2004 Newsletter Produced By Black Oak Resort
P.O. Box 100 - Oakland, AR 72661 - (870) 431-8363
www.blackoakresort.com - e-mail: vacation@blackoakresort.com

Greetings and Happy New Year
To All Of Our 2003 Guests

Table Of Contents:

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Dear Friends,

Welcome to Black Oak Resort!This past year was our most rewarding here at Black Oak Resort, with the completion of our cabin expansion into what for us will be our last home (at least before the nursing home). We absolutely love it. The best part is all the space we now have.

Our plans have not changed. We are in the very early stages of the transition into eventual retirement. (refer to “Our Plans” in this newsletter, and also last year’s newsletter for more details). We aren’t closing our doors, and we expect to still be in operation for many more years, just a gradual slowdown. We’re looking forward to doing more of the things we’ve put off while we were building our business. Betty loves to travel, and perhaps continue her education at the community college here in Mountain Home. Michael’s two loves are fishing and golf, and he’d like to spend more time doing both. Of course, he wants to continue with the fire department. Its amazing that with our different interests and personalities, that we are still together since 1969, isn’t it? We may have to include an article about how to stay happily married.

We owe it all to our valued customers, who have been spending their vacations with us year after year. We thank you so much, and hope to continue seeing all of you for many years to come.

Please read on and find out all that’s happened this past year. Also, what’s new and exciting for the coming year. As always, we look forward to seeing you again.

Thank you all again for a very good year. We're looking forward to the coming year and seeing you all again in '04!

Signature - Mike and Betty Scrima

Our Year In Review


Sam and Abby
The Black Blob is Abby

We have the same two great dogs, Sam and Abby. Sam, our Chow-Lab mix, is getting on in years. He’s at least 9, and may be older. He still walks with Betty three days a week. One walk is 4 miles, the other two are 3 miles. Sam has improved physically from a year ago. Last year Betty had to help him into the car after his walk. This year, he’s getting in on his own. He also gets his exercise following Betty around all day from room to room. Talk about a loyal dog, he can’t leave her out of his sight. Maybe that’s because she feeds him, and he loves his food!

Sam, the Couch Potato

Abby, our miniature black lab, is 4 years old now. She is the best dog, the most affectionate of any of our dogs. She has two problems. One is car chasing, which is a behavior we can’t break her of without resorting to punishment, and we are pathetically incapable of punishing our dogs. The other is that she is insanely jealous of the cats. She won’t hurt them, or she hasn’t yet, but we belong to her, not those darn cats. She glares, then shows her teeth, then drapes herself over us, and if necessary growls to keep the cats away. Then when we holler at her, she sulks. We probably have spoiled her, you think? She is a little slower than last year, only climbing the sides of the causeway once or twice per trip, where last year, it was usually three or four times. But she’s still in great shape, sleek and shiny. She has one trick. When she wants to go out to do her business at night, she goes over to Betty and stares. That’s it. Sometimes she sits there for a long time before Betty notices her. Then Betty asks her if she wants her Daddy to take her out, and she just comes alive, and runs to Michael. Betty and Mike with Abigail

We think that she tried to get Michael’s attention for so long and he never acknowledged her, that she gave up, and figured that this trick would work, and guess what, it does!

The dogs and cats get along well
Little-Little, Sam, and Abby


Our cat count remains at 12.

Little-Little is Betty’s baby, and her favorite. She hates all the other cats, and has supplanted our dearly departed Bat-Ears as the Queen, and has them all buffaloed. She still fake-nurses on Betty’s neck, mostly just drooling. You’d have to know her to love her.


Jitterbug is everybody’s favorite, and he’s doing fine, for all of you who ask after Jitter every time you come here. He’s the politician and salesman of the group, he has little or no use for Betty and Mike as long as there is someone else on the resort. Expect him to pay you a visit as long as you don’t have a big dog.

New Kitten


We have named our newest cat Gorgeous, and she is. She’s just over a year now, and only likes to go out at night. We call her our vampire kitty. She’s got a great disposition, unlike the rest of our cats, and she’s got a beautiful grey coat, very fluffy. She also has the highest IQ of all the cats, and can open any cabinet door. We get up in the morning, and we find drawers open. Gorgeous is a great bug hunter, but she doesn’t eat them. So Sam has favored her, and they work in tandem, her catching the bugs and Sam eating them.

We could go on and on about each and every one of our cats, but suffice it to say that they all have their own personality and are lovable in their own way. So to name the rest, we have Handsome, Cutie-Pie, Fluff-Fluff, Scaredy Cat, Igor, Pinky, Blackie, White-Foot and Newman. By the way, Newman has been around a year now, and he has not let Betty pet him yet.

So, this has been a great cat year with no losses, and NO additions! Not to mention no mice..

Betty's News

Betty, Herbie and Tub
Betty with her beloved Herbie and Tubalub






Knee Problem
Because of Betty’s problems with her knees, she skipped the Chicago Marathon last year. She fears that her marathon days are behind her, except as a spectator. Her knees are better, but not perfect. Her left knee is fine, but her right knee persists in being swollen and painful, although much improved from before. But enough time has passed that she thinks its either live with it and never run, or have knee surgery and probably never run. So, for now Betty is just walking. Once in a while she sneaks in a few steps of running. Betty is still covering about 12 to 15 miles a week walking on Ozark Isle. She invites you to join her.

