Greetings fellow movie lovers! Today’s entry is no movie review. In fact, this much-too-long composition includes only a couple of minor movie blips. Instead, it’s a recap of the recent two-week, epic road trip vacation where Mary and I drove a total of 3713 miles through 18 states. For you mathematicians, statisticians, and data analysts, that’s 37.5% of the 48 continental states recognized by Rand McNally. I’ll admit this recap is over-the-top indulgent, however, it’s being written for two specific reasons. First, we want a travel journal-type remembrance of the trip, and secondly, we wouldn’t mind inspiring a few others to hit the road and experience some of the wonders (natural and otherwise) offered by our country.
Let’s start with a little background information. The initial onset of the pandemic (can you remember back that far?) squashed the trips we had planned, and only recently did we decide it’s time to try again. Our upcoming 40th anniversary was the motivation. Well that plus three years passing since our last vacation. Since I’m not personally ready to be one of the sardines compacted into a confined space on a commercial flight with 187 other passengers, we opted for the great American road trip, once so popular for family vacations (now considered a nightmare by many). Sure, the skyrocketing price of gas gave us pause, but protecting our sanity and the desire for temporary escape overrode the hesitancy that accompanied inflation and the increased carbon footprint associated with driving a non-electric vehicle that many miles. Another concern, to put it bluntly, was the overall uncertainty of the times … a war in Ukraine coupled with the most combative domestic political environment of my lifetime. Being spoiled, entitled Americans, we forged ahead.
So here is one way to know you married the right person. Mere weeks away from our anniversary, Mary determined our trip should center on a destination that has been a dream of mine ever since I sprinted home from school to watch the 1968 World Series between the St Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers: Cooperstown. Whether or not you are a baseball fan, you likely know that this small village in central upstate New York (200 miles from Manhattan) houses the National Baseball Hall of Fame … and has done so since 1939. I figured there are two possible motivations for her to encourage this as a destination. Either she felt like this was the only way I would agree to a long driving trip, or she sincerely wanted to make sure this bucket list item was checked off before it was too late. Knowing her as I do, I’m going with “B”, while acknowledging “A” likely played a supporting role. Either way, how many wives not only encourage at trip to the Hall of Fame, but also want to come along?
We were determined to keep the agenda very loosie-goosy – no specific time or day to be any particular place. For a planner like yours truly, this was a bit challenging, yet an approach that was quickly embraced. All we knew for sure was that we were going to visit with old friends on the front end, tour the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and spend time with some other old friends on the return. By pacing this over two weeks, we hoped to minimize most extended drive times. And you know what? It all worked out pretty darn well. Below is a synopsis of our daily shenanigans.
Monday, April 25, 2022
We expected to leave the Dallas area early Tuesday, kicking things off with our longest single drive day. Yes, this means that the loose plan we had was tossed before it ever started. Instead, we wrapped up worked meetings, and hit the road at 1:00pm on Monday. After picking up warm pecans from Buc-cees in Terrell (birthplace of Eric Marion Bishop and yours truly), we headed east on I-20 and drove approximately 365 miles through Louisiana and on to Vicksburg, Mississippi. This still ended up being our longest drive day, and sitting for so long motivated us to walk down the street from our Marriott Courtyard to the local McAlester’s for a dinner salad. This was a very uneventful first day, but it served the purpose of cutting about 5 hours off our expected Tuesday drive. We did drive through some beautiful areas of east Texas and Louisiana, and what became very evident was that we were going to have to share the interstate with A LOT of trucks. Given the ‘supply chain’ issues we hear so much about, we were taken aback by the sheer volume of 18-wheelers on the road. They couldn’t all be empty! Beginning mileage 52,255, Ending mileage 52,622
Tuesday April 26, 2022
