Arkansas RV Vacation
October, 2009

This RV Adventure takes us to central Arkansas. We have not visited the Little Rock area before, so we decided that now might be a good time. The fall leaves in the area are supposed to peak during late-October to early-November so we planned to get in on some of that. We stopped on the way up for a couple of nights at DeGray Lake Resort State Park, then on up to Little Rock where we stayed for seven nights at Maumelle Park on the Arkansas River. Everything was just perfect except someone forgot to inform the weatherman that we would like some sunny days. Arkansas was experiencing the wettest October since they kept records. We were able to accomplish most of what we wanted to do except we weren't able to get many photos of the fall foliage. We really enjoyed the Little Rock trees and rolling hills and with less than 200,000 people (according to a sign) it was a real break from Houston traffic.

[Monday] October 19th we left home about 9 am, and traveled up US-59 north from Houston. We drove all day, stopping for lunch at a roadside park. By about 5pm we had made it beyond the I-20 crossing at Marshall on to Lindon, TX. We saw the camping sign on the highway and pulled into the Lindon City RV Park. It was city owned and almost fully populated with what looked like construction worker trailers, but we found one tight spot to spend the night with full hookups. Not much to look at, but convenient.

[Tuesday] We left Lindon and continued up US-59 until we intersected I-30 at Texarkana. We then motored up I-30 for about 50 miles to AR-7. We took it about 6 miles north to the entrance of DeGray Lake Resort State Park on the shores of Lake DeGray. We checked in and got set up in site #75 in Camp Area C, a lake view site. That afternoon we rode our bicycles down the peninsular all the way to the swimming area. We got introduced to hills again. The weather was nice and cool that day.

< Our campsite.

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[Wednesday] The approaching cold front greeted us today with lots of clouds. The trees were starting to show some fall colors, but with not much sun the leaves don't show up well on photos. We went down to the DeGray Lake Lodge and checked our email using their wi-fi, then hiked along the 1-mile Island Trail behind the lodge. Afterwards, since it wasn't quite time for lunch, we drove to the Visitor Center and hiked the Green Heron Trail that runs from behind the Visitor Center. It was a nice walk, but some uninvited mosquitoes took some of the fun out of it - we forgot our bug spray.

< Lake DeGray Lodge. < Inside Lodge.
< View of lake from Island Trail. < View of lake from Green Heron Trail.

After lunch we rode our bicycles over to the Camping Areas A and B. We had more fun with bikes on hills. After we relaxed for a while, we made another drive to the Lodge and checked our email. By this time it was pretty dreary and rainy looking, so we retired to the trailer for the rest of the afternoon. The rain is to start tonight.

[Thursday] The raindrops started hitting the top of the trailer about 2am. It only stopped raining for brief periods over the next 18 hours. We decided to eat breakfast this morning at the Lodge. They have a nice buffet breakfast and we enjoyed it while looking at the beautiful view of the lake out the large floor to ceiling windows. The fishermen werel out on the lake with the rain pouring down on them.

After our breakfast, we connected the trailer in a downpour and headed out from DeGray toward Little Rock. The rain continued to pour on us all the way to Little Rock. As we arrived at Maumelle Park at noon, it was still raining. We parked in site B19 and did a minimum connect of the trailer with the rain still pouring. We stayed in the trailer reading and relaxing that afternoon as the rain continued to pour. It finally stopped raining around 7pm that night. We made some plans for tomorrow's sightseeing.

< Our campsite at Maumelle Park. < Arkansas River from campground.

[Friday] Well, the cold front got here last night. We woke up this morning to a low-50's thermometer outside. We drove to downtown Little Rock this morning and stopped at the Little Rock Visitor's Center. It is located in the historic Walters-Curran-Bell House, better known as Curran Hall. It was built in 1842, making it one of the oldest homes in Little Rock. The living room and dining room were furnished with period furniture.

< < Little Rock Visitor Center.

