Saturday, June 30, 2018

Harrison, AR

As we were leaving the RV park in Little Rock, the manager asked where we were headed.  When we told her Harrison,her response was "oh, the hometown of the Klu Klux Klan.  Oh bother!
Well, I have to admit that Arkansas seems to be somewhat of a serrated state.  There were lots of black people in Little Rock and very, very little diversity in the northern part of the state.  We have have not experienced or witnessed any incidents.  But we are anglo too.

On Sunday, the bishop of the ward invited us to his dude ranch.  He said we could go zip lining!  All the onions ears pricked up when he whispered the invitation to Eric.
Eric was working.  I took the kids to the dude ranch.  Gorgeous!  100's of acres of land, in a small valley between two hills, in the middle of no where Jasper, AR.  A lodge, office, cabins, horses, ropes course rock climbing type activities, rafting/canoeing (off site), and the 3rd largest zip line in the USA.

Amelia did not know if she wanted to go.  I didn't necessarily want to, but I didn't show it for her sake.  We rode from the office to near the zip line in an off road vehicle.  Then we got our gear and began walking UP.  We took a break midway through and got into our harnesses.

Amelia was not having the best experience and was rather worried.

Her comentary is pretty good too.

But the others were excited!

We finally got up to the platform and I suggested the onions should stand in between the trees so I could take their picture.  The zip line guy offered to take a picture of all of us.  Yeah...  there is a drop off behind the two trees.  I did NOT want to go, but I had my big girl pants on to set the example for Amelia.

The valley in the right side of the picture continues and the zip line goes right over it and to the other hill.  UM....  WHAT!  277 FOOT DROP.  2300 FEET LONG. Over a valley. 100's of feet in the air.

You can watch the onions zip line here.
Amelia is the first to go.  She screamed about 1/2 way and then is quiet.  She started crying.  Poor girly.
Elanor followed and was almost silent, just enjoying the ride.
Scott was next.  The screamed with joy and said "this is amazing."
Naomi followed suit.  Being the lightest, they wondered if Naomi would make it or if they would have to pull her in.  The bishop reached out from the receiving platform and was able to grab hold of Naomi's foot and pull her onto the platform.
Seth was pretty quiet too.

Then came my turn.  Wow a lot of self talk happened, before I left.  So much so that the zip line guy was laughing.  I bet is was rather humerus.
"You can do this, you can do this. (repeated numerous times)
5 people just went and they all made it.
No one died.
Big girl pants on.
You can do this."
Self talk people.  Out loud.

He thought he was filming me, but had paused it instead.  He filmed him getting into his harness when he thought it was paused and did not get the ride down either.  So you don't get to witness it.  Probably for the better.  I was about 3 times louder than Amelia and I screamed the entire time.  I am pretty sure every person, where ever they were in the entire valley heard me screaming.  I came in and almost kicked Naomi and Elanor sitting under the bungee stopper on the line.  Every onion was laughing at me.  I was ever so glad to be off of a "ride."  I was shaking so much, I could not get my helmet off.
I thanked the bishop: "some people come for fun or for the thrill... Today, apparently, I came for terror.   He laughed too.  Yeah, it was pretty bad.
My voice was hoarse for 3+ days!

We went to another cave, well two caves right next to each other.
Sometimes, something is so well advertised that it appears to be awesome, but then turns out that it's not worth it.  This was a private cave and was rather costly to see.  The onions thought they really wanted to go too, but in the end it was not nearly as spectacular as Carlsbad Caverns.  It was kind of like: if you've seen one cave, you've seen them all.  We learned that there are 4,000 registered caves in Arkansas.  And we paid to see this?  Sometimes you live and learn.

The caves had a lot of damage - broken, and intentionally cut off stalactites and smoke damage.  One of the caves housed an alcohol distillery, a platform for a band, and a dance floor - an underground nightclub.   

