What’s in a name and other musings….

Elk City lake park
Elk City Lake Park in Oklahoma

From our travels  through Arkansas and Oklahoma several days ago …..

Forrest rest area
Rest area westbound on I-40 east of  Forrest City, AR – nice spot with plenty of room

We passed an uneventful night at a nice rest area just east of Forrest City, Arkansas.  The truck parking area was full so we opted to park horizontally across several spaces near a picnic area and away from the restrooms.  It was shielded somewhat from the interstate and noise was minimal.  We have been amazed at the truck traffic on this trip – even more than the last time we traveled across the country.  Rest areas have been jam-packed with tractor trailers spilling onto the entrance and exit ramps.  I am guessing this is due to tighter restrictions on their travel time as well as increased commerce via truck.

We have not yet added water to our fresh water tank, choosing to travel lighter and prevent any possibility of freezing pipes until we get to warmer weather.  We filled up a 5-gallon drinking water container before we left Pennsylvania and, while traveling, fill multiple water bottles at rest areas along the way.  I did manage to actually wash my hair this morning by boiling water on the stove and rinsing in the sink!!  It was glorious!!! 😊  I think we have decided we are far enough south to get some fresh water in the trailer so maybe our next stop will be a campground where water is available.

As we started down the interstate this morning, I contemplated the state we were traveling through – Arkansas.   It’s not a state I’m terribly familiar with and I decided to do some research.  I noticed as we entered Arkansas the day before that it is considered “The Natural State.”   Arkansas is home to multiple geographic regions each with its own unique characteristics – the Ozark Mountains, the Arkansas River valley, the Arkansas Delta area and the Piney Woods region.  There are multiple wildlife refuges along the I-40 corridor as well.  I imagine it is quite a birding and fishing destination.  We’ve never passed through the state at a time when we could stop and explore.   At some point, I would like to spend some quality time here – especially in the Ozarks and hot springs areas.  As I was recounting to Jim some of the features of Arkansas, we got to talking about the name itself.

Where did the name Arkansas come from and how is it related to Kansas??  My inquiring mind had to find out!!  The name Arkansas is derived from the French term “Arcansas” which is the pluralized form of the word akansas.   Akansas was a term given to the people who settled the region in the 13th century – the Quapaw tribe.   The suggested translation for Arkansas means “land of downriver people” describing the migration of the Quapaw downriver from the Ohio Valley to present day Arkansas.  So, if you ever wondered why Arkansas – now you know!!

Jim and I have had some interesting discourse while traveling over the past couple of days.  He has adopted a manner of speaking that requires me to constantly be asking “what did you say?”  This is because we are listening to the impeachment trial on the radio much of the time while also trying to converse and debate the arguments both sides are presenting – and I find it difficult to “hear” with that background noise.  Additionally, Jim admits that he is purposely choosing to speak softly so he can maintain a neutral tone of voice.  So, he’s getting tired of me asking him to speak up and stop mumbling and I’m getting tired of constantly badgering him to speak up.   I started just nodding and agreeing with him when he was making a point just to avoid an argument.  However, he quickly caught on to that strategy!  What could have turned frustrating suddenly became comical as we likened the situation to an epic, hilarious Seinfeld episode – remember the “low-talker” Seinfeld fans!?  It was fun reminiscing about that show and I was even able to pull up a short clip of a scene from that episode on YouTube.   Every now and then, when Jim catches me looking his way, he starts “low-talking” and it breaks the monotony and we laugh. 😊

Fuel and Food

Valero and McDonald’s are our new “fav” places.   Imagine that!  We find Pilot and Flying J fuel stations to be pitifully dirty and congested.  Valero stops across the mid-section of the country have been clean and easy to navigate.  I use the GasBuddy app to identify upcoming fuel stations and prices.  These fuel  stops are usually pretty mundane but every now and then we see some interesting things.   One stop we noticed this tractor trailer hauling some wind turbine parts.  Wow!!  Those blades are so big up close and personal.  There are huge wind farms along the I-40 corridor in Texas.  Texas generates the most wind power by megawatt of all states with Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas and California following.

We tend to eat from our food stash along the road since we are traveling with a fully decked out Airstream.   But, when trying to make time from place to place, we opt for a quick breakfast spot in the morning.  McDonald’s seems an odd choice for me but their egg sandwiches are cheap, passable and consistent and their coffee is good – with free refills.


We stopped for our next night at a city park campground that had electric hookups.  We were hoping to fill up our fresh water tank so we could use water in the trailer but the water was shut off for the season. The Elk City Lake Park has 5 RV spots available.   We were one of two occupied spots.  As a stop-over along the I-40 corridor, it was quiet and pretty.  Lots of waterfowl on the lake including a very active Great Blue Heron and some ducks and geese.  Both the sunset and the sunrise were “knock your socks off” amazing!!

Elk City lake park 2
Site # 3 was the most level with all sites by the water – sunset and sunrise were both spectacular!!
Elk City lake park 3
Can you spot the heron??
Elk City lake park 4
Lots of these small ducks cruising around the edge of the shoreline

Elk City lake park 5

After leaving Elk City the next morning, we set our sites on Carlsbad Cavern National Park area.  While driving through the Texas panhandle and West Texas we once again were reminded of the extensive cotton crop grown here.  In some areas, farmers were turning under the fields getting ready for a new season.  Our conversation turned to cotton as we debated whether the crop was perennial or annual.  I did some research while we were driving and discovered that although cotton is certainly a perennial plant, it is grown as an annual commercially in order to reduce disease and pest problems.  Depending on the location, cotton is planted by seed as early as February.  So, it makes senses that fields are now being plowed and readied for this year’s crop in West Texas.

We stopped at a picnic area along a deserted stretch of Rt. 60 for a short break.  I was amused by this mailbox located in the middle of the rest area.  What’s up with that?!  Just one of those endless oddities that you encounter on the road!

mail at picnic area
Wait, what??!!  A mailbox in a picnic rest stop??!!  And there was mail in it!!!!

Next up – Carlsbad and Guadalupe NP!!

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