A few weekends back, we returned to Monte Ne to take pictures of the amphitheater that we missed on our first trip.
Hiccup and I got up early that day, wanting to beat the rain that was supposed to hit northwest Arkansas later that afternoon. We went by Underdog's and grabbed him first, then went and grabbed David Keetz and Anne. Then, we were off to Rogers, Arkansas for the second time.
When we arrived at Monte Ne, we drove around the cove to where the amphitheater was. We weren't really sure how we missed it last time, since it was plainly visible across the water from the tower, but we had. There were probably a dozen cars parked on the exposed lakeshore, and people were everywhere. Just like us, they were here to see the amphitheater, which hadn't been this visible in nearly thirty years. The abnormally low lake level was to thank for that.
We walked down the shore and joined the crowd by the water's edge. It was even more amazing than the pictures had showed it to be. A Roman amphitheater halfway peeking out of Beaver Lake just wasn't something you saw every day. It was so out of place and completely strange.
The amphitheater stretched probably twenty or thirty yards down the shore in a slight bowl shape. There were a few stone seats completely exposed, as well as a set of stairs leading down into the water. There were also the remains of what appeared to be a road, also heading down into the water. It wasn't visible, but from the pictures I'd seen, there were still at least a couple underground chambers underneath the water. If the water had only been a few feet lower, we could've seen those, too.
We spent a little while hanging out and taking pictures. People were coming and going constantly, doing the same thing as us. During that time, I also caught a huge blue crawfish that Underdog had spotted sitting on part of the amphitheater underwater. It was the biggest one I'd ever caught and probably the third one I'd caught for my friends while exploring. Actually, it seemed like I was always stumbling across or catching some weird critter on our adventures.
Eventually, we got back in the car and drove over the tower, where there were tons of people like last time. Hiccup and Underdog hadn't been present before, so we wanted them to get to climb the tower, too. We thought it was probably a good idea to check out the servants' quarters under Oklahoma Row again first, since we took so long climbing the tower last time. So, we spent a little while poking around down there.
When we were ready, I went and got the ladder, chucked it up to the second floor of the tower, and crawled up behind it. Then I tossed it up to the third floor and climbed up to that one, too. Once again, we had a pretty good crowd of people watching us curiously. It was a huge rush, and I loved it.
This time, I had a better plan about where to attach the cable ladder. I hung it around the column between the windows on the third floor. From there, it could hang all the way to the ground, so that the guys could climb it to the door on the second floor. Once everyone was on the second floor, I pulled the ladder from outside the window and dropped it through the hole in the second floor, still attached to the column. Then, everyone climbed from there up to the third floor.
At that point, I had to climb back down and run to my car for my grappling hook and rope. Without it, there just wasn't any way to get the ladder to the roof, because I couldn't climb up there while carrying it and it was too high to toss it. So, I headed back down, took some pictures of the guys sitting in the third floor windows while I was there, and retrieved the rope and grappling hook from my trunk.
When I was back up to third floor, I tossed the grappling hook up through the hole in the ceiling. Then, I climbed the handholds cut into the wall until I could sit inside a square hole there. From there, I grabbed the lip of the roof and pulled myself up. The others attached the ladder to the rope like last time, and I hauled it up and attached it to the chimney. With that, everyone climbed up to the roof to enjoy the view.
We spent a good long while on the roof. I could've spent hours up there, just getting a kick out of the curious reactions of the people below. I also liked the way people would start cracking up when they saw our ladder hanging in the building. They thought we were crazy, and I was absolutely loving every second of it.
After a while, a husband and wife with a couple teenagers came along, and the father started encouraging his kids to climb up and join us. If the kids had been alone, I totally wouldn't have gone for them joining us. But I figured if their father was okay with it, why not? The older teenager was able to make it to the third floor on his own, but the younger only made it to the second. So, I climbed down, reached down and grabbed him by the arm and hauled him up. From there, they climbed the ladder and joined us on the roof.
When we felt like we'd spent enough time, we started heading back down. The two teenagers climbed down on their own, but the rest of us used the ladder to climb down, although each time I would have to stay above and detach the ladder and climb down by hand. We had a better idea of what we were doing this time, and it was a heck of a lot faster getting down than it had been before.
Back on the ground, we packed up and headed back to the car. Everyone was tired, so we just made a quick drive by the foundations that were down the shore from the tower. There wasn't that much to see there, anyway. Then we drove on to Eureka Springs, got some dinner, and headed back to Springfield.
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