Friday, May 14, 2021

Exploring NE Arkansas

Sometimes as we travel we come upon things that delight us and remind us why we leave the comfort of our homes.  That, I am happy to say, is what made me forget my loneliness these past few days.

 The geese have babies and they are not shy.  Craighead Forest is a city park in Jonesborro, Arkansas.  It has a lot of visitors every day walking the shore-line path around the lake.  Some of the visitors toss out bread crumbs.  I want to tell them, "Don't feed the wildlife!"

Bread isn't good for their health and the Canadian Geese will continue to multiply and not migrate.  But it is fun to get up close to their fuzzy babes.

I took some pictures of the elaborate play grounds so that you get an idea of the high-quality and diversity of the fun available to children here.

I rode my bike on the trail in the park.  The trail took me out of the park about 1/2 mile.  I went by a cemetery and went in to explore.   One family of visitors loved trinkets.  Old ones were thrown over the fence littering the ground.

One headstone was so obscured by lichen that I was curious.  So I spent some time with a stick grinding off the lichen.  It said that John died on Feb. 21, 1880 at age 57.

I had mentioned the beaver here on the lake.  I thought beaver only made their dam in streams to create the ponds.  But the one by the campground is right on the shore, next to that hiking trail.  Each evening the beaver can be seen swimming in the lake.   I went down one evening and watched as it swam out to the area of another beaver in the next bay over.  I thought I might see a fight or some romance, but they just got in view and then went off to their separate locations to gather branches.

The following day I drove the 20-30 minutes to a short trail that I had found on  This year I paid for the app so that I could find trails around me to ride as I travel.  The trail was just under seven miles long.  It starts in Hoxie and ends up at Williams Baptist College.

Googlemaps was a few blocks off, but the town was small, I didn't worry.  I found what I thought was close to the start.  It looked like they were just building a parking area for the trail.


 Shortly after I started riding I saw a crew cutting up a tree on the ground.  Then I started to notice there were quite a few trees on the ground.  A tornado must have torn through here recently.  I saw businesses and a whole strip mall with roof and walls torn up.

Hoxie started out in a poor neighborhood with houses needing painting and repairs.  But soon I was going by big brick homes.

The area was very flat, I had already learned that they grow lots of rice in this area.

As I was riding through the rice fields that were just sprouting, a bright yellow single engine plane swooped over the field and sprayed chemicals on it.  I stopped and put my Covid mask on, hoping for some protection.  From then on I noticed the constant buzzing of these small planes swooping down, steeply banking on the turns, and then rising up to treat another field.

Way too soon I hit the end of the trail... well not quite.  I could see the end of the trail on the other side of this bridge.  It was even too spongy for me to feel safe enough to walk across it.

There was a turn off just before the bridge, that is what took me to Williams College where I was happy to find a ball field with the restrooms clean and open.  Thank you!

 The journey back was going to be over too fast.  I was out of coffee.  I turned in to ride around Walnut Ridge in search of a cup.  I pulled up to the Chamber of Commerce and saw it was also the Amtrak station.

Next to it was a memorial of some kind.  I figured it was a veterans memorial.  I was pleasantly surprised to find it was Commemorating Hwy 67 as the Rock n Roll highway.  Performers drove down this highway to different venues on their tours.

The image on the video below didn't come through.  Here is the link.

I pushed a button and the music played and I began to bounce around.  I thought of my brother, Larry, who is a huge old music of the 50's and 60's fan.  He also likes to visit quirky places.  This should be added to his list of places he wants to but probably never will visit.  You were here in spirit, Larry!

The display also said there was an Abby Road in Walnut Ridge with a Beatles display.  First I rode around to find coffee.  Oh my!  I got a sinful frosty mocha coffee treat instead.

Three of the Beatles came through town to jump on a puddle hopper plane to get to a secluded destination for some R&R.  The sound of a bigger-than usual jet landing sent three teens to investigate and found them getting on a plane.  I think it was Paul that didn't do small planes and rode in a truck instead.

So that is this small town's claim to fame.  Fun!

I finished my ride and drove to a State Park nearby.  Lake Charles.  On the way the road that ran next to the black river sometimes floods, and the forests next to the road was flooded this day.  The current was very swift.

The route there took me on a winding Hwy 25 where I couldn't pass up a small state park that was historical.

There were two huge tall pillars on either side of the bridge.  Weird, I thought maybe a bridge or place to drop cargo (like grains) onto ships.

A kiosk told the story of the judge that sentenced murderers to be hung until they were "dead, dead, dead."  The hanging tree used to be right by the old jail.  It wasn't until the 1920's I think that any washing and sewage facilities were added to the jail.  It must have stunk!

