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Hot Springs, Arkansas is One Cool Place

Hot Springs, ArkansasTravel Log: 

Location:  Hot Springs, Arkansas
Access Point:  34.4923004,-93.0571505

We recently made a journey to Hot Springs, Arkansas, located an hour southwest of Little Rock, for a family vacation and for our son to compete at the ATA World’s Championship.  The championship took place in Little Rock.  We wanted to take our motorhome to stay in, and we wanted a nice RV park to stay in that had a pool.  We couldn’t find any in the Little Rock area, so we started researching surrounding areas.  Troy remembered one of his co-workers telling him that if we were ever near Hot Springs, Arkansas to check it out. After looking at the map, we realized that Hot Springs was not that far of a drive from Little Rock.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

We started looking for RV parks in that area.  We ended up finding Catherine’s Landing, which is an RVC Outdoor Destination, and we had stayed at two of their other locations in the past.  We knew that this RV park would be a great place to stay.  The accommodations and the amenities are superb at all the RVC Outdoor Destinations we have stayed at.  We highly recommend planning a getaway to one of their locations.  If you don’t have an RV to stay in, you can rent one of their cottages or yurts (not all the destinations have yurts, but Catherine’s Landing does).  Catherine’s Landing is located on Lake Catherine where you can launch your boat or kayaks and spend a day out on the water.  We didn’t bring our kayaks this time since most of our time would be spent at the tournament.  We did manage to get in some pool time though!

Hot Springs, Arkansas

We spent four days in the Hot Springs area.  We spent one day relaxing from our drive there…610 miles from our house in a motorhome….makes for slower travel than driving a regular car.  The next day we spent in downtown Hot Springs which houses Hot Springs National Park.  We explored the National Park for several hours.  We took a tour of the old Fordyce Bathhouse and enjoyed a walk around the downtown area.  We strolled along the Grand Promenade Trail which sits above the National Park on the hillside and enjoyed the greenery and views of the historic buildings.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

We stopped at several small thermal springs and felt the extremely hot water.  We made our way into the gift shop where we purchased a souvenir water bottle.  Then we found one of the water faucets where you can fill up your water bottles with the scorching hot water.  We then took it back to the RV and put it in the fridge to drink later.  Canyon called the water “spirit water” and drank it before his tournament to get energized.  I wanted to go Buckstaff Baths and soak in one of the traditional bathtubs, but with the sweltering, muggy heat outside, it didn’t sound that refreshing to me.  I think we need to make a winter trip to Hot Springs….soaking indoors in a bath full of steamy hot water with a cold outside temperature sounds more relaxing to me.

While we were downtown, we stopped at Fat Bottomed Girl’s Cupcake Shoppe and partook of several flavors of cupcakes.  We love cupcakes, and these were delicious!  We also journeyed up the hillsides and went on the park’s scenic drives.  It was nice to feel like we were traveling up into the mountains.  We have always lived near large mountains, and now living in the Deep South makes us miss the mountains.  Hot Springs and Little Rock are culturally hip and diverse areas.  It is a very different atmosphere in Arkansas than here in lower Alabama, where we currently live.  We met a lot of great people at the RV park and spent time with people from all over the world at the tournament.  Next year we will be returning for the tournament.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

One place needed mentioning is McClard’s BBQ restaurant.  We love BBQ more than we love cupcakes! Canyon ate ribs that were the size of his head! That boy loves his ribs and McClard’s didn’t disappoint him. Troy and I both had the beef sandwiches, and they were huge and delicious.

The advice that we were given to make sure we check out Hot Springs, Arkansas, is advice we pass on to you as well.  Put this one on the to-do list!  You won’t be disappointed!  For next year, we have our list of things to do that we missed this first visit.

Journey on,
Annette

St. George Island State Park | Weekly Adventure Photo

St. George Island State Park

St. George Island State Park is this week’s photo spotlight.  We launched from one of the boat ramps in the park and paddled over to this sandy beach at Gap Point.  There is primitive camping available at Gap Point. We spent the day out catching slimy Gafftopsail catfish and playing on the beach in the Apalachicola Bay.  There were several others out kayaking and enjoying a day of fishing and sunshine.  St. George Island State Park has the Gulf of Mexico on the south side and the Apalachicola Bay on the north side.  You can access both sides and enjoy the diverse landscape the state park has to offer.  There are miles of white sandy beaches to play on in the Gulf.  The Bayside is accessed by a hiking trail or by boat.  You can also get a campsite within the park.  St. George Island is a great place to come and spend the day on the water or hiking around for some hidden geocaches.

