Day 5 Little Rock
Today is a planned day to just chill and enjoy our friends on this amazing creek property. First, we ran down the road to the local produce market to procure some fresh veggies for dinner before picking up around the campsite and guest house. After a quick cleanup, we grabbed our chairs and headed out to the creek to watch world go by around us.
W, Beth, Maggie, & I eventually set up our chairs just perfect to where the sun was at our backs while August became a master stone skipper. The water temperature was cool on our legs, but that sun was still scorching. After taking in the sun for a while, we scouted a “sandbar” further down creek, closer to where a gaggle of Canadian geese were gamboling, that was shaded by the cedar trees branching out over the water.
We laughed and cursed as we tried to keep a certain Suzanne Vega song out of our heads while listening to a subpar 80’s playlist. At that point we figured the best remedy was just to put the entire Prince catalogue on shuffle. We were doing the perfect amount of nothing and it was just what the doctor ordered.
I returned to the guest house to prep dinner while maggie went up to nap and Beth and W took the four wheeler across the creek to gather some fresh eggs from the chicken farm on the other side of the property. August joined me in the kitchen watching one of his favorite shows. His giggles made me smile as I cut and seasoned the veggies.
It was nice to have a proper home cooked meal around a table with our friends, a ritual that we know will be few and far between on the next 45 days of our journey. We shared a dessert of dark chocolate and hazelnut butter before retiring back at camp.
Day 6 Little Rock>Fayetteville
This day was originally supposed to be a drive day to Tulsa. Plans changed when we learned that our friend, W, would be riding with us. Being an Arkansas native, he had knowledge of a few adventures that were close enough to our projected route, and we were game.
This is also where I feel I need to introduce Joe. I’m sure Joe has a last name, but being the man of mystery that he is, I kind of like just knowing him as Joe. Joe lives in a log cabin tucked away on the Williams’ creek property with his wife and daughter. Joe is a lawyer, a collector and racer of Porsches, an airplane pilot, and a ceramicist. I’m sure he has many other talents and hobbies, but most of all, he’s just an all around kind hearted individual that, along with his family, cares not only for the creek property, but also for W’s stepmom, Mickey. While I am completely intrigued by the existence of this well rounded human being, my intent for introducing him, is not about his character nor his accomplishments. This man had some damn fine food recommendations that fit right in with our new travel itinerary for the now two day trip to Tulsa.
With W riding in the back seat with August, we left Beth at the creek just after 10am so she could get in a day of work. Our first stop would be the first of Joe’s food recommendations, The Oark General Store in Ponca, which resides within the Ozark National Forest. Built in 1890, this place oozed history. With it’s weathered siding, it’s well worn, top nailed floor planks, and it’s it perfectly charred flat top cheeseburgers, the Oark General Store draws people from all over who are in search of backroad adventure.
Our next stop would be the Lost Valley Trail where we would hike to Eden Falls. Only 30 plus miles from Oark, we drove an hour of unpaved mountain roads to get there, only passing one other car along the way. As fate would have it, we would arrive at the trailhead just as a church group caravan of 30 people or so pulled up. This would prove to only aggravate us briefly as our pace took us past them quickly.
The trail was moderate, taking us up and down the rocky terrain along Clark Creek, a tributary to the Buffalo National River. A fork in the trail led us to an overlook of a beautiful waterfall that crashed into a deep pool where other hikers swam. We rested there for a minute while taking in its beauty, but our destination was yet to be realized.
As we got closer and closer, we second guessed how far we would actually go. For one, we weren’t familiar with the trail and it wasn’t well marked towards the end, and two, the hike led us into a cave that got real skinny just before the payoff. Had I attempted this in January before I lost 30 pounds, I don’t think I would have made it.
With the encouragement of some other hikers, we maneuvered the tight, jagged cave tunnels taking care not to slip on the wet rocks beneath us. Without our headlamps, we would be immersed in complete darkness. As we inched closer, the sound of falling water was music to our ears. We finally hit the end of the tunnel that opened up into a vast dome where the water fell majestically from above. I couldn’t help but feel like a Goonie at this point and I yelled, “Andi, you Goonie!” at the top of my lungs. Each of us took our time soaking in this experience. I certainly had never been on a cave hike such as this one.
The next leg of our adventure on this day was supposed to include a stop in Eureka Springs to view the Thorncrown Chapel and have dinner; however, the ominous skies suggested we should head straight to Fayetteville. This proved to be a wise decision as to not add any unnecessary white knuckle driving to our day.
After a brief drive through heavy downpour with contagious nerves emanating from the passenger seat, I pulled the rig into our destination in Fayetteville. Dinner was the last item on our agenda to check off before retiring for the day. The thunder and rain continued, lulling us to sleep in preparation for tomorrow’s drive to Tulsa.
Until tomorrow, be good to yourselves and to each other.