Thursday, July 5, 2007

Aux Arcs and Beyond

In our fast road trip across the country, Arkansas and Oklahoma were the big surprises. I loved the rolling green hilly land, the little towns, and the friendly people. I found out that the beautiful Ozarks were so named because that is how the local people pronounced Aux Arcs, which is what early French explorers called the top-most arc of the Arkansas River. We stopped in the town of Russellville, which is a town that I had once researched on the Internet as a possible retirement spot. It is everything that my research had shown it to be, beautiful land and nice houses and access to necessary services, with one big exception. On the way west out of town is a great big nuclear power plant. How could the Internet have let me down so?

Our trip was a quick one--the kind you make when you're on the way to a new job and not really the way to see the country. When I talk about friendly people, I'm talking about nice waitresses and a general impression gained about our fellow diners, because on these dashing trips of ours we only stop for food, gas, and to sleep. We traveled 2000 miles through 14 states in four days; used 11 tanks of gas; and saw license plates from every state but Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, Alaska, and Hawaii. We traveled in three time zones, saw the World's Largest Cross, and lots of kudzu. We saw signs for parks named Hungry Mother, Frozen Head, and Toad Suck; we passed by Pickles Gap Village and Dollywood; and we drove by exits for Little Skin Bayou and Mount Magazine.

Now, after all that rushing, we're here in Clovis, New Mexico, holed up in the Seedy Motel for close to two weeks until we can get into our new house. Here in our tiny room with our two dogs, three cats, and our many houseplants. Smiling, smiling, smiling, about that fantastic hot and dry New Mexican weather and that great big empty blue sky and the good smell of chiles.*

~Clair Z.
*This word is spelled "chilis" in Texas, where they don't know any better.
Ozark Merchants: Origin of the word Ozark.

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