Weight Watchers
Betty has been sticking with Weight Watchers now for a little more than two years. So far, she has managed to keep from gaining any more weight, but that’s about all. She has met some wonderful, supportive friends there, and their favorite topic of conversation is food! But, she’s not giving up. The program is fine, Betty is just not following it all the time. Maybe this year will be the year that she succeeds. She is down a few pounds, but very few.

Book Club
Betty joined a book discussion group last July, and has now begun her journey of enlightenment. She read the following books in 2003, more than ever before, except when she was in school.

The Deep End of the Ocean, Jacquelyn Mitchard - Fiction, Grief over loss of a child. Marriage, Infidelity, Siblings, Friendship. Written from varying perspectives of each character. A tremendous, moving book. 4 stars.

The Fabulist, Stephen Glass - Memoir by journalist who was fired from “The New Republic” for fabricating stories. Glass attempts to be open and honest in the retelling, however foreign that may be for him. You will dislike him, but at the same time, you will feel compassion for him. 3-1/2 stars.

The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold - Fiction. Murder of a Child, uniquely told from that child’s perspective in heaven. Has many similarities to “The Deep End of the Ocean.” Worthy book, but not quite as well done as “The Deep End of the Ocean.” 3-1/2 stars.

Winning the Losing Battle, Eda J. LeShan - Self-Help book on losing weight. Made you feel that you are not alone, and others have shared your pain. Very worthwhile and full of insight into the complexities involved in overeating and weight loss. 4 stars.

Atonement, Ian McEwan - Fiction. About a young girl who forever changes the lives of those closest to her through her words, and the resulting guilt she bears. Also about war, and one man’s journey. This is a complex novel, which Betty didn’t spend enough time on, and would like to reread some day. 4 stars.

Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier - Fiction. A story of survival, the Civil War, a soldier’s journey home, and a great romance. Also about friendship and family. This was the best book Betty read this year, and one she will not be able to part with. The language is so lovely, the story so powerful. Betty gives it her highest rating. 5 stars.

Seabiscuit, Laura Hillebrand - Historical. This was a spellbinding story of people of amazingly strong character and a horse that was all heart. Wonderful insight into a world Betty knew little about. Could not put it down. Betty’s second favorite book of the year. 4-1/2 stars.

The Jungle, Upton Sinclair - Fiction. The book club decided to read some classics, and this was their first pick. Being from Chicago, this was very interesting to Betty, because as she was growing up, she heard her parents talking about the stock yards. About a year ago, Betty gave up eating pork, so this reinforced her resolve. Of course after reading this, she will give up all sausage and hot dogs. She also has some friends who are Lithuanian immigrants, so that part of the book was intriguing. Also, her grandfather was either a Socialist or a Communist, and he spoke at the very place mentioned in the book (known as Bug-House Square). Never having known him, Betty saw him come alive as a person by reading this book. Had a lot of personal connections for Betty, and it was a rewarding read. 4-1/2 stars.

The Call of the Wild, Jack London - Fiction. This is another classic, and Betty recommends that everyone read it because it is so SHORT! Covers man’s cruelty to animals, with a dog as the main character, so as an animal lover, it was worthwhile, but kind of a strange, sad book. 3-1/2 stars.

That about wraps it up for Betty’s reading pleasure for the year. Betty is so glad she found this wonderful, funny group of fascinating people who have come together over their mutual love of books. Folks, do yourselves a favor and join a discussion group as your New Year’s resolution.

By the way, Michael also tried reading a book for the first time since the 70's. He actually finished “The Jungle” and “Nickle and Dimed-On (Not) Getting By In America” by Barbara Ehrenreich. Michael recommends you all read this book about the working poor in America. You will feel sorry for them (or yourself, as the case may be!)

Michael has now doubled the number of books he’s read in his lifetime. (The other two: Helter-Skelter, by Leo Buscaglia; and “Johnny Got His Gun” by Dalton Trumbo). Michael has proven that you’re never too old to learn a new trick! Betty is very proud of him, but hopes he doesn’t join the book club.

DVDs, Music, TV

We enjoyed “Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues” on PBS.

Betty is hooked on Denise Austin’s exercise workout on Lifetime at 6 a.m. What a great workout, mixing it up with aerobics, yoga, Pilates, stretching, kick-boxing, step aerobics, tai chi, and weights, plus her own chipper philosophy. She works different areas of the body every day, for one hour, five days a week. Check it out.

We also enjoyed the recent series Nip/Tuck on FX, and hope it comes back for another season.

We purchased “25 years of Saturday Night Live Music,” and so enjoyed it over the Thanksgiving holiday.

We also are enjoying the 4th season of “The Sopranos.” We anxiously await the 5th season.

We bought lots more music CD’s: Lenny Welch, Jessica Molaskey, Red Hot+Lisbon Onda Sonora, Lucinda Williams, the CD set accompanying “Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues” PBS series, which contains much more music. Also, the new Russian opera sensation Anna Netrebko, and much more. We are heavy into music since we have a home theater sound system now and GIGANTIC speakers.

Michael's News

Fire Department

Michael is still Fire Chief of Oakland. He’s talking about one more term, which would last until he is 69! But he loves it, and he is a natural in a crisis, as long as it isn’t his own finger!


