A couple hours out of Memphis and deep into Arkansas, Don announced that he really wanted our next destination to be on a lake. We both love the lake life and a few days of water play sounded heavenly. We knew that leaving Florida wasn’t going to mysteriously grant us better weather but damn it’s been hot as hell. In fact we passed a church sign the other day that read “Satan called. He wants his weather back.”
As Don drove, I searched central Arkansas camp sites and wasn’t having much luck. Almost everything I found was booked or was first-come, first-served and we were a bit nervous to drive off the beaten path only to find full parks. But a last ditch Google search found us Lake Ouachita State Park and one site remaining. Crossing our fingers it would be all we hoped it would, I booked for three nights.
Lake Ouachita is the largest lake completely in Arkansas with more than 690 miles of shoreline and 66,324 acres of water. The state park is buried deep in the Ouachita National Forest and the campground has running trails (my want) and a marina with boat rentals (Don’s want). And it doesn’t disappoint at all!
It was a little unnerving when, soon after arriving, we realized we have no cell service (seriously they have three dots on the park map on where to walk if you need to make a call) and the only wi-fi is at the visitor’s center. With a company in Florida and roles we still have to play, zero ability to work was not something we were prepared for. I hung out in the visitor’s center for a bit, sent off a few emails and texts then decided to trust the team we’ve trained. They’ve got this. We know they do. And being mostly off-line for a few days is a rarity we really should know how to not just survive but enjoy.
Our first night here, was mostly quiet. That is with the exception of a weird storm system that surrounded us but never really hit and a visit with a big group of campsite kids and their parents who insisted they meet all of the dogs … including Ellie who struggles with the energy of children. She had a few moments but overall did ok and I know it’s good for her to be exposed to things that freak her out. It’s just not often you find a group of kids, nonetheless parents, that are willing to sacrifice themselves to the potential.
Yesterday, we got up and headed out for a long morning walk. A short trail and then the road up through the park. After a mile or so, Ellie and I continued on for a little walk/run while the rest of the pack turned to head back to our home on wheels. I haven’t really run in a couple of weeks and the hills and heat made for a rough time but just as we crested a steep hill, a fox ran across the road in front of us. It’s simple moments like that I find such blissful pleasure in. Nature. Life. Beauty. I was bummed Don hadn’t been with us but turned out as he walked back to the camper with Hendrix and Quesa, they crossed path with a fox of their own.
Later that morning we packed up the pups and headed out on the water. None of our dogs have ever been on a boat and we weren’t sure how they were going to do but goal was to find private areas around the lake where they could swim and play off leash. Boy did we score
Hendrix and Quesa both took to the boat with curiosity and ease. Ellie, on the other hand, looked like she wanted to vomit! We cruised for a bit then found a small deserted island. The dogs were in heaven! Quesa even went in for her first swim. Granted it was accidentally as she chased a stone Don skipped but it was a swim nonetheless. She got more and more comfortable in the water as the day went on and eventually seemed to love it though she never really let her feet come off the ground again.
We spent nearly seven hours on the lake exploring, swimming and enjoying the beauty of the solitude. Who knew Arkansas was so beautiful!?
Food for thought … Why is Kansas pronounced “can-zass” and Arkansas pronounced “are-can-saw”?