Aaaaah! It's a curve!!

There is a highway that runs about 30 miles between the college town of Arkadelphia, AR (where I currently reside, but will never refer to as home) and the resort town of Hot Springs, AR. It is a highway I travel often as the only thing to do in Arka-do-nothin is visit Wal-Mart. This makes a trip to Hot Springs mandatory if locating a decent restaurant or go shopping or even catch a movie is on the agenda. My hairdresser is even in Hot Springs.
"Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car." ~E.B. White
The name of aforementioned road is Arkansas Scenic Highway 7. You know what "scenic" stands for, don’t you? "Scenic" is the U.S. Highway Department codeword for "really curvy road" and Highway 7 does have its share of twists and turns, but the speed limit is 55 mph (pardon me, those of you on the metric system) and individuals (like me) who know the road well typically drive at that speed or a wee bit more … or a lot more.

"Scenic Highway 7 is just that, one of the loveliest drives in the state. It winds and curves and crests hills and skirts rivers. It is more than just a way to get somewhere in Arkansas, and there are some great little places along the way." ~Patti DeLano, Insiders' Guide

Here’s the thing: Hot Springs is a resort town. There are a lot of people who come from around the world to visit the first National Park in the United States and have a spa treatment or engage in one of the many activities available. Hell, there’s even a horserace track. However, the city is located "off the beaten path" as it isn’t directly on the U.S. Interstate system and visitors must take one of the smaller highways in order to reach Hot Springs from any direction. One trip down Highway 7 is all you need to prove that drivers from Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas have no clue how to navigate a curvy road.
"To know the road ahead, ask those coming back." ~Chinese Proverb

Inevitably, either going or coming, I end up behind a vehicle driving either 35 mph for the duration of the distance between Hot Springs and Arkadelphia because they are afraid of the curves –or– I end up behind someone who tries to drive 80 mph on the few straight-aways and then SLAMS on their breaks at as the entrance to every single curve. "Aaaaaah, it’s a curve!" You can almost hear the driver’s thoughts every time the break lights flash into your eyes. It drives me crazy … and without a doubt, the license plate of the individual in front me will read: Oklahoma, Louisiana or Texas.
"Improvement makes straight roads; but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius." ~William Blake

I wonder if driver’s education in those states eliminates all curves in their instruction simply because the bulk of roads in those states are straight and flat. Whatever the reason, I am tired of yelling, "Learn how to drive!" or "It’s just a curve!" throughout my excursions to and fro.

"Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead." ~Mac McCleary


  1. Your environment is very different from mine! Most of what I need is within walking distance and my car sits on the roadside for days unused so I wonder if it will still start when I try (it being rather old now, though we have been together since new). But I like to keep it parked so as to retain its parking spot. (Yes, its main function is to retain its own space.) We are in the Chiltern Hills where the country roads are wide enough for a single vehicle and are like roller-coasters too; or rivers after rain.

    I note that you will never refer to Arkadelphia (a fictional-sounding placename if ever I heard one) as home. Then where is home, my dear? Why are you exiled?

    Not that I even know where Arkansas is. Is it the place where the Wizard of Oz hung out? That place is surely fictional. Are your highways made of yellow brick?

    Where (this is my serious question, you can ignore the others if you like) did that wonderful Blake quote come from? I have never encountered it on my own crooked path and short of idolatry I worship William Blake's genius.

  2. First - the quote is from 'Proverbs of Hell' in Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. I really should quote my sources more fully.

    As for my 'fictional' (that is hilarious) location ... they make it look better than it is:

    I am American, but I have never called anywhere in this country "home." Only Kenya has received that distinction. You see (despite being raised in the colonies or perhaps because of it) I have a very English heart. I would much rather be where you are. I could find content in an English village with rolling hills or in a flat in Notting Flat (not that I could ever afford to live in London).

    I took a short trip to Bermuda five years ago and there (with the English influence and similarities to the Kenyan coast) I felt like I could breathe for the first time in years.

    My university studies: English Literature. Much is understood about me after that one statement.

    OH! The genius of Blake is well worth a wee bit of everyone's worship. I know not all agree with us on this matter ... but they are wrong! :o)

  3. Well, sometimes I think the English are not to be trusted with their heritage. My wife is from Jamaica and is constantly observing that she was taught correct written English and respect for all the things that in the mother country are now being abandoned!

    I'm an exile like you. Born in Perth Australia and arrived here reluctantly aged 4. It was my grandmother who first made me feel unwelcome, as we got off the ship at Tilbury Docks in 1946. As soon as I spoke she remarked to my mother that she would have to get rid of my vulgar Cockney accent.

    I mention my grandmother because she spent some years in Kenya herself, and told me about the terrible Mau Mau. Who were of course freedom fighters against the colonial Brits who had taken the best land.

    What is understood about you from your Eng. Lit. course? I'm being pedantic here. I abandoned my Eng. Lit. course after the first year. But you wouldn't understand much about me from that, I bet.

  4. but arkadelphia has a tiny population. we would not call it a city here. Mind you technically a city in britain is a town with a cathedral. So St Davids in Wales is a city though its population is 1600. Kidlington with population 12000 - more than Arkadelphia - is britain's largest village. How can Arkadelphia have 2 universities. I think your definition of a university is different from here too.

    I wonder what the population of Springfield, home of the Simpsons, is?

    I suppose you'll declare that Arkadelphia is real and Springfield is fiction? But from here, The Simpsons say everything that needs to be known about America.

  5. Aaah! Not just one English Lit course ... but many. From passion plays to Shakespeare, Austen to Tolkien, Blake to Lewis and Fleming to Rowling. It is my glue. I do have appreciation for all things literary, but it is the voices of those from Britain that speak to me the most. Apparently it seeps from my pores for those near me recognize it in my speech patterns and references I use daily.

    It explains why I have children who, when feeling melodramatic, will refer to themselves as "Master Kenneth" & "Master Kyle" or call me "Lady Elizabeth" or "My Lady" when they know I need a smile.

    Unfortunately, I never completely university. Somehow this needs to get added to my "to do" list.

    I often argue with others that American English is not true English. It isn't. While we understand one another, they are two distinctly different languages .. not dialects ... languages.

    The Brits did take the best land in Kenya. They flocked to the rolling hills that resembled the English countryside. It is in those hills, surrounded by British Kenyans, where I was raised.

  6. I shudder that The Simpsons personify all things American. That is frightful. Yes, Arkadelphia is terribly small. It suffocates me.

    There are large differences between university here and university in England. Unlike Oxford which sprawls across the city with different colleges for each area of study, our universities are much more compact. In the U.S. university study is much more generalized and not as specific to one area of focus as it is in your country.


"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" ~Walt Whitman


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