On May 8 of 2003, Michael lost something he really misses. He had to remove the back seat in Betty’s van to pick up a counter-top for her supply room. When he was putting the seat back in, somehow he had it backwards, and hit the sliding mechanism, and it came down on his right middle finger. It came down so hard, it completely severed the tip, retaining said tip in the mechanism.
Click here for the gory photo of Michael's finger caught in the seat release.

Michael started calling for Betty to take him to the hospital. Blood was everywhere, but not Betty. Arlene Krause, one of our guests, heard him yelling and ran to look for Betty. She found Betty inside Cabin 1 chatting with guests. Betty ran to help, asking Michael if he had called 911. Do you think the fire chief would call 911? Not! So Betty drove him in to the hospital.

This was right about the same time that the guy cut off his arm that was trapped by a boulder, so Betty wasn’t all that worried. But Michael was plenty worried, and kept unwrapping the towel he had wrapped around his stub, and peeking inside. Betty told him to calm down, since it wasn’t her finger.

We got to the hospital, and after what seemed like an eternity, but probably was less than an hour, the surgeon saw him. He started shooting Michael up with novocaine or something to numb the remains. Michael was talking a blue streak to keep his mind off of the procedure at hand. The doctor told Michael that he would have to remove even more of his bone to allow for enough of a skin flap to cover it, and to smooth out the remaining edges a bit. (Ouch!).

At this point, Betty wanted to leave, but Michael wanted her there, so she made the ultimate sacrifice (poor Betty!). The sound it made was like clipping a really hard big toenail off. Not very pleasant. Anyway, back to the patient. The doctor, who is also a golfer, told Michael he would try to leave enough bone so that Michael could continue to hold a club. They did a nice job, and it has healed well enough that Michael can still do pretty much everything he did before.

Mainly he was mad at himself. Here, you live to be 63 years old, and meet many digitally challenged people over the years and think to yourself, how could they be so dumb? Well, now Michael has joined the fraternity, and you’d be amazed at how large the fraternity is.

TV Guide Incident

We don’t know how it came to be, but we started getting magazines we hadn’t ordered: Popular Mechanics, a sports mag, and TV Guide. At first it was one TV Guide, then it became 3, then 6. Betty was happy because she could put them in the cabins for our guests. Betty must have mentioned that she couldn’t figure out why we were getting all these TV Guides, and Michael, being attuned to everything Betty says as a complaint, promptly called TV Guide and told them we never ordered their magazine and to stop sending it. Later, Betty noted that we weren’t getting the TV Guides any more, and what a shame, because everybody liked getting them. Michael told her he had cancelled them because he figured they were just junk mail. Boy, was Betty mad, not to mention our guests, who now don’t know what’s on TV. Betty brings it up often, and not in a good way. Some guys just can’t win.


Michael loves to golf, and tries to get out to Big Creek at least once a week. You are welcome to join him when you stay with us, so bring the clubs. Betty was concerned that his game wasn’t improving, so she devised a training program that has Michael walking with her and the dogs on Ozark Isle twice a week. Though his game hasn’t yet showed improvement, it has stabilized somewhat.


No vacation for us this year, we spent all our money we had on the house, and we’re not sorry! We did get a trip to Chicago this December to visit family and friends. We stayed at LaQuinta Inn in Schaumburg, and took our dogs. The woods was just a mile away with miles of hiking trails where we took the dogs for an hour’s walk every morning so they would be good for the day while we shopped, ate, visited, caught some movies, etc.


Both of us are doing pretty good, just slowing down at bit, and needing the occasional nap. Michael takes his Lipitor, and is keeping his cholesterol in check, though certainly not through diet. He sometimes has problems with his back and hip, but nothing that holds him back.

Betty has Rheumatoid Arthritis, but is doing very well in managing it. Nothing else to report, except she’s trying to slowly wean herself off her hormone replacement therapy, and is planning to go in for her first colonoscopy this spring. Her big problem this past year was some annoying new facial hair. She would welcome anyone’s suggestions on how to best get it off, short of lathering and shaving.

Meet Our Staff

Our housekeeping staff now consists of:

Sarah Nelson, who is a second generation Nelson to work here at Black Oak. Her mom, Kristi, who some of you will remember worked for us for many years. Sarah is a junior at Mountain Home High, and is an accomplished musician, playing the clarinet in the band. She’s an excellent student, and has gone to band camp, and will be going to Germany this summer with her German class for three weeks. Boy, will we miss her then!

Alicia Barcelona
Alicia works as a supervisor in the Mountain Home school cafeteria, and works at Black Oak during the summer. She has worked here now for several years. She’s originally from Louisiana, and greets us as “Miss Betty” and “Mr. Mike.” Alicia also has worked at Oakland Marina, and is very well-mannered.

Shirley Best
Shirley is our most recent employee, having moved into Oakland from Indiana last June. Shirley has a home on 40 acres, with several caves on her property. She’s also a big animal lover (3 dogs, 3 cats). She makes wonderful chocolate chip and sugar cookies, and is a great cook. She is a member of the book club with Betty, and is also an aspiring author. Her husband Marty also works here lending a hand to Michael.

Jan Crooker
Jan worked here last year, and was a life-saver, helping Betty with the move out of and back into the cabin, during construction and remodeling. Betty hopes to see Jan back this year, but business opportunities are calling her away. We wish her luck with her Hook-Hider Rod business.

