Yesterday I departed Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose TX and headed up to Sherman TX to visit my Mom and brother. This morning it was time to get out of Texas and let the journey really begin!
I headed up Hwy 75 through Durant OK, then cut east on 43. It was pastoral two-lane roads the rest of the day. Beautiful rural countryside all the way.
I stopped for BBQ lunch at the Chopping Block in Mena Arkansas, then continued to a free public land campground I found on one of my apps on Lake Ouachita in Arkansas. I thought I might be able to break out the paddleboard there for a nice evening paddle.
The campground was essentially full, the only possible spot not really level enough. As I walked about scouting the place, I was approached by a young man who asked if I could call a tow truck for him, as he was broke down. There was also no cell service at the campground. I told him I could not because I had no cell service either.
I could have solved the unlevelness with some rocks and/or small logs under the tires, but there were also a couple of big RV campers nearby with loud generators running, and the general vibe of the people and the place just did not suit me. It seemed like a party place. ￼Too bad, because it was perfect paddling water.
I milled around a bit more thinking it over, then decided to go ahead and leave for Hot Springs National Park campground. About an hour further away.
Before I left I took a pen and small pad to the young man at his pickup next to me and told him to write down his info and that I’d call for help when I got to cell coverage. It was then that I noticed there was also a young woman in the back seat of his truck with him, and they’d both been asleep.
That’s another reason I decided to leave, I didn’t want to be a camped directly next to him stranded there. He wasn’t even camping. Just there in a pick up truck.
He told me they had been stranded there for 24 hours. ￼This seemed odd to me, that he hadn’t been more resourceful and hiked to the highway to thumb a ride for help, or paid someone to drive him, as he claimed to have money for a tow truck. I left and called 911 with the details when I got to cell service.
When I got to Hot Springs National Park, the campground was full also. It doesn’t take reservations, you just have to show up and get lucky. I hung out at the day use area and walked up and down the beautiful river It’s a really nice campground.
I called the Ranger and asked if I’d be rousted if I just parked there overnight in the day use lot, and he said “probably”. He gave me a tip that he thought I could overnight at the visitor center in downtown Hot Springs. I drove to Hot Springs and went into the visitor center and asked if I could park overnight and the guy said “yes”. So here I am.
I’m going to go to the hotbath in the morning. I was told to get there early because the line gets long and they limit the number of people.
For some people, all the chaos and uncertainty of finding a spot to park/camp must seem like an unpleasant hassle. It is, but, to me, it’s a also a lot of fun. Just a big adventure, never knowing what comes next.
I much prefer this over a choreographed itinerary with every detail planned and no room for spontaneity. So it’s my chosen method, for better or worse. And it’s also how I operate best. I get more stressed trying to plan than I do simply overcoming the consequences of not planning.
Tonight I’ll check out downtown Hot Springs, try a restaurant and look for some live music, then continue northeast(ish) tomorrow.