We spent a long weekend in Phil's hometown and stayed in a neighboring town's bed and breakfast, The Bluebird. (This was our room) We loved the proprietors and we loved the property. Our stay was beautiful and memorable. (More about that later this week)
We arrived in Gerald, MO, population around 1,500, at dusk and turned onto Highway H in search of the Bourbeuse (Bur-bus) River. That would be our marker. Two miles past the bridge, turn left onto Mill Rock Road.
We didn't find the B&B when we turned on Mill Rock Road. We found a sign that said "Bourbeuse River Public Access 2.4 miles" so we followed the dirt road. Sunlight faded, Phil was tired, and there was still no obvious sign marking the driveway of the B&B.
We came to the end of the road, so to speak. The river access, or the Mill Rock Ford. A ford is a crossing. In Missouri, fords are normally concrete pads that can be crossed in a vehicle when the river is low.
You can see that the water's only ankle-high on Zane, just a few inches deep, so crossing in a car would really be like going through a puddle. Missouri Fords are actually neat places, you can swim, fish, canoe, and wash your car.
We approached the ford (as you see in the first picture) and I didn't feel anything strange. However, when we got down a little farther, I saw this; my breath caught in my throat and my heart pounded with panic.
These pictures were taken two days later, just before we headed home. I didn't tell Phil that night that I was beside myself with fear. I thought he'd make fun of me, so I just sat there quiet and wanting to hurl as the evil of this place churned my stomach.
When we went back to take the pictures, I had the camera. Zane wanted his water shoes so he and Phil went back to the car to get them. I started walking to the left of the picture on the gravel bank. Returning in the daylight did nothing to calm that heavy feeling in my stomach. Once again, I found myself breathing hard, my pulse quickened and I was terrified.
What I found nearly did me in. I swear, finding a dead body wouldn't have had the effect on me that this did. As I said, I walked to the left of the ford intending to get a different angle on the picture of the scary rock formation--this angle:
See the rather large, flat rock in the bottom left of the photo? My chest is tight as I upload these photos and tell this story. Here's what I found on the rock:
(Take note of that yellow piece of paper, I'll come back to that)
I walked around the bank a bit more and found a still-smoldering fire.
As I was taking a picture of the fire, Phil was coming back from the car with Zane and the water shoes. He was yelling at me, with a slight panic in his voice, he couldn't see me. I yelled and all but ran back to him. We let Zane play in the water for maybe five minutes and we got out of there with an unspoken dread.
Many hours and miles from Mill Rock Ford, I couldn't stand it any longer. I asked Phil if anything had scared him. He said, "Well, I didn't tell you, but I was scared when I couldn't see you. I saw a lean-to built back in the woods and it gave my the creeps, so when I didn't see where you were, I got a little freaked out."
So I told him how I had been terrified the minute we drove up to the ford and even more so after taking the pictures in the daylight.
I'm still freaked out. That yellow piece of paper was a school supply list. I zoomed in on it, Googled the town it was from and the distance from the town (New Haven) to Mill Rock Ford is about 25 miles.
Sometimes my imagination gets away from me, I know, but this time, whatever evil I felt was so absolutely real, I cannot get over the feeling. The trinkets on the rock and the smoldering fire may fuel my imagination and may just be ironic little coincidences, but the feeling of evil was not coincidental. And so my mind imagines...