To Arkansas and back

First, I’d like to share something my dad told me after my last post.  He said that a nest of squirrels is called a drey.  If you spell dray with an a, it’s a horse-drawn carriage.  Also, contrary to reports you have apparently been hearing back west, our weather today was in the 80’s and muggy, not snowy.  We are, however, expecting a lot of rain and wind to hit tomorrow with possible thunderstorms.

As for today, though, we headed back to the Arkansas border and Fort Smith.  The piece we ordered there last week didn’t fit when it arrived, so we returned it.  We serendipitously found an RV parts store and the owner was able to order something that will work, but we have to go back tomorrow to pick it up.  He’s an elderly man who still uses an old cash register and a calculator, and he doesn’t ship.  He was interesting though.  He saw through his window that we have an Oregon license plate, so he told us that years ago he was stationed with the Coast Guard near Tillamook and he had all kinds of stories to tell us!

We found a bike store so that Mark could get a part he needs for the old bicycle he bought from Marval for $40.  He says this bike fits him better than any bike he’s ever owned, and he’s been fixing it up.  Every night after work he drops me off at home and picks his bike up with the golf cart we use.  He returns the golf cart to the charging station at the top of the hill and then zooms down the hill on his bike.  We have found out that the pavement that goes around the park is half a mile, so he rides around that at least four times before pulling into our lot.  He wants to work up to being able to do the loop from here to downtown Gore and back.  He’s enjoying getting the exercise.

We also found a Hancock Fabrics in Fort Smith and went in to look around.  I’ve been disappointed in the fabric stores I’ve seen here and in Muskogee, but the one in Fort Smith is more like what I’m used to.  It’s still not real big, but it sells more fabric than geegaws.  I found some fabric for my next sewing project.  I’m going to make myself a western-style outfit for our Western Weekend which is coming up in June.  I’ve got a pattern for a square dance skirt, but it’s going to be really bright and colorful.  Those of you who know me won’t be surprised to hear that!

Then we went to Fort Smith’s shopping mall where we were told we could find a replacement battery for my watch.  I was surprised at how small the mall was.  I could see end to end from sears to Penneys, and finding parking was easy.  The kiosk that sold watches was right near the entrance where we came in, and the saleswoman had my battery changed and my watch reset before I even got my wallet out!

On the way home, Mark said that other than appointments at the VA in Muskogee, he’s inclined to head to Fort Smith for anything we need that we can’t find in Gore.  It seems to have more of everything we sometimes need than Muskogee does.  It’s a little farther away, but it still only takes about an hour to get there.

One thing I’ve been meaning to mention is the Oklahoman view of death.  This struck me again today as we were heading toward I-40 to go to Fort Smith.  The first thing you see when you enter the Gore city limits from I-40 is the town cemetery.  Right next to that is the Gore nursing home.  I told Mark this morning that seems kind of morbid to me!  I have noticed in Muskogee that there are several prominent billboards advertising funeral homes.  On the route to Muskogee from here, there are at least two private family cemeteries.  On the way to Fort Smith, there’s a cemetery right next to the rest stop along the highway.  They don’t seem to care about shielding the living from the realities of death here.  That seems odd to my Oregon sensibilities.

When we were talking with the guy at the RV parts store, he commented on how clean Oregon had seemed to him when he was there.  It’s true.  You would think that since we live out in the country, the landscape would be pristine, but the ditches around the farms are all full of garbage.  It has also been hard for me to get used to throwing pop cans and bottles away because they don’t have a place to buy them back at the stores.

I feel like an anthropologist studying a new culture!

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