My husband and I have always been a huge fan of the Arkansas State Park system. We actually got engaged at Devil's Den State Park on a Thankgiving weekend camping trip. Awww. Arkansas is a gorgeous state. It's not called "The Natural State" for nothing. We've tried to visit a different park on each of our little camping adventures. Normally we stay in cabins. I know that's the wimpy way to camp, but with 3 little ones, I don't really think tent camping is a good option. We did attempt it once, but we got rained out and ended up in a cabin anyway.
There are a few parks that have cabins that we haven't been to because we just can't swing the rental fee. $200/night is kind of steep. But those are generally brand new and we're kind of hoping in a few years that the rates will drop. Our latest adventure, and the last in our list of "affordable" cabins, was Crowley's Ridge up in the northeast corner of the state.
We set off after I got off of work on Friday and I realized that I had forgotten the directions. Bill decided it couldn't be that hard to find, but I was nervous. I knew it wasn't straight highway. Once we left the highway behind and got to rural country, I was even more nervous. At one point, even Bill was doubting that we were going to be able to find it without stopping for directions. But, miraculously, we did find it without getting lost. *Phew!*
The back of our cabin... it was a duplex. Not our favorite - we prefer to not annoy neighbors with our noisiness. The cabin was nice, though.
After settling in and eating some hot dogs that I cooked on the stove, because the burgers and chicken were still frozen (my idea to freeze the meat... not the best idea), we decided to take a hike.
1.25 miles. All the trails had the red signs, but they had been pretty well cleared.
It was the perfect day for hiking. It wasn't too hot and it had rained earlier in the day, so it was actually almost cool in the shade of all the trees. You might think that we picked an awfully long trail to take kids on, but they did very well, not really complaining until near the end. Plus, I found out that a trip over the Big Dam Bridge, which I've been walking the girls across on Mondays, is 1.5 miles round trip, so they're used to it.
The red mushrooms and the sun hitting them was so gorgeous to me.
Black raspberries or blackberries? Bill says blackberries are bigger. I say he's nuts.
The highlight of the trail (sadly, not dancing rabbits - the girls were disappointed), was suspension bridge. I hate bridges. From the bottom of my heart. I'm not a fan of driving over them. I'm surely not a fan of walking over them. And if it wobbles and shakes, I want to just fall on my face and belly-crawl across. I can't stand it.
My husband, however, thinks it's hilarious.
Which way do we go, girls?
Is it strange that I find fungus so beautiful?
We finished up the trail and Bill played hide and seek tag with the girls until it was time to put them to bed. Bill watched some stupid movie on TV (we rough it, I'm telling you) and I worked on crocheting my sister's birthday present until I was so tired I couldn't count. We played musical beds, with me ending up on the couch, which was more comfy than the bed. I like sleeping on the couch, though. Always have.
The next day started with us realizing that I did a really bad job packing for the trip. Bill and Isabelle had to run to town to get some things so we could cook and the other two collected rocks while I sat and enjoyed the morning.
I did not, however, forget anything needed for coffee.
We decided to explore another trail until the swimming area opened up.
We told the girls that there were probably no spiders, just like there were no dancing rabbits
The girls didn't do quite as well on this trail. Zoe didn't sleep well, so she was very whiny and it ended up being contagious. Bill remembered seeing a sign for a wishing well, so we thought that would perk the girls up.
Not really what they were looking for, but they still made wishes for princesses and unicorns.
We followed the path around the lake a bit to the playground.
I sat here while they played and watched dragonflies. It was finally time for the swimming area to open, so we went back to get changed into swimsuits. I have no pictures from swimming, my camera and water didn't seem like a good mix. We were swimming in part of the lake, and this would surprise a lot of people. I don't like swimming in lakes. I kind of prefer chlorinated water where I can see all the way to the bottom. But I made myself deal with it, even if our hair did smell like swamp water the rest of the day. Gross.
We had to run to the huge (sarcasm) metropolis of Paragould to get a spatula for the grill and picked up some fruit and veggies, because, as I said, my planning was lacking. Then, when we got back, we finally fired up the grill for dinner.
Grilled peaches, awesome. Grilled watermellon? Don't ask.
The Dodo needed a nap before dinner. That's a tired child.
After dinner, we decided to go on another walk. Because the last one went so well... We're crazy like that. This one was easy...just a walk around the bigger of the two lakes.
I don't remember seeing the bat condo....
It was a gorgeous walk, though
We hung out on the fishing pier for a while
Probably my favorite picture of the weekend. My children are so beautiful.
Then we finished up the night with a campfire. Pyros in the making.
We had to leave first thing Sunday morning, because Bill had to work. Bummer.
I figure since our dirty clothes reeked of sweat, smoke, and swamp water, we must have had a blast. Based on the drive up and back, I am kind of dreading our trip to Florida at the end of July. I'll have to come up with a lot of things to distract the girls or they'll be strapped to the top of the van before we make it out of Arkansas.