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Posts Tagged ‘camping’

Epic Road Trip #6: A Pause in Little Rock

I drove south out of Jasper and enjoyed the scenic drive. Went to Pedestal Rocks and gave that a pretty thorough look over. Lots of caves and pedestals and other cool rock formations. I drove to the next Forest Road and found a nice fire pit with a couple of wood piles. There was a drainage I couldn’t get the van through but after dinner I drove down to a flat pull off and had a quiet night.

Pedestal Rocks has a pit toilet so it was nice to camp close. I drove south on 7 and it’s really beautiful. I checked out a horse trail area but it was muddy and didn’t look like good hiking. I never did find a good hike so I searched for attractions and detoured south to Petit Jean State Park.

It is really cool. Nice well marked trails and a cool cave with faint pictographs. I couldn’t find the ones the sign said should be there. There was recent graffiti which is really sad.

I spent some time in Little Rock visiting friends and giving Cookie Monster a good airing out. I pulled all my stuff out and reorganized some. I took a day trip to Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Had a nice local plant garden which was really superb with name plates. Always love that. I tried to climb the summit but got turned around.

Mostly I hung out with friends. It had been 10-15 years since I’d seen either of them but we all agreed we just picked up where we left off. We were all older but just as close. I stayed long enough to feel like a neighbor and not a visitor. So I was excited to get back to the woods.

Went south and West to the Ouachita National Forest. Tried to go to the Flatside Wilderness but the road had a big wash out. I was challenging it for awhile but it was getting real sketchy for a Dodge Caravan. I managed to get her turned around and was proud of myself for making the maneuver over definitely my most challenging drive in Cookie.

There’s no internet so I was glad I downloaded directions to not only the wilderness but the ruins of a CCC site. It was on Scenic 7 and it was cool old ruins. There’s a scenic loop road I’m camping on tonight. Probably built by those CCC boys.

Tomorrow I’ll finish the loop and look for hiking. There’s another CCC site down the road and a day use area. Monday I’m going into Hot Springs and get my Federal Lands Pass and visit my first national park.

Then I have to see where I’m at and where I want to go in New Mexico to choose my route across Oklahoma. I paused longer in Arkansas then I intended which has been nice, but as I told my friend Jay: I’m burning Spring.

Epic Road Trip #3: Dogwoods & Whatnot

So this didn’t get posted, was lost in the ether, and showed up some time later in drafts after I made a new #3. So these paragraphs do not haunt me forever in drafts I will try to upload again.

Rained all night and into the day. So after a few preliminaries I hiked into the Paddy Creek Wilderness Area. I only went to the first stream crossing which was more then I wanted to do with my boots while I was still needing them. Looked for morels in low spots and on the road. Found a fern in flower that was quite impressive.

I haven’t been able to get to a ranger station that has water. The campground on my ancient of days map is now a day use area so I’m not optimistic. I have enough for tomorrow. I did find a nice dispersed spot with a fire pit and found dry wood. There is more forest noise and I’m on a ridge top. I have occasional cell network.

I’m camped in an area that was burned. Looks controlled and some stuff is coming back. It’s very open and lots of wood for the fire. It’s also a short walk from the ruins of a Civilian Conservation Corps site.

It’s late and I didn’t get a nap today since I traveled. I still have another meditation to do and I get to do a little texting. I’m going to try to publish this without pictures since my signal, which I am grateful for, is the nonetheless, piss poor.

Epic Road Trip #3: Swan Creek

April 28, 2021 1 comment

After a week I’ve really settled in and I feel great about the trip so far. Van life is good and today I went through and did a reorganization and everything is put away tidy.

I found some great camping on Forest Road 202 opposite the road leading to the damn with a day use area and a hiking loop. Up a few miles there is an old CCC camp with interpretive signs. People camp there but it feels like a historic ruin so I drove up to the next intersection and camped by a fire pit.

It was pretty sweet in spite of a likely controlled burn there. Not a lot of duff in the pine forest but not really sooty either.

The CCC site was cool with foundations, the swimming pool and the fireplace for the bunkhouse still standing. A great amenity for a dispersed camping site. I explored it a few times. The workers there built the damn, by hand, amongst other things.

