Rockin' in Little Rock, Arkansas! Life is Good Again!

Little Rock Travel Blog

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Hello Arkansas!

After a long cold winter in NYC, I began to realize that I may be suffering from a touch of cabin fever.  Usually by April I am done with the cold weather.  This year was no exception.  After taking a hiatus, I decided that the 50 State Project couldn’t be ignored anymore.  I don’t feel that the project can be truly enjoyed during the winter months as I really dislike the cold.

 

So a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to finally head down South as I have never been there, except to Florida which is not really the South but rather its own entity with many transplants.

 

I had wanted to go to Little Rock, Arkansas for a while and the ticket prices were under $200 round trip.

How I Love Little Rock
  The price was right!  I think the hardest part was getting someone to go with me as most of my friends weren’t quite sure how they felt about the South, especially Little Rock in particular. Noah had crossed Arkansas to get to other states, but didn’t really give it enough love.  He informed me that he didn’t think he was missing out on all that much.  I told him how would he know that unless he found out himself?  Noah is cool in that he will try anything once with barely a complaint.  He is about fun, making him one of my favorite traveling companions.  He finally agreed, but I think it was more to see my reaction to Arkansas as I had never been to the South before.  So we sealed the deal by booking the flights, hotels and a rental car.

 

Besides going to Little Rock, we also decided to make our way North and visit Memphis.

Spelling is Good
  Everyone I have spoken to loves Memphis!  So our plan was to fly into Little Rock, drive up to Memphis, head into Mississippi and then head back to Little Rock to finish our trip.

 

Our flight left at 6:05AM so Noah and I wanted to make it an early night, but a group of friends wanted to go out the night before.  I was game!  I would just grab one drink and head on home.  Now the problem with this is that it can’t be done!  Anyone who knows me well knows that I always say I will only go out for one drink and then I am going home.  This never happens.  One drink usually turns into 4 or 5 and the night before my jaunt to the Southern part of the country was no exception, except for the fact that I only had three drinks instead.

Just Another Day
  I have self control, or do I?

 

By the time I had gotten home, it was around 10:30PM and I still hadn’t packed.  Then I got roped into the news and found out that a tornado had touched down in Little Rock that night.  I know a lot of people are used to tornadoes in this country.  In fact, Noah just shrugged his shoulders after hearing the news and went to grab more chips and salsa.  You see, he is from the Midwest and he has faced tornadoes before.  I am a more delicate soul having come from the West Coast.  I have never seen or heard of a tornado landing in any of the areas I have lived, it just isn’t a concern.  We are more prone to earthquakes in those areas.   I have friends who are terrified of earthquakes!  I have been in so many that half the time I just go back to sleep in the middle of one if they hit early enough in the morning.

Flooded Fields
  I guess we are all creatures of our surroundings.   

 

I have to admit between the flooding and the tornadoes I was not feeling so confident about this trip.  Noah then asked if I was aware when I booked this trip that floods and tornadoes are normal during the spring.  I seriously didn’t know!  How would I?  I have never been below Washington DC!  So finally, after turning on the weather channel and freaking myself out more, I decided I would get up early and finish my packing in the morning.  So with a heavy heart I set my clock for 3:15AM.  Good times!  My head had just hit the pillow as the alarm went off, or so it seemed. 

 

Slowly I got out of bed and began preparing for the trip, but not before I realized that my right eye felt as if it had sand in it.

Backroads in Arkansas
  I went into the bathroom to find that I had three eyelashes stuck in my eyeball (how does this happen?) and then proceeded to flush them out.  But the damage had been done, I had a scratched cornea.  So for the next 24 hours I would feel as if I had sand in my eye.  Yippee!  This was going to be fun! 

