Saturday, February 2, 2013

Miles and miles of Texas

There is some beautiful scenery in Northern Louisiana. Unfortunately, there is also a lot of poverty. The “homes” that some people live in can best be described as derelict. Accompanying the poverty of finance,  too often is the poverty of pride in one's abode. We avoid interstate highways whenever time and routing makes it possible. This allows us to drive through the small towns that make up rural America. These roads cut through the towns like a knife through a layer cake to reveal both the wealthy and poor sections. In Louisiana the contrast was greater than any we have seen elsewhere. To be fair, I have seen an occasional front yard in Maine littered with more junk than one could believe possible. But, the frequency with which we saw such homesteads here surprised me.

In Louisiana, Claiborne State Park was our home for just one night. The park is situated on a good size lake that is popular with fishermen this time of year. The park offers special rates for fishermen spending extended periods during this fishing season. The brochure called it yo-yo fishing season. That is a term I have never heard. Luckily, it wasn't long at the campsite before I found out what yo-yo fishing is. We had barely got the trailer leveled, the electric and water connected and set about starting a campfire when Skipper, from a campsite just down the lane, arrived and offered some extra firewood he didn't need. Skipper is about 70 years old, tall, face wrinkled more than usual for a man of his years due to the lack of dentition. He wore farmer's winter coveralls and a bright red knitted cap. We exchanged the usual pleasantries such as where we were from, how he handled the extreme weather of the previous night, etc. When asked, he said he was not a fisherman and was not here for the yo-yo fishing, but he could tell me what it is. With such a term, I had imagined all sorts of interesting possibilities. However, yo-yo fishing is a method whereby, a baited line is lowered into the water from a spring loaded reel that is wound like a YO-YO. The line and reel is hung from the branch of a tree. When a fish strikes, the yo-yo allows line to play out until the fish tires. Then it reels the fish back in. Many lakes and bayous have dead trees standing in the water to which these can be attached. In Louisiana a fisherman can have up to 30 of them deployed ad one time. They can be left overnight and checked in the morning. Catfish seem to be the preferred catch. It is an ingenious system, but I was a little disappointed that it was not as exotic as I expected. Here is a Youtube video:

Leaving Louisiana we faced crossing the big state of Texas. Graciously, the Lone Star State provides many state parks along the popular highways. We had a number to choose from and had no trouble finding one that was one day's driving distance to suit our liking. That park was Fort Richardson State Park in Jacksonboro, TX. Built in 1867, Fort Richardson was used as base to prosecute the war against Native Americans. It appeared that the government spared no expense in building this outpost. The sandstone buildings, still standing and in excellent condition, are not only functional, but beautiful. As usual when trying to make distance, we arrived late in the afternoon. So, the buildings were closed. But, on the positive side, the light of the lowering sun accentuated the golden hues of the brown sandstone.

Our welcoming committee upon our arrival at Fort Richardson

The Hospital Building and to the right of the tree the death house/morgue.

View from the hospital to the bakery. At the bakery, 600 - 800 loaves of bread were baked in a day.
One baker died of heat exhaustion

We pushed on with a long day on the road and arrived at Carlsbad, New Mexico in the late afternoon. This was possible because the speed limit was 75mph. We didn't drive the speed limit, but at times we reached it when running down a long steep slope. We will spend two nights here so that we can tour the caverns and watch the super bowl. Sarah and I both want the Ravens to win since they were the team that knocked the Patriots out of the playoffs.

We enjoy the bright sunshine and the 67 degree temperature.

Stay tuned.

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