I’ve gotten pretty lackadaisical about trip planning in the last year or so. Really the past year has been nothing but trips within trips. I think I have trip fatigue. I passed on a trip to California this last weekend because the thought of getting on an airplane was so unappealing. Instead, I set out on a ‘short’ camping road trip with fellow adventurer, Brooke. Our research and discussion about said adventure was minimal so I pointed the camper to the east without really knowing where we were going. Ultimately, we set our destination based on this one paragraph of information, which mapped us at about 3 hours out. Some 9 hours later we finally pulled into the Long Pool Recreational Area.
A combination of back roads, slow-going hills and mechanical failures prolonged our journey. We had barely crossed the state line when the accelerator pedal collapsed against the floorboard and flatlined. I darted across traffic and pulled into a parking lot, musing that the Siloam Springs Super 8 Motel & RV Park, where we had landed, might be our final destination.
I perused our copy of How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive, came up short and placed a call to my spirit guide, Joey at Dead End Aircooled. He walked me through the problem (a broken accelerator cable) and suggested that I could probably fix it myself despite my not knowing the first thing about auto repair.
“Happy mechanic-ing!” (Joey)
I consulted the world’s most photogenic and least helpful homemade toolkit and decided we needed to take a walk down the street to Atwoods.
After negotiating with the motel owners, who had been yelling at us to get off their property through the duration of our troubleshooting, and consulting with no fewer than 6 Atwoods employees, all of whom shared the temperament of unfriendly sloths, we (mostly Brooke) rigged the bus up with some picture hanging wire and gladly skedaddled.
I would like to formally nominate Siloam Springs, Arkansas as America’s Least Helpful Town.
I would also like to nominate Brooke Allen and myself for Volkswagen Mechanic-ing Scout Badges, and if such a thing does not exist…it should.
THE HIKE: Pedestal Rock Loop Trail, Ozark National Forest, AR
Road weary from our extended travel the day before, we were disheartened to learn that the best hiking would require a bit of a drive. Nevertheless, we put-putted and wound our way over to the Pedestal Rock Loop Trail, much lauded by locals.
I should preface my review of this trail by saying:
It was really hot by the time we started hiking.
We were covered in cobwebs and tiny seed ticks at the end of the hike.
The last time Brooke and I hiked together we ended up at a Michelin-starred restaurant in a remote fishing village off the coast of northern Spain. So…the bar is set pretty high these days.
The hike felt unimpressive at the time, I think we were both pretty bla about it. It wasn’t until I was back at home in my own bed the next day going through pictures that I thought: ‘Okay, I guess that was pretty.’
Plus we got to stock up at this adorable country store, where the men wear overalls and the women wear babies on their hips.
RETURN TRIP: FORT SMITH, AR & BRAGGS, OK
We took Highway 64 nearly the entire way back home. It was much more scenic and far less traveled than the interstates. Ever on the quest for the perfect road food, we passed some gems. I still regret not stopping at a burger and dipped-cone joint in Mulberry, AR. Instead, we pulled into a Dairy Freeze in Fort Smith, AR, which I guess is some kind of Sonic-like franchise. Anyway, I’d never been to one and it satisfied my craving for a greasy cheeseburger.
Fort Smith, AR
On down the road, I felt I needed a coffee or treat of some kind to keep me alert so I pulled into this roadside Malt Shop in Braggs, OK.
Brooke Allen took most of the photos in this post. She’s a pro. You can find more of her work here: brookeallenfolio.com