There is a small contingency of conspiracy theorists on the North Shore of Long Island who believe that the correct pronunciation of the state west of Tennessee is “Ar-kan-zuss.” However, this myth was quickly BUSTED. It only took us offending a few locals in Little Rock, who defiantly asserted that they lived in the state of Ar-kan-saw. They were further offended when I tried to compliment their capital city by referring to it as a “cute little town.”
“We have a population of 200,000,” the visitor center guide boasted.
That night, we camped at a KOA site in Hot Springs, Arkansas. This site was huge, with rows and rows of RVs, cabins, and tents. Vic, the campsite’s one-man maintenance and security department, attached a train to the back of his cart and whizzed kids around the grounds, doing donuts in the parking lot. He nearly ran us over, but the kids loved it.
We were designated a semi-dry spot between an RV and Rick, a retired contractor riding across the country on his motorcycle. We struck up a fast friendship with Rick, who loaned us his pump to blow up the pool floats we bought at Walmart to use as mattresses. He’s taking the opposite route from us – from the West Coast to the East – so we crossed paths right in the middle of the country.
We loaded up on marshmallows, hershey bars, and graham crackers at the KOA shop, determined to make s’mores. We had firewood delivered to our site and ripped up a cardboard box to use as kindling. But the fire wouldn’t catch. The air was so humid that the cardboard turned wet as soon as we took it out of the car. Undeterred, we managed to roast our marshmallows in tiny, whimpery flames that quickly petered out into sooty smoke.