What happened to May?

Seriously, where did the entire month of May go??  I have been super busy lately, but for good reasons 🙂

The first week of May we took our annual spring vacation.  Our goal is to see every state, so each year we pick two states to visit; one in the spring and the other in the fall.  I hate flying, so we road trip everywhere.  You get to see more of the scenery by driving anyway 😉  This year we went to Arkansas, which was really beautiful.  It definitely lives up to its name, “The Natural State.”  We started our journey in Little Rock.  We are nature enthusiasts, so instead of staying in costly hotels, we camp everywhere.  The first place we called home was Lake Maumelle.  Our campsite was right on the water, and we were visited by a mother goose and her goslings the next morning ❤  We climbed to an overlook on Pinnacle Mountain, which overlooks the Mississippi River.  It was cold that day, so we didn’t stay too long!  Next we went to Hot Springs, where we went to Garvin Botanical Gardens to see the famous chapel in the woods.  It was spectacular!  We went on a weekday, so we had the place to ourselves.  We also went to the top of the observation tower that overlooks the city.  It was so windy I thought I was going to blow away!

Our next campsite was on the shore of Lake Catherine, and we were greeted by hungry ducks & geese.  After getting a good night’s rest, we drove to Petit Jean State Park, which was gorgeous.  I would love to go back and do more hiking, but we were short on time.  We did complete the Bear Cave Trail, which had some amazing rock formations.  We also had lunch at the beautiful lodge, which tasted SO GOOD after eating camp food for a few days.  Next on our list was Mount Magazine State Park, which was also unbelievable.  We had a fabulous dinner at the Skycrest Restaurant there, which has floor to ceiling windows and a spectacular view.  This is another destination that I would love to go back to and really explore.  We didn’t get to see any bears, but we enjoyed every minute of the park.

Next we visited the quirky town of Eureka Springs, which was a diamond in the rough.  We did not expect to stay, but after a day of rain and thunderstorms on the way, we decided to go ahead and book a hotel for the night.  To our delight, we were able to stay in a charming little treehouse near the city square.  We each had extra long showers, took advantage of the cable TV, and slept on a bed for the first time in days 🙂  The next day we explored, visiting many of the shops and galleries located in the square.  We fell in love with the beautiful victorian cottages, lush gardens, and unexpected art pieces that decorate the entire town.  We finished off our stay with an evening ghost tour at the famous Crescent Hotel.

Our final day in Arkansas, we hiked to Hawksbill Crag, which is arguably the most famous hike in the state.  It was a fun 3 mile hike, suitable for anyone who isn’t afraid of heights.  I’m not sure how far the drop is, but if you fell you would not survive.  The trail was moderately busy, but we were by ourselves for the majority of the time.  The gravel road was steep and rough, but our little car made it up just fine 😉

I will post pictures later this week…I have not gotten around to editing any of our vacation photos, so there will be visual aids to accompany this post soon!

Warmer Weather Approaching!

Hello there!  Well it is already April 21st, and I am only a few short days from our annual spring vacation 🙂 This year we are going backpacking in the Ozarks.  I can’t wait!  We purchased a new tent that we will be trying out for the first time, and some new lightweight camping chairs.  My goal is to get all of our gear into the trunk (to deter potential car break-ins).

Its been a pretty rainy April, so we haven’t gotten as much accomplished outside as I would have liked, but that’s ok.  The front porch isn’t going anywhere, so we can always paint that next month!  We were able to clear out the dead bushes in the front yard and clean up around the front porch, but we haven’t planted anything just yet.  We also cleaned up the wooded area beside the retaining wall, and that looks much better now.  We were also able to paint the patio doors, and they look soooo much better.  We are still working to finish all of the touch ups inside, but I seem to always put that task off since it is so terribly tedious.

I am hopeful for May 🙂 I would like to finish up the things we didn’t get to in April, for sure.  We also had a contractor come out to give us an estimate on adding a screened in deck for the backyard, so maybe we can get that finished just in time for grilling season!

The Mountains are Calling…

Recently my husband and I traveled to Asheville, North Carolina.  We did a lot of hiking, camping, and sightseeing along the way 🙂

Our first night, we camped at a little site in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park right next to the Oconaluftee River.  It was so peaceful to hear the sound of the river while we relaxed by our campfire.  While we were there, we also hiked to Clingman’s Dome, which is the highest mountain in the Smokies (6,643 feet).  It was really neat to watch the fog cascade down the mountain.  We weren’t able to get many pictures, but I’m glad we went to the top.

Fog near Clingman’s Dome

We also drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway, which was fantastic.  We found a little trail just off of the parkway where you can hike to an overlook called Craggy Pinnacle (5,817 feet).

Driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway
View from the Craggy Pinnacle overlook.  If I squint, I can see our car parked below!

We also traveled to Blowing Rock, which is North Carolina’s oldest attraction since 1933.  Luckily, we made it just before sunset and got some really spectacular pictures to commemorate our visit.

Blowing Rock (4,000 feet)
Blowing Rock viewfinders

We also got some exercise in by hiking to Chimney Rock, which is a 535-million-year-old monolith.  I wish I knew how many steps we took to make it to the top!

This is only the beginning!
We can see the top!
We made it!!!

We also decided to hike the Hickory Nut Falls Trail after we climbed back down from Chimney Rock.  Even though I desperately wanted my husband to carry me back to the car, it was worth it 🙂

Hickory Nut Falls

We also took a day to visit the iconic Biltmore Estate, owned by George and Edith Vanderbilt. The house itself is a whopping 178,926 square feet, and there is also a gorgeous garden outside to peruse.

Biltmore Estate
Dewy flower outside in the garden
Biltmore Gardens

We had a fantastic time visiting Asheville and its surrounding cities. Everyone we encountered was very friendly and helpful. It is also worth noting how physically active everyone was; the residents seemed to have a genuine love for the outdoors. We would love to go back to explore more of the trails and mountains someday!