Thursday, April 30

"OK" First Day

Just some random pics from our first day in Oklahoma.

1947 soda fountain in Talihina
"Three Sticks" monument
Beaver Bend Dam

 

 

Wednesday, April 29

Just To Let You Know

For those readers that were getting a little worried about our westward progess, we finally managed ito cross into Oklahoma today. After 11 days in Arkansas we hoped onto the Talimena National Scenic Byway and made it a whole twelve miles into the next state on our journey - let the exploration begin!

View from our campsite. Photo by Don.

 

As you can see by this screenshot of our MapShare page, we did indeed Take The Long Way across the state of Arkansas.

 

Top Of Arkansas

Yesterday we hiked a short trail to the highest point in Arkansas. Little cool - we had 85 last Saturday and only 50 yesterday.

After the hike we needed a rest. I've decided that a good alternate name for this blog might be "The Rocking Chair Tour".

Last nights campsite. Our first leg this morning was 48 miles on dirt roads - we are now in Mena, Arkansas with a good possibiliity that we will be in Oklahoma before the day's end.

 

Monday, April 27

The Lost Valley

We're still in Arkansas and today we did a three mile hike that included waterfalls, a cave, and some quality time "hanging" around with a couple of new buddies. A reader (thanks Scott) suggested the Lost Valley trail - so off we went. It turns out that the "Lost Valley" was neither lost nor a valley, but it was a very nice trail - not a lot of rocks to climb over and two nice waterfalls.

At the end of the trail was Edens Falls Cave and it was NOT a spiffy developed cave - no lights, very dark, wet and we had to crawl through a couple of really tight places. We were trying to reach a cavern that contained a waterfall. After 15 minutes (or so) of wiggling we reached a tight spot with a steep step down. I studied the situation and decided that going down might not be a problem, but climbing back out might be a little much for my tired bones - end of the road for me. Don, however, decided to push on - buoyed by the knowledge (BIG DRUM ROLL) that today he was wearing his "super duper, go anywhere hiking boots with the optional Flux Capacitor". He made it to the cavern, saw the waterfall (thinks he saw a canoe paddle floating by) and returned. A good day for both of us.

The little orange dot in the center is Don

Remember my "hanging around with a couple of new buddies" comment at the start of this post. While Don was going those last few feet to the cavern, I had several bats keeping me company - they didn't seem to mind that I was in their space, we parted friends.

 

 

Sunday, April 26

Oh - Oh!

Yesterday we canoed nine miles of the Bufalo Rover. Great weather, sunny and 85. Great scenery. Very few people on the river, a big plus. Everything was great, right up until Don said Oh Oh - then we hit a large partially submerged fallen tree - a few seconds later the canoe flipped, which added some uplanned excitement to the trip. I lost my hat, Don "misplaced" his paddle, and it was a little cool for a swim - but "all is well" with the intrepid travelers.

 

Friday, April 24

Off The Grid

From time to time during this trip we will not have cell service (no internet) and several days my pass without an update to this blog. The next two days will be such a time. We are in the Buffalo River Wilderness Area and tomorrow we will be canoeing the river - so no great words of wisdom or pics until Sunday. You can follow our river outing on MapShare page as we paddle along if you wish.

 

Thursday, April 23

Water, Cave & Music

It was a little cool when we got up this morning, so the day got off to a slow start with a walk around the fish hatchery that was in our campground on the Red River. Then we were off towards Mountain View, Arkansas, because we had heard that the Ozark Folk Center was hosting a Dulcimer Jamboree. Moving down the road I spied a Amish bakery, so a quick stop breakfast.

Back on the road Don found some information on the Blanchard Springs Caverns, it was near Mountain View so we took a short side trip and were rewarded by a great cave tour. These caverns were better than any cave either of us had ever seen - it wasn't even a National Park, just a Forest Service site in the middle of nowhere. If you're ever in the area, this is a must see.

After the cave tour we headed over to the Ozark Folk Center State Park for the evenings concert. Great music and a nice close to a day that started slow, but turned out to be one of our most enjoyable days so far.

 

Wednesday, April 22

The Definition

So . . . what does it mean to Take The Long Way? In my case, it means that I'm 450 miles from Bardstown, Kentucky, where I started this journey to Alaska and after 18 days on the road I've already traveled 2035 miles. Not bad, and we've only been disoriented a couple of times - but never lost.



Earlier today, while still in Little Rock, we visited the Historic Arkansas Museum.

Tonight we're at another ACE Campround in Arkansas with the Red River just a dozen steps from the van.

