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Greetings And Happy New Year To All Of Our 1996 Customers

The time has rolled around again to review the year that was 1996 at Black Oak Resort and to share some of those moments with you, our guests. First and foremost, we want to say Thank You! Without you, none of what we have accomplished would have been possible. We’re so very lucky to have so many wonderful customers who add so much richness to our lives each year, from those guests who return like old friends year after year, to the new guests who add their own unique blend to the mix. We really appreciate your choosing Black Oak Resort, and we look forward to 1997 and seeing you again.

Articles

     Trials and Tribulations
     On A Personal Note
     A Better Route to Get Here
     No Smoking No Pets Cabins
     Discount Policies
     From Our Guests - Marge's Rice
     "Best" List of Area Restaurants
     While You're Staying With Us
     We Made Some Improvements This Past Year

     Update on Black Oak Inn
     Something New at Black Oak
     1996 Results: Annual Black Oak Fishing Contest
     Tackle Talk

Trials and Tribulations...

...Cars

Last year we told you about our car woes. Well, we finally broke down in January and bought a new (to us), 1993 Dodge Grand Caravan (low mileage and still under warranty). We drove it up to Chicago for the Sports Show in late January. (You know where this is going, don’t you?)

Got up to Chicago fine, no problem. Got down to the last few days of the show, beginning to look forward to getting home. While driving to lunch the transmission starts acting up. We got the car back to the hotel (barely), when it completely quits. The temperature was about 15 below zero, and we needed a tow.

They finally picked up the car about 6 p.m., too late to work on it. They said they’d try and have it ready late Friday. They didn’t. They don’t work Saturday or Sunday, and we’re scheduled to leave Monday morning. This story does have a happy ending, because they did have it ready as promised Monday morning. So we did get to leave for home pretty much on schedule, but it stressed us out considerably.

We must give a plug for Chrysler repair service. Considering the deep freeze Chicago was under, they did a wonderful job of taking care of us as fast as they possibly could. The car has run great since, and Betty loves the car and her new transmission. No, the dogs have not been allowed in the car, nor any smokers.

...Electricity

Last year we recounted all the problems we had with water. This year was not to be outdone, but this time it was electric instead. One Sunday in August, while Michael and Betty were both inside, the lights got real bright for a moment and then went dim. The next thing the microwave started sparking. Betty quickly unplugged it. Then the television started smoking, and she unplugged it, too! Michael cut the circuits and ran to the main power for the resort and shut it down. We called the power company to send someone out right away. Meanwhile we checked all the cabins to survey the damage. As it turned out, only the Hoffmans in Cabin 7 noticed anything awry. The electric company serviceman came out pretty quickly, checked that all power was off and one by one turned on the power to each cabin. Nothing happened; all seemed well. He surmised the problem was somewhere on our property, and therefore not their problem. He was right. He did say by what happened it sounded like a bad neutral.

So, we had an electrical contractor out the next morning. He told us we needed the electric company to find where our underground lines are located since they are the only ones who have that equipment. They couldn't get out for a couple of days. Then we started digging. We thought we had the problem solved when it happened again the following week. This time, the lights stayed dim and everything got fried. So we repeated the process, taking a couple of more days before power was fully restored.

Of course, in the meantime, we had to move the poor, unlucky guests who were occupying Cabin 7 (Robert and Diane Nelson) down to the Inn for a couple of nights. Also, it's pretty scary when electric doesn't behave the way you expect it to. Not to mention costly. Besides the cost for the electrical contractor, the cable and backhoe, we lost two 25-inch TVs, two microwaves, one VCR, one calculator, and one terminal for credit card processing.

The best way to put what happened in layman's terms is: a 110 line was receiving the power of a 220 line. We learned something about how fires can start, and we are so lucky we were there when it happened or we could have lost everything (including our dogs) in a fire. There is a device that can prevent this from happening that costs about $30 that you need for every circuit box, which we will be installing in every cabin this year. You can bet on it! And when we bought this resort, we already thought we were so smart! This was a humbling experience.

We would especially like to thank our guests Robert and Diane Nelson for showing us what grace under pressure is all about. They were very good sports about the whole thing. Our hats are off to you. Also especially to the Hoffman/Geer/Schenck/Michaelree group and all our guests during that trying time for their understanding and patience.

...Wind

Our tale of woe is about over, with one more happening. We had some pretty bad winds during some summer storms, and over the course of the summer, three of our trees had bit the dust. One at each end and one in the middle by the pool. Thankfully, we still have lots of trees to enjoy, and we did get some firewood for the winter.

