Tuesday, September 8, 2009

We brought 475

We are at the Moccasin Gap Horse Camp, in the Ozark National Forest (map). There are no horses here, other than the mechanical ones we brought with us.

We left Aux Arc park yesterday right at the 2pm checkout time, and availed ourselves of one of the two dump stations (incredibly, there was no line). We had to loop back through to one of the hookup sites to take on water -- there was only the rinse spigot at the dump, and besides, it takes a long time to fill our tank, and two people had lined up behind us while we were dumping.

Space #3 was again vacant Sunday night, and our last night in the park was fairly serene and quiet, although the Shasta two spaces over was still running their genny, and their yipper dog got left outside and was still barking incessantly at 2am, presumably to be let in. I am guessing the occupants could not hear the dog over the din of their generator and air conditioners. They were far enough away, though, that the Fantastic fan in our bedroom pretty much drowned it out when I turned in.

With nothing really on the horizon disaster-wise, and temperatures having climbed back into a slightly uncomfortable range at the river (considering the humidity), we decided to get back on the road and once again head northeast, to get some relief. I plotted a course back to the Buffalo National River, but given the late start, we decided to make a shorter day of it. We had decided to take Arkansas 7, which the map shows as scenic and many web sites refer to as one of the most scenic roads in the US. Since that route would take us right through this stretch of forest, we pulled out the relevant USFS map. That map showed this campground, just off the highway, and our National Forest Campground guide indicated a max length of 99' (really).

When we arrived, however, the only sign out at the road said "Horse Trail" -- no indication there is camping here at all. You'd never know from driving by. As we rolled in to the campground/trailhead, a group of six or seven ATV's was gathering at the trail; the area gets day use not only from horsemen but also off road enthusiasts. They stared at us in disbelief as we rolled past.

It took a little maneuvering to make it around the short loop, due to a couple of low trees, but we found an ideal site with a clear view to the satellite, plenty of afternoon shade, and some nice grass for the pets.

The place claims to have 19 sites, although none is numbered, and there are probably that many spots, although not that many tables, fire rings, or lantern hangers. Most sites seem adorned with at least one of these items, and many have tether posts for the horses. However, there is little "evidence" of any recent equestrian use.

After the day use crowd left yesterday afternoon, we had the entire place to ourselves, a condition which persisted right up to about 1pm today, when a mini-class-C rolled in and set up across the large group-style pavilion from us. There is a single water spigot right in the middle of the loop, and after we paid for two nights (grand total: $6), we set up the hot tub and ran 100' of hose over to it to fill it up. We enjoyed a nice soak last night under the stars. (Well, OK, in our little screen tent -- it's a bit buggy here.) Today the water temperature is back down into the 80s, and now that it's quite warm outside, we are thinking about a cool plunge.

There's a burger joint a couple of miles back down the road that we passed on our way north, and we might take the scooters out and roll down there this evening. Otherwise, we are just enjoying the pleasant weather here, and the almost complete solitude, a marked contrast from Aux Arc on Labor Day.

At some point today or tomorrow, I will be tearing into the dashboard. While we were at the dump station yesterday, I had the ignition off but the marker lights on, and I noticed the fuel needle read 3/4 (it should read zero -- less, actually -- with the key off). Hmm. Turning off the lights caused the needle to return to its rest peg, and back on gave me 3/4 again. Turning the lights off and the ignition on gave me a reading of 7/8 or so, about what we actually have.

This was an "Aha!" moment. You may recall I ran out of fuel (fortuitously, at a fuel station) a week or so ago, and I was scratching my head because I thought I had at least 30 (usable) gallons left. Apparently, there is a short between the dash illumination and the gauge input, and the extra juice from the lights is causing the gauge to read high. I wonder how long this has been going on. Usually, I have the engine running before I turn the lights on when I do my pre-trip inspections, so I had not noticed the problem.

Tomorrow morning we will decide whether to pay for another night or two here, or pack up and continue on to the Buffalo River. In part it will depend on whether we find milk someplace today -- we only have enough left for one more morning.


  1. Sean, I once had an MG with almost the same problem with a bad ground between the dash lighting circuit and the fuel gauge. I could blame it on Lucas electrics. Not sure what reason you can use

  2. This photo should be entitled "This is the life!!!" Feet up, cats and dogs rolling in the grass, hot tub awaits... what is not to love?


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