Posted by: Jim E | October 10, 2010

A Road Trip…Tickseed…Mountain Air…And Small Town Arkansas…

“Another road trip”, you say…and so close to being “just off your deathbed”…well, all I can say is…time is getting short…I’m almost 70 you know…we need to get some “stuff in” before the final curtain falls…so…weak from from an illness close to death…here we go…

Off we went into the great Arkansas hinterlands…where no one else has dared to tread…at least no one else I know…we got up yesterday and took off for the day…yes, just a day trip…two hours there…and two hours back…you may say, “Not a world traveler, you?”, (speaking pure Minnesotan)…and you would be right…before we moved to Arkansas, and we lived in a northern suburb of Minneapolis…I used to say when people regaled me with their travels to China, or Europe, or New York, or wherever…I would almost always reply, “I’ve been to Chaska, once.”…(Chaska is a  southern suburb of Minneapolis)…so as you can see I have not improved much on my “world wide travels”…two hours northwest of Little Rock…not much of a road trip, but road trip none-the-less…

We have been planning this since before my miraculous deathbed recovery…so when we  woke up Saturday morning, we decided this was the day…clear, warm, beautiful morning…no rain or storms, just great weather…and we pointed the Yukon toward Mt. Magazine State Park…up between Havana and Paris…now you know what I am going to say…”I’ll bet you have never been near Havana and Paris and back home in the same day!!!”…and you’d be right…both, very small towns in Arkansas but you know, people live there and everywhere in-between…

Everywhere we drove…all along the road side…there were these wild flowers…it is really odd for a Minnesotan to see flowers, wild or not…blooming along the road in October…and they were literally everywhere…they are Tickseed sunflowers…they grow in masses on the roadsides in fall, necessary for Monarchs and other migrating butterflies…now aren’t you glad you came along for the road trip for that information???…oh, and we’re not finished yet…

You know road trips can be very tiring…IF…you go with the idea that it has to be Disney World all the way…in fact the way we have done it over the years with our family…is not only look at what is “there”…but what is underneath what is “there”…so it’s phenology, architecture, sociology, anthropology, biology…a little chemistry and geology thrown in for spice and you have what I call, “non-stop wonder” all along the way…(the weather, and it’s effect; buildings; people, and how they live; plants, animals, all living things; rock formations, etc)…

So because of that background we have a great time on road trips…the Tickseed for example…I imagine there are many who never “see” the Tickseed, or want to find out about them…fewer still who write about them…and when you pass by towns and homes…we talk about: “What do they do for a living?”…”What makes them stay here?”…and then look around at what they may “see”, so that “we” may see…

We traveled all back roads to get there…we noticed all the towns but how about these: first Perryville, then Perry, both in Perry county…turn left…how about Casa, Ola, Danville…and then Havana…there were some good size towns in there…with their own character, businesses and structure…all interesting…and now up the mountain…turn right…

Mt. Magazine State Park on Scenic Highway 309 (the highway was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Depression)…it’s a fairly new state park…established in 1998 but officially dedicated as an Arkansas state park in 2002…and the new lodge was opened in 2006…it is beautiful…and was jam-packed yesterday…built on the edge of the mountain, with views you can’t believe…the campgrounds were also full…and the hang gliders were present in abundance, but sadly we didn’t get to see them take off…but did see where they jumped off (in 2006, a hang glider flew 178 miles to Bolivar, Missouri, setting a distance record for Arkansas)…

Mt. Magazine is the highest mountain in Arkansas…2,753 feet…part of the Ouachita Mountain range, it is high and beautiful…the lodge is built right on the top, western edge of the mountain…it is beautiful…(and why is it called Magazine…well, I don’t know for sure but early explorers thought the whole line of mountains around and including Mt. Magazine, looked like store houses or warehouses…magazines…and called all of them the same until they started to give all the mountains their own individual names…and since this one was the largest and tallest…the name stuck with Mt. Magazine)…

The state park has not only hang gliding but hiking, overlooks and camping facilities…and of course bears…in this case black bears…we looked at many of the cars parked at the lodge…many from Arkansas but also from all across the south…as well as Indiana, New York and various spots across the country…I imagine this might be different in the tourist part of the year…on the mountain it is cooler than it is in the river valley…the trip up and down Mt. Magazine was beautiful too…colors have not quite arrived yet in Akansas…maybe by November…but it was still wonderful…

There was great visitors center with a gift shop and information of all kinds…displays of flora and fauna…pictures of what is around the mountain…I enjoyed this road trip as much as any other we have taken…what a wonderful day…and we enjoyed the trip back too…saw new things, loved it all…

Well, I was glad to have you along on this abbreviated trip…hope you had a good time…and hope it helped you to take one of those short trips you’ve promised yourself but haven’t taken yet…a little over a half a tank of gas…and a lifetime of memories…not a bad trade-off…thanks for comin’ along…


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