2005 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 2004 Guests

Table Of Contents:

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Dear Friends,

Welcome to Black Oak Resort!How was your year? We hope that it was a great one. Ours was pleasantly quiet, with no bad news to report. Of course there was plenty going on, as you’ll see as you read on. We are enjoying our new home, especially the extra space, and have been sticking close to home for now.

Our plans have not changed from last year. 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.

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 '05!
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 10 now, and may be older. He still walks with Betty. He’s now walking further, and averages 4 or 5 days a week. At least two of the walks are over 4 miles, and the other walks are 2 ½ miles. He doesn’t go very fast, but then neither does Betty these days. Sam is still improving physically. He can still get into the van unaided. He had to have surgery to remove a growth on his head that was getting larger. Doc thinks it is benign, and we decided not to biopsy it. Hopefully we’ll have Sam for many years to come.

Sam, the Couch Potato

Abby, our Miniature Black Lab, is 5 years old now, and still youthful. She is still sleek and shiny, and highly energetic on her walks with Betty, often going on big circular tears around Betty, with terrific cornering ability. The only telltale sign she’s not a puppy anymore is the beginnings of a grey muzzle. She is the most affectionate dog – loves everyone, and only barks when the cats want in or if the phone rings. She would make a great hearing-ear dog.

One terrible thing that just happened with Abby, which is Betty’s fault, is Abby cut her snout horribly on a can of cat food. Betty has always let all her dogs lick the cans after she feeds her cats. It’s the highlight of the dog’s day. Never had any problems until now. When Betty took the can away from Abby, she noticed what she thought was cat food on the side of Abby’s snout.

Upon closer inspection she discovered it was blood. The spot was pretty big, and looked awful. The other side of her snout also was punctured in 4 or 5 spots, but no bleeding. Evidently, this can had a piece of metal sticking out like a dagger, and in Abby’s vigorous efforts to get all the way into the bottom of the can, caused herself quite a bit of damage. Since there was no real bleeding, Betty decided to just watch it and see how it looked later.

When she got a look at it later on, after quite a few hours, it looked worse. The snout was swollen, and the punctured area now looked raw and oozing. She waited another hour, and it looked worse than before. She said to Michael that she thought she should bring Abby in to see the vet the next morning.

After another hour or so, she checked it again, and it was looking more puffy, and was even worse looking. So, she called the emergency number for the vet, and asked if he would see her right away. He agreed to meet at the clinic in an hour.

Betty and Mike with AbigailBetty and Michael took her in to the vet, and got to see him at around 9 p.m. It had now been 15 hours since Abby cut herself. Our vet agreed that she had a fast-progressing infection that was probably mainly from the cat saliva on the cans, which as Betty knows can lead to an awful infection.

He cleaned the wounds, administered a steroid IV shot to reduce swelling and gave her a strong antibiotic. Betty was sent home with the rest of the antibiotics for Abby to take for the next ten days. Betty learned a lesson the hard way at her beloved dog’s expense; that is, do not let your dogs lick the cat food cans.

Abby should be fine, but she may have some “freckles” on her face from it. Betty felt terribly guilty that she ignored the advice of so many who warned her not to let them eat out of an opened can. Betty has vowed she will never do that ever again.

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

Neither of our dogs like the cats very much. Sam does favor Gorgeous, since she is an excellent bug pointer. When she starts stalking something, he immediately jumps up and devours the bug. He eats spiders, crickets, flies, you name it – he’ll eat it. Abby, being so jealous, really hates all the cats pretty equally, although she sort of plays with Jitterbug, but only outside. Inside, she hates them all.

By the way, our dogs want you to know that they have found a “great new product” this year too. It’s “Greenies,” which by now most everyone has heard of. My dogs love them. They are a special treat, since they run over a dollar apiece. They are green, naturally, and in the shape of a toothbrush, and supposedly keep their breath fresh. Maybe that is true if you give them one every day, which we don’t because of the expense. We refuse to spend more money per day on them than on us! If you have smaller dogs, the cost is less when you get the smaller size.


Our cat count remains either the same at 12 or up one at 13, we’re not sure. This is due to the fact that we haven’t seen one black cat (we think). Its hard to tell because unless the three outside black cats are all together, you virtually cannot tell them apart. But lately, we have only been seeing two of them at a time.


First, we have to let everyone know that our traveling cat, Jitterbug made it another year. No new adventures (boat trips) to report. So far, he’s only visited Missouri and Illinois. Most of you have been paid a visit by our black and white tomcat with the sleek body and long legs just made for jumping. Many of you have supported this cat by feeding him and sheltering him while you were staying with us, and for that we thank you. He is seemingly loved by all, even though we know him as an indifferent, malignant-natured cat who has no use for us.

New Kitten

We still have Little-Little, Fluff-Fluff, Cutie-Pie, Handsome, and Gorgeous. These are our inside/outside cats.

Gorgeous, our youngest, has turned out to be our only lap cat, and only goes out occasionally now, usually when the weather is perfect and the moon is full!

