Driving across Arkansas and Texas — the return journey

17 03 2012

Much of my two-day drive back to Dallas from Memphis was on Interstates (principally I-40 and I-30). However, I knew there was a construction zone on I-40 about 40 to 60 miles from Little Rock, on the Memphis side, as I’d gone through it on the way to Memphis. One of the conference attendees drove to Little Rock to catch his flight home the day before and got caught in it (he went about 1/2 a mile in an hour!; he made his flight, but I think it was only just). His suggestion was to take 49S then 70W, so I did that. Not because I didn’t have time — I did; I just thought it would be a good excuse to see some of Arkansas that I’d not normally have seen.

I’m glad I took that detour. Sure, a LOT of trucks were also on that route trying to bypass the construction zone, but they eventually went back to the interstate, while I continued along 70W to Little Rock, when I rejoined the interstate.

I stayed overnight at Bryant, AR (about 3 hours from Memphis), driving on to Dallas for about 5 hours the next day (via I-30).

Some observations from this drive:

  • 70W is also known as the Civil War Trail, so I suspect there were a lot of historical things and places that I wasn’t aware of (they sure weren’t well signed)
  • Along 70W there were quite a lot of big dams, and I saw a couple of fisheries. Only one named the fish — minnows! Who’d have thought that they were fish-farming minnows? I wonder what for?
  • Also along 70W were some extensive waterfowl areas. I drove over them via raised causeways/roads. And closer to Little Rock there were some swamps with trees with ‘knees’ — cypress trees? (see pics below)
  • There were some interesting towns on 70W — Hazen was quite a pretty little place, whereas DeValls Bluff was almost a ghost town with pretty much every store in the centre of town boarded up. Sad.
  • I crossed a couple of large rivers — Cache, White and the very large Arkansas River much closer to Little Rock. And not forgetting the very wide, very brown and muddy Mississippi River that divides Tennessee from Arkansas.
  • The Interstates are FULL of trucks. Big trucks. And LOTS of them, all travelling at speed. Officially, they’re only meant to go 65 mph, and no doubt some are speed-limited to that, but some go a bit faster (the car speed limit is officially 70 mph).
  • Arkansas and eastern Texas are predominantly flat, with a lot of farming land. At this time of the year, everything was very green, except for recently ploughed fields that were a deep brown. Some places, like Barlow, had quite a lot of tulips and daffodils in bloom. And lots of ‘lawn’ and fields looked like they were covered in snow, but it was just tiny little white (maybe pink?) flowers. I was tempted to stop and collect some Arkansas grass and put it in a zip lock bag, except I could never take it back into Australia 😉 (gratuitous 70s music reference here…)
  • I like country music, so I was in heaven driving this long drive (and the drive to get to Memphis), but there wasn’t a lot of choice if you didn’t like country music or Christian radio stations 😉
  • Before I left Memphis, I took a slight detour north to Barlow where I stopped at a quilt store someone had recommended to me. There I heard something I wasn’t quite certain I’d heard at the quilting workshop, but hearing it there made me think that that’s what I HAD heard at the workshop. What was this word? ‘Muslim’ instead of ‘muslin’!!! Sheesh.

Click a small photo to see it larger.


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