 

So with a bright red and weepy eye, I headed out to the airport with Noah.  Everything went well until we made a transfer at the Kentucky/Cincinnati airport.  First off it was the fastest legal connection in the history of man.  The only reason we made it was because the flight was delayed.  When they began boarding I was confused by what was going on.  They were having us enter the plane from the tarmac and then I saw it; our plane.  This thing was the smallest thing I have ever seen.  It seated two on the right side and one on the left side.

Bridges of Little Rock
  I stared at the plane in horror as I ascended the stairs.  My horror grew as I saw how small it was inside. 

 

Just how small was Little Rock?  The plane was full, but there couldn’t have been more than 35 to 40 people!  Noah turned to me, saw me face, laughed and said “Welcome to Little Rock,” as the plane wobbled up into the air like a toy catapulted into the air with a rubber band.  Luckily the flight was relatively short, though we did hit some turbulence that made me cringe.  Noah’s head almost exploded because of the level we were flying at.  I didn’t feel it at all, maybe because my nails were digging into the seat rest as we hit another bump.  I was ecstatic as we hit the runway and I got off the plane as quickly as I possibly could.

Welcome to Arkansas, Indeed...
  I was a little disappointed to see that it was raining as we were walking on the tarmac but wasn’t going to let this affect the trip. 

 

As we headed inside I was shocked to see that Little Rock only has 12 Gates in total.  How was this humanely possible?  I thought Portland’s airport was small, now I know better!  Also, the security line was out the door.  After taking in the sites of the Little Rock airport, I decided that I needed some coffee to clear my head from the culture shock.

 

As we headed towards the rental car area we found a tiny coffee shop and I waited in line.

Some Rules for the Little Rock Airport
  When my turn came up I walked up to the cashier and announced my order.  Everyone in the place stopped talking and turned to look at me except the cashiers.  I wasn’t overly loud and I was extremely polite.  A moment later, Noah asked if I had seen what had just happened when I spoke.  My answer was, “Duh!”

 

At first I thought I had been imaging things, but he reassured me I had not.  When I looked behind me a man and woman at a near by table were still staring at me.  Very strange!  I asked Noah why he thought this had happened.  He thought it maybe because of my accent or that I may have been dressed too nicely as I had come from NYC.  I still have no idea.  I was confused but towards the rental car area, coffee in hand.  

 

When we got to the rental car counter it turned out we would be getting a brand new Mazda.

Pretty Skies in Littel Rock
  This was one nice rental car!  I thought our car would be a few years old scratched and dented for the price we paid.  I was wrong!  I love to drive and I couldn’t wait to get this baby on the road!

 

Our plan for the trip remained the same; we would hit Tennessee and Mississippi and go back to Little Rock, Arkansas.  When we made those plans, we had made the decision that we would hit the back roads to all three states so we would see the other parts of the South.  If you are driving on the interstate the whole way, all you will see are cars, roadway, trees and a McDonald's here and there.  That wasn’t enough for me.  I have waited to go to the South for a while and I wanted to see what most people visiting miss.  So we grabbed our map, got off the interstate and headed towards Tennessee passing various cities including Des Arc, Cotton Plant, Wynne, Earle, Marion and then straight into Memphis!

 

On the return trip we returned to Little Rock through Mississippi hitting some of the following cities: Horn Lake, Southaven, Senatobia, Helena, Marvel, Brinkley, Lonoke, North Little Rock and on to Little Rock.

Entering Arkansas!
  Now most people won’t know these places unless they are from around the area, but still these little gems deserve to be mentioned.  We went through a lot of tinier towns as well, but it would take too long to list. 

 

Here are a few highlights of the drive before getting to the highlights of the big city of Little Rock!

 

First off, there was a lot of flooding in the area.  I am really bad with water and bridges and some of the bridges in the back roads of the South are scary!  They are older and very narrow.  Combine that with the high waters sneaking up on the sides and you have me in my own private hell.  Noah offered to drive, but I said no way, if we were going to die it was going to be by my own hands, not his.

Abandoned Barn
  Yes it is dramatic, but it makes me feel more secure I guess, so why not?

