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September 21, 2015 travel fallfoliage

Fall Foliage, Day 5 - Buffalo Point Recreation Area, Arkansas

Last night we tried double sleeping in the hammock, but there seem to be more bugs here. Christian apparently staved off a minor panic attack from me when the mosquito netting got in my face in the middle of the night. Here’s Christian’s account of the event:

So in the middle of the night Elisa starts squirming around in the hammock (so, by the nature of two people sleeping in one hammock, I started squirming around) and half-coherently says she’s being squished. Alright, fair enough, we can do some adjusting.

Christian: Lift up your head so I can move my arm up.

Elisa: What, why?

Christian: So you won’t be squished.

Elisa: Oh okay.

Christian starts moving arm up


Christian: …I’m moving my arm up.

Elisa: Why are you doing that?

Christian: …so you won’t be squished.

Elisa: Oh okay.

Christian notices our jankey patch of mosquito netting has become untucked in this maneuver and starts readjusting it

Mosquito netting brushes by Elisa’s face


Christian: It’s just the mosquito netting, I’m readjusting it.

Elisa: Oh okay.

Christian moves mosquito netting off of Elisa’s face

Mosquito netting slips and brushes by Elisa’s face again


Christian: …it was the mosquito netting again.

Elisa: Oh okay.

repeat x3

In the morning, Elisa remembered nothing. These entertaining episodes happen semi-frequently, and because there’s only two of us and no recording devices handy I’m never quite sure if she’s a frequent sleep talker or if I’m just vividly hallucinating.

(Back to Elisa narrating)

In my defense, I must have remembered something subconsciously or at least had a lingering sense of gratitude/guilt, because I decided to make fresh pancakes, tea, and eggs for breakfast. And we are now researching better mosquito netting options instead of the little scrap that is bungee-corded on currently.

Hammock manHammock man BreakfastBreakfast

The personalized tea set pictured here (including personalized handmade tea cozy) were a wedding present from Luke’s mom (thank you, Mrs. Apisa!).

After a bit of sewing/work time, we stopped in at the ranger station for Buffalo Point. This was a great spur of the moment decision! We were recommended a couple hiking trails in the area, received a list of options for kayak shuttle service (since kayaking on a river is a one-way trip and we have no internet for researching ourselves), and watched an excerpt of a documentary about the river. The movie had a thrilling plot (warning: spoilers ahead): the Buffalo River almost got turned into a lake during the dam-building frenzy of the New Deal, but locals rallied in a grassroots movements and instead managed to get all 138 miles declared the very first national river (exactly 100 years after the Grand Canyon was named the first national park).

Then we stopped at two different contenders for kayak shuttle services. The people there were very friendly - not as outgoing-friendly as Texas, but I got the feeling that they would have been happy to keep talking to us for hours.

During the next half-hour drive into town,” I helped Christian with email triaging via dictation. We picked up some groceries including firewood so I wouldn’t have to embarrass myself trying to break logs with my bare hands (and knee) while the gentleman at the next site over smugly whips out his hacksaw.

Back at the site with our groceries put away, we made sandwiches/snacks for hiking. I love having our full kitchen with us wherever we go - we’re not just limited to what we buy when we arrive somewhere, but can actually take food with us from place to place instead of re-buying mayo and mustard in every city.

Then we drove to the trailhead for the Indian Rockhouse trail as recommended by Kenny the ranger this morning - it’s listed as 3.5 miles which Kenny said would take 3-4 hours with copious H2O - in typing this, I realized that he took the time to write copious” but abbreviated H2O

And we’re off! Oh wait, we left the camelbak in the RV. Okay, a quick trip there and back again (thank goodness the trail wasn’t further away) and now we’re really off. Side note: we LOVE this backpack (affiliate link)(thank you, Cathy Carmody and Mom & Dad Farrell) and in fact have two of them - they’re the perfect size for us to share the water from one on a hike with room for snacks and food, and it also doubles as my briefcase when traveling. Christian says the fact that we have two is why it was forgotten on this trip in the first place, since my briefcase bag was already in the car.

This was a gorgeous trail. A bonus of traveling in the off-season - we were the only ones hiking, and the campsites tend to be less populated and thus quieter.

