written Sunday, November 30, 2008
near Texarkana, TX
If we accomplished nothing else during our stay in Texarkana it was to confirm that this "Ark-La-Tex" area (as they commonly refer to it) isn't going to be on our short-list of places to live someday. There's just nothing we saw that would cause us to delay leaving. A few years ago Mac Davis wrote a song about Lubbock TX that applies here, if I may paraphrase: "Happiness is Texarkana in my rear view mirror."
Yesterday, Saturday, the weather broke and a bad case of bus-house fever drove us out on a short exploration of the area. Just south of our RV Park is the Wright Patman Dam and Lake, another COE project. There are 4 COE campgrounds around the lake, one of which is top-notch and will be on our list of places to stay if we ever break down passing through this area in the future. We also explored the Dam, as I find these massive structures amazing in their scale and the amount of effort expended to build them. They will certainly be among those enduring things that'll survive our civilzation and give future archeologists something to study and wonder about.
The drive around Texarkana was just depressing. On the way into the central downtown area on Hwy 59 and 93, mostly the south side of town, there were more abandoned structures than inhabited ones. The lucky ones were boarded up, but all in various stages of deterioration -- eroding monuments to the natural law that things tend to move from a state of order to a state of disorder.
We'd heard about the Texarkana Post Office -- it's supposed to be the only Post Office in the United States that straddles a state line and has two zip codes. Since it's the main tourist attraction in the area we had to see it. It's downtown, right in the middle of Stateline Blvd. -- the road bends around the building, northbound lanes on one side, southbound on the other. OK, it was Saturday, but downtown was largely abandoned by everyone except questionable characters lurking about. After a few quick photos we drove up Stateline Blvd. to the north. As you make your way along this road Arkansas is on one side, Texas on the other. It was quickly apparent that the Texas side is "dry" as every liquor store we saw (and there were a lot of 'em) was on the Arkansas side. Throughout the South there's a patchwork of liquor laws that complicate life for people from Wisconsin and those who think a glass or two of wine in the evening is medicinal. We manage.
Anyway, the north side of town is somewhat better than the south. This is where the big shopping center is and most of the restaurant chains have located. We made a quick stop for a few supplies and headed back to the bus-house.
Today, Sunday, we're getting ready to pull out Monday morning. Our destination is another COE campground near Waco where we'll spend a few days on our way South. We have almost two weeks before we're scheduled to arrive in Rockport and we'd like to spend some time along the way in Austin to visit the State Capitol and the LBJ Library & Museum on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.