Route 66 with Bubba the Bus Day 4: Resting in Arkansas

For me, today is another day of rest. Once Bubba and I hit the road from Fayetteville to the Bay Area; we will be on our own. I don’t know where the next hot shower or bed will be; but know they will turn up–(or as we say in my circles, manifest.) Fayetteville Arkansas, located deep within the Ozarks, is beautiful and humid. We decided to take Bubba for a drive to Wal-Mart to get some supplies. Wal Mart was founded by Sam Walton in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas, about 20 miles away. I bought food, an air mattress and gas treatment for the upcoming miles. Then we dined at the last Waffle House of my journey. There are a lot of jokes about the ‘Awful House‘, but I love it. They are open 24/7-365 days a year. Born in 1955, they (allegedly) serve 145 waffles per minute in their 1500+ stores. I’m all about the Pecan Waffle and Hashbrowns with country gravy for a mere $4.00. I could probably live here. Fayetteville is a huge sports town, home to the University of Arkansas, which is perhaps their biggest attraction and a large population of Southern Baptists and Methodists, who reflect the trend often associated with the Deep South. Tomorrow, when I miss my turnoff to Texas, I will accidentally cruise by a grouping of three gargantuan crosses, in the front of the aptly named, Cross Church. The Church is huge and I am immediately transported back to my own days as a Fundamentalist at Capitol Christian Center as if it had been yesterday. The Church is huge and I know it will have a sanctuary, worship facilities, preschool, gathering rooms, offices, and Gatherias, rooms used for all sorts of things from witnessing, Bible studies, healings, mini-lectures, and more. Later when I Google it, I am not surprised to find that it is 169,734 square feet with a 6,000 square foot window that serves as a backdrop for the stage. The crosses are hauntingly spectacular, rising into the sky at 145′, 165′ and 175′ tall, visible on I-540, for several miles. As I turn around to head towards Texas, I find myself caught in a reverie; perhaps because of the Church and the crosses; perhaps because the KKK and the Hiway Men (a Neo-Nazi group), have a home-base not far from the city; perhaps because of the moments of solitude in travel itself; but snippets of conversation come back to fill my ears; voices from strangers on the train in Arizona and Nevada; patrons in the pubs of Chicago and Indiana, words wafting through the air from Michigan to Nashville; Sante Fe to Birmingham, that caused me to reflect on my travel, in a way that was both startling and sobering. It’s strange looking at the camera roll on my phone; images and photos sliding by, they seem so long ago. The red rocks of Indian reservation and high desert clouds, give way to the great Midwest, flooded and desolate; scenes of devastation and heartbreak; followed by the hustle and bustle of Chicago; a City whose energy leaps off the page and captures your imagination; buildings spiraling to the sky; hearing the twang of an electric guitar seeping from a juke joints in Nashville–(the Hollywood of the South), to the baked fields of Indiana to Pennsylvania, a state that seemingly never ends–gauzy clouds of white and variations of green, which I didn’t even know existed rolling by. Nashville, Birmingham, Huntsville, Memphis, Louisville, Chicago, New York, Clevland, Brooklyn, and so many others; and there are certain things that have been consistent throughout the trip. One of those themes, is the very pro-45 sentiment that exists. I’m not going to say this surprises me, it simply reminds me. When the 45 first came into the White House, I was disappointed; I was not surprised. I grew up in Oregon, a ‘white’ state, as it is clearly described in their state constitution of 1859. Yes, it is considered blue–(thank you college towns Portland and Eugene); but Oregon is a red state at heart and soul. After three months of driving and riding through the great states, that we refer to as ‘fly-over‘ states; I have come to believe that they are also red in heart and soul. I listened with curiosity, in an attempt to understand the ‘why’ of it. What I discovered was, that the ‘why’s’ I heard across the country, are as valid as yours and mine; and I was reminded of the very basic premises of The Three Rhetorical Appeals, which are ‘ethos’, ‘pathos‘ and ‘logos‘. Rhetoric and Communication, a now defunct department,  was my area of study in Grad school  at UCDavis; as I planned to be a political speech writer and spent five years in politics at the capital; I loved it and learned a lot. I mention this, because I found that we are not as divided as we think we are; but, are speaking from different ‘rhetorical appeals’. (Thank you Davis). An example of what that can look like is the ingenious experiment, in which psychologists reframed climate change not as a challenge to government and industry but as “a threat to the American way of life.” After reading a passage that couched environmental action as patriotic, study participants who displayed traits typical of conservatives were much more likely to sign petitions about preventing oil spills, protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and climate change. This instilled in me a sense of hope that we can come together. I don’t know how that’s going to happen under the 45, both red and blue, spewing platitudes and sayings perfect for bumper stickers; but the abuse of words is the greatest division of society; and we must learn to speak to each other and not at each other. Until next time…

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