Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Break Loop

Spring Break this year was more than I originally expected. First, Asuka and I went to stay with my mom and Step-dad in Sheridan. The next morning (Friday) we got up and went to Hot Springs for the day. Saturday morning we got up and helped them with moving a little before heading to Memphis to pick up Asuka's mom at the Airport. The next three days I spent driving around Jonesboro and we also went to Little Rock.

Tuesday night was a night without much sleep. We had to leave for Memphis by about 4 am. I didn't intend to sleep at all but decided to take a nap. I reset an alarm (or so I thought) and then I get a call from Asuka. I look at the clock and it says 4:30. I start scrambling around and rush out the door leaving pillows, blankets, a hairbrush, and other items that I would need for the next three days camping, only to get to my car and find out it is 3:40. Oh well, too late now...

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The adventure would soon begin. We dropped her Mom off at the Memphis International Airport about 6 in the morning. Then we started off toward Petit Jean State Park near Morrilton, AR. We stopped at a rest area in Arkansas and slept until about 9:30 in the car. It was one of those places though-- I couldn't go into a deep sleep. I always felt like someone was watching me. We got to Petit Jean and set up camp before hiking to the waterfall. The weather was amazing, probably in the upper 70's or lower 80's. We got back to camp and cooked dinner, went to shower, and went to bed by about 9 p.m. Then I woke up at midnight. The temperature had dropped about 40 degrees in the past four hours. I was shivering.

Finally 7:30 came around and I got up and stumbled into the cold morning air, with a cotton blanket wrapped around me. Two and a half hours later we were on the road to Oklahoma. We had a picnic at the visitors center; I found a geocache and we visited the log cabin of Sequoya, before heading back in to Arkansas.

We drove to the University of Arkansas, enemy territory, so that Asuka could see their campus. It was rather large, and I have to say I am glad I chose ASU over UA. I paid for an hour and a half of parking and the meter expired before we made it back to the car. I was beginning to think we might have to call campus police to help us FIND the car. We finally found it and headed to the store to buy more groceries for the camping that night at Hobbs State Park. Timing had other plans.

When we drove through the park, I had no clue where camping was and the visitors center was closed. I searched points of interest with the GPS and found a camping area not far from Eureka Springs which was to be the first stop for the next day. We arrived and it was a safari park with a lot of big cats, and an RV park. I decided it wasn't the best tent-camping spot and headed on into Eureka Springs for Lake Leatherwood. When we got there, it was abandoned. No one was in the cabins or the campgrounds. The office had a sign "will return at 9am." So we went to a campsite with water but no electricity. We got out and the bathroom had a sign that said, "closed for cleaning; use other side." I went to look and it was dimly lit and dirty. Another aged sign said "please shut the door so the pipes don't freeze." That was too much; it gave me the creeps. It looked like the scene from a horror film. When I got back to the car, Asuka was being cornered by the geese and quickly agreed to find somewhere else. We ended up in a Hotel. The attendant there said he worked at the BCM in Fayetteville at one point, so I asked him if he knew Arliss. Small world.

The next day I showed Asuka the Crescent Hotel, Christ of the Ozarks Statue (from the Hotel), and downtown. Then we headed to Branson. We camped at Tablerock Lake State Park. Finally, a place we could have a camp fire. We set up, paid, and then went into Branson. We got back and cooked in the dark which was an interesting experience. We'd planned on cooking the night before so our fish was soggy. It was cold so we weren't really in the cooking spirit. We ended up with Teriyaki rice, green beans, corn and mushrooms mixed together, and Teriyaki fish ticks. The fire didn't do much to keep us warm. We gave up and went to bed.

At about 6am cold turned to cold and wet. I began seeing white flashes and knew it was a storm rolling in. About 6:20 it got loud with thunder and rain. It was time to evacuate the tent and head for the car. We slept for the next four hours in the car with heat and soft chairs, until the rain stopped. When I went to check the tent I found our clothes, and sleeping gear soaked. There was at least one pool of water.

We cooked and broke down camp, knowing that it would be a long night of cleaning up when we arrived back in Jonesboro. We went to eat at a fish and steak restaurant at Branson Landing, with a little fear of being turned away for the clothes we were wearing. There was no problem, with the exception of being cold. We ate and headed for Jonesboro.

When we got back I unloaded the car. Later Asuka and I set the tent back up in the living room of my Collegiate Park apartment (luckily, all of my roommates were still out of town).  We dried it, inside and out. We washed the dishes. We washed the clothes and towels and pillows. Finally at midnight it was time for bed. Spring break would soon be over.

[I will add photos as soon as I have a chance to get them on my computer.]

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