 

The other thing I was very aware of was that there were a lot of large beautiful houses and around those houses were shacks or very small houses that were in bad shape.  It was such a contrast.  Many small towns we past had half of the buildings and houses boarded up.  Sometimes I wasn’t even aware if the town had people there or not and kept finding myself wondering where these people shopped for food, supplies, clothing, bedding, etc.  I would suppose they would go to the bigger towns, but if you didn’t have a vehicle I don’t know what a person would do.

 

Also while traveling we found a few stray dogs along the way.  They seemed like they had been eating enough, but they also appeared to not belong to anyone.

Pretty Skies in Arkansas
  I know the leash laws are probably non existent there, but come on!  These guys were just running chasing after cars.  We slowed down for the first one and he began to approach the car quickly wagging his tail.  This was a downer for me; I am a huge fan of animals and a true bleeding heart for them.  I knew if I let the dog get too close I would be taking him home and my apartment is too small for dogs!

 

I think the most confusing thing we ran into while in Arkansas happened while we were returning to Little Rock.  We came upon six police cars in an intersection in the middle of nowhere.  The car in front of us turned off the road quickly and disappeared down a dirt road.  Okay, maybe he forgot his turn, so I focused my attention back to the road and the police brigade ahead.  All kinds of thoughts were going through our heads.

Sobriety Check Point! I Passed! Woo Hoo!
  Maybe it was a grisly accident, maybe they were looking for a fugitive!  Slowly our car pulled up.  This is what happened:

 

“Good evening officer.”

 

“Good evening, miss.  This is a sobriety checkpoint (it was 6PM mind you), that means I will need to see your license, registration and proof of insurance.”

 

At this time I looked in my coat pocket for my wallet and realized it wasn’t there.  Out of fear of being shot, I let the officer know that I was grabbing my bag and looking for my wallet there.  I gave the officer a play by play of everything I was doing.

Lots of Bugs in Arkansas
  Before coming to Arkansas I was warned that Arkansas has one of the most hard ass police forces around, so I wasn’t taking any chances, I am young and delicate!  Finally, I found the wallet and pulled out my license.

 

“Here you are, sir, though this is a rental car.”

 

“A rental car?  Okay, just one moment.”  He disappeared behind my vehicle.  He may have been looking in the backseat or showing his buddy my license; maybe he has a 50 State Project of his own involving licenses he has seen!  After 20 seconds he returned. “Y'all be safe out there, you hear.”

 

“I hear you officer, thanks and have a good evening!”  Slowly I pulled away before yelling at Noah to turn around and take a picture.

Vietnam Memorial at the Capital
  This moment was golden!  It only got stranger when I was driving 45 minutes later and a spider crawled by me, I freaked!  Noah hit the thing and it fell on me.  I pulled up to an abandoned factory and ran out of the car screaming into the darkness.  Noah checked the car and patted me down before I would go back in, I really hate spiders.  Arkansas was turning out to be a dangerous place!

 

The last thing that I noticed while traveling on the back roads is that people don’t always know what to make of people who are not from the area.  We stopped a few times on the trip to get fuel, to get snacks and to eat meals.  The reactions we got were very mixed.  Some of the people we very friendly and curious, while others wouldn’t even make eye contact with us and were very distant.  It maybe due to past history or maybe they are just not used to outsiders.

Hugging the Arkansas State Seal. We Are Close Like That!
  I don’t really know, the South was definitely keeping us on our toes.

 

The remainder of the drive to Little Rock was pretty relaxed.  The thing I have noticed about drivers from Arkansas is they love to take their time. The speed limit is just a suggestion and 5-10 under is just fine.  Well, I have a lead foot and kept passing cars.  Noah asked why his photos were blurry I told him I was going 80.  He told me to slow down, he had no idea I was going that fast.  So, I slowed down and reveled in the lovely sky which turned a beautiful orange, then pink and finally a beautiful blue mixed with purple.  As the night turned into inky blue the stars appeared brightly. With no lights in the vicinity, they were bigger and brighter then I have seen in a while; especially living in NYC.

