Jess had a very astute observation: the heat causes rage. Things that wouldn’t normally bother you, really get to you. For instance, in Little Rock, I was reminded that Jess really hates gum. It went something like this: “Spit it out. Gum is for when you’re not around me. I hate the way it looks. I hate the way it sounds. I hate the way your face looks when you chew it.”
Well, that escalated quickly.
We were laughing about it 30 seconds later, but that’s the kind of little thing that 100-degree temperatures can turn into a really big thing. At least we’ve learned this and can see it in ourselves and each other.
Despite the heat, Arkansas was fun. Here we go:
Crater of Diamonds State Park — High Temp: 98 degrees
Arkansas has a state park that is built around the world’s only public diamond mine. It’s a pretty neat story.
Jess and Braden enjoyed digging in the hot scorching for about 10 minutes. I got hooked and dug/panned for about an hour. We found some quartz and some volcanic ash, but nothing of value.
Braden and Jess enjoyed the campground’s water park for much longer.
With the heat, we’ve been reading a good bit. I finished “Savage Harvest” over a few weeks and read “The Revenant” over a few days. Both were great and now I get to say “The book was better than the movie” whenever we get around to watching Leonardo DiCaprio get attacked by a bear. Jess read Tina Fey’s “Bossy Pants” and Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly.” Jess says this book is life changing and she looks forward to reading more books by Brown. If you don’t have time to read her book, definitely check out her Ted talks.
There was also some fun people watching at the park. We named one of our neighbors Pyro because he brought a truckload of firewood and proceeded to make a four-foot tall Tower Of Terror bonfire every night. Keep in mind, the fire rings are about 30 inches across, maybe, so he was pretty close to a calamity every time a log broke.
We named our other neighbor Cropduster because just as it was getting dark and things were cool enough to go outside, he fumigated the area with a pump strayer with some kind of pesticide that wafted down our way.
Our favorite folks were a nice couple from Vermont. In about 17 days, they had taken their R-Pod camping trailer from Vermont to Colorado and were heading back via Arkansas. Along with them, they were bringing a dog and a life-size cardboard cut-out of their senator, Bernie Sanders. Politics aside, if I run into someone carrying around a cardboard cutout of anyone, count me in to get my photo made with it. Ok, anyone except Ted Cruz or Luke Bryan.
When I mentioned to our Vermont friends that their’s was one of the few state we would likely miss, they told us about the syrup season when the folks up there tap the trees to get maple syrup. It sounds like a sight to see, so that may have changed out plans.
Hot Springs National Park
When I think of Hot Springs National Park, I will always think of the look our dog Wrigley gave me at one of the springs. It was down low enough where dogs could taste the water and when she tried it, she turned and looked at my with a face that said “Ok, dude, you took us to Texas in July and it’s been nothing but hot. Now you’ve brought us to a place where even the water is more than 100 degrees? It’s time to give me the GPS.”
In the end, we all felt about the same way. Braden met a super nice ranger who lives four miles from where we camped in Virginia, we checked out a couple of historic bath houses, randomly bumped into our Vermont friends and in the end decided — like Wrigley — it was too hot to enjoy hot springs. I’d like to see it in winter. There are many spots around town where spring water bubbles out at temperatures slightly too hot for a bath and it bet it steams in colder temperatures.
People seem to love the water and the city has several places where people could stop and fill up jugs to take home. We saw a pretty constant flow of people with milk jugs and big water coolers filling up. We bottled some in a normal water bottle, but decided it tasted pretty comparable to any other water.
Little Rock — High Temp: 99
Bill Clinton is a really big deal in Arkansas. So much so that most of the state has been preserved exactly as it was when he was elected in 1992. Hey-o! (Rim shot).
That’s not really fair, but I thought it was funny. Little Rock was surprisingly Chattanooga-esque with pretty bridges and bike trails. Unfortunately, those trails are clogged with a shocking number of Pokemon players. The outbreak has apparently made it to Arkansas. Our site was right downtown on the north bank of the Arkansas River, next to one of the pedestrian bridges.
While I worked, Jess and Braden biked over to the Little Rock Discovery Center, public library and the USS Razorback submarine. Together, we checked out the Arkansas Central High School National Historic Site and biked around a sculpture garden, the bridge and the park. The coolest stop was a fairytale style The Old Mill at TR Pugh Memorial Park finished in the 1933. You may have seen the mill before, because it was featured in some of the opening shots in “Gone with the Wind.”
I fell asleep writing this blog right here. See the screen shot. I have no idea how to type a horseshoe when I’m awake.
One morning, I worked from Camping World in Little Rock where they replaced the motor in our awning to get us back in the road — until the awning stalled out the next time I rolled it in. We took it back, and they said the arm was bent which would take weeks for it to be ordered and delivered. The awning is now rolled up and safely tucked away. We’ll have to look ahead to a repair shop where we will be in the future, order the arm and hope it arrives before we do.
The people watching continued to be fun. At the Little Rock campground, a large woman came out of the Winnebago parked next to us to tend to the grill — in her black lacy lingerie and tennis shoes. Be glad the photo wasn’t taken from the front. Now that Jess has seen this, I only wish my birthday wasn’t in January. That’s going to awfully cold for her.
Little Rock also added to our accidental tour of state capitols. Nashville, Atlanta, Austin, Little Rock, Lexing—dang it Kentucky, it’s Frankfort. Why is it Frankfort?
From Little Rock, we are headed through Missouri to St. Louis!. More details from there soon!