CALL IT A trip down memory lane, but a couple years back, the Arkansas Life staff took a road trip to the Delta. The resulting story, penned by our then-editor, Katie, was a mile-by-mile account of the experience, a dispatch that highlighted landmarks visited along the drive—Jones B-B-Q Diner, the Johnny Cash House, the angel that inspired Carroll Cloar in a field outside Earle—and gave us road-trippers a better sense of a place well afield of our normal stomping grounds.
Even now, the memories from that trek are still strong, having barely wilted or frayed along the edges. However, the reason for this is less the historical significance, the awe we felt at having been in the presence of places touched by history, and more their entanglement with something more personal—namely, the memories made on that trip.
Louisiana Purchase State Park, for instance, will always be hallowed ground of historical import—but it’s also the place we came across a snapping turtle roughly the size of a coffee table and named it Donatello. Dyess will always be Dyess, birthplace of the Man in Black, but it will also remain the place that a docent mistook Katie for a teacher chaperoning a class field trip, (I’m not sure if that reflects better on her, or us, who were taken to be students). And Murry’s Restaurant in Hazen? Well, the cooking (and the people) at Murry’s effectively changed our lives—very much for the better, I might add, though the bathroom scale might say otherwise.
All of this is really just a very long-winded way of saying something very simple: For as many stops as we made, the stories and inside jokes and associations of that trip made those places feel like our own. And so, when we began mapping out the itineraries that appear in this month’s feature, we weren’t just thinking about what historic sites or delicious restaurants might be worth the drive—but the experiences that people might have along the way.
To paraphrase that oh-so-popular saying, the journey matters far more than the destination. And let me be the first to say: I hope you enjoy it.