Tuesday, September 2, 2008

III Down in the Delta

It's amazing what you can do when you dig down deep enough inside of yourself. The Arkansas Delta was the most physically challenging leg I've faced thus far. A hundred plus miles of mostly shadeless, shoulderless low lying farmland starting east of Little Rock on Highway 70. Punishing heat in triple digits with humidity hovering around 100%. At night, mosquitoes the size of swallows from all of the fish ponds and rice fields.

If you can lose all that - even briefly - you can appreciate the rich ecosystem that thrives there. Yeah, the mosquitoes are brutal and unrelenting. After four coats of spray I found myself still under constant attack. It was like they were systematically testing my defenses.

But if it wasn't for the abundant mosquito population there you wouldn't find one of the most brilliant array of dragonflies I've ever seen. Like an impressionist painting, some checkered in black in white, others in irridescent greens, yellows, and blues. And feeding off of them are red winged blackbirds, great blue herons, and other egrets indigenous to the area. Simply spectacular the diverse palette of life found in the Delta.

Including people. I was just outside Hazen searching for shade when I saw a sign for Murry's Restaurant. At last - A/C and some ice cold water but when I tried to enter the doors were locked. Open 5pm it said. It wasn't much past noon so I sat on a bench outside, opened my pack, and started snacking on my trailmix. Moments later, a man appeared, shirtless yet wearing an apron. He, too, must've been feeling the effects of the heatwave.

I asked for his permission to rest and repast on his patio. He invited me in and over a glass of sweet tea, offered to make me lunch. That's Stan on the left and he's the chef and proprietor. Should your travels ever take you to Hazen, stop by Murry's. Stan's food is second only to his life stories so make sure you ask him how he became a cook. And try his bread pudding.

It was my last luxury in Arkansas. I went to church that Sunday then walked for the next 24 hours, rested a day, then got back on the road and completed a 60 mile stretch in two days of walking through Crowley's Ridge and almost to West Memphis. One of the most fascinating sights was between Forrest City and Madison, which seemed entirely draped in Kudzu, a highly invasive Southern vine.

If you recall, my last best personal two day record was 41 miles. The Arkansas Delta was too dangerous to walk with the boys but being without them kept me highly motivated. And the heat index encouraged me to keep moving at night. But I couldn't have accomplished it without our host family in Lonoke AR, Larry and Linda. That's him on the left with his two Irish Wolfhounds, Twister and Kermit. We met them through their daughter, Ashley, whose husband, Trey, is over in Iraq. Thanks guys for transporting and providing support to us.


Vicki Tankersley said...

Wow, I knew it had to be harsh out there with the humidity and high heat, but you are amazing! A 60 miles stretch in 2 days makes you, uhm, "Hercules"? I'm glad you made it through that leg of the journey. Those mosquitos sound terrible and I've seen what Kudzu can do. You aren't just kidding when you say it's a "highly invasive vine". You're probably lucky one of those vines didn't just come after you. That stuff is nasty.

puppy up!

Blazer, Kimber & Vicki T

Angie Williams corryton TN said...

YBD, Hudson & Murphy,
Please know that, if along your journey, you happen to feel the presence of a happy, life loving, incredibly friendly sole... it may well be that of my "little man", a Boston named Snoop.
I joined your group on Dogster about a week before we were givin the devistating news that, at 7 years old, Snoop had cancer. I had no idea when I joined the dogster group that our family's life would be effected by this horrible desease. When Snoop's medicin stopped working, it had only been a few days more than one month since he had been diagnosed. It was painfull and so much more than heart breaking to see his body quit while his very sole was so incredibly still full of life and love!
God help us all that have had our soles ripped apart by the effects of cancer on our innocent loving pets!
I wish you all a safe and prosperous journey. I wish I could walk with you all but since I can't I did at least order a Puppy Up bracelet and donated a few dollars. It's not much but it does come from the heart. When you guys get settled, please take a look at my boys dogster page..... just incase you do feel Snoops wonderfull spirit urging you on.... http://www.dogster.com/dogs/176922

Vicki Tankersley said...

Oh Angie, this isn't YBD, but it is me, Vicki Tankersley and I have Snoop's page on Dogster up right now and I read the story about how a sweet little dog, with so much spirit was brought down by lymphoma. I absolutely can't stop crying after seeing his wonderful little pictures and your writing is filled with so much feeling and pain over the loss of this wonderful little guy. I'm so sorry he was taken away at such a young age. I will pray for you and Snoop's spirit. This is why I am such an advocate for Luke, Hudson & Murphy... it is so necessary to find out what is causing dogs to die at younger ages than they used to... Cancer is a hideous disease. I know, because I've also had it, but I don't care about me... I care about our wonderful precious beings we call dogs. My deepest condolences.

Vicki Tankersley, Blazer & Kimber