An Arkansas Vacation

Lake Wilhelmina

Lake Wilhelmina near Mena, Arkansas

This year we decided, instead of a two week whiz-bang extravaganza road trip, that we would take what we’re calling mini-vacations. Terry wants to see Arkansas. I reckon I do too. We do live here after all.

On our usual road trips, we drive far away, to the coast. I really like beaches. So does Benjamin. Terry not so much. I remember a lot of sunburn anger from beaches past. Terry and I didn’t use to sunburn, but now we do. We got old.

Mainly what there is to do in Arkansas is to go to the woods or to a river or a lake. There are a lot of these here, and they are really beautiful. The issue I have with vacationing in the woods is that I live in the woods, and with a few exceptions (like the Redwood Forest), most woods look about the same. Terry doesn’t think so. We were up in Tennessee once, and he was going on about the forests there. I said, they look just like the woods at home. He says, no, there are ash trees here…… Yeah…….

So, here’s how I thought of a place I would like to go. I remembered back when I was a kid, and my uncle would come to visit from Little Rock and bring my cousins, and my mom would drive us down to my grandma’s at Vandervoort (population 98) to meet up with them and our other cousins, and we would ride in the back of my uncle’s pick-up down to the Cossatot River. There we would swim in the clearest, cleanest water I had ever seen. These trips were some of the most memorable days of my childhood. Might as well go there, right?

Cossatot means “Skull Crusher”; the river is considered some of the best whitewater in the country. I don’t know anything about that. My brother remembers snorkeling in the Cossatot when he was a kid and talks about the crystal clear water. I have to get back down there and see if it’s still the same.

Benjamin and I are working on a map, using Google Maps. From the state park map, we’re getting help finding the bridges and good swimming areas, and we’re also marking the geocaches. There are only three in the area. Next I’ll post the map and then, hopefully, some excellent photos of an excellent trip to the Cossatot.

The Grand Canyon: Wonder or Big Hole in the Ground?

Grand Canyon

The Greatest Canyon Ever!

I know people will want to take me out for saying this, and I will admit, the Grand Canyon is not just a big hole in the ground, it is a magnificent hole in the ground, but once you get beyond that initial amazement, there’s just not much else there.

Birds in a Tree

There are also views like this creepy dead tree with the death birds in it.

We went twice. The first time it rained. We had some time in between showers to see the magnificent hole, and I thought perhaps we had missed something because of the rain. So, I thought we should go back, and we did. This time with Benjamin when he was seven.

Grand Canyon

Really, this is all there is.

It was fun to see Benjamin run up to the edge of the Grand Canyon and announce to me, “Mom, you’ll want to get a picture of this!” and it was fun to see the couple doing the marriage proposal. The woman being proposed to started crying and loudly asking her proposer if he was just joking and hitting him in case he was.

Squirrel

One of the squirrels that you are not allowed to feed, but probably will anyway.

But other than some impromptu shows like that, you get your panoramic shots, you get some very expensive food, and hike up to the most boring “museum” ever. There are the squirrels that you can illegally feed, which might, according to the signs, bite you. Everyone there, however, is feeding the squirrels and probably every other kind of wildlife they see.

The first time we went, just me and Terry, we camped outside the park in the Kaibab National Forest since it was free unlike the park. It was an odd forest, at least to me, different than I was used to in Arkansas. There was no underbrush. It was mostly coniferous trees and the needles covering the ground had kept anything from growing. So, what this means is that if you have to go to the bathroom out there (which of course you will), there is no cover whatsoever for you when one of the many sightseeing planes flies over. I know I gave a little show to a group of tourists.

It always astounds me that the Grand Canyon shows up on those lists of best parks and best places to go and bucket lists. Why? A friend told me she had only seen the Grand Canyon from an airplane, and I told her that was all she needed.