For outside cats we still have Igor, Scaredy-Cat, White-Foot, Blackie (maybe), Pinky, and Newman. We have added one new cat. We call him Studly. He looks an awful lot like Newman (black and white, with more white), a wide face and cute facial markings. He’s a laid back cat and getting more and more friendly. Newman still keeps us at arms length, but he will let Betty pet him when he’s eating if he doesn’t see “the hand.”

One of our outside cats is fast becoming another inside cat. Igor likes to come in to eat and then leave, but lately has taken to staying in for a nap afterwards, or somehow dashing inside when the door is open when the weather is especially rotten. Otherwise, she’s a loner, and inhabits our barn/garage.

Certain alliances have formed (just like on reality TV) in our cat population. The three (or two) black cats: Scaredy-Cat, White-Foot, and Blackie, stick together. Pinky and Handsome (both neutered males) have a “thing” for each other. You have to see for yourself. Jitterbug and Little-Little have always loved one another. Gorgeous and Cutie-Pie play together (both long-haired). Fluff-Fluff only likes Betty, and won’t give up her corner of the bed by Betty’s feet. Igor is all loner. And Newman and Studly hang together. We notice a trend: like hangs together with like (blacks, gays, long-hairs, and black and whites). The only anomaly is Little-Little and Jitterbug, who buck the trend, she being black, and Jitterbug black and white). The only thing they have in common is their mean streak. So, in this case, the exception proves the rule.

Betty's News

Betty's Foray Into Street-Walking

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

As you may know, Betty is obsessed with running, even though she no longer runs. She had a last-minute chance to go to the Chicago Marathon – only as a spectator. Betty and her brother Bill decided that since it was a quick trip, and neither wanted to drive, they would take a Greyhound Bus (which is a whole other story, which we will spare you).


The only problem was that since it was a last minute deal, there was not a room to be had anywhere near the marathon. Betty decided that since she would be arriving Saturday at 3 p.m. and leaving Sunday at 7 p.m., there was no need to get a room. She would just have to stay up all night Saturday, watch the race, catch the bus, and be home Monday by 10 a.m.

What she didn’t figure on was that she would not be horizontal from 6 a.m. Friday til 10 a.m. Monday, with very little chance to sleep. All this on a 62-year old overweight, arthritic body.

To break it down, Friday was a normal work day at the resort, maybe more busy than usual with trip preparations. She got a couple hours sleep Friday night, since she had to hit the road shortly after midnight. Drove two hours to Springfield, MO to catch the bus, a 12-hour trip to Chicago with one layover and transfer in St Louis, with just a little poor-quality sleep, all sitting up.

Arrived in Chicago Saturday, 3 p.m. and walked 2 miles to the Chicago Hilton (race headquarters) to catch a shuttle bus to the race Expo til 8 p.m. at McCormick Place. If you’ve ever been to a race expo, its all walking, probably another 2 miles. Caught the shuttle back to the Hilton, then walked to Italian Village, another mile. Waited over an hour for a table, then ate and caught a cab to a movie at 600 N Michigan – actually two movies, (slept thru one).

By now it’s 2 a.m. Sunday, and luckily there was a 24-hour Dunkin’ Donuts not two blocks away where they killed another couple hours. Then they walked to the Hilton at 800 S Michigan, another 2 miles. Sat in the lobby til the hotel restaurant opened up at 5:30 a.m. Ate, then walked over to the finish line and sat thru about 5 hours of finishers crossing the line. Walked to Garrett Popcorn Shop for the best anywhere caramel-corn. Walked a ways, finally gave up and took a cab to the bus station.

By this time everything was hurting, and beyond tired. Actually had another couple hours before boarding bus home. Remember, lots of sitting, walking, not horizontal all this time, and not much chance to sleep. Also, Betty had to lug around all her belongings, which included two coats, a spectator throw, purse, briefcase, a book (never travel without one), essential toiletries, and one change of clothes.

At one point, they passed a vacant lot with several homeless people flopped down sleeping on the grass. When they went by this same spot a while later, they were all gone, evidently routed by the Chicago police. Betty worked in downtown Chicago for 22 years, and never really gave much thought to the homeless people she encountered. Now she has much greater empathy for them. They have to stay constantly on the move to avoid the police, with slim chance to stretch out and sleep. After her own brief experience, she now appreciates the homeless shelters for providing for some of our most needy.

That Monday, when Betty finally made it home, she hugged and kissed her animals and then Michael, and immediately showered and crawled into bed for most of the next 24 hours. By the way, Michael was more than upset that Betty was doing this without any place to stay, but Betty can be willful. She should have listened. That’s two mistakes for know-it-all Betty!

Weight Watchers
Can it be that Betty has been with Weight Watchers for over three years? If so, she is ashamed to report no progress in her efforts to lose the weight, and even has a net gain now of about five pounds. She isn’t throwing in the towel just yet. Maybe this will be the year that it sinks in. It’s not that the program doesn’t work, its more that Betty does not always follow the program. But, if she hadn’t stuck with it, she would probably have been even heavier. Betty has been watching the TV show “The Biggest Loser,” and was very motivated by their success, so hopefully she will do better in 2005.

