The road led to Texas and back again.
Along the way, the Universe threw in a few speed bumps so we'd slow down and get a chance to appreciate what was outside the car window.
A hearty breakfast at the Loveless Cafe to fortify us for the long drive. Those folks know how to bake a biscuit.
Creeping along I-40 for an hour gave us a chance to roll down the windows, feel the morning air on our skin, smell freshly mown grass and take in the beauty of wildflowers along the interstate. So thanks to an overturned 18-wheeler, we drank in what we'd have missed at 70 mph.
A detour through Memphis - The Lovely Linda and I were talking and missed the exit to Little Rock, so a little navigating by the seat of our pants led us to the river, through Downtown and back to the interstate. Saw some beautiful homes and found our way west, despite some bad directions from a local.
At the apex of the bridge spanning the Mississippi River, we could see it was out of its banks in a large way. In fact, it was lapping up against the levee, several miles out of town. As many times as I've driven this stretch of road, I didn't realize there was a levee until we saw it in action.
I was eagerly anticipating the drive from Memphis to Little Rock. The interstate dissects fields of rich farmland growing rice. Yes rice, the crop that sustained my family and my childhood community for generations. Once abundant in Texas, they are now a rare sight, so driving through Arkansas is a joy for me. My sense memories are engaged and this flat farmland begins to whisper of the horizon of my youth.
As I began looking left and right for the finely sculpted fields of curving levees and a sea of deep green rice stalks, I was accosted with the image of empty fields...miles and miles of empty fields. Not fallow, but laid waste by water. The few farmers who managed to get a crop planted before the rains of April and May were rewarded with anemic plants and splotches of growth and bare places where water had redistributed seed.
The building anticipation I normally feel as the Texas border draws near was dampened by the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach for the farmers and their families, knowing full well the devastation they were facing. All I could do was shake my head as barren fields, blurred by tears, streamed past the car window.
Near Arkadelphia, we picked up the signal for an NPR station. Soon we heard a news report that Arkansas Governor Mike Bebe had just petitioned the Federal Agriculture Department to provide emergency loans to farmers in 24 Arkansas counties. I don't think either of us had any idea how bad things were for our neighbors to the west.
The Piney Woods - after a pit stop in Texarkana for dinner, we drove across the Texas state line (with my customary woo-hoo out the window) and into the Piney Woods of East Texas. A few more hours and we'd be pulling into Mom's place at Paradise Point Park and Marina, on the Toledo Bend Reservoir. The thought of a soft bed after 12 + hours on the road was very appealing, but so was a big hug from Mom and a piece of coconut cake!
The Lovely Linda got a chance to appreciate a full-on Texas sky glittering with stars. As we drove a two lane deserted road through the Sabine National Forest, she switched off the car's headlights and drove by moon and star light. Magical!
Even though I'd called ahead and told her we'd crash together in the guest room, she had her own ideas about sleeping arrangements...the Lovely Linda on one end of the house, me on the other and her in the middle on the sleeper sofa! We chuckled softly under our breath and headed for a good night's sleep. Who knew what we were in store for tomorrow...
Kindly come back tomorrow for the next installment, which will include a trip to the Sabine County Jail!