After leaving Lajitas we spent 3 full days switching out the campers, organizing, cleaning, and restocking. The campground in Gatesville where our storage is isn’t much, albeit convenient. A passport park charging $15 a night for full hook ups and very flexible about parking… This time we scored 2 sites right next to each other, making the transition even more convenient!
From Gatesville we made a beeline toward Arkansas. We spent one night in Atlanta State Park in Texas. A tight spot, closed trails, and a very nice but loud neighboring family all encouraged us to push on after one night.
We landed in Tompkins Bend State Park on Lake Ouchita in the Ouchita National Forest in Arkansas. The campground was packed when we got there, it was a weekend but it was still more crazy than typical. It was obviously a very popular fishing lake, bass boats, trucks and trailers everywhere… Never giving up hope and reassured by the number of other campgrounds in the area we kept looking. In the last loop there was a perfect site… Actually one of the best in the park, really… Someone must have just pulled out as the fire was still smoldering. We got set up and made our way to the self pay booth smiling all the way!
We were at Lake Ouchita for 4 nights. We spent a bit of time just enjoying the campsite, right on the water. The girls enjoyed it and even got to do a little swimming. We fit in a few walks in the park and a few motorcycle rides around the lake and in the National Forest. We had a little rain so out came the awnings and easy up… then the games. Chris won both Mexican Train and Phase 10 but only in the last rounds… Some good games and a fun way to sit out the weather.
We decided to push on further into Arkansas. Eyes closed and map open… the finger on the map landed on Greers Ferry Lake. It looked interesting and was on the route to where we were headed. We thought we would stay for a few days but the park we were planning on staying at wasn’t open yet and the one we found just didn’t do it for us. Imagine, a campsite right on a lake and we poopooed it… Not even picture worthy. Jaded we are… (Yoda reference implied…)
Next stop was Buffalo River National Recreation area. Wow… Great find in the Ozarks. This area was the first ever National River Rec area declared by the National Park service in 1972. It was beautiful… Great riding, hiking and floating opportunities! We stayed at Buffalo Point Campground and got an awesome site at the very end of one of the loops. We even had our own private bathroom for much of our stay! The things that make you happy when in the truck camper and not on sewers…
We wound up spending 6 nights in this area. We had a bucket list of to do’s for our stay. Even with a few days of rain we managed to accomplish everything but a float trip. Always nice to leave something undone for the next time!
We took several motorcycle rides… Great road riding. We didn’t explore much dirt here but I am sure it is there! We hiked along the Buffalo River Trail… It was obviously springtime… lots of flowers coming up in the woods.
On one of our rides we noticed a little brewery in the middle of nowhere… After our hike we stopped in to check it out. Gravity Brew Works was a small operation run by a husband and wife team, Billy and Toni, who were also the brewmasters. Really nice people, great beers, and a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere. When we got back to camp we chatted up the only other couple on our loop, who also had dirt bikes of course… Audry and Jeff hung by the fire with us until 11 talking life and motorcycles.
We spent Easter Sunday hanging around camp. The weather guessers said it was going to be an all day rain. We decided to try and fit in a hike in the morning thinking we could out hike the rain but not so much… We were soaked to the bone! Great 3.5 mile loop to Indian Rock House. A huge cave with a running stream through it where natives lived many years ago.
There were several other worthy features along the trail like another large cave, waterfalls, mines, and streams. Since we were already wet when we got back home Chris took advantage of the rain and washed the truck, camper and trailer. I made some Chicken Soup, the perfect meal for a cool, rainy Easter Day! After drying out a bit and warming up with some soup we played some Mexican Train. I was a loser again.
For our last day in the area we headed out on the motorcycles toward Blanchard Caverns. Apparently this was a renowned cave, rated in the top 5 in the country. Who knew… When we got there we would have to wait an hour and a half for a tour or return for a much later one, we decided to ride a bit and take our chances on the later tour. We started by checking out Blanchard Spring, a really pretty little waterfall that comes out of the mountainside in another area of Blanchard park. As we were leaving an older lady took a headfirst fall off the trail. It was not pretty and she had a huge open gash… (we actually are still bothered by it). We took off on the bikes to get help as there was no cell service there… As it turns out she was dying of brain cancer with less than 8 months to live… We got help to her and headed on our way. Hope she is ok…
This changed the course of our day and we decided to head back to the Caverns for a tour before riding. We were a bit shaken up…
Wow… We have visited many caves/caverns in our travels but this one ranked pretty high! Not a big one but wow… The formations were amazing! Any cave feature, you name it and it was there… Stalactites, stalagmites, straws, curtains, columns, popcorn… Will have to revisit and take the other tours when they are open! This time of year the bats had right of way to the other sections of the caverns.
We really love Arkansas and will return to check out other sections of the Buffalo River Rec area and the Ozark National forest. Word of caution… It is a haven for tics! We had the unfortunate experience of finding them on us and the girls… Yuck!
Off to Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky, and West Virginia as we make our way back to New York.