I drove through a slice of rural southwest Missouri, the whole state of Arkansas and down through a hunk of Texas yesterday, by myself. As I rolled through travel-magazine-like countryside in northwest Arkansas to the center of the state to see my Dad, I remembered why I’m so comfortable in small towns. There is no traffic, there are no crowds and between Harrison and Clinton there isn’t even a Walmart. No Walmart is a little scary.
But it’s quiet and slower paced and business real estate is multifunctional. The tax accountant shares office space with the feed store and the gas stations all have a pass through door to a restaurant and a clothing store of sorts. Everyone knows everyone. I almost feel like an intruder every time I go inside to pay for gas or buy a Dr. Pepper on that stretch of highway.
I saw a Nona’s Beauty shop at the side entrance of a home. It was next door to Big Belly Bar-B-Q. I think Nona and the cook at Big Belly’s must be married. It all seems so simple and easy to live right where you work. No commute time. No gas consumption. Less pollution. However, I don’t think Nona and the big guy worry about their carbon footprint.
I left Conway after visiting with Dad and took off toward Little Rock hoping the Saturday afternoon traffic would be thin. It was. Everything flattened out south of Benton. It’s as if I veered right and just keep driving on Interstate 30, forever. I stopped in Texarkana because my legs were going numb, the gas tank was almost empty, I was hungry and needed a bathroom. That’s one-stop multitasking at it’s best.
I had to pick Jim up at the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport. Lamaze breathing came in handy the closer I got to the metroplex. I don’t do five lanes of traffic at 70mph with grace. I had map quested the trip and really there were only two stay-to-the- lefts, but I still had a death grip on the steering wheel as if it would help me drive better. Other drivers would surely see my out of state license and cut me some slack … not so much. At that point I wished I had programmed Droid to GPS me there. At least someone would have been in the car for encouragement.
Of course I took the wrong arrival gate exit at an airport the size of a small country, but I ended up in the vicinity of Jim. I finally found him. Well, he actually found me. With my road trip buddy taking over the driving, I brought my shoulders down from my ears, and went back to normal breathing.
I don’t know… If I had to choose between Dallas and small town Arkansas, maybe living without a Walmart is doable.