 

Tuesday, April 21

Full Day

After 76 miles on the road we spent the afternoon walking around downtown Little Rock. First stop, the Clinton Presidential Library, which wasn't nearly as fancy as I thought these things would be. Nicely done and lots of interesting information. We even opted for the audio tour narrated by Bill himself.

Next up we walked around downtown (total walking today, 6+ miles) had some ice cream and watched the "show" when someone did a really bad job of parking and blocked the trolley track. After the drama ended (he got towed) we walked across one of the cities pedestrian bridges and watched the Minor League Arkansas Travelers loose to the Midland Rockhounds. Then we walked the river walkway back to the RV park passing several lighted bridges. Nice day.

 

Monday, April 20

Hot Springs

We spent today wandering around the Hot Springs National Park - it's one of the more unusual National Parks I've visited. It preserves Bathhouse Row in downtown Hot Springs (and protects the hot springs that provide the therapeutic water for the bathhouses) but also includes over 5000 acres of wooded mountains with a campground, hiking trails and observation tower.

The two tired travelers taking another break.

 

Sunday, April 19

Woodland Gardens

Yesterday we had done some reading up on things to do in Hot Springs Arkansas so when we arrived today and I caught a glimpse of a sign that said "gardens" I asked Don if maybe that might be one of the places we had read about. It was, and after a u-turn and a couple of turns we found ourselves at the Garven Woodland Gardens, a 250+ acre botanical garden with the bonus of some very nice walking trails. After a two mile walk through the gardens, we were about to leave and learned that a concert was about to happen in the chapel - off we go. So, as usual, we had a great day that was completely unplaned and full of surprises.

 

Saturday, April 18

BOOM!

We started the day with a visit to the Arkansas Post National Memorial (think mini national historic site), very interesting and they even had a nice walking trail with historic markers. Weather was ok - cloudy mid 60s. Our plans to stop by the StarDaze Festival in Star City got rained out and we are now in Pine Bluff.

Just a little history before you watch my short video. The Arkansas Post (trading post) the first European settlement in the lower Mississippi River Valley and present-day Arkansas was established in 1686 as a French trading post on banks of the lower Arkansas River. In 1804 Arkansas Post became a part of the United States as a result of the Louisiana Purchase from France.

 

 

Friday, April 17

Crossed The Big Muddy

We just finished a very enjoyable 5 days in Mississippi, and it was a pleasent surprise that we found so many things to see and do. We averaged a blazing 31 mph while in the state, passed a total of TWO cars, learned that the gigantic farm fields we passed were rice paddies, stopped at a casino (Don won, I lost), gave a briefing about the van and our trip to the Gentlemen's Breakfast Club at a country store, and hiked every day. We can only hope the rest of the trip is as good as our time in Mississippi.

Today we crossed the Mississippi River - sorry, no exciting pictures as it was raining, and are now in Arkansas. Staying at another Army Corps of Engineers campground tonight and plan to start tomorrow with a visit to the Arkansas Post National Memorial just down the road, then continue to explore the backroads.

Two tired travelers taking a rest

 

Thursday, April 16

Slow But Sure

We've spent the last couple of days hiking and just taking it easy. Did a couple loads of wash, cleaned the van and installed some sliding shelves in the pantry. Not the most exciting of days, but this stuff comes as part of the package. Continue to be surprised by the weather, it's been 75 - 80 for the week, with just a few showers. This afternoon we walked around The Square in Oxford, Mississippi - home the University of Mississippi and had a great lunch. Tonight we will "camp" in the parking lot at Walmart.

 

Yesterday we hiked two trails in Tishomingo State Park:

We like these lakeside campsites

 

Tuesday, April 14

Our Plan - No Plan

Today was a prime example why OUR PLAN for this trip was to have NO PLAN. Don and I wanted the flexability to change things up and not be tied to a schedule. So . . . . we started out in Aberdeen this morning headed to Grenada Lake when we happened upon the Nachez Trace Parkway (a 440 mile long National Park that passes through Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee). Don wanted a stamp for his National Park Passport, so we made a sharp right turn and headed North. Had a pleasant drive, Don got his stamp, and a nice couple suggested a campground on Bay Springs Lake. The end result of today's "no plan" - we ended up with a lakeside campsite EAST of where we started the day, demonstrating that we are serious about our mission to Take The Long Way to Alaska.

 

Monday, April 13

Gotta Have a Bad Day

You need a bad day every so often, so you appreciate the good ones. Today we got up waaaaaaay too early - because we forgot to reset our clocks when we crossed into a new time zone and then it rained most of the day. On the positive side, we visited a very unique jail, had a great breakfast and took a short walk around Aberdeen Mississippi, a stop on the Mississippi Blues Trail.