A Natural State


Three beautiful words.

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.

IMG_20141110_160519_179The 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:

The fungus among us! TONS of fungus around the woods. This is an homage to my friend Rachel, over at The Wicked Chicken.
Path along the Little Missouri river.
Is this a cool tree or what???
Hello there, little Tussock moth caterpillar! I haven’t researched you yet, but I think that’s what you are.
Not only am I a sucker for fungi, I LOVE moss.
Zoe (on the left) loves her big sister very much. It’s tough sometimes when you’re a cuddly person and your sibling isn’t! This is a rare ‘together-and-physically-touching-each-other’ photo for them!

IMG_20141110_061836 IMG_20141110_144355_455IMG_20141110_061713We 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.