By Wendel Sloan
My recent vacation through Arkansas was a tale of triumph, tragedy and astonishment.
The latter happened in an east Texas eatery when lifelong friend Sid Hicks put Biblical scholars to shame by creating a self-serve ice-cream masterpiece surpassing the Tower of Babble in height and diversity.
In Hot Springs, Arkansas, I took a land/water “duck tour” on a converted 1942 military landing craft. The tour guide quacked so realistically, I feared backwoods hunters.
The next day, even though healthy-looking bugs were floating in it, I filled a bottle from a fountain pond and drank what I thought was spring water.
Then, down the street, I spotted tourists filling jugs from a multi-spigoted faucet. Feeling foolish, I emptied my bottle and joined them.
Thinking the pure spring water would cleanse the impurities from the stagnant water, I put my mouth directly over the spigot. The 140-degree water scalded my mouth (but did kill everything in my stomach).
That night I was winning at the casino, but had to leave prematurely because cigarette smoke was gagging me worse than a dicey stroll through Beijing.
The following night I stayed with Tim and Ruby Marshall in majestic Fairfield Bay.
After treating me to the caviar of catfish meals from Greers Ferry Lake, cousin Tim showed me his exquisite antique marbles. I hope he never loses his.
Next was the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View for crafts and bluegrass — with foreshadowing banjos.
The final stop was a cabin on Spring River in Hardy (population 765 including married owners of a British restaurant) near my 20-something editor days in the retirement resort of Cherokee Village.
While canoeing, I thought I heard banjos. As I apprehensively stood to scout, we capsized over a steep waterfall.
Despite losing prescription sunglasses, my favorite Galveston Island cap, and my camera and phone getting soaked during a frantic swim to shore, I felt deliverance no one with missing teeth told me how “purdy” I was.
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