Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Texarkana, Texas

Left the motel during rush hour in Memphis. Back over the Mississippi into Arkansas. Luckily, the only weather issue we had this morning was a dense fog - thankfully no rain. We drove south through Arkansas, heading for Louisiana to add that state to our total. Stopped for lunch at a truck stop, "Country Fare" in Prescott, Arkansas.

It seemed so fitting to me that, as we drove south through this southern state, Diane Rehm was interviewing Ralph Stanley on NPR. He has been singing Old Time Mountain music since the 40s. It was so enjoyable, given our surroundings, to hear his soft accent and his sweet mountain music as we passed the cotton fields. He was just delightful. Stanley's music was featured in the movie "O Brother Where Art Thou?".

We arrived in Louisiana with hope and excitement about adding a new state. The first cache was right at the state line.

Dick had chosen 4 or 5 others that we wanted to find before heading to Texas. We did find 4 caches, but our hope and excitement was dimmed by the dismal, hopeless nature of the things we saw around us. Northwest Louisiana is not exactly tourist country. It was made even sadder by the recent heavy rainfall - there was standing water and mud everywhere. A big storm must have gone through there lately, too. Trees were uprooted, and there were fallen trees along the roadside. What a sad place.

Entering Texas, things began to look up a bit - things looked more prosperous and livable.

We went past a huge factory, the International Paper Company. There were huge piles of Texas-type pulp wood stretching for about a quarter of a mile along the road. The strangest thing was that there were sprinklers sitting on top of the piles, keeping them wet. It seemed a bit unnecessary considering all of the rain we've seen this week. I tried to google a reason for keeping it wet. I discovered that it's called "wet storage" but I'm not sure why it is done. I think it has something to do with bark removal - at least it's somehow necessary for the pulping process.

Hooray! We arrived at our motel, and we have earned a free night - doesn't get any better. Dinner at Carino's. Today, although we had fog, traffic, mist, orange barrels, red mud, huge construction sites and detours, it was far better than yesterday. Overall, it was a good day, except for finding that Louisiana looks like a third world country.