We set out west on Highway 10 around 10:30 a.m. - putting us at the resort in plenty of time to hike a short trail and relax around the room before enjoying the indoor pool, restaurant, and arcade. The kids and I got lost playing the alphabet game, 10 guesses, and singing at the top of our lungs. I became briefly worried when I crossed back over I-40 headed to Morrilton, but stuffed it and kept on driving. About 2.5 hours into the trip, I became more worried when I reached Clinton. Wasn't Clinton the town that we stopped at on the way to Blanchard Springs last Spring? Wasn't the mountain supposed to be in the Southwest corner of the state? I decided to stop at a gas station and ask for directions.
It was a bad sign when not one of the 15 people at the gas station had heard of Mount Magazine, except for one older man that said, "Isn't that Southwest?" I went back to the car and called my dad. He got off the phone with me to research for 10 minutes, and when he called back, I was already back on the road headed in the opposite direction.
"Giz, I think you need to take 65 South back to Conway. Then head to Russellville on I-40, and take 7 from there." He went on until I said, "Well, Dad, I'm already back on the road, and you seem to have a lot of instructions. Can I just call you when I get to Russellville?"
"Sure, I'll have my phone on and I'll help you from there."
"Most importantly, how far out am I? How much longer until we get there?"
"About 2.5 hours."
Ugghh. Well, I might have made it in 5 hours if I didn't get a ticket for going 63 mph in a speed zone in Damascus (Sorry officer, I was a little heavy-footed and distracted by the stress of finding out I was 2 hours lost from my weekend destination - "It's OK - you haven't had any moving violations in over 8 years - after you pay this ticket I'll recommend you for probation.") and if the kids and I didn't need a 30 minute food/leg stretch break in Russellville. We finally made it to Mount Magazine at 4, and despite much whining from Cecelia about me being the worst trip planner on the planet and her having a worse Saturday than if she had been in school (really, C? A road trip is worse than school? She is such a drama queen), we had a blast. She entertained everyone we met with my asinine direction radar, and a lodge worker helped me discover my error - Hwy 10 and 9 briefly converge and instead of noticing that I had to turn to stay on 10, I kept heading North on 9. An honest mistake, I thought, given that our storytelling in the car had evolved to caves, flying foxes, talking mice, and purple penguins. How can you pay attention to road signs with all that going on?
The indoor pool was amazing - it seemed to be under a glass chapel in the sky, and we played until our eyes were so red we looked like vampires. After dinner, Cecelia declared our chosen dessert - Chocolate Confusion Cake - the best thing she ever tasted on the planet. It was a layer of chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, chocolate brownie, chocolate syrup, chocolate icing, and baby chocolate chips - we polished the entire slice off quickly with two scoops of vanilla ice cream, and giddily pretended to be launched into a state of perpetual confusion for the rest of the night. We had the arcade to ourselves and played air hockey tournaments until 10:00 p.m. - C quickly mastered the "mom's distracted by Jack so I can slip in a goal" maneuver and kicked my butt two times. We finished off the night with spooky bedtime stories and I was the last to fall asleep by only a minute or two. I was long forgiven for my gross direction error, and you know how the way back from a trip always seems a lot shorter than the way there? Well, that was exacerbated 10-fold, in this instance. After a hearty breakfast and a quick trip to the gift shop, we were home by a little after noon to wait for the impending snow storm.
I can't wait to book a room for the butterfly festival. C told me she dreamt of sharing Chocolate Confusion Cake with her second grade teacher. "Mom, I gave her a bite, and she tasted it, and she said it was so wonderful." A sure sign of a great dessert - one that permeates your dreams and is shared with your loved ones. See Ramona? It's not just Oklahoma. It's me. I always get lost. Take it or leave it - it's always an adventure. I spent an hour tonight planning the next one.