Our hotel was just a couple of miles down the road from the Vicksburg National Military Park. We purchased a National Parks pass and watched an informative film in the Visitors Center. The film outlined the 47-day siege in 1863 that ultimately cost the south control of the Mississippi River. Driving through the park, we saw the bunkers and battlefields which are now hosting more than a thousand state memorials and markers commemorating the many who died here during the Civil War. Unfortunately, we were unable to see the USS Cairo, a restored US gunboat, as that section of the park is under construction. The park is now a serene reminder of a vicious battle fought by a divided country. We couldn’t help but wonder if such a travesty could happen again. A stroll through the gift shop gave the appearance that gray rebel caps were outselling blue Union caps at about a 12 to 1 rate. After the tour, we had lunch at the Klondyke Trading Post. Founded in 1896, it’s a former gas station converted to a rustic eatery catering to those who enjoy home-cooking in an especially non-fancy environment. Those joining us for lunch included construction workers, law enforcement, and locals (mostly for takeout). There was little doubt that we were the only tourists, as well as the only first-timers. Multi-colored metallic floor-to-ceiling ribbons served as the backdrop for a single-microphone on the corner stage. Since we couldn’t locate the schedule for upcoming performers, we finished our lunch and drove on to Birmingham, Alabama. Once there, we checked in to the historic downtown Tutwiler Hotel, which opened in 1914. We walked a couple miles to the newly renovated Uptown area, which includes a Convention Center and the shiny new University of Alabama Birmingham football stadium. Across the street are multiple restaurants and bars. We chose the Southern Café, which was a typical sports bar exhibiting none of the character we had experienced earlier that day at Klondyke. Beginning mileage 52,622, Ending mileage 52,905
Wednesday April 27, 2022
After a quick hotel breakfast, we walked down the street from The Tutwiler to the Birmingham Art Museum. Although admission is Free, we gladly made a donation. It seemed as if an inordinate number of new exhibits were in the midst of installation, and thereby inaccessible; however, there was still plenty of art to take in. The featured exhibit was the work of Manjari Sharma and her presentation of nine significant deities of the Hindu pantheon. The colors and images were quite vibrant and unlike what is typically on display in art museums. Other exhibits included Wedgwood, ancient Asian art, African art, and various eras of European art. As our culture cup runneth over, we headed back on the road – this time to Rome, Georgia. A happy reunion occurred at the Rome Mellow Mushroom, where (over pizza) we met up with my old college buddy, Lawrence, and his wife Colleen. Lawrence and I have been friends since 1978, and our history includes flag football for “Killer Toes” at the University of Texas, a shared love of oldies music, Sunday dinners ravaging the Sirloin Stockade salad bar, marathon tennis matches in the Texas summer heat, spending hours flipping through vinyl at Inner Sanctum, dodging tar balls on the Gulf shoreline, and many ‘philosophy of life’ conversations through the years. He is a renowned professor and academic writer and speaker, and we simply don’t see each other often enough. I am honored to be Godfather to their amazing son, Robert. The two couples chatted through dinner, trying to catch up on the important stuff, and then Lawrence and Colleen treated Mary and I to a driving tour of the stunningly beautiful Berry College campus, a school founded on Christian values in 1902 by Martha Berry. After the tour, we were invited back to the house for some wine, chocolate covered blueberries, and more fun conversation. Mary and I crashed for the night at a local hotel managed by Berry College. Beginning mileage 52,905, Ending mileage 53,063
Thursday April 28, 2022
This was Day 4, and we finally turned north … you know, the general direction of Cooperstown. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, we waltzed across the Walnut Street Bridge, the world’s longest ‘walking bridge’ over the Tennessee River (and back). While in downtown Chattanooga, we had lunch at the Frothy Monkey, located in the restored Train Depot. This was our tribute to Glenn Miller: “Pardon me boys, is that the Chattanooga Choo-Choo”. The song was first heard in the 1941 film, SUN VALLEY SERENADE (but did not play for us over lunch). We drove on to Knoxville to spend the night and made our first misstep of the trip by choosing the local Mexican food restaurant with the best reviews. Rio Grande Mexican restaurant is not one we would recommend. Fortunately, the only ramification was disappointment. That’s not always the case with subpar Tex-Mex. Beginning mileage 53,063, Ending mileage 53,270
Friday, April 29, 2022