We have some good video footage of us walking around and exploring things, but it will have to wait until there’s better internet.


The Sinkhole Icebox:


Indian Rockhouse, exteriorIndian Rockhouse, exterior

Zoom into the center of this picture to see Christian for scale: Indian Rockhouse, interior

Bridge on the bridge

Natural Bathtub

One more quick 0.6 mile jaunt to an overlook and back:

Everything the light touches...

Then back to our campsite via car with a detour through the other areas of the park where we happened across some whitetail deer just chilling in the road.

oh deer

This is not a WiFi symbol :(

Since we both have Apple watches now, we synced them up and tracked the entire hike with the Fitness app ready to score big on our fitness goals for the day. Here’s Christian again:

I apologize if there are children or easily offended persons reading this blog, but the Apple Watch fitness tracker is poop on a stick. Based on my height (5′9″), weight (150 lbs), age (24), and daily activity (intermediate), it gave me a goal of 650 active calories to burn every day, along with the standard 30 minutes of exercise and 12 hours of standing for at least one minute per hour.

Easy, right?


Bear in mind the last three months have been quite possibly the most active of my life: I almost single-handedly moved all of the stuff from our third-floor no-elevator apartment to vehicles, some of which I moved again up a flight of stairs and a ladder to the loft of my childhood bedroom for storage, and most of the rest of it was moved to Elisa’s house, shuffled around, and loaded up again to be donated; I’ve carried and lifted stacks on stacks of building equipment and materials, sweating out a steady stream in 105ºF Texas summer heat; and I’ve man-handled a 400lb tow dolly around driveways and up ramps where a weaker man would get run over.

Through all of this, I have never - not a single time, according to this lying demeaning wrist phone - burnt 650 active calories in a single day.

Which brings us to today. Elisa and I both told the watch we were going for an outdoor walk” with no set time or calorie goal, and spent the next 3 hours walking outdoors. We climbed up and down 400-foot elevation rocky terrain, sweating even in the cool underbrush and riverbed and only stopping for a ten minute lunch in the cave.

At the end of this testament to outdoor exercise - a hike that could have been turned into a commercial for staying active - here’s what our watches told us we’d achieved:

Christian’s screenshots: Christian's overview

Overview in numerical form

Christian's calories

Christian's exercise minutes

Elisa’s screenshots: Elisa's overview

Overview in numerical form

Elisa's calories

Elisa's exercise minutes

Of note, here: Elisa’s watch only thinks she worked out for seven minutes of the three hours, and neither of us reached our fitness goals.

For reference, according to this calorie burn calculator, 3 hours of moderate hiking for someone of my height/weight at the pace we were going should burn 732 calories.

Suffice to say, I’ll be writing a very passive-aggressive letter to Apple once I get my laptop back.

When we got back to camp, we were still full from sandwiches on the hike, so we just had snack-etizers: fresh guacamole (plus salsa and queso from the jar), grilled pineapple (after being rescued from the ground where it was dropped briefly), and of course a couple marshmallows. We were also attacked by a stick insect.

I typed that with Christian reading over my shoulder and he started chuckling derisively. Maybe I should clarify that it was crawling menacingly up the plastic crate/table towards my precious guacamole, and then after Christian flung it away with one of our roasting sticks it reappeared nearly instantaneously, going straight for his jugular. More snickering. Okay, it started inching diabolically towards his shoe SO IT COULD GET TO HIS JUGULAR. Full out cackling from the peanut gallery now and this is why I write blog posts without someone over my shoulder. It circled around and started descending on innocent little me, so my big strong husband coaxed it onto the roasting stick and gently (too gently, if you ask me) deposited it a safe distance away. The guacamole and I were saved.

We also took a short walk down to the bluff by our site - we saw so many stars! The moon was so bright it was casting very crisp shadows behind us.

A couple episodes of Community, then it was bed time (indoors this time).

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Fall Foliage, Day 4 - DeGray Lake to Buffalo River State Park, Arkansas Last night Christian and I managed to both sleep in our hammock, an Eno double nest (affiliate link + straps). It was actually quite cozy once the
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Fall Foliage, Day 6 - Buffalo Point, Arkansas After a quick breakfast this morning, I walked down to get cell service to arrange for shuttle service for kayaking. We whipped up some sandwiches