Hot Springs, Arkansas: got to the campground just after dark and set up right next to the interstate, but its green, mild and overcast, nothing like the oppressive Louisiana bayou we woke up in yesterday. Two days ago we were in hurricane country
dodging trees through detours in blacked out parts of eastern Texas on our way out of Austin towards Shreeveport, LA. It was a surreal drive at night, past Sonics, Dairy Queens, and car dealerships, made mute with no electricity, ambulances driving in the opposite direction, and cars left by the side of the road every hundred feet. In the dark we could make out destroyed billboards, rescue crews and paniced locals. The occasional gas stations, still open with their hurricane taping up in the windows (Rita had done her turn the day before), were packed in with lines of cars and people sharing news and gossip while they waited. Before that there was the little gas/café where the large young lady behind the counter served up fried food and a little small town sensationalism, telling us that all the roads were closed, everything was wrecked, and everything else short of hell and damnation- nothing new as far as local advice. We'd waited it out in Austin for three nights, partly for hurricane reasons, but mostly for the roller derby girls, David's southern hospitality, and a whole lot of women in bondage attire.
But back to hurricane country, 6 hours of driving brought us in late to the Shreeveport KOA, where the man on the phone had told they were giving priority to evacuees, but there was still room for our tents. As late as it was, there were people crowded on cabin porches drinking and animated. A woman came up to us wanting to know where we were from and gave us the low-down . . . she'd been in the hot tub since 4 the last night so that was ok even though the signs said it was closed; the guy camped out next to the pool was a real ass, but tonight we were lucky cuz he'd gotten drunk early and passed out. The humidity was so oppressive, cold showers did nothing, but the pool was a few degrees cooler so that's where the night ended up. The next morning it was hotter, no one had slept very well, and we were obviously the only jerks at the campsite that couldn't deal with the weather. The other campers/evacuees had been up for hours and were drinking beers and making social calls to each tent site. Everyone was friendly and seemed eager to share their story. Some were from Texas, evacuated from Rita, some others from New Orleans. One couple, Nisee and Duane, who came up to the car for a closer look, told us
they'd left New Orleans for Nisee's sister's house in Lafayette, but had to evacuate to Shreeveport when Rita hit. They hadn't been home in a month, they'd lost everything. Nisee told me that even though they'd lost all the photo albums of their family, at least she'd grabbed her daughter's first communion photo and dress and that she was just grateful to have all her family with her, that they could re-build, they would create new photos ”just like the ones on the car.” Nisee and Duane were thinking of moving to Las Vegas where Nisee could work in the casinos. Another man from Texas told us about losing his new home and having no insurance, but that he was grateful to be alive, to have his family with him, in fact his kids were having a great time, swimming in the campground pool, and being out of school, “they're happy the schoolbooks got destroyed in the house.” He was thinking of moving to New Jersey where he had some friends. He told us to “rock the New York show, and let them know what's going on down here.”
Pictures soon . . . waiting on Baltimore to get em printed.