Friday, July 10, 2015

Overnighting in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

I must admit, initially we weren't too excited about our stopovers in Arkansas and Oklahoma several weeks ago. I'd been through both states 20 years ago and had no memory of either, and car-camping one-nighters are kind of exhausting - especially when rainclouds follow you, and especially when you're en route to Texas... which we also weren't too excited about.

To be fair, there were a few interesting sights on the way to Hot Springs National Park.

how Arkansas does rice paddies
(interesting, and not quite what we're used to)

our first and last presidential library sighting
(cool building, admission $7... no thanks)

Otherwise we stayed on highways most of the time which meant a pretty boring drive. We kept open minds during those couple of days, though, and with the help of our handy road atlas we found some amazing scenery on the handful of back roads we did travel!

First up: Arkansas. After visiting Hot Springs National Park we headed to nearby Lake Ouachita State Park. We were bummed that this park's rangers assign sites (choosing a campsite is one of Patrick's favorite pastimes) but site T-3 turned out alright, I guess...

lakeside view

if only we had kayaks

man, it sucks to be us

soup, salad and sass for dinner

and a rather lovely sunset

Obviously, by "it turned out alright," I mean it was awesome. And no rain? Even more awesome.

(Not-so-awesome was the couple next to us who were attacked by raccoons for leaving food in their tent, who also used an entire can of lighter fluid to build a giant bonfire that kept us awake and fearful that our tent would catch on fire. Amateurs! Haha.)

Heading from Arkansas to Oklahoma the next day, we left the highway and followed the beautiful Talimena National Scenic Drive, stopping at a few of the pullouts and historic sites.

it's no I-40 with a bazillion semi trucks,
but it'll do

23 graves from the late 1800s/early 1900s

the Oklahoma/Arkansas border
(originally the Choctaw/Arkansas border
which erroneously deprived the Choctaw of some of their land)

Definitely worth the side trip.

Once we hit Oklahoma we headed for Hochatown State Park near the southeast corner. Despite valiant efforts we never did find that exact park, so we ended up in Beavers Bend State Park instead. (Oregonians in the general vicinity of a park called "Beavers Bend"... it was probably fate, eh?)

The campsites were "primitive" - an understatement - and the campers at this particular state park were of the "guns + ammo + beer" demographic, but it was getting late and we were I was getting cranky so we parked ourselves next to the river in an empty campground and hoped for the best.

And then the clouds rolled in, and the thunder started booming, and we just sighed.

before ...

... another salad for dinner
before the storm soaks the fire ...

... during ...

"Let's stay at this desolate, isolated, kinda grungy, primitive campsite down by the river in this random state park in SE Oklahoma during a giant thunderstorm..." said no one, ever.

They didn't know about the mist on the river after it rains.

after, part one

after, part two

It was really stunning.

In the morning we stopped by the park's Forest Heritage Center.  Our handy road atlas indicated it was a worthwhile stop and we hadn't been steered wrong yet.

dendrochronology, illustrated!

Definitely worth the hour we spent.  National Geographic Road Atlas for the win again!

So, yeah.  Other than a few more pictures here, that pretty much sums up our time in Arkansas and Oklahoma - better than we expected, but we don't have a burning urge to return anytime soon.

As we headed toward Texas we tried to find a state park for a picnic lunch but everything was flooded.

makeshift picnic area by the overflowing Red River

Crossing the border into the Lone Star state, we crossed our fingers for better weather ahead. I think we all remember how that turned out...


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Rachel! You should see some of our Hawaii sunset pics... :)

  2. These pictures! You sure know how to make a girl wish she was on the road... LOVE IT! My grandma lives in Arkansas and she always tries to convince me that its so beautiful and great. I haven't really believed her until now. haha

    1. We aim to inspire... Yes, once you get past initial expectations you can find beauty pretty much anywhere.

  3. I like to think with just a little effort, you can find beautiful and cool things anywhere and everywhere - even in the middle of seemingly nowhere! Great job on finding these great experiences and making memories even out of stopovers!

    1. I totally agree! Sometimes it takes a little more effort but it's there.

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Meredith! Lakes surrounded by green lush trees are definitely a favorite of ours...

  5. For a trip you weren't too fond to go on, seems like you made do just fine.

    1. We try. And hey, when all else fails, there's always beer. (Or tea, in your case!)

  6. Wow. That sunset, that fog. Beautiful!