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MO, AR, OK

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Have been reading another thread with just OK and AR and said we're planning a similar trip perhaps in the fall.

We also want to capture OK and AR as our 47th and 48th states. Would have up to two weeks of travel. Could drive from NJ, but think I'd prefer to fly closer and spend more time in the area.

Looking for an arrival city, I thought of St Louis, but that could be changed. Tentative route with lots of detours along the way for back roads or interesting spots:
St Louis>Fayetteville>Tulsa>Little Rock>Memphis

My question. Would it be better to fly into a different airport and draw a smaller circle through AR and OK by eliminating MO? Is it a scenic area between St Louis and Fayetteville and St Louis and Memphis?

Mainly looking for scenic, small town, natural areas with places to hike or sit at a cottage lakeside and relax. Like to meet the locals and see what an area is really like rather than hitting the tourist attractions. Would probably use smaller roads instead of interstates, with exception of I 44 between St Louis and Fayetteville.

I have noted responses from other thread, but am wondering how big to make the circle.

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