Then I saw a kiosk that explained that the big pillars were for a swinging bridge they built in hopes of bringing people to their town once the railroad detoured around them.  It didn't work to revitalize the town.

Lake Charles is a large man-made lake with a small beach and nice campground with electric and water.

When I started my walk on the paved trail I scared up a brown snake about two feet long.  Later I spied one curled up on a log with a turtle.

Trees of two different species hugging for life.

So that was a awesome day of discovery.  I am still missing my social time.  Judy has been too per-occupied with her son.  Though I did get to have a somore she made for me.  I did get to chat (standing) on my awesome day with a couple that are camping here to visit family.  They have a cute five-month old doggy that is a bit barky and scared.  But once he warms up to me (which takes time each time we meet) he will lay leaning against my foot.

In response to my request for some volunteers to read through the rough draft of book three I got one volunteer so far.  I am pleased that Sandy took the challenge.  She is a writer herself!  Do I have any other takers?

It is about 45 degrees at night and warms up into the sixties during the day, maybe hitting 70.  I have been outside exercising and writing all day.  Time to go for a walk or bike ride around the park.  I have two more nights here, then off to a place in Missouri along the crystal clear Current River.  It might be too cool to float in the river, but I do hope to kayak.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Rolling Clouds, Rolling Forward, Rolling Solo

 I got a bunch of firewood.  My camping neighbor, Judy was going to join me for chat by the fire this evening.  But... now the wood is covered with a blue tarp and I am sequestered inside my little camper as it rains and the day's light fades.

Mother's Day, when I wrote you last, I also spent some hours writing for book three.  It is rough, I have lots more work, but I think it might be ready for some other eyes to read, mark up, make some suggestions for changes.  

After a beta read through and re-hash, I will send to a professional editor.  It all takes time.

If you would like to volunteer to be a Beta reader and provide constructive criticisms on content and flow and mark-ups on any punctuation or grammar mistakes, let me know.  I could print it out and send you a copy somewhere along my travels.  


Later on Mother's Day I went for a drive and did some sightseeing. 

It was too windy and rainy to go for a float on my new SUP.

Only two miles from Davis Lake is the Owl Creek Historical site where about 1200 years ago people built a few mounds.  One of them is pretty tall on which the ancient people had erected a structure. 

I drove all the way to Algoma for cell service and it wasn't good.  I returned to the trail restrooms and shelter in New Houlka and I was surprised at the good service there.  I chastised myself for not checking the close location first.  It started to rain, but I was under the shelter and until it started to blow I kept working.

Back at camp the rain quieted and I decided to dry out the inflatable and put it away.  Just as I finished that it started to sprinkle again.  I looked up and there were rolling black clouds coming our way.   I had just enough cell service to check the weather app.  There was a weather alert that a storm was headed our way, there was quarter size hail and 60 mile per hour wind gusts that had hit Ponotoc (one of the towns that I rode through on the Tanglefoot bicycle trail just a day or two ago!

I took down my portable sink and anything else that might fly around and went into my little trailer waiting it out.  I posted my fears on Facebook and got lots of nice comforting messages back.

No hail, not much wind, all it did was rain and lightning and thunder.  Whew!  

Even though the park was beautiful, rain was in the forecast for the next few days.  I decided to head out to my next destination the next morning.

I struggled to wind the hose in the cooler weather.  Is there a trick to that?

I debated about taking the back roads or the highway, since the back-road route would take an hour longer.  I remembered how the interstate was stressful and the faster speed was hard on the van.  I went the back roads and got to Craighead Forest near Jonesborro, Arkansas before 2:30.

I got a spot close to the lake.  There is a little Casita across from me is occupied by Judy from Texas who has been traveling on her own for 25 years.  I am looking forward to chatting with her more.  She isn't a full-timer, she has a home in Texas.

Craighead Forest is an amazing park.  It is big, with foot paths, dirt-bike trails, paved bike trails (3 miles) and a 2-mile path around the lake.  I went for a walk around the lake.  It seemed that each bay I walked around there I came to a different themed playground. There was one brightly painted blue, yellow, and read with umbrella like structures for shade over the equipment and off to the side a splash pad.  Next I came to a huge sturdy fort type playground with big cork-screw slide.  There was also a very old fashioned one like I grew up playing on.  And then a huge castle style playground.  

There were fitness stations for adults too.  I thought of how excited and diligent Regis would have been trying out the different stations.   I didn't feel motivated.

At one point I passed a goose sitting on a next right next to the trail.  At first I thought she was artificial, she sat so still.  But then she moved her head to follow me as I passed.

Around the last bay on my walk, I saw a huge tree with a ring around the bottom where a beaver had knawed all the way around it.  I saw a pile of smaller sticks which must be the den.   When I got back to camp I asked Judy if she had seen the beaver.  She said she walks around 6:30 a.m. and the beaver is usually swimming then.

