Thursday, August 30, 2012


It is hard to reconcile the picture that one has f Steinbeck's Oklahoma "Dustbowl" with it's swirling red dust blowing over the forlorn landmass, with the rarity found as own travels through Eastern Oklahoma today. (from )

One thinks of flat landmasses of red dirt, which are still definitely found, and not the rolling green hills and mountains with winding picturesque highways and country roads that we have found. 

Traveling north out of Nacogdoches, TX we traversed the whole of Highway 259, up into Oklahoma. We had reservations at Big Cedar RV Park with no preconceived ideas as to what the area looked like other than the "lovely green rv slots with full hook-ups" as seen on their website. As we crossed into Pklahoma, it didn't look much different from the piney wooded areas that we had come through in NE Texas. The deeper we traveled however, the more the vistas changed. The route took us into an area of mountains with landscapes covered in beautiful large green trees, interspersed with the ocassional burned out field, green fields with buildings that could have been, and probably were, built 50+ years ago and in full need of paint and possibly even renovations.  

 as well as grazing livestock.  The speed limits were decreased but you were well compensated by the vistas.

The area is in the Quachita National Forest, which is home to many hiking, mountain biking and ATV trails; the main one being the Ouachita Trail, possibly the longest trail in Arkansas and starting in Oklahoma. The main downfall of all of this is the heat, humidity and ticks found in abundance at this time of year. The roads are not flat by any means but they will be good training as I get back on the bike again. Danny is enamored with the hiking and mountain bike possibilities. 

Reading the many roadside signs, we discovered that this area indeed probably was a "dustbowl". in the 1920's it had been completely denuded by logging operations and abandoned. In the 1930's the federal government bought all the land back, putting it into national forest. It was during this time also that the homesteaders failed, leading to the mass migration of the Depression.

Our RV pad is quiet and set amidst the natural beauty of the valley between two distinct mountain ranges. We are close to the Talimina Scenic Drive (and we all know what that means - hills!) and Queen Wilhelmina State Park on the ridgecrest of the drive. There is also Runestone State Park where we revisited yesterday. This is an interesting place as it links early scandinavian explorers/settlers here in the USA to earlier times before Columbus. In fact, recent archeological findings based on language - runes" - place the time of occupation somewhere between 600 and 800 a. d. If interested, look up and . We stopped for lunch at what looked like a dive, an old railway passenger car, but turned out to have excellent service, fantastic food, and no greasy food smells - "Southern Belle" restaurant. 

"But wait, there is more ..." we were planning on leaving Tuesday after Labour Day (who wants to be on the road Labour Day weekend?) but we discovered a State Fair and an upcoming craft exhibition and sale. Definitely worth a visit. The craft exhibition not until the week after the Ladbour Day weekend so we extended our stay. This area no doubt has a good cross section of many crafts, not that I am buying, but definitely worth it for ideas and the pure enjoyment of the experience.

Did you know that Hwy 259 was inaugurated by President Kennedy in October, 1961? Heck, I am sure that he did many things like that, but this is just up the road from us: all with plaque, monument and green space on the highway. 

This represents things that one finds all over America and Canada that are worth more than a cursory glance as we speed by. We love to stop at them as we pass them by and increase our trivia knowledge. Someone, somewhere said that this is a good way the lessen the chance of Alzheimers; that and learning another language.

We came for a few days and we are staying for a couple of weeks. Now that is a true definition for "taken by surprise!" The area is full of surprises and we are enjoying all of them and our time here.

If anyone is even slightly close in the area, come and visit. It is a great place to be.