Last month, I decided to arrange an impromptu father, son, and dog getaway during Joe’s fall break from school. I packed the Explorer up on Saturday night and surprised Joe with the news of the trip about 30 minutes before we left on Sunday. Thankfully, Joe enjoyed our first camping expedition earlier in the year, so he was excited to go on another adventure. With a few last minute preparations, we were ready to head out. As we were leaving, Michelle asked “Did you remember the anti-bacterial?”. Ummmmm, no?!?!
For this trip, we travelled about 75 miles to Village Creek State Park near Forrest City, Arkansas. The park was small, but nice, and had but a few campers, due to our Sunday arrival. Village Creek has about 25 miles of multi-use trails and a large portion of the park is dedicated to horse riding. It is a pretty little place to visit, and is situated on a unique Arkansas geologic feature named Crowleys Ridge
When we arrived at the park, we made the obligatory stop at the visitor center to check in and look at all the guides and goodies. We also watched a program about the animals of Village Creek, given by one of the park interpreters. After checking in, we started setting up camp site #34. Our elevated campsite was really nice, the tent pad was set back in the woods from the rest of the camp. This gave a feeling of being a bit more secluded from the other campsites around us. After eating dinner and exploring a bit, we built a nice fire and then hit the sleeping bags.
That evening, we had a decent rain storm come through. Thankfully our new semi-used tent held up great, and we were bone dry in the morning. After cleaning up the water logged gear around camp and making a quick breakfast, we had an enjoyable time hiking the Arboretum Trail (1/4 mi.), Big Ben Trail (1/2 mi.), and Military Road Trail (2.25 mi.), visiting the “Discovery Room”, making hot chocolate (and coffee!), and later learning how to build a fire with wet wood.
It seems the previous night’s rain soaked all our wood and kindling, and Joe and I spent the better part of an hour trying get a fire going. I’m usually able to get one roaring pretty quickly, but I started to worry around my 10th failed attempt. I knew the wet wood was not helping matters, but I couldn’t understand how our neighbor (who had pulled up just before dark, pitched his tent, walked into the woods, and grabbed some wet sticks) started a full on bon-fire in less than 5 minutes. After a while, I swallowed my pride and went over to ask for some coals.
The gentleman took pity on us and said he would come take a look at our fire to see what was going wrong. While we were arranging the wood, he said “I find starting fires is just a lot easier with this…”, and proceeds to unveil a small container of lighter fluid. Doh! Thanks to our generous neighbor and a good dousing of his magic fluid, we soon had one heckuva rip-roaring fire. Note to self: Bring a small can of lighter fluid, just in case!
After another peaceful night in the tent, we woke up to a beautiful and crisp fall morning. We had a lazy time getting up and after breakfast we broke camp and made a last stop to the visitor center before heading home. Joe really had a great time on our little adventure, and Dad did too. It was nice to be able to spend some quality time in the woods together; just the boys, free from school and schedules. We even managed to avoid several calamities, and survived just fine without the anti-bacterial.
See you on the trail…