Step Back in Time at Hovenweep National Monument

Travel Log: 

Location:  Hovenweep National Monument
Access Point: 37.3573981,-108.8597312
Length:  1 – 3 hours

Hovenweep National Monument Our family has always been fascinated with Native American history.  On one of our trips to Cortez, Colorado, we took the opportunity to visit Hovenweep National Monument.  The masonry structures that have stood the test of time will amaze anyone who visits.  There is a two-mile hike around the structures with plenty of photographic opportunities.  Each structure is stunning with a story to tell.  The story is that of ancient Puebloans who worked hard to live and survive in this area.  Hovenweep National Monument is rich in history, and to be able to explore the area and to get up close to the structures makes the trip even more memorable. Hovenweep National Monument

Hovenweep National Monument Make sure when you visit Hovenweep National Monument that you bring good hiking shoes, your camera, and water.  Take your time enjoying each structure and the view of the mountains.  The trail is a little difficult in a few places so make sure you are prepared for that.  Also, make sure you check the weather as it can vary.

While in the area, make sure to check out Cortez and Durango, Colorado and Mesa Verde National Park.    We highly recommend the Cortez/Mesa Verde KOA as your base camp.  You can camp in a tent, stay in one of their camping cabins, or take your own RV.  The Cortez area is one of our family favorites!  Also, if you mountain bike, hit up one of the awesome trails in the area.  The historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a fun trip to take.  This area is brimming in history and beautiful landscape!  Make the Cortez area a place to visit where you can take a step back in time!

Journey On,
Annette Hovenweep National Monument

Fort Davis National Historic Park

Travel Log: 

Location: Fort Davis National Historic Park, Fort Davis, Texas
Access Point: 30.597932,-103.892014
Length: Plan about 2 hours

Fort Davis National Historic Site

Fort Davis National Historic Site

One of our favorite historic sites to visit in Texas is Fort Davis.  We have lived in El Paso, TX two different times in the past and this is a gem we found while living in the area.  Canyon has a love for history and getting to visit actual historic sites just increases his interest of past events.  As soon as you step your foot out of your car, you can feel a sense of wonderment of life that once existed in this barren area.  Fort Davis is located in the dry desert Texas landscape.  It is hard for me to image life in the hot summer heat with no air conditioning and no amenities during that time. It is amazing to be able to walk through the renovated buildings and to try and picture those that once lived there.  One particular building that really stands out to me is the hospital.  To walk the hallways, peek into rooms once occupied by ill patients, and to see the medical instruments once used to treat the sick is almost too much to bear.  I’m glad for the medical advances that have been made!  An interesting fact about that hospital is that it was considered to be one of the most up-to-date medical treatment centers west of San Antonio (http://www.nps.gov/foda/upload/Post-Hospital-Bulletin-8-5-X-11-2-col.pdf).

Fort Davis National Historic Site

I love walking through all the old homes and seeing the antique furniture, musical instruments, and children’s games.  Canyon had a great time doing the Junior Ranger activities and looking for hidden objects among all the restored buildings. There are many trails around the area for hiking and getting different views of Fort Davis.  If you are in the mood for military history, check out Fort Davis National Historic Site.  Plan on spending several hours to explore all the buildings, watch the videos in the visitor center, hike a few trails, and take lots of photos.  Make sure you take some water to keep hydrated in the dry climate.

There is a lot of amazing things to see in the Fort Davis area.  You could easily spend 3 – 4 days sightseeing and exploring!

Fort Davis National Historic Site

Journey On, Annette

Kayaking Gear

We get a lot of questions about the kayaking gear we use.  We get stopped all the time at gas stations or at the boat ramps where the conversation is about our kayaking gear.  We’ve been kayaking for about 4 years and are on our second set of kayaks.  We’ve used various gear over the past few years and we finally feel we have reached our perfect setup.  I’m going to give you a list of the items that we use every time we go out.

1.  Jackson Big Tuna Kayaks – we own two, and highly recommend them
2.  Bending Branches Angler Pro paddle 240 cm (Troy)
3.  Aqua-Bound Manta Ray Hybrid paddle 240 cm (me)
4.  Yeti 35 qt cooler filled with drinks, snacks, and lunch (it rides with me, while Canyon rides with Troy).  This cooler does an amazing job at keeping items cold for several days.  We also use several Artic Ice packs instead of regular ice to keep items very cold.
5.  Fishing gear – 4 fishing poles and a gear bag, sometimes live bait
6.  PDFs (personal floatation devices) – we wear these no matter how shallow or deep the water is
7.  First Aid Kit

If you have any questions or comments about any of the kayaking gear we use, drop us a note and we will be glad to talk kayaking with you!

Journey on,
Annette

Kayaking Gear, Big Tuna Jackson Kayak

Millions of peaches, peaches for me!