Afterwards, we drove a few blocks to the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and spent the day looking through the Presidential Library and Museum. Of interest were the many state gifts that head's of state from foreign countries exchange with the president and first lady. Included in the museum are a full size replica of the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room. Of course, according to the many displays, Clinton was the best president we ever had and those rotten Republicans tried to spoil the party all the time. The impeachment was barely a footnote in the displays. It was an interesting experience and the 3rd Presidential Library we have toured to date.

< Clinton Presidential Library < Oval Office
< State Gifts < View of main display area.

By now it was 4pm and we hit the traffic along AR-10 and after stopping at Kroger to replenish supplies, we arrived back at the trailer.

[Saturday] This morning the sun is shinning brightly. It is a beautiful cool morning (about 42F) and we decide that since they are forecasting another day of rain beginning Monday that we should take advantage of the good weather and do some hiking. We drove the short distance (about 3 miles) from Maumelle Park to Pinnacle Mountain State Park. We checked in at the Visitor Center and then hiked the Rocky Valley Trail and the East Quarry Trail to the Scenic Overlook (2 1/2 miles roundtrip). At the top was a great view of Pinnacle Peak and the Arkansas River.

< View from observation deck at Visitor Center. < Along the Rocky Valley Trail.
< Here we are at the Scenic Overlook. < View from Scenic Overlook.

After lunch we decided to tackle the West Summit trail up to the top of Pinnacle Mountain (1,011 ft.). The lady at the Visitor Center told us that the West Summit Trail was not as bad as the East Summit Trail, which was a very difficult climb up and down - a lot of sit and scoot. We decided that we didn't want to use our butts to get up and down, but in hindsight, the West Summit Trail was not too far away from a butt trail. The main problem with this trail is that most of the way up is through a large field of boulders and a very steep grade - all the way!! We made it to the top. While there I heard someone call out that they were feeling light headed and asked if we had water. It was a young guy in his mid-20's. We gave him water and asked him if he could make it back down and he wasn't sure. He gained some strength after he drank the water. We used the cell phone to call the park ranger and let him talk to them. By the end of the phone call, he was feeling better and another young guy came along and said that he would walk with him back down. We slowly followed behind and made it back down to the parking lot as it neared sundown. Was it worth the effort? It was a great view but the most difficult trail we have ever hiked.

< Pinnacle Mountain. < West Summit Trailhead.
< Steep and rocky trail. < We made it to the top!!
< < View from the top of Pinnacle Mountain.

[Sunday] After the physically demanding activities of yesterday, we decided to get a late start to the day. After breakfast, we spent some time catching up on our Bible Study that we are doing as a part of the Kay Arthur series on the book of Revelation. Both of us are taking the study at Second Baptist. After lunch, we drove to downtown and toured the Historic Arkansas Museum. We took a guided tour of three of the historic homes that are a part of the museum. Afterwards we viewed the exhibits of native Arkansas artisans. Exhibits were of wood furniture, knives, old guns and modern art. Afterwards we drove by the Governor's Mansion and the Capital, to see where they were located and familiarize ourselves for possible tours on Tuesday.

< Historic Arkansas Museum.

[Monday] It rained a little last night and as we drove into Little Rock this morning, it looks very rainy. We decide to park at the Clinton Library parking lot and catch the River Rail Electric Streetcar to the Old State House Museum. Before we went to the museum, we went to the Peabody Hotel lobby to see the famous Peabody Ducks come down on the elevator from their penthouse on the 2nd floor to the little pool in the lobby via the red carpet laid out for their use. They arrived promptly on time at 11am under the assistance of the Duckmaster.

< River Rail Electric Streetcar.
< Peabody Hotel ducks.

We then toured the Old State House Museum. It was constructed in 1833 in the Greek Revival style and is the oldest standing state capital building west of the Mississippi River. There were many permanent exhibits on Arkansas history and the 1836 House of Representatives Chamber room. While we were in the museum, the drizzling rain started back up for the rest of the day. After lunch at a nearby Subway, we then got back on the blue line Streetcar and rode over the river to North Little Rock and back to the Clinton Library parking lot.

< Old State House Museum.

