Issue #160
Updated January 8, 2005

Welcome to my on-line newsletter about the Buffalo National River, the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas and Harrison, my home town. It is always under construction! Wow, another year is already upon us. It seems like yesterday that 2004 was just starting. Time does fly when your having fun! Late December brought some really nice weather to the Ozarks and those fortunate enough to live here or were visiting at that time were treated to daytime highs in the mid 60's to record breaking low 70's. As we move into a new year rains have soaked our area with more in the forecast for this week. I hope to have some really sunny days this month to go hiking.

Picture of the Week.

Listening To The River

Retreat Into The Ozarks

It was just before Thanksgiving, the start of the silly season, and I was feeling pretty blue. The prospect of spending another holiday season alone by myself was not something I was looking forward to and I was also depressed that I had not been able to find a good job here in the Harrison area. My good friend Ann Lasater had called and she knew something was on my mind. Ann is a big supporter of The Barefoot Traveler, allowing me to come out to River Spirit Retreat several times during the year and use it as a base of operations. After talking to Ann for awhile she suggested I come out and visit her. I told her that I probably would not be good company as I had many things on my mind. Ann said that it was ok, I should come out for a retreat and that she would not be offended if I just wanted to be by myself and think about things. Now, not only does River Spirit Retreat provide an ideal place for families to vacations, but Ann specializes in providing an environment for people who want to get away and take some time to contemplate and reconnect with themselves. After thinking about it I decided to accept Ann's gracious offer, after all the blue in the woods might be a better shade of blue than in the city.

The Main Lodge At River Spirit Retreat

The weather forecast was calling for rain over the next several days and I arrived at River Spirit Retreat with grey clouds overhead. I got settled into the main lodge and then went to sit on the large deck outside. There was still a bit of color in the woods and all the leaves had not yet fallen. As I sat there and listened, I could hear the birds singing and the squirrels chattering away as they scurried around looking for their winter food. The property is located in Murray Valley and is away from the sounds of civilization giving a person the chance to hear nature rather than the din of everyday existence. As my thoughts died away I began to relax.

On The Deck

Ann called that evening to welcome me and since she was so nice to invite me, I offered to make her and our frriend Laura, who was visiting from California, supper the next night. I spent my first night relaxing in the living room reading the book I had brought. I had a simple supper and then retired to the bedroom. I don't know what it is about the bed but I always seem to sleep extremely well at River Spirit Retreat and this night was no exception.

Relaxing In The Great Room

The Master Bedroom At River Spirit Retreat

The next morning I awoke and noticed that it had drizzled during the night and the sky was cloudy. As I made breakfast I listened to the weather and heard that continued rains should be expected. I decided that after breakfast I would try and take a walk along the Little Buffalo River which flows through the property. Hopefully it would not rain on me, at least for awhile. I made sure my backpack had a poncho, towel and other things I might need if it got wet and then headed down, off the deck, to the river below.

The Green Waters Of The Little Buffalo River

Moving Up River Along The Bank

The river flows just below the lodge and I walked down to the bank and then began my trek up river. I tried to stay as close to the bank as I could which made for slow going in spots. As I meandered along I began to think more about those things that I was fortunate enough to have and less about those things that I did not have, my mood improved as I went along. I decided to take a small rest break at the spot on the river where we usually swim in the summer time. The thought crossed my mind to test the water by wading but as I put a hand in the river to check the temperature I came to my senses! I started again and noticed as I walked that the sky was getting a little brighter.

A Break At The Swimming Hole

Along The Banks Of The Little Buffalo

It was not possible to walk the entire way along the banks as there were large rock formations I had to make my way up and around, then go back down to the river. It was quite pleasant to walk above the river, hearing the water rush downstream. The sun was starting to show and the grey clouds began to dissipate. It looked like it just might be a nice day.

Above The River

The Sun Peeks Out

Once I got back to the river I took another break by a big rock and had a apple and a drink. As I sat there, I considered the fact that although I was currently poor I still had alot to be thankful for. I had a place to call home, I was managing to keep the utilities paid and food on the table. As I emptied my head of all the negative thoughts I had brought with me, I began to feel better. As if to reward me for thinking positive, the sun broke out from the clouds and it began to warm up.

A Beautiful Morning On The Little Buffalo River

A Down River View

After awhile I decided to continue upriver for a little longer. The warmth of the sun allowed me to remove my jacket and walk in just my tshirt. Up and over another set of large rocks and I was back down along the river and I could hear the sound of falling water. I decided I would find it and then consider turning back.

Looking Back

Water Cascading Over Rock

I reached a spot where there were several small waterfalls, maybe 5 feet tall, just before an area where I would have to climb high up the hillside to go any further. I decided this would be a great spot to sit and eat the sandwich I had brought. Afterwards, I just sat quietly and thought about all the good things that happen in my life and how blessed I was to have the things I do have, considering that so many people in the world live in desperate poverty, with no opportunity to enjoy the things I get to enjoy. The sun shone down on me and put a smile on my face. I was ready to head back.

Hot Tub In The Woods

I turned around and made my way back to the lodge, stopping by Ann's house to see what time she and Laura were gonna come down for the supper I had promised. They said around 6 or so. Once I got back I decided to try out the new hot tob at River Spirit Retreat. Ann has constructed a nice platform for it just off the edge of the main lodge yard. It has a terrific view of the surrounding countryside and is centrally located to all the different buildings there. As I soaked in the hot, clean water I noticed that a storm was heading our way. I spent about an hour in the hot tub before it started to rain. I headed back to make supper.

Front Kitchen Area

Getting Ready To Set The Table

I made a meatloaf with mashed potatoes. Ann brought an organic salad and Laura brought along an apple pie. We opend a bottle of wine and sat down to a pleasant meal. By the time the girls were ready to head out it had started raining again. I spent the rest of the evening reading my book and listening to the rain. It was quite relaxing.

The Little Buffalo River At River Spirit Retreat

Before I left the next morning I took a walk down to the river again, just for a short while. I just sat by the flowing water and counted my blessings. I had arrived here at River Spirit feeling down and blue, but I was going home feeling good about my self. I understood that althought it may seem like I was struggling, I had many blessings to be thankful for. I stopped by Ann's house on the way out and thanked her for giving me the time to get my head on straight. She smiled, gave me a hug and sent me on my way.

I have stayed at River Spirit Retreat many times over the years, but this is the first time I had come just for myself. I really enjoyed the peace and quiet of the 117 acres and the access to the Little Buffalo River. It allowed me time to think, contemplate and consider my life, my failures and accomplishments. I left with a better understanding of myself. If you are looking for a place where you and the family can vacation without ever having to drive somewhere everyday to find things to do, or if you are needing some time alone to reflect and consider the happenings in your life then consider giving Ann a call and make a reservation..

If you would like see more of River Spirit Retreat click here or here or here.

River Spirit Retreat
Host: Ann Lasater
HCR 72, Box 85
Parthenon, Arkansas USA 72666
PH: 870-446-5642
Email River Spirit Lodge