Book Club
Betty joined a book discussion group in July 2003, and its still going strong. Here’s what she read, or attempted to read in 2004.

The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand. Fiction. Considered by some to be one of the classics. It was not well-received by the group. An abundance of words, with not much said. The characters are not likeable, some of their actions unfathomable. Trite and quite tiresome. If this is individualism, give us a break. 1 star.

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl, Fannie Flagg. Fiction. Considerably more readable, and a welcome break from our first book. Kind of amusing and folksy. Light reading. 2 stars.

John Adams, David McCullough. Biography. Those of us who were able to get through this book were amply rewarded. Betty finished it, and will read anything by McCullough she can get her hands on. It did take some time to get through this big book, but it was well worth it. A fascinating look at a man, his life, his remarkable wife Abigail, and his mark on history. 5 stars.

Nickle and Dimed. Barbara Ehrenreich. Non-Fiction. The author goes undercover to discover how the other half lives; specifically those working at or below the poverty level in America. Her findings will surprise you, and you will never look upon a housekeeper, waitress, or Wal-Mart employee the same again. Funny, compassionate, and a real eye-opener. 4 ½ stars.

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone. J. K. Rowling. Fantasy. Betty did not get to finish it. Rowling tells a good story, but is not a great writer, and there is a difference. She’s no Tolkien. But if the tale is good enough, these books will endure. Based on how much she read: 2 ½ stars.

The Da Vinci Code. Dan Brown. Thriller. This book was amazing. What a story-teller. The whole group loved it. It got us talking about religion. A terrific premise for a story. 4 ½ stars.

Left Behind. Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Fiction. Christian fiction of the Rapture and the events that follow. Although the characters are not very well drawn, and the writing not so good, the story is fascinating. The end is very powerful. This is the first book in the series, and you would have to be living under a rock not to have heard of them. 3 stars.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Mitch Albom. Fiction. Betty kind of liked this book, even though this is not her favorite genre to read. It’s one of those feel-good books that makes the case that every life is important. 3 stars.

The Grapes of Wrath. John Steinbeck. Fiction. A classic about a bank-foreclosed farming family that was forced to migrate from Oklahoma to California to find a new life. One of the few times that an ending moved Betty to tears. 5 stars.

Monday Mourning. Kathy Reichs. Fiction. A forensic thriller. These are morbidly fascinating. Not quite as good as Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta thrillers, but still good. 3 stars.

The Great Gatsby. F. Scott. Fitzgerald. Fiction. The great American classic, or so we heard. At least as far as Ken Jennings thinks. Betty was underwhelmed. The wrong people die. 2 ½ stars.

My Antonia. Willa Cather. Fiction. Betty didn’t get a chance to read this, but the group liked it.

We also attempted to read Atlas Shrugged. The group decided not to waste their time. It was more of the Fountainhead. We are now struggling to finish The Source by James Michener. It’s difficult reading and very lengthy, as are all his books. However, it is getting better and better as we get into it, and Betty plans to finish it.

That’s it for Betty’s year in reading. She loves everyone in her book group. They are a stimulating group, with quite diverse opinions. No one pulls any punches, which makes for some lively conversation. Betty is looking forward to her first meeting of 2005. The group meets twice a month, and usually spends two meetings on the same book. Michael has been invited to attend, but so far has resisted. He did start two books this year: The Art of War by Sun Tzu, and Danger by Ben East. So far, no word on when he might finish them, what with TV, fishing, fire department and golf occupying so much of his time.

Off to College
Betty has signed up for some basic personal computer courses at our branch of Arkansas State University (ASU). She has let Michael “own” the computer up to now, and its time for a change. Betty is also planning on getting her own computer to guarantee that she won’t have to fight Michael over use of the computer.

DVDs, Music, TV, Movies

We watched a lot of news this year, as it was a presidential election year. The political ads got pretty sickening. But we enjoyed the parodies of Bush and Kerry (and Theresa) on SNL. Leno did a good job on them too. The debates were bad, with neither candidate spelling much out. But we did vote, and correctly!

Betty watched lots of the Athens Summer Olympics. She especially looked forward to watching the marathons, and was pleasantly surprised that an American man and woman won medals (bronze in the women’s, silver in the men’s).

Betty also was hooked on Ken Jennings on Jeopardy and his non-stop winning streak.

The most depressing TV moment was when Ken Jennings lost on Jeopardy. And when Adrianna got whacked on The Soprano’s. She had to be everyone’s favorite minor character. And so brutal! Betty was viscerally affected and despondent over it. Adrianna (Drea De Matteo) has been resurrected on Joey, but she’s no Adrianna.

Betty’s favorite shows continue to be The Soprano’s, any CSI, but especially the original, and Nip/Tuck. She doesn’t watch many of the comedy shows, not since Frasier and Friends closed up shop. Both love the Andy Griffith show reruns. Michael has a new favorite show. Dr. Phil. But he still loves Judge Judy.

