After a beautiful air conditioned night, we didn’t feel like rushing to leave our motel. Setting off at about 10.20, we set a course out of Memphis via Interstate 40. We didn’t stop to look at any of the attractions – the main one, of course, being Gracelands, the home of Elvis Presley. We have been to Memphis before.
We were close to Interstate 40 and so soon left Memphis, crossing the bridge across the mighty Mississippi and into Arkansas. Turning off the truck infested 40, for the much quieter Highway 70, we progressed west parallel with the 40.
The countryside was dead flat and very wet. Paddy fields growing rice. Arkansas is the largest producer of rice in the US. Other crops were plentiful too. Cotton, corn and soya beans. Or at least we think they are soya beans. They are a predominant crop in this area, according to Google, but one we are not familiar with.
It was a rather sad journey, in a way. An eye opener once you get off the main highway. The cities, they call themselves cities, despite in some cases, having a population of only a few hundred people, were very sorry places. From Forest City through Palestine, Wheatley, Brinkley, Biscoe, De Valls Bluff, Hazen, Carlisle, Lonoke and even into the eastern side of Little Rock, mainly poverty. The poorest part of America we have been in, apart from one or two ghettos in the big cities. Neglected houses, closed businesses and shops, trailer parks and dilapidation everywhere. Apart from churches, of which there are many, looking neat and tidy and the occasional, presumably, farmer’s, mansions. It seems there is no middle ground. Either poverty or extreme wealth. As so much is downtrodden and dilapidated, the appearance of a sudden large mansion seems somehow quite obscene.
Once we left Little Rock, heading west, the scenery changed. It became hillier with forests and lakes. Not much in the way of habitation and no sign of camping. In fact we had not seen a campsite all day.
It was extremely hot, humid and uncomfortable. Especially without the luxury of air conditioning. With the windows and vents wide open it is just about bearable, but it means a constant gale blowing hair and maps everywhere. In one of the cities we passed through, an illuminated sign showed the temperature as 99 degrees.
As time went on and there was no sign of camping we decided we had better stop and ask for advice. The villages we passed through were tiny and there was no sign of anyone to talk to. Suddenly we saw a man on a bike heading down a side street and turned off to speak to him. He was really helpful and advised they had camping just up the road at Coffee Creek. It was literally two minutes away and located in a pretty setting beside a lake.
Entering the office, a little girl and boy were playing on tablets and a smiling Chinese lady was behind the counter. Some banter with the kids followed and we learned they are going back to school tomorrow. Showing us a shady sight, pretty much on the lake front for $13, we had no hesitation in staying for the night.
It didn’t cool down and the breeze from the lake we had hoped for didn’t materialise. Not feeling hungry, or remotely like cooking in a sweltering hot Land Rover, dinner was a cheese sandwich with some fruit. A neighbouring camper who was walking his dogs, stopped to chat and asked us how we managed to sleep in the Land Rover in such high temperatures. He offered us the use of a large fan. He said it is exceptionally hot. Temperatures in the 80’s are more normal. The Chinese lady said it had been over 100 during the day. We decided we would take up the offer of the fan and Dennis went over to collect it. The site we were on had power and with the extension lead provided we could position the fan in the Caranex.
However, I have to say that even with the fan, I struggled to sleep. I think it is the humidity that is so awful. Sweat pouring everywhere. Absolutely yuk. I hope it cools down soon.