Before celebrating the completion of my family's walk across the United States on the actual anniversary of June 5th, 2012 in Yorktown, VA, I had left our rediscovery in Texarkana on the Texas and Arkansas border.
It was March of 1987, and after about a week of walking, my family stayed for a few days in Pine Bluff, AR at a Comfort Inn. We again experienced Southern hospitality when the hotel placed a message on its billboard wishing the Huff Family safe travels on its Walk across America.
After an adventurous lunch, we continued eastward. The swampland became more dense and the wildlife diverse. The sounds of nature echoed in the air where frogs could be mistaken for the the songs of birds in the trees. Within this swamp, the boundaries for the Louisiana Purchase were conceived.
The stretch of country highways through Arkansas filled our ears with the sounds of frogs and insects. Much of the terrain was marshes and pine forests. The air smelled refreshing unless we were downwind of an unfortunate armadillo that had made an untimely decision to cross the highway and never made it to the other side.
As we walked into Stuttgart, AR, we could see miles of rice paddies and huge grain elevators. The city is famous for the number of ducks and geese that stop on their annual migrations from Canada to U.S. and Mexico. Stuttgart got its name from German immigrants, and one can surmise that they missed their homeland. I could see the fabric of America in the communities of immigrants from all over the world.
In my journal, I wrote that we had stayed at the Best Western Duck Inn. Cathleen and I stayed in the same hotel 25 years later. With all the changes with businesses closing because of the economy, we were surprised that it was still there and the nicest place in town.
A few miles past Stuttgart, the land changes to primarily swampland and marshes. The next major town past Stuttgart is Clarendon. On the way into town, we had walked nearly four miles of levies and long narrow bridges that had no room for pedestrians. For the last half mile, we walked a large narrow bridge over the White River.
As Cathleen and I drove through, I got chills thinking about the dangers we had faced crossing that stretch of highway. We stopped our car in Clarendon to have lunch at a little cafe called Bendi's Diner. They served traditional Southern fare such as fried frog legs and crawdads. Basically life found in the local swaps. They also served hickory smoked BBQ. Cathleen and I had fun eating food we would never have at home. We started with a basket filled with Cajun fried crawdads and Cathleen had frog legs that tasted surprisingly like fried chicken. Well... not surprisingly. I had a BBQ pulled pork sandwich and taught the friendly waitress about how to make an Arnold Palmer.
|The Duck Inn|
|Narrow levies and bridges for miles on the way into Clarendon, AR|
|Bridge over the White River|
|Take yer pick. It's all good!|
|Has to be eaten with the right Cajun dipping sauce!|
|Getting full fast.|