December 14 – 17
We crossed the state boundary into Arkansas on a Wednesday, and the girls celebrated in the back seat that we were finally in the same state as their Mimi.
Hot Springs made a perfect stop en route to the family property because it was on the way, but also because it’s a National Park, and it’s where Brad and I spent our honeymoon. Actually, once we were there, I realized that besides some childhood visits to the area that I have almost no memory of, I’ve visited Hot Springs for my honeymoon, a wedding, and a funeral. All of these markers of major life changes left me with some good food for thought throughout our visit.
We camped at Lake Catherine State Park right on the Ouchuita River (Wash-i-taw), so the girls had a fun muddy beach with lots of shells to play in during our first morning. I took my ukulele out for music class, and since we had the campground nearly to ourselves, we belted out “I’ll Fly Away” over and over and over while the girls gleefully ran around the beach collecting shells and making mud pies.
Right across the water from our site was a giant electricity generating, fossil-fuel-burning plant. Brad and I tried to pick our site based on seeing the steam-puffing behemoth through as few windows as possible. The girls, however, were delighted by the sight of it! “We love this site because it has that beautiful castle with all of the lights on it at night!”they proclaimed on our first night. Perspective check…
There were several short trails in the state park, so several of us got some much-needed exercise. One evening the girls and I attended a men’s chorus Christmas Concert at Anthony Chapel, a beautiful glass and wooden chapel in the forest.
One day we all visited the National Park site, drank some hot water from the free fountains, and learned about the heyday of the area when people from all over the south and mid-west visited the springs to fix whatever ailed them. My only disappointment was that there were no ironically terrifying postcards of the old spa implements, that today look much more to me like torture devices.
On our final morning at Lake Catherine I woke up to coffee & breakfast in bed for my birthday. When Brad took the first load of things out to the truck to prepare for the day’s drive, I started hearing him make sounds of surprise and disgust. When he came back inside, the mood of the morning quickly changed. “There are thousands of ladybugs crawling all over everything outside. Let’s get out of here ASAP.”
The weather had changed overnight from frigid to springlike, so the earth had opened and an army of ladybugs was swarming the giant square of white – their favorite color. They were crawling up our tires, into vents, up our power cord, and into every crevice and window.
At least it was an insect that is kindof cute since I had to scoop handfuls of them out of our electrical compartment, but at some point a swarm of almost any bug is disgusting. We scooped, swept, and vacuumed as many of them as we could reach and high-tailed it for Mimi-land.