We purchased Seasons 1-3 of Seinfield, a W.C. Fields collection, and two volumes of the original Twilight Zone with Rod Serling series.

Shirley Best introduced us to an artist that we are wild about – Alison Krauss. Thanks, Shirley. Though we are not into country music, everyone is giving us gifts of country artists. Our friends Steve and Maria Swederski gave us Keith Urban and Gretchen Wilson. We haven’t had a chance to listen to them, but they came highly recommended.

We try to see a movie every week. We can’t always do it during our busy season, but it is good to get away. We saw some great movies this year. Finding Neverland, Kinsey, Ray, Collateral, The Manchurian Candidate, Mean Girls, Shaun of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Open Water, and The Incredibles. The two worst movies we saw were Troy and The Whole Ten Yards. Oh, and we hated Farenheit 9/11. It was not a documentary – it was pure propaganda. The real standout movies were Ray and Finding Neverland.

Michael's News

Big Milestone for Michael
Michael will be celebrating a big important birthday this March 3rd when he turns 65. He already took his social security when he was 62, but now he can get on medicare which will help with our medical expenses somewhat. With private insurance we were paying $400 a month for his insurance, and it didn’t ever pay for one single thing in all the years we had the policy (going on 20 years) since it was a catastrophic policy with a $2500 deductible. So that’s the one and only reason he looks forward to getting older!

Fire Department
Michael is still Fire Chief of Oakland. He’s talking about one more term, which would last until he’s 69. Betty isn’t wild about this of course, but Michael is willful too.

Michael’s first (or second to fishing) love is golf, and he 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. By the way, his game has yet to improve, but his stack of golf magazines is!

We stayed home again this winter except for our annual trip to Chicago this December to visit family and friends. We stayed at La Quinta Inn in Schaumburg again so we could take our dogs. We also saw Blue Man Group thanks to Michael Jr. and his girlfriend Christy Riedel, which was the highlight of our trip. We plan to visit Betty’s sister in Indiana this March.

Bragging Rights
Our grand-nephew Michael Gelsomino, who stays with us every summer, is now attending Florida State University in Tallahassee, and is in his third year. He just got his grades for the first semester, and we are proud to report that his GPA is still 4.0 for the entire 2 1/2 years of school. He's majoring in biochemistry with pre-med concentration. He is also gainfully employed tutoring our future pro athletes! He's also now a frat boy - Theta Chi, if we spelled that right. We couldn't be prouder. By the way he's Michael's side of the family.

Michael appears to be in perfect health, with the exception of his cholesterol, which is under control, thanks to Lipitor. He does have a few more aches and pains, but no signs of slowing down, thankfully. He does need his naps, though.

Betty had a flare-up of her Rheumatoid Arthritis, necessitating a trip to the emergency room in November. Neither of us were able to get a flu shot, but have been spared the flu so far. Betty is still doing fine otherwise, except for shopping the Depends aisle more. She is down to 1/3 of her normal dosage of hormone replacement therapy, with only the occasional mild hot flash.

Betty had her first colonoscopy as planned. What everyone says is true, the prep is worse than the procedure. She doesn’t have any polyps and won’t have to repeat the test for 10 years. But she does have a new disease – diverticulosis. The rx was to add more fiber. (Sorry, no pictures this time).

2004 Fishing Contest Results

Glen Struck
Glen Struck





Richard Scrima
Richard Scrima





Reid Wilson and daughter Kelsey holding a 34 pound Blue Catfish
Kelsey & Reid Wilson

5.7 lbs
Glen Struck
St. Louis, MO

September 4, 9:30 a.m.
Clear, Warm, Calm
35 Feet
Lindy Rig with 2 oz. Bottom Bouncer

1.6 lbs.
Mike Moran
Joliet, IL

April 14, 7:30 p.m. (dusk)
Cool, Calm
Motor Oil Grub

Smallmouth Bass
4.3 lbs.
Richard Scrima
Mt. Prospect, IL

April 19, 7:30 p.m.
25 Feet
Crawfish-Color Hot-N-Tot
Point 16, Trolling
Catch and Release

Largemouth (Tie)
4.4 lbs.
Rich (Picky) Downs
Chicago, IL

April 30, 7:30 a.m.
White Spinner
Catch and Release

Blue Catfish (Spear-Fishing)
34.4 lbs.
Reid Wilson
Waterloo, IA

July 28, 4 p.m.

