I’m sitting outside, computer in my lap, both dogs roaming around in the piles of dead leaves around me. The sun is shining, there’s a cool breeze off the lake blowing wisps of hair into my face, the birds are incredibly noisy, and I am feeling supremely content. The only improvement in my mood would be if I could write myself through this stupid scene in Grace. Actually, the major improvement in my mood would be if I could finish Grace and move to some other project, but enough said about that.

Yesterday, I left Oklahoma reasonably early and took the scenic drive to Arkansas. The first part was by far the most exciting: the road that my GPS took me down—well, up, really—was a logging road. Dirt and gravel, narrow and steep. It was ten minutes of thinking, “Oh, shit, what happens if I run into someone else on this road?” And then I did run into someone else, two someone elses, in fact!

Fortunately, I was on the side that could tuck into the hill, so I pulled over as far as I could without winding up crunched and they passed by on the scarier side, waving at me as they did. But the adrenaline and the excitement and the… the sheer FUN of the uncertainty was great. I was so worried that the road was going to come to an abrupt end and I would have to figure out how to turn around or how to back all the way down. Backing all the way down would have been disastrous. And then when it let me out onto this itty-bitty two-lane road, which turned out to be the scenic highway, I was so pleased. I stopped at a bunch of scenic vistas and took pictures of clouds. Look, more clouds!

Clouds on the Talimena scenic highwayI had just enough glimpses beyond the clouds that it was obvious that it was a really, really pretty road. In better weather. Someday, I will try again.

Arkansas, meanwhile, has been delightful. I emerged from the clouds into sunshine and spring, just as I’d hoped. For a lot of the drive, the woods alongside the road were simultaneously autumn and spring — lots of trees that hadn’t lost their orange and red leaves from fall yet, interspersed with pink plum trees. (I think plum trees.) But very lovely.

Because I needed dog food, I wound up coming all the way down to Hot Springs, and then beyond to Lake Catherine State Park. (Zelda will consistently eat Fresh Pet and their website lets me know where I can find it locally, but it’s not always available within a 50 mile range. I couldn’t find it in Oklahoma or my first stop in Arkansas, Mena, so I kept driving until I did.) The park had one campsite available, because of a cancellation, and it was available for four days, so I took it. And here I sit, ridiculously cheerful.

It’s the sun, I think. Well, and also, the campground is packed with happy families having fun camping, which is enjoyable to listen to. There’s water (surprise, a lake at the Lake Catherine park!), and trails, and people with boats, and kids on bikes and skateboards and it feels like… Spring? Vacation? Joy. It feels like joy.

Last night, I sat in Serenity watching other people’s flickering campfires and smelling wood smoke and appreciating the bare branches of trees against the dark sky with its sprinkling of stars. This morning, the sunrise was golden-orange against the same dark branches. I couldn’t find gluten-free granola in any of my most recent stores, so I’m baking some of my own and the van smells delicious, of coconut oil and baked oats and cinnamon. I’ve got a Verizon signal, but no T-mobile, so my internet is very limited, but I will still be able to talk to R today. The previous campers left behind a rawhide chew, so Z is having a very good time burying it in the leaves, then moving it to another spot and burying it again. All these little random pieces, they add up to happiness.

And now I have to open up Grace and ruin my mood. *sigh. But I’m going to give it one hour, timed, and then I’m going to do other things: a hike, maybe; dragging out the kayak, maybe; making myself some delicious lunch, maybe. Maybe all three!