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2/24/23, Hot Springs to Oklahoma City

During COVID, there was a French photographer who traveled the midwest US and Canada photographing abandoned and decaying places, well, he also had an obsession with diners that I didn't share, but that's besides the point, I do love old. He awoke such a desire to visit some of these places because they were so different than anything in the Northeast, which was getting a little suffocating. And while the last few days have been great, today was the day I had imagined, wandering back roads and coming upon things that would open my eyes and mind. By virtue of being in Hot Springs, I had to take back roads and decided to head for Hugo, Oklahoma (the UPS driver I chatted with in Broken Bow, a town I happened upon, said "Now why, honey, would you want to go to Hugo? There ain't nothin' goin' on there. I should know, I live there!!" And she was right, but I'm glad I went).

I saw things that helped me understand attitudes different than mine. After crossing over from Arkansas into southeastern Oklahoma, I entered the Choctaw Nation, which is owned by Native Americans, but it appears others reside there as well. The level of subsistence living is extreme. Their houses are tiny, often not more than the size of a tool shed. There was one that had a gaping hole in the roof and I could see that the roof was made of something no thicker than linoleum. It seems that many essentially live outside and perhaps only sleep inside, similar to the early European Americans who went to the mid)west; one or two sheep or cows (actually didn't see any chickens) and maybe a mangy looking horse. At least some of them live off the land and live harsh lives that are likely regularly negatively impacted by severe weather (there was a severe weather warning for flooding this morning), along with all the other things they face. It made me understand why they might support the second amendment, as they likely use guns to get food, as well as harbor anti-immigrant sentiment (who needs more people who might make life more complicated?), and even Blue Lives Matter (they're our neighbors). Not to say that everyone looked miserable, but yes, it's a hard, hard life.

  • In western Arkansas, it was so damp that there was bright green moss on the sides of houses and cars

  • There is a road that is named for the Choctaw Code Talkers in World War I, pretty clever as I'm sure no one could intercept them

  • In the more affluent part of Oklahoma, where there were ranches, there was a covered wagon with two car seats inside it, where the bench would have been

  • Personal Injury Lawyer ads seem to be a common theme among the southern states billboards. No religious billboards today, but plenty of churches. I did get to wondering about the bevvy of Christian billboards next to adult super stores and wondered if words flew.

  • Gas is $2.85 a gallon in Arkansas and $3.85 in Oklahoma

  • I passed Coffee Creek and couldn't help wondering if it was so because people used to have their morning coffee there, or because the water is the color of coffee. I'm guessing the latter...

  • There was a funeral home across the road from a storage facility with nothing else much around...

Good night from my cushy Museum Hotel in Oklahoma City

One of a variety of Severe Weather Alerts

Broken Bow, Oklahoma, part of the Choctaw Nation

I love negative space

Pavers in Hugo, OK

Emblematic of what I saw often, cars that had outgrown their circumstances. Hugo, OK

I would imagine the winters are cold, Hugo OK

Hardscrabble Hugo OK

Storage in Hugo OK

Hugo, OK side street. So many weed shops in our country.

Dierks, OK main street

More Dierks

And more Dierks


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