A Drive Down Any Dirt Road
It was the last Sunday in October. The sun was out and the temperature was comfortably mild for mid-morning. The leaves had begun to turn, but the forecast was for a few days of rain and wind,. I thought I would try and capture some of the color just in case it all got blown away. One of our favorite things to do is just choose a dirt road and take a drive down it. Each road has something unique to offer, and the little creeks, hidden patches of forest and stunning views are waiting to be discovered. The road I chose for this drive was one I had not been down for some years, although I used to visit a friend who at one time lived far down in the hills. I first stopped at the home of a close friend who had a beautiful red tree in the back when I visited a few days before. When I came back it was just past it's prime, but still beautiful.
The dirt road I chose was just a short distance from my friends home, and when I turned down it I had to stop! An older homestead had a stunning color display. Two beautiful trees graced their yard and they were simply beautiful. As you drive down these back roads you tend to find more homes near the pavement ends and the more remote spots far down the road. I had decided to make my way trough the bottom lands and then back into where a creek ran. The distant bluff lines were several miles off. I passed an abandoned home and yard, then moved into the fields.
Some of the older farm houses had disappeared and larger, more modern homes had been erected. Hay fields were now large lawns. But that is progress, I guess. I stopped often to take pictures and just admire the rural landscape. This particular dirt road made it's way up the mountain over very rugged terrain to Hwy 43. Several miles further down the road I came to the more remote areas. The first sign was that the low water crossing was not a concrete slab, like the previous ones. This one, and the rest were simply where the road crossed the creek.
It is very important when driving the back road, to be both properly prepared and also aware. After a heavy rain these crossings can be quite dangerous. Always stop and look. Check to see if you can see the bottom. Look and see how fast the water is moving. Even if the crossing is not dangerous, I usually stop because it is a good place to poke around. Possibly walk down the creek bank a bit, maybe see deer or turkey.
Fording the creek I drove just a short way and pulled over and parked. Another nice thing about dirt road driving is that you can, for the most part, just pull over and park and go walking and exploring. At this spot the road ran parallel to the creek for some distance and there was no barb wire on the creek side, so I just wandered up the creek. The sun was out in full force and the winds were calm. It was nice to be able to shed the light jacket I started out the day with, and just be in a t-shirt.
Finishing my explorations, I continued down the road till I reached the place where it began the rugged climb up the mountainside. I could tell the recent rains had washed it out somewhat, so I turned around and headed back to town. My drive took about 3 hours and was the perfect activity for the day. Late October and early November in Northwest Arkansas are peak times for tourists to visit the area. It is hard to get away from folks, especially on weekends. Popular hiking trails and destinations are well traveled. But if you want to get away from others, get yourself an Arkansas Atlas and Gazetteer, pick a dirt road and start exploring the back roads of Arkansas. You will be amazed at what you will see.