Thursday, January 8, 2015

Dirt Road

When my wife and I were in college, both before and after we were married, we didn't have much money. I mean, the town we lived in wasn't exactly a bustling metropolis or anything, but still, what little there was to do, we didn't really have the money for.

So we drove.

We drove all over the city, exploring every back street and alley we could find. We drove through residential areas and oohed and aahed over their picture perfect street names. We drove through poorer, rougher areas and took note of the state of the houses, the streets, the cars. We drove past what I'm fairly certain was a crack house. We drove past essentially hidden business that had us both scratching our heads over how they managed to stay in business buried so deep in the city.

Since we've been having financial troubles here of late, we can't afford to do much. But our car gets decent gas mileage, and gas is, for the moment, relatively inexpensive, so we decided to take up the ol' bindle and see what we could see.

License: Attribution Attribution Some rights reserved by chatblanc1
This is a bindle, in case you were wondering. The stick/package thing, not the furry, animal thing.
In the southern US, you can't really spit without hitting a civil war battle ground, so obviously we found some of those. We also found a teeny tiny cemetery buried in the middle of a wooded area just outside of the city. The date above the gate said something like 1887. It looked like there were fifteen headstones, max.

We didn't find many hidden-treasure business, which I was slightly disappointed in. We did find a lot of hidden residential areas, including a mansion at the end of a dead-end road with acres of land surrounding it. Just nestled in the middle of the city.

The lines between "city" and "country" can be very easily blurred in Arkansas. Way more than once we came to a T intersection where turning right would take us into the city proper and turning left would take us instantly into wooded, overgrown areas and/or pastures with cows and goats and chickens.

On one such turn, we realized we were on a highway leaving the city and decided to turn off on a random road. This random road was paved, but we quickly came to a point where there was a rinkydink dirt road branching off to the right. I turned down the dirt road with no hesitation.

I grew up in a very small town. I used to laugh at Smallville because they portrayed it as SO SMALL, but the population on the city's welcome sign said, "25,000." That is roughly 20,000 more people than were in my hometown. I grew up driving through and hanging out in towns with 300, 200, 100 people in them. I'm comfortable on dirt roads.

As we were driving down this dirt road, we seemed to be getting further and further from the city. We found fields of cows--really not uncommon--but it was fun to see someone was keeping goats and ducks as well.

Then, I saw something in a field. I had to stop and take a picture.

I had so many questions. How long had the car been there? Did it belong to the family that lived there and owned that field now? Or had it belonged to a previous owner and the family just didn't move it? Did someone plant that tree intentionally, or was it just a crazy accident of nature, where this single tree managed to find just the right conditions to thrive inside the shelter of a rusted out old car?

Amazingly, we figured we'd hit a dead end and have to turn around at some point, but amazingly, the dirt road ended up connecting to a nicely paved and maintained road. Left took us to a series of mansions and massive houses built on the side of this mountain, the road a twisted, tilted spiderweb of intersections and loops. Right took us back to the city proper. From dirt road, woods, underbrush, leaves, rocks, and wild animals, to pavement and brick buildings and school zones in one turn.

I don't really have a point to this. I just wanted to write about a nice day that I had with my wife. But I guess, if I could suggest something, I'd say if you have the opportunity, go explore the place where you live. You'll find some fascinating things.