July 17, 2023-Bull Shoals

(click for today's pictures)

Robby and I have been pretty stressed about the tire situation. He even toyed with cancelling this trip, but he knew if did, then he would just sit at home and stew all week. So far at least, on this trip the tires are not what we have worried about at all. 

This morning at 8:30, Keaton and I went to pick up Sophia, and then we started on our way to Bull Shoals-White River State Park. The tire issues have just made us a bit nervous about everything. We stopped once for Robby to take off his camera that he accidentally left on. Then we stopped again near Conway so he could make sure that his car straps were tightened. We have to stop and tighten them after the first few miles every trip because they loosen as we drive. 

We zoomed on to Buffalo National River. We had never pulled off and been to the visitor's center so that is what we did today. We walked through the visitor's center, and I got my stamp. Now I have been to all of the National Park Sites in Arkansas.

We ate lunch there in the camper while Robby did some work, and then we had about an hour to drive to get to the campground. We had a perfect camp site. We were right by the marina-we had originally thought that we might be able to rent a kayak, but after seeing that river flow by, we knew that wasn't an option. But there was a spot that the kids were able to put their feet in the ice cold water.

Bentley even enjoyed the water as well. Usually she doesn't like the water at all, but today she would wade in to her elbows (I'm not sure if dogs have elbows or not, but you can figure out what I mean.) Right behind the camp site was a fishing pier along with some porch swings. It was really pretty.

We didn't set up the tent but I did put out some of our lawnchairs and our new small rug. Then we decided that we should go and officially check in to the campground. After we did that, we drove back across the dam to the park visitor's center. They had exhibits, and we walked around it for a good while.

We knew that a storm was coming, but we hoped that it would go around us. We even drove to Gaston's-a lodge and restaurant right new here. Then we came back to the camper. I started a game with the girls in the front where the windows were open, and Robby sat on the bed with his computer during some work. 

There wasn't any rain, but the girls and I started to notice the wind. I don't want to over react, so we just watched it a bit. Then we started to feel the camper rock. We have been in a few storms, but really we have never felt the camper move like this. I briefly tried to figure out if the storm would be enough to blow our camper into the river or if it would just knock it over.

By the time I had made these mathematical calculations in my head, Robby was up front looking out the windows. Now we were seeing branches falling-not little branches but big ones. He said we needed to go to the bathhouse so that is where we headed.

I grabbed Bentley's leash and had her ready, but then I was waiting on Whitman to get his shoes on. Robby was at the door trying to hurry us and deciding if he was just going to pick up Whitman and carry him. I am not sure if it was instinct or if one of us told the kids to run, but run they did and we did too towards the bathhouse.

Thankfully, the bathhouse could not have been any closer to the camper-just across the street. The girls were first, followed by Whitman, and then me and Bentley, and then Robby. We had to run right next to a large tree that had just fallen. 

I will just pause and say how thankful I am for the kids-they were as cool as cucumbers. They weren't stressed or nervous at all. I know they were following Robby and my lead, but they could have panicked which would have been a legit response. Even the dog was perfect-I didn't know if she would go with me with the wind blowing like it was, but she did. Then when we were in the breezeway by the bathrooms, she was content and just licked the little kids that came up to her.

When we made it to the bathroom area, we were there by ourselves for about 2 minutes. Those whole 2 minutes, Robby just stared at the camper. I wasn't able to look-we could already see limbs on the side and back, but there were so many large trees still right there. 

Soon other people started running up-camper people, tent camper, lots of little kids. There were probably 20 of us in the small breezeway. We could have gone in the large bathrooms, but we all just huddled together. Within 5 minutes of us being in the bathroom, the wind had stopped and the heavy rain began. 

We probably stayed near the bathrooms for about 30 minutes or so. The camper right across from ours did have a tree fall on it-thankfully, not in it. But I am sure that they had some major roof damage. 

(Just a side note here: Robby and I just reviewed the Ring camera footage. The back camera didn't pick up the storm, but the front only caught us leaving the camper. Now, if he posts that-it doesn't look as dramatic as this whole thing felt. You can see Robby looking up and telling us to hurry, but the video does not do things justice. You do hear a truck pulling a boat peel out trying to get away)

When the rain stopped, the emerged and inspected the damage-the tree limb that fell near the camper covered the tow dolly and fell on top of the power plug in thing and all of Robby's cords and hoses. Thankfully, it did really get on the camper. Most of the branch was still connected to the tree-so when the ranger did come by, she said she would move us to a different camp site. (Really that part probably wouldn't fall, but it easily could have during the rain and hail we had later in the evening.)

Moving campsites isn't always easy, but when you move campsites while being thankful to be alive and have nothing damaged then it isn't so bad. The girls rode the bikes down to the new site, and Robby and the ranger lady were able to get his cords and hoses out from under the branches. 

We went on a few walks before we were given our new spot-the people in this campground were pretty lucky. There are 2 big trees down and lots of large branches. We had the one beside the camper, but there was another one behind the camper-at first we thought a whole tree had fallen but eventually realized it was just a tree.

By the time we were settled again, it was nearly 8. I made supper-orange chicken and rice which couldn't have been easier. We needed something easy. After supper, it started to rain again-that was fine, but then it started to hail. That was not fine.

Hail is bad. We have had a bit of hail before, but even normal rain sounds loud in a camper. This sounded like baseballs hitting the roof. Robby and I quickly shut the blinds-what more is there to do? After a bit, I decided to look out the door-Robby didn't want to see. Thankfully, it only was about marble size hail or smaller. I am sure that even that size could do some major damage to things-Robby will check the roof tomorrow. We didn't even think to look at the car windows though.

Once the hail stopped, it began to rain. And once the rain stopped, the power went out. The only way we knew the power was out was that the tv went off. The batteries kick in so the lights stay on, but that can't power the tv, microwave, or air conditioners.

No worries there, Robby did eventually turn on the generator so we are all back to normal. I just finished my shower, and Sophia and Keaton are watching a show while Whitman is on his ipad. Here's to a slow and uneventful day tomorrow. 

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