After leaving Lone Oak Kathy, Frances, and I headed northeast. This was the first time on the road in the Sundancer without Keila. I felt she should still be sitting in the back getting woozy before she found her spot to settle in and deal with the rest of the ride. Keila wasn't there but will always be with us in spirit. Now we also carry the ashes of Pickles Marie, Keila's foster sister, who died just a month before her. I love all our fur babies. At first, I hurt every time I looked over my shoulder and didn’t see Keila there. Now, I start my day looking at both of their furry faces in pictures near my bed. I try to make it an adventure, journeys to places they had never traveled is way to look forward, to the future and not stay in the past.
Frances is another story. She’s decided she is a lap dog all the time now and refuses to sit, lay, or stand anywhere other than my lap. Well, Kathy’s lap is her first choice but not allowed while driving!
Arkansas means beautiful scenery!
Our first stop, The Crater of Diamonds State Park. The week before leaving Texas we had learned a 1.6 carat diamond had been found by a visitor within minutes of his arrival. It is the only place in North America that the public is allowed to dig for diamonds and other gem stones. The weather isn't nice but it is supposed to be good hunting in the rain because it helps wash the dirt from the good stuff. We geared up and slogged through the mud to sift a few buckets of dirt in forty-degree temps.
Kathy was a real trouper. She doesn’t care to get dirty and didn’t really understand my interest in rocks. After a few hours she gave up and waited for me to gather one more bucket full to take with us on the road. I had the gemologist ranger review my finds and although I had a few nice specimens, I didn’t have anything valuable but I had a bucket of dirt to play with later.
The campground although beautiful is pricey for us but we had a lovely spot with quick access to a beautiful wooded hike along the river. It was a nice place to walk with Frances.
Our second stop in Arkansas was Hot Springs. Hot Springs National Park is the only real urban National Park. It boasts bath houses from the turn of the century where one can go soak in antique cast iron tubs and be massaged and steamed by professionals. Conducted in the same way as they’ve done for over a century is an experience to enjoy and savor.
I appreciate the architecture of the turn of the century buildings, the elaborate gardens, and the historic areas downtown. It is a touristy but I’m considering stopping here on the way back to Texas after Florida.
Unluckily, we spent the afternoon in another way! We got stuck trying to find the visitor's center, which was closed due to lack of staffing. Luckily, the contract farmers were working and helped us get out of the mud.
We still didn't get the stamp. Maybe someone from the refuge will see this post and offer to send one. Nothing broken, it's all good when it's a learning experience.