I want to reflect on the “other side” of Arkansas I traversed, route 30 from Texarkana to Little Rock and then to Memphis. I mentioned not having the best impression of Hot Springs but did I say how impressive the birds were? One thing that bothered me a lot was the practice of burning trees alongside the highway. Seemed they were chopping them down to clean the shoulder, maybe intending to widen the highway or for a fire break? The burning was like being trapped in a mini elongated wildfire that only occurred next to the stream of trucks and cars. Not particularly in line with the theme, Natural State. (My LTV does not have air filters so whatever’s outside is what I breathe.) And that leads to my point, Arkansas seemed to be a land in conflict with itself. Changing certainly. Tons of trucks on dusty reddish roads, blue trucks, yellow trucks, red ones, silver ones and white ones and they all roll right along.  I noticed how few of them had flaps. Not sure what they are called, the flaps that hang between the front and rear tires and prevent occupants of cars who collide under a truck from certain death.  There were so many trucks that I had to laugh at the no parking on shoulder signs when they were filled with resting trucks. Where else could they go when many rest stops were closed and/or had inadequate space for all those big loads? I hate closed rest stops! I need them, my dogs need them … open them up! Lots of those truckers had dogs, I’d see these adorable bits of fluff pop out of the biggest trucks.  I saw billboards saying, Arkansas is Breast Feeding Friendly, and then one about Colon Cancer. In opposition to the smoke and the trucks were naked trees bursting in pink, white and light lavender blossoms.

Traveling north on smaller roads brought me into gentle curvy mountains, except they don’t say curve or windy they say “crooked” so I started saying that too, lots of crooked roads doing dastardly deeds! I began to see cows and horses, lovely rolling land with farmhouses, ponds, lakes, big two-story brick homes, huge churches. The ever-present wind strengthened under the patchy sky, all like a painting one could drive through.It would not be wrong to expect a mythical creature to be waiting around the next curve. Saw signs for produce markets and flea shops, all closed. Saw a chiropractor and massage shop on one side of the street and cows on the other side of the street. In the small town of Ravenden along the Spring River Hwy 63, stands a 12 foot RAVEN with red eyes. Apparently is says on the back: “The RAVEN was the first bird sent from the ark in search of land,” and “The RAVEN has the reputation for DIVINE or MAGICAL powers.”

I passed a campground next to a river that was devoid of campers, there were a few boaters using the launch, on my way to a State Park where I wanted to camp.  The State Park was CLOSED when I arrived, apparently they had just finished a special “hunting” season  and were not ready to open for the public.

Disappointed both in the “other” interest in birds, mine being looking at them alive and not knowing where to go I headed to Mountain Home. I stuck gold at the Info Station meeting another single mature woman who told me THIS WAS THE BEST PLACE FOR A SINGLE WOMAN TO LIVE …   HANDS DOWN, Yeah, I’m capping because she practically shouted it to me once we got beyond the being complete strangers thing. Most people warmed up once they realized I actually wanted to see the beauty of their area and not just the tourist traps. I never explored the town of Mountain Home as I thought I would although the little I saw of it on the main drag was one of those typical shopping mall cities with lots of traffic.  Do people really shop at all these ditto stores (repeats in every big town.) There was some variety like the Waffle House which I never did try even though I like waffles, Popeyes or Mapco and Citco gas, plenty of others but mostly the same old, same old, though I admit I stopped a few Whole Foods Markets. Speaking of which I was appalled that at the Memphis Whole Foods almost all the produce was from CA or WA, the only local produce were strawberries and pecans and Whole Foods didn’t have these available. I did try a little natural food store that was not a chain, not sure, don’t remember where and found some local apples. Come later in April, May, June it would be different.

The Info lady instructed me to head to Bull Shoals White River State Park to camp only she did not give me the name of the camping area or even that it was a State Park, nor did she warn me that it would be full (ALMOST). I wound my way up and around following the little map she provided. Because what she led me to so astounded me and because it’s time to quit writing for the night I will post it on the next blog.