Thursday, August 10, 2006

Arkansas – ‘The Natural State’

Aug. 10, 2006

I’ve only seen a bit of Arkansas, but so far it is a beautiful and green state. Arkansas has 52 State Parks, and if they are all as good as Old Davidsonville, I’ll be wishing I had set aside more time here.

The countryside changed from flat farms to hilly dense forests as I got closer to the Missouri-Arkansas border. My first stop in Arkansas was the Visitors Center where a helpful, friendly woman gathered maps and brochures for me.

The Old Davidsonville State Park preserves the site of the small town of Davidsonville. It sits alongside the Black River and used to serve trade and travel. In 1815, the founders of the town had big dream. Rather than a random collection of houses, the town was laid out according to a surveyed plan. Eight blocks surrounded a large public square, each containing six lots. The streets were 57 ¾ feet wide (I wonder why that measurement: not 57, not 58?). The town had a two-story courthouse, two cemeteries, and the first post office in Arkansas. Fifteen years later it was abandoned when the Southwest Trail was rerouted. Today there is little evidence of the town above ground. It has been the site of archeologists’ exploration. The town site is one feature of the state park.

When I arrived yesterday, I had my pick of the RV sites that sit among the wooded area – I was the only one there! “It’s hot and the mosquitoes are bad in the evening and early morning,” the park lady said apologetically. “The cost is $12 a night for sites with electricity and water,” she added.

Yes it was hot and the sky looked a bit stormy. Not a problem. What a beautiful park. This is my kind of park – large, pretty level motorhome parking areas, the cleanest state park shower rooms I’ve ever seen, and of course, lots of shade from the huge, tall trees. Sweet!

In spite of the heat, I’ve enjoyed hiking the trails, lounging along the riverbank, strolling through the old town site, and watching birds and squirrels. And I saw a strange-looking dragonfly.

I only have one complaint about the park – there are chiggers. Local folks call them “red bugs.” I read about the “Arkansas Chigger Dance” – take one step forward and scratch your ankle, take two steps back and scratch again.

When I got back from hiking one afternoon, I changed into sandals and went out to take pictures around the campgrounds. So now I have a few angry, red bumps on my ankles that itch like mad.

Tomorrow I’m continuing south and will arrive in the Star City area for some visiting with family friend, Brenda Branch. It’s been 14 years since I’ve seen her. I’m expecting a fantastic time getting caught up.

We look for inspiration in those who do not fear living life
as if it were a great adventure.
– Stan Herd