of being house bound with one terrified dog. So far, we’ve been very favorably impressed with the scenery and camping in general in Arkansas. Think we were too early for any blossoms, as we never saw any of that good stuff.


  2. Wow! That’s some serious water. We have friends that purchased a place in Mountain Home AR after 2 years of full-timing. They love it there. Safe travels!


    • We had a few inches to our serious water yesterday. Make it stop! Mountain Home looks like a beautiful community. Perhaps not so much in the middle of a scorching summer, but now, definitely.

      We are crossing the Mississippi today to settle around Memphis for a few days. I’m anxious to see what impact all these storms have had on the Big River.

      Still in Arizona? I’ll bet it’s really warming up there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We moved up to Prescott Valley which is a little more comfortable than Phoenix right now. I haven’t seen rain in over 6 weeks and hardly an overcast day. Crazy!


      • Check out the Yavapai CG inOrescott if you get a chance. In the National Forest on the NW side of town. On Granite Basin Road. It’s one of our favorites, although it’s rustic, so it might not be right for you. Beautiful area.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We plan on getting out and exploring so I’ll definitely check out that campground. Although, I can tell from the website that we’re too big. Plus we don’t like trees. Trees = damage to the RV. We have one more item on the roof to replace from tree damage.


      • There are some might large sites there, and most have no tree obstructions. Worth a check, anyway. Let me know what you think. If nothing else, it’s a good spot for a hike. Lake + mountains!


    • This is the most severe flooding I’ve seen. It’s astonishing how quickly the water levels rise – gives me a renewed respect for nature’s power. We’ve never been in any danger, except for the Losing Your Mind If It Doesn’t Stop Raining kind.

      See you soon.


  3. I actually lived in Flippin for a couple months. On a return visit to the area I adopted my two dogs in Flippin. It is the home of Ranger Boats.

    The whole area there is beautiful. I loved Mountain View and the music in the square that occurred on Saturdays when I lived in the area.

    Your blog brought back a lot of memories. Thanks.


    • Small world. It was such a disappointment not to get a photo of a Flippin AR sign. (Funny how my autocorrect always wants to make it Flipping!)

      The drive along 412 is a classic road trip. Lots of gorgeous scenery. Who doesn’t love a rolling road?

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Mary.


  4. Wow! That’s mind boggling in the scope of damage. So glad you are staying safe, if not always dry. We are getting rain and wind but nowhere near that amount. Still those are some beautiful places. Such a contrast to the West in the dominant colors on the landscape. It’s an amazingly diverse country geographically. One wonder after another!


    • It’s been interesting, for sure. We’ll have to come back this way again, as we really haven’t gotten out and walked around much. I really hadn’t expected it to be so pretty, though.

      See you in a couple of weeks.


  5. Omg you are right in the middle of it. Kids family lost cabin in Branson area. Well almost but lots of damage. Seen over many years flooding gets worse and worse. Gorgeous area..not a happy spring. Your posts always my fav. Living vigorioysly thru u..tending to locals here but still listening to birds and being happy. Just a whole different life.


    • Hi Carla. I think Missouri may have gotten the worst hit of all the states. It’s hard to imagine what the cleanup must be like when you’re trying to scrape mud out of your house. I’m sure there was some of that here, but we’ve really only seen high waters and ruined campgrounds. There are far worse things for sure.

      Your campground is lucky to have you and Jer. A good camp host really makes a huge difference to campers. Hope your campers tell you how much they appreciate you.


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