White Bass
2.7 lbs
Don Krause
St. Charles, MO

May 13, 10 a.m.
Cloudy, Windy, Warm
30 Feet
Crayfish-Color Hot-N-Tot
Catch and Release

Rainbow Trout
4.9 lbs.
Andy Kazmierczak
Crown Point, IN

May 6, 6 p.m.
Breezy, Sunny, Hot
Blueish-Green Spoon

Kentucky Bass
3.7 lbs.
Tasha Forrester
St. Charles, MO

July 7, Night-Fishing
Moss Green with Red Flake Gitzit

Largemouth (Tie)
4.4 lbs.
Mike Purifoy
Marion, AR

August 29, 11:30 p.m.
Green Pumpkin Tube Jig
30 Feet

5.6 lbs.
Mike Philipps
Davis Junction, IL

May 10, 6 a.m.
Sunny, Calm, Warm

Notes on contest. We have added another category because we have had our first ever entry of a fish caught by spear-fishing. Some of our guests feel that it is not exactly fair to compete against someone with a spear gun face-to-face with a fish. While we do recognize that spear-fishing is a sport, and a difficult one at that, one which requires its own expertise, we do agree that the odds of selecting a big fish are much more in favor of the spear fisherman. So, this is an additional category just for spear fishing, with only one winner, regardless of species.

We also must mention that the winner, Reid Wilson, had some expert help. His 14-year old daughter Kelsey was spear-fishing with him, and helped him get the thing up into the boat, which was no easy task with a 34-pounder. There is also an excellent picture that Reid’s sister-in-law Sharon DuClos took of the whopper surrounded by some of the Wilson/DuClos family children.

Fish surrounded by all the Wilson/DuClos family children.

Illinois narrowly beat out Missouri this year in the race for the most wins in a state. April and May saw the most winners (3 each), followed by two in July (surprise). We have winners this year for Indiana and Iowa, which may be a first, since most of our winners over the years have almost always been from Illinois, Missouri, or Arkansas.

Tasha Forrester again defended the women fisherman, by winning with a nice Kentucky bass.

Michael’s brother Richard repeats again this year for the largest smallmouth. Looks like great fishermen run in the family. Mike Philipps is also a repeat winner.

Congratulations to Mike Moran, a first-time winner in our contest in the crappie category. Mike just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq, so we are very happy that he won. And what a nice young man. This was also Reid Wilson’s first contest win with that huge catfish. Other first time winners were Glen Struck, Rich Downs, and Andy Kazmierczak.

Congratulations to Don Krause for his win. Don has been a loyal customer for going on 20 years now, and its been awhile since we’ve seen his name in lights.

We thank all our “catch and release” program participants: Rich Downs, Don Krause, and Rich Scrima. May your generous gift keep on giving with all the little offspring these fish produce.

Congratulations to our winners. You will receive a 10% discount off on your cabin next year. We wish each of you many successful fishing trips to Black Oak Resort.

Fishing Contest Rules

Fish must be weighed on official scale by Mike.

Fish must be 1 pound or more.

New Category: Spear-Fishing. Can be any species that can legally be caught by spear-fishing. Only one winner in this category, regardless of species.

“Walleye Capital of the South”

The first ever Professional Walleye Trail (PWT) tournament was held on Bull Shoals Lake June 23 thru June 25, 2004. The tournament matches a pro and amateur in each boat. Each day a different pro and amateur are grouped together. The top pro after three days wins $63,818 and the top amateur wins a 17-foot Lund boat valued at $17,000. In all, $290,000 in cash and prizes is awarded to the top 40 pro and top 40 amateur fishermen.

On the third and final day, Mike Gofron, of Antioch, IL was the overall winner, with a three day total of 14 fish for a 49.73 pound $63,818 victory. Gofron beat out the second place winner Brad Davis, by a tenth of a pound. Davis, of Jackson, WI, who had a total of 15 fish for a total of 49.63 pounds, won $19,818. Which is about a $44,000 difference for one tenth of a pound.

Tom Skarlis, of Walker, MN, entered the tournament as the No. 1 ranked Angler of the Year in 2003 and finished 25th taking home $2,818 for 12 fish weighing 34.75. “This is the walleye capital of the South,” Skarlis remarked. Gofron, noting he caught more pre-fishing than he did over the three days of the tournament, remarked “It’s awesome here to fish. The people here are excellent.”

The combined efforts of the Missouri and Arkansas Game and Fish departments in stocking walleye fingerlings have resulted in abundant walleye in the lake. Now the results of the stocking programs are bearing fruit.

The date for next year’s PWT tournament on Bull Shoals Lake will be May 11, 12, and 13, so if by chance you’re here at that time, take the time to check out the weigh-ins and chat up some top notch walleye fishermen. Or even better, you might try for a tournament amateur spot.

Mike’s Crappie Fishing Tutorial

Mike and Jim holding a nice catch of crappie
Michael and his buddy Jim Jensen took Jim’s friend Dave Barnes from Rogers, Minnesota crappie fishing and caught this nice stringer.

Michael’s crappie fishing has continued to improve. He has now conquered summer and fall crappie fishing. He uses the Fishing Hot Spots maps to locate submerged brush piles. In July and August he uses crappie jigs tipped with a piece of night-crawler. Any other time of year, he uses live minnows combined with crappie jigs, or crappie jigs tipped with a crappie plastic tube. In summer and fall the fishing is deeper, anywhere from 20 to 30 feet deep.

