I Can See Why People Get Strange Here

Both Army Corps of Engineers campsites where we’ve stayed in Arkansas (plus the last one in Missouri) the past couple of weeks have been downstream of flood-control reservoirs. And locals have complained to us that the towns upriver of them get precedence when it comes to control, whereas they get the flooding. 

Here at this campground, we’ve been told there’s a parking lot and two boat ramps under the water off in the distance; at the last place we could see campsite posts and pavilion roofs above the water.  

Now the water is being let downstream here slowly, and we’ve been watching it recede each day; unfortunately it’s also revealing quite a stench.

Our camping neighbors have at least twice driven out to move their fishing boat back into the water.  We don’t even live here and we knew better than to leave our boats right at the edge of the shore, so what were they thinking?

They do have access to the most sophisticated fish cleaning station I’ve ever seen (like I’m an expert at fish cleaning, but c’mon, look at this thing. It’s the fanciest machine around).

This is an odd place. 

The county we’re in is dry. As in no alcohol to be sold anywhere. 

And it’s certainly very poor. We rode our bikes into the one tiny town and were chased by a small barking dog with surprising ferocity. We rode quickly.

I have very little cell signal so haven’t looked up what the deal is, but this town seems to have been partly restored as a ghost town, but also partly just left to dilapidate naturally.  

So many small main streets we pass through are deserted, but this one has fake store fronts with garish fall decorations mixed in with truly decrepit real stores.

The one person we saw we thought was a manakin placed in front of the general store, until we saw him he move. Just a little. He did not wave when we did.

The one gas station and grocery store has a couple of stray dogs living at the gas pumps.  Tracy had planned on going inside the store but nixed the idea once we got there.

And isolated.

Kayaking was interesting through the flooded woods, although it was hard to tell where we were sometimes.  Tracy did get out to the mouth of the river, and I saw a bald eagle (always a goal) and he saw an otter. 

We stalked egrets, herons, and cormorants, and we paddled into thickets of trees so we could get a sampling from an oak that reminds me of one I knew in Atlanta—the bottom branches are too high to grab leaves from on land, but we could kayak under them and break off a branch.  Turns out to be a pin oak. 

The highlight was an armadillo living in the old cemetery by the campground. (I’m not making this up.) Tracy would see it in the culvert on his night walk with Banjo and text me, and I’d run out to look. It ambled along slowly as I approached, and when it finally caught on I was near it hopped forward. Hopped! That’s made me laugh.

Our last day and a half have been rainy, so we packed up outside before the storms hit and have been sitting inside waiting it out.  With no cell signal, I get a little stir crazy. I’ve done yoga in the tiny aisle inside, I’ve cleaned like crazy, reorganized clothes, knitted, played ukulele, and asked Tracy a million times what’s in the news (he has some signal).  

I can see why people get strange here. 

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