One of my favorite things in Arkansas is the state parks system. With multiple types of parks and a wide range of activities, they are sure to have something for everyone. For me, they offer hiking, geocaching, camping, fishing, swimming, and boating. This past weekend was the perfect weekend to enjoy the spring weather -- yes, SPRING! Not too hot, not too cold.
It was also graduation weekend for many university students accross the state and nation and as such I had just the state park to enjoy, one I had enjoyed on several occasions during my time as a student at Arkansas State University. Camping at Lake Frierson State Park would provide me the opportunity to see some of the last people I know at the university graduate, see some friends in the area and get to enjoy a weekend of camping.
As a student we would go to the lake and enjoy kayaking, playing on the playground (when there weren't children present, of course) and watching the sunset. It was a nice park, close enough to town to visit for a couple of hours. I had never visited the camping section.
Upon arriving to the camping area Friday night, I was surprised. The first thing I had to do was visit the restroom, which I expected to be like every other state park campground I had been in. What I found was a toilet in a room with a lock on it. There was no sink and no running water, but at least there was hand sanitizer. Wrong. It may have been labeled hand sanitizer but it was soap. Back at camp I used some bottled water to finish washing my hands before setting up camp.
Once I unloaded, set up the tent and staked it down I sat down at the picnic table to begin trying to make plans to meet some friends for dinner. Then someone came up behind me and told me to move that I was in their site. (He could have been a little nicer about it...) Rather than stand around and argue, I just pulled the stakes out of my tent and moved it; luckily I was camping alone and had a small tent so I didn't have to tear it down. Trying to figure out where to move it was another story. I knew my campsite number, but the sites were poorly laid out so it was hard to tell which site the numbers corresponded with.
That evening I decided to sleep outside; it isn't often I get the opportunity to camp under the stars, either because of the weather or the mosquito I got a little cold so it was difficult to sleep, but what made it worse was the campsite's proximity to the boat ramp. Around 4:30 a.m. loud trucks began driving through the area along with boat trailers that didn't help the noise level anymore. I finally moved inside to avoid some of the lights shining in my eyes.
On the positive side, I think that the staff at the park are much friendlier than Lake Ouachiata State Park. The first night I was there one of the park rangers stopped and asked if I would be wanting any wood. I told him no and asked him about showers and he told me I could use the ones at Crowley's Ridge State Park if I was up for the drive. The next morning I finished the check-in at the office and inquired about what I would need to show if asked at the other park and they gave me some receipts.
According to the park staff they are trying to get running water and showers in the camping area, but haven't yet. No running water isn't a huge problem for me; I don't mind primitive camping, when I am expecting it. Of course, this was my fault. I am sure they offered the information if I had paid attention.
Overall, this is a good park, but I do believe it is more for day-use.