Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spring in the Ozarks: Outward Bound

After a year and a half of only short excursions, the opportunity for a longer trip was finally at hand. The destination was the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas and the Buffalo National River. The goal was a week of relaxation and recreation in beautiful unspoiled country.

The trip could have had a better start. Beltway 8 North was closed  at US290, so my most direct route out of Houston was blocked. As an alternate, I opted to take FM1960 East and rejoin the Beltway at Tomball Parkway. Unfortunately it seemed that every stoplight along FM1960 turned red as I reached it. It felt as though I was stuck in Houston's gravitational field and couldn't get free.

But after taking a few deep breaths for patience, I finally made it to the freeway and achieved escape velocity. I headed north on US59 and soon left Houston behind. The plan for the first day was to cross eastern Texas and southern Arkansas, bypass Little Rock, and stop for the night in Conway. From there it would be a short drive into the Ozarks the next day.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous. As I crossed eastern Texas, the contrast with late last year was enormous. The heavy rains of winter and spring have started  healing the wounds of last year's drought. The streams were flowing strongly, new green leaves were on the trees, and wildflowers were beginning to bloom along the highway.

Traffic was light and the miles went by quickly. Soon I was passing into Arkansas at Texarkana and crossing the Red River. A few hours later the impressive Arkansas River was behind me and I cruised into Conway with plenty of time to get checked in at my hotel before dinner.

An Outback Steakhouse within easy walking distance of the hotel satiated my appetite for food and drink. Afterwards I settled into my room for the night, excited about tomorrow's return to the Ozarks.

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