Our Family Adventures

Life and Adventures….



That one time we went to Petit Jean Mountain in the heat of summer, then again the next spring in a winter storm…

Well it seems as though I’ve trailed off into the sunset and forgot about posting here on our site. I kept meaning to, then would get preoccupied with daily life and not stop to take the time. I would like to write about a couple of trips we took back in 2013/2014 to Petit Jean Mountain/State Park, Arkansas. It really is a lovely place. You can read more info about it here: Petit Jean State Park

The first time we went we were looking for a great fun place to take Cheyenne for her summer vacation in 2013. Ends up we went during record high temps of around 103 degrees or so on some days. Not exactly the best tent camping temps. But we had a fantastic time and did lots of exploring and hiking. She loved her first taste of mountains and rocks even if she did have a slight melt down on her hike back out of Cedar Falls.

The second time we headed up there was during our Mardi Gras break during Spring of 2014. We were hoping for some type of a snowy vacation, but not really expecting that would pan out. Boy were we wrong. A big winter/ice storm hit and caused traffic jams with people stuck sitting in Atlanta and Little Rock Arkansas on the interstates overnight. We just so happen to be traveling up to Petit Jean the night before it hit. We woke up to a winter wonderland on the mountain and temps of around 9 degrees! Thankfully this time we had a new camper to keep us warm. It was a much different experience than the first time and so much fun!

Take what you can get, moments

A couple weekends ago we got the chance to head up into the Kisachie Bayou Forest area again. We’ve only been to this portion of the forest a couple of times and we weren’t really able to explore it in depth. We generally spend a lot of time around the Fort Polk/Pitkin forest area and know most of the forest roads and trails and cool spots. So this gave us a chance to learn some of that about this area too.
Forest jeep

When you get up in this area you see alot more of the rock that was quarried around the Hodges Gardens area long ago. This rock isn’t really present in the lower Kisatchie area. Also this upper area is alot hillier. Jared turned one of the rocks over and found this little guy. Yes…we have scorpions too if you look close enough.

We also stopped over by the Bayou campground to see how the water level looked. Much higher than it was when we visited in September for Cheyenne’s birthday trip. We even found a really cool camp spot for the next trip up there with her when it warms up. It has the perfect bayou overlook and white sandy dune…can’t wait.

Of course we had to get the shot of the jeep at the overlook area. I mean it’s not often anyone in Louisiana says they were at a vantage point overlooking the forest tops. LOL!

We made camp at the Red Bluff campsite which we had mostly to ourselves except for two young couples who camped down the trail a bit.

And I got to test out my Optimus Crux stove and cookset that I got for Christmas! I really like the set, my only complaint is one I’ve seen mentioned before in reviews is that the stove tends to have trouble keeping a flame in cold weather. And when we woke up it was in the 20’s. Being that we do most of our camping during that type of weather I’m not sure if I’m going to end up with a different stove or find a way to make this one perform better in cold conditions.
optimus crux


We spent the last of our time there driving all over the forest roads and trails looking for new cool places to explore. We found a really great spot for some deep woods camping at a later date. It had a small swamp area nearby.


We also visited the Longleaf Vista trail again and much to my delight I found the Elliot blueberries are there and blooming!

We also had some fun climbing around on the rocky buttes…and got some much needed exercise.


It was a quick trip, but definitely a fun one. It’s always the best day anytime I’m in the woods or outdoors with my hubby. It was so nice to have some one on one time with him doing the things we love.

How to Pack a Camp Kitchen

campPhoto from

Click to read article – How to Pack a Camp Kitchen

I really liked this article I came across showing how to pack a camp kitchen. Actually I’ve spent the whole night Saturday night and Sunday morning reading back in their website, it’s just that good. Some really cool folks who love to share info about the outdoors, cooking, and more. I’m addicted and it’s going on my daily read list.

As for the camp kitchen it pretty much mimics what our camp kitchen looks like. We’re not glam campers so we stick to the minimum most of the time. If it’s just the two of us camping/hiking we bring non perishable light foods. If we’re car camping as they call it then we will bring a small ice chest with some meat and veggies to cook up. They definitely cook much better looking camp meals than we do.

One thing is we haven’t done any serious multiday backpacking yet, and we don’t have a small pocket stove. But it’s definitely on the list…both the stove and the backpacking.

