Thursday, August 4, 2016

Arkansas - Little Rock

North Little Rock

On July 11, 2016 we drove to Little Rock, Arkansas, actually to North Little Rock. We stayed at the Downtown Riverside RV Park, and it is exactly what it sounds like. The campground is right on the Arkansas River with a great view of downtown Little Rock and their Riverfront Park. At the edge of the campground is the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge, one of the walking bridges that connect the two sides of the river. The Clinton Presidential Library and Museum is at the end of the bridge.
This was one busy tugboat
The city owned campground is basically a large gravel parking lot, with a grassy area along the river, where there are benches and picnic tables to relax and watch the boats go by.
The sites were very level, a little narrow and no picnic tables. Water pressure was great, and the WiFi worked fairly well. We paid $25.08 with our Passport America discount.
The campground from Riverfront Park
Nancy forgot to get a picture of the site, but did get some of the river and the campground from the other side. The bridges are lit up at night and every half hour they put on a show.

Mielikki enjoyed the view too

The campground is on the Arkansas River Trail. The original trail is a 16-mile loop between the Big Dam Bridge and the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge with the trail on both sides of the river in Little Rock and North Little Rock. The recently completed Two Rivers Park Bridge extends the trail 34-miles to the Pinnacle Mountain State Park. It is all asphalt so perfect for biking, running or walking.

As most of you know Nancy is a city-girl through and through, so staying in a downtown made her very happy.
Touch the Sky ~ Jane DeDecker
First day out we explored Little Rock, their River Market District is a combination of parks and retail space. In the park there is a section called the Medical Mile, a mile trail for walking and working out, it focuses on Mind, Body and Spirit.
There are a number of sculptures along the path and a very impressive playground. There are two open-air pavilions for plays and music events. The shopping district is full of unique shops and eateries. Something for everyone.
L & R: Crane Unfolding and Plane Folding ~~ Kevin Box
C: The Center ~~ Chapel 

L: Twisted Circle ~~ Kevin Trobaugh  ~ there were no signs for the other two
On Tuesdays and Saturdays a Farmers Market is held in one of the pavilions, filled with arts and yummy fresh fruits and veggies. There are a number of museums and art galleries as well.

The playground had everything a kid could want, and there are a number of child themed sculptures.
Top R & Bottom L: ~~ Breaking the cycle
Top L: The Ties that Bind ~ Jane DeDecker   Bottom R: No sign 
L: Lord Featherwick ~ R: Elmwood ~~ Herb Mignery  C: No sign
Level with the top of the
bridge was a little scary!

The Junction Bridge is another walking bridge. At each end of the raised section is a flight of stairs and a glass elevator for access.
You get a great view of downtown and the river from this spot, and while Nancy enjoyed the views she wasn't all the thrilled about being so high up.
All along the railings are "Love Locks", we have seen these all across the country. Couples place the lock somewhere public, usually with their initials carved in it, and then throw the key away. A symbol of their unbreakable bond.

The Arkansas Peter "Wolf" Toth Indian is in the Riverfront Park. They have created a beautiful home for him. This is one of the nicest settings we have seen. The pavilion is filled with history of local Indian tribes and the development of the town. This is the 13th carving on the "Trail of Whispering Giants", it was carved in 1975 and is titled "Love is Life". In 2001 it was restored and preserved as part of a Eagle Scout project for BSA Troop 604.

There is additional Indian history through out the park. The Quapaw Indians, lived in this area and like all other tribes they were forced to give up their land. The Quapaw line is one of the boundaries to the land they were moved to. The stone wall marks the line with an art sculpture at the end of it, titled Native Knowledge by artist Deny Haskew.

We had lunch at the @ The Corner, a really cute dinner, a mix of 50's and current. Food and service were both great, from our table we got to watch the trolley turn the corner.
Also from our view we could see a beautiful South Korean Gate across the street, so of course we had to explore.
It is the entrance to the H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden. It is a tribute to Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee, founder of the American Taekwondo Association (ATA). The wood for the gate was purchased here in the U.S. and shipped to South Korea for shaping. The handcrafted wood, granite foundation, tiles and paint were shipped back to the U.S. for construction. The gate is painted in the traditional colors of South Korea and was constructed with no nails, other than the ones under the tiles. There are three openings, the outer two are customarily for daily use and the center for special ceremonial events.
L: The Staff of the Flying Dragon ~~ C: Grand Master Lee
R: Harubang Statue - only ones outside of South Korea

You leave the bustling street behind as you enter this peaceful garden containing plants, statues, and a fountain with a reflecting pool.

