My brother is getting married this fall, and instead of a traditional bacchanalia bachelor party, he decided to go on a kayak trip in the Buffalo National River Park in the Ozarks of Arkansas. I flew in Thursday night, and we left at 6 am the next morning headed toward Gilbert, Arkansas, about ten hours from Austin. We spent the first night camped along the Buffalo River, checked into a nice, cozy cabin for the next two nights, then drove back to Austin. I left for home the next afternoon, only having enough time to eat delicious brisket at Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart, TX.
America’s First National River Established in 1972, Buffalo National River flows freely for 135 miles and is one of the few remaining undammed rivers in the lower 48 states. Once you arrive, prepare to journey from running rapids to quiet pools while surrounded by massive bluffs as you cruise through the Ozark Mountains down to the White River.
(click here to continue reading Buffalo National River – Buffalo National River.)
Here are a few photos I took – my camera (and phone) both got wet on the first day out on the river because I wasn’t careful enough. The camera turned out only to need a new battery, but my phone hasn’t yet recovered.
Hipstamatic photo – the only iPhone photo I uploaded before my phone (accidentally) got wet. I meant to leave the phone behind in our cabin, but mistakenly put it in the wrong backpack. Doh! Didn’t notice it was soaked through until the next morning when I was looking for it to call home. Double Doh!
My brother convinced most of us to grow a mustache (66% compliance).
An inside joke: based on something said to Sean at Costco, this phrase became the unofficial theme of the trip.
Manville in the Early Morning
Somewhere outside of Austin at the ungodly hour we left. I am not a morning person, thus don’t get many photos of sunrises. Manville was also an amusing coincidence – six dudes in a van, you know how that goes.
somewhere on the highway. Probably still in north Texas. I modified the photo to look more like a classic Kodachrome snapshot.
the site of our first night campground. A bit rocky, but I had a sleeping pad at least. Sean told us that in the Army, the pads were called “puss pads” which he claimed was not meant to be derogatory. But of course, this phrase also became fodder for jokes.
We parked a bit from our campsite as the ground was quite soft. The next morning, I got stuck for a moment, and everyone had to get out and push the van out of a rut.
a constant refrain. As a group, we probably went through a couple hundred beers over the entire weekend, even though I mostly drank wine out on the kayak. Hot wine, at that. We also brought some Knob Creek bourbon whiskey, and a couple bottles of “fighting” tequila1
swapping tales of who slept the best/worst. I actually ended up sleeping under the stars, on my “puss pad”, on a section of relatively soft sand. Marty also slept outside of a tent, but for some reason, decided to sleep on an incline. Sean slept in a tire rut, Andrew slept in between two large rocks, and so on. The stars were beautiful and bright once the moon set, and there were hardly any bugs feasting on my flesh.
the average temperature was near, or above 100º F.
Sean supplied the food for the trip, several delicious meals from PackitGourmet. He didn’t think he needed to bring utensils and plates for everyone though, on the first night and first morning, we had to share. Marty found him an “eating rock”, but we convinced him that the potential for giardia was more of a concern.
population 33. Unsurprisingly, everyone seemed to know each other.
We were able to check in to our cabin at around 8 AM. Quaint, with a decent shower, stove, even pots and pans. 4 beds and two couches.
the outfitter who owned the cabins. Lucas thought the owner resembled Dr. Phil. When Lucas went to check in, the owner said, “Wait, but how are you doing this mornin’?”
The outfitters dropped us off six miles upstream, supplied us with kayaks, life preservers, and an onion sack for trash. Nobody in our group used the life preservers as the river was so shallow. We talked to a native of the area later, and she said the river hadn’t been this low since the 1950’s.
another inside joke – some kid asked Lucas, earnestly, “Hey, Mister Mustache, did you see me jump off that cliff? Fifteen feet!
bonus, before my plane ride home…Footnotes:
- another inside joke, of course [↩]