December 4, 2000
I crossed into Arkansas just as the sun was setting on Monday evening. Northeastern Arkansas is flat as the eye can see. Besides grassland and sky the only objects dotting the terrain were telephone poles and a few trees interspersed here and there, perhaps miles distant. It was as I imagined Nebraska or Kansas might be.
The sun had already set by the time I-55 met I-40 in the West Memphis area. The Natural State had plunged into complete darkness as I headed westward one again, towards the capital city of Little Rock, about 150 miles away. I had brought with me a number of tapes full of my favorite MP3s. A few tapes in particular I promised I would not play while the sun was up, all featuring the king of late night talk radio, Art Bell (or parodies thereof).
So I popped into my tape deck a cassette of a show that Art did about real-life ghost stories. The audio quality was rather poor, however, but it was interesting to hear while I was driving on a perfectly straight and featureless highway in the dark of night. Sure, there were a few cars and trucks on the road, and you could see a few lights on either side in the distance, but you get the feeling that you're completely alone.
The next day I headed towards Oklahoma. I took I-630 west out of Little Rock to meet up with I-40 once again north and west of the capital. Along the way you cross back over the Arkansas River, and the bridge carrying I-630 lends a spectacular view.
Western Arkansas has much more interesting landscape than do the parts of northeastern Arkansas that I saw. It was rockier and hillier, with many more trees. Though it was early December there was still some colorful foliage around which made the view that much more appealing. It's still a scattered and somewhat desolate area, with many miles between towns and the towns that were situated close to I-40 left much to be desired. A gas station here, a fast food joint there, and not much else.
As I visited Arkansas in the waning days of 2000, the "Home of President Bill Clinton" sign is still hangning. Normally I peer through the viewfinder and determing where I should stand so that I won't be blocking the sign or the dome. That's why in most pictures I'm standing way off to the side. But here I'm just obscuring the last letters of Clinton. Oh well. Before I left I read an article on the wire about how there were some 80 of these signs and the state was being prepared to take them down. And I don't know if you ever saw it, but there is a joke image being sent around the Internet featuring one of these signs. Check out the link below.
January 2, 2001
Little Rock, Arkansas
December 5, 2000
This picture was a near-failure. One thing about photography is that the human eye can see in shadow much better than film. This photo was taken at about 9:30 in the morning in December, and without realizing it, I set the timer on the camera and then assumed a pose right in a shadow between two bright areas. End result, you see the capitol but barely see me. I tried some digital tricks to try to rescue the picture, and this mess is the best I could do.
The Capitol Grounds feature many monuments including, as I would soon learn is a common theme in the southeastern United States, a Confederate War Memorial. I was never a big fan of the idea of treason against the U.S., so after taking a picture of the statue, I promptly spat on it.
The Capitol is toward the western side of Little Rock, near the Arkansas River. The building, as well as the dome, is made of limestone.
August 13, 2001