It is on the grounds of the Convention Center and it's purpose is to educate people about Grand Master Lee and the country of South Korea.

In 1977 Grand Master Lee had a dream of creating a fellowship of martial artists, the ATA grew into the largest marital arts organization in the world and is headquartered in Little Rock. Grand Master Lee lost his battle with cancer in October 2000, but his legacy will last forever.
L: Statue of Nine Turtles - signifies strength of family and unity
R-top: Uniformed Taekwondo Students in traditional bow
R-bottom: Haitai - "fire eaters" protectors from fire and disruptive change

A drive past the Capitol Building allowed us to see the monument of the Little Rock Nine. The nine African-American students who were the first to enter an all white school.

While taking pictures of the monument we met a nice couple from Hot Springs who were there with their grandson. They told us that the reason the monument is placed here is because the windows the Governor looks out of from his desk over looks this spot. So it is a constant reminder to him or her of where Arkansas was and were it has come. Once again we were humbled to be in a spot of such importance in history and marvel at the bravery and courage of people. Also, saddened by the recent events that happened across the country while we were here that show how much still needs to be done.

You can schedule a tour of the Little Rock House School through the National Parks. We didn't tour as there was an event being held on site, that include President Clinton and Tony Blair. As Nancy was taking this picture a motorcade drove by and her story is that President Clinton was in it. Also in town this week was President George W. Bush, as he and Clinton were speaking together at an event. We kept watching for secret service and did notice that there were an unusual amount of black SUV's with darkened windows.

Little Rock is home to the Clinton Presidential Center and Park. Construction started in December of 2001 and the building was dedicated in November of 2004.
It sits on the Arkansas River and is surround by parks, including the Bill Clark Wetlands, 13-acres of restored wetlands with a 1,600-foot boardwalk for visitors to enjoy the wildlife. Bill Clark was a civic leader in Arkansas and an avid outdoors man.
The Clinton Presidential Walking Bridge and the Clinton School of Public Service in an old rail depot building

You weave in and out of small display nooks, filled with pictures and videos of President Clinton's life and time in office. There are two floors and additional displays of local history, one for the Little Rock Nine and also national history, one for the Olympics.

Outside there is the  Anne Frank Tree Installation that honors the spirit of Anne Frank and surrounds a sapling taken from the white horse chestnut tree that stood outside the secret annex where Anne Frank and her family hid. The glass panels commemorate the history of human rights in Arkansas and around the world.

A few Roadside Oddities were found in Little Rock.
Banjo Player - Apple Bike Rack - Phone Booth Book Exchange

Our day trip to Hot Springs, AR was so much fun. We had planned to do much more hiking, but the intense heat put a stop to that.

We wandered Bathhouse Row in downtown Hot Springs. One side of the road is shops and restaurants,

The other side of the street is lined with the old bath houses. They have been restored and now house businesses. The National Parks own the buildings but lease them out. There were restaurants, shops and some are still bath house spas.

The National Parks has three that are used for tours and their gift shop. It was all very interesting, you can do a self guided tour or go on a guided tour with a Ranger.

Arlington Hotel
The town is filled with old historic hotels, and historical information. There is a park at the end of Bath House Row where the spring flows out of the mountain, the water is around 145 degrees, too hot to touch. The bathhouses had large cooling tanks to bring the temperature down so they could use the water.

The tree roots growing out under the wall to reach the creek. 
We hiked one trail, the Whittington Trail at 1.2 miles and all three of us, dog included were worn out from the heat.
Cool hedge 

We drove up to the Observation Tower and saw great views without having to go up, puppy makes things like that difficult, but saves us money as an exchange!

Petit Jean State Park was a highlight. Our first stop in the park was at the Stout Overlook and we have seen some amazing views in our travels but this one is close to the best.
We just couldn't get enough of it! No mater what direction you look in you are in awe of the beauty. The rocky cliff is open to climb out onto, with virtually no disruption of view from fences and walls.

