|Driving Through Arkansas|
We stayed at Petit Jean State Park about an hour or so outside of Little Rock. Once we passed Little Rock the weather went from nice and chilly to pouring rain and windy! It took us about an extra hour to get to the campground because of the horrible weather. We made jokes about tornadoes and flooding. Once we made it up to the campground we were glad we made it. The Petit Jean State Park is in a mountain area near the Arkansas River. The campground was along the lake, Lake Bailey.
|Riding Around The Park|
|Another Hiking Trail|
While we were at the campground we went on a few bike rides and hikes. We went on a hike to Bear Cave. According to the park Bear Cave is a cave area that is believed to be the last place bears lived on the mountain. Apparently there are no more bears in the area but they did live in the area at one time. The girls had fun running around, exploring the caves and trying to climb the rocks.
|Bear Cave Hike|
|More Bear Cave|
|Even More Bear Cave|
We also went to Rock House Cave. This hike was a little harder because of all the bumpy rocks. Little Red wants to do everything her sisters do and they are a crazy bunch of girls! When you enter the trail you have to walk over "turtle" rocks. These rocks look like the backs of turtles. They're humpy and bumpy and a pain to walk over. They are cool to look at though! Once you get down the rocks you come to the cave. The cave is MASSIVE! The park says that they believe the cave was home to Indians (or Native Americans) and there have been cave writings discovered in the cave. We tried looking for writings but since people are morons it was nearly impossible to distinguish from some of the graffiti and real cave drawings. The girls were so mad that people had scratched their names in the rocks and ruined the cave. If nothing else, the girls will appreciate nature and history more in the future and I don't expect them to ever have an urge to carve their name in anything!
|Rock House Cave Hike|
|More of the Rock House Cave|
We also went to a few of the park's overlooks. We went and saw the Cedar Falls overlook. The waterfall wasn't roaring but there was a little trickle of water and the view was still awesome. The park has three other overlooks, two are in the same area as the falls and the last is at the opposite end.
|Cedar Falls Overlook|
The last overlook went to was at the Petit Jean gravesite. According to legend Petit Jean (pronounced Petty Gene, according to my amazing Google skills) was a young woman engaged to marry a man named Chavet. Chavet asked the kind of France if he could go explore the Louisiana Territory and once Chevet found land that was to his liking we could have claim to it. The king agreed. Petit Jean (whose real name I couldn't find) asked her fiance if he would marry her before leaving so she could accompany him on the trip. He said no but promised that once he found land to his liking he'd return for her and they would be married and live in the New World together. She decided that she would disguise herself as a boy and apply for a job on his ship. She secured a job as a cabin boy. While on the ship she was given the nickname Petit Jean by the other men on the ship. No one knew she was a woman, not even Chavet. The ship arrived in the area of the state park, the ship sailed up the Arkansas river. Apparently Chavet fell in love with the area. He loved how hospitable the Indians of the area were and stayed for the entire summer. His ship was scheduled to return to France when Petit Jean fell ill. Once she became sick her secret was discovered. She explained everything to Chavet. He planned to take her back to France with him but she didn't want to die on the boat. She loved the area just as much as everyone else. She asked to be left behind so she could die where she was happy. She was carried up the mountain by the Indians on a deerskin stretcher. Many years later an area overlooking the river was discovered to have some sort of grave. It is assumed that this is where Petit Jean was buried by the Native Americans. The girls loved hearing the story and loved looking at her grave. At the grave site there is an overlook that looks over the Arkansas River.
|Petit Jean Overlook and Grave Site|
One night Robert was walking the dogs and came back in excited and out of breath. He said "I know this is going to sound crazy but...I saw a UFO!!" He explained how he saw a bunch of weird lights, really high in the sky. He said it was strange and all of a sudden the lights just disappeared. He said he'd never seen anything like that before. A few days had passed when I was trying to do some more research on Petit Jean, since the kids were so interested in the story. I came across the legend of Petit Jean's ghost. Supposedly people have seen her ghost floating around near her grave site. Others have reported seeing strange lights on the mountain. So, maybe Rob didn't see a UFO, maybe he was seeing Petit Jean's ghost??? Ooooooh.
We also made a trip down to Little Rock. We didn't do much, drove by the Capitol building and then went by the Clinton Library. We were too cheap to pay the entrance fee for the library so after driving around we just went back to the RV.
We had a lot of fun at the state park and found Arkansas to be much more interesting and beautiful than we were expecting. I guess my California stereotypes have clouded my judgment since I was expecting to see a bunch of bucked-tooth hillbillies and we didn’t even see one!