Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi. Moving East!
Drifting across the high plains. Oh, the pain of the plains. A sudden change from vertical glory to a horizontal line of endless horizon is now all that awaits. Below is a photo looking back at the quickly shrinking mountain range in the great beyond. At least the weather was getting nicer.
Occasionally you may encounter a crevice in the Earth as you pass. It’s a welcome break in the monotony of this great nothingness. Any pimple on that horizontal plane is welcome sight. A hill is a thrill.
The vast scenery of dry grass is eventually dotted with oil pumps sucking up the precious nectar from deep below that keeps our machines rolling along our journeys. The pumps get thicker and the grass less prominent although strangely there seems to be more cows surrounding this industrial complex than back amongst the endless miles of grazing fields I’ve passed since the mountains.
The first town worth mention as I head east is named after what I have just witnessed, Plains, Texas.
This route would then take me through many towns slowly decaying over the years.
This was Route 82. It would take me all the way across the northeastern rim of Texas and into Arkansas.
Sometimes you will find a town that has put some effort into restoring the grandeur of yesteryear.
You might think it’s a movie set, but it’s the real deal.
I tried a local snack. I kept it in the sun under my bungee net for a while so it was an ooey gooey mess when I bit into it. Don’t think I will be trying another, but it held me over until I could find something more substantial.
After all this depressing scenery I yearned for some type of historical site or some point of interest. I found it at this unassuming local museum. The museum wasn’t open , but I heard of an interesting item in the carport that you could visit even when the museum was closed.
Hanging by straps from the rafters of the carport is the tail section of the plane that crashed here in Dekalb on New Year’s Eve in 1985 killing the former teen idol, Ricky Nelson. He was in fact the first person the term teen idol had been applied to by LIFE magazine. He also played the part of Cherokee in one of the great John Wayne movies along with Dean martin, Rio Bravo. Here’s a great musical number from that movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpXp90wi8MQ
And below the tail section of the plane that took down Ricky Nelson and members of his band.
I found a great campsite at Bonham State Park.
It was thickly wooded along a lake.
And best of all, I was the only one there besides the camp host who was far from my site. There was plenty of wood to gather here as well. Always a plus!
Throughout the night there are the ever changing sounds of the nocturnal activities. Here I had coyotes in the background. A pesky raccoon came to visit. He was bold, but eventually got the hint he wasn’t welcome and scurried off. Then there was this occasional thumping sound. The sound was scattered from spot to spot out there in the darkness. Every once in a while a heavy thump sound! It was one of those, “What the hell was that?” kind of sounds. Not scary but puzzling.
This mystery was solved the next morning when I found this giant fruit or nut on the ground. This sucker is heavy and they were dropping throughout the night.
I rolled through Paris, Texas. Not much to report here, but an old sign is always cool.
Someone had a plane in their yard.
I crossed into Arkansas. The trees got thicker. In fact, there wasn’t much else to see but these trees for some time. I even saw a bunch of logging trucks. But I don’t really have much to show as I crossed this part of Arkansas. I was hoping to fly across Arkansas and into Mississippi before nightfall anyway.
My goal of crossing the Mississippi River was dashed as the sun set and I rode to Lake Chicot State Park in Lake Village, AK. I was blasted by bugs as I made my approach to the park. I set up the tent in the dark as I often do.
Faintly over the sounds of crickets and tree fogs I could hear a strong steady hum on the horizon. I am still in Arkansas but the mighty Mississippi River is but a few miles away. And that roar is the sound of a monstrous tugboat giving an assist down that twisty, chocolate, liquid highway. I know that sound. I was born a New Orleans boy.
In the morning I got up to have a look at things that I couldn’t see as I had gotten there in the dark. Chicot Lake was lined with beautiful cyprus trees all around. All the little rooted knobs you see here are called Cypress Knees. Normally they are just beneath or barely poking out of the water’s surface. Obviously the lake was dry.
I left the park and noticed another little gem hidden from me the night before. On this location Charles Lindbergh made his first night flight. In April 1923 the young mail pilot had engine trouble and landed his plane here. That evening he took his host, Mr. Henry for a moonlight flight down the Mississippi River and over Lake Village. It was his first night flight.
Then I crossed the Mississippi River. (Always a noted milestone in any coast to coast adventure.) Unless you’re north of Bemidji, you’re gonna cross it.
Across the river I visited the Winterville Mounds. It’s the second tallest mound in Mississippi next to Emerald Mound. The platform mound here was build by native americans between 1200 and 1400.
Mississippi is filled with old abandoned stores, schools, churches and homes.
I rode north along the great river for a while then got lost in Clarksville. If it weren’t so hot and muggy I might have enjoyed exploring this town more. It is rich with history from the early days of the Delta Blues.
But I was on my way to the Natchez Trace Parkway. Along the Natchez Trace are a number of native american mounds as well. I had ridden south from Tupelo following the Natchez Trace to it’s southernmost point a few years ago. This time I would once again start in Tupelo but head in the opposite direction completing the Trace to the north in Tennessee.