So go read the article, and peruse the rest of the site as well. Oh, they also have an article on packing a Backpacking Kitchen as well.

Arkansas Ozarks Part 2

On the next morning of our Arkansas trip, we woke up in Kyles Landing to temps in the 20’s and lots of frost. Very chilly but felt great.

When the morning sun came out it filled the canyon with a beautiful glow.

After breakfast we headed over to the trail head. Today the plan was to attack the Indian Creek trail. It’s not an official trail, but it’s well known to hikers and there’s lot of information to be found on it. It follows Indian Creek down about 2 1/2 miles to a spectacular feature called The Eye of the Needle. There’s also a bit more beyond it that goes to a waterfall, but we didn’t do this portion.

The beginning of the trail, starts off on the Buffalo River Trail.

Jared was itching to find caves…he wanted to inspect every hole he saw.

Where’s Waldo…do you see him?

I looked like a darn gypsy with all my layers hanging off my pack. I don’t have good lightweight winter gear yet. I had way too many layers, learned a lesson.

Gorgeous views of the rock features along the way.

One of the many obstacles. No going through it, so must go around it.

Areas like this one below don’t seem tricky, but they are. The rock has a layer of algae slime that’s thick and slippery as heck. I know…Which is one of the many warnings given about the danger of this trail. Slips, twisted ankles, and falls.

Not much of a trail as you can see…just follow the creek.

A couple of hikers caught up to us and luckily for us they’ve done this before a few times. I was starting to think we were never going to get there ( hush Jared…I know it aggravates you when I say that.)

When we got near the area going up to the Eye of the Needle there is a cave called the Arkansas Cave. It’s been closed due to the threat of white nose syndrome in the endangered Ozark big-eared bats and Indiana bats that are in there.

So instead of going into the cave and up and around, hikers have to traverse a rope up the cliff side and hike up into the Eye area. It’s extremely dangerous and you have to take your time and use caution. Do not attempt the hike alone! Excuse my butt shots…but I was glad hubs got pics of me getting up there. I was so nervous.

A shot of the Arkansas Cave

To get to this cutout opening took some doing. It would have been cool to get shots of me doing it, but Jared was too busy trying to keep an eye on me to make sure I made it over there ok. It’s basically a narrow rock ledge with a cut out drop off in it. You grip on to a couple of rocks in the side wall and walk your feet over to the next ledge. Then into this cut out and onto the other side.

A look back at the opening. There were a couple of young guys there before us and they were setting up camp up there.

Not done yet…but almost.

The Eye! Well…you can kinda see it.

Close up. I think there’s normally water flowing through it, but there’s been a drought the past year and half I was told. So most all the waterfalls are dry or running very slow.

After basking in our accomplishment we turned around and hiked back out 2 1/2 miles back to the camp ground. Then drove on to get our cabin for the next two nights. It felt good treating ourselves to a hot shower and cozy cabin after the hike. Even though it was a tough hike, I’m definitely looking forward to going back and doing it again. Maybe even make it further to the waterfall that is supposed to be beyond the Eye.

Wishlist for this outdoor girl…


I know my husband has already done his Christmas shopping, but I thought a wish list post was in order anyway. Now I love my heels and jewelery just as much as the next girly girl…no doubt about it, but I love my outdoor gear too just as much. So I think my list gives a little of both.

1. This particular Kelty Coyote 75 pack is designed for women and has an adjustable suspension system. Would be the perfect size pack for a multi-day hike.

2. The gold Elk skull necklace, um…yea I figure if I’m gonna sport some bling out in the wilderness, why not this?

3. The Panasonic Lumix TS20 waterproof point n shoot has gotten some pretty good reviews, and lugging my big Canon 40D is sometimes a hassle. Not to mention kayaking and trying keep camera gear dry is a pain.

4. Light My Fire Titanium spork. Because we have learned the hard way that the spoon/fork/knife system we were using was too heavy really for such an item and a pain to clean up at the camp site.

5. The Eno Double Nest hammock…husband has one. It’s divine…I want my own. ’nuff said.

6. Gold Twig bracelet by OutfitAdditions. Very cute and my bracelet collection is missing something this vital.

7. LLBean Hunting boots (Duck boots as we’ve always called them). I’ve wanted a pair for so long. Perfect for rainy outings like short hikes or geocaching or just to sport around because I’m just that cool.