On A Personal Note

On a personal note, we have some very sad news to report. This September 22, Michael's sister Theresa passed away. She was Michael's oldest sister, and she was like a mother to him. She was 64, and died of lung cancer. The saddest part is she hadn't smoked in 35 years. But she worked as a waitress for most of her life, and received more than her share of secondhand smoke. Theresa took her vacations here with us every June with the rest of the family and was a major part of all our lives. We miss her.

We are so thankful to have a friend like Diane Keckhaver, who stayed at the resort while we were attending the funeral in Chicago.

We still have all three dogs, Kala, our Siberian, will be twelve. Our Golden Lab, Herbie, just turned eleven, and our junkyard dog, Grant, at ten is the baby. All are still going strong. Betty still walks them daily on Ozark Isle. Our cat population is holding at about eight.

Betty entered the Chicago Marathon this year. She got to about the 13 mile point (halfway) before she had to drop out. The problem was keeping up, not keeping going. The support teams closed up shop based on a 12 minute per mile pace, so when there were no longer water stations, police and medical support and traffic control, Betty decided she'd rather live to fight another day. So she'll be back again next year. Betty has dropped 27 pounds in the past two years, and if she continues to lose, maybe by next year she'll be able to hang in there for the whole race.

At the pre-race dinner, Betty "ran" into guests Fritz and Theresa Choutka from Rochester, Illinois. Fritz also ran in the marathon and finished in 4 hours, 29 minutes. Congratulations, Fritz. We know what dedication and effort are involved.

Betty would like to also thank her friend Dick Weisz for all his help and encouragement with the Chicago Marathon. Dick writes a sports column for the Daily Herald on running and walking and is a volunteer organizer for the Chicago Marathon.

Michael is still Oakland's Fire Chief. Betty is a director on the Ozark Mountain Region Tourism Association Board and serves as secretary. In our spare time, we are seriously working on (translation: fighting over) the design of the lodge, and exploring financing. Progress is slower than we'd like, but now Michael seems very comfortable with a completion date of spring of 1998.

To sum up, this has been a year of growth, and a year of loss. A year of accomplishment and a year of setback. A year both exhilarating and exasperating. Probably a year not unlike many of you have had. For all it's worth, we learned a lot. We learned again that what is important are family and friends, and to value them. We learned that sometimes accomplishment comes in small increments. We learned that there is still much out there that we still don't know! We thank all our guests again for your patience and understanding, your generosity, and above all, your friendship.

We look forward to seeing you all in '97. We will again be at the Chicagoland Sport Show at O'Hare Expo Center Friday, January 24 through Sunday, February 2 (Booth 822). We hope to see you there.

A Better Route to Get Here

For those of you coming from Illinois to get here, we have found what we think is a better way to get around going straight through St. Louis on I-55. Take the south end bypass around St. Louis instead of the 270 bypass. Take I-55 to 255. Take 255 South to 270 bypass. Take 270 to I-44 West. This is not as congested and is shorter than the 270 bypass and takes less time. It's only five miles longer than going straight through the city.

No Smoking No Pets Cabins

Since designating one "No Smoking" and one "No Smoking - No Pets" cabin, we have had no problem filling them. Depending upon demand, we may add more in the future, but for now we'll leave it the same for '97.

Discount Policies

We offer several types of discounts for our guests.

Repeat Customer Discount. We offer a 10% cabin discount to returning guests on subsequent stays with us. This discount applies to any confirmed reservation WITH DEPOSIT RECEIVED BY JANUARY 20. Reservation must be for three or more days. This discount is our way of showing our appreciation to you for the greatest compliment we can receive: Someone who likes what we have to offer and comes back over and over.

Referral Discount. We also offer a referral discount to our REPEAT customers. Whenever we receive a reservation of three or more days from a new customer who was referred to us by you, 10% of that new customer's cabin stay will be discounted off your next stay. Word-of-mouth recommendations are the best free advertising we can get, and we want to pass the savings on to you.

Off-Season Rates. We offer off-season rates beginning October 1 through March 31. See our 1997 rate brochure for details.

From Our Guests

Our cookouts give us a chance to try out everybody's star recipes, and this year again produced lots of winners.

This year the most outstanding recipe we got to sample came from Betty Schenck of Slidell, LA. Her recipe came from a cookbook, which we probably shouldn't reproduce here without permission, so you'll have to go out and buy it or go to the library, or whatever. It is called "Coconut Beer Shrimp with Sweet and Tangy Dipping Sauce" from the cookbook, "Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen." Let us tell you, this is the best fried shrimp recipe we've ever tasted. You must make the dipping sauce. It's the crowning glory to this absolutely fabulous
recipe. Thank you, Betty, for sharing this recipe with us. It's a masterpiece!

