Frenetic Fitness

fre·net·ic /frəˈnetɪk/ done very fast and with a lot of energy, often by someone who is in a hurry.

Archive for the tag “Ouachita National Forest”

Peace Beneath the Stars

Sixty-one days after we drove away from the Sunderlin Hall dorms and the campus of our youngest child’s college home, the child returned home and she and I were sitting in camp chairs beside a fire that took far too long to build and stoke. We roasted hotdogs and talked about all that has transpired in the sixty-one days since we last sat down to eat dinner together. There was no wait staff, no noise from the kitchen, I wasn’t busy running back and forth between the stove and the table. Serenaded by the crackle and pop of the fire, we marveled at the sizzle of the grease droplets as the hot dogs oozed down to the burning wood and anticipated the much looked forward to ceremony of The Blowing Out of the Fiery Marshmallows. We needed this because sometimes in our hustle and bustle world it’s necessary to stop and listen to nothing more than the crackle of the fire and to each other. We were hoping to find a piece of peace in our busy lives. What better place to find it than under the stars?

Want S'more?

Want S’more?

We were only an hour from home, surrounded by the rich Ouachita National Forest and the Flatside Wilderness Area. Being the first weekend of muzzleloader season we were concerned enough to find a place to camp that is far off the Ouachita Trail, hoping to avoid most of the hunters.

The other girl of the house, our dog Hobo, was with us too. Luckily Hobo is not much of a barker. Most of her intrusions on the peace were due to us calling her back when she wandered a bit too far for comfort. We talked about school, studying, bonfires, creek swimming, classes, fear, roommates, jealousy, rats, bus schedules, the future, and cafeteria food. Just the normal conversations one has with a new college student.


Hammocks were hung, dog beds were made, fire was roaring, and it was just us girls with a few bugs, crawly critters, probably a few hunters not far away, and one scary something that half barked half screamed in the wee hours of the morning resulting in a barking dog with her fur up. She tried to crawl into the hammock with each of us in turn, but eventually the scaredy-dog went back to sleep in between her protectors.

We woke to a crisp fall morning. I made hot cocoa in no time with our trusty Jet-Boil. Then I got the bright idea to heat up our now stale donut holes in it. It worked. Hot stale donut holes were much better than cold stale donut holes.


We took our time packing up, planning to attempt a hike on the OT with an orange vest at the ready for the dog and orange flags for our backpacks. Alas, as we traveled down closer to the trailheads near Lake Sylvia we could tell by the number of vehicles and full campsites that the woods were full. We chose instead to follow the Flatside Wilderness Scenic Drive, much of which is familiar to me from the Full Moon 25/50K Trail Run and from our mountain bike forays in the area. The roads are rough, the hills are steep, and driving can be a challenge. I let the small one take the driver’s seat and we drove on, stopping at the overlooks to check out the views. We talked about “going off the grid” and living a less hectic lifestyle. I doubt that will ever be in the cards for me, but for my kids, I hope they find a way to escape if not as a full-time lifestyle, at least on occasion. How else will they find peace?






It Feels Really Good When…

  • You try on an outfit you had put in the back of your closet because you didn’t feel you looked your best in it, and this time not only does it fit but you love the way it looks.
  • You go out for an athletic adventure, one you’ve done before that is indelibly marked on your conscious as “difficult” and you get through it in record time and seemingly without as much effort.
  • You get to spend time with the people you care about most, doing the things you love to do. That never gets old.

Post-Ride Treats

And one of the things I love to do with those I love is ride my bike.

Spending last week alone with the small one while the tall one was off camping in the woods was great. Spending most of this weekend alone with the tall one has also been great. But the weekend started off a bit rough. Friday afternoon I went to get my hair “done” then dropped the small one off for her church retreat weekend. Once home, the Hubs decided we should try to hit one of our favorite locally owned restaurants, The Pantry. The line was to the door and there wasn’t a parking space left. So we drove around for 45 minutes but every one of the restaurants we went to was packed. Back at The Pantry for another try, there was an hour and a half wait. We went home and ate sandwiches instead. Of course IF we had just waited at one of the first stops, we probably would have gotten to eat around the same time but we kept thinking something better would pop up. Isn’t that the way it is, we spend a lot of time not doing or enjoying what’s readily available while hoping that something better is going to appear out of the mist.

Saturday morning the Hubs went out to do press for Arkansas Outside on a cold early morning run put on by a local running club. I stayed home to clean the house. Fun. I hate to admit that I had no knowledge of this great local race series, but why would I? I’m not a “runner”.  Upon his return and tales of the race, I have to say I am disappointed that this was right in front of me all these years and I didn’t see it. One of those things that’s right here and not taken advantage of. I think I might have to join in for the next one or two.

The afternoon weather forecast said it would be in the upper 50’s so a bike ride was in our afternoon forecast. We got a little later start than we wanted but managed to fit in a 20 mile ride in 2 hours with one break for photos. The route for this ride is 99% dirt or gravel road with several steep and/or long climbs. It’s a fantastic workout.  About miles 4-6, the road follows a creek through the forest, it’s just beautiful scenery regardless of the season. J was riding ahead of me so I whipped out my phone and snapped this photo.

The long and winding road

The first time I rode this route was not long after I bought my first mountain bike and had only just begun riding. I thought my friends were trying to kill me. We had to stop several times to rest, I had to walk some of the tougher hills, I was in misery. I admit that my “trail memory” is terrible. I tend to remember trails in very general terms while my husband has almost a photographic memory for them and will say things like “you know the turn right before that rock that looks like a gorilla?” Um no. I don’t. This is a real shortcoming if I want to ride alone or lead anyone, but it’s great for staving off boredom. Every ride is like the first time. So I have a general remembrance of these roads and knew there was a long climb coming with a lot of turns and false tops that has made me want to puke, pass out, or both. At some point I ask the man “hey, are we coming up on that nasty climb soon?” He said “Yes Lisa, we’re in the middle of it now.” What? Okay so my fitness must be alright at the moment, I didn’t come close to puking or passing out. Or really even getting winded but then that means I should have been riding harder and faster.

The Half-way Point

The last couple of miles is a sweet downhill bomb.  There is really nothing like riding down a gravel road at 25-30 mph with nothing between you and massive head injury but bike handling skills and a plastic bucket on your noggin.

iMapMyFitness, check out that elevation in the middle!

The Ride. 19.3 miles, just shy of 2 hours of riding. Beautiful views, perfect weather and an afternoon spent with the one I love, and on my bike. It doesn’t get much better.

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