Journeying Along the Pig Trail in Arkansas

This Saturday it was too gorgeous outside to stay at home. Greg invited me to check out a part of Arkansas that I’ve never visited before. I made smoothies to go, and packed healthy snacks in a bag. It was time for a road trip!


Greg is planning for an upcoming motorcycle trip that will take him south through the state of Arkansas. He wanted to check out various camping sites near Fayetteville, AR, along the scenic highway known as the Pig Trail. 

Named thus because of the proximity of the University of Arkansas, whose mascot is the razorback hog, this 19 mile stretch of highway is known as a shortcut for razorback fans, and as one of the best rides for motorcyclists in the state. The Pig Trail offers it all as it winds through the Ozark National Forest: zig zags, switchbacks, tree covered roads in the valleys and spectacular views from mountain tops. 



Not only is the Pig Trail pretty to navigate, it has historical value as well. The road was used by both Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. We stopped atop a mountain to look out over the deep valley below. The Boston Mountains rose in the distance. Heavy forests line the ridges and cover the slopes of the hills. I could imagine the challenge of moving through the area, carving out this road. Below, the thick canopy of trees could conceal anything. I wondered who had hidden in the darkness beneath the trees, 150 years ago. 

Greg found two possible campsites in the area, one high on a mountain, and another in the valley, along Mulberry River. There is a little store across the street from that campground. It is a popular stopping spot for bikers, as we observed today. The shop sells T-shirts and jacket patches, proof that the biker has ridden the Pig Trail. 


And he scratched one campground off of his list. The remote, and heavily wooded, park had a dark vibe that came from something more than the shadowy camping sites beneath the trees. The movie Deliverance came to mind! We didn’t linger there, and I was glad to leave it behind. 

The day was a success. Greg got a feel for the road and what was available in the area. I got to get out of town for the day, and enjoy beautiful scenery along the Pig Trail,  under brilliant blue skies. The trees were just beginning to hint that fall is coming. However, the wild grasses growing along the highways and spreading across fields and meadows brazenly announced that a change in seasons is imminent. I loved watching the grass tassels waving in the breeze as we drove by. And I’m ready. Come on, autumn. 

Journey 364: Arkansas Goodies

I spent the day in the lovely and water soaked state of Arkansas. After checking on the house in Decatur and taking care of some things there, Greg and I meandered over to Rogers late in the afternoon. 

 

We stopped for a meal at a favorite pizza restaurant there. The name always gives me the giggles, however, they make great pizzas! Today we tried a vegetarian pizza. I’ve perhaps just forgotten, but I believe this is the first all veggie pizza that I’ve had. It was delicious and filling without leaving me feeling stuffed. 

   

The skies cleared today and for the first time since Christmas Day, I could see the sun. What a welcome sight as sunlight filtered in through the blinds on the restaurant windows. 

  
I can’t drive through Rogers without a stop at Barnes & Noble Bookstore. I had a short list of desired items in mind and scored on all but one of them. One of the things on my list was a 2016 Scotland calendar. Not only did I find one, I found a Secret Garden coloring calendar by Johanna Basford! The calendars were 50% off, so I purchased both. I’m excited to color each month’s page and display the calendar with my creative work in my studio. 

  
It was a good day. Greg and I enjoyed reviewing aspects of our journeys from this past year and both of us shared our hopes for the upcoming year. I reminded myself all day, with both wonderment and excitement, that tomorrow this year concludes. What a remarkable journey it has been and I’ll review 2015 in Thursday’s blog post. 

Tonight I am reading and writing, working on an assignment and doing more research. Oh yes, and I am coloring in my 2016 calendar. What a great way for me to welcome in a new year. 

  

Day 132: Arkansas Firsts

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I had a change in plans today and headed to the Natural State, Arkansas. Greg’s dad lives in Decatur and Greg had not been able to reach him by phone. Being that his dad is 93 years old and only has a land line,  that was cause for concern. Thankfully, the phone line was malfunctioning and a call to the phone company resulted in the eventual correction of that problem. Greg and I were able to spend time with his dad, who wasn’t feeling well. Or as he put it, “Sometimes I think I’m getting old, and sometimes I know I am. Today, I feel old!” After a long and full life, he is feeling weary, at a very deep level. I’m surrounding him with love and light and gentle energy.

After leaving Decatur, I went in search of a first for the day! Greg’s cousin, Pam, and her husband, Jay, now live in Bella Vista, AR. I had not seen Pam for at least 13 years! And I had not met her husband. So while cruising toward Bella Vista, waiting for Pam to become available to meet, I spied with my little eyes….a garden center in Bentonville!

Some people can’t pass up a shoe store or drive past a Starbucks without stopping. For me, especially this time of year, this is true for garden centers. Bogle’s Garden City, located at 2105 S Walton Blvd in Bentonville, AR, was so fun to explore! With its attached greenhouses, it is much larger than it looks from the outside. I was searching for ornamental grasses, but I enjoyed wandering up and down the aisles and strolling down the pathways, looking at everything. I was impressed with the selection of plants, trees, shrubs and flowers, and I found the varieties of grasses that I was looking for! I want to spend time in Joplin this week, checking out our local garden centers, however, it was great to discover Bogle’s Garden City and know it is only a short distance away.

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Pam and Jay live in a lovely town right on the Arkansas/Missouri state line. It was great to see Pam again and meet Jay! We toured their beautiful home and stood on the back deck, as thunder rumbled overhead and the first fat raindrops began to fall, and discussed gardening and transforming backyards into sanctuaries. We left the house to visit the Mildred Cooper Memorial Chapel, but en route, the gentle rain became a torrential downpour, accompanied by lightning, thunder and briefly, small diameter hail. We scratched that first for today, and regrouped at Las Fajitas, a Mexican Grill, located at 42 Sugar Creek Center in Bella Vista. Another first, as this was a new restaurant for me.

We shared a great dinner and lively conversation as we caught up on each other’s lives and families and as I got to know Jay. I first met Pam and her sister and brothers years and years ago, when Greg and I were dating. Greg’s dad and Pam’s dad are brothers and the whole extended family used to gather for Christmas or a summer meal at Grandpa and Grandma Moore’s house on the creek in Noel, MO. We laughed over old stories and shared new ones. I always enjoyed being around Pam and her siblings and parents and I admired their obvious closeness as a family. It is amazing that we all have grown or nearly grown children and precious grandchildren now! Sitting there chatting over a cozy meal, it didn’t seem possible that so many years had passed. I don’t intend to let much time pass before getting together again. There are flea markets to explore in Bella Vista and the beautiful chapel to see.

I’m learning not to be concerned about finding firsts, but to relax into the experience, trusting that as my daily journey is unfolding, the first will be there, or as today proved, the firsts! Let the adventure continue….

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Jay and Pam