I hope I can connect with someone.  I have had plenty of alone time.  

While walking I stopped to call Cindy to let her know I was here at the park that she and Regis had recommended.  She couldn't answer so I left a message.  

I called Marie who was unable to travel with me due to surgery.

I called my sister.  She said it was in the 50's and cloudy by her, I said it was the same where I was.  Cool and cloudy. 

I had my first fire of the trip.  The wood here is wet, Judy says they get rain almost every day.  I had invited her to join me, but she said her son was coming to dinner.  

Later she called over and pointed out the sunset.  And we watched the beaver swim across the lake.

In the morning I decided to walk the paved bike trail.

But at one point I decided to head toward the nature center and gardens.

My campground neighbor Judy had said she doesn't walk the foot paths because they don't end at the end of the park and she found herself in a neighborhood with chickens one time.

I ended up outside of the park too, but it was a nature center just beyond the park boundary.

The nature center wasn't open, but there were kiosks on the paths near the center.  I learned something!  I knew the American Coot's foot wasn't webbed and it walks on the floating vegetation in ponds.  What I didn't know was they have flaps on their toes to help them swim and support them on mud and lilly-pads.

The master gardeners were weeding in the native plant garden.  They said there was going to be a virtual event with drones taking pictures.  There was a lot of grass and weeds they still needed to pull, I was tempted to ask if I could help.  But I figured they wouldn't let me because I wasn't a master.  I like pulling weeds, so maybe I will sneak over there later this week.

This below is one of the milkweeds that the monarchs visit north of Florida.  It was a cool day,  I didn't see any butterflies or caterpillars.

Fortunately the cell service is pretty good here and I was able to map my walk back to the campground.  

When I got close to it I found an interesting track for dirt biking.  What else do they have in this park?

Since I left home most the parks do not have recycling.  I found one container on my walk this morning.  Now, hopefully I will be able to find it again when I need it.

I drove into Jonesboro to the tractor store to see if I could find some jacks for my trailer.  They only had big ones for three and eight tons.  They didn't have water proofing, but the clerk directed me to Academy Sports.  I was surprised when I pulled up, it is quite big!

I browsed around, looking at things that I need to buy for the bike tour I am doing on the Allegheny Gap and C&O Canal Trails in September.  I decided not to buy that equipment just yet, I need to do more research on the best and lightest.

Across from the Academy was Tacos 4 Life.  It sounded interesting.  I got tacos with seasoned tofu.  They were yummy.  With each meal sold they buy a meal for a hungry child.

After lunch I drove to the Post Office, but none of my mail had arrived yet.  There are two post offices in Jonesborro that take General Delivery.  I went to them both.  I will have to look at my notes to see which one I need to check on next time.

Then I drove downtown.

 Judy had recommended I go to the Chefs In for lunch some day for southern home cooking.  I walked by there and it is a buffet!  I will have to go check it out on a day I am really hungry.

Downtown Jonesborro has two Gearhead Stores right across the street from each other.  When I enter a store and find high-quality clothing and no price tags I know I am in the wrong store.  The clerk directed me upstairs where things were half price.  Half of $169 is still more than I want to spend on a light jacket or shirt.

Fortunately, a couple blocks away was an "award winning" thrift store.  I was hunting for more warm clothes because I think I may have under-estimated my need for warmth.

I started getting a headache and was tired by 3:30.   I returned to camp in time to put water proofing on the screen tent and a tarp over the firewood before it started to rain.

I am listening to a book on audio.  Sister of Mine is a historical novel by Sabra Waldfogel and narrated by Bahni Turpin, one of my favorite voice actresses.  I am amazed at the variety of voices she can do.  Slave woman, plantation lady, German Jew, children, and many more.  

With my headache I laid down in my cave and listened until I felt well enough to write this.

Tomorrow... hmmm.  What will we do tomorrow?

There is no Anytime fitness in Jonesborro!  I am surprised because it is a town of 67,000.  But I can't find one on Googlemaps.  I did find a PlanetFitness.  My back is bothering me and I think it because I am missing core exercises and yoga stretches.  I could set out a mat and do that work right here with YouTube.  But that is more alone time, and I need to be around people to get motivated.  I am vain I suppose.  I need to be seen working out, ha ha.  

We'll see.

Did I ever tell you I saw a lynx on this trip?  When I saw it I was driving on the Natchez Trace and it ran across the road maybe 100 to 60 feet in front of me.  It seemed rust colored in that light and sleek and powerful. I just looked up the lynx and it is actually a bobcat.  I thought, no, can't be!  The cat I saw was so much bigger than the bobcats I have seen before.  I just went up on YouTube and sure enough, they can get pretty big!


Topping It Off In Wisconsin

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