Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Our Trip to Arkansas, Part Three

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'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...


Tiffani said...

Wow, such beautiful scenery and even more beautiful memories you are making with your family. I bet your kiddos will talk about this trip every day for lots of days to come!! My animal lover son would've flipped over an eagle's nest...WOW! Oh, and the deer!! Our vacation isn't until the end of September but we are steadily counting down!! Looking for to the "finale" of posts for your trip...thanks for sharing.

Amber said...

Sounds like a great trip! Glad you guys had so much fun! North West Arkansas is my favorite, pretty.

Unknown said...

When we drove from NC to AZ I was surprised by how beautiful AR was! Maybe this time around we should stop and take a better look!

And I love to see raccoons...I know most people think they are just menaces (is that even a word?) but I think they are so cute!

Gretchen said...

Yeah, the drive home is always faster. Maybe because of all the anticipation on the way to the vaca spot?

Great photos. You and I share an intense love of wildlife, especially bald eagles. They just make me think of the word "majestic" each time I see them.

How nice for your kids to road-trip it to such warm family places and people.

Fran said...

Aaaaahhhhhh....the beauty, the lake, the fun, the memories...sounds like a perfect trip!!!

Maybe one year I'll make the 2 1/2 hr trip. ;)

Kelly said...

My dad's family was from Ash Flat and Sharp County! :-)
Your dad lives in a beautiful spot! I'm jealous!
Yes - I LOVE NWA! Glad you got to visit - just wish I could have seen you! SO CLOSE!

Diane@Diane's Place said...

I love the Ozarks and Ouachita Mts. of Arkansas.

Glad y'all had a good time, and I'm jealous of your time on the water! It's 101F right now, and the high yest. was 103F. Ugh!

Have a great rest of your week, Mer. :o)

Love and hugs,


Stephanie Kay said...

Canoe trips on Spring River.... ahh... so much fun. Until the sunburn set in on the ride home. But it was worth it. = ) You absolutely are making me want to take a trip to AR. Maybe it's the hormones kicking in. After 10 years I don't usually want to go this badly - and we went last year. We usually avoid going in the summer. Maybe we'll go for the 4th next year.

Barb said...

How lucky you are that your dad lives in such a gorgeous place. It looks like you all had so, so much fun. I'm thinking that long drive was worth it.

Yes, all my life, the trip going always seemed twice as long and the trip coming back home. I think the trip to where you're going seems longer because you're so full of anticipation.

Elizabeth said...

What a great reminder of home for me. I miss it.

Jacquie said...

I was driving home from Bull Shoals one afternoon and a bald eagle flew right above my vehicle. It was an amazing sight to see! The only time I've ever seen one up close, in flight, in the wild! Loved it.

I tried to add you to my Google Reader with the link you posted on Betsy's sight (http::// and it said there were no feeds or something. Did I mistype??

Becca~CapturingSimpleJoys said...

What a fun time!

My Mom lived right on Beaver Lake for a few years and you could walk right down to their dock and hop on a jet ski. So much fun and so beautiful.

Jacquie said...

I got your link off of my email (rather than the comments)... the entire link doesn't show up in the comments... it cuts off the end, which won't work. But, the entire link worked just fine. Thanks!

Susan said...

I have to say, those lakes in Arkansas are just the best. Spent some of my best times at Heber Springs! Glad you had a great time,

leigh said...

That sounds like so much fun. Everyone looks like they are having a great time and the pictures of the lake are beautiful!

Becky said...

Sounds like your hometown is very close to mine in northeast Arkansas.

Also sounds like you guys had a great time, wow what a road trip! Oh and the food looks yummy. We've been eating good ole homegrown tomatoes for a couple of weeks now. YUMMO!!!

Megan L Hutchings said...

This has been my favorite part of your Arkansas trip ;)! Maybe b/c of the lake or deer or just the beauty of NWA :)!

Nancy said...

Beautiful pictures!!! I enjoyed reading about your trip! The tubing sounded like such fun for everyone!!! I can recall trips when my children were young like that. Enjoy every moment because one morning you'll wake up and wonder where those years have gone.

Loved the geese pic as I am partial to waterfowl myself. We had mallards when we lived on a lake, and we loved feeding them. We'd throw scratch feed down, and the mamas would bring their little babies up to feed several times a day. Then all of a sudden, she would make a cluck noise and they all would turn right then and back towards the water they would go! It was so strange. I never knew they "talked" like that to their babies.

Enjoy the rest of the summer with your children! Wish mine were still young like that. When they're teenagers, you sometimes wish they were adults, but then when they're adults, you wish they were teenagers again! LOL

(((((( HUGS ))))))