Jack has been busy marking new states off his bucket list this summer! Last week, we went to Tennessee and Georgia, and a few weeks before that, we traveled to Arkansas for a family reunion where Jack got to meet all of his Arkansas and Missouri cousins.
Jack is becoming a pretty good little car rider. When we go on long trips, like this one (it was about a 9 or 10 hour drive), I usually sit in the back with Jack and make sure to pack lots of books, toys, and download some of his favorite videos onto our Kindle. We also make pretty frequent stops to get him out of the seat and let him move around.
We stopped in Hardy, Arkansas, on our way and walked around downtown to get out of the car for a little while. Hardy has a really neat little downtown area with lots of little shops, so it was a nice place to get out and stretch and do a little sight-seeing.
Once we got to Springdale, my mom kept Jack in the hotel room (he was so tired after that drive) and Jeff, my dad, and I went to an Arkansas Naturals game. We had been to a game when we came up for the reunion a few years ago and really enjoyed it, so we decided to go back this year. We had great seats right behind home plate, and the tickets were really affordable.
The next day, we were supposed to check in at our cabin at Lake Fort Smith (where our reunion was held) at 4:00, so we had the entire day to explore. Mama and Daddy took Jack with them while they looked around at shops in town and Jeff and I headed to Devil’s Den State Park to do some hiking.
The caves at Devil’s Den were really cool. They were closed, so we couldn’t go inside (not that I’m brave enough to go into a cave, anyway, but my husband would have been climbing in without a second thought), but when we walked by a cave opening we could feel a burst of cool air coming out of the ground. We had a lot of fun on the trail and I took about 500 pictures (as usual).
My grandfather was in the CCC (he was working in Washington, I think), so I’m always interested in the CCC monuments at parks like this. I really want to find the park where he was working and and see it someday. This monument was near the dam at Devil’s Den and honored the men who worked to build the park.
After our hike, we were starving, so we searched Yelp for restaurant reviews and took a chance on a local little place called Crawpappy’s. We were so glad we decided to try it! Jeff got their etouffee, and it was the best I have ever tasted. I got their Cajun catfish and fries. I highly recommend it if you are ever in Alma, Arkansas.
After our lunch, we met my parents at Lake Fort Smith and checked into our cabin. Our family rented the big lodge so everyone could have a room and we’d have a place to have our meals, but we decided to get a private cabin because we thought it would be easier with Jack than rooming in the bunk room. We got a two bedroom cabin, and it was so nice. My parents and Jeff and I each had a room with a king bed and an attached bathroom, and there was a nice kitchen and a big living area for Jack to play in. We spent the next few days relaxing at the cabin and exploring the area around the lake.
Lake Fort Smith has lots of amenities, including a big pool with a kids’ swimming area. We took Jack swimming for the first time while we were there and he loved his float. He was not a fan of getting his head under water, but as long as he was in his float, he had fun splashing and floating around with us.
There are also trails at Lake Fort Smith. We saw a bunch of snakes on the first trail we attempted and I ended up chickening out and running back to the cabin (I am terrified of snakes), but this one from the cabins to the lake was pretty clear and snake-free.
The lake was beautiful.
Meeting all your cousins is apparently exhausting.
Arkansas is the perfect vacation spot for nature lovers. There are tons of state parks and opportunities for outdoor activities. Jeff can’t wait to go back and find another state park to explore at the next family reunion.
Have you ever visited Northwest Arkansas? What are some must-do activities we should check out on our next trip there?