Travel Log:
Location: Country Best Farm
Access Point:  1711 Moates Rd, Enterprise, AL
Length: 1 – 1  1/2 hours

This morning Canyon and I ventured out to pick peaches at Country Best Farm in Enterprise, AL.  Here in Alabama the fruit comes on earlier than what I’m used to.  I’m used to picking fruit in the late summer to early fall, so getting fresh peaches this early is a real treat. We meet up with a group of friends, gave the kiddos their buckets, and got ready to go pick some peaches.  First, Miss Nancy, the owner, came out to meet us and to visit with us.  She is a very sweet lady who loves the children.  She shared information about the farm and about her sweet son.  After a visit with Miss Nancy, and a stop to check on the blueberry bushes (which are almost ready to pick, we did get to sample a few that were ripe), the kiddos took off towards the peach trees.Peaches at Country Best Farm The first thing I noticed when we arrived at all the row of peaches were their beautiful red orange color.  The trees were covered in peaches from top to bottom.  Some of the branches were weighed down because of the abundance of peaches growing.  We were lucky today because there was a thick cloud cover and a cool breeze that made it bearable to be outside.  The last few days have been really hot and muggy, so it was refreshing to have a little coolness to the air.

 

Peaches at Country Best Farm Canyon immediately starting picking peaches off the first tree he saw.  We ventured deeper into what seemed like a never-ending maze of peach trees.  The red-orange hue of the peaches stood out among all the green leaves.  My mouth was watering as many different peach recipes ran through my mind…peaches and cream, Dutch oven peach cobbler, peach smoothie with frozen yogurt.  Is your mouth watering yet? Canyon and I also managed to pick a few strawberries that were hiding in the bushes.  The peak for strawberry season was about a month ago, but we still found some at the base of the plants.  There will be peas, corn, tomatoes, blueberries, and pears coming soon.  Check Country Best Farm’s Facebook page for updates on what is currently available. I highly recommended checking out Country Best Farm.  We paid a $1.00/pound to pick our own.  They also have some already picked fruit, a small selection of vegetables, homemade cookies, homemade ice cream, and while we were there, they were putting out homemade chicken salad.  Canyon had the homemade vanilla ice cream and said it was tasty.  Canyon gives Country Best Farm two thumbs up!

Peaches at Country Best Farm

Peaches at Country Best FarmJourney on, Annette

Paddling to Cypress Springs, Holmes Creek

Travel Log:
Location: Cypress Spring, Holmes Creek
Access Point: Culpepper Landing, Vernon, FL
Length:  2 miles roundtrip

Paddling to Cypress Springs, Holmes Creek

Cypress Springs is located on Holmes Creek near Vernon, FL. Our access point for this paddling trip was from the Culpepper Landing, two miles from Vernon, FL on CR277. From Vernon, head north on CR277 and make a left hand turn onto Culpepper Lane. Follow the paved road down to Holmes Creek. There is a cement boat launch and a decent sized parking lot. From the boat ramp, you will paddle about a mile upstream to Cypress Springs. There is a tree with a small sign pointing the way up to the spring. If you miss the turn off, you will be heading towards Cotton Landing.

The creek was a tea color and a little murky due to heavy rains in the area over the past few weeks. Once we reach the spring, the water was a crystal blue color. The temperature of the water was freezing cold, but we still took a dip and cooled ourselves off. It was a hot muggy day and the water was refreshing!

This is a natural spring that is considered a magnitude 2. The water was moving quite steadily out of the spring. The land around Cypress Springs is privately owned by Nestle Waters.  It is fenced off, but there is a beach to pull up on.  When we were there, the Saturday of Memorial weekend, the beach area was packed with boats and people, but we ended up anchoring just off the shore in the shallow water and swimming from our kayaks. This made for great practicing of boarding the kayaks in deeper water.  I’m sure I was quite the site to see trying to figure out how to get back on my kayak.  I’ve never tipped a kayak over, so my skills in boarding it in deeper water are lacking!  I did manage to get back on just not too gracefully!

Paddling to Cypress Springs, Holmes Creek

Paddling to Cypress Springs, Holmes Creek

On the far end of the spring, there is a tree you can climb where a rope swing awaits you.  Grab a hold and launch yourself into the cool water below!  We saw one girl who didn’t let go of the rope and she slammed back into the tree.  Then another girl chickened out after climbing up and she quickly climbed back down.  We didn’t try the rope swing this time, maybe one of us will do it on a return trip.

Paddling to Cypress Springs, Holmes Creek

Paddling to Cypress Springs, Holmes Creek

Cypress Springs is a hangout for the local residents.  There are small motorized boats on the creek, so be alert at all times as there are many turns and bends.  The creek is lined with Cypress tress and makes a great canopy overhead.  Keep your eyes peeled for beehives that may be hanging from branches. If you are looking for a short trip to beat the summer heat, we highly recommend checking out Cypress Springs.  Don’t forget to pack a lunch and your snorkel gear!

Paddling to Cypress Springs, Holmes Creek

Holmes Creek Cypress Springs

Also, check out Troy’s true story about Cypress Springs.

Journey On,
Annette