The last leg of our trip involved driving from my mom's house in Northeast Arkansas to my dad's house in Northwest Arkansas. It's a 5.5 hour trip, but honestly, that feels like nothing compared to the 17 hour drive from Colorado to Arkansas. We took the scenic route, which was really only a half-hour longer, and I'm so glad we did. Our drive took us through Hardy, AR, and it brought back memories of time on the Spring River (float trips, snakes, overturned canoes, and, many, many lost t-shirts) and antique shopping in that quaint little downtown. (Side note here: Jennifer B--I thought of you when we drove through Ash Flat and Sharp County!).
Our drive also took us past Lake Norfork, one of my favorite lakes in Arkansas, and one that I spent considerable time on in my youth. I have so many great memories of skiing, tubing, and boating on that lake...with friends and family. SO much fun.
The part of Arkansas that I grew up in is pretty flat, but as you move into Northwest Arkansas, it gets hilly and beautiful. If we ever decided to move back to Arkansas, I'd have to live in that part of the state. Of course, I also told John that if we ever did move back he'd have to buy me a house with a swimming pool, unless he'd rather live on the lake. Those are my conditions. I believe that if you live in the South, it's a MUST to live (very) near water...it's the only way to beat the summer heat.
Seriously though, how could one not love waking up to views like this? My dad lives on Beaver Lake, and it is so beautiful.
We also woke up to these cute little critters every morning. Aren't they adorable? There was a mama and her three little ones. I decided to call them Mer, Will, Sarah, and Abbey.
The first evening we were there we had another birthday celebration for Sarah (if you're counting, that's THREE!) and some some yummy burgers on the grill. Afterwards, we went for a little drive. Everytime we're in Northwest Arkansas, there's something new to see! I was highly impressed with the Pinnacle Market. It's actually a gas station with a very upscale market inside. It sorta reminded me of Whole Foods...with an amazing deli, meat market, pizzeria, and even gelato. While we were there, we ran into a young couple that went to our church in Arkadelphia when they were in college. I recognized them immediately and I walked over to John and said, "Hey...that's J&KF over there", so we talked to them for a little while. K remembered teaching Sarah at church, and Sarah was in one of her best friend's weddings. It was a fun little reunion. One thing I've learned about Arkansas is that it's a "small" state. It's rare to go anywhere and NOT run into someone you know.
We spent the next day playing on the Beaver Lake. I posted some pictures a couple of weeks ago, but here are some more because I only took a few hundred or so *wink*.
Can you see how high the water is in the picture above. They had so much rain and flooding this spring, and Beaver Lake is about 9 feet higher than normal. We could all touch the bottom of the bridge when we went under it, and if we'd been in a pontoon, we couldn't have passed. Scary.
We had so much fun...especially tubing. Sarah and Will had a blast. They especially loved it when we'd go fast and try to throw their dad off the tube. They didn't really love it when we tried to throw them off though!
I was thrilled when my dad took us to see the nest of a pair of bald eagles. VERY cool. It was huge, and the eagles actually have two little eaglets. We weren't able to see the eaglets that day, but we did see one of the larger eagles flying over the water. It was from a distance, but you could definitely see the white head and the large wingspan. It was stunning, and I was sad it wasn't closer.
We were exhausted and starving when we returned to the marina. We ate at the little marina restaurant, and seriously, that was the best hamburger I've had in YEARS. I don't know if it's because I was famished or what, but it was so good! I was tempted to get the fried catfish instead (you know, one last chance for the good stuff) but I'm glad I didn't. After eating, the girls fed the (greedy) geese and the huge carp in the water. And just in case there's any question in your mind, we all slept like babies that night. We were completely worn out!!!
Another fun thing we did was the Twilight Art Walk in downtown Rogers. One Friday night a month, all the shops and galleries stay open for Art Walk. I LOVED all the different and creative art on display. It was just so fun. The only thing I ended up buying was some handmade soap like some that I received for Christmas. It's lavendar patchouli and it smells amazing!
The evenings there were so pleasant, and I enjoyed sitting on the porch enjoying the cool breeze before bed. I was in awe one night when three HUGE bucks walked up to the spot where my dad puts feed out for them. I've never seen three of them together like that. I counted each of their racks, and they were 8, 10, and 12 points respectively. OH my word. They were beautiful, and I was mesmerized. I'm so used to seeing mule deer that are quite a bit larger, but I rarely see mule deer with racks like that!
This was definitely the shortest leg of our trip, but we all would have loved to have stayed a few more days.
I'm not sure why, but our trip home to Colorado always feels short than the trip to Arkansas. Is it that way for you too?
I have one more recap post coming...mainly just some observations and final thoughts about "home" and family. Stay tuned...