We lollygagged this morning and were a bit slow departing Knoxville (fortunately unrelated to the previous evening’s dinner platter). We drove for a while just enjoying the scenery (other than the big rigs) and ended up enjoying exquisite cuisine at Mrs. Rowe’s Family Restaurant and Bakery in Staunton, Virginia. It’s a family restaurant founded in 1947 that specializes in home-cooked meals and pies. Everything, including my Reuben sandwich was delicious, and I couldn’t help but top it off with what was likely the best coconut cream pie I’ve ever tasted. Mary’s lunch was a half-dozen vegetables, and although she was quite happy, this was a clear lunch victory for yours truly. What an incredible bit of luck we had finding this place. The food was so good we even put up with the grouchy 87-year-old woman complaining non-stop to her very patient 86-year-old friend at the table next to ours. A small price to pay for a scrumptious lunch! We finally rolled into Hagerstown, Pennsylvania at 6:00pm, and I’m embarrassed to say, we had wine (yes, just wine) for dinner at the local Red Robin. We simply didn’t want to taint the lunch served at Mrs. Rowe’s earlier in the day. Beginning mileage 53,270, Ending mileage 53,725
Saturday, April 30, 2022
We walked to the nearby Valley Mall Diner and had the single best breakfast of our trip. My ‘over-medium’ order for eggs actually came out over-medium. That NEVER happens! From the outside, this place was sterile like an old Blockbuster Video, but the service and food were top notch. And we didn’t even get booted out after a misfire of a squeezed lemon for tea hit our waitress in the face. After reflecting on how we had two outstanding meals in two days, we headed back on the road to Hershey, Pennsylvania where we took in the candy factory tour and gawked at the largest candy and gift shop we had ever seen. The tour is very efficient and informative, but likely not as popular with kids as the gift shop or the full amusement park (similar to Six Flags) next door. We made the decision not to load up on candy as gifts since we still had a week of driving and chocolate doesn’t tend to react well to the warm air of a parked car. Of course, upon our return home, the grandkids saw the Hershey/Reese’s bag and were kinda disappointed in their logo soccer ball and basketball, neither of which was edible nor contained sugar. At least the granddaughters were good with their Hershey’s Kisses birthstone necklaces. Almost made up for the lack of candy. After the tour, we continued on to Scranton, Pennsylvania to check out a few sites from “The Office” (which was mostly filmed in California). A late lunch at Cooper’s Seafood was definitely the right call. An octopus on the roof, a pirate at the door, and the place was jam packed with all types of memorabilia, plus offered Scranton’s best gift shop dedicated to Dunder Mifflin and “The Office.” The seafood was excellent and we spent an inordinate amount of time perusing the gift shop and laughing. It should also be noted that Cooper’s had the best restrooms we saw on the trip. Elvis pictures and music filled the ladies’ room, while The Beatles took over the men’s. It was 6:00pm when we arrived in Binghamton, New York – our final stay before Cooperstown. Beginning mileage 53,725, Ending mileage 53,996
Sunday, May 1, 2022
It was but a short drive to Cooperstown and we arrived by 10:00am. Downtown is a picturesque throwback with many shops, cafes, and other small businesses. We parked by Doubleday Field, and a high school game was already underway. The walk was only a couple of blocks to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and we excitedly made our way in. Well, one of us was excited. Mary was kind enough to join me, and even showed interest in a few of the displays. For a lover of baseball, this truly felt like hallowed ground … the keeper of the game’s sacred history. It’s okay if you don’t understand, but for me, it was a dream come true – and I was thrilled to share the time with Mary. The key is to start on the second floor and work your way up, before finishing on the ground level where the iconic plaques are displayed in a single hall. Having studied the history of the game, the oldest items and details proved the most fascinating to me. There is even an explanation of how Cooperstown managed to land the HOF in the first place … a case study of marketing and self-interest. After a couple of hours, we took a break and had lunch at the Stagecoach Coffee House, a local café that specializes in organic meals and coffees. Since I’m no fan of coffee aroma, we grabbed a table on the patio and enjoyed our lunch in the picture-perfect weather. It was then back to the HOF for another 2-3 hours of walking, touring, and absorbing. This is likely the only place where you can see Babe Ruth’s bowling ball, or a collection of game hats from each of Nolan Ryan’s seven no-hitters. Seeing the old bats and gloves are a stark reminder of how fortunate today’s players are from an equipment standpoint. There were individual displays of many of the great players, as well as tributes to the Latin America influence and women in the game. There is even a ‘Baseball in Movies’ section! After going through all of the plaques, we did manage to nab a few items at the gift shop before heading to The White House Inn, our Bed and Breakfast spot for the night. Of course, after a dream-fulfilling day at the HOF, we needed to top it off with a tremendous dinner at Nicoletta’s, a long-standing Italian restaurant in the village. The wine was good and the food even better. It’s difficult to imagine a better day. Beginning mileage 53,996, Ending mileage 54,078
