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.
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.
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.