Another Perch Showing
Mike holding perch
Michael took our nephew Scott McKay and his girlfriend Rebecca Thompson fishing over the Christmas holiday, and they caught a perch. That’s the second perch we’ve brought up to now in the past couple of years. Looks like they may be reproducing, cause this one was pretty small. Michael would have released it back, but it was done for when he brought it to the surface, so that’s one less perch now.

"Best" Area Restaurants

New Restaurants Reviewed

Th’ Barn Café
Hwy 202, (1/4 mile from the resort)
No Alcohol
7:00 to 2:00 Sat-Thurs
7:00 to 7:00 Fri

Yes, it’s been around all this time, but Ron and Dotty Kussman are back running it. We know all our guests will be thrilled to hear it.

The Grapevine (Formerly Top Kat)
Hwy 5 (State Line)
Gainesville, MO
Open Lunch and Dinner
11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Closed Mondays

Better known as the Top Kat before it reopened as The Grapevine, our guests loved this place. It is the second closest to our resort, and always had great food. And it looks like the tradition continues.

Salsa’s Grill, Mountain Home
Hwy. 62 E
Mountain Home
10 a.m. - 9 p.m. Mondays - Fridays
11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Saturdays - Sundays

If you enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine, consider a visit to Salsa's Grill in Mountain Home. Betty and I enjoy having a nice lunch before our book club meeting every other Tuesday. This last Tuesday, we decided to give this new restaurant a try. We were both quite pleased.

The restaurant's atmosphere is spacious and colorful. They offer smoking and non-smoking dining areas. The staff was very pleasant and we were attended to immediately. The menu is quite extensive, you will need a few minutes to look it over. While you are doing that, you are served homemade salsa and chips. The salsa is wonderful, as are the light and crispy chips.

Betty had soft tacos with rice and beans. She said they were great. I chose a chicken taco salad. It was one of the best I've ever had. The salad itself was delicious and much to my surprise, the baked tortilla bowl was just as good. I ate the whole thing! Betty on the other hand was much better than me and took home a taco to enjoy at a later time.

Salsa's is open 7 days a week, 10am to 9pm Monday thru Friday and 11am to 9pm Saturday and Sunday. As I said before, the menu is extensive, offering child plates, vegetarian combinations, appetizers & soups, salads, combination dinners, fajitas, steaks, seafood, desserts and a beverage list. They also offer carryout service. Their phone is (870) 424-2690.

So keep Salsa's in mind when you are enjoying your stay at the great Black Oak Resort on one of the most beautiful lakes in this U.S. of A., Bull Shoals. Live Well, love deeply, dream always and laugh often.
Signing off for now - Shirley Ann Best.

Hwy 62
Open for Lunch
Overlooks White River

Duke’s Eatery
107 Hwy. 62 W, Mountain Home
Greek, Italian, and Traditional American Entrees
No Smoking
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
6 a.m. - 3 p.m. Tuesdays - Wednesdays
6 a.m. - 9 p.m. Thursdays - Saturdays
7 a.m. - 3 p.m. Sundays
Closed Mondays


Three of the restaurants reviewed last year have closed their doors: The Mad Hatter’s, Chelsea’s, and Baxter Regional Medical Center (BRMC)’s Sunday Brunch. Chelsea’s is now the new Salsa’s Grill. BRMC will only serve Sunday Brunch on special occasions, we imagine maybe for Easter or Mother’s Day. Fortunately, for every restaurant that closes, another opens.

El Charro’s - '04 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 - ' 04 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 - '04 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 - '04 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 - '04 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
Linda’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; Sodie's (Chicken Tenders), Flippin; Wendy’s (Spicy Chicken Sandwich), Mountain Home; Chili’s (Grilled Chicken), Mountain Home

Best Oriental: Blossom Cafe, Mountain Home - 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, Mountain Home; Full Bar

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 2005

New Patio Doors for Cabins 4 and 7
Last year we replaced our sliding doors with patio doors in Cabins 6 and 8. Our guests are much happier with them. They are low-e glass, which protects against sun damage and has far superior insulating properties, and are much easier to open. This year Cabins 4 and 7 are getting them.

New in Mountain Home
Now that we have our own Wal-Mart Super Center just east of Mountain Home, there has been a great deal of construction going on. Several banks, a Home Depot, a strip mall with a Subway, Goody’s, and more, have opened for business.

Wireless Internet is Coming
We plan on having wireless internet for your convenience by April. So bring your laptops!

New Motor
Michael loves his G3 bass boat, but feels it needs more oomph. So, he is getting a Mercury 135 HP Optimax for it, scheduled for March. He will still be renting it, but it will be much higher than our nearest size motor, which is a 70. If you’re interested, check the 2005 rates first.

Additional No Smoking Cabins
We will be changing Cabins 8 and 9 into No Smoking cabins for 2005. There is an increased demand for no-smoking rooms. Also, for the first time last year we lost two groups who refused to stay in our cabins because the smoke smell was so strong. Betty personally checked, and agreed that the cabins were uninhabitable after the smokers checked out.

We cannot ignore the market shift and the subsequent loss to our business . We will still leave cabins 1 thru 5 as smoking cabins for this year.