Monday, May 2, 2022
After a tasty breakfast at the Cooperstown White House, we headed toward Niagara Falls, which took us through Syracuse. We arrived at the park around 1:30pm and immediately noticed the drop in temperature and increase in wind. It was quite chilly as the heavy mist from the falls mixed in, and since we missed a boat departure by one minute, we spent 45 minutes trying to find a proper blend of enjoying the majestic sight of the Falls while trying to maintain a life-sustaining body temperature. Once aboard the Maid of the Mist (the tour boat on the U.S. side), the wind somehow managed to increase and the mist shifted to something akin to a brisk morning shower. All passengers are provided blue plastic ponchos (similar thickness to Saran Wrap), which does help with the wetness, but doesn’t do much for the wind. It’s a remarkable experience to ride in a boat so close to the Falls – feeling the immense power and hearing the roar. It’s a beautiful site and quite a wonder to take in. Afterwards (still shivering), we grabbed an early dinner at the Griffon Pub before heading to the Hyatt Place. The contrast is a bit startling between the beauty of the actual Falls and the depressed look of the town of Niagara Falls. Glancing across the river, it seems Canada has done a better job of creating an environment for tourists. That said, this is an experience everyone should consider at least once. Beginning mileage 54,078, Ending mileage 54,340
Tuesday, May 3, 2022
Back on the road this morning as we head south/southwest through Buffalo and towards Cleveland. It was only a week after our trip ended when the tragic shooting in the Buffalo supermarket occurred. Our mission on this day was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, located on the shore of Lake Erie in Cleveland. The HOF opened in 1995, and it has since morphed into something much broader than rock and roll. The inducted artists and music celebrated are quite diverse, and most people will find something to enjoy. To save time, we lunched at the HOF café, which is on the main floor, and then we headed to the lower level, which is where they suggest each visitor begin. The displays do a nice job of traveling through the early influences and influencers. We immediately notice that music is playing constantly … sometimes multiple songs are going at once, though the music for specific areas is easy to hear over the “main” system. It’s a beautiful and modern building, and listening stations with headsets are included so that everyone can hear the music of their favorite artists, discover new artists, or both. There is an entire section of the HOF devoted to Peter Jackson’s new documentary, THE BEATLES: GET BACK, that details the recording sessions for the “Let it Be” album. If you haven’t watched, I highly recommend. For music lovers, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an interesting tour featuring clothes, instruments, photographs, and videos of some of the true legends of the past 80+ years. Once we finished our tour, we drove just a few miles into the city so that we could take the tour for the house used in the classic A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983). It’s surprising that this terrific little movie has spawned a tourist attraction that includes not just the house where Ralphie lived, but also the Bumpus house, a huge gift shop, and a museum with artifacts from the film. Additionally, both houses are available for overnight stays and are frequently booked. Ralphie’s “official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time” is on display in the museum, and the gift shop is stocked with new models … in case you want to warn your kids not to shoot their eye out. The “Fra-Gi-Le” shipping case and the infamous lamp are on display, as is a bar of Lifebouy, should you happen to mutter … “Fuuudge”. We also saw the actual school blackboard with A++++ scrawled across. The movie has long been a holiday favorite, and it was enjoyable to experience this. After the tour, we continued south to Mansfield/Ontario to get a jump on the next day’s driving. Beginning mileage 54,340, Ending mileage 54,637
Wednesday, May 4, 2022