I got up early and drove towards Springfield. I did a morning hike and meditation at a Conversation Department run nature center. Met a woman who lived next door. None of the neighbors would sell an access route for the property so they sold to the conservation department. The trails were well maintained and the wayfinding was excellent. There was some garlic mustard along the creek which seemed unseemly for the conservation department.

I then got my East and West confused in classic Mike fashion and drove across town to a Civil War Battlefield site, Wilson’s Creek. It was the first battle in Missouri. Union forces had advanced on Missouri and Arkansas Confederates. Outnumbered 2 to 1 Nathaniel Lyon led union forces in a surprise attack with heavy casualties on both sides.

Ultimately Lyons was killed in battle and only the Union Batteries allowed them to withdraw without being decimated. While the battle was lost it took Sterling Price’s capacity to wage offensive action away and Missouri was not much contested after.

The interpretive signs were blase about slavery but it’s worth a visit. You can’t really understand Missouri today without reflecting on the Civil War. “Little Dixie” has some shameful roots that grew a tree of hate that still fruits today.

I got supplies and meditated in a local park until Anthony got off work. There was a bluebird who was putting on a show. I realized he had a nest there and I had meditate through a couple of angry blue birds as well as a couple of women and a gaggle of little kids coming up on what I thought was an out of the way picnic shelter. I was glad Anthony called as toddlers fell in ditches and a growing wave of nonsense swept the park.

Had a nice dinner at a barbecue place and got caught up. Consulted with Anthony on my new meditation routine. It was a lot of fun and I got to shower and do laundry and sleep in a bed.

In the morning I caught a Denny’s breakfast so I could use the wifi and get my video game (Evony) set for the trip. It feels good to be able to eat out again. I’m sticking to low traffic times and will keep assessing and adjust if needed.

Drive into the Mark Twain piece closest to Springfield, just a half hour away and camped at Swan Creek Horse Camp. Swan Creek got its name in the Civil War when Union forces were camped there and a soldier shot a goose but shouted he had shot a swan.

It’s a nice place to camp. Picnic tables and pit toilets. A nice place to swim if it were a bit warmer. I met a local, Raven a recent nursing school grad who gave me the rundown. We’re supposed to get 3-5″ of rain in the next 2 days and she showed me where it floods to.

The next morning was going to drive into Ozark for pans/aluminum foil as I’d left my pans at my last camp but the road was covered with water so I skipped it and came to an ATV day use area that’s higher and has wifi. Not enough to download pictures but I’m going to try and post this. My van is not made for the rough life so I’m being super safe with the off-road parking, driving through water, and other forest driving hazards. I have dubbed the van The Cookie Monster.

I got a good supply of wood under a tarp and have everything organized for the coming deluge. I have an easy out and I think I can ride out the storm quite nicely. There is no signal so may add on later. Now it’s time to put stuff away and get some shut eye.

Epic Road Trip #2: Paddy Creek

I got a little lost but saw a sign for Licking and thought I might try my luck at the local cafe to celebrate being full vaccinated as of today. The place is small and the parking lot was full so I got some subway at a little truck stop. Tuna salad salad was a good compliment to camp food.

Coming back I stopped at the Big Piney Bridge and meditated by the river. When I got back to the campground I was looking for a site with fire wood. I had picked my previous site for shady parking. I found a cool site kind of by itself with a short trail to a piece of the creek with a nice beach. There was a little pretty stone and faded flower arrangement as well as a decent amount of wood. A little later I found 2 little morels growing in camp. It was sweet.

Cooked a nice meal. The morels I cooked up in margarine with my green pepper and onion for my greens. I ate them with a corn tortilla with some goat guda, toasted on the fire.

I ate my greens with leftover potatoes and it was delicious. I’ve been toasting a few marshmallows. My fire is dying down and it’s getting to be time to lay down. Likely pick this up tomorrow and add photos when I leave and get a signal….

And I did. Can’t add photos but will try to publish. Had a rainy night. Took a trail hike in the rain and poked around looking at stuff. Decided to see some new territory and drove down to Houston to try and fill my water jugs at the ranger station. I’m going down to the next district south to camp and see what there is to be seen down there. Probably the north part east of Willow Springs.

Monday I’ll head to Springfield and see my friend Anthony who has recently relocated there. A shower already seems nice and I’m looking forward to picking his brain on my meditation routine. Until then faithful reader.

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