It exists. The poverty, the racism, the depression, it exists and it smacks whatever grandiose idealistic delusion you have of the “progress” we’ve made so far right out of your coffee cup. We rode through Helena, AR expecting more quaint historic downtowns and self-sufficient farmland, but instead we found crumbling facades. It’s alright Arkansas, you didn’t disappoint us, something else did. A deeper look into the history of Arkansas will explain why there is no money here (link above). The first national park we stayed at was wild, not a wild that inspires freedom and anarchy but a wild that blocks out rays of comfort. The drive through was shady.
On the other hand, Arkansas does not disappoint when it comes to dirt road, particularly when you start reaching the Ozarks. The first portion of the drive is river delta and flat. Mostly farmland as we’ve seen plenty of. The second portion is more like West Virginia: switchbacks and hard climbs on our little 4 cylinder engine. Arkansas also has a welcoming community towards TAT riders as we “officially” got to sign-in at the TAT AR Rest Stop and marvel at those who’ve created a community for us.