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Lake Catherine State Park, Arkansas

April 23, 2012

Sunday, Lake Catherine State Park, near Hot Springs, AR

The drive from Marshall, Texas to Malvern, Arkansas was a white knuckle trip at times.  The weather was beautiful except for the high wind that occasionally felt like it wanted to push the RV off the road.  There are trees on both sides of the highway, and I finally learned to watch them for a warning that we were about to be hit by a gust.  Others in various rigs bigger and smaller than ours went past as I slowed down considerably at times.  I guess with time and experience, I’ll learn how to make better time in such wind, but there was no rush, so I slowed down and stayed focused.  The motorhome, of course, is definitely not an economy vehicle, but the headwind, along with the rolling hills, really appeared to eat up fuel.  We are learning to fill up the tank at the first gas station after the fuel gauge passes the half-full mark.

When we turned off Hwy 59 at Malvern onto the road leading to Lake Catherine State Park, the wind was no longer an issue.  Then we got on the winding narrow road with no shoulder and a steep dropoff, which made the drive into the park interesting as well.  But it was worth it.

Most of the campsites have a view of the water, and many are right on the shoreline.

We had our choice of about eight sites, and we chose this one.  It turned out to be a bit of a challenge to get it level.  Fortunately, we had invested in a couple of sets of Lynx levellling blocks (the orange ones) and a set of wheel chocks.  The blocks have been just sitting in a basement compartment unused until now.  When I first tried to level the RV with just the rear hydraulic jacks, they lifted the tires off the ground.  I brought it back down immediately and placed the Lynx blocks behind the rear tires on both sides.  Then Nell spotted as I backed up onto the blocks.  This is a one-foot-on-the-brake-and-one-on-the-gas-pedal operation.  I should note that there is a concrete parking stop at the back end of the site.  Once the rear wheels were up on the blocks, I lowered the rear hydraulic jacks, stopping while the tires were still sitting with some weight on the blocks.  I wasn’t able to get us completely level front-to-rear, but it’s perfectly liveable for a few days.  I elected not to lower the front jacks at all.  We have just the slightest wobble at times, but it’s not bad at all.  Keep in mind, we lived for a month or so with no levelling jacks at all until we got the rear one repaired.

A park ranger stopped to check on us, and told me that this was part of the older section of the campground.   The sites are spaced to give plenty of room, and have a picnic table, a barbeque pit and a fire ring.  Although if we return to stay longer someday, we’ll probably try to reserve one of the newer sites that are a bit more level and have full hookups.  Here, we have water and electric.  Since we’re only here a couple of days this time, we’ll be fine stopping at the dump station on the way out.  I’m really learning to maneuver this big rig around some narrow, winding roads here.

There is a large power plant on the other side of the lake, which is probably the reason the lake was created.  But part of it is screened by trees, and the brick structures have a little WPA character, so it really isn’t an eyesore at all.  There is a slight drone of equipment operation that emanates from it, but it’s a very consistent sound, and with the breeze in the trees and the lapping of water at the shoreline, it almost becomes part of the white noise of the surroundings.  I personally think it’s kind of picturesque.

There are a lot of these fellows around.  They obviously equate humans with food.  Every time we set foot outside, two or three, and occasionally more, would come paddling from out of nowhere, climb up on the land and approach us.  If we didn’t feed them within a minute or so, they moved on.

A number of geese and ducks appear to make their home on the little island that’s out across from us.  Our hunters and bird watchers may be able to identify what kind this guy is.  All I know is he’s apparently the Big Goose on the Island.   We sat and watched him chase a couple of intruders away by flying right at them, honking loudly, landing with a splash, then making the short flight back to the bank and taking up his station again.  We saw several other geese on the shore and among the foliage not far away.  We assumed he was guarding his personal harem.

This little pier is just a few steps beyond of our campsite.

And this is what it looked like from our dining area window just after sunrise on Monday morning.

Monday

Monday was a take-it-easy kind of day.  We started with a temperature of 44 degrees overnight, and it stayed pretty cool all day.  Nell chose to sit inside and read with all the window blinds and curtains open, allowing her to enjoy the surroundings in warm comfort.  I set the easel up outside and painted.  This is another one of those places where I could set up right outside our door and have things to paint.  You can see today’s outdoor painting efforts here: www.ralphparker.wordpress.com

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Aubrey permalink
    April 24, 2012 6:03 pm

    Looks like a Canadian goose, also known as a canvasback along the eastern seaboard.
    This is what US Air encountered at Laguardia that put them in the Hudson river.

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