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August 17th, 2006

Paris life

Today I am hunting for places to hike, midway between Texarkana, Texas and Allen, Texas. More specifically, I am hunting for places to hike I've never been, which are almost equidistant between those two cities, which are themselves 180 miles apart. I keep hovering back near Paris, Texas, not because a Wim Wenders film photographed in distant west Texas used the town name as its title, nor because it has a French connection. I like Paris because it is a self-contained universe, not a suburb of some other city, but its own place.

Paris is just below the Oklahoma border, and I keep thinking that there must be some exquisite place to hike there. So far, though, the things I find, like the Pat Mayse Wildlife Management Area, boast only of hunting, which is not within my interest set.

I often think that if smaller towns everywhere promoted their outdoor activities as well as small towns in some places (portions of Colorado and California come to mind), then they would draw the tourist dollars they often profess to enjoy. So many Texas towns limit themselves roughly to one large festival--let's say, Mule-rider days or some such--rather than simple websites and brochures to say "here are things to do here".

It's a kind of snow blindness, I think. When we went to Manitoba in June, we found tons of great hiking in lovely, scenic terrain quite different from the place we live. So many locals, though, asked, bemused "why would you come here?". People fail to see what is unusual or exotic or appealing about their own place--they only see it as the "boring way everything is".

I'm googling near Paris, Texas, hunting for imagination.