 

When we finally got to Little Rock around 8:30PM we decided that we would check into the hotel (the Comfort Inn) and then go down to the River Market for dinner.

Bosco's Horse!
  We were going to drive the rental car down to the River Market when the lady at the front desk said it would be better to take the shuttle and then take a cab back as parking on Saturday was horrible.  So we heeded her advice and off we went to see the big city.

 

First off, the driver Lawrence was great!  He told us all of the best places to go and what to do.  He kept the conversation going and made us feel very welcome.  He dropped us off at the beginning of River Market and we began to explore and see our food options.  Now first off, I thought River Market would be a pretty large strip.  Not so much!  It was about three blocks in total and had about eight restaurants total on the main drag.  Eight restaurants was enough to find something good, so we began to explore.  The first one we went into was a little too casual for us after a long drive.  It was more like a cafeteria and served a lot of fried food, I know it is the South, but my system had been taking a beating from all of the grease so we opted for a place called Bosco's.

Bosco's, the Place That Knows Beer
 

 

As we walked to Bosco’s, we noticed that police horses were tied to the railway leading up to the restaurant.  Maybe their owners were in Bosco's, because Bosco’s knows its beer and it serves it proudly.  That’s right, Bosco’s specializes in beer.  They have several types including light, dark, etc. and they are labeled with different levels to accent your meal.  The waitress was great and brought us our beers and a few samples of ones we had thought about getting but decided against.  Also, when they didn’t have the appetizer we wanted she brought us out another appetizer on the house for the inconvenience.  Whoa, that would never happen in NYC!  The food was alright, I think it may have been a little rushed because it was getting late, but the waitress was really great!

 

After dinner we walked around the neighborhood a bit.

Hurray for Little Rock
  We had been drinking so much the past few days and neither of us had been drinking any water due to all the extensive traveling so we had opted to let our livers rest for the night.  That and we were exhausted after running around like maniacs for the past few days.  Still I have to say that the dueling piano bar was pretty sweet even without alcohol. 

 

The next day our main goal was to hit a few places of interest that are in Little Rock. The first place we went to was the Capital of Arkansas itself!  It was Sunday so it was closed, but that hasn’t stopped me in the past (Rhode Island).  Supposedly Arkansas has on of the prettiest Capitals in the US.  Now I don’t know who gave it this honor or if it is self proclaimed, but it looked like every other capital.

No Tulips Were Harmed in the Taking of This Photo
  Though there were some pretty tulips in bloom that I put my head into.  No tulips were harmed in the making of those photos, I am not a monster!

 

Also if you go to the right of the capital there is a bell and the state seal.  Noah tried to convince me it was the Philly bell, but come on, nobody is falling for that. When we turned around we found a large statue with several people standing in a circular formation, it turned it was a monument to the Little Rock Nine.  The monument is wonderful and captures the hardship on the faces of the nine young people.  It was truly beautiful. 

 

Speaking of the Little Rock Nine, while in Little Rock you have to go and see the Central High Museum and Visitor Center.

Close Up of the Little Rock Nine
  This is a museum that deals with the history of the Little Rock Nine who were the first black students in Arkansas to integrate into the all white Central High School on September 25, 1957.  Many attempts were made to stop this from happening, but in the end the Little Rock Nine entered the school with the help of the 101 Airborne Division.  If you find yourself in Little Rock, this museum is a must.  When you first enter it appears very small, but when you look at the material it is quite extensive if you listen to all of the videos and read all of the screens.  If you look at everything there, it will take a couple of hours.  I would recommend you take your time with this one, it is really powerful.

 

After you finish the tour, I would also recommend going to the actual High School which is kitty corner to the museum.