Another great recipe that we all loved was from Marge Martinez of Wheeling, IL. It's a Spanish rice with the addition of pork and lots of spiciness. You will enjoy it as much as we all did.

Marge's Rice

     2 c. rice
     oil
     1/2 lb. boneless pork cut in small pieces
     1/2 t cumin
     1/2 onion, chopped
     1/2 t creole seasoning
     1/4 t seasoned salt
     1/4 t salt
     1/4 t pepper
     1/4 t garlic powder
     1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
Brown rice in oil. Transfer to casserole. Brown meat. Season meat with cumin, Creole seasoning, seasoned salt, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Simmer meat with 1 cup water to tenderize (approximately 20 minutes). Add meat and juices and onion to rice. Add tomato sauce and
approximately 4 cups of water. Bring to boil and simmer until rice is cooked (approximately 20 minutes).

"Best" List of Area Restaurants

Best Appetizer
     Potato Skins, 178 Club, Bull Shoals

Best View
     Gaston's, overlooking the White River

Best Steaks
     The Top Kat, State Line in Missouri

Best Buffet
     The Front Porch, Yellville
     Bamboo Garden (Friday & Saturday Night)

Best Seafood
     178 Club, Bull Shoals
     Fred's Fish House, Mountain Home

Best Hamburger
     The Back Forty, Mountain Home
     The Top Kat, State Line in Missouri

Best Atmosphere
     Chelsea's, Mountain Home

Best Oriental
     Bamboo Garden, Mountain Home

Best Value
     European House, Mountain Home

You'll Never Leave Hungry
     Brangus Feed Lot, Mountain Home

Newest Restaurants
     Brangus Feed Lot, Mountain Home
     Roberta's Cafe, Mountain Home
     Hopper's, Mountain Home
     Th' Barn Cafe‚ Oakland

Best Breakfasts
     Couch's Barbecue, Mountain Home
     Roberta's Cafe, Mountain Home
     Th' Barn Cafe‚ Oakland

Best Salad
     Chelsea's, Mountain Home

Best Prime Rib
      178 Club (Saturday night), Bull Shoals

While You're Staying With Us

Although most of our guests are perfectly content to spend as much time as they can right here at the resort, I always recommend some extracurricular activities that are particularly memorable and enjoyable. While you are staying with us, I recommend that you try at least one of these:

A float trip along the White River. Whether you fish or not is up to you, but the scenery is breathtaking, the water is cool and crystal clear, the shore lunches are scrumptious, the fishing is always lively, and most days you'll get your limit of trout. These trout are the best-tasting you'll ever experience. You can take a very long float of up to 80 miles if you choose not to fish. We can recommend the best guides for a guaranteed great experience! We'll be happy to make reservations for you. These trips cost about $185 for two for an all-day float, but we guarantee, it's worth every penny.

Try a massage. Arrangements can be made for groups of two or more to have a massage therapist come to our resort and do your massage in your cabin. What a lovely way to pamper yourself while you're vacationing. Several of our guests have tried this and absolutely loved it. The massage therapist uses aromatherapy, scented oils and incense, and even will bring some New-Age music to go along with it for a complete "other world" experience.

Marriage. We have been the location for two marriages this past year. We even have a minister who will perform the service at the resort. Paying attention, Mike and Donna? Call for details.

Auctions. Auctions are a big thing in rural America. And entertaining. And addictive. Don't miss a chance to experience these. We'll take you if you'd like. Usually held on Fridays.

Dance. Dance halls can be a great learning experience. And good exercise. Free dance lessons on the latest line dances. One is alcohol-free, the other is not. Take your pick.

Book Club. Betty is quite taken with Oprah Winfrey's Book of the Month Book Discussion Show. She is presently reading "The Deep End Of The Ocean" by Jacquelyn Mitchard. So if you are interested we can get together once each week and follow along with Oprah's list for this first year. We can discuss any of the books on her list, beginning with this one and then following along with Oprah's selections. Her newest one for January is "The Book of Ruth" by Jane Hamilton. Betty has a feeling that most of these will be of more interest to women than men. But men are most welcome. We can gather together for lunch or tea in town of just get together in one of the cabins. Bring your books along, of course. Betty will post the books by months on her web page, or you can call and find out which one to read. Bring along anything about the book you may find such as reviews or information about the author for a lively discussion. I'm counting on my librarian friend, Renee Poynter, to provide me with a little of her expertise on this!

Walks/Runs on Ozark Isle. Betty is an avid walker and now a runner too. She would love for you to share the experience of Ozark Isle, if you are into exercise. She's ready to go every morning except Saturdays. Come join her. And expect to be accompanied by the dogs.