Today’s drive took us through Columbus, Ohio and Cincinnati. We spent very little time in either on our way to Louisville. Yes, it was ‘Derby Week’ and we arrived in Louisville just a few days before the scheduled Kentucky Derby. We don’t gamble, follow horse racing, or wear elaborate hats, so our attention turned to the Louisville Slugger Factory and museum. For baseball fans, this is a very interesting place and a gem that shouldn’t be missed. A museum gallery features the bats used by some of the all-time greats like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Hank Aaron. It’s the factory tour that makes this a must-see as we got to walk through and witness firsthand where the bats are formed, including explanations of how wood is divided into two categories – that used for major league bats, and that used for the rest of us mere mortals. Now I understand why I was never able to hit like Stan Musial – his bats were made from better wood! Still a family business, legend has it that the first bat was made by a young Bud Hillerich in 1884 for Pete Browning (nicknamed the Louisville Slugger). In 1916, the company name was changed to Hillerich & Bradsby, and many of us are familiar with seeing that company name on Louisville Slugger bats. Serving the country during WWI and WWII, the company made gun stocks for the troops, though they never stopped bat production. It was fascinating to learn that the old equipment used to form the bats has been out of production for decades, and has been re-purposed for one thing – making bats. The giant bat in front of the facility makes a unique landmark and photo opportunity, and the racks of bats in the shop are awaiting shipment to their final destination. It was in Louisville where we splurged for one of our few luxury hotel stays. The first Galt House opened in 1862, and the current location was part of the revitalization of Louisville’s waterfront district in 1972. It’s obviously a popular spot for Derby attendees and we were probably the only hotel guests not in town for the race. People watching while standing in line to check-in was about as entertaining as any stop on our trip. We headed to the Conservatory on the walkway between towers – it’s an all-glass lounge with nice views of downtown. As a tribute to the Kentucky Derby, Mary ordered a Mint Julep. You can imagine her disappointment and shock when the bartender explained they had not yet received their shipment of mint. My gardener wife got a kick out of this, describing mint as little more than a weed that grows uncontrollably. So, we settled on wine of such quality that one glass was sufficient. On the bright side, our view of the river from our room was simply spectacular – we could also see the Muhammad Ali Center next door. Beginning mileage 54,707, Ending mileage 54,922
Thursday, May 5, 2022
This was mostly a driving day, and our highlight was stopping in downtown St Louis for lunch at Bally Sports Live! right next to Busch Stadium, where the St Louis Cardinals play. As a Texas Rangers fan, I still have nightmares caused by the Cardinals snatching a World Series victory away from my team in 2011. As a baseball fan, I tip my cap to their traditional uniforms and contributions to the sport. With Stan Musial and Bob Gibson and Lou Brock as franchise icons, respect has been earned. World Series banners hang outside right next to a giant World Series trophy (which makes for a nice photo op). Even the Cardinals’ “Live!” facility beats the Rangers’ “Live!” And adding to the insult was the Bally Sports sponsorship – the overly-greedy company behind my inability to watch most Rangers’ games on TV. We stayed the night in Fenton, Missouri. Beginning mileage 54,922, Ending mileage 55,221
Friday May 6, 2022
After making fun of the sheer number of Cracker Barrel billboards we passed on the trip, we broke down and had breakfast at one. It’s always nice to feel young again. Speaking of billboards, on the drive to our next destination (Springfield, Missouri), we couldn’t help but notice a couple dozen billboards advertising Uranus Fudge. Their slogan, “the best fudge comes from Uranus” was effective in keeping us speeding right past that exit. Knowing that our trip would not take us through Darwin, Minnesota for the world’s largest ball of twine, we were filled with excitement to see one of Springfield’s attractions: the world’s largest fork! Yep, it was a really big fork near the entrance to an office building. And yes, we took a selfie with the fork. We also stopped into the tourist center to get some background on the old Route 66 which once ran right through Springfield. They claim to be the birthplace of Route 66, but when you question that, they quickly admit that Chicago was actually the beginning. Regardless, the area offers some travel history of long-ago days, when Route 66 was a key throughfare for those traveling across the Midwest. We ate dinner at the “World Champion” BBQ spot called The Whole Hog. Plenty of trophies are on display touting their success in competitions, and since this is Missouri and not Texas, we went for the pork instead of the beef. The food was delicious (except for that mayo-based potato salad) and the accompaniment for our dinner was provided by the grizzled man holding court a couple of tables over. After proclaiming that most truck drivers are “extremely smart”, he dazzled those at his table with tales from the road, stopping periodically to mix in jokes that were, at best, politically incorrect, and often racist or sexist or both. The man had no filter. One final note regarding Springfield: as we drove through the downtown area, we were struck by the dozens of parked trailers at the events center. Upon closer inspection, Mary noticed that folks were setting up displays for the taxidermy festival. Stuffed animals were everywhere – only not the kind you typically gift a toddler. Sadly, we couldn’t find the time for The World Taxidermy & Fish Carving Championship. Beginning mileage 55,221, Ending mileage 55,461
