|The winding roads in Arkansas.|
Time to visit some family down in Louisiana came up, and when I'm not traveling for a show, I get the opportunity to slow down my thought process and take in more things in the moment. Since on the way down there I didn't have to drive, it gave me time to take pictures, enjoy scenery, marvel at how T-Mobile's signal doesn't traverse well into the rural areas of areas with lots of trees,...
You know, the usual.
But it also allowed a lot of time for me to think about that day, and as the drive went on, I started to take notes. The older I get, the more I realize even photos and videos can't give the whole story without some context embroidered into them with wordsmithing.
The drive was long, just over 10 hours to get down south, and my mind moved between the sights on the road and a recent online moment.
The other day, I was participating in a discussion that revolved around problems both great and minute, that fill this world. We all were given a chance to sum up our thoughts in a sentence or two. I typed out:
"A mostly prevailing unencumbered general sense of self importance capped with a life concept of looking elsewhere for anyone else to make the world better without damaging the social norm for the one who's perspective is at stake from the window of a world now viewed through a monitor."It seems a bit of nihilism and depression can flow into my thoughts, even when I am feeling pretty peaceful. I say that, but I do believe that above statement to be true. A metaphor for life is easily found on any road in any direction. When you look out the windows, you encounter weather, quickly changing views (unless you are in Kansas), small blink and you will drive through them towns, dilapidated barns, herds of cattle. Standard midwest fare.
But along in there, driving down roads, we can speed by the gems hidden just beyond a brake light shine. And I know that because of this, our lives can be all the less richer for missing out on them.
Arkansas is like so much of the rest of the Midwest. Lots of fields, trees, gas stations and small towns that pop up seemingly at random along the long and winding roads.
|Someday, I hope to stop at every flea market and second hand store I find along the way.|
The day was sunny, about 78 degrees, blue skies with thin clouds. It added to the picturesque and time standing still feeling that the Midwest wallows in. I say that lovingly so.
But change does come, more abruptly when the area you seek out has had a years worth of time to evolve. A line of rusting classic era cars that I’d explored last year, is now an open empty field, and the old mechanics shop that was nearby, is gone. Just a flat stretch of cement, slowly yielding to the uprising force of hardy grass and weeds penetrating it.
Down the road, stood the now empty shell of a sandwich and fried foods stop. Where it had once been run by two jovial women, and the exterior outfitted with Christmas lights, chalkboards bearing the menu available, and mismatching enamel coated metal chairs and tables out front, it now stood silent, empty, with dust covered glass windows. The dark red walls now fading. A shiny padlock the newest addition on the door next to the windows.
The presence of rusting serpentine railroad tracks, partially paved over, or blanketed by tendrils of long grass and errant tree roots, pass in and out of sight from passenger window view.
It’s been years I would guess since a train has passed through any of these towns. Which may have led to decline, as slowly and constant as the ever more apparent eroding less driven roads and bridges connecting them.
While change comes in urban areas with the loud immediacy of jackhammers, construction crews, and corporate money, out here it is more of a slow stream carving at the soil of the roots of a tree on the bank. Sooner or later there will be less and less, and when there’s no one to notice, one day it will be gone.
Radio station signals out here ebb in and out amongst the rise and fall of the hills of Texarkana. A static filled station plays “Every rose has its thorn”, adding a slight surreal mental moment to the action of driving through the area. It’s true that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The radio is a dichotomy in being at times frustrating and limited in its programming depending on what you can receive, at the same time, the variable nature of it makes it so that the only option is to turn down the volume and listen to the road.
Turning attention back to the road, refocuses my mind onto the roadside views just in time to see a ten foot stack of semi and car tires, painted white, in the form of snowman, wearing rope and plastic tarp parts in the fashion of a two piece bikini.
Art is all around you. All the time. You just need to look for it.
I had it in my mind once down south, that I wanted to check out as many roadside and local stops as time permitted. For any of you familiar with Louisiana, it can be hot and humid. With the sole exception of one day, all the rest of the days had great weather, with breezes, and lower humidity than I remembered.
|A great local restaurant, Myran's.|
|Lot of fried stuff. It is the south...|
|I didn't get a photo of it, but on the wall opposite to this view, there was an odd little room that had slot machines in it.|
|My one regret of the meal? I did not ask how the onion ring sauce was made. Sauce is life.|
Rip Van Winkle Gardens
|The house built by Joseph Jefferson, the actor that portrayed the role of Rip Van Winkle.|
|Dedication point on the grounds.|
These weren't just hum drum in design. They were made of solid cedar, and equal to the size of modern closets.
Another set of architectural odd points in the house were the presence of stove inside the kitchen, as well as a basement. I can't remember the reason that the stove (in this case a reproduction of the original), was inside the house, but it was a very unusual thing to have one inside. Even more so, the basement was only possible because the house had been built on higher ground, above the water table level.
It became apparent that there were other spots of historical significance all throughout the grounds, including a spot where pirate gold had been found, as well as a tree that had been found Grover Cleveland's favor.
|This little cat was lounging about the back porch of the house as the tour group exited.|
|There were some non native plants mixed in among a lot of old trees.|
|This was about the clearest photo I got of any of them. They were not keen on the sound of the click of the camera shutter.|
|I believe these were Malaysian inspired sculptures on the lake side of the garden.|
Clearing the mind
|Louisiana night sky.|
I started writing blog drafts on my phone, which helps keep these easier to edit and update later. I try to do that more these days, because even after a recent weekend is over, I tend to forget things, and leave them out of my blog posts.
|Located near a historical plantation.|
It was a terrible conflict, drawing lines between countrymen, brothers, and so many other aspects of American life. But I think, and this is just my opinion, to state that "their devotion to duty and country", might be just a bit misplaced.
|A roadside art space.|
|Ever since I started trying get a bit more Marie Kondo-esque, I've been trying to get less books...|
|It was already after services, so I just got some shots of the exterior.|
|I know it's history, but there's a part of me that feels a bit sad for this young man. I think my imagination gets caught up in what he must have gone through, to have his life end so soon.|
Shadows on the Teche
|One of the more unusual plantation houses.|
Sounds odd right? But it was designed that way. The concept was that hallways were harder to cool off, so the main rooms were just connected by doorways that led to outdoor walkways.
|I tend to think all of the trees this old down here, are just epic. [Right] A couple of things I picked up from the gift shop.|
|A double rainbow, just after the rain. A nice send off to leave on.|
Thanks for reading!
Until next time, support your local artists and businesses. Be kind to your fellow beings and always take the path less traveled. We all may live in times uncertain, but kindness, understanding, and believing in the good that is in most each and every one of us is what can bring about better days!
- Mario, the Artisan Rogue
Illustrator, Voice Actor, Writer, Animal Rights Activist
Illustrator, Voice Actor, Writer, Animal Rights Activist