By Tim Notier
Some years ago, I was offered a job that would require us to move to Arkansas. This new position came with a wage increase that seemed too good to refuse...
Did I really want to move there? For some reason if I had to make a list of the top 48 states to move to, I don't think Arkansas would have made that list.
I now realize that I was harboring a bias based on nothing more than a false perception that Arkansas as a whole was populated by rednecks, or people who would not want a “Yankee” like myself as a friend. I didn't think there would be anything there for me.
Though it would be wrong to say that Arkansas does not have any rednecks, believing that I would not find friends or that people would not accept me, could not have been further from the truth. In fact, I have made life-long friends during my two years of living here.
What's more, Arkansas is naturally stunning and its mountains and forests feel untouched, pure, and spacious. Every inch of Arkansas is lush and buzzing with wildlife. And from where I lived in Central Arkansas, scenic and challenging off-road riding was right at my fingertips, which became essential for building my confidence in my riding ability.
Seeing how wrong I was about my apprehension to move to Arkansas also taught me a valuable lesson. If I am to travel the world, I must be aware of the stereotypes already engrained in me, and I must follow the innocent until proven guilty standard. “Mexico is not safe,” “You will get ripped off throughout Africa,” and other statements may give fair warning, but should not be stamped broadly across an entire country, state, or culture.
Arkansas has given us an incredible two years of riding down fire-roads, camping with friends, and having fireside chats filled with laughter. I've learned that ant bites can feel like wasp stings, and that giant poisonous snakes may be living anywhere in the South. Oh, and I don't care whether the yellow stripe touches red or black, people have explained it to me a hundred times, but I'm not getting close enough to the snake to tell the difference anyway.
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