Monday, August 8, 2011

A Place Where I Belong

The Lake of the Ozarks is the most beautiful place in the world to me.  I grew up here every weekend from the time I was ten until I moved to college.  For the most part, I consider it to be my childhood home rather than Kansas City.  This is a picture off the point of our cove looking out into Knobby Cove to the left and Deer Creek Cove to the right behind the boat docks.  We are located in the upper west arm of the lake and the main channel runs directly past our little cove.  Once a year in May they have the Dam to Dam run.  All of the big boats line up and travel the main channel the 92 miles from Bagnel Dam all the way up to Truman Dam and then back.  They cause huge rounded waves that roll to the shorelines, the docks gently rocking on the water.  This is one of the best times to be out on the water in the cove on a raft to roll over the waves.

This is Forbes Cove which is one of our most prosperous fishing holes.  It is downstream from us a little.  Beyond that downstream is Buffalo Cove.  When we were younger, my Dad and Chris used to take us into the shallows of Buffalo Cove so they could go bowfishing.  We would float a few feet above the sandy bottom where you could see the fish (and occasionally a snake) in the clear water.  It was always an adventure to get in and out of the fishing spots.  There were usually men in the water pushing us out when we got stuck on a sandbar - this is a common occurrence at the Lake if you don't know your way around.  When they dammed the Osage River, the river valley flooded and caused various high and low spots in the water.  Experienced boaters know where the main channel, or main flow of water is at.

Our little cove is an area called The Golden Acres.  They are platted lake front and second-tier lots that run along the main channel, encompassing a couple of small coves.  The picture at left is the smaller cove that runs right up to the road.  When we go for walks the dogs always jump into the water here for a drink (and then get out to shake all over everyone).  The area is in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains so there are a lot of wooded trails and wildlife to explore.  If you are adventurous, there is a very old cabin, way back in the woods, up on a cliff overlooking the lake.  We explored it one time and found bullet holes in the walls.  I imagined that a fugitive had lived there and the police had chased him out of there.  A more likely scenario, though, is the deer hunters in the Fall had bad aim.  It was always a mix of slightly creepy and slightly exciting up there.

But my favorite place is at the end of the road.  There is a turn-around there and an overgrown patch of road that runs right into the water.  It's traveled so infrequently that I find myself always breaking the spider webs that cross the path when I walk through.  There used to be a little sunny clearing right by the turn-around where the tall grass would wave in the breeze.  It was one of my favorite places to park the 4-wheeler and listen to the silence.  Nowadays they have cleared much of the area and stuck For Sale signs in the ground - it's definitely not as untouched and beautiful as it used to be.  Sometimes I wonder if I should buy the uncleared lots at the end of the road just to preserve my nostalgia. 

The path beyond the turn-around is not all that pretty - but when you get passed the spiderwebs and clear the treeline, you run into this view.  It's a completely untouched little cove off the main channel.  In fact, if you look closely you can see the main channel on the other side of the treeline.  I used to come here and draw, write, or think.  When we would come early in the spring and late in the fall, after the heavy tourist season was over, it would be completely quiet and the waters absolutely still - except maybe a fish jumping every now and then.  I've tried hard to recreate the same peace I felt when I was there in new areas of my life, to no avail - the lake is probably the only place in the world where I always feel I belong.  The trouble with the lake is there is no work down there.  You either bring money with you or you don't have any money.  I used to think I might one day open a marina on the lake - but I've seen many people with the same dream come and go so it must not be a very lucrative nor fulfilling way of life. 

It's an eight hour drive to the lake from Indiana, so for now I visit when I can and always stop by my favorite spot.  This time I took my little man with me on the 4-wheeler.  He wasn't really into the whole peace and quiet part - he wanted to ride.  In fact, he fell asleep while we were riding up the main road to the pavement - and then he still didn't want to get off the 4-wheeler when I got him back to the cabin.  I can't wait for the day he is big enough for me to show him the old trails so he can go exploring - I know he's going to love it just as much as I do.

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