Arkansas Saturday

The only Southern state I had never been to was Arkansas. That finally changed, as today will be an Arkansas Saturday to remember. I will be at the state GOP convention in Little Rock, and then heading to the “Paint Arkansas Red Rally” in Hot Springs. I will be speaking in front of about 1200 people.

I am jut glad to be here. Every time I tried to get to Arkansas, something went wrong.

In late 2000 and early 2001, it looked like the two best football teams were the Oakland Raiders and the Tennessee Titans. They were on a collision course for the AFC Title Game. I had a ticket ready to fly to Nashville for the game, then drive to Memphis, and finally make it to Arkansas. I decided to put the ticket on 24 hour hold rather than buy it…just in case.

In a playoff shocker, the Baltimore Ravens stunned the Tennessee Titans. Instead of the South, I was headed to Oakland as the Raiders hosted the Ravens.

(What a waste of money….50 yard line, front row, and an @ss kicking.)

Two years later in 2002 the Titans and Raiders finally played in the AFC Title Game, but the game was in Oakland.

(The bad news was I was too scared to go. The good news is the Raiders won.)

I was still nowhere near Arkansas.

This 2010 trip to Arkansas was not easy. A simple flight from Los Angeles to Little Rock on Thursday, with a stopover in Las Vegas, seemed straightforward enough.

Awakened at 3:45am, I made my 6:15am flight from LA to Vegas. I could have gotten on my connecter and been in Little Rock by 2:30pm. That would have been the easy way. Apparently I never do anything the easy way. Oh well.

I was offered compensation to take a later flight, which would have gotten me into Little Rock by 9:30pm. A 7 hour delay is not thrilling, but the compensation was pleasant enough.

Of course the later flight was not a straight flight. I had to go from Las Vegas to San Antonio to Dallas to Little Rock. Two stops in Texas seemed insane, but airlines really are awful.

The trips to San Antonio and then Dallas were to be on the same plane, so at least that was convenient. How hard is it to stay on a plane, wait for the pilot to hit the head, and then continue on?

When we got to San Antonio the airline for reasons that nobody including the pilots understood decided to do a “plane swap.” To make things even more delightful, the connecter to Dallas was delayed 90 minutes. My inability to turn back time like Cher meant that I was not going to get to Little Rock.

I had the choice of staying in a hotel in San Antonio or Dallas. Since there were no direct flights from San Antonio to Little Rock, and everything went through Dallas anyway, staying in San Antonio made no sense.

They put me up in a nice hotel with a pool that closed at 10pm. On a day that started at 3:45am, getting in that pool at 9:45pm never felt so good. After 18 hours of partial hades, 15 minutes of heaven was all I needed to be relaxed again.

I was supposed to be a Friday 8am guest of Arkansas radio personality Dick Antoine. Being in Dallas made it tough to walk to the Arkansas studio. Thankfully I was able to call in and do the interview by phone.

At 12:45pm I took the one hour flight to Little Rock, and got there only 34 hours after my journey began.

I would have been enraged had the delays caused me to miss events, but the originald ecision tod elayw as mine, and I did not need to be there until today.

Some will wonder why it was so important to get to Arkansas.

It is important for the same reason I head to Nebraska next week. It is the same reason I go to places many others never see.

I am going to Arkansas for the same reason the guy climbs the mountain.

I am going to Arkansas because it is there.

People live there. There is something about each state that makes it different from the other 49.

This country is so amazing, and every state has beauty that cannot be described by merely reading a book or watching a television.

America is not coasts and flyover country. It is not podunkville. It is people.

No two people are alike. Arkansas gave us Bill Clinton, but it also gave us Mike Huckabee.

As for me, I am excited to have now been to every Southern State. At some point all 50 states will have welcomed me into their area.

For now, it is time to enjoy Arkansas Saturday.


One Response to “Arkansas Saturday”

  1. Arkansas is a unique state. Compared with most other states, it is very poor. It has unique racial demographics, with a relatively small hispanic population and relatively large black population. Arkansas is an extremely divided state, with the black population and small number of whites solidly Democratic, and the rest of the whites solidly conservative – not necessarily Republican, but definitely conservative.

    It is a state that perhaps more than any other regularly votes against in own interests. Arkansas desparately needs better schools and healthcare, an active labor movement, and progressive taxation. It has none of that, and constantly votes against getting any of that. One can’t but wonder if there’s some sort of IQ-reducing toxin in the water.


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