Published: July 6th 2009July 5th 2009
This is what cherries were meant to provide
'Tis a great land in which we live, is it not? What better way to celebrate the Nation's birth by venturing to its heartland; the fascinating state of Arkansas. Land of mosquitoes, rice fields, paper mills, a president, Wal-Mart and many, many, many Sonic Drive-Thru, Arkansas is a state that I only ever visit while venturing to the other side of the Mississippi River to shop at the West Memphis Wal-Mart
Lee, a good friend from work, who was born and bred in the town of Pine Bluff, suggested the Tour D'Arkansas last weekend and lacking any other plans for the 4th our adventure was born. Also in on the trip was more of the work crew, Peter and Mac, and the force of nature known as Miss Mary Frances, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel who OWNS
Arkansas is home to a huge diversity of geography, people and climates. The southern spread of the state is much like Mississippi; home to huge farms (growing mostly rice), decaying towns, paper mills and Sonic Drive-Thrus. As you move northward through Little Rock the landscape is dotted with hills, scattered with rivers, served by the legacy of the Clintons in the
Miss Mary Frances herself
form of the Clinton Presidential Library and filled with Sonic Drive-Thrus and as Lee said "the population shifts from Black to Red", as in the color of one's neck.
Arriving in Pine Bluff we finally met Madam June West Lambi, Lee's mother and lifelong Pine Bluff resident who spent most of her life living on land belonging to the once sprawling West family farm (which was broken up about 15 years ago as a highway came to town linking Pine Bluff to Little Rock and cut right through the farm). Following a tour of Pine Bluff and the sites of Lee's childhood, June and her husband John entertained us in their home and at the pool between her home and her childhood home just on the other side of the backyard making sure that cups were always filled with beverage and warning us not to walk barefoot on the grass lest we get chiggers...a warning we did not heed, as a result my feet are now host to about 100 of the tiny grass mites. The evening might could also have included some off-road golf carting and a case of beer....in true Pine Bluff fashion.
The next morning,
Cherry Limades Anyone?
Our first of several stops at Sonic Drive-Thru
following an abbreviated photo shoot in June's childhood home, we set off for the north...stopping for one of the many snacks and Cherry Limeades at Sonic Drive-Thru. Lee's dad, "Daddy Don", who resides in Little Rock has a weekend riverside fishing cabin in Heber Springs. We were much more subdued thanks to the previous evening's festivities but Daddy Don made some excellent steaks as his dogs Handsome and Gage along with Miss Mary Frances paced the kitchen for scraps as we watched fireworks on TV (it's much more comfortable, you have a better view and there is no traffic)
Back safe and sound in Memphis, and thinking that there should probably be some sort of passport control before crossing back into Tennessee, I give the weekend a thumbs up as I sip on a Sonic Drive-Thru Cherry Limeade.
There are more photos below