I watch four juvenile deer gracefully play along a pink sandbar across the channel of the Arkansas River. They bluff and taunt each other occasionally sprinting to the shore for a drink. We started the day at the dam methodically stopping to explore and take in the beauty of the natural world. The day has been wonderful. From the time I woke from my sleep smiling about the expedition at hand. I marveled at the fact that last night was the best night of sleep this year. From the packing of the boat, logistics, and double checking the gear-the day has finally arrive to explore Big Island.

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We drove through small Arkansas towns like Dewitt enjoying the calmness of farm fields being prepared for planting. Locals gazing at our canoe wondering where we’re from, enjoying spring break and the start of the spawn. The birds are plentiful. Great blue herons, arctic and least terns, gulls, double breasted cormorants, and bald eagles all gather for this bountiful time of year. The state parks are packed with campers hoping to time the pre- spawn just right. Otter, raccoon, bobcat, and coyote tracks fill the sandbars scavenging along the shore.

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We head downstream to find a camp spot that would shield us from the northwest wind. We find it on the left bank with a perfect view of the Arkansas River. We gather firewood and start preparations for dinner. The meal would be roast with garlic, onion, potatoes, and carrots as the sun sets right before our eyes.

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We linger around the fire as the temperature drops with the setting of the sun. One by one we make it to our tents for the night; except Driftwood, who choose to sleep in the canoe. The songs of coyotes and owls sing me to sleep as I look forward to the morning. Mark River

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