In Memory - Teri Braun

We lost a good friend and old customer of ours this year. Teri Braun used to come here every year with her boyfriend Dave Smith. We spent many good times with her before they went their separate ways, and we never saw her again. Teri would always have us over for a splendid dinner while they were here. We will always remember her as a wonderfully warm person who brightened up a room. She was a nurse, and exemplified all the best qualities of the profession. She gave Betty an antique pink glass candy dish when she found out that Betty collected it. Teri died of cancer last year. We will always remember her fondly.

2003 Fishing Contest Results

4.8 lbs.
Rich Scrima
Mt. Prospect, IL

May 23, 3 p.m.
Sunny, 75, Calm
Green w/Red Flake Gitzit
1/4-oz. Jig Head
Casting, Point 16

Blue Gill
0.8 lbs.
Mike Philipps
Davis Junction, IL

September 25, 6:30 p.m.
Calm, Warm, Clear
Pumpkin Seed French Fry Worm

4.0 lbs.
Jason Beyers
Lanark, IL

June 18, 5:30 a.m.
Warm, Calm, Drizzling
J Bristow’s Silver Chug Bug on Loan
Point 10, On the Bank, Surface
Catch and Release

2 lbs.
Bill Saager
Ottawa, IL

April 10, 2 p.m.
Warm, Sunny, Light Breeze
Live Minnow

5.4 lbs.
Mike Philipps
Davis Junction, IL

May 14
Windy, Cool
Live Bluegill
Trot Line

White Bass
4.5 lbs.
Jim Griffiths
Marseilles, IL

April 3, 9 a.m.
Windy, Clear, Warm
White Grub
1/8-oz. Jig Head
7 Feet

Rainbow Trout
3.2 lbs.
Carol Vinson
St. Charles, MO

September 1, 1 p.m.
Cloudy, Windy, Warm
Lindy Rig, 30 Feet
Point 16 on Flats

3.8 lbs.
Carol Vinson
St. Charles, MO

May 16, 1 a.m.
Partly Cloudy, Full Moon, Only Hours
Following the Total Lunar Eclipse
Calm, Warm
Red & Purple Chomper
On the Bank
Catch and Release

Hybrid Striper
16.9 lbs.
Bob Upton
Galena, IL

May 9, 8:45 a.m.
Overcast, Warm, Slight Breeze
#9 Shad Rap, Silver & Black
Point 11, 50 Feet, Trolling

Notes on contest. The 16.9 lb hybrid striper caught this year by Bob Upton is the largest caught at our resort since they accidentally released 50,000 several years back. The Arkansas record is 27 pounds. By the way, Bob and his buddy Bill Sligar were the ones who caught the record 53 pound striper out of our lake back in 1987.

One of our biggest whites was caught this year by Jim Griffiths. Funny story here–Jim thought he had a hybrid striper because it was so big, and he fileted it. When he looked at the picture of the species, he realized that he had a near-record white. Of course, he was really upset, because he could have had it mounted or at least taken its picture.

Jason Beyers’ largemouth win must have been a bittersweet moment for his friend J Bristow and his father-in-law Larry Downing. Both J and Larry have been coming to Black Oak forever and neither have ever won the contest. And along comes this young whipper-snapper who spends half his time here golfing, and he wins the contest.

Bill Saager won two years in a row, this year for the crappie. Bill has taught Mike a great deal about crappie fishing (see related article).

We did have one family relation win the contest. Rich Scrima (Mike’s brother) won for his walleye.

Double winners in this year’s contest were Carol Vinson (Rainbow and Smallmouth) and Mike Philipps (Catfish and Bluegill).

Most of our contest winners were from Illinois again. The most winners were in May, with April and September tying for second most winners. One winner in June, and we figure July and August was primarily only boaters and water-skiers.

Also of note this year: We had Bob Ericson and Jerry Dohe tell us that Bob caught what he thought to be a perch this November. Michael told him that he must be mistaken, since there are no perch in this lake. But, Bob was quite insistent, having fished for plenty of perch in his life, so Mike went to take a look, and sure enough, it was a perch, about 11-inches long. We theorize that some fishermen have initiated their own stocking program. So, you may be finding more.

Congratulations to all winners. They will receive a 10% discount on their cabin this year!

Fishing Contest Rules

Fish must be weighed on official scale by Mike.
New rule for 2004. Fish must be 1 pound or more for pan fish (crappie, bluegill, etc.).

Bull Shoals Lake Fishing Reproduction and Sampling Reports for 2003

Arkansas Game and Fish reports that we had an excellent smallmouth bass spawn on Bull Shoals Lake this year. Small threadfin shad were abundant, so the game fish should continue their excellent growth. The large numbers of 2002 spawned largemouth bass and crappie should carry the fisheries of the lake for several years. The 2002 crappie spawn was the highest since sampling began in 1972, and the largemouth bass spawn was in the top 5.

In order to improve spawning success on the lake, Game and Fish have initiated an aquatic plant project on Bull Shoals. They have constructed and installed protective cages at five sites around Bull Shoals Lake. Each cage was planted with one of 14 species of emergent (shoreline) or underwater aquatic plants. The cages prevent fish and turtles from eating the plants until they can become established.

