I’m feeling quite at home on Highway 70. Has been an interesting few days, but now it veers off and I face Memphis. Several times along the way, people have said “I seen ya”, be it down in Lonoke, Carlisle or Brinkley. Made it through The Dump unscathed, and all is well in Forrest City after 18.25 miles. Sad to say the “freeway effect” has taken its toll on this town, like so many others when the freeways were built and traffic was diverted from their business districts. Everything new is along the freeway exits and many businesses in the center are shuttered. Even though it’s only a couple of miles to the freeway, it’s almost like walking back (or forward) 50 years in time! When I used to drive for work, I would always try to take the side roads, time permitting, and always noticed the difference, but when you’re walking, you really notice the differences.
Walked through Palestine… again. For a split-second I thought I might have gone right instead of left and walked 396 miles back to Palestine TX… dang, just looked it up - that’s a long way. And there’s that other Palestine, tough to walk there.
Quite an uneventful walk to the edge of Forrest City. Hot and humid is a given these days, so I’ll just tell you when it cools off. In the meantime, just assume it’ll be hot and humid. Must say I’ve been very lucky when it comes to rain. Little sprinkle in Texas, but no storms while on the road. Thankful for that,
First greeter in Forrest City was a funny brown lab carrying a Birkenstock in his mouth, brought it to me on the highway, so we played around on the grass in front of the church, but I was concerned about the Birkenstock - not so much the sandal itself, but the girl that wore them. So I took it from funny brown lab and placed on a car in the church parking lot, figured someone would find. As I was leaving, and shooing brown lab away, his owner arrived, so I was able to tell him about the Birkenstock - it was his daughter’s… my good deed for the day.
Then on the edge of town, Silly Pete asked me for a couple of bucks, which I gave him, and we got to talking. Couldn’t believe I had walked from Austin. Then Wendell came over, wanting to see what was going on… told him, and the three of us chatted for a while, until Silly Pete and I walked off together for a couple of blocks.
And a new trekking pole story, sadly. At three this afternoon, I was walking in front of the Forrest City Jr. High School as the kids were leaving school. A group of four young girls walked toward me, and one of them stopped and asked me what the poles were. I told her they were walking sticks, and she turned to her friend and said “See? I told you that wasn’t a gun”. I made light of it, said I was walking and no, of course they weren’t a gun! Her friend said she thought they were, to which I said I was sorry they scared her. I find this so sad, I really don’t have a silver bullet solution, but it is very unfortunate that relatively few killers/shooters have managed to change the psyche of many many people, including these young tweens in a little bitty town in Arkansas.
And remember I said you can’t go wrong with Mexican restaurants in small towns… well this one was superb. Don Jose, exit on Arkansas One. Had a very nice conversation with Alexis, a young man from Guadalajara who moved to Arkansas at age 11, 12 years ago. Perfect English, perfect Spanish, perfect service. I think he was surprised when, after greeting me in Spanish, I answered him right back, in Spanish of course! His parents had the opportunity to start their own restaurant and moved the family up here, about as different a place from Guadalajara as they could find. Food was excellent, service as well, and restaurant was full. Happy for Alexis and his family…
And on we go…