We pulled out of Chicot State Park Sunday morning en route to Shreveport, old friends, and what’s left of my family. Today’s trip began with blue highways 1173, 106, 115 and ended on red I-49. Sometimes a smooth road’s lack of scenery is a fair price to pay for an easy ride. There was an interesting highway sign on 106 that read “Caution: Low-Flying Aircraft”. How could one dodge a plane while pulling an 8,000 pound trailer? It’s hard enough to miss potholes.

We were hit by no aircraft and arrived safely in Shreveport. We boondocked in front of Chloe and Dr. Bob’s home, just two doors down from our old abode. That’s boondocking in the same way that spending a night in a tent in your backyard is camping. But you gotta start somewhere. We couldn’t get the water to run, and I thought the tank was empty. That was not the case. I suspect a power problem because two fully charged trailer batteries should be able to charge a cell phone, but did not. Figuring this out is going to require some quality time with the Airstream Owner’s Manual, a volume nearly as thick as the U. S. Tax Code. Like they say, retirement ain’t all play.

Kat and I enjoyed a burger and brew get-together Sunday night with some of our old camping and tennis buds. They all look good and are still plenty mobile, which if not remarkable, is nonetheless heart-warming. Monday afternoon we visited Jan the Potter. That evening my brother Ed and wife Pam fed us pizza and good ale. We shared tall tales, many involving the horrors of the workplace.

This all felt like Frodo’s goodbye to The Shire. And around noon Tuesday, when we passed through Ida, Louisiana, crossing the state line into Arkansas, the feeling came again: “We’re not in The Shire anymore, Sam. This is still familiar, friendly country, but it’s not ours. And who knows what strangeness lies ahead?”

We found Gillham Lake and the signs pointed us to the Corps of Engineers Cossatot Reefs campground. They’re not yet taking reservations so we drove around and decided that Site 24, high above the river alongside the whitewater that is the Cossatot, would be ours for the next five days. The weather was humid and near 80, but cooled off with the sunset. We slept soundly without fans, with open windows, mosquito proof screens, and the soft murmur of whitewater fifty yards east.

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