Mike’s Crappie Fishing Tutorial

Gary Nelson holding a nice catch of crappie
Gary Nelson holding a nice catch of crappie

Up until this year, Michael did not give much thought to crappie fishing. He was strictly a bass and walleye expert. So this year, after getting much needed guidance from some of our top crappie fishermen, notably Bill Saager, and local crappie expert and sportswriter Gary Nelson, he began to figure it out, and its really paying off. Betty loves crappie better than even walleye!

Time of Year: You can catch crappie from April into July. The best time is April and May. Crappie spawn in April into May. They say that the crappie spawn when the dogwood bloom, which is always around mid-April. In the fall, crappie can be caught in the brush piles. The peak time would probably be late September. Check our contest records through the years for the best times.

Where to Find ‘em. Arkansas Game & Fish has planted tree cover throughout the lake. There are blue and white signs along the shoreline indicating the approximate location. Also, the fishing hot spots maps will indicate where these brush piles are. You can find the brush piles by using your LCD fish finder. The brush piles are at from 10 to 20 feet deep at normal lake pool, which is 654 feet above sea level. It is important to know what the lake level is at when you’re here to determine how deep the brush piles are. Also, many of the local fisherman have planted their own brush piles in the coves, and you may come upon them.

Tackle. Mike prefers ultra-light spinning tackle or preferably a 10-foot crappie pole. A fly rod would also be an excellent choice. The line should be 4 to 6 pound test in low visibility green or clear. Mike uses 4 pound Trilene XL green. Mike uses 1/16 to 1/8 ounce jigs tipped with a crappie minnow. The color of the jig head can be white, chartreuse, or pink. Sometimes you can put a little plastic tube bait, called a crappie grub, behind the jig instead of a minnow (but minnows work best).

Technique. You can use the trolling motor to position you over the brush pile. Mike just goes around the brush pile, varying the depth of the bait, by vertical fishing the jig. If you don’t get any fish, move to another. Crappie will spook after you’ve caught a few, so you need to move and go back later. There will be sunken trees around our dock which are visible by the yellow and black striped rope. You can fish off the dock, day and night and catch crappie, especially in May.

Limits. There is a 10-inch size limit, and 15 crappie per day per fisherman. There is no limit to the number of poles you can use. As we mentioned earlier, there should be abundant crappie, so you may want to plan accordingly this year.

"Best" Area Restaurants

New Restaurants

I’d like to introduce to a new spectacular restaurant unlike any in the area – The Mad Hatter’s. Our new housekeeper, Shirley Best, is also an aspiring writer and contributed this review.

The Mad Hatter’s - Review

And now, we come to a lunch restaurant that you simply cannot pass up. That is, unless you are a person who always looks for the hamburger on the menu, like my dear husband, Marty. The Mad Hatter’s is a whimsical lunch eatery with, as you might guess, an “Alice in Wonderland” theme. The restaurant’s decor is as delightful as the menu itself. If you enjoy wonderful fruit tea or bubble tea, specialty coffees, delicious quiche, elegant homemade sandwiches and excellent salads that probably give you your days’ requirement of vegetables, then by all means, the Mad Hatter’s in Mountain Home is for you. Oh, and should you have room for dessert, oh my, my, my! What a wonderful selection of homemade sweets! You are also welcome to stay and chit chat to your heart’s content, savoring that last bite of homemade lemon pie. This is a restaurant you will want to visit every time you stay at Black Oak Resort. Regular hours are Monday thru Friday, 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. However, this June and July, your host & hostess, Kirby and Cindy Childress, are extending the Mad Hatter’s day to include Saturdays, just for all of the Mountain Home area resort guests! They have also added an outdoor eating area with a small pond so you can take pleasure in our beautiful weather as well as your wonderful lunch! ENJOY and remember to Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Deeply and Dream Always:)!

Contributed by: Shirley Ann Best
The Mad Hatter’s is located on Hwy 62 East in Mountain Home, just past Burger King at the light, on the left. I recommend their quiche, which comes with salad and a wonderful fresh baked scone with lemon cream.
Phone: 424-3421
No Alcohol
No Smoking

El Charro’s - Review

Hwy 62 East in Mountain Home in College Plaza
Phone: 425-7877
Hours: M-Th 10:40 to 9, F 10:40 to10, Sa 10:40 to 9:30, Sun 11 to 8:30
No Alcohol
Small smoking room at the rear. Mostly non-smoking. No smoke smell in non-smoking area.

This restaurant has been around for awhile, but we just started going to it regularly this past year. We eat here all the time, especially when we’re short of time. You can be in and out in 20 to 30 minutes, service is that quick. They never rush you. The servers are pleasant and efficient. Not much English is spoken here. The best Mexican food in town. They also have lots of vegetarian entrees, and you can order a child’s portion for less if you have a mini-appetite. We almost always order the beef tacos with rice and beans. We like the soft tortillas. You have to let them know if you want them this way, otherwise they come crispy. The complementary chips and salsa are brought to your table almost instantaneously, and are freshly made. The sauce is mildly zippy, but you can ask for hotter if you like. Our grand-nephew Michael Gelsomino, who is vegetarian, loves this place.

Chili’s - Review

Hwy 62 East in Mountain Home, by the new Wal-Mart Super Center
Hours: M-F 11 to 9, Sa-Sun 11 to 10:30
Smoking and Non-Smoking Sections

We have only eaten here once, and we liked it! The portions are large, the prices are quite reasonable. You get fresh cooked vegetables with your entrees. The appetizers are excellent. This place is sort of Mexican, or Southwestern themed. We loved the way they grill their meat. Betty had their grilled chicken and shrimp, and it was cooked to perfection with a hint of spicy. The only drawback is it is very busy, and even though they have a non-smoking section, Betty could still smell the smoke.

