Rural Missouri Magazine

A Place to Relax
Guests arrive at Rock Eddy Bluff
frazzled but leave refreshed

by Jim McCarty

Tom and Kathy try to make their guest's stay as personal as possible. This group lingers at the breakfast table sharing stories with Kathy.

Tom and Kathy Corey have seen it happen time after time. Guests arrive at their Rock Eddy Bluff retreat exhausted, nerves frazzled, and tempers on edge from the stress of this high-tech age. A few days later they leave different people, soothed by relaxing in their cottages near Dixon.

"It's almost a universal thing," says Tom. "They just want away from it. They are completely different people when they leave, more relaxed, more personable."

Adds Kathy, "They find time to reinvent their relationships. The best part of doing this is seeing how they open up."

Tom and Kathy know the feeling. When they moved to this patch of timber they were feeling a lot like some of their guests.

"We were in the middle of our mid-life crisis," Tom recalls. "We didn't have a plan but we had faith we wouldn't starve to death."

Tom grew up on the land they call Rock Eddy Bluff. Kathy was from nearby Vienna, so the move back to the area was a homecoming of sorts for both of them.

All of the places to stay at Rock Eddy Bluff feature breathtaking views of the Gasconade River valley. The retreat is built on several bluffs overlooking the river.

Inspecting the land one day, Kathy paused on a rocky bluff and took in a view that included the Gasconade River and parts of three counties. Then she asked Tom to build her a house there.

"I told her that was the craziest idea I had ever heard," Tom says. And then he did it anyway. The result is the Bluff House, one of four places to stay at Rock Eddy Bluff, which is served by Gascosage Electric Co-op.

Bluff House is the Corey's home and the bed and breakfast part of their operation. A suite of rooms furnished in country antiques, a spacious deck that looks down into a bald eagle nest and a hot-tub are all part of the experience, not to mention Kathy's huge breakfasts.

For those wanting more privacy Rock Eddy offers two cottages and a rustic cabin. The Turkey Ridge Cabin also has a spectacular view, a wood stove and three bedrooms. It's fully outfitted with everything needed for a visit with one exception — a television.

Across the ridge is the Indian House Bluff Cottage, believed to be built on the site of an Indian camp. More secluded, this cottage also has an incredible view plus more creature comforts. There's a corral for guests with horses plus a trail that leads to the river.

For the truly intrepid the Coreys offer Line Camp Cabin. Line Camp isn't for the faint-hearted — there's no modern conveniences like running water, electricity or flush toilets to interfere with getting back to basics. The place sports one of the fanciest privies in Missouri, which includes a journal where visitors can reflect on life.

"Line camp is real popular," says Tom. "We don't recommend it in July and August but people come then anyway."

One of the attraction at Rock Eddy Bluff are the carriage rides provided by Tom and his draft horse. Sometimes Tom takes guests on a tour of the Maries County back roads that includes stopping for a picnic lunch.

The Coreys never set out to build the therapeutic retreat that Rock Eddy Bluff has become. Their inspiration came from a visit to something similar in north Missouri when they too felt the need to get away from life's distractions.

"We can do that too, " Kathy says she told Tom after their vacation. "I thought, we've got things here people would like."

They started renting rooms in their Bluff House and the Turkey Ridge Cabin, more as a hobby than a full-time business.

"We didn't have a lot of people, " Tom recalls. "But the big thing that changed for us was the Internet. "There's a certain group that just wants to go to the country. But how do you reach them?"

The couple tried the usual route, printing brochures and advertising where they thought it would do the most good. Then they discovered the Internet and now people find them at their web site.

Tom and Kathy Corey never planned on building a country retreat when they returned to the land where Tom grew up.

Besides leading guests to them, the site lets those interested see where they will stay and read comments left by guests. "When someone stays in the country they could end up staying in an old car," Tom says. "Then they just have to suffer through the weekend. The Internet provides some reassurance."

Tom says people are drawn to their retreat because most have lost their ties to the land. Years ago urban dwellers still had grandparents with land in the country. They could count on spending some time away from the city.

"That's not true anymore," Tom says. "They want to go stay in the hills but they don't know where to go."

Rock Eddy Bluff earns a lot of repeat business because the Coreys try to make every experience a good one. "We are not just someone taking their money but we are interested in them having a good time," Kathy says. "We know the places to hike, fish and that sort of thing. It's a whole lot more personal experience."

She says they try to make people feel comfortable, letting them know it's OK to prop their feet up or touch the antique furnishings.

The Turkey Ridge cottage is typical of the places to stay at Rock Eddy Bluff. It is fully furnished, private and has everything except a TV set which isnÕt important to most guests.

They also let people bring their pets, unusual for getaways like this. Those who don't have their own enjoy the Corey's dogs, their five horses or the hundreds of birds that flock to their feeders.

"The contact with animals, we find that is important," Tom says.

All of the guest houses have fire rings so that guests can sit outside and enjoy the evening no matter what the temperature. Of all the attractions that Rock Eddy Bluff offers, relaxation and reflection seem to be the most popular.

As one guest commented, "Living like this teaches us how much we have in lifethat is just fluff."

For more information about Rock Eddy Bluff write to 10245 Maries Road 511, Dixon, MO 65459, call 1-800-335-5921 or visit their Web site at


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