After departing Indiana we stopped in northwestern Tennessee to visit good friends of ours. We spent a few days catching up and enjoying quality time with Jim + Carrie. From there we had our sights set on Arkansas, this time with the intent of spending a bit more time exploring. However, that did not quite work out the way we expected!
We landed back at Big Fir on Lake Ouachita, a favorite of ours during the spring. In case you missed that post, click here.
Unfortunately our plans to stay longer and explore more were foiled; the weather had other ideas. Once again we left Indiana a bit too late, or maybe it was the early cold front that came in. Regardless, our stay in Arkansas was short lived.
Bonus fun: fixing three flat tires! Somehow on the trip over we managed to pick up two flats on the rear of the rig and one on the passenger front of the Jeep (best guess culprit, the construction zone on our way through Little Rock.) I will let Shane relay the tale of three flat tires.
Shane: Needless to say, I was thrilled to walk out of the rig on a cold, blustery morning to find both dually tires on the passenger rear of Ralphie rolled over on to their sidewalls! We’re miles from nowhere, have no way to jack up the rig nor remove the lug nuts (I didn’t have a long enough extension… that’s what she said) and AAA sure as hell ain’t coming to rescue us.
Great. OK, work the problem… we jump in Eddie (whose tire was still holding air, his leaky shoe had yet to be discovered,) drive an hour one way to Hot Springs and grab a bottle jack and 12″ extension from Harbor Freight. Driving back, the handling on the Jeep started to get wonky… we stopped for some ice cream in Mt. Ida and it was then that we noticed that Sir Edward also had a flat tire on the passenger front. Joy! Fortunately we carry an air compressor on board, so we made it back to the campsite without further ado.
But wait, there’s more! Go to jack up the rig to pull the wheels… and our brand new Harbor Freight bottle jack is kaput. No amount of bench bleeding would bring it to life… at that point it was getting dark, so I called it a night. We would regroup in the morning.
The next day, I pumped up the Jeep tire and headed back to Mt. Ida where I procured another bottle jack at the local Tru Value; this one was much more robust and did the trick. Finally, I was able to lift Ralphie and remove the wheels. I assure you, I was less thrilled than I look in the photos below.
Finally, with two big rig wheels loaded up we headed back to get the tires repaired. The local rubber slinger had us fixed up in no time, including jacking up the Jeep and patching that one up as well. We were finally back on the road. I learned two things in the process: 1) RV wheels are all interchangeable by design; you can rotate any wheel to any position on the vehicle, and 2) avoid buying hydraulics at Harbor Freight if at all possible.
Mission accomplished! Now back to Amy…
Amy: Despite the less than ideal weather and flat tires, there were moments of gratitude. The sun casting a glow on the trees as it went down. The calm, glass like quality of the lake. The absolute peace and serenity of Lake Ouachita.
A view this beautiful tends to make one overlook the less than ideal weather.
Then there was what I termed “our eagles”. I heard their familiar call and looked out to my surprise to see a pair of bald eagles on shore of a nearby island. Reaching for the binoculars, I watched as they reared their heads back calling out.
That same afternoon, a third bald eagle joined for an afternoon of play soaring in the air and landing on another nearby island. During our week long stay, we were greeted by their calls and watched them nearby. Each time I would say “our eagles are back.” It was pure magic to watch them soar gracefully through the air. We were treated to a juvenile bald eagle as well. One day we found four of them chowing down on the left over remains of… something lol.
I wish I had a nice zoom lens so I could share photos of them. Maybe I will find a good deal on one and add that to my photography equipment. We certainly see our share of wild life on the road, but Ouachita is a bald eagle hot spot and it would be nice to capture them in action.
During our stay we ventured into Hot Springs for a lunch meet up with our good friends Joe + Colleen. (It was great to see you both!)
Our time spent here also fell over Thanksgiving. Shane, Josie, and I enjoyed a nice, quiet holiday to ourselves. But instead of the traditional turkey dinner (our oven would fit a cornish hen at best!) we enjoyed some fine homemade sushi. And it was delicious!!
The time here was peaceful with some colder and rainy days but, as always, we made the best of it. I even managed to break out the hammock one day! Also, we did not have to go far to find some nice crystals, as they were all over the lakeshore.
The few days of sunshine were welcomed! Lake Ouachita and Arkansas, we will be back when the weather is nicer, you have been warned.
After leaving Arkansas, we headed to Texas with the hopes of finding better climate and visiting family. Shane’s uncle and aunt live in the Fort Worth Area and with two acres of property, we had plenty of space to park it.
To break up the long drive, we stopped for a quick overnight at Pat Mayse Lake recreation area near Paris, TX. This was perfect; with a level pad on which to park Ralphie and a dump station, we were set for the night. Oh, and there was only one other camper, giving Josie plenty of space to free roam and check things out.
The next day we arrived, and were promptly and warmly greeted by family and two of the most adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies along with one sweet senior dog named Minnie!
Our spot over the weekend was spacious and level, allowing us to stay in close proximity to family without being too intrusive lol.
There was plenty of wine drinking, playing with puppies, shared meals, and lots of laughter!
Then, on a suggestion from Shane’s aunt and uncle, we ventured out to the Fort Worth Stockyards, where every day at 11 am and 4 pm there is a cattle drive down the main street. It was a sight to behold! We couldn’t believe the size of their horns. What a super cool experience!
Of course, there may have been a little beer drinking involved as an early start to celebrating our 15 years together. Sometime in the middle of December in 2007, Shane and I went on our first date. To celebrate we sat outside, enjoyed some beers, a toast, and some live music. Very much like our first date (minus the sitting outside part, as our first date was in Indiana!)
The day was rounded out with armadillo races (oh, Texas!) and a Christmas parade with bagpipes.
Our time spent with family in Fort Worth was priceless, but alas it was time to move further south. The cold weather tailing us since leaving Indiana had followed us to Fort Worth!
Next Up: Beach camping in Texas to round out 2022, an experience in itself!
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