Like most couples, my wife and I try to do "something special" on the weekend closest to our anniversary. We've gone to the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, gone camping, etc, just short weekend trips far enough away that we can feel like we've "gone somewhere". Last year was a phenomenal bust, but that's a long story ...suffice it to say that George Carlin was on to something when he said, "When you have to wait a year to sleep next to a tree, something is wrong." That last year went astoundingly sub-optimally is only relevant because that weekend turned out soooooo badly that we made reservations on that Sunday, for our trip this year. I know making reservations a year in advance is not that big a deal; but to get a cabin, in a state park, on a weekend...it simply isn't optional....you make the reservation a year in advance. So, we did. One bedroom cabin, with hot tub(honestly, i think that may have been all that was left at the time), at Mount Magazine State Park.
The drive up from Little Rock was a mere hour-and-a-half,or so, up Highway 10. We left mid-afternoon and got there in time to look around a bit, unpack, and grab an early dinner at the Skycrest Restaurant in the Lodge. The cabin was about as far from 'rustic' as a structure can be while still being considered a 'cabin'. You enter into the full kitchen with stacked washer/dryer, dishwasher, microwave. The living room had leather furniture, a great stone fireplace, nice-sized TV with cable and PPV(standard hotel fare). The bedroom had a king-size bed with french doors opening onto the deck, or you could just throw open the curtains and enjoy the view from under the covers. Through the french doors, the deck furniture provided a comfortable place to have some breakfast while watching the sunrise. The cabins are spread out enough that you don't feel crowded, but close enough that you know there are people around. The Lodge was located conveniently close, so we had our first night's dinner there. The food is good, staff is friendly, prices are reasonable. Unfortunately,after dinner we had to drive the 20 miles back to Danville, looking for a grocery store to get food for the weekend, as we had (wrongly) presumed there'd be one closer to the park. The prices at Danville's Sav-A-Sum were reasonable, though. Surprisingly, there is a large enough Hispanic population there that the store had a Spanish/Imported food section that rivaled anything I've seen in grocery stores here(They have mangoes?! Here?!). So, with provisions secured, we headed back to the cabin to watch the sunset from the hot tub, and a well-earned night's rest.
We slept in on Saturday('til 7a.m.!! If you have/had a toddler, you understand), for the first time in a while. I made scrambled eggs with bell peppers and ham (my wife's on South Beach, so no pancakes, biscuits, or toast) . We had breakfast, loaded the dishwasher, had a soak in the hottub(did i mention the hot tub?) and headed out for the morning's hike. We'd decided to start with the Mossyback Trail. It was long enough that we'd hoped to see some interesting mountain ecology(the park's known for it's bears), but not so long that we needed to pack a lunch. It's just over 2 miles (one way) and rated 'Moderate'. It was a fun, interesting hike in spite of a lack of anything even closely resembling a bear. For most of the hike, you're well-removed from any signs of people...it's a not-unpleasant feeling. [digression]I had a conversation recently at a conference about how people in the technology field deal with connectivity, or the lack thereof. It is a bit of a stereotype that we hall have this overwhelming need to be connected to the hive-mind that we call The Internet. But, the truth is that many of us can go reasonably short periods without bandwidth. It's really a question of "is a connection expected, or proported to be available?" If a connection is, for some reason, expected but not available we begin to feel like Tantalus with our precious connection always in sight, but just out of reach. Then, back to our home-away-from-home to grill some hotdogs, an apres-lunch soak, then a quick hike to Signal Hill, the highest point in Arkansas. For dinner that night (our actual anniversary), I grilled the steaks we'd acquired in Danville the night before while my wife prepared some rice we'd bought.
Our last day there, check-out is at 11 a.m., so we had an early breakfast, one last theraputic soak to recover from all the hiking, and checked out just in time for the lunch buffet at the Lodge. On the way back, we stopped to buy a few gifts and for one last scenic view of the mountains, before making our way home. As great as it was to get away for a bit, I was eager to get back.
The cabin at Mount Magazine