Just another day filled with gratitude…

I am woefully behind on the blog.  I am just now getting around to posting about Thanksgiving Day, when it is less than a week before Christmas.   But if I skip past Thanksgiving, then next year, I won’t be able to remember where I was this year.   During a recent conversation with my brother Don (who set up my blog for me,) I was trying to recall whether or not I was home for Thanksgiving last year.   Neither of us could remember, so I said, “Wait!  I’ll check the blog!” only to recall that last Thanksgiving, I was hiking “The Wave” in Southern Utah!   How could I possibly forget one of the most fun Thanksgiving weekends ever?    So here goes Thanksgiving 2013….just for the record!

This Thanksgiving, I planned to spend the long weekend at Lake Ouachita State Park in Arkansas, another destination I had earmarked to return to one day.  I knew the Verizon signal would not be strong enough for the work week, so the four day Thanksgiving weekend would be the perfect time to explore Arkansas’ largest lake for what would be my  final stop on my “Eastern tour” before heading back to Texas.

Note the View back window through the trees…

Lake Ouachita , over 25 miles in length, is completely surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest, which means no shoreline development…nothing but miles and miles of beautiful pine trees lining the shore.  The lake is known for its clear water, even offering scuba diving and snorkeling tours in the summer.

I managed to get a site backing up to the water’s edge, overlooking the marina.  The lights at night shimmering on the water were lovely, but the cold temperatures had me questioning, “When is it too cold to even build a fire?”  When does the pain of braving the elements outweigh the pleasure of sitting fireside?  Despite the beauty of the lakeside setting, I just could not bring myself to build a fire.

View of marina from my back window.

The State Park offers several venues to get out and explore by day, my favorite being the four-mile Caddo Bend Trail, a circuit hike which parallels the shore around the peninsula.   Although the hike is through the woods, one never leaves sight of the lake, making for very scenic views all the way around.  There are some ups and downs, many of which are over interesting quartz outcroppings.

What looks like lots of bird poop on the rocks is actually veins of quartz.

At the end of the peninsula, “sunset point” has a nice viewing platform to sit and watch the sun go down across the lake.   There is a well groomed service road back to the campground should one decide to forgo the rest of the hike and enjoy a couple of glasses of wine at sunset instead.  😉

“Sunset Point” along Caddo Bend Trail

Back in 2011, a devastating tornado blew across the peninsula, taking down a wide swath of trees, which closed the trail for almost a year.  It is sobering to view the “before and after” aerial photos, and observe the marked difference of forest cover along the trail through the effected area.

The park service also offers pontoon-boat tours on the weekends, which could be anything from a snorkeling tour to eagle watch, depending on the season.  I enjoyed their two hour scenic lake tour, cruising along the shoreline to see some of the geographic formations, and learn about the history of the lake.  The calm, clear waters would have been ideal for the Sea Eagle, but just too cold.  The park service has mapped out “geo-float trail,” for observing the unique geographical formations by kayak.  Next time….

For me, the only painful aspect of spending a quiet, reflective Thanksgiving Day alone is what I perceive to be the looks of sympathy from my camping neighbors in the cul-de-sac.   It is as if I can almost hear them whisper, “Look, honey…that woman is all alone….on Thanksgiving Day!”    I want to tell them, don’t feel sorry for me, as my solitude and serenity are at the top of my “Giving Thanks” list!    It feels like a gift to spend the day surrounded by nature with no chores, no work, no cooking and cleaning, and no agenda.

I spent the morning corresponding with friends, placed a telephone call home to Mom, and then bundled up and headed out to the Caddo Bend Trail for a nice brisk four mile hike, stopping along the way to reflect on all the wonder and incredible experiences I have had during this richly rewarding year on the road.  I came back to my toasty warm RV, feasted on a spread of country pate’, fancy cheeses and crackers that I had bought from the Hot Springs Culinary District, and popped the cork on a chilled bottle of Prosecco, giving thanks with a toast, “To one very fine day among many!”

8 thoughts on “Just another day filled with gratitude…

    • Sherry, maybe we RVers can get our own “wing” at the nursing home. We can take turns sharing our blogs from days gone by. Won’t matter that we’ve seen them already, because none of us will remember. 😉

  1. Such a pretty place ~ only an hour away for me … when the weather gets warmer, I’ll be heading that way. As you know, I travel in Homer and you should see the sad looks I get … last year, a guy came up IN MY SPACE with coffee … I appreciated it but doggone ! couples with big rigs just don’t get … I was there on Christmas Day by choice.

    Interesting and I know they mean well… I’ve had people bring me food while I’m sitting quite peacefully watching the water … jumped outta my skin when they approached from behind with M’am? with plates of food…

    HA! as though it looks like I’ve ever missed a meal. I try to be appreciative but at the same time… you’re in my space. One guy! tapped on Homer’s window as I was putting on my jeans! since I can’t stand up in Homer … I mean really!

    He says .. helloooo … I say.. man? lol… traveling solo and being female is really something … even in restaurants … by yourself? yes. oh.

    sigh

    • This cracks me up!! I have this image of this man approaching a woman sitting alone outside a van, thinking she is cold and hungry and homeless. Who turns around but Saucy Carolyn, silver hair flowing in the breeze, and she says, “Are you kidding me? I am just out here enjoyin’ m’gourmet coffee, getting away from m’HIPO!!! (Husband in Paper Only) A woman could use a little privacy, ya know!” LOL!!!

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