From Branson, Mo to Fayetteville, Arkansas you have a multitude of different routes to choose from. Your choice depends upon your personal tolerance of winding roads and possible delays. The back highways of any hilly region are necessarily winding and can be quite remote.
My chosen route to Fayetteville was over those thin, winding ribbons of asphalt that take digression seriously when joining point A to point B. Winding back roads can be dangerous and on this day they were the undoing of one person driving ahead of me....Read more
When leaving Fayetteville I had to choose once again. I was heading south and had the choice of the interstate 540 or the winding and slightly longer highway 71. It wasn't a tough decision. I chose to wind.
If you keep your eyes open as you drive around the country you will often find smaller highways that connect two destinations that are roughly parallel to the interstates. These are the old highways that were the arteries of the of the country. Before the interstates were built, everything that didn't travel by rail went over these roads....Read more
So there I was, right outside of Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. The map showed the Lake Ouachita State Park campground was a blip over to the left but it showed no roads between. Sure I saw a sign by the side of the road a ways back, but the sign was pointing out more than which way to turn, it was pointing out that I needed a better map.
A good map will get you a long way in life. A good map will show you not only how to get from A to B it will also show you all of the different ways to get there. Options of discovery. I used to like just go out driving, seeing how far I could get lost and then find my way back again....Read more
Let's just say you have been spending the last few days by a gigantic Ozark Lake. It is lovely there, you've been sunning, swimming and hiking. You might decide that you've had enough of that and it's time to move on. But where, where, where would you go? The woods of the Arkansas Ozarks are calling you to just lay back and rest a while, a little bit more, the same way the Appalachian Mountains called to Rip van Winkle to close his eyes and take a nap. But you resist. There are more things to see further along the road and they are calling to you too. Pack up the car, roll down the windows and begin the parade anew.
I too felt the beckoning and though the air and the water suited me fine it was time to move on and see more. I placed Lake Ouachita and the village of Mountain Valley in my rear view mirror and headed forward. East again, winding the back roads of the Arkansas Ozarks to new adventures ahead. The good map showed me a plethora of alternative routes along my way and I drove some of the thinnest lines on the map to enter into the city of Hot Springs, Arkansas from a point so strange that I was surprise to find myself so suddenly in a developed place....Read more
Imagine yourself amongst the rice fields of Arkansas. Wide, open spaces, precisely leveled and flattened with an Ausburgian attention to detail. The carefully planted rice is short, looking like bad hair plugs. You can see for miles and for miles all you can see is more rice paddies. The temperature is ninety-plus, humidity to match. The monotony of the scenery conspires with the oppressive heat, numbing you, washing your mind clean of thought. You see the horizon wrinkle, smooth linearity broken as structure emerges from the earth into the muggy sky; the air, dense with vapor, paints it indistinct and smeared on the canvas of the skyline.
You are now a peasant in the 1500's. Shod in the ill-fitting wraps that are the shoes of the day, you walk the barren plains. Trees dot the horizon. You approach the city step by step. Drawing your gaze, the cathedral spires penetrate the sphere of the sky, growing imperceptibly. As you near the city gates the cathedral has grown to dominate the hovels of the surrounding city as it dominates your attention. An impossibly gargantuan bulk, you shake your head at the wonders that humankind can create....Read more
One of the problems with bonking about in Smalltown is that eventually you will need something that is not available in the local Walmart nor in the businesses that managed to survive the economic scouring that a new Walmart tends to give a community. I came upon such a moment when one of my external hard drives took a data dump to that big supercomputer in the sky. Fortunately, I practice data-redundancy but that still left me with a the knowledge that if something happens to the remaining drive, I'm in deep doo doo…. Hence it was time for a day trip to Little Rock, Arkansas.
Zoom, zoom. My laundry-bag in tow I zipped past the rice fields until they turned to corn and the corn to the outskirts of an urban area. Paved crossroads, traffic lights… exciting things like that....Read more
For many people Friday night and the phrase "complete abandonment" means excitement and wild activity. Along the main drag of Stuttgart, in the Springtime at least, it means the opposite. Absence of life; stillness and solitude; storefronts closed and shuttered; not a neon sign to be seen. It was mainly a drag... at least as how I saw it at the time. My phone yodeled at me as I walked, it was my brother calling.
"Hey, I'm going to be in New Orleans for a volleyball tournament next week. Come on down, we can spend some time together."
It was a good enough excuse for me. I hadn't seen my brother for a few years and New Orleans was only four-hundred-something miles away—the closest we have been for a few years...Read more
"Ah, my brothers! Welcome to New Orleans!" The greeting almost overpowered the room. I thought I heard the wine glasses behind the bar clinking together.
But, to be accurate, our new-found family member pronounced it "New Ahwlins."
"Ah, ma brahthuh! Welcome to New Ahwlins!" Just like that. We weren't expecting exactly that reaction. After all, our new family member had just looked up from his pile of crawdads to see, Joel, and me watching him eat....Read more
There are people and places who are anchors. Vortices. Around whom life swirls, drawing you in, inviting you to join the dance. Such people and places never happen by intent, they manifest by conditions unique in each instance; blooming spontaneously and offering all within their sphere an extra portion of life's nectar.
Tucked away in the French quarter of New Orleans is one such place. You wont find it by looking for gilded trim and beveled glass. Unassuming and inelegant, the crown jewels of Evelyn's Place shine in the hearts and lives of those who have joined the dance that weaves in and out of her weathered doors....Read more
I came down to New Orleans, almost on a whim, to see my brother who was here for a week to play in a volleyball tournament. I figured, on the side, I could get some info on New Orleans, take some pictures of the Katrina damage and write some stuff about it, yadda yadda.
Because I was photographing volleyball teams during the tournament, I didn't have much time to get out of the warehouse district for most of the first week. The warehouse district is on higher ground and wasn't flooded....Read more
If you clicked the audio icon, what you are hearing is the underlying rhythm of the Second Line Parade for Kufaru. Master percussionist Kufaru died the second week of June. Kufaru was a popular New Orleans musician who has recorded with the Neville Brothers, Emmy Lou Harris and others. He was a generous man who gave back to his community and was well-loved for it. In his honor his friends and family held a second line parade.
A second-line parade has it's roots in the New Orleans jazz funeral. They carry on many of the same traditions leaving out the casket, the mourners and the visit to the cemetery. The second-line for Kufaru was set to start in the Marigny district at the Caffeo coffeehouse and gallery....Read more