Saturday, May 7, 2022
A short drive took us to Bentonville, Arkansas … yes, the home of Wal-Mart. Five or six years have passed since our last trip to the area, and we were stunned at the growth and development that has occurred over that span. Having been away from home for two weeks, we were craving Torchy’s queso, and Rogers, a neighboring town to Bentonville and another booming area, has recently opened the largest Torchy’s we have seen. After our queso fix, we headed to Crystal Bridges Museum and Park, a truly inspiring and beautiful facility that is a pet project of Alice Walton, whose father, Sam, founded Wal-Mart. There is no admittance fee to tour the art museum or the grounds or the walking trails through nature. Some elements, like the tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright house, do have a fee, but one could spend many hours over many days enjoying the free sites. Some of the trails feature large scale sculptures, and the varieties of plants and trees and flowers seem endless. After a few hours of culture and nature, we headed to the hotel to prepare for the evening. We were so excited to see our friends Regan and Jeanne. It was the wedding of their youngest daughter that last brought us to Bentonville, and this time it was simply a reunion of the two couples who first took a Caribbean vacation together approximately 35 years prior. We met at their beautiful home for champagne and appetizers. Catching up on family developments was enlightening, and what stood out was how quickly we all fell back into a conversational comfort zone. Regan is perhaps the most upstanding man I’ve crossed paths with in my entire life, and I regret that we haven’t visited more often over the years. The four of us jumped in the car and took a backroads journey to make our dinner reservations at LakePoint Restaurant in Bella Vista. As the sun set, the view of Loch Lomond was lovely. There was a scary moment when a 58-year-old man sitting across the dining room passed out and crumbled to the floor. After being tended to, the man appeared to recover as he walked to the door with the paramedics. Our after dark drive back home was a bit slow as those pastoral roads became horror-movie settings with no streetlights for illumination. It was such a pleasure to catch up with old friends and good people. Beginning mileage 55,461, Ending mileage 55,626
Sunday, May 8, 2022
Captain’s log: our final leg home. Left Bentonville at 9:00am and drove south to Fort Smith, then took a hard right turn west into Oklahoma, before finally heading south towards DFW. Since we have friends from Oklahoma, I will not mention how the terrible conditions of the state’s highways never cease to amaze me. Eastern Oklahoma is a much prettier drive than what you might have experienced driving north or south on I-35 between Texas and Kansas. Rather than head directly to our house, we veered off towards our favorite Tex-Mex restaurant (Jhonny’s in St Paul) for one final moment of pleasure before admitting that our two-week adventure had reached the finish line.
The trip was long and quite an atypical vacation for us. Of course, the highlights were seeing old friends and touring the main sites. There were other pieces that generated much conversation. Many of the rural area we drove through were simply gorgeous. Towering trees, thick forests, rolling hills, and tended farms and ranches were all treats for these two city folks. Other things that stood out included what we thought was an abnormally high number of “God” billboards, rebel flags (mostly, but not only Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee), and gun-toters (and we are from Texas). Also abnormal was the fact that I went two weeks without watching a movie … something that hasn’t happened since a two-week grounding in junior high school. I couldn’t have asked for a better travel buddy (or life partner). Mary and I had fun, learned a few things, and cleared our minds so that we could be ready to go back to work possessing a bit more respect for this great country of ours – and it is great, even though each day seems to bring more questions and uncertainty. So the message we would like to leave you with is to consider taking a road trip at some point. It’s not as fast as an airplane, but you get a real taste for the countryside and the varying cultures within different regions. It’s quite a treat!
Total miles driven: 3713 Overall MPG: 26.2 Highest price gas: $5.149/gallon (premium)
The states we drove through on the trip: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas.