Another day, our last in Arkansas, spent traveling southeast. The area we passed through is heavily forested and I noticed that the trees are growing in straight lines. That means they’ve all been harvested and re-planted. In fact, we contend with a large number of logging trucks on the roads as we travel. The thick, uniformly round trunks are heading to be turned into dimensional lumber, the thinner, more irregular pieces are going to paper mills. Timber harvesting is a big industry here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few pension funds like the PRIT Fund are invested down here.
In fact, the economy of most of the country that we’ve passed through seems to come from extraction industry (mining in AZ and NM, oil and gas in TX and OK, and timber here), agriculture, or livestock. There’s not much manufacturing or other industry apart from what supports those activities, like feed lots and grain silos. If the South had gained its independence in the Civil War, is that what its economy would have been based on? Of course, I’m not seeing big cities. And every town seems to have an Edward Jones or Merrill Lynch office, which might indicate retirees.
There are a tremendous number of pickup trucks on the road and almost all of them are Ford, Chevy, or GMC. I saw just one Nissan pickup, and that was at a mall, and no Toyotas. And yes, a few Confederate flags, another jarring image.
Since Oklahoma, we’ve also noticed an increase in loose dogs that chase cyclists, not just in their yards like in Massachusetts, but into and along the road. We’ve outrun or scared them all off so far. They seem to be mostly terriers, though an Australian shepherd gave me a good run today. No Labs, I don’t think Labs like to work that hard for their meals.
We’re keeping an eye on Hurricane Joaquin, as all of you are too. Looks like it will clear out of the South before we hit Alabama.
We cross the Mississippi River tomorrow!
Today’s ride was 99 miles.