46

Yesterday cycled over the Boston Mountains, the most western mountain range within the Ozark Plateau. I thought it to be pretty easy, but my expectations of difficulty were quite high after reading other persons’ online acccounts of having cycled them.

Traffic was light, as most drivers opt to take a faster route along the interstate which more or less parallels Route 71, north-south, linking the Fort Smith area to Fayetteville.

It was gorgeous.

Everywhere but for the road winding up the mountains in front of me was fluffy, white clouds obscuring a blue sky, sunlight intermittently throbbing through the occasional break in the clouds, like catching a glimpse of a beating heart through gaps in a shroud of pericardial tissue; the greenery of trees rising up on either side of me or, sometimes, only on one side of me as in places the lower slope of the mountains fell precipitously and only the tops of those trees there were capable of reaching up to me; and broad rock faces in a multitude of grey and brown hues, some cascaded over with water, some merely trickling with water, some moss and lichen covered, some dry and bare, appearing so hard, so solid that one couldn’t ever imagine them being worn away, even over the course of millennia of millennia. No noise but for my tires on the asphalt, the birds in the trees, water playing over rocks, rushing through culvert and gully, and the occasional truck or car, or gang of motorcycles.

At the highest point of the climb is a small, antiquated gift shop and museum. Nothing of interest there beyond the view overlooking Fort Smith Lake, and other ridges of the mountain range carpeted thickly in oak, hickory, pine and cedar. The “museum” itself is a bit peculiar, but worth the five or ten minutes it takes to look around. It is a small room to the right of the entrance of the building, all the walls lined with tall glass cases, the glass cases filled with everything from stone arrowheads, to antique dolls, antique condiment containers, kerosene lamps, pistols, leatherwork, farm implements, a four foot long rattlesnake preserved in a narrow, glass tube, an even longer rattlesnake skin, killed on the property, mounted on a board, the head of an old show horse that had performed on the property for twenty years before it died of what (and when), I don’t know….

In the store one could purchase tumbled stones, raw stones, geodes to crack open, hummingbird feeders, cedar blocks for smoking food, etc., jams, jellies and sauces, dolls, walking sticks. It was a quiet place, though I imagine it saw a lot more business before the interstate was built a few years back. Now that has become the main north-south artery for the region and few people travel this road. It’s great for cyclists, but not at all good for the few businesses that relied on that regular traffic. There are a good many derelict motels, inns and other buildings that I passed along the ridge. Now, I suppose it is considered the slower, scenic route, but most of the time that’s not what most people want. They want to get from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible, granted, I’m betting the views from the interstate aren’t too bad.

I wonder what will become of Artist’s Point in another five or ten years.

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