We looked at a few more properties.  We saw one that is just above our budget and it was Beautiful if you could see past the junk.  Think hoarders.  It was park like with a good mix of woods and grassy areas, pasture, chicken pen, garden area, 4 wheeler trails, a wet weather creek and swimming hole, a pond, and wild blackberries intermingled with poison ivy.  We also saw a little mobile home that we didn't even want to go into.  The hoarders house was very cluttered but relatively clean.  I didn't even want my shoes on the floor int he second one.  I felt gross just being in it for the short time we were.  Then we saw a home on the top of a steep mountain with properties all around that looked like personal junk yards.  Our agent was so nice.  I felt bad that we went to the yucky places.  But you don't know till you look.

On the way back to the RV park, my car died.  Everything shut off - no power steering, and the brakes were funky too.  My agent called.  I told her and tried to start the car while on the phone and it started!  She said she would follow us in.  Se stalled on the highway with no place to pull completely off 2 more times.  We were on a two lane highway with semi trucks passing us with oncoming traffic.   It was extremely scary.  I made sure that the onions kept their seat belts on and the agent did not get out either,  We say prayers every morning that things will go well, but the prayers offered in the car at that time were desperate.

I was able to start the car and pull into a turn off and park and talk to our agent.  When I got in I realized that I had been so focused on not stalling.  So I gave it up.  I told myself that it was totally ok.  Our agent was committed to following us or cramming us in her truck if need be.  She was behind us and would alert on-comers behind us.  I was more at ease.  And you know what?  We didn't stall another time.  We made it to the RV park.  Thank you Cheryl Hensley for being my angel in the flesh!

We have a vision board and got it out to look at it when we were discussing the possibility of a cruise - someday.  I was reminded of cliff diving.  So I looked up some fun places to go around the area.  I found one that I thought would be a good starting point.  It was 20 minutes off the highway on dirt county roads that meandered through farms and countryside.  It was an easy mile hike in.  The sight was less than expected.  The water was LOW, about 6 feet low.  The onions were not impressed, but quickly made the best of things.

The onions went up on top of the falls and went exploring.  They found frogs, tadpoles, craw fish, catfish, lizards, and even saw one snake as we were walking.  

This week was also one of laundry.  Lots of laundry.  We have been reading the Little House series and I read during laundry to pass the time.  I have been reading at night while the onions are in bed.  We all love it.  We hope to visit Mansfield, MO, where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the books.

Eric gets to work and live vicariously through us.  But he does get Piglet to keep him company.

We are onto Cabool, MO today.  Eric's cousin, Linda has a sister in law there.  We have not met and she was willing to have us stay in her home for a week.  I told her we will stay in our RV.  We may even move a little faster since Independence day is on Wednesday and Eric has the day off.

Monday, June 25, 2018

A week in Little Rock


The drive in Arkansas was a very different view than we have previously experienced.  The color brown was no longer part of the scenery.  It was all green.  Shades of brilliant greenness.  A wall of trees!  They were so thick that we had no idea how far they went from the road or what was behind them.  Just a big wall of trees with openings at the off ramps to reveal gas stations and convenience stores.  Sometimes really tall and sometimes not quite as tall, but always trees.

We stopped at a rest stop that was also a welcome center.  I talked with the lady and informed her that we were looking to possibly move to Arkansas.  Well she loaded us up with brochures and more information that I could ever retain.  In the course of our conversation she verified that we were homeschoolers.   Is it that obvious?  She said most children have no interest and my kiddos were standing around and engaged, looking through the things she handed me while we were still talking and asking for maps.

We arrived at our destination Saturday afternoon: Burns Park campground and RV park in North Little Rock.

The onions put up their hammocks.  We took a walk and saw a deer about 50 feet from us.  The RV was never in the relentless, beating sun.  It basked in the shade all day.