Central High School
  The school is not open for tours, but we stood on the grass and took a few photos.  The building itself is amazing, though I couldn’t get a full picture without standing on someone’s lawn which may be frowned upon.  It was a strange moment to be surrounded by only the sounds of the wind and birds singing; especially knowing at one time the chaos and anger that had occurred here. 

 

Next on our agenda was the Clinton Presidential Center and Library which is probably the biggest draw for people visiting Little Rock.  At first sight I was confused by the structure.  It looked like a giant silver floating trailer that escaped the park.  Later I would find out that it recently received a Platinum ranking for being a Green Building, which means it is environmentally friendly.

The Clinton Library
  I like that!

 

The staff is very friendly and welcoming.  When they asked for our zip code for tourist reasons we got a loud and happy “Brooklyn in the House!”  Both Noah and I enjoyed that as it gave us street cred, but totally not!  Still the staff was really friendly and helpful and all smiles.  I like that, too!

 

Once you enter and walk up the top flight of stairs, you realize how beautiful it is inside.  It is a unique modern structure, but the information is displayed beautifully and is very informative.  There are three floors.  The first floor is an introductory area, the second there is a meeting room, a small auditorium and a timeline that talks about the accomplishments of the Clintons' while in office.

Peace Out Psuedo Oval Office
 Lastly, on the third floor, there is an area on gifts received by the Clintons' along with what they liked to do in their free time, a rotating exhibit room and a replica of the oval office.

 

I personally loved the Oval Office room.  You can’t actually go into it, but they have a roped off area in the doorways of the room where you can get a great look at the room.  It makes for a great picture op and we took advantage of it.  It was pretty authentic from what I could tell, but what do I know?  It isn’t like I hang out in DC all of the time, but still it was cool.

 

I also enjoyed the 15 minute presentation in the small auditorium.  The film documents Clinton’s life starting as a young boy in Hope, Arkansas and continues through his life up until the present time.

Peeping Tom at the Oval Office
  It was an interesting presentation that answered many of my questions.  After the Clinton Library, we decided it was time to eat.  

 

The strange thing about Little Rock is that everything is either closed on Sunday or opens late and then closes early.  I had done my research online and had chosen two restaurants that I had wanted to eat at, but when we came to the doors of both establishments they were locked up.  Nothing was open and I needed to eat to save my sanity.

 

We decided since we were running out of time before our flight that the River Market was the answer.  There they have a food court that serves all kinds of different cuisine from Indian, Asian to American comfort foods.

Inside The River Market Dining Area
 

 

We decided that we wanted a little barbeque, but when we went up to the counter it we were informed that the market was closing; it was only 4PM.  So we went over to the pie shop across the way and asked if it was too late to order.  The woman behind the counter was great and said, "No, order away; we have a few more minutes!"  Good, because I was hungry and our options apparently were pretty limited in Little Rock.

 

We both ordered the pre-made sandwiches and a slice of pie each.  The woman at the counter was very nice and cut us bigger slices and then cut them in half so we could try both of the flavors.  Who does that?  Not many people!  She was just the nicest woman ever and the pies were awesome!  If you are ever in The River Market, make sure you get some of the pie there.

River Market Minus the ET
  At the end of the day the selection is smaller as people get the pies quickly, so I would advise getting there earlier if you are picky.  I had the Butterfinger Cream Pie and the Strawberry Cream Pie and they both were good.  Especially the crust, it was homemade graham cracker.  Oh man, the best!

 

Since the River Market was closing, we had to eat at a picnic table which was fine by us.  It was a beautiful 75 degrees with a light wind, the perfect weather for our final day in Little Rock. 

 

I think Noah, was a little surprised when I told him I really loved Little Rock.  Everyone expected me to be shocked and though there were times I was confused by things, I had a great time.

