This state has a fair amount of rugged, remote territory; it can't be farmed, though some of it is quarried for rock, gravel, and shale. Ranches raise beef and dairy cattle; horses, goats, llamas, and buffalo are surprisingly common. Less picturesque are the oil and natural gas wells and the vast Delta stretches where soybeans, rice, and cotton are raised. A big plus: the 51 state parks that offer camping, hiking, fishing, boating, and more.
Last week took us to Lake Fort Smith State Park--the man-made lake is a water source for the second-largest city in Arkansas, with a newly-renovated dam and a newly-relocated and rebuilt campground. The park has been closed for years during the reconstruction, and this was our first visit. It's very remote--no cell signal whatever--and it's not near any cities...or towns...or villages...or anything else! It was very, very peaceful. Boaters had the best way of accessing fishing holes, but we managed to find a cove that was quite productive: four green sunfish, a black bass....supper! Between rainstorms we managed to hike some of the trails.
Okay, the bass was larger than the blue-gill, but details are hard to illustrate. All were delicious.
We made a quick trip into Mountainburg (population 1319) in order to leave cell messages so that no one would expect to hear from us.
We moved further east, to Withrow Springs State Park, near Huntsville. We were again in a remote area with no cell signal (and nearly no neighbors in the campground.) More rain! Actually, we were hoping that some was falling back home. Too bad there is no 'America's Funniest Home Video' of our hike--I had to keep flailing my kerchief to fend off the insects; possibly this would have looked rather festive from a distance.
Although daughter Laura lived in Fayetteville for 5 years, we had never visited some of the landmarks, such as Mount Sequoyah (a Methodist conference center.) Favorite scene: Vespers Point.....what's interesting about the cross?
We used Garmie, the helpful GPS, to locate the public library (complete with a lower-level parking garage, green construction, and wi-fi. Hubby Dearest got on the laptop, while I checked out the quilt display and read the latest copies of 'Smithsonian' and 'Natural History.'
It's a fabulous facility, (and Laura tells us she misses it badly.) We had a late lunch at The Pesto Cafe--delightful place!--and then returned to Withrow Springs to hike near War Eagle Creek in order to earn the right to relax in front of a campfire.
This picture was taken from a bluff above the creek.
The countryside--rolling hills and belts of trees--is peaceful and lovely.
I was able to show Hubby Dearest a real live water moccasin down near the creekbed; absolutely NO appreciation shown for my willingness to share. Tsk.
The third stop was near Mountain Home, in north-central Arkansas, located between two large lakes (Bull Shoals and Norfolk.) The economy has been less-kind to this part of the state--(Arkansas has been less-battered by the downturn than many other areas of the US.) Smaller towns are ....constricting? shrinking? Dying, alas, is the more operative word. We were camped on the White River, where fly fishermen were out in droves.
We had unseasonably warm weather most of the week--and it was more intrusive at our campsite in Mountain Home, where we had no shade. We got up very early on our last day and reached Cranfield Rec Area on Norfolk Lake at daybreak. We shared a 'senior citizen fishing dock' with a pair of elderly gentlemen; all of us were pulling in some enormous blue-gills. In addition, I caught a very attractive (and unhappy) water terrapin (the 'local name' which I suspect was inaccurate.) Once the fog burned off, the fishing slowed down, and we headed back to the camp to pull up stakes and drive home (where Not A Single Drop of rain had fallen.)