Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How To Plan A Vacation- Southwest Arkansas.

Sometimes planning a vacation using the internet works and sometimes it doesn't.

This time it did.
Bill and I needed a mini vacation. 
He didn't have much time off. I didn't want a long drive so that we could maximize our time together.
I pulled out my laptop and looked at Google Maps for locations less than 5 hours away.

It had to be even just a little bit cooler.
The only way to get cooler is to go all the way to New Mexico - too far. 
Southern Oklahoma - been there, done that, had the sweatshirt.
Southwest Arkansas.
We had never been to that part of Arkansas so I went to the Arkansas tourism website to poke around.

The Ouachita Mountains stretch from Southeastern Oklahoma into Central Arkansas. Perfect!
The highest peak is 2,753 ft. - not huge but hilly.
A quick check for activities yielded some of our favorite things to do. 
We like antiquing and visiting historic sites.

 Bill likes fishing and hiking. A few antique shops popped up when I did a Google search. 
This area is well known for hiking, biking and ATVing with Mena, Arkansas as the hub. I began looking at various lodges and cabins around Mena and found the perfect place. 
It was available!

It wasn't in town but close enough.
It was right on the Mountain Fork of the Little River so Bill could fish.

Now that we had a place to stay and some things to do, we could leave the other plans up to pamphlets from the visitors center. 

When I Googled places to go, architectural salvage popped up on the map. 
Now that is my kind of place. It was our first stop in Mena and it didn't disappoint.

 We could have spent a fortune.

The guy at the shop graciously let me take pictures. 

We found a few things at this shop and some others. 
 I'll show our finds in another post. 
We ate at the Skyline Cafe for lunch. I had the best chicken finger dinner and Bill had a Rueben sandwich
We love visiting local diners and this one is fantastic. 
We stopped in at the train depot.

The docent told us about the clock tower, 

the log cabin 

and the restored Esso Station.

How cute is this?

There was also an old Studebaker Dealership. 
 At this point we needed ice cream!
We got very drippy, dipped cones from the drive in and headed back to the house to read and relax. 
We ate at the Chopping Block Steak House that night for dinner. For some reason the restaurant thought it was our anniversary and brought us a piece of cake. 
I was able to convince them not to sing to us. 

The next day after relaxing at the house, we took a picturesque drive on the Talimena National Scenic Byway. 

On the way up I had my head down. I hate loopy, curvy, steep drives. We discovered that the fear goes away if I am driving so I took over at the Rich Mountain Fire Tower. 
Bill climbed to the top of the tower. I made it to the first landing. Echoes of my brother's voices saying, "You can do it." rang in my head but I snuffed those out and climbed back down. I don't have to do it!

Bill took some pictures.

Queen Wilhelmena State Park had a park store and a little train. 

  We never could quite figure out who Queen Wilhelmena was but she plays a big part in the local history.
Read what I found here
After some more ice cream we went across the street to the Wonder House.

This little house built in the 1930s has 9 levels. It's not open so we couldn't see the inside. 

We reached the Oklahoma/Arkansas State line and turned around.

The area is gorgeous. 

We took one of the county roads into Mena. 

We usually don't have every minute of a vacation planned out. We love some planning but also like the spontaneity of finding out what else there is to do by stopping in at a visitors center or talking to the locals. 
This trip was relaxing and fun. 
The perfect balance of doing nothing and something. 


  1. You picked a beautiful spot, it looks so relaxing!!!! Sounds like the perfect vacation....I can't wait to see your finds :o)

  2. I enjoyed your photos and descriptions of the places you stopped at during your road trip. The cabin you rented looks so peaceful situated on the river! I need to find a few new places to visit that we can reach by car because I don't like to go to the same place twice. There are far too many new places to see! I'm glad you had a fun trip away from all the textured ceilings. :)

  3. Katie this trip looked like a lot of fun. I love those trips when you plan a little and then let the rest just happen. Loved all your pictures. So fun.

  4. This looks like such a perfect getaway! Now I want to go! I've never been to Arkansas, but I loved seeing your photos. Such beautiful views! It's great that you were able to be spontaneous; I enjoy that, too. Hope you came back rested and rejuvenated!

  5. That vacation looked like fun! I look forward to being able to do stuff like that (spontaneously) after my youngest is older. Looks like you had nice weather too.