Popeye’s Chicken - Review

Hwy 62 East in Mountain Home, by the new Wal-Mart Super Center
Phone: 492-4420
Hours: Sun-Th 10 to 9, F-Sa 10 to 10
No Alcohol

We now have a fast-food alternative to KFC Chicken for those that like their chicken spicier. They also have a drive-thru. Chicken is not spicy enough for Betty’s taste.

Sutton’s - Review
Hwy 5 South, Mountain Home
Phone: 425-4099
Hours: M-Th 11 to 8, F-Sa 11 to 9, Closed Sunday
No Alcohol

Smoking and Non-Smoking

Betty likes their wraps and homemade potato chips. They have huge burgers that are excellent. Homemade soups, sandwiches. Good place for lunch. Generous portions.

Big Creek Golf and Country Club - Review
Hwy 62 West, Mountain Home
No Smoking

Great Relaxing Atmosphere. The restaurant is a private club, but we can make reservations for you for lunch or dinner, or for golf, as our guests.

"Best" List of Area Restaurants

PLEASE CHECK WITH US BEFORE YOU GO OUT TO ANY OF THESE RESTAURANTS. Find out in advance if we still stand behind these recommendations, and be sure to find out the days and times the restaurants are open, and whether or not reservations are recommended. Also, find out if they serve liquor and if a membership is required. Things could be mighty different than what you're used to.

Best Appetizer: 178 Club (Potato Skins), Bull Shoals

Best Atmosphere: Big Creek, Mountain Home, (No Smoking)

Best Bar-B-Que: Al-B’s, Lakeview
Phone: 431-4020
Hours: M-Th 11 to 8, F-Sa 11 to 9, Closed Sunday
Beer and Wine

Best Breakfast: Th’Barn Café, Oakland
Lee’s (On the square), Mountain Home
Phone: 425-1013
Hours: M-F 7 to 2, Sa 7-11 a.m., Closed Sunday
No Alcohol

Best Buffet: The Front Porch (Daily), Yellville

Best Entertainment: Hopper's Dinner Club, Mountain Home (music and drinks)

Best Hamburger: The Back Forty, Mountain Home

Best Italian: Dino's, Mountain Home

Best Lunch: Sutton’s, Mountain Home, Sodie’s, Flippin, Mad Hatter’s, Mountain Home

Best Chicken: White Water Grill (Fried), Mountain Home; Sodies (Chicken Tenders), Flippin; Wendy’s (Spicy Chicken Sandwich), Mountain Home; Chili’s (Grilled Chicken), Mountain Home

Best Sunday Brunch: Baxter Regional Medical Center Cafeteria. This is put on by Marriott Hotels, and is outstanding in its presentation, quality and quantity of food. Prime rib roast carved fresh for you, omelets prepared to order, waffles, a wide selection of hot dishes, salads, fruits, and desserts. Elegant table service. Best value in town, bar none.
Phone: 508-1530
Hours: Sunday, 10-30 to 1:30
No Smoking
No Alcohol

Best Oriental: Blossom Cafe -- all fresh ingredients and not overcooked! Vegetarian dishes plus Oriental and American beer and wine. (No Smoking)

Best Prime Rib: 178 Club (Saturdays), Bull Shoals

Best Ribs: Hopper's Dinner Club

Best Salad: White Water Grill,
Mountain Home

Best Seafood: 178 Club, Bull Shoals
Fred's Fish House, Mountain Home (catfish)

Best Steaks: 178 Club, Bull Shoals
Hopper's Dinner Club, Mountain Home

Best Value: Chili’s, Mountain Home; Th’Barn Café, Oakland

Best View: Gastons, overlooking the White River, Lakeview

New For 2004

Expanded Lake View
As we prepare this newsletter, we are clearing the land below our cabins to open up the view of the lake. We know you will be pleasantly surprised when you come down and see the lake again. Over the years, the trees kept growing and obscuring our view. Well, now we have it back!

New Patio Doors Leading Out to Decks
We have to maintain our cabins even though they are relatively new. This year’s project is to replace the sliding glass doors on the lake side with new patio doors with low-e glass that protects against sun damage and has much greater insulating properties. Our sliders have become more difficult to move, and some keep breaking the seal and forming condensation, thus obscuring our lovely view. We are starting on cabins 6, 7 and 8 first, and we’ll hope to have them completed before April.

Dish Satellites
We are also trying to get satellite systems for all of our deluxe cabins this year. We are shooting for April. We are looking at prices on the various systems that are affordable for small resorts.

New Businesses
We have new owners of the Oakland Marina. This is another set of new owners, not the ones who bought it last year.

We also have new owners of the Barn Café: Connie Wheeler and John Evans. The place looks great, and they are planning on having expanded hours. We are eating there quite regularly and are very satisfied. Food is cooked to order, with generous servings. Everything is meticulously clean, and the service is excellent. We wish them success. Don’t miss it!

New business has come to Oakland. We have a new gift shop: Sister Creek Creations, right off Hwy 202 on county road 181. They have some beautiful things, all handmade; birch lamps, birdhouses, quilted table runners, and many other items you would love.. Owners are John and Penny Parsons. Normal hours from May thru September are: Thursday thru Saturday from 10 to 5. Or you can call ahead before you go, and if they are available, you can come over. Phone: 431-5210.

