Thursday, November 2, 2017

Arkansas: Lake Catherine State Park, Part 1: Nostalgia

Sunrise, Lake Catherine State Park, Arkansas. October 2017.

October 2017
On the way to Missouri
Lake Catherine State Park

After completing my South Louisiana visit, bound for Missouri, I intended to book an airbnb around Hot Springs, Arkansas, so that I could get some work in. I'd found a fabulous place: A congenial hostess, lovely digs, strong and reliable internet (which I need for my work), affordable, and a good base for exploring Hot Springs. But that's when I hit up against airbnb's new "we take security seriously" gate, and I decided that even the sweetest temporary home was not worth sacrificing the seriousness with which I  take my security.

After considering various options, I decided to hell with trying to find a place to land with fast, reliable internet, and just go camping!

Geographically speaking, Arkansas is a gorgeous state. Lake Catherine State Park caught my eye because it sparked a pleasant memory. Many years ago, my mother and a sister booked a cabin at this state park. My mother brought back a soft sage-green (one of my favorite colors!) sweatshirt for my daughter, which had "Lake Catherine State Park" on it.

Decision made. I'd camp at Lake Catherine State Park for a couple of nights.

I arrived on a Sunday evening, which is a good time to roll into a campground without a reservation, as the weekend campers have long since left.

It was after 5:00 p.m., and the park office had closed, but thoughtful staff had left a sign noting available sites:

Lake Catherine State Park, Arkansas. October 2017.

With my snap of this sign, I drove over the campground to see which of the available sites made me feel good.

My criteria for good sites are:
  • Close proximity to toilet;
  • Shade trees;
  • Flat area for tent;
  • Prettiness of view or site; and
  • Relative privacy from neighbors or frequent walk-through traffic. 

Having selected my site, I mentally expressed oohs and ahhs over the luxury of an electric site. Wow. I could bring out my coffeemaker for my morning coffee! Or a lamp!

Lake Catherine State Park, Arkansas. October 2017.

It was especially pleasing to use my portable table, which I have schlepped with me to each of my year-long stays. This is the table I bought from my friend at her moving sale an eon ago. I sent her this picture. It is my office. It is my dining table. And in Arkansas, it was my kitchen counter. I love you, ma chérie table.

Speaking of nostalgia, the hanging dunk bag in the photo below is also a cherished item. My daughter and I made dunk bags together back when she was a Girl Scout Brownie. Only the one has survived, and I use it every time I camp.

Lake Catherine State Park, Arkansas. October 2017.

That's my tent in the background. On a flat surface. Foreshadowing: Engineering drama emerges later in my stay.

By the way, the fact that I had to attach my trash bag to a table leg and my dunk bag to the campsite reservation post should tell you there was a lack of (reachable by short me) resources to suspend housekeeping sorts of things. This is a pet peeve I have about some campsites.

Fortunately, I carry a l-o-n-g rope, and even though the distance between the two closest pairs of trees was also long, the length of my rope was up to the challenge. So later I was able to hang both my trash bag and dunk bag, plus other stuff like towels, in a right proper manner. 

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