We are winding down. We ought have been home by now, but today we passed through Oklahoma and Texas and are landing in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I've booked a fancy RV park on a river here because it has a pool, but it's raining.
One of the most exciting parts of this long trip, of course, has been passing through so many different landscapes. Sometimes these seemed to transition with shocking speed - mountains overtaking plains, then disappearing abruptly again. Arkansas is very homelike - pines, magnolias. The mini malls we pass have the same stores in the same familiar order. I could be in Florida. I am staring straight ahead and hoping to get settled - near the pool - in a hurry.
It will be wonderful to be home, and also not at all, as I have to begin packing up for a move in just three weeks. And it's no use at all being sad about it.
Right now, Stephen is grilling and Abigail is chopping bell peppers and making foil bagged buttered carrots and chicken skewers over the campfire. There are fireflies in the pinking sky, and Lilly is gathering them up into a jar. The boys and Jane are tossing a ball, and they think they're playing Four Square. Today we swam, visited the Bath House Brewery, hiked and ate outstandingly delicious cupcakes (Fat Bottom Girls in Hot Springs - funny, not too long afterwards, I passed in front of a window, saw my reflection and wondered if my bottom is maybe indeed larger than average. Thanks a lot, cupcake shop with your shame name). The Arkansas evening air is cool and fresh, and there's a frothy fog over Lake Catherine, just feet from our campsite.
Lake Catherine, fickle lake that tried to kill us all last night.
A severe thunderstorm rolled through the park last night and sat down right on top of us from midnight until... I'm not sure how long. I was up checking accuweather and Weather Channel and NOAA and Storm Tracker and decided finally to cover my head under the blankets (comforting) and try to sleep. Rain was pounding. Thunder was hard shaking the tin trailer and and the lightning was causing a strobe effect inside. When it lit, I would peer out at the river to see if it was rising.
Covers over my head, I heard the alarm on my phone sound. Flash flood warning. If I lived here, likely I would ignore a flash flood warning entirely. As I don't live here, I felt sure that monster Lake Catherine was going to explode out of its banks and consume the trailer and the children inside. A tasty tin Twinkie.
At 2 am, I made Stephen drive us to a hotel, not terribly near, through a horrific storm. We carried half-sleeping shoeless children from trailer to car in hard rain and flashing lightning. Stephen thought I was being ridiculous. I was angry that he thought so and still insisted that we go.
Oh, the car was quiet. As we were rushing out, Abigail remarked that everyone else seemed to be staying put, and Stephen made some sarcastic comment about how he supposed they all had a death wish or that their RVs could probably float. He may deny it, but it was totally sarcastic.
We stopped at the first hotel we passed. Ok, not the first. The first was nasty. Also, the second. So, we stopped at the third or fourth hotel we came to, and of course, they had no room big enough to sleep us even just most of us. They did have adjoining rooms, which we took. Double rooms, double cost. No. Double rooms, triple cost - the fancy campsite, too. Stephen was absolutely kind and gracious and compassionate except that he wasn't, so he was silent. Just as good.
As we slept there for just six hours, the hourly rate of this hotel works out to about $30. Whatevs. Upon our return to the campsite to dress and collect shoes and drink our own coffee, everything looked perfect and well and no damage to our trailer or to anyone else's. I did notice that the camper next to us was gone and all of their outdoor things left behind, so I am assuming that they were swept away or struck down.
Tonight the weather is looking threatening again and I am anxious. The lake fog has been blown away by increasing wind. Unfamiliar weather is frightening.
We intend to roll out early tomorrow and make the nine hour drive to Georgia in one extra-long day. I'm hoping everyone will be too exhausted to insist on their music (I love you, Slugs & Bugs, but it's been many thousands of miles) and maybe we can drive in quiet peace.