Leaving Clinton we head east. While trying to help with a service call we missed a turn and ended up driving 120 miles on country roads instead of the Turnpike. As a result we got to see eastern Oklahoma and Western Arkansas up close and personal. Unsure of the availability of food, gas and alcohol at the lake, we stopped in Gravette Arkansas for supplies. I waited with the dogs in front of the supermarket, while Eva bought groceries. As I did, I struck up a conversation with one of the market employees, a friendly white haired gentleman, who was gathering carts. A dog at the end of a leash is excellent bait to use while trolling for conversations. We discussed longevity in dogs for about ten minutes. True to the stereotype of the region, his smile, under a bushy white mustache, revealed a gap where a missing upper incisor once stood. I wish I had the huevos to ask people if i could photograph them; it would substantially add to the interest of the blog. Eva emerged and informed me that the market did not sell alcohol and the cashier had no idea where alcohol was sold. I began to panic ...
We continued twisting and turning towards out destination. There are a couple of unusual things which really stood out. First, I was flummoxed as to how an area with such a small population could support so many churches. There was one around every turn, most in small white buildings and seemingly adhering to doctrines which must have been offshoots of the Evangelical or Baptist faith. Apparently though, Catholics are as scarce as hens teeth in this area. One could make a career out of shooting pictures of these little churches, but we were running late and we bypassed the opportunity.
To digress, while in eastern Oklahoma we caught a morsel of evangelistic preaching on the radio. I was struck by how little the accent and cadence of these preachers had changed since I first heard them growing up in North Carolina in the fifties.
Ah drueeem of a better waorrrrld.
There are two distinct features of this type of preaching: first, adding an additional syllable to single syllable words and second, drawing out words, especially at the end of a sentence, for 4 or 5 additional beats. Since no one actually talks this way except preachers, while preaching, I'm mystified as to how this type of speech has persisted since before my birth to the present. The only other linguistic analog I can think of is the tendency of airline pilots to adopt a Chuck Yeager drawl. Perhaps preachers and airline pilots are only responding to people's expectations of what they should sound like.
The second observation of note was the fact that, while there were countless churches, there were no bars (and i was actively looking in the hope of finding a package store). Incongruously, we passed three marijuana dispensaries.
As we moved east, the land became progressively more hilly and the roads progressively more twisty. I began to understand why people in this area have a reputation for marrying their cousins. Before paved roads and the car, traveling even a short distance must have required a tremendous amount of energy. The hills are like San Francisco's on steroids.
Finally, as we approached our destination, a sigh of relief. A winery!!! We learned that prior to Prohibition, Arkansas was the leading wine producing region in the United States. Who knew?
Exhausted, we arrived at our destination at the lake.