Goodbye Little Rock! I'll Miss You!
  I really enjoyed Little Rock’s vibe and fell in love with this little city.  Look, if I had wanted New York City, I would have stayed in New York City.  I wanted Little Rock and I got it!  In fact I am planning another trip there in the next year, though this time we would like to go through Oklahoma and Missouri.  Either way, I will be staying a few days in Arkansas.

 

As we headed to our car to head to the airport we passed a gentlemen who asked if he we would sign his petition for a lottery.  Noah told the man we weren’t from there, but we would if we were.  He asked where we were from and we told him we lived in NYC but Noah added, she likes it here so much she might just stay.

The Majestic Little Rock Capital

 

The man replied with a huge grin, “Really?  That would be great, we are always happy to welcome another person to Little Rock!”  Don’t tempt me Little Rock…don’t tempt me!

 

 

binky says:
Sounds great! I really enjoyed myself, but felt there was more to see and do so I may take you up on that offer.
Posted on: Apr 30, 2012
lady_k1013 says:
As a native Little Rocker, I'm so glad you liked our capital! Let me know when you come back; we can introduce you to some local hangouts! :)
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012
binky says:
Thanks! I really did love the South! I was there about a month ago again and I can't wait to go back! I am craving the fried okra!
Posted on: Dec 06, 2008
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Hello Arkansas!
Hello Arkansas!
How I Love Little Rock
How I Love Little Rock
Spelling is Good
Spelling is Good
Just Another Day
Just Another Day
Flooded Fields
Flooded Fields
Backroads in Arkansas
Backroads in Arkansas
Bridges of Little Rock
Bridges of Little Rock
Welcome to Arkansas, Indeed...
Welcome to Arkansas, Indeed...
Some Rules for the Little Rock Air…
Some Rules for the Little Rock Ai…
Pretty Skies in Littel Rock
Pretty Skies in Littel Rock
Entering Arkansas!
Entering Arkansas!
Abandoned Barn
Abandoned Barn
Pretty Skies in Arkansas
Pretty Skies in Arkansas
Sobriety Check Point!  I Passed!  …
Sobriety Check Point! I Passed! …
Lots of Bugs in Arkansas
Lots of Bugs in Arkansas
Vietnam Memorial at the Capital
Vietnam Memorial at the Capital
Hugging the Arkansas State Seal.  …
Hugging the Arkansas State Seal. …
Boscos Horse!
Bosco's Horse!
Boscos, the Place That Knows Beer
Bosco's, the Place That Knows Beer
Hurray for Little Rock
Hurray for Little Rock
No Tulips Were Harmed in the Takin…
No Tulips Were Harmed in the Taki…
Close Up of the Little Rock Nine
Close Up of the Little Rock Nine
Central High School
Central High School
The Clinton Library
The Clinton Library
Peace Out Psuedo Oval Office
Peace Out Psuedo Oval Office
Peeping Tom at the Oval Office
Peeping Tom at the Oval Office
Inside The River Market Dining Area
Inside The River Market Dining Area
River Market Minus the ET
River Market Minus the ET
Goodbye Little Rock!  Ill Miss Yo…
Goodbye Little Rock! I'll Miss Y…
The Majestic Little Rock Capital
The Majestic Little Rock Capital
The Liberty Bell?  No...
The Liberty Bell? No...
The Little Rock Nine
The Little Rock Nine
The Capital Rocking My World!
The Capital Rocking My World!
The Clinton Library Chilling with …
The Clinton Library Chilling with…
The Clinton Library, Dark But Myst…
The Clinton Library, Dark But Mys…
Unnerving Sculpture...
Unnerving Sculpture...
Eggs at the Clinton Library
Eggs at the Clinton Library
The Oval Office Replica at The Cli…
The Oval Office Replica at The Cl…
The Ladys Face in the Background …
The Lady's Face in the Background…
The Clinton Library
The Clinton Library
Bill Clinton as a Muppet
Bill Clinton as a Muppet
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Little Rock
photo by: electricapples