Day 3 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways
Best Parks in the Arkansas Ozarks
It’s tough to post on the road sometimes. Sadly, today I settled on the parking lot of McDonald’s as the nice lady at Mystic Caverns told me they have free wi-fi. It’s the busiest McDonald’s I have ever seen. At 3:30 in the afternoon, the two drive-thrus are going non-stop and a congregation of people are inside.
Oh what a day..a comedy of errors mostly…yet still beautiful scenery and better than a work day. I went to bed with a sinus headache and awoke with one much worse. I just had to wait for it to turn into a migraine before I could take my medicine to get ride of it. In the meantime, I tried out my electric water heating rod and blew a fuse, so no coffee for me. Thankfully, I’m not a coffee addict.
Petit Jean State Park
I set off for a short quarter mile hike with the dogs to Bear Cave in Petit Jean State Park and soon realized forgot the memory card for my camera…UGH! Thankfully I didn’t miss a cheetah kill in Africa like my friend Mike did when he forgot his memory card. Fortunately, with the walk only being a quarter mile long, upon my return to VANilla, I exchanged my dogs for the card and went back to take a few shots. Bear Cave was really a cool place…huge boulders, overhanging ledges, and caves.
Next I took another quarter mile hike to Rock House Cave. The trail map brochure and the interpretive sign indicated that faint red Indian petroglyphs could be located in the middle to the left side of the cave. While I looked, I didn’t manage to spot them. Maybe finding a geocache would be easier. The cache in Petit Jean State Park was creatively hidden in a bird house!
Mount Magazine State Park
My Reader’s Digest Scenic Drive Book suggested to loop off Hwy 7 and go to Mount Magazine State Park and Mount Nebo State Park. I drove up winding roads to a picnic area at the top of Mount Magazine and just chilled. There were some nice views and, as the book suggested, the temperature was a bit cooler. This may be the only time in my life where I would prefer cool weather over warm…my mini-fan in VANilla is meager at best.
The northern face of the mountain is lush and grows ferns while the southern side is drier with patches of prickly pear cactus. Apparently, there are two rare species on the mountain – the maple-leaved oak tree and the middle-toothed land snail, but even if I looked for them, I’d have no idea if I saw them! As I headed down the mountain, my rough day continued. The mutts got sick. Nothing like washing down the dog bed on the side of the road! I made a detour to Walmart for new dog food and bottled water. Hopefully that will help. Otherwise I’ll have to find a vet!
Mount Nebo State Park
Back on track, I visited Mount Nebo State Park. WOW…is all I can say about the road…18% grade and switch backs every 1000 feet or so. I barely made it up. I felt like I should have stayed there a week after VANilla made such an effort. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time at Mount Nebo State Park, but for the time I did have, it was great. If I had it to do over again, I would have reduced the driving, skipped Mount Magazine State Park, and spent more time here.
I took two short walks by the visitor’s center to find a few caches. The first one was just under the Rim Trail, thus it afforded magnificent views. The other cache was down the side of the mountain. It was appropriately named 375 steps. Thankfully, whoever hid the cache had some mercy and did not hide it at the bottom of the steep terrain. My old mutts fumbled around, but survived the endeavor.
Both caches were ammo cans with knick knacks. I signed the log book and left the name of my blog. Who knows, maybe a random cacher will start reading along. While at the visitor’s center I saw seven deer. It turns out visitors may buy corn and feed them. As a result, they like people, but are more leery of dogs, as they stared from afar.
Dover, Gas and Flipped Logging Truck
It was 3 by the time I left. I was hoping to make it to Long Pool Recreation Area by 4 to relax, blog, etc…because tomorrow’s itinerary looks really cool. There are lots of places I want to see, and I’ve found that I have only been able to stop at about 4 places a day. About 10 miles past Dover, however, I realized I only had a quarter tank of gas. The next closest town through which I planned to pass tomorrow, was 50 miles away.
As I was contemplating my options, I came upon a flipped, logging truck. Logs blocked both lanes of traffic. The driver was trapped upside down in his cab. I heard from the people already on the scene that 911 had been called, the driver was conscious with a hurt leg. They were trying to help him adjust a little because he was having a difficult time breathing.
Not to sound callous or anything, but there wasn’t anything I could do there. Low on gas and potentially needing to find a new place to stay, I took a detour…back to Dover. I found the lone gas station. Instead of the pump reading “would you like a car wash”, it said “happy hour from 3 to 6…enjoy a fountain drink”. Do the local town folks meet up at the gas station? I didn’t wait around to find out, but I did find an alternate route to Long Pool!
A gentleman at the pump informed me, “You just go up to 164, go a few miles, and just turn right on the road there, by Moore’s with the canoes…it will dead end into Long Pool.”
Lucky for me…he was right!!!
Long Pool Recreation Area
Long Pool Recreation Area is a National Forest rather than a National Park or State Park, thus it lacked a grand entrance, a visitor center with brochures or trail maps, or for that matter anyone to tell you how to find and pay for a campsite. There is simply a fee station. So, once again, I found myself in new territory. After picking a camp spot, I peppered fellow campers Tom and Rick with all my questions.
They were kind enough to walk me through the procedures: pick a site, get the number, write in on the camping envelope, enclose the fee, and drop it in the fee box. These brothers camp quite a bit and are here for two weeks. I’m so glad I met them. They told me the bathrooms in the campgrounds don’t have showers, but the ones in the day use area do. At first I thought that was odd, but then I saw the river…wide, calm, and milky blue…I’m certain it’s a popular summer swimming hole. It’s hard to imagine that the same river, when it is high, is a premier white water rafting location.
It’s unfortunate I don’t have a picture of Tom, Rick or their two dogs to go with the blog, but they were interesting. They are from Russellville, AR…not far from here. One owns a wireless internet company and the other owns a small motor repair shop for tractors and the like. They expect to retire in Ecuador next year! That’s cool. They say for the cost of living there, they can live like kings on social security, and the health insurance is really cheap. I’ve heard of more and more Americans retiring internationally.
Well, I’m off to bed. Uniquely, despite the wireless internet company in Russellville, there isn’t a tower here, so my post is delayed. I have successfully found a spot where the answer to “can you hear me now” is NO for both Verizon and AT&T. I had planned to map out tomorrow’s adventures. I suppose I’ll surprise myself. ETB
Map of My Road Trip Across the USA
For a summary about my road trip across the USA, click HERE. For the interactive map, see the below link.
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Check out the photographic note cards and key chains at my shop. Each card has a travel story associated with it. 20% of proceeds are donated to charity.