White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater) — Driving Through an Ozark Hurricane

I had been waiting for this weekend for a long time.  This was the weekend that my drift boat took its maiden voyage with me at the oars.  This trip was in the works ever since Chris Gates (OzarkChronicles.com Forum member) invited me along a little White River float trip that he and a couple of buddies were doing this past weekend.  With Karen’s recent accident, I was a little unsure if I was going to get to go or not, but Karen couldn’t get me out the door fast enough.  I hadn’t been on the water since Mother’s Day weekend and she was growing tired with my cabin fever.It is amazing how many things you have to worry about when traveling with a boat.  I had previously gathered all my fishing gear and what not for the weekend, and thought that I had the boat all ready for the trip and loaded properly as I waited for Tim Biesendorfer and Brent McClane to show up at my house and load in for a quick weekend trip to Arkansas (hell, I even left the office early). What ensued was a calamity of issues with the boat trailer that is best described as a learning experience. However, thanks to the help of my fishing buddies we were on the way to Arkansas by 6pm.

The trip down to the White was anything short of disappointing, as we entertained the problems of the world – more specifically isn’t a drift boat just a sail boat? That seems to be the consensus with people we met at gas stations along the way – they seemed to ask where we were going with the sail boat. It was an easy but slow drive (apparently I drive pretty slow when it is dark out, and apparently I drive even slower at night when towing a trailer….you know what they say – Safety First), until we hit what I swear was an Ozark hurricane.My canvas boat cover didn’t stand a chance in this storm, as cars were pulled over and there was a line of flashing hazard lights for miles. McClane checked the radar and confirmed we drove through or near 3 separate tornado warnings. The rain needed no further explanation, it just dumped water on us without looking like it would let up.

We stopped at Western Sizzlin’ in Lebannon, Missouri for dinner. What a crap hole, and I really need to swear off chain restaurants while on a fishing trip. The dinner reminded me of a bad hospital lunch. But not all was lost, as the stop provided a chance to let Tucker the Dog out for a drink and to stretch his legs (McClane had an issue with k-9 shots and the dog, so the dog made a surprise appearance with us for the weekend…..and all dogs should be this good).

After a few more pit-stops (including the obligatory Wal-Mart SuperCenter stop in Ava, Missouri) we rolled through Lakeview, Arkansas and a missed turn led to me being baptized into backing up the boat in the dark (12am) on a rutted dirt road in the middle of a field and then weaving between trees as we pulled into our final destination for the weekend – Patrick’s on the White.None of us were familiar with Patrick’s on the White, but its location is on the White River very near the Bull Shoals Dam and the price was right ($75 for 3 people). The accommodations are what you would expect for $75 a night for 3 guys. I have stayed in worse rooms, but I have also stayed in better. The location, however, is pretty tough to beat. It would do as a base for our operations for the weekend, and after all, it isn’t like we would spend much time there over the weekend.After watching some SpikeTV and watching Tucker the Dog chase armadillos out in the big field we turned out the lights around 2am on Saturday morning.

–Matt Tucker

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