The overlook is 1,120-feet above the Arkansas River and the site of what is believed to be the grave of "Petit Jean".
The story is told of a young French girl, who was engaged to Chavet, a French nobleman. When he told her of his plans to travel to the New World, she begged to go along. He didn't want to expose her to the dangers, so he refused. She disguised herself as a boy and applied to the Captain of the ship for a place as a cabin boy. Everyone  including Chavet, was fooled by the disguise. The crew called her "Petit Jean" which means Little John. After crossing the ocean the ship made it's way from the Mississippi River to the Arkansas River to the foot of this mountain. The local Indians greeted the ship with hospitality and they hunted and fished together. The night before departing back to France, Petit Jean became very ill with a high fever and delirium and the departure was postponed. During the illness her identity was discovered and in a lucid moment knowing she was dying she asked that she be carried back to the mountain to spend her last days. She was carried to the Indian Village that overlooked the valley and died there. Years later a mounded rock grave was discovered on this spot and is believed to be her grave.
In the early 1900's there was a hotel at this site that went out of business, the property was donated to the YMCA and they built a camp here. This building was built in 1928 and served as the administration building until it was destroyed in a fire in the 1940's. They had quite the view!

Mielikki had a blast out on the rocks

There are a number of hiking trails in the park covering over 20 miles. They range from easy boardwalks to very strenuous. This area is very hilly and rocky. We did three of the easier trails.

First was to the overlook of Cedar Falls, we really wanted to hike to the base but it is a 2-mile strenuous hike and it was close to 100 degrees that day, so played it smart and viewed the falls from above.

The CCC helped to build this park and the shell of the water tower is still standing.

Bear Cave Trail is a moderate 1/2-mile loop that takes you under, over and through massive rock formations. Nancy and Mielikki had great fun climbing on them.

This section is called the "eye of the needle". The sets of pictures are taken from each side of it. Les stayed safely on the trail.
Can you spot Les in the left picture?
He looks rather small next to this rock face. 

There are openings in the rocks that look like caves but they are just worn areas, presumably from water flow over the years.

The perfect hiding place

The Rock House Cave Trail is also a 1/4 of a mile out and back trail. A short distance from the parking lot is a large flat rocky area, there are a few trees here and there, Mielikki enjoyed the shade of some, but it's mostly just a barren rockscape. It was fairly easy to navigate, with a few "stairs" that made it a little tricky. There is a section of mounds that are called Turtle Rocks, as they resemble large turtle shells, they were very cool.
The Rock House Cave is just a short distance from the Turtle Rocks, there are a few very faint markings left on the walls from the Indian tribes that used this cave for shelter. So much history, it would be wonderful if the walls could actually speak and tell the stories of the past.

The last stop in the park was at Davies Bridge, which was built in 1934. On one side of the bridge is a natural rock wall, that at certain times of the year is actually a waterfall. This day it was dry and the perfect walking bridge across the water. A beautiful spot to sit and relax and watch the fish jump.

On the other side of the bridge, Nancy was lucky enough to meet a new friend, wading in the water.

Looks like
Nancy's Dad
Two nights in a row we tried to see a Travelers Baseball game at the Dickey-Stephens Arena. Both nights got rained out so no baseball for us.

First, night we ended up in a hallway due to Tornado sirens going off. When we came out to leave the parking lot was full of trees that came down, luckily no cars were hit.

Second night there was some hope as the concession stands were open and we actually had some sunshine - but the rains came and the game was called. We gave our tickets to a very appreciative woman, so hopefully someone will see a game at some point.

It was Super Hero night, unfortunately Nancy didn't have our Captain America with her!

Next up is Branson, MO.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way
~ Keeping things clean
While it seems that all we do is sight-see and have fun, we do actually have the boring mundane daily tasks like everyone else. The RV, while smaller than most homes still needs to be cleaned, and yes, we really should do it more often than we do.
One thing that does get cleaned regularly is the bathroom and the toilet. The toilet is just like one in a house, except it empties into a holding tank which we then drain into a sewer hook-up, and there is a "door" that opens when you flush and then shuts to keep tank odors out. We don't always have super great water pressure, so flushing isn't always as strong as it should be.
These things require some extra cleaning and extra attention to keep any odors from developing. On moving day we pour an RV tank cleaner into the toilet and flush it down into the holding tank to help keep it clean. There is liquid cleaner as well as granulated packets. This can be purchased anywhere that sells RV supplies.
We also use a regular spray bathroom cleaner. Once the water is shut off we spray the bowl and down into the outflow tube of the toilet and let it sit while we are driving. This way we know there is nothing lurking on the sides of the outflow tube and it keeps the toilet sparkling and no smells. 

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