The Natural State
We took a much needed mini-vacay at the beginning of the week. We didn’t travel far, but relaxation took over the moment we pulled out of the driveway and headed south for our neighboring state. Our minivan was loaded to the gills with sleeping bags, firewood, cookout supplies, and children. Not even room for the dog :) It was Arkansas or bust. Our drive took us almost three hours south, to Devil’s Den State Park. We enjoyed some fast food for lunch in the van, and nothing beats stopping at Casey’s for a fill-up and candy for the road. Just ask my kids. We arrived at the park at 2:30pm and checked into our camper cabin for four as a family of five. Apparently they count babies in a pack and play toward the cabin bunk capacity. Luckily, they didn’t hold it against us, and we all got to stay.
After unloading the van and getting settled, we met up with friends and headed out for a hike. We climbed the Devil’s Den Trail. A 1.6 mile loop up and down rock formations and caverns nestled into the forest. Our daughter decided she was only going to be happy if she could lead the way. Good luck, sister. Whining and tears momentarily hindered our hike, but we persevered and thoroughly enjoyed all the trail had to offer. Of course, the kids wanted water to play in, so after hiking, we splashed at Lee Creek where a massive rock dam forms Lake Devil. One of the trip’s highlights was discovering a muddy little softshell turtle hiding along the shore.
Dinner over the campfire is always interesting when kids want to cook their own food. At least “raw” hot dogs aren’t likely to kill you, so have at it, kids. S’mores followed closely behind, and bedtime not long after that. Sleeping 5 people in the same room brought back memories of reading Little House on the Prairie. Fun for a night, but I wouldn’t want to live that way. The big kids slept like champions, one even slid halfway out of her bed on two occasions in the night without waking. Little man, battling a cold, woke twice and ditched the pack and play for warm mommy snuggles in the big bed. All in all, a peaceful camper cabin sleep.
Day 2 brought rain, so we drove north to a new park, racing the threatening clouds. We were victorious in both beating the rain and finding the greatest little visitor center. Hobbs State Park has trails and natural beauty aplenty. We walked a paved trail outside the visitor center and ate lunch at shaded picnic tables with a view. But their visitor center took the cake. Top notch! Mesmerized, the kids romped through every nook and cranny and back again. Scavenger hunts, animal pelts, live animal and taxidermy displays, man-made cave exhibit, natural blocks, books, and more things to see than your eyes could take in. Simply amazing. We packed a lot into a whirlwind 30 hours. But we didn’t feel rushed, and we let nature take the stress away. It’s amazing how spending time outdoors can be so therapeutic. Of course, it helps to spend time with friends who have the same mindset. Arkansas, I feel like getting to know you more. Please welcome us back again soon!