Thursday, October 4, 2018

Exotic places while traveling full time

We are in our tenth year full timing and still enjoying every minute of our time together. There are so many beautiful and forgotten places in this country. As most of you know, we don't like traveling on the Interstates and prefer the adventures you'll find on the back roads. Furthermore, once we arrive at a location, we use the car to explore those places that are not accessible with our coach. We came into Arkansas on US64, a two lane relaxing road, so once we settled into our campsite we decided to explore the area. 

Interstates are ok if you need to get from Point A to Point B quickly.  But, if you're not in a hurry, most of the US highways are perfect to enjoy the journey. You'll find many forgotten towns and little gems. This is US 64 towards Ozark, Arkansas. It is a great alternative to I 40. You'll arrive at your destination much more relaxed and see things that you'd otherwise miss.

I told my wife I'd take her to exotic places and here's one. Now she can't say I never took her to Paris! It's claim to fame is it's the gateway to Mt. Magazine which boasts the highest point in Arkansas. Incorporated in 1879, the population is now 3300. It was named after it's French counterpart. Originally a coal mining community, today it's main industry is farming and ranching but it also is home to manufacturing plants serving the auto and aerospace industries.

The highway leading into Paris. Of note is Paris was the site of the last execution by hanging in the State of Arkansas in 1914. John Arthur Tillman was hanged for the murder of his girlfriend Amanda Stephens. The gallows were replaced by the electric chair after the hanging. The jail where Tillman was held and hanged still stands today and is the Logan County Museum.

Entry from the west. The Logan County museum is on the left and further down is the County Courthouse.

The Logan County Courthouse was built in 1908 out of brick set on a cut rock foundation. It was placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1976.

Every Christmas they have a parade through the city to the courthouse which is then lighted in spectacular fashion.

Cove Lake is a 160 acre lake off Arkansas 309 south of Paris. Popular activities include swimming, fishing, hiking, water skiing and scenic drives. A boat ramp is available and an on-site concessionaire provides boat rentals and other equipment available for purchase.

The lake is home to catfish, large mouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, crappie and perch. It is stocked every other year, although a small amount of catfish are stocked annually and just prior to a yearly kids' fishing derby hosted at the lake.

After Paris, what could be more diverse than going on to Havana. Not too many people call this their home, but it's an interesting city. Poultry, farming and livestock make up it's industrial base. Although a very small city, it provides city water, sewer and trash service to its residents, as well as a Rural Fire Department with several pumper, tanker and brush fire trucks.

Main Street, Havana, Arkansas

Cloud formation over the Arkansas River at dusk.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Aux Arc Corps of Engineers Park

Leaving Oklahoma, we headed east into Arkansas. Our next stop was to be the Ozark-Jeta Taylor Lock and Dam on the Arkansas river just south of the town of Ozark, Arkansas. We arrived early afternoon under clear skies and warm weather. We selected the Aux Arc Corps of Engineers Park situated along the banks of the Arkansas river across from the locks which allow barges and vessels to go up and down stream to deliver goods. Enjoy some pictures taken from the park. Areas around the park will be coming in my next segment. Look for it....Dennis


Our site at Aux Arc COE. Aux Arc is French. A name that originated with French explorers when they first mapped and explored the Arkansas river and adjacent area. Loosely translated, it means "top of the arc" referring to the large bend in the Arkansas river here. These words were eventually morphed into what we call "Ozarks" today.

The COE park has water and electric at each site. Some sites are only 30 amp but the majority have 50 amp. There are two dump sites available. The sites are situated on the river side and inland side. Fortunately, ours was alongside the Arkansas river. The sites were large and spacious. Due to the abundance of trees we could not use our roof mounted satellite dish so we had to put up the remote dish. Not too big a deal but worth mentioning. If you're offended by train noise, this probably is not the campground for you, as the tracks are right across the river.

This is a view from the back of our site. The Arkansas river makes a huge bend here with the town of Ozark, Arkansas at the apex. The river is so wide here that this area is referred to as Ozark Lake. In the distance is the railroad bridge and while I never counted, I'd estimate about 14 trains use these tracks daily. Fishing along the banks was excellent. The park also offers a very large play area for the kids.

For those not familiar with the Army Corps of Engineers, it is a federal agency that employs about 37,000 civilian and military personnel. It was established on June 11, 1775. Yes, it's 243 years old! The corps' mission is to "Deliver vital public and military engineering services; partnering in peace and war to strengthen our Nation's security, energize the economy and reduce risks from disasters." Most of their work is preventing maritime disasters and maintaining flood control and waterway navigation.

If you look closely at this picture, just below and to the right of the bridge, you can see one of the freight trains. There are several unprotected and protected crossings along these tracks. While they run across the river from the campground, the trains are required to sound their horns as they pass these crossings. Obviously, they can be heard from your campsite. Since we enjoy trains, we didn't find them disruptive.

This park is one example of the corps byproducts of flood control and waterway navigation. All locks and dams along major rivers in the United States are run by USACE.

Here, you can see the dam and the adjacent locks in the foreground. The large concrete facility at the far end is at the entrance to the campground. 

Since the Arkansas river is used to move cargo to ports up and down stream, there has to be a device that allows them to pass the dams. This is where the locks come into play. Simply put, a lock is a huge passageway that is sealed on both ends. When a cargo barge approaches, one end opens and allows the ship to proceed into the passageway. That end is then closed. If the river is higher at the far side of the dam, then the passageway fills with water raising the ship to the level of the far side.

Here is one of the large boats that push the barges up and down the river. These boats, referred to as 'towboats', have engines ranging from 600-11,000HP. Here, on the Arkansas river, they are limited to 5,000HP and generally push 16 barges at a time. Each barge is typically about 200 feet long and 35 feet wide. A typical 'tow' would be 6-7 barges long and 5-6 barges wide.
The towboat pushes the barges into the lock to be allowed to proceed down the river.