Sorry for the lack of updates lately, it has really just been too hot to go out and take pictures. The high yesterday was 114 in Little Rock, which was the highest temperature ever recorded since they decided to keep track of that sort of thing. It's the kind of heat where the local tv news decides to cook eggs on the sidewalk, or bake cookies on the dashboard of a car.
So when it's this hot outside, you really are wise to not be away from air conditioning too much. I learned this valuable lesson Tuesday afternoon, during my drive home from work. It was about 106 degrees or so, and one of the tires on my car decided that it finally had enough of the heat. It called it quits, blowing out in a quite spectacular fashion.
My commute home from work is about 15 miles, and of course, the tire picked the very worst possible spot to blow out. I was driving north on the I-430 bridge when the tire decided to end it. Since it's not very wise to pull over on the side of a bridge, I tried to make it to the Maumelle exit on the freeway. But when I made it over the bridge, I saw blue smoke in the rear-view mirror, and thought it best to pull over there on the side of the interstate.
I got out of the car to inspect the damage, and the tire was shredded. So it was time to change the tire, in 106 degree temps. Oh yeah, did I mention that heat index that day was 118 degrees?
Now I haven't actually changed a tire since I was 16. So I spent a few minutes digging the spare tire out of the car. Now my car is only two years old, and I have barely paid any attention to the spare that sits in the trunk. The only time I really looked at the spare tire was when I was buying the car, when the saleslady showed me the tire with a brief wave of her hand. So now I was standing on the side of the road, sweating profusely, trying to figure out where the car manufacturers had hidden away all the necessary parts to change a tire.
After pulling out various jacks and handles, I laid them out on the hot pavement and set out to change the tire. It took me about 20 minutes or so (although it seemed like I was out there much longer). I would have had it changed much earlier, but I had problems getting the spare tire on. Turns out I was trying to put it on backwards. After getting the tire safely on, I went into the car and cranked up the air conditioning. As I looked in the rear-view mirror, my face was bright red and my eyes were bloodshot. Changing a tire in 106 degree weather (with a 118 heat index) was not how I wanted to spend my afternoon.
But I had been out a few days before to take pictures, when it wasn't quite as hot (in the upper 90s, which is quite chilly compared to my time spent on the side of the freeway). I had gone out to visit the small town of Scott, which sits about 20 miles to the east of Little Rock. Luckily I wasn't driving, so there wasn't any car trouble.
Scott is a really neat place. While the suburbs are slowly encroaching on the town, it still retains an air of an old farming community. There are numerous old farm buildings, barns and plantation homes all around Scott. I've been out there many times and still find new things to take pictures of.
We went through Scott, and then drove through the farmland south of town. There were acres upon acres of farmland, mostly corn and rice. The corn looked a bit rough in places, slowing burning into a rusty brown in the heat of the summer. But amongst the endless rows of farmland, we stopped at this old church along the road. It looked to have been abandoned, with tall grass growing up beside the church.
The front door of the church was left open, so I decided to take a quick look inside. The entrance was serving a congregation of wasps, who decided to attack my head and face like kamikaze pilots. So I quickly left the church, and may or may not have been screaming like a little girl as I ran.
We passed by another church and decided to stop in the heat to take a few pictures. This old church was also closed, and probably doesn't see too many other visitors.
There is a small cemetery sitting just between the church and farmland. While the grass looked like it had been mowed recently in a few places, there were parts of the cemetery that were covered in tall grass and weeds. Some of the grave markers were from the 1920s, but were all but hidden by tall grass.
A tornado passed by Scott a few months ago, and I regret to report that it damaged or destroyed some neat photo locations. The road, which ran through a line of old and distinguished pecan trees, was hit. The tornado took out several trees, and left many others damaged. The road was lined with fallen trees and broken limbs.
This is what it looked like last year. But this view is irreversibly changed, thanks to the missing trees and debris still laying next to the road.
Another casualty were the two old sharecropper cabins that stood next to the road by the pecan trees. This was taken during the visit last year, when the cabins had gotten a fresh coat of paint:
But they're gone now, a victim of the storm. Now all that is left is a hole with a small pile of debris. Which goes to show that we really need to make sure to get pictures of these old buildings, since there's no telling how long they will be around...