We then drove to Little Rock Central High School and went through the National Park Service Visitor Center. In September of 1957, Central High School was ground zero in school desegregation in the south. The center has displays of the timeline of events of the years after that event. President Eisenhower used Federal troops to confront Governor Orval Faubus and force the admittance of 9 black students into the school. The National Park Service runs the Visitor Center that is located across the street from the school and the old Mobil gasoline station that was home to world media covering the events. The school is still a working high school, but the Park Service offers two tours a day. The weather didn't cooperate with us so we didn't make the tour. The rain continued all day.

< National Park Service Visitor Center. < Little Rock Central High School. < Old Mobil Station.

[Tuesday] We awoke to more rain on the trailer this morning. The forecast is for 90% chance of rain. We decided to stay in the trailer in the morning.

< Low clouds & rain.

We ventured out after lunch to take a guided tour of the Arkansas Capital Building at 3:30pm. Made of Arkansas white marble and granite, the building is patterned after the U.S. Capital. The Arkansas Legislature is not in session so we were able to look into the empty Senate and House chambers. We also saw the old Supreme Courtroom, which was use during the Central High School Desegregation trial.

< Arkansas State Capital. < Capital Dome.

The rain had stopped for the day by the time we arrived at the Capital. After the tour, we drove to the Capital Hotel. This 19th Century building is the oldest hotel in Little Rock. It has been meticulously restored.

< The Capital Hotel. < The Capital Hotel lobby.

[Wednesday] The weather didn't look so good this morning - the clouds were heavy and threatening - but as we headed out of Maumelle Park with faith in the weather forecast of a sunny day, we were rewarded with the sun peeking through. We decided that if the weather was indeed good that we would drive to some of the places we visited but didn't get good pictures originally. First we drove back to Pinnacle Mountain State Park to take a photo of the mountain.

We drove along Riverfront Drive to Murray Park and the Big Dam Bridge, on the Arkansas River Trail, a 15-mile hiking/biking trail that stretches along both shores of the Arkansas River. When complete, it will be a 24-mile trail system.

< View from Big Dam Bridge. < Murray Locks.
< Fall foliage from the bridge.

We then drove back to Little Rock Central High and took pictures with the sun out. We went to the Capital and took some outside pictures. We decided to eat lunch in the Capital Cafe that is located in the basement of the Capital. The food was really good - and plenty of it, and very inexpensive. After lunch we drove to the Quapaw Quarter and walked the area and looked at the Historic Homes on The Azalea Tour, the Historic District East of Center Street.

[Thursday] This morning we awoke to rain on top of the trailer again. It alternated between heavy downpours and drizzles all day. Today we are moving from Little Rock south to Hot Springs. We hitched up in a light drizzle and went back down I-30 and US-70 to Hot Springs. We put up camp in J & J RV Park. After lunch we went to the Mid-America Science Museum, the largest hands-on science center in Arkansas. It is a Smithsonian Institute Affiliate and has many informative and entertaining hands-on science exhibits. We saw a demonstration of "Caged Lightning" with the largest conical Tesla Coil in the world - 1.5 million volts - contained within a Faraday cage. We then returned to our trailer.

< Entrance to Mid-America Science Museum. < Inside view of museum.

[Friday] It's another misty, foggy, drizzly morning as we leave Hot Springs back down I-30 south. We drove all day and stopped overnight in Nacogdoches at the Piney Woods RV Park. It is a good park for overnight, or if you are visiting the area because it is close to town and right on the highway. They had wi-fi that worked some of the time.

[Saturday] We drove the rest of the way back into Houston/Richmond and arrived home a little after noon.

Bye for now,
Lawson & Kay

November 20, 2009.

No one can please God without faith, for whoever comes to God must have faith that God exists and rewards those who seek him. It was faith that made Noah hear God's warnings about things in the future that he could not see. He obeyed God and built a boat in which he and his family were saved. As a result, the world was condemned, and Noah received from God the righteousness that comes by faith.    (Heb 11:6-7  GNB)

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