We hope you are all aware that we have a new Wal-Mart Super Center just east of Mountain Home. It’s been there over a year, and most of you know about it, but some of our guests went to town looking for the old one, and it was closed. So, just keep going east on 62 until you come to it on the right, about 4 miles further.

Improvements In 2003

New Home
The year 2003 was our year!

First and foremost, we finally have our home. We completed the addition to our cabin, and we are ecstatic. For the first time in 18 years we can move without bumping into each other and at least one or more animal. We are all moved in and working on the finishing touches. We have a metal roof, copper-colored, that is a sight to behold. The addition is more of an open “living space,” which we needed after all those years living in one room. There’s plenty of space for all our animals, lots of light, three skylights, plenty of lighting, and in the kitchen we have a double oven, a refrigerator with water and ice dispenser, built in microwave, lots of cabinets, pantry, island, dishwasher, and the crowning glory, a three hole sink. Those of you who saw what we had before can appreciate how much we are in our glory. Of course, Michael had to get a new 36-inch TV. We have two sofas and two recliners – the recliners we stole out of our cabins for now, but we’ll be getting our own soon. We also have added a bedroom and bath, and a tornado-shelter closet.

On the existing side, we changed what was once our bedroom into our storage room for linens, supplies, etc. with a separate entrance for our housekeeping staff’s use. We eliminated the two fireplaces (Betty can’t stand smoke anyway), because we needed the wall space more. We made our old kitchen into the computer nook, and freed up more space for the office/reception area. We still kept our old bathroom, closet and bedroom on the old side, but we replaced all windows and doors. All windows are low-e glass, and what a difference. We now have central heat/air, and it is a heat pump system, with 2 fan speeds, high efficiency, with a 16 seer rating. Of course the thermostat lets you program for each day of the week, and different times each day. We also replaced all interior doors with solid wood 6-panel doors. There’s a huge deck out back, and we plan to add a sunroom off the bedroom in the next couple of years. Betty never wants to leave this place. It is now perfect.

New Car
We want to thank all of our guests who were so thoughtful to give us housewarming gifts. They were so much appreciated, mostly because its nice when people are kind enough to celebrate someone else’s happiness. Your thoughtfulness will be remembered.

This was also the year when our old 1972 Chevy Ambulance van quit. At the bottom of our hill, no less! By that time, it was only running on five or six cylinders (out of eight!), so there was no thought of repair. Michael needed to get another service vehicle to replace it, since we use it all the time for hauling, launching boats, etc. Betty thought Michael should get a pick-up. Michael wanted an SUV. Betty thought the pick-up was more practical. Michael wanted an SUV. Guess who won. We now are the proud owners of a new (actually, a 1999, new to us) Ford Explorer, which is not a pick-up!

New Motor
At least something was done with our guests in mind. Michael upgraded the motor on the G3 boat he purchased new last year. He replaced the 70 HP motor with a 90, and moved the 70 onto our Mag-17, so our bass boats have improved.

Our Plans

Our plans have not changed. In brief, we are someday planning to retire, but not for at least 3 or 4 more years. We are planning on staying on the resort and selling our cabins to our guests over this next couple of years. We won’t fully retire for a long time, because we will manage the property as long as we’re able. It’s just that we have to have a plan at our ages. Michael will be 64 this year, Betty will be 62. We have some interested parties for some of our cabins, specifically cabins 4, 6, 7, and 8. But nothing is definite at this time. We have to get further along with the details of how this will work before we can close on any deals. The only thing that might change is the prices as real estate values keep going up. We think we may be willing to deal when it comes to our regular one-bedroom cabins, as we have not had anyone express interest in those. They are not modernized like our deluxe cabins, and would require more work to bring them up to the same level.

We may have already sold Black Oak Inn by the time this reaches you. We have a contract in the works with two of our regular guests that stay at both places. We will be continuing to manage that property after it is sold as long as they want us to.

Now that we’ve cleared our property and built our home, it would be real hard to leave. So, it looks like we’ll be here as long as we can still do what it takes. Hopefully, for a long time. We are both in good health, except we like naps more than ever!

New Fun Things To Do On Vacation

New Sundance Movie Theater. Six new theaters with stadium seating and Dolby surround sound. Mountain Home. Seating is perfect for lovers, as the arm rest can be raised. Senior Discounts. 425-3900.

The Zone. Miniature Golf, Arcade, Go-Carts, Batting Cage. Located on Hwy 62 West, Mountain Home. Seasonal. Call for hours. 425-4653

Gun Clubs
You could go with Michael to three gun clubs for sporting clay and skeet shooting, so bring your guns! All three clubs have one loaner gun to use if you don't have your own.

Quails Inn Game Preserve. Hunting quail, pheasant and chukar, with guide and dogs. Located in Ash Flat.

Rainbow Trout and Game Ranch. Located in Rockbridge, Missouri. Sporting Clays, Skeet, Hunting quail, pheasant and chukar with guide and dogs. 417-679-3619.

