We got a late start out of Nashville, chatting around the breakfast table until nearly noon. We stopped at one of Nashville’s oddities that is the Parthenon—an exactly two-thirds-sized replica of the real thing in Athens. The interior is closed Sunday and Monday, but it’s still cool to check out from the outside.
We drove west a couple hours to Jackson and opted for the northern Mississippi crossing (there are only two in Tennessee, the southern one is in Memphis). Crossing the Mississippi is a tangible mark of achievement as well emotional highlight on a cross-country trip, but this time it came anti-climactically with a small interstate-green sign that read: Mississippi River.
The river was narrow at this part, I don’t know why, but that’s probably why they built the bridge here. The landscape flattened out miles before the great river and continued its flatness on the other side in Missouri. At one point the road was completely straight and level for at least 20 miles.
I can’t say we experienced anything particularly Missourian, but we did pass through Kennett, the hometown of Sheryl Crow. There was a big Walmart there, but I don’t recall much else that made it stand apart from any other small town of the mid-west.
Within 25 minutes were on the edge of a marsh taking a photo by the Welcome to Arkansas sign. Arkansas is the Natural State and if that means having tons of giant man-eating mosquitoes then Arkansas is the most natural state in the Union.
We were supposed to make it to Ozark National Forest to camp for the night but only made it as far as Lake Charles State Park. It is from here (inside my car oddly enough), that I battle the mosquitos as I write this. They must have all come in during the three seconds my car door was open.
I don’t know much about Arkansas except that the Ozarks are here and it’s the home state of Bill Clinton. I also know that it’s the butt end of as many politically incorrect jokes as West Virginia—probably unfairly. But that’s why I’m here—to find out what Arkansas is like.
I won’t see anything until the morning when these pesky mosquitoes of dusk are long gone.