However, in future years, we will continue converting more cabins to non-smoking. The fact is less people smoke and more people will not accept a cabin where someone has been smoking. In the two instances mentioned above, even with the best efforts on our part to rid the cabin of the offending smoke odor, it took up to a month for the smell to totally dissipate.

We checked with hotel chains, and found that over 80% of their rooms are no-smoking and going up each year due to market demand. We cannot ignore what the customer demands and risk driving our own valued customers away if we don’t respond.

Where does this leave those of you who smoke who have already reserved these two no smoking cabins 8 and 9? When possible, we will try to put you in one of our remaining comparable smoking cabins. Or, you can keep your reservation and agree to smoke outside. Don’t feel that we have come to this decision easily, or without considering that you are also one of our valued loyal customers. We will try as hard as we can to consider your needs. If you have Cabin 8 or 9 reserved, please contact us with your plans if you are smokers and we will try to resolve this to your satisfaction.

Improvements In 2004

Satellite Dishes
All our deluxe cabins now have satellite service, and our guests are thrilled. The package has approximately 120 channels including HBO. Also, our local stations are on the satellite system.

Expanded Lake View
We did some major clearing down to the government strip, which has really opened up the view for cabins 6, 7, 8 and 9. We will continue clearing now that we see what still needs to be removed. However, we intend to keep as many trees as possible without obscuring the view. The trees will actually be healthier now, and not subject to disease since they have room to grow. Our guests love the difference.

Patio Doors
We installed low-e glass patio doors in cabins 6 and 8. They are much easier to open, and we will continue adding more this coming year in Cabins 7 and 4.

Patio Furniture
Cabins 1 and 2 and our home now have new patio furniture. Tempered-glass tabletops with sturdy coated iron bases. Seats 6. Four matching chairs with mesh weave seats and backs that dry in minutes.

Our Home
We didn’t do much on our own home this year. We got two nice recliners. We also painted the exterior cedar siding and the deck with a lovely cedar solid stain. We got new patio furniture. We also took down our paper office sign when Don and Arlene Krause gave us a beautiful hand-painted slate office sign. We really appreciate your thoughtfulness, Don and Arlene. Thanks so much.

Black Oak Inn For Sale
We had planned to sell our motel to one of our favorite guests. However, due to circumstances beyond their control, they could not commit to the sale at this time. Although they are still interested, we have to go ahead with our plans to sell.

Black Oak Inn is a 6-unit motel about ½-mile west of our resort on Hwy 202. It sits on two acres and includes a 6-unit storage facility as well. Five of the rooms have 2 double beds, one unit has 2 double and 2 twin beds. All have full bath and kitchenettes. The motel is for sale for $150,000. Call us if you might be interested, and we will provide full details. The business flourishes during the summer months, and with the new and improved marina just ½-mile away, keeps getting better. There is a good spring business as well. Slows down after Labor Day.

This would be a great business for some “young” retirees to take over and live on the premises and have a nice extra income, especially since we don’t know what will happen in the future with social security. Since it will be a seasonal business, you’d have plenty of free time to travel and enjoy your retirement. Of course, we could manage it for you if you are not quite ready to make the move here just yet. There’s plenty of room for expansion or a new home, and it has a wonderful winter lake view. It is just going to become more than we want to handle at this stage in our lives. So give us a call and we’ll talk.

Our Plans

Our plans are much the same. Michael turns 65 and Betty 63 this year. Retirement looms nearer, but we anticipate at least 3 more years before we have to think seriously about it. We plan on first offering our individual cabins for sale, and have tentative offers for three or four now. Or if it becomes too much for us, we may sell. You never know what life has in store for you. See prior newsletters for full details.

This is our home, and we have no desire to leave it. Plus we love our life here, including all our returning guests each year. We would dearly miss seeing you and sharing our lives with you for a week or so each year.

New Fun Things To Do On Vacation

Some of the happenings we enjoyed this past year might be something you’d want to enjoy during your stay. So you might want to time your vacation for maximum enjoyment. There are an abundance of happenings in this town, many surrounding our university, and many sponsored and supported by local business. So take your pick.

County Fairs
These fun-filled events occur in August and September each year - Baxter and Marion counties. Parades, Food, Entertainment, Beauty Contest, Amusement Rides, Judging competitions, etc. Probably some of you have never attended one of these. Come and see what they are all about.

Red-White-and-Blue Festival
June Weekend before the big Fourth of July Weekend. A fireworks display rivaling those in the big city. Held on the beautiful grounds of ASU. Music, Food, Fire Department water competition, Civil War Artillery demonstration, Art Show, 5K Run, Car Show.

Stardust Big Band Concert
June. Sponsored by First National Bank & Trust Co., $7- all proceeds go to Red, White & Blue Festival. Dunbar Auditorium.

U.S. Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus Free Concert.
October. At Dunbar Auditorium. Sponsored by the Baxter Bulletin, our local newspaper.