Twin Lakes Gun Club. Skeet, trap and sporting clays. Mountain Home. 481-5599

Golf Courses

Michael has been golfing at all three of our 18-hole golf courses: Big Creek Golf & Country Club, Twin Lakes Golf Course and Rivercliff. Both Big Creek and Twin Lakes are in Mountain Home, while Rivercliff is on the White River in Bull Shoals. We are arranging special pricing for our guests. Check with us before you go golfing, but by all means bring your clubs, or better yet, go golfing with Michael, since he is going once a week now anyway.

Rivercliff Golf Course offers golf in the shadow of Bull Shoals Dam
Rivercliff is on the White
River in Bull Shoals.

Twin Lakes Golf Course offers 18 holes in Mountain Home
Twin Lakes Golf Course offers
18-hole golfing in Mountain Home.

New Products

First thing are the restaurants we love that are chain restaurants across the country, or at least the Midwest. Our first love is the Olive Garden. We love the salad and bread, the mussels, the desserts, the Chicken Scampi Pasta, and the Seafood Pasta, and of course the wine and the mint!

We also love the Outback for their steaks and their coconut shrimp and consistent good food every time we go to one, no matter where. Our newest love is the Cheesecake Factory. This place has everything, and its all great. It has a lot more than cheesecake. The menu is huge, and the prices are not bad.

We have to rave about La Quinta Inns. We stayed at the one right next to Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg outside Chicago. Here are the things we loved about it. The bathroom was big and filled with light. The roomy room had a desk and two office-type chairs, two nightstands, a refrigerator, microwave and coffeepot, plus an easy chair. The room was immaculate, and we even got to bring our two dogs with at no extra charge.

Because of the dogs, we requested that our room be cleaned at the same time every day while we were out walking the dogs. No problem! We know as resort owners, the scheduling is difficult for special requests, but they never missed a day. They had a complimentary breakfast, which we ate every morning, except the one day when we had to have Dunkin Donuts. The rooms were immaculate and very well appointed. A laundry was on the premises.

The hotel was right across the street from Woodfield Mall, close to tons of shopping, and less than a mile from the expressways. Everyone was pleasant and we highly recommend you stay there on your next trip (that is, a non-Black Oak Resort trip).

Other new products to try:

The new microfiber kitchen towels. Boy are they a thousand times more absorbent, they don’t seem to pick up stains, and they leave no lint. Betty won’t ever buy a regular towel again. Why don’t they make them in bath towels?

Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Oil Shampoo. Leaves no residue, and your hair is shiny and smells kind of like eucalyptus. The best, but don’t get it in your eyes. Betty rotates it with Pantene Pro-V 2 in 1 Shampoo + Conditioner Classic Clean.

“Dirty” All Natural Potato Chips. Recommended by Shirley Best. Cholesterol-free, kettle cooked in peanut oil, and Kosher certified. Contain no MSG, no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners. Try the Salt & Vinegar. Made in Gramercy, Louisiana, can be purchased in Mountain Home. To order: 800-347-8972, www.dirtys.com.

Chicken Soup for the Pet Lovers Soul Brand Dog Food. Recommended by Shirley Best.
Here’s a list of the ingredients in their dry dog food. Chicken, turkey, chicken meal, turkey meal, whole grain brown rice, whole grain white rice, oatmeal, potatoes, cracked pearled barley, millet, duck, salmon, egg, flaxseed, kelp, chicory root extract, carrots, peas, apples, dried skim milk, cranberry powder, rosemary extract, parsley. Has no mystery ingredients, also comes in canned. Cat food is also available. A good bet for all your pets.

Black Oak Resort Policies

Changes to our rates: Our updated rates are published on our website. Please note the changes.

We also have changed our May rates from the Summer to the Spring rate level, saving you some money if you come in May.

Changes to our reservation policy. We have always given our guests up to January 1 to have their deposits paid on their next year’s reservations. We spend most of the month of January following up with our guests on confirming their reservations. To avoid this, and to respond more rapidly to others requesting these same reserved but unconfirmed cabins, we must change that policy to the following: When a guest requests the same week in a cabin for the following year, the deposit is due at the time you make the reservation. In certain cases, if you can’t give a deposit at that time, we may hold the cabin for 1 month from the day you make the reservation.

We wish we didn’t have to make this change, but we lose many opportunities to fill our cabins with our old policy. We have found that if we tell people they have to wait for us to let them know if the cabin is available, today’s customer will just as soon look elsewhere. We value each of our regular returning guests, but we cannot afford to turn away potential customers in order to hold unconfirmed cabin reservations in today’s changing business environment.

New E-Mail Address
We have a new e-mail address: vacation@blackoakresort.com. Please update your records, since we no longer have the old address.

Our Web Site

Our Web site is updated often, so if you haven't checked it out lately, you might want to take a look at it.

It has every fishing contest result going back to 1991, and shows the biggest fish ever caught at Black Oak in each category. It also has all the recipes published in past years' newsletters, as well as the complete newsletter from every year. So it's loaded with information.

It has a section on subscribing to our e-newsletter. It also has a section for inquiring about available dates for reservations.

Also, please visit our Favorite Links page, where you'll find restaurants and things to do in our area, as well as informative Web sites such as the Arkansas Web site. You may also set up a reciprocal link with our Web site.

We also encourage you to send us your photos for inclusion in our e-newsletters. Please provide caption information in detail!

Black Oak Resort
P.O. Box 100
Oakland, Arkansas 72661
(870) 431-8363
E-mail: vacation@blackoakresort.com

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