Friday, June 7, 2013

Leaving Vicksburg, Mississippi, we headed west across the mighty Mississippi once again and re-entered the State of Louisiana. In Tallulah, La, we turned north on US65, a very nice two lane road. Shortly after going through Transylvania, yes, there actually is such a place, we entered the State of Arkansas. Transylvania, pop. 743, was named after a school in Lexington Ky. The founding father was a grad student of the University of the same name and to show his respect, named the town Transylvania. After the popularity of the Dracula movies in the 30's and 40's the town succumbed to the Hollywood hype and now sells Dracula and Vampire "novelties" at several of the town's stores. I photographed the town's water tower with it's bat logo but it was too blurred.

This area of Louisiana and Arkansas is dotted with many farms. The primary crop here is cotton. Once inside Arkansas gradually followed the Mississippi river and finally ended up in the quaint town of Lake Village. Here we turned eastward and traveled along the banks of Lake Chicot, (pronounced Chico)which is the largest Oxbow Lake in North America and Arkansas' largest natural lake. An oxbow lake is formed when a river winds in one direction the curves back towards itself. Because of this curvature, silt is allowed to build along the downstream side eventually changing the course of the river. Once the mouth of the river has changed, that portion of the river is effectively closed off and the river moves off in another direction. That portion of the river left behind is called an oxbow lake. Lake Chicot was formed some 600 years ago.

We finally arrived at Lake Chicot State Park. We were fortunate to secure a spot in the park over Memorial Day Weekend. Our original destination was Warfield COE park right on the Mississippi river. Due to the significant rise in the water level of the river, that park was flooded and closed. As it turns out, Lake Chicot State Park is a gem! We had a full hookup site with a view of the water and tons of lush green grass behind us. This park even has a public swimming pool, which is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. We really enjoyed this park....

As we left Vicksburg, we headed east on I-20 across the Mississippi River. The older span was deemed unsafe and is undergoing renovation. As a result all traffic is routed across the eastbound bridge making for narrow lanes.

When we reached Tallulah, La, we turned north on US65. This highway stretches from Clayton La in the south all the way to I-90 just south of the Canadian border. It is a well paved road an a very enjoyable alternative to the Interstates.  It begins here as a four lane highway but most of it is two lanes, one in each direction. Very little traffic though.

Cotton fields as far as the eyes can see. These new plants will one day find their way into lives. It's awesome to see so many new plants and new growth. These farmers are a hard working bunch for sure. Up at dawn, work until dark, seven days a week.

 As expected in the South, many of the homes exude grandeur. This home had a porch that stretched around the entire home. This picture does not do it justice.

As mentioned earlier, US65 moves from a four lane roadway to only two lanes. There were several passing lanes along the highway but the traffic was so light they weren't really necessary. A very leisurely drive for me.

When you have cotton fields you also must have cotton gins. We spotted these huge plants all along this route. They are used to separate the seeds from the cotton so each can be used to produce items we use every day.

After passing Lake Village, the road along the banks of Lake Chicot is narrow and has many low hanging branches. We had hoped the State Park was worth the trip and we were not disappointed.
Lake Chicot
Lake Chicot State Park

View out the rear of our coach
The full moon rising in front of our coach

If you look closely, you can see an egret drying it's wings

These are Cypress trees that spend most of their lives living in the water of the swamps and bayous of the South. They are hardy trees and are used for building materials. Their wood is impervious to termites and is the reason many of the homes in the south are still in existence today.

While Lake Chicot is the largest Oxbow Lake in North America and Arkansas' largest natural lake, it was once the Mississippi River bottom. As such, it is not a very deep lake measuring just 13 feet as it's deepest point. It is almost a mile wide and 21 miles long. Being an Oxbow Lake it forms the traditional "C" shape, having been abandoned by the changing course of the river.

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