Two Days ‘Til Arkansas

I’ve forgotten how to travel. The last vacation my husband and I took was two years ago when we went to the Adirondacks for a week. Being slightly agoraphobic, this upcoming trip has taken lots of mental prep, but I think I’m ready to hit the road.

We’ve decided to spend Thanksgiving in Bella Vista, Arkansas, that quasi gated community of white folks near Bentonville, home of WalMart. My sister-in-law and her husband moved there from Houston and my aunt and uncle moved there from Des Moines so we thought we’d kill two birds with one stone and spend one holiday with both sides of the family.

Since I’ve not traveled further south than northern Virginia, we’re taking a few days to drive out instead of making a fast track through the Midwest and turning left in Missouri. On this trip I hope to add four new states to my travel history – Tennessee, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Arkansas. If we’re feeling really adventurous we’ll hit a fifth state, Kansas, on the way home. Woohoo!

First stop is Bristol, Virginia – not by choice but for convenience. We want to see the New River Gorge in West Virginia and then put a few more hours in before settling down for the evening, which will take us to Bristol. We’ll wake up early and heading into Tennessee, crossing the state and landing in Memphis for the evening. Graceland, baby. We’re staying at Heartbreak Hotel and everything. Not that I’m a huge Elvis fan, but I do appreciate good American pop culture kitsch and what’s more kitschy than Graceland?

Before we continue on the next day, we’ll make a quick side trip into Mississippi. A friend of mine has a rule that she has to complete a transaction in a new state (buy gas, a candy bar, use the restroom) in order to claim it as an actual visit. So we’ll find a rest stop or gas station, buy some pork rinds or pickled okra, and ask someone to take our photo so we can at least say we were in Mississippi.

From Memphis we’ll head to Bella Vista. Maybe we can get in a short trip to Oklahoma since it’s right there. Then we’ll settle in to suburban bliss for a few days. I’ll post photos during the trip, so stop back next week if you get a chance.

So we’re two days away from leaving. I’ll overpack and bring too many clothes and books and more movies than I can possibly watch. I must have my own pillows and the “horsy blanket” in order to sleep in an unfamiliar bed. The horsy blanket is a throw with a large horse on either side. It was given to me by a friend of the family when I graduated from high school 25 years ago. I’ve been sleeping with it ever since. Comfort comes in all forms for us agoraphobes.

I bought a second satellite antenna so we can listen to Sirius radio on the way down. I don’t trust that we can find anything other than country music and conservative talk radio once we hit the Mason-Dixon Line. Besides, I can’t go a week without listening to Jay Thomas, even if it will probably be reruns next week. Something about that man….

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