Tales From The Camping House

Tales From The Camping House

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Little Rock, Arkansas

We have really enjoyed our stay here at the Maumelle Corps of Engineers Park in Little Rock.  We liked it so much we extended our stay another four days for a total of twelve days.

We have found plenty to do.

There is the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site. It is recognized for the part it played in the desegregation of public schools in the United States.  The Visitor's Center is across the street from it.  I thought one of the most interesting things was watching the film clips of the events from 1957 and looking outside the window where everything took place.

We also went to the Clinton Presidential Museum in downtown Little Rock on the Arkansas River.

There were some permanent exhibits like this full size Oval Office.

Our favorite part of the museum was the Chihuly Glass Exhibit.  The pieces were absolutely gorgeous! You could walk right around them. I was sure careful knowing many of these pieces are thousands of dollars each.

Little Rock had one of the best Farmer's Markets we have ever been to.

We loved it so much we went both Saturdays.

Our campground is just two miles down the road from Pinnacle State Park.  One night we took a sunset boat cruise that was very enjoyable.  Pinnacle Mountain is also here and we hiked it.

There is also a new distillery in town that we toured.

It was interesting to hear how they made their bourbon, scotch, gin, and moonshine.  There was a tasting at the end, most of our group was not into the hard stuff, but we all sure did like their Arkansas Lightning with flavors such as Peach, Blackberry Cobbler, Grape, Apple Pie, and the Lightning Hot that tasted like cinnamon red hots.

We also visited the State Capitol Building

as well as the Old State House.

We loved our stay here.  Little Rock has approximately 193,000 people, so it has a lot of activities and shopping that you find in cities, but it's not crazy big with crowds and traffic.  We are really loving Arkansas!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Day of Surprises

We left Crystal Springs on Lake Quachita yesterday and drove approximately 80 miles to Maumelle Park, a Corps of Engineers Park just outside of Little Rock.

We have a beautiful sight overlooking the Arkansas River

and from our back window, we can see barges as they make their way down the river.

The "polar vortex" arrived and it was a cool 69 degrees this morning and the high was to reach only 82 degrees, so we made plans to make the most of this gorgeous unusual summer weather.

We drove to Scott, a little town just outside of Little Rock.  Our first stop was the Toltec Mounds State Park.  Most of the Arkansas State Parks do not charge admission which is always a nice thing.

 We watched the introductory video in the Visitor's Center before beginning our self-guided tour outside.  We took the Knapp Trail, an 8/10 mile trail around the mounds.

Three mounds remain today where there were 16 over a thousand years ago.  These ancient earthworks are the remains of the people that lived here.

The walk around was beautiful.

There was a walkway down to Mounds Lake.

There has been a lot of rain here and the lakes and rivers are high.

After our tour around the Toltec Mounds, we decided to have an early lunch at Cotham's Mercantile and Restaurant just down the highway.

You might be a little hesitant to try it, but don't let the looks deceive you.

Bill Clinton dined here often and it has also been featured on Rachael Ray and Man vs. Food.

We ordered their specialty burger, The Hubcap, which we split along with fried green tomatoes and onion rings.  All were yummy.

We weren't finished, we split a 1/2 piece of Missippi Mud Cake, I would hate to see a whole piece. :)

After lunch, we headed to the Plantation Agriculture Museum just down the road.  

The museum documented how cotton was farmed and prepared for shipping.

Here is a full size gin that you can go through.

There were also exhibits of the old steam farm machinery.

It was actually really interesting and worth a trip if you are ever in the area.

The ranger at the Visitor's Center told us about a couple of plantations to go to in the area.

 The first was off U.S. 161, Land's End a Tudor style home built in 1927.

This part of U.S. 161 is known as Pecan Alley with pecan trees lining each side of the road for several miles.

We turned around and headed to the next stop, Marlsgate.  It's not opened for tours, but can be rented for special events.

As we left Scott, we went to one more quick stop located in North Little Rock.  While we were at the Agriculture Museum, I picked up a brochure for the Old Mill Park.  As I was reading it, I found out that there was a replica of an old mill that had been built by a land developer for his subdivision's park in 1933.  What made it interesting though was the fact that this is the mill that appears at the very beginning of Gone With The Wind.

When I saw it, I remembered it from the movie.

We strolled through the little park.  It was a beautiful surprise for us.

We went home to walk the boys and then headed to our next destination.  We definitely were not hungry and needed more exercise to burn off our lunch.

Little Rock has three pedestrian bridges that go over the Arkansas River.  Tonight we headed to the "Big Dam Bridge."  It is the longest bike and pedestrian bridge in the world.  It was named the Big Dam Bridge because of its massive 4,226 foot span built atop Murray Lock and Dam.

We walked two miles back and forth over the bridge, this is the view from the top.

 One of the best things about full timing is having time to see the places off the beaten path.  Today, was full of wonderful surprises of places we would never have seen otherwise.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

More Hot Springs and Garvan Woodland Gardens

We had visited Garvan Gardens in 2011, but we returned Thursday to see their topiary displays that were part of their "Mystic Creatures" exhibit. 

If we saw nothing but these elaborately sculptured displays, it would have been worth the visit.

First, was the Sea Serpent.

Next, Jolly Roger the Sasquatch.

We continued our walk through the gardens with views of Lake Hamilton.

This bridge was one of our favorite walkways in the park.

The next topiary display was named Fairy Village and contained several pieces making up the village.

Here is The Fairy Gourdmother.

The last one is The 'Shroom Family.

After touring Garvan Gardens and lunch, our next destination was the Hot Springs Mountain Tower.

Once you ride the elevator to the top, you are elevated 1,256 feet above sea level and are able to see 140 miles on a clear day.

There were some pretty great views of Hot Springs.

After our visit we returned back to the campground.

We had some pretty good views of the Super Moon this weekend.

The temperatures have been back in the 90's the last couple of days, so we have enjoyed taking our Fold Cat out on the lake finding little coves to stop

and beat the heat in the water.