The drive down took about an hour longer than it should have. My GPS/iPhone took me on a fairly roundabout path to get there. I barely got out of town and down some farm roads when I hit a snag in the form of a bridge that was out and under repair in Linden, Missouri. Checking my iPhone Maps program, I winded my way over toward Ozark and over to Highway 14. Taking 14 toward Ava, about 4 miles outside of town, it happened all over again and I spent a while trying to get into town by way of dirt and gravel farm roads. Both detours were a pain, but I saw some nice scenery in the form of rustic barns, hayfields, cattle, mules and horses, and a cool old one-lane bridge over the Finley River, above stream a ways from where the old Riverside single-lane bridge was.
Arriving at Bull Shoals Lake a little before noon, I hopped out of the car and headed up to the pavilion. Larry Dablemont, author, river guide and johnboat builder, along with a handful of other fellows, was building a 20-21' White River Johnboat, the old way. I'm guessing, 21' planks, 16" wide and 3/4" thick. I got there about the time they were fitting the ribs in.
I have Mr. Dablemont's book, "The Authentic American Johnboat: How to Build It, How to Use It" and plan to use it as a guide to build my own johnboat someday. It's cool that there is a folk boat type that is indigenous to the Ozarks Region.
Longboat Outfitters www.longboatoutfitters.com had their modern construction river john on hand. It's a modified Jim Michalak Ozarkian, based off the White River Boats that Owen's Outfitters used to run before the White River was dammed.
There was quite a bit of other float trip memorabilia there, as well.
At one point, Mr. Dablemont climbed in and explained proper johnboat paddling technique.
After checking out the demo, I drove across the dam to the Visitor Center
I had my little sailboat on the roof with hopes of getting a couple hours on the water, but the lake levels were high and the water was rougher than I was comfortable with. Erring on the side of caution, I headed back home a little early.