For Spring Break, we rented a little cabin in Arkansas, at a place in the Ouchita Forest. It was amazing. I loved sitting on the back porch, feeling the cool breeze and looking out at the trees surrounding us.
I could also see a horse and hear it whinny from time to time. They offered horseback riding there – really trail riding – but unfortunately, you had to be at least 9 years old to ride alone, and Samuel is only 8. He could go, but would have to ride double with me or Brad, and having been there and done that before, I wasn’t about to spend all the money they were asking for the privilege. And it was a ridiculous amount of money. To sit on a horse and watch the back of the horse’s behind in front of you for an hour. I’d rather walk the trails, thank you.
There was an interesting mix of Cedar and Pine trees there. And Oak. We saw all a lot of cool things during our hikes. Our first was just on the property. We had a little hand-drawn map and what appeared to be a trail – although I use the term loosely. We walked down to the river, then followed a harrowing trail with one edge that was a sheer drop-off to the swollen Ouchita River and the other a steep hill. Or mountain, as the boys described it. Eventually, we had to move up the hill and the trail, which involved grasping at tree limbs and bushes and whatever you could reach to pull yourself up and keep from sliding down into the water. The boys scrambled up like it was nothing, of course, while I was just glad I kept from spraining an ankle or rolling back down into the water. That hike, which was supposed to be a short jaunt around the property, ended up taking around two hours and probably a few miles. Funny thing is, by the time we realized we didn’t want to make the entire round trip, we were through some of the worst parts of the trail and didn’t want to backtrack.
The boys quickly grew tired of walking, just about the time we realized we were going to have to make the entire trip. They started acting like they were going to pass out, complaining of thirst and hunger and anything else they could think of. I was contemplating putting Samuel on my back when Brad whispered that I just needed to wait until they found something to take their mind off of it. Sure enough, they found a fallen tree to bounce on and took off running as if they hadn’t a care in the world.
When we got back to the cabin, we had a “rest time” (aka, “give mommy a chance to nap time”), then took off for another hiking trail that was nearby. This time, we knew where we were going (sort of) and how long the trail was (1.8 miles out and the same length back). And again, we forgot to bring drinks. Thankfully, I brought my cellphone. It turned out to be invaluable because it has a compass app on it. I honestly never dreamed when I saw that on my cellphone I would ever have need of it, but lo and behold, I used my compass.
We didn’t hike the full way because, hello??? 1.8 miles!!! But we went a good distance – further than we had planned, in fact, and Brad and I sprinted part of it when the two little boys disappeared ahead of us and didn’t respond to our repeated attempts to call them back. I was proud of myself for not panicking for a full minute or two. But then I started imagining them missing the trail and getting lost in the woods and it getting dark and they wouldn’t know where to go and they would be cold and I could just picture the people volunteering to come sweep through the woods…and then we found them, running merrily along the trial ahead of us, splashing through mud puddles and having a blast. They were very sorry. They are even sorrier the next day, when they lost all screen time for the day. You wouldn’t think screen time would be a big deal staying in a beautiful cabin in the Ouchita Forest of Arkansas, but then again, you wouldn’t expect to find a hot tub on the back porch either. Or a flat screen TV with Dish Network. But there you have it – I agreed to vacation in a cabin in the woods, so long as there were proper amenities.