Click to read – Solo backpacking stove

Reposting from Tim Miner’s twitter,  a link to this review on the Solo backpacking stove. I’m beginning to like this dude. He’s got some good info.

As for the stove, it definitely looks interesting. No need to carry fuel, just use small bits of wood and stuff at your camp site location. Sort of along the same lines as the Bio Stove, but without the ability to charge your gadgets. Just a simple stove design. I’m not a technical geek into all the hows and whys, but if you are then visit the link. I’d sure like to get one though and give it a go.

Click here to read – Tim Miner article

I recently came across the website for Tim Miner, an outdoor enthusiast. I really enjoyed reading his article on Nature for Children. Jared and I have recently been slowly introducing more of the outdoors with Cheyenne. She’s always been an outside-loving, dirt-loving girl so it helps. We’ve taken her camping and hiking a few times now and she really loves it. I can’t say that we’ve been able to instill in her yet the need for her generation to help preserve our outdoor spaces, but hopefully in the years to come she will understand why it’s important. Why setting down cell phones and video games in order to stop and enjoy hickory nuts gathered from the wild are much better.

Arkansas Ozarks Part 1

Jared and I recently took a short trip to Arkansas. For me the trip was two fold. My father passed a way 10yrs ago in the Fort Smith area and I have long since wanted to find and visit his grave. As with a lot of family stories, my parents divorced when I was young and my father slowly drifted out of my life. Reasons and back story don’t really matter any more, time moves on and so have I. But the need for some closure was heavy for me.

So we set out after work one afternoon and drove and drove until we finally decided to pull in about midnight to the first campground we came across. Which happened to be right outside of Mena, Arkansas called Iron Mountain. After paying our fee at the site sign, we drove around in the dark unsure of where we were supposed to be setting up but eventually settled on a spot that the deer had just been grazing in moments before. We interrupted their midnight snack. It was a quick..setup the tent, throw in the sleeping bags and crawl in night since our scouting for the shower house ended in a bust. Not the most comfortable of nights, but oh well. It was quite cold and our spot near the roadway was a bit noisy.

The next morning we packed up and again scouted and found the shower house. It was nice and big and had lovely hot running water! If you’re ever in that area I recommend staying there, very pretty place …just pick a site further back from the roadway. After cleaning up we headed out to grab breakfast, and headed towards Fort Smith. I was now seeing Arkansas in the daylight and could try and catch some photos…even if they were from the Jeep window going 60mph.

Lovely Quachita Mountains and forest
Ouachita Mountains

Quachita Mountains
Lots of logging trucks along the way, also lumber mills.
Logging trucks

Fort Smith was a really nice place, very pretty. Lots of factory work there. I even got a shot of Mr. Peanut!
Mr. Peanut factory

The rest of that morning did not work out the way I had hoped all these years, but that story is one I’ll keep for my own. After finishing up in Fort Smith, we headed out and headed east.

I loved seeing so many old barns and farms along the way. I think I could do a whole series on Arkansas barns.
Old Barn
Finally in the Ozarks!
Ozark Mountains

I have to say driving on all those curvy steep mountain roads made for a queasy afternoon. But it was fun. When we reached Jasper, we found the road to Kyles Landing and headed down the dirt road into the canyon and towards the campground.
Kyles Landing road

Once finally down there after a long and steep decline we picked out a camp site with the Buffalo River below us and beautiful cliffs behind us. Then explored a bit down by the river before it got dark.
Kyles Landing camp

Kyles Landing/Buffalo river

Kyles Landing

After dark crept in we sat around cooking our dinner, chatting, and dreaming of what lay ahead of us the next day. This is always my favorite part of camping.

Day out in the woods

Well two weeks after the birthday trip and she’s still asking to go camping or hiking, so of course a day trip is in order. Jared wasn’t up for the gear haul to go camping just yet, so he figured a day trip would tide us all over.

It was chillier that morning than we thought it would be when we got there, so a little fire was in order.

Some pretend survival fishing was in order also 🙂

Discovering bright florescent worms are always a cool thing.

I found someone’s lost arrow, so Jared made a quick survival bow to play with.

We headed over to Fullerton and walked the trail there. I have a pic somewhere of Jared mimicking the trail sign too. Need to dig that out.

All in all a fun day out. As I always say, a day in the woods is always a good day.

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