The Ozarks

I think a lot of people assume they know everything about Arkansas based on the one hundred mile span of rice fields between Memphis and the central region of the state. I myself have even been guilty of calling it "flyover country" and ugly. But though it may not be the most interesting of terrain, I do think it has a certain beauty within it. There is beauty in everything, after all. But I'm not writing about rice patties, let's save that for a rainy day.

Last weekend I took a trip up to the northwest corner of Arkansas to visit some friends (and get out of Searcy). We decided to drive to Whitaker Point inside the Hawkbill Crag. I've always wanted to go, it's the most photographed location in the state. After driving up practically a sheer cliff and hiking for forty minutes, we finally made it. 

It was exactly what I was expecting while at the same time being completely opposite. I knew what it was going to look like because of the countless pictures I've seen of it but I was still surprised. Most bluffs and cliffs have vantage points that can see for miles and miles. Whitaker Point was different. The cliff jutted its rocky arm out from the mountain so far into the valley it's as if you could reach out and touch the other side. Standing at the edge, I was completely surrounded by mountains, suspended within a bowl blanketed with green. The Buffalo River rushed through the valley below. 

Standing on that cliff looking over the valley, I was in the middle what makes Arkansas so amazing. Rugged nature unmoved by man is at the heart of The Natural State. And it's what makes Arkansas so unique. 

I recently started reading Travels with Charley In Search of America by John Steinbeck. In it, Steinbeck sets out of a grand journey across the entire contiguous United States from Maine to Southern California. He begins this journey to rediscover the country he spent his entire life writing about. He wanted to relearn the heart of America. 

In the same way I think this trip out into the woodlands of Arkansas is my own mini version of what Steinbeck did. Though I didn't cross an entire continent, I did rediscover the place I call home. 

Here are a few pictures from our little adventure. 

We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.
— John Steinbeck

Ciao for now,