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The Observer Nov. 17

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RIGHT, BUT WRONG: City directions.
  • RIGHT, BUT WRONG: City directions.

The Observer found the reprehensible — and renewal, too — in a trip to Petit Jean State Park over the weekend.

We saw an old pioneer cabin from the mid-19th century, where nine children were born to one of the first European settlers. It had been carved into and spray-painted and otherwise defaced by some 20th-century ignoramuses who couldn’t cut down a tree much less build a cabin if their lives depended on it. That got to us big time.

The bears left only their name at Bear Cave. A marker and a legend were at Petit Jean’s grave, where we were happy to recall the story of the French girl who, disguised as a boy, sailed to America to be with her lover only to die on the mountain. Romantic, even if untrue.

We saw faint, rust-stained markings on the walls of caves left by their inhabitants 2,000 years ago. We wandered and fantasized about being a hunter-gatherer 7,000 years into the mountain’s past, sheltering in the places their descendants would decorate.

We had time to clear our head and let our country girl out, gathering wood, climbing caves and rocks, peeing by a tree, making s’mores by the fire in the wee hours, dressed only in our brassiere and jeans. A mind-cleansing, spiritually renewing walkabout — and no one knows we were even there.



Sometimes the stuff left behind gives you a laugh. Like the can we found in the weeds beside a bayou in Eastern Arkansas. “Bubba Cola,” it said. It could have been a prop, so fitting and yet so unlikely it was. You can get Bubba Cola at Sav-a-lot. Someone in the office who drinks diet Bubba says it tastes like armpits, tobacco chew and muzzle loaders. That’s the full-strength Bubba, of course.



What’s wrong with this picture?

The Observer was getting in her car on a hot day in November — already our tale is off to a weird start — and we saw on the deck of the tropically named bar/restaurant near our parking lot a giant plastic snow globe, complete with plastic snowman and falling plastic snow. About 6 feet tall. Plugged in, so the snow will fall and the globe will stay inflated.

Parked between us and the bar, a Hummer.

It didn’t fit — snow on an 80-plus degree day in November.

But it did. Like this: Hummer, a war car, in a city with paved streets and where snipers or improvised explosive devices are rare, churns out carbon monoxide, along with other vehicles, oversized and not. Lots of cars, lots of carbon monoxide. So much that the mercury is rising on planet Earth (a little dab will do ya). Hence, a hot November. For sentimentality’s sake, a snow man in a snow globe. Plugged in, using electricity generated by power plants also contributing to global warming.

So what’s wrong with this picture? Everything. Are we innocent? No. Is anyone?

Around the corner, on the northbound lane of Cumberland Street before its intersection with Markham, which is also President Clinton, confusing enough in itself, a sign: Downtown Hotels, with an arrow pointing to the right.

An eagle-eyed citizen notes that a driver expecting hotels plural will only find one hotel if he turns right onto Clinton.

The Observer called the city about the sign. Why the “s”?

Because you can’t make a left turn on Cumberland and Markham, and if the sign indicated that there are hotels both left and right, people might erringly try to turn left.

If they turn right, decide they don’t want to stay at the Marriott, they can turn around and safely proceed in the direction of other hotels, thus making the “s” on the end of “Hotels” legitimate.

OK.

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