It’s that time of year when I have to tuck in my garden with plastic, order my seed catalogs, and try to hang onto my sanity until January, when I can plant some onions. Okay, so it’s only about 8 weeks, but even so, I don’t like being cooped up indoors and I don’t like cold weather!
We just arrived home yesterday after a 3 day stay in the woods of Arkansas. There are many things I love about Arkansas: It looks like home, just add some mountains. It appears to be sparsely populated, which can be both negative and positive, but given my recent introvert streak, it’s a ‘yay’. The geologic makeup of the state is awesome…it’s nice to have something other than iron ore rocks and sand.
This makes our third trip to the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murphreesboro, but only our first in the “Snoozy Cruiser” AKA our Pace Arrow motorhome. I have to say, I MUCH prefer travel in a motorhome versus tent camping. MUCH PREFER. The past 2 times we had gone, we were in a tent and it rained the entire time. Did I mention it was also very cold? Yes, I am a spoiled brat; I accept the fact! Gladly! The first day and a half we were there were absolutely glorious. Highs in the 60s-70s and nights in the 50s. The last day and a half were cold. Of course, if you travel in spring or fall, it’s always going to be a crapshoot when it comes to weather. I was just glad that this trip did not include tornadoes, as our last vacation did.
Life in a motorhome takes some adjustment. When you have four bodies in a 8′ x 34′ box, life gets interesting. I have the bruises to prove it. For the record, I do NOT have a clotting disorder; I just look like I do. After bumping into every possible corner, I have bruises from head to toe. We have coined a new phrase for the Snoozy. It’s called the Pace Arrow Side-Step, and it’s what you will be doing as you are trying to avoid bodies, books, pillows, open cabinets and drawers, etc. I feel worse for my husband, who fills an entire doorway with his enormous shoulders. He also wears size 14 shoes, and frankly, I have no clue how he didn’t end up falling head-first over a child or the kitchen table.
It is also interesting how a single cup or pen out of place can make the whole motorhome look messy. Becoming a minimalist whilst traveling in an RV is just a must. Even as we were driving, I found myself sweating a little (okay, okay, a LOT) when a child dropped a marker or left a crumb on the carpet. My chi (or qi, if you will) was instantly thrown off and I had to do some front seat soul-centering mantra repetitions to retain my balance. I may be just a little neurotic? Anyhoo, we did manage to keep things cleaned up and put up throughout the trip without anyone losing their mind or becoming cranky. Made beds are a must. Clean dishes are a must. Wait, wait, wait, I thought this was vacation? Turns out that a homemaker is a homemaker wherever she goes. Oh well.
The cool thing about Crater of Diamonds is that you get to keep any diamonds you find. Oh, don’t you worry, you likely will not find any! You also discover that there are about 90 other minerals that look suspiciously like a diamond, so prepare for your heart to pitter-patter a lot. In all seriousness though, I am a rock hound at heart, so I was happy to come away with some nice pieces of agate, jasper, calcite, and little bits of quartz. We always have a good time because you know there are diamonds in that field, so hope springs eternal. You also get to bring home a 5 gallon bucket of washed rocks with you, and you can continue the search at home! This picture is at the entrance of the 37 acre field that you get to dig through. Take my advice and DO NOT go in summer. I have no clue why anyone would choose to dig in an unshaded field in 100+ degree heat, but I assure you, it would be horrid. Don’t do it. That is, unless you like being sunburned and dehydrated. Go in the spring or fall months, but make SURE you check the weather since these are our most volatile months as far as weather goes. Southwest Arkansas sees its share of tornadoes and flooding, after all.
This time around, we decided to hit some of the trails around the park. Here are some things we saw:
We really enjoyed our time together! I hiked more than I have in….well….forever. We walked from the campsite to the crater every day, twice a day. We went on walks in the woods once or twice a day, too. Every night there was mass S’more consumption. We ate much more than should be legally allowed. Jason and I slurped down cup after cup of fabulous French-pressed coffee, and I somehow managed to come up with meals only using what my tiny cupboards and microscopic refrigerator could hold. Truly, even though the trip ended with Zoe communicating to us by only using a slide whistle (seriously), and we lived in a tiny box together for several days, we feel closer than ever. I will leave you with this photograph. It is one that I think is very significant, because I feel that it symbolizes the next phase in our lives where our girls ride off into their own sunsets, only to return home for visits. Our time together is so very short, but so precious. Hold onto it while you can.
Yes, it is all of these things and SO MUCH MORE. If my children were still in public school, I wonder if I would have ever heard statements/questions presented to me by my younger daughter, such as: “Mommy, those pants make your booty look big.” and the gem: “Mom, are you trying to grow a beard?”
Let me tell you about our atypical schedule. Yesterday, the day started off with some math worksheets, and then onto Arty English (designing a card for a friend, while using proper letter writing techniques as well as addressing an envelope). Then as the morning progressed, it morphed into Exterior Landscaping and Drainage Solutions class as Dad took them into the woods to gather rocks to line our driveway before the onslaught of expected rain. After lunch, we had a Literature moment and read more out of our assigned novel, The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Dad went back into the woods and it was decided by the eldest child that it was a great time to fish. After pulling up about 25 perch, she decided to eat one. The classroom moved outdoors once again, where Firebuilding 101 was underway. After I reviewed about 5 YouTube videos on how to filet a perch, we were ready for Panfish Preparation and Panfrying. Soon, we had two of the tiniest filets you have ever laid your eyes on (perfectly proportioned for an American Girl doll), and after dipping them in a seasoned flour, we fried them over the fire in a brown butter sauce. After that experience, everyone decided it was definitely fish for supper, so we went back to our pond classroom, where we resumed our lesson in Advanced Perch Jerking, and then on to Panfish Preparation and Panfrying 1302.
So in a single day, you can see that we learn a great many things; math, art, literature, engineering, science, A&P, cooking skills, survivalist/wilderness skills, etc. No two days are the same, though I try to do math, reading, language arts, and history every day. It’s critical that my children can read, write, and solve mathematical equations, but above all things, they MUST love to learn. I feel that the worst tragedy a teacher can inflict upon his/her students is to extinguish the natural passion for learning.
If I only pass this one single thing onto my children, I will consider my time as a teacher a great success. So get out there, grab a book or watch a video, and TRY SOMETHING NEW!!!