I had been trying to set up places to go see properties with agents, but noting was set.  So Monday became - get the car fixed day.  I called and found an auto air conditioning place.  We arrived at 10:30am.  I brought our read aloud book and each onion brought a book for themselves.  I checked in our car and we were directed to the waiting room.  The inside of the building matched its 1970's facade.  The carpet was a brown-gold marble with a texture indent pattern on top of that.  The chairs were brown leather with dulled brass legs, and dark where years of use had worn the brass dark and dull.  The arms held the individual cigarette ash trays, very dingy, but once brass as well.  The wooden magazine stand held magazines over a decade old, wrinkled, weathered, worn out, almost begging for the waste paper basket.  The walls had not been painted in some time: smudges, nicks, and even holes abounded.  We decided the safest place to sit would be the chocolate brown leather couches.  We seemed to sit down in unison and we all sank much deeper than any of us expected.  Low riders!  I joked with Amelia that it was just her size.  (She wants to be taller right now.)

We decided I would read our read aloud book.  We were the only ones in the room.  No receptionist or accounts payable window in sight.  So I read......  And read.....  And read......
The mechanic came in around 12:45pm.  As he walked in, he asked "Is this home schooling?"  I thought "I was just reading?  How is it so obvious to others?"  I let it go.  Our car had 3 different issues that needed attention.  The parts were available locally, but it was going to be a while.  So we went to the McDonald's 2 blocks away.  The only eatery for quite a while on foot.  OK.
The onions listened to more of the read aloud after lunch until I finished a chapter and Amelia begged me to stop.  We had never reached our limit before.  Several hours is apparently too much.  I was rather tired of reading out loud, so we opted to read our personal books.

A newish, modern flat screen TV sat off to the side of the couches in one corner on the room.  No furniture was placed directly facing the TV, but it was there out in the open.  The onions never once asked to turn it on.  They didn't even look at it longingly.  TV is not a priority in our family.  I am pleased.

The mechanic came to tell us that the car was all fixed at 4pm!  We sat in a waiting room with very little to occupy us for the better part of a day.  I was complimented about the onions behavior.  The woman in her office even complimented me on my reading.  She enjoyed listening too.  Fun!

Monday night we went to Walmart for a couple of items.  Eric decided he needed shoes for his trip to San Francisco.  There were a couple of options that "would do."  But nothing just right.  And I don't tend to buy shoes that don't usually last.  I suggested we go to the Dillard's I saw on a previous trip to town down the street.  Eric was a little lost at first.  I picked out a $190 pair of shoes.  Eric's eyes almost popped out of his head.  He does NOT spend money on himself - so much so that I do his shopping for him and he has to ask me his size when he is looking himself.  Eventually Eric found the perfect pair of shoes.  They are NICE.  He likes them, I like them, and much less expensive than the first pair.

I decided we needed to do laundry on Tuesday.
I am so impressed that we all carry our books with us to occupy down time, without suggestions or reminders.  I read to them a quote about always having a book with you before we left Utah and said I was going to try to do that.  But that was it.

After laundry and lunch, I drove the onions to the "Old Mill."  It was in the opening part of the 1939 Gone with the Wind movie.  It's the only structure still standing from the movie.  The grounds were gorgeous!

          Vibrant foliage, several walking paths, faux wood bridges, water, ducks, geese, turtles....
We had fun taking pictures, but I do wish I brought our nice camera 
and that Amelia had taken the pictures!





As we drove away, we saw several waterfront homes tucked in the trees with their own docks.

Even in our very small space, we have figured out how to make things work.

I was not getting anywhere with agents and I wanted to start looking.  A phrase came to my mind: "Pray as if everything depends on the Lord, and go to work as if everything depends on you."
I made a list and we set out Wednesday morning after I took Eric to the Airport.  (he went to San Francisco again for work.)  I was able to reach one listing agent and we saw our first property.  A mobile home on 14 acres.  But there was a very close neighbor and a cemetery that the property wrapped around.  And on top of that, the agent showed me the survey.  The fence line was off by about 15 feet on the longest side.  But "that fence has been there 100 years and we aren't going to move that are we."  Um not the one for us.