Tin Roof Tango Free Concert
November. Sponsored by Arvest Bank. ASU, Roller Hall. Five musicians playing music from six continents play an assortment of 25 acoustic instruments. World music. Repeat performance. Absolutely terrific, and free!

Mountain Home Marathon and Half-Marathon
Both USATF certified courses, and Marathon is a Boston Marathon qualifier. November. A charitable endeavor, titled Mountain Home Marathon for Kenya, to raise funds to benefit children of Kenya left orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. This was a first, and had wonderful support all along the course. There were around 100 runners. Also had a 10K and 5K. Dinner was provided for the finishers. Betty was a spectator, but might walk the half-marathon next year. Highly recommended for any runner/walker.

Mountain Home High School Band
Come out and see the marching band at any home football game or at the County Fair or Christmas parades, or see the concert band at Dunbar Auditorium. Our own Sarah Nelson is now first-chair clarinet in the band, and will be leaving us for college in the fall. Recipients of many awards, they are truly a gift to the community. Come and see for yourself!

Twin Lakes Playhouse
At $10 a seat, and tons of talent, our playhouse produces five plays a year, each running for three consecutive weekends. Seating for about 100, not a bad seat in the house. So, check them out. We enthusiastically support them. www.twinlakesplayhouse.org

Ozark Choral Society
Seasonal concerts, including a Springtime and Christmas presentation, featuring its 80-member chorus. Celebrated its 20th anniversary. Classical, broadway, spiritual. Free.

And So Much More. There’s usually a jam session in one or another surrounding towns each night that’s worth the price of admission – free. We have an abundance of talent in this area, as you’ll see. Bull Shoals has a Community Choir that gives several performances each year at the Bull Shoals Theater of the Arts. Mozark Regional Orchestra (Missouri and Arkansas) gives several free concerts a year at Dunbar Auditorium. Festivals such as Hootin’ & Hollerin’ in September, Turkey Trot in October, to name a few. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Tournaments, art fairs, auctions, sporting events, and many more festivals. So, whenever you come, there’s sure to be something happening.

New Visitor Center at Bull Shoals Dam
Construction is underway for a $6-million 16,000-square-foot Gaston Visitor Information and Education Center at Bull Shoals/White River State Park, scheduled to open in the spring of 2006. The center will be located by Bull Shoals Dam, providing sweeping, spectacular views of Bull Shoals Lake and Dam, and the White River.

The center will highlight the area’s numerous attractions, and interpret its history and culture. It will share the story of the fisheries of the White River system, and tell of the purpose of the White River projects in the areas of recreation, flood-control and hydroelectric power generation. It will serve as a traditional tourist information center as well as an education center for students and adults of all ages to come and encounter volumes of information about the Ozarks.

New Fred Berry Conservation Education Center at Crooked Creek
Located just west of Yellville and includes Kelly’s Slab. 421 acres including 3 miles of Crooked Creek frontage. The educational building, with a pavilion, has classrooms for the study of Ozark plants, animals and streams. Additional acreage will have hiking trails and wildlife viewing areas, access to the creek for fishing, and a new access at the upstream edge, which will provide a one- to two-hour float to Kelly’s Slab. The land will be open to picnicking, horseback riding, and mountain biking, but closed to vehicles and hunting. Opening in 2005.

Clinton Library
The William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center and Park officially opened November 18, 2004 in Little Rock. Designed by New York architect James Polshek, it is a 150,000 square-foot glass and steel creation. For a $7 admission, you can see the black marble floors, an exact replica of the Oval Office, a Great Hall reception room and a 20,000 square-foot museum section with thematic alcoves, to a multi-media timeline and interactive flat-screen displays. The bridge-shaped Center sits on 28 acres cantilevered over the banks of the Arkansas River, and has been hailed as an architectural triumph.

The museum restaurant, Café 42, for 42nd president, is a sparsely decorated chrome-lined dining area with four-star cuisine, including an $18.95 brunch.

A pedestrian bridge across the Arkansas River is slated for 2005.

So, whether you loved or hated President Clinton, consider taking a day trip to see a magnificent structure, reflect on history, and take in the sights for awhile.

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 two gun clubs for sporting clay and skeet shooting, so bring your guns! Both clubs have one loaner gun to use if you don't have your own.

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. Big Creek received Golf Digest’s highest accolade - awarded 5 stars-for “Golf at its very best”-in 2004.

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

Garnier Fructis Shampoo and Conditioner. Great smell, leaves hair shiny and tangle-free.

Box Wines. No wine snobs are we. We really love the Franzia box wines, especially the Chardonnay and the Crisp White.

Turkey Bacon. Betty doesn’t eat pork, so she gave up her beloved bacon–until she found the Louis Rich/Oscar Meyer brand of turkey bacon. It has half the fat as regular bacon and no pig.

Three-Hole Sink. The thing Betty enjoys the most about her new home. Can’t imagine how she lived without it. If you ever do a kitchen remodel, you must talk to Betty first. Gorgeous (the cat, not Betty) loves to sit in the center hole and survey the world.

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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