First, we went to a big barn disguised as a grocery store, gas station, and fried food emporium. We knew something strange was afoot when we encountered a moth from prehistoric times.
But we made it to granny’s safe and sound, despite the eerie flutter of dusty moth wings against the roof of my mom’s truck.
Friday night, we hit rain. I was sure my this would hamper my plans. Not so. The next day couldn’t have been more perfect weather-wise or any other-wise. So we hopped in the truck and hit the road, looking for the mythical waterfall of my youth.
Yes, the mythical waterfall of my youth, the spot where my friends and I would hike during the sweet, thick, oven-baked summers (if you’re not from the area, you have no idea) and swim and try to get away from everything.
On the highway there, we pass by one unmarked, dirt road, then a second. I opt for the second mistakenly. It looks familiar but not so familiar. It’s been 13 years since I’ve been down that road to the mythical waterfall of my youth. This could be that road, treacherous as it is, washed out, and overgrown branches scratching the sides of my mom’s never-taken-off-road SAV. We get to a turnaround spot (thankfully there was one) and step out to hike down the left fork in the road. Nothing but a pretty vista.
I think Sa Rah probably thought I was nuts. To prove her wrong I insist we take the right fork.
But that leads to a rusty, old gate. There were no gates on the road to the mythical waterfall of my youth. We must’ve taken the wrong turn off the highway. Back up the crazy dirt road – thank god for trucks – and down to the second road (the first road if you’re following along at home). This road, dirt, smoother, a few wash outs. This could be it – Sparling Road. The one that leads where I need it to lead.
And it does! The turnaround is virtually how we left it in ’92 – firepit and broken beer bottles strewn about as reminder that this is the once and future party spot for bored, country youth. I made one of my best friends here at Sparling – this was the local high school haunt – along with Frozen Pond, AM, Blue Hole, Steel Bridge, Second Loop, and countless other places where we-d throw impromptu BYOB bashes. I first heard Faith No More-s Angel Dust at Sparling. I shotgunned my first beer here. I listened to The Black Crows ‘Hard to Handle’ and giggled, giggled, giggled while drunk on Purple Passion or Strawberry Hill or OE800. No doubt now – this was the place. The first step on the road to the mythical waterfall of my youth. No cars go past the turnaround. We tried it once. Kevin in his blue Toyota. Didn’t get too far.
I imagine that at one time this road was navigable. Maybe an ATV could do it. We did see some tracks. It’s probably a lot of fun to go 4-wheeling through here. But I liked, and I think Sa Rah did too, taking it slow and easy.
Then we get to our first water-crossing and it’s no big deal, 1-inch deep and 4-feet wide and I know Sa Rah’s thinking she’s not quite prepared but she’s such a good damned sport about it but I imagine it’s hard not to be when you’re surrounded by this:
but still, she’s a trooper, even when we had to cross the river again but this time sans shoes.
I meant, we take off our shoes to wade through.
But it really is hard to say, “You bastard! How could you bring me out here?” when you’re surrounded by this:
And I lived here. I was in this spot, once a week maybe, swimming, hiking, climbing, exploring. 16-years old, with nothing but time and sometimes school and a job as a bag boy at the local grocery. Now I’m pushing 30, going bald, dragging along with me to the mythical waterfall of my youth the person I look forward to seeing first thing in the morning and before I brux at night. I’m creating resonance here – bringing Sa Rah to my past to create a future. I’m in love. I’m in love with this woman, with this place, with being alive at this very moment. The memories I have of skipping rocks commingle with memories 5 minutes past of helping Sa Rah across the rocks. I’m crying for those lost years I spent in the Ozarks. Crying for the good years to come that I will also someday lose. But Sa Rah doesn’t see that. What she sees is the final leg of our journey to the mythical waterfall of my youth. The road now is blocked by spider web after spider web but we draw near. I can hear the water fall and I ask Sa Rah if she hears it and the excitement builds in me knowing that just around this bend is
a dirty, plastic table and chair set? WTF?
Yup, someone else had apparently fallen in love with the place and decided to renovate.
(Click here for Pt. II)
Posted by: rubigimlet at September 28, 2004 11:13 AM