We Made Some Improvements
This Past Year:

We put new microwaves in every cabin.

We purchased two new 25-inch color TVs with remote for Cabins 6 and 7.

We installed a new heat pump in Cabin 5.

Of course, we got the car!

We finally upgraded our computer. Michael is more often than not lost in cyberspace these days. We have our own Web Page on the Internet. Our web address is http://www.blackoakresort.com, and our e-mail address is vacation@blackoakresort.com. This newsletter will be added to our web page, and we plan to update our page quarterly with news of note, current happenings, announcements, etc. We are very excited about being "out there" for all the world to see. It's a new world.

Update on Black Oak Inn

We've worked out most of the kinks on our newest venture, Black Oak Inn.

We've completely repainted all interiors in white to brighten it, and we've installed new overhead kitchen lighting and under-cabinet lighting over the kitchen sinks. We've added microwaves and drip coffee-makers in all 6 units. We are replacing the linens. Also there will be larger 19" color TV sets. We also will be painting the exterior this year, and next up for replacement will be the stoves.

The most important addition is Gerry Queary & Mary Ing who take care of our guests. We were very lucky to find them both. Business has been great, but two places do keep us hopping!

As We Welcome You Back In 1997, Look Forward to Something New at Black Oak!

Number one on our agenda is putting all our time and energy into getting the lodge built. We're still planning on putting in a dining room, private club, entertainment theater, fireplace, workout facility, pool table, laundry facility, gift shop, reservation desk, and most importantly, "living quarters." We also hope to have a kennel facility and an observatory.

We plan to totally reupholster and re-carpet our 28 foot Lowe Classic Pontoon.

For us, a fax machine.

We're also looking into putting the new small satellites in each deluxe cabin.

1996 Results: Annual Black Oak Fishing Contest

No contest, the hottest day of fishing last year was May 21, with three winning fish caught. I imagine we'll be booked solid for that time this year!

Fishing was also a family affair, with Art and Gregg Comer (father and son) winning three categories! These guys take fishing to a new level. They are totally rigged for anything, and you can see it has paid off for them. Also, longtime guests Jerry and Joanne Logan hit it big this year, each of them winning a category on that magic day, May 21st. They have also studied and learned this lake and are doing great at fishing every year now.

Gloria Sears was our only "Catch and Release" winner this year. Last year she had the winning recipe; this year she had the winning smallmouth. Good work, Gloria! The fish were bigger in five categories (Kentucky, Walleye, Crappie, Brown Trout, and Catfish). The Crappie were good well into June. So that's three months in a row (April, May, and June) where you can try for these delectable fish. Four winners were from Illinois, narrowly beating out Missouri. The women captured two categories this time. Downrigger fishing again was working, as well as deep-water trolling. You all really should try these techniques on this lake. They really work. Category winners were caught in every month from May through September. We had a colder than normal spring or we are sure there would have been at least one winner in April, which is usually one of our hottest months.

Largemouth Bass
4 lb. 2 oz.
Art Comer
Independence, MO
August 17, a.m.
Mann's Stretch 20
Trolling
Smallmouth Bass
3 lb. 4 oz.
Gloria Sears
Irving, TX
June 25, 9 p.m.
Jig & Pig
"Catch and Release"
Kentucky Bass
3 lb. 11 oz.
Aaron Ray
Decatur, IL
July 22, 7:30 a.m.
Black & Gold Pro-King
Downrigger, 45 feet
White Bass
3 lb. 9 oz.
Jerry Logan
Naperville, IL
May 21, 8 p.m.
Chartreuse/Black/Green
Northport Nailer
Downrigger, 44 feet
Walleye
7 lb. 5 oz.
Art Comer
Independence, MO
Late August, 8 a.m.
Grey Hellbender with Rooster Tail Trailer
Trolling
Crappie
2 lbs.
Mike Philipps
Rockford, IL
May 21
Minnow
Brown Trout
7 lb. 8 oz.
Jerry Paylor
Shreveport, LA
September 23, 5 p.m.
Live Cricket
White River
Rainbow Trout
3 lb. 3 oz.
Joanne Logan
Naperville, IL
May 21, 10 a.m.
Black & Gold Pro-King
Downrigger, 46 ft.
Channel Catfish (Blue)
18 pounds
Gregg Comer
Grain Valley, MO
August 15, Nighttime
Whole Bluegill
Jug

Tackle Talk

Arkansas Game & Fish reports that in 1996 Bull Shoals Lake was stocked with:

       64,900 catchable channel catfish
     127,250 catchable rainbow trout
     139,875 walleye fingerlings

Bass are not normally stocked in this lake, since they have had good spawns the past several years.

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