On a late winter morning, the seniors from First Baptist Church set out on a venture to Red Apple Inn on beautiful Greers Ferry Lake in the Arkansas Ozarks.
The dining room of the inn is situated for lovely views in several directions overlooking the lake, the landscaped patio, or the pleasantly shaded breezeway. Of course, fine dining and attentive service come with the view.
The lunch menu is quite extensive and includes many different kinds of salads (Thai beef salad, red apple chicken salad, mandarin orange salad, Asian sesame salad, southwest cobb salad and Pattis Greek salad); sandwiches (Lake Louise cranberry-turkey sandwich, chicken salad sandwich, red apple club sandwich, Bahn Mi sandwich, fried grouper sandwich, Cuban sandwich, the international sandwich, and the prime rib French sandwich; burgers (Jack Daniels burger, blue cheese burger, and the Arkansas sizzzler burger). Also on the menu are a smoked chicken quesadilla and a turkey artichoke panini.
After a divine meal, the seniors headed for Lake Magness (about 3.9 miles east of Heber Springs) to see the trumpeter swans. Lake Magness is a little, oxbow lake that is on private land. However, there is a road around the lake where one can view the comings and goings of the magnificient birds. The swans are best viewed between mid-aftemoon and dusk in late November to early March. Shelled corn is the only recommended food for the swans of Lake Magness.
Normally, trumpeter swans winter from southeastern Alaska along coastal British Columbia south to the mouth of the Columbia River on the southern border of Washington State. Other trumpeters are found in mixed migratory — non-migratory groups across the Great Basin region of Alberta, Canada, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Minnesota, but never as far south as Arkansas. For some reason, the swans of Magness Lake chose Heber Springs and return every year.
The phenomenon started when three swans showed up on the lake in the winter of 1991. It is believed that these original swans got knocked off course by a storm. The following winter, a Minnesota swan that had been banded, visited the lake with her mate. In 1993, that same swan was spotted with her mate and three cygnets (baby swans). Since then, the numbers have fluctuated, but upwards of 150 swans have been spotted on the lake at one time.
On the day of the SAM’s visit, only one swan was on the lake — a younger bird with more gray or brownish feathers. On a previous visit in February 2002, Jeanette McGrew, trip organizer, photographed many trumpeter swans, majestic birds with snowy white feathers, jet-black bill, feet, and legs, and an 8-foot wingspan. At close range, a thin orange-red line can be seen on the lower part of the bill.
The group was disappointed not to have seen more swans on the lake. However, the visit was before the prime time for viewing the swans (mid-afternoon to dusk).
Before departing Heber Springs, the group stopped at the Brousing Post, a gift shop in downtown Heber Springs. Some of the ladies couldn’t go home without ‘a sack.’
Those making the trip were the drivers, James House and Roger Minyard, McGrew, Ann Adair, Audrey Borecky, Betty Craig, Ann Holt, Peggie Howard, Jimmie Lee Nichols, Reba Tidwell, Linda Minyard, Reuben Russell, Barbara Russell, Sue Smith, Frances Taylor, Linda Eifling, Beverly Warren, Myra Twitchell, Pat Crain and Amn Thompson.
It was agreed by all, that the trip was a success — full of fun and fellowship.