We did walk through the property - it had woods.  The onions all sprayed up with bug spray, me with my essential oils.  We got ticks and chiggers! It was quite traumatic for some.  Pulling ticks out is not as hard as I thought it would be.  Chiggers are almost impossible to see!  But their bites let you know where they were.

We drove by 3 or 4 more houses, but did not go onto the land or in the houses. The onions were a little disappointed, but I got out there.  As we stopped, I called agents, trying to reach them, hoping they could show us something.  One agent answered!  We made arrangements for the following day.

Thursday was lovely.  We set out early to get to the agent 2 hours later.  She was so great and set an "ish" appointment because of the long drive.  As I was driving, I saw a sign for "Arkansas's Natural Bridge."  I was so curious, I thought we should check it out.  Bathroom break!            The bridge was rather flat on top - flatter than I had expected and the underside was a beautiful arch.

At the gift shop we found so many silly little trinkets, but we did find a couple of books worth considering if you are looking to be very connected to the land and using resources wisely, the old way:

And...... On to look at properties......

The first one:
This is the very short dirt road, less than a quarter of a mile alone the field to the houses.
A glimpse of the 10 acre field lined with trees.
The little house
We saw a few others...

no need for a driveway - it's just green
another small home nestled in the trees
the frog house

the land behind the frog house includes the barn and the field lined with trees

At one place, Seth found the cutest little frog.  So we called it the frog house.

We were driving all over the place and at the last stop I noticed it was 5 pm.  The onions had been so very wonderful all day long.  The agent we were with verified her assumption that we were a home school family upon meeting all of us at the first property we went to.  When we parted ways at the end of our house tour, the agent complimented me and the onions.  I was so very flattered. 

There was no way I was going to wait the 2+ hour drive home to eat dinner.  We were ALL really hungry.  I decided we would eat at the only non fast food place I had seen in the area.  A Mexican restaurant in a log cabin building.  There were so many choices, but we figured it out.  Seth had the hardest time.  He ordered a Hawaiian steak.  It was a T-bone served with a slice of ham and a ring of pineapple on top.  Seth loved it!  We all filled our bellies full and even gave the bone to the dog to chew on.

Amelia was so entertained that the local grocery store was named "Fred's" that she asked me to take a picture of it.  I declined to do it, but I gave her my phone so she could take a picture. 

Friday was a rest and recuperate day.  We had a late start and did very little.  I took the onions minus Amelia shopping to give them an opportunity to buy gifts for her upcoming birthday.  After, we went to the archery range.  Elanor shared her arrows and she, Scott, and Naomi practiced with targets.

Eric was on his way home on Friday.  They assigned him to sit in the very back row, right next to the engines.  The stewardess invited him to move up the the emergency exit row which provided more leg room. 

We were all back together again!
Eric and I decided to travel north to be closer to all the places where I want to see properties.  So we drove to Harrison, Arkansas.  I showed Eric a couple of the properties we looked at along the way.  (no "this is it!" just yet)  There is almost zero cell coverage at the RV park in Harrison, but we do have internet.

Other stuff:

There is a park north on Little Rock called TOAD SUCK PARK.  Hmm?  Do you suck on toads there?
What's the difference between an aardvark and an armadillo?  geography, size, look, feel...  I guess I prefer the word aardvark to armadillo because I rarely got it right.  We saw a small armadillo crossing the road.  I stopped, backed up, and drove up along side it.  Too super cute.  
We saw a turtle crossing the road.  There are signs for turtle crossing on the back roads to visit my mom in southern California, but this was my first time seeing a turtle on the road.
On the day everyone was being rather awesome, a small disagreement developed.  I asked for it to stop and pointed that everyone was being great and asked for greatness to continue.  Naomi said, very sweetly and sincerely "It's hard to be great ALL the time."  Isn't that the truth?  And yet that's the goal.
I have felt welcomed here in Arkansas.  The 4 people I have had real conversations with here have all asked if I home school my children.  And they are pleased and compliment us.  I hope that they see we are Christians too.
The Baptist church is to Arkansas as the LDS church is to Utah.