January 15, 2018
Thoughts and reflections from Arkansas
I had been waiting for this weekend for months. I remember a couple of months ago when my friend and one of my mentor’s Ray, texted me asking me to go on a hiking trip. I love hiking but was unsure of the costs and time for this trip, until I finally decided to head on an adventure.
The day I had been waiting for had approached and I hadn’t even packed but was still excited about the whole ordeal. I had no jacket nor boots but was able to get a cheap one from Ross and some family friends were able to lend me the boots for my trip. I was set!
As the meeting time was approaching Ray asked me to help him get the van from the airport. I hurried and finished packing all of my luggage and headed straight to Ray’s in-law’s house. After a couple of minutes, we headed to the airport to pick up the creeper looking van. They just needed to sell the glasses and the mustache for $5.99 and it would have been a perfect match! We parked my car at the airport and headed to UH to pick rest of the group.
As we approached the city, I took a picture of the whole downtown skyline and said goodbye. Even though I’ve lived most of my life in Spring, every time I go to the city, I feel this sense of home. As I watched the skyline from 59 my mind started thinking about traveling and experiencing new locations… I was excited.
When we got to UH. Everyone was waiting for us with the same excitement. Some of us had eaten, others like Ray and I were starving. So when we finally gathered every single one of us in the van, we decided to stop by Whataburger and enjoy one last Texas meal before we headed to Razorback country.
After the perfect Texas meal, we headed to Arkansas in what would be a long six-hour ride. Our destination was set on a cabin in Mount Ida. As the hours passed and everyone started to sleep, I looked out the window to observe the different signs and lights on the road. I’ve never been able to sleep in the car, I always want to absorb my surroundings and be in the moment. Every time I am on the road and admire the houses and ask myself what do they do? How did they get there? What are they doing? It is always intriguing to see a lonely house on the road and ask myself these questions. As I look at the stars and travel I always wonder how much can I see and how far can I go? I feel as if I was made to travel and explore. My mind awakens.
We made it to the cabin around 4:00 a.m. Amid the pitch black night in the forest, we found the cabin up on a hill. It was silent and obscure which made it seem a little bit creepy.
As we entered the wooden cabin, we realized it had a welcoming and cozy environment. It was small but spacious and although we didn’t have as many beds as we wanted we made it work. We divided and conquered and we slept as soon as we could because there was a long day ahead of us.
I woke up at eight. As instructed, but nobody else wanted to get up. So to get everyone on the same page, I quietly decided to brew some coffee and sure enough, the aroma would wake everyone up. I served myself a cup and sat outside on the balcony looking at the woods. I was grateful I could contemplate the immensity of that moment. I could feel the cold penetrating my body as I smelled the earthy scent of the woods and the coffee.
After everyone woke up, we headed to a famous Mexican restaurant around the area. The restaurant wasn’t as great as the reviews made it be but their staff was very friendly and the food was dirt cheap. I had some chilaquiles which were served in a weird way but were okay. The chilaquiles had sour cream and a chipotle sauce, I was expecting some green or red option but it was okay.
After we finished eating. We headed to Caddo Bend Trail which was a 30-minute drive from the restaurant. We were all excited and ready to take on the challenge that was to come. We knew it was a 4-mile hike and we were anxious to see the trail. Riding a big ass van through a narrow road with hills and curves was definitely a memorable experience.
But was was most memorable, was definitely the scenery we encountered. The sun was shining and there was not that much wind. The trailed welcomed us with favorable weather and a beautiful lake that was breathtaking.
The lake was my favorite place. It was truly breathtaking. I thought for a minute how grateful I was to be there, experiencing the lake at that exact same moment. The water was crystal clear and it was blue, unlike the man-made lakes I have seen around populated places. In that exact same moment I wish I could be a rock expert to talk about the beautiful rocks we saw, but the truth is I don’t know much about rocks and I am okay with it. I just thanked God for being able to take in all of the scenery, I also wish I had a boat to row around Lake Ouachita and observe the bald eagle. But since we weren’t rock experts nor had a boat, we decided to do something that we certainly knew how to do… which was take pictures.
There were a thousand pictures taken of the scenery, but it cannot do enough justice to explain the beauty of it all. On the road, I wanted to get inspired by reading Keats and there was a piece of a poem that I felt had talked to me. The piece reads:
“Stop and consider! life is but a day;
A fragile dew-drop on its perilous way
From a tree’s summit; a poor Indian’s sleep
While his boat hastens to the monstrous steep
Of Montmorenci. Why so sad moan?
Life is the rose’s hope while yet unblown;
The reading ever-changing tale;
The light uplifting of a maiden’s veil;
A pigeon tumbling in clear summer air;
A laughing school-boy, without grief or care,
Riding the springy branches of an elm.”
After the hike, we headed to the little city of Hot Springs, where we ate some burgers and sandwiches at a local place and then headed back to the cabin to do a bonfire. We stopped at Wal-mart first to buy all the supplies we needed and then started the fire. As the fire started slowly. I thought about how some philosophers viewed fire as their essence. Unpredictable, beautiful yet so destructive. The fire that burns within ourselves is something that we must keep alive. I thought about this as I blew some air with a piece of cardboard to the fire. Watching the fire become alive and catch flames made me reflect upon myself, and how I wish that the fire inside may always keep on burning. That the little spark of curiosity may never leave and stay. That it feeds off those stories surrounding it and that it stays present in my soul.
In the words of Socrates “The unexamined life, is not worth living”. If there is something this trip has taught me is that I learn more and more each time I travel and that it is never enough. I am always looking to learn and experience more, just like the fire but unlike it. I know not to be consumed by my desires but instead spark it, in time of need.