John and I wanted to do something different and fun with the kids for the holiday, while hopefully avoiding the crowds we expected once the weekend officially started. So we headed out yesterday to enjoy a day at the park. John had heard good things about Lake Fort Smith park and thought it would be a fun place to try. I didn’t read all the info, so I don’t have all the details clear, but supposedly this park is brand new, rebuilt after they flooded an old park by connecting two existing lakes. It really is beautiful. The facilities were well designed, and the outdoor spaces had wonderful views. And because we went Friday, there was hardly anyone there. It felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.
After a quick visit to the visitor center, which I’ll tell you about at the end of the blog, we headed to the picnic area for some lunch. The kids played a little on the playground, and then we headed back up the hill to start a hike. We hiked a total of a mile and a half. It would have been fun to go further, since the trail was beautiful. It is one end of the Ozark Highlands Trail, which is a 160 something mile long trail. Wouldn’t that be fun to hike sometime? I think I’d need to be in much better shape and have kids with longer legs. 😉 We hiked to a “seasonal” waterfall, which was apparently not in season. Along the way, we saw a deer and lots of trees and leaves and rocks. It is fun to take Elise out and have her point out things we learned about in school. It is very reaffirming to realize she is paying attention and retaining some of the information.
Because Seth is getting quite heavy now (he only walked a small portion of the way and was on John’s back the rest of it), and the weather was quite warm, and the kids were running out of water, we decided to turn back at the waterfall. We made it back just in time for the “Wagons Ho” presentation. Since we were the only ones there, we got a personal presentation from the park ranger, who also took us out to check a box turtle nest (unfortunately, no baby turtles were emerging yet) and let the kids hold the turtles in the turtle tank. She held the kids attention with her presentation of the wagon and what it held. Lake Fort Smith has its very own original wagon and several tools that were equally as old. Seth’s favorite part of the presentation was the explanation of how to trap and then eat a bear. Everything after that point was continually interrupted with Seth’s proclamation of “bears live in the woods.” Will seemed to like the long two person saws (felling saw and bucking saw). Elise liked interjecting comments of all her knowledge on the subject being discussed. It was probably good we were the only ones there. The park ranger said she usually didn’t have anyone there to do her presentation to, so she was happy to have us.
The visitor center also has information on springs (of which there are several in the area), log cabins (with squared logs like the Arkansas settlers would have built) and local wildlife and flora. We ended our visit with some ice cream bought in the gift shop and headed back for pizza and a movie at home.