After much talk, acquiring a more comfortable traveling vehicle, and a few false starts – Gary and I enjoyed our first Weekend Wandering. We left home Saturday morning and headed south to Walnut Ridge – hoping for lunch at the “local legend” Polar Freeze BBQ – which , unfortunately, was closed. So, we continued south and had a late (and very unremarkable) breakfast at IHOP in Jonesboro. On the ride down we saw numerous flocks of geese over, in and around the flooded fields – speckle-bellied, snow and canadian – but none were close enough to get any really good pictures.
We continued south to Parkin Archaeological State Park – home to an archaeological dig and preservation of a Mississippian Era (1400-1650) Native American village. There were tools, pottery, jewelry, and other artifacts on display and some very interesting educational displays that we looked over, but we were actually there for something completely different.
Drum roll, please ………
We are the newest Certified Volunteer Frog Monitors in the Northeast Arkansas Chapter of Frog Watch USA! We participated in a 3 hour workshop – listening to frog calls, eating frog decorated cupcakes, learning how to choose a monitoring site (for us, that means sitting out on the screen porch), and passing a certification test. Every week during frog breeding season (Feb 1- Aug 31) we will submit data on the weather conditions and the frogs that we hear during a 3 minute time period. This will help Frog Watch USA collect all kinds of scientific data on the frogs in Arkansas. What can I say, many couples have weekly date nights – we’re gonna have Frog Nights!
After the program was over, we headed west toward Searcy, AR. The weather had changed drastically while we were inside, and we had rain for the duration of our weekend. The weather limited wildlife sightings and the camera stayed on the floor of the backseat, but we still saw some cool stuff — migrating storks in a field, more snow geese landing in the fields like white tornadoes, LOTS of roadkill opossums, pintail ducks swimming at the edge of an unharvested cotton field and several new calves with their mommas.
We ate at Sladers Alaskan Dumpling Co – a unique little place in Searcy, staffed and populated by college students – and were pleasantly surprised by the chicken and beef dumplings served with melted butter, cilantro, curry and sweet sriracha sauce, and then checked in to the LaQuinta for the night.
Sunday morning was even wetter than Saturday – but we stuck with the plan to take an alternate, back road route home- and switching drivers, (so Gary could look out the window without giving me a heart attack every time). We stopped at the Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge – only to discover that it is closed to the public during the heaviest duck migration months (Nov – Feb) because, after all, it is a refuge (duh, Krisellen!) Back on the road home we saw a flock of wild turkeys (with a few white ones mixed in), more dead possums, more geese and even a flock of trumpeter swans….
We didn’t see many cars on the road….because every church parking lot we passed was FULL (and there are A LOT of churches in AR.) We ate lunch at the Old County Seat Store and Cafe in Smithville, AR – beating the after church crowd by mere minutes – and ordered homemade pie to go. We found ONE place open – 2 minutes from home – and stopped there to browse the “trash” looking for treasures, but didn’t find any. We got home early enough to enjoy the football game, and even do some “home stuff.”
It was a fun weekend- and with a few minor tweaks, future wanderings will be even better! Stay tuned!