Near the Foothills of the Ozarks


I’ll be headed west today to pay a call on my alma mater, Harding University (Hail!).

Number One Son has been there attending Honors Symposium the last two weeks, hopefully staying out of too much trouble while bulking up the ol’ grey matter. When I first heard about Honors Symposium I thought it was some sort of “boot camp for the brain,” but when I talked to the parents of previous attendees, I realized it was much more than that.

It’s actually a two-week session of interesting interdisciplinary classes with catchy titles like, “Designer Genes: Technology and the Creation of the Western Dystopia,” and “The Bain of Cobain,” punctuated with service projects, camping, field trips, rock climbing and generally just hanging out with some very cool kids from around the country. Ultimately, it amounts to a very slick (and effective) recruitment tool, and I fully expect to have to kidnap Number One and drag him kicking and screaming back to Huntsville.

Note to self: bring a blindfold and some rolls of duct tape.

I’m looking foward to touching bases with some old friends as well as meeting some new ones. For instance, I’ll also get a chance to meet a couple of fellow bloggers, David Underwood and Mark Elrod. According to Number One, this will make me somewhat less of a geek since I will have actually met some of the people that I know online. I’m not sure if I should trust him in such matters, but what choice do I have?

The only part I dread about the trip is the stretch between Memphis and Searcy, which is pretty boring for most folks unless you’re really into rice, cotton and alfalfa. When I came to Searcy as a freshman in the summer of 1980, my Mom and I were driving this uninspiring piece of highway when I looked over at her and saw her gazing around in horror with tears streaming down her face: “You’re coming here?”

She felt a little better after she actually saw Harding for the first time and much better after she saw how I grew and changed for the better after I’d been there for a while.

It’ll be interesting to hear the stories and to find out what Number One is thinking after this. As for me, Harding has always remained a “mecca” of sorts for me, stirring a lot of coming-of-age memories which were formed near the “foothills of the Ozarks.”

Note to self: Bring plenty of CDs for the stretch between Memphis and Searcy.

  1. hermit Jeremy

    that strip of road is anything but God’s country!

  2. JRB

    That strip of road is also not a slick recruiting tool. I took a van load of teens up there for Spring Sing or something after law school, and upon our return, in the rain, I had to pray for guidance to keep the van’s wheels out of the RUTS filling with water for hundreds of miles across the Arkansas delta. I was never so happy to get back on Mississippi roads, and that’s saying something. I killed a deer right around Bald Knob (also not a great recruiting tool) one night as well, so keep your eyes peeled.

  3. sunny

    Hope that your trip goes well. Have heard a lot of good things about the Honors Symposium. Jason always likes to check out audiobooks from Cracker Barrel. They can be returned to any CB and you are only charged around $3. Might help out with the strip between Memphis and Searcy.

  4. DAVID u

    Looking forward to you getting here, bro. Yeah, Not exactly the Pacific Coast Highway coming across the Delta. But it makes you appreicate Searcy more! 🙂


  5. Mike the Eyeguy

    I’m happy to report that I made it to Searcy just fine. Well, there was that truck moving the house in north Mississippi (it took up the entire two lanes) that slowed me down a bit, but overall not too bad.

    I even managed to avoid the Barney Fife speed traps in Earle, Wynne, McCrory, Augusta and Bald Knob. The two soundtracks from the movie Elizabethtown, a classic rock mix, Switchfoot’s Beautiful Letdown and U2’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb helped ease the pain.

    DU, it was great having lunch with you and Tom P. and finally getting to meet you! Elrod had duties at Governors School that kept him in Conway today, so we’ll have to get together another time.

    I always feel like I should be studying or something when I’m here. I’ll probably have one of those dreams tonight where I’m waking up the morning of a final and haven’t studied or gone to class all semester. Either that, or the one where I’m standing in front of the Benson naked and chapel lets out.

  6. Nancy

    Wonderful! So exciting. So, I’ve TALKED to D.U., and you’ve met him?? Are you trying to one up me? Are you going to start moving every two years now?

    Have a great time! So glad there are such fond memories of Christian ed!

    (and you are MUCH cooler now that you’ve connected with blog buddies.)

  7. greg

    McCrory is my home town. Where I grew up. My parents moved to Searcy in ’99, but I was born in Wynne and we moved to McCrory when I was 2. Between McCrory and Augusta used to be a dangerous area for speeding. Not sure how it is now since I rarely travel in there.

    Next time you’re this way let me know. I’m up in Searcy on occasion, too.

  8. Mike the Eyeguy


    Met him, had lunch with him, sat in his office and actually saw both the laptop and desktop that he uses to blog with. Amazing stuff. I tried to goad him into writing a post while I was there, but he was much too modest to show off like that.

    Nancy, the only way I could truly one up you would be to go down to the pool of my hotel and become entangled in a piece of lawn furniture and fall into the water in front of the entire breakfast crowd. And move every 6 months. Oh, and write 3 books.

    Bottom line, that would take some work!

  9. Mike the Eyeguy


    Passing through McCrory will never be the same again–“Home of Greg Fielder, World’s Greatest Duke Blue Devil Fanatic.”

    We are tentatively planning to make it back over for Homecoming this year. We could finally meet–something we apparently never did while living in the same town for 3 years–and hash out the prospects of the ’06-’07 college hoops season.

    Or how about this: meeting in Memphis for a Grizzlies/Orlando Magic game.

  10. Mark elrod

    Sorry again that we couldn’t get together yesterday. I’ve got too many summer jobs.

    I know symposium was a good experience for Number One; if he sleeps for a couple of days straight, don’t take it personally.

  11. Mike the Eyeguy

    No problem, I know what it’s like to be burning it at both ends. We’ll catch up another time.

    Good point about the sleep. I’m betting they were up pretty late last night (Curfew? What curfew?) I was hoping to be regaled with HS tales on the drive home, but I’m thinking I’ll most likely be listening to ZZZZs instead.

  12. Jeff Slater

    The stretch between Memphis and Searcy is the worst part of the trip. But not far behind (for those of us from the north and east) is the stretch between Nashville and Memphis. There is absolutely nothing (except for the city of Jackson) for 200+ miles. There are maybe 2 exits, and the only establishments at those exits are fireworks stores.

    It has been a long time since I made that trip. Ah, memories.

    So you got to meet the great DU! Did you get his autograph? A picture?

  13. Mike the Eyeguy

    Hey Jeff, thanks for stopping by.

    I’m very familiar with that stretch of road too. I grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, so a trip to Harding in the early 80s involved 12+ hours at 55mph (ok, maybe 60-65 when Smokie wasn’t looking).

    Jackson was a bona fide oasis, but you did leave off one very noteworthy landmark–The Bucksnort Trout Ranch at Exit 152.

    DU is very cool (no surprise there), but I must say that the picture on his blog doesn’t do him justice. He’s much better looking (and taller) in person.

  14. Jeff Slater

    Oh yeah! I forgot all about Bucksnort! Isn’t that also the name of the town, and the local motel, and….?

  15. Nancy

    Mark Elrod stood you up? Oh man. You are SO not cool now. That cancels out the coolness that DU imparted on you. You have to start all over.

    Good point about the move and pool thing. I will always have that.

    (ALMOST moved in… again.)

  16. Mike the Eyeguy


    Oh how I regret all those times I blew past Bucksnort at 55pmh back in the day! Now, I wish I had a t-shirt.

  17. Mike the Eyeguy


    I hope I don’t have to start over. I can’t afford to do that.

    If you would come to Huntsville and do a book signing, maybe I could get much-needed bonus points.

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