Taking the passenger seat on a road trip happens so infrequently that I count the chauffeuring on one hand and wonder how I ever managed to sit patiently for that length of time. On one of these outings, I traveled with a number of aunts and uncles as part of a volunteer moving crew on our way to central Arkansas. Despite my thousands of frequent-driver miles (and, yes, the less-frequent passenger miles), this trip marks the only time during which I eat at a Waffle House, primarily because I place them in my self-designated restaurant category of “I Can Always Find Something Else I Like More.” But on this one outing, I enjoyed the scrambled eggs.
All of my travels through Arkansas involved visits with my uncle and his wife, whether packing and transporting his household goods to a new home or passing through on a family vacation. I remember as a ‘tween seeing the sites of Hot Springs and stopping at the A&W drive-in and getting an earful from my Dad for ordering a Coca-Cola instead of a root beer. Of the memories I have from my time in Hot Springs, I recall driving up to an overlook, but I retain no mental image of the view besides the parking lot (perhaps since I am spoiled by countless memorable vistas in my lifetime), but I distinctly recall the A&W exchange.
The Next State
The Great River brought the both the French settlers and the early Spaniards deep into the North American continent. The Army of the Republic pushed through the solid defenses of Vicksburg and Nachez and other Southern strongholds along this same waterway on its way to the Gulf of Mexico separating the Confederacy from the lands to which it hoped to expand westward. Blytheville lies at the junction of the travels that have shaped the United States for centuries, but in this simple conversation, my aunt discovers that this young woman had never left the state of Arkansas, not once ever. For everything I remember about Arkansas, even above the A&W debate, the prospect of a self-imposed limitation floors me. I cringe at the idea of never stepping outside the box.