"When a name comes, it immediately says more than the name." -Derrida

Sans Le Nom

A Page without a Name

 Weather for Backpackers

October's dry conditions make for perfect backpacking weather.  November is looking good, too, but take some rain gear just in case!

Vol. I, No. 4                                          Conway, Arkansas, Oct. 23, 2005                                      Next Edition:  December, hopefully

In Every Issue...
Adventures in Fact
Adventures in Fiction
Archived Issues
Good Gear
Good Food
Trip Arkansas

Good Gear
I decided to take Derrida's Disseminations with me on our backpack.  You may be thinking, "Is she seriously recommending this book as gear for backpacking?"  Well, no.  Only for me, perhaps.  I mention it because of the first line:  "A text is not a text unless it hides from the first comer, from the first glance, the law of its composition and the rules of its game."  I read this sentence thinking of the river and of another book:  Buffalo River Handbook by Kenneth L. Smith, our copy of which was appropriately baptized in the Buffalo on its second outing.  Now I have to pull apart the pages I want to read.  The connection between these two books is this:  my younger self would have walked that trail and seen only leaves, dirt, rocks, and a little bit of water—no text. Sometimes I think a large part of the problems in this world arise from the fact that people don't see the texts that are already there (palimpsests), so they feel the need to imprint a new text.  This self that I am now saw that we were criss-crossing an old logging road, saw the tell-tale signs of an old house place where no house stood, recognized spots where men, back when zinc was plentiful, operated a mine.  Thanks to Smith's book, both the text of the river's geology and its people become a damn good read.  And the palimpsests are revealed as if you'd squeezed lemon juice over disappearing ink. 

Good Food
Everyone knows how to make tuna salad, I'm sure.  So readers may wonder why on earth I would include a recipe for tuna salad.  Well, the reason is because, after much searching, I found a Web site, Minimus.biz that sells those little packets of condiments that you can pick up in fast food restaurants, where, of course, I don't eat; hence, I can't get these things for free (okay, well, I tried once, and I got a dirty look from an employee, so I decided I would be happy to buy them, if I could just find a place that sold them).  So here's a recipe using two Minimus products:  mayonnaise and chopped onions.

Riverside Tuna Salad

1 can tuna
3 packets Heinz chopped onions
2 packets Kraft lite mayonnaise
1 teaspoon parsley flakes mixed w/ 1 teaspoon celery flakes. 

I pack all the ingredients in a Zip-loc bag.  Then, when it's time to eat, I open the tuna, dump it in the bag, squeeze in the onion and mayonnaise, and add the seasonings.  Once everything is added, zip the bag, and start kneading until everything is mixed.  You can serve this on crackers, but, if you're near Hwy 65 in Arkansas, I recommend spreading it on Serenity Farm's whole wheat wood-fire baked sourdough bread, which won't get crushed in your pack. 


Jack-O-Lantern Mushrooms

  Adventures in Fact:  Are We There Yet?
October 20, 2005

Bad faith.  Now I get it.   Now I understand this expression Sartre used to describe our self-deceit because I've finally caught myself subscribing to one of those beliefs.  It goes like this: certain days on the calendar are marked "fall break," Thanksgiving break," "Christmas break," "spring break," etc.  And for 37 years of my life, I have really truly believed I could "make a break for it" cleanly from my current existence to be suddenly someone else, somewhere else. 

But it never happens that way.  Instead, it occurs in stages; or should I say "on stages" because it certainly feels like we've acted through this script a thousand times before?  First, is the planning stage where we try to negotiate where we will go and what we will do.  One spouse wants a "city vacation"; the other wants a backpacking expedition.  So we work at some sort of compromise for three weeks, until a deal is struck about three days before we should be leaving.  In the meantime, I scramble around trying to keep everything ready to go, worrying over how I should pack when I don't know where I'm going and who will take care of the cats now that I've waited too late to schedule a pet sitter. 

On the day that we should be leaving, we are just entering the packing stage, so we waste a whole day of vacation just getting ready to vacate:  three loads of laundry must be done for the work week, along with a load of dishes, Bart has to be taken to the boarder, there's always the inevitable Wal-Mart trip, always, gas, oh, and I have to run to the post office.  I've been waiting three weeks to mail that return but suddenly it becomes extremely urgent. 

Then, there's the "God, please just get me out of town" stage, when every red light is a reminder that we should have been on the road hours ago.  Once we're finally on the way, we enter the "What did we forget?" stage, where we enumerate the failings of our memories and the ways in which our lives are too complicated.  By the time we do finally come to the place we were setting out for, it seems like it's already time to leave.  In essence, we never really get there. 

I suppose I should let go of my bad faith in clean breaks.  But, to be honest, I'm not too square on the notion that half the fun is getting there, either.  It seems kind of dishonest, what we tell kids to keep them quiet.  Rather, the answer probably lies in just being wherever it is that I am: "Yes, we are there because we always are."  That's probably the hardest thing I will ever have to learn. 

Adventures in Fiction:  The Nietzsche Superhero Action Figure
April 22, 2005

Upon waking, I couldn't remember exactly where the dream started.  So I'll start with what I do remember.  I was in a house.  It was not a remarkable house in any way.  It was just a house.  Until the earth began to tremble.  I noticed a man about my age standing in a room.  And then a sandstone statue forced its way through the floor, splintering the wood as it rose.  It looked like an Easter Island figure but about the same height as I.  The man said it was the Evil Nietzsche and that we must do something to stop him.   So I placed something (coins?) on the little offering plate the figure held in his hand.  Suddenly, a tiny little man about 8 inches tall with sparse red hair and wearing a green suit leapt out of the statue and about the room.  The man I noticed earlier yelled, "It's the neutral Nietzsche, give him something to do until we figure out a way to turn him into the good Nietzsche."   So I grabbed the tiny philologist and put him on a book shelf that held a toy piano.  Seriously...he started playing...yes...Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen.  You know the one I'm talking about—Elmer Fudd as Siegfried, Bugs Bunny as Brünnhilde:  dah, da da, da, dah, dah, da, da, da dah....  Ahem. 

Anyhoo, it lost something in the translation to a tiny toy piano, if it hadn't lost something already in Saturday morning Merrie Melodies cartoons.  Luckily, the phone rang.  So, attempting to rub away an impending headache, I walked into the sitting room leaving the man and Nietzsche where they were.  The black leather couch (somehow I have a feeling that was a famous Austrian adding his two cents worth) beckoned and I decided to lie down and let the phone ring away as I fell asleep.  And that's where the dream ended.  

Animalia:  Close Encounters, Close Calls
October 20, 2005

When I go into the woods, what I really go for is contact with some kind of animal life.  I remember the time we were canoeing down the Buffalo below the Highway 14 bridge.  We saw a funny kind of movement in the water near the bank, so we stopped paddling and waited while the river current took us closer.  Within 30 feet, we realized three otters were frolicking in a sun-warmed pool.  Within 20 feet, we could hear them snorting like pigs.  And within 10 feet we could see that they were eating something very crunchy (crawdads?) with a relish not allowed for human beings.  At just that time, a huge 10-point buck came splashing across.  In a barely containable whisper, I said, "I don't know which way to look!" 

Then, there was the time we saw two elk cross the Buffalo near Highway 65.  I thought, perhaps, we would get a closer glimpse of the couple if we were really quiet.  As we turned the bend, we were surprised to see, not just the two that had crossed, but at least 50 elk standing on the bank.  They simply stared at us as if they'd never seen such a strange thing as two people floating down the river in some sort of contraption. 

Of course, not all of my animalian experiences have been welcomed.  Once, at the Rush campground, a skunk brushed right up against my pant leg, cat-like, as I sat next to the fire.  Frozen, I thought, "What am I going to tell the department secretary Monday morning when I can't come to work?"  Luckily, I didn't need an answer.  My husband calmly told our visitor, "Now, you need to get out of here," and the skunk obeyed, although, to tell the truth, he looked a little sad that he was being asked to leave, and I swear he looked back at us longingly as he waddled off into the woods. 

Not surprisingly, we got another visit from one of our white-streaked friends at Kyle's Landing over the fall break.  Skunks are not shy, and they've apparently figured out that when they come into camp, people dump their food and run.  Some backbone and a bit of lumber thrown his way seemed to convince this one otherwise.  I don't think I'll ever be able to do the "sleep under the stars" thing because I'm convinced I'll wake up nose to nose (or worse, the other end) with ol' Smelly.  Of course, that flimsy piece of tent material between me and him is a mere pretense, let's face it.  But it's better than nothing!

Archived Issues


February 12, 2005
November 28, 2004
October 16, 2004



Trip Arkansas
Over the fall break, the spouse and I went on my first backpacking trip.  As you may recall, I bought a GoLite pack in February, so this was my chance to test it.  From the Kyle's Landing campground along the Upper Buffalo River, which, in October, is just a few pools dotted along the bed, we hiked the Buffalo River Trail west 2.5 miles to the Slatey Place, then north another 1.5 miles to the Old River Trail.  We camped directly across from Hemmed-In Hollow.  You'll know our campsite if you find an old  fire ring turned into a much more efficient rock wall (see below).  After a peaceful night with no visitors (see "Close Encounters") we headed east on the ORT 2.1 miles back to Kyle's.  This portion of our loop crossed the river 4 times, so it's a trip that can only be done when the river is mostly dry (unless you can charm a paddler into ferrying you across, that is); otherwise, you'll have to go back the way you came.   The ORT is a horse trail, so mind where you step!  I toted about 21 pounds in the GoLite, comfortably and securely, and was surprised at how easy it was to get stuff in and out of it (other than my sleeping bag, which my spouse kindly punched into the pack for me).  After a successful venture, we arrived back at Kyle's at 11:00, which put us at the Daisy Queen Hi-Boy just in time for lunch. 

Once archived, thumbnails will no longer link to the larger version of the picture.

Acrophobe on a ledge w/ jack-o-lantern mushrooms

The Buffalo dead-ending

Entrance to Hemmed-In Hollow

Our firewall

Arbaugh house on the ORT

Daisy Queen Hi-Boy
As many readers will know by now, I have an obsession for restaurants that are out in the middle of nowhere. You will find the Hi-Boy (possibly a branch of the Marshall Daisy Queen?) at the intersection of highways 7 and 206, not even in a named town.  Though I am a connoisseur of the tenderloin sandwich, I have never found one in the state of Arkansas, until the Hi-Boy's, which  was a mighty fine specimen—fried a deep brown, served on a Kaiser bun, and topped with mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato.  Next time, I'll get the complete dinner with mixed greens and black-eyed peas, and maybe even a piece of pie.  The Hi-Boy closes for the season after the third week of October and re-opens on April 1st; we made it there on the last day! 

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All images and text copyright © 2004-2008 by Jennifer Deering.  All rights reserved.