William Aaron

Little Rock Travel Blog

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Capital at Little Rock. The rest was under scaffolding so this is it, but they had just added on a huge wing and it's pretty impressive how they matched it to the rest.
DAY 4 (6/28/08)
Henryetta, OK to Little Rock, Arkansas (Maumelle State Park)

8:30pm / 76.5∞ / Comfortable humidity, breezy, thunder and lightening

No tornado last night, but enough rain to fill our camping site with 3” of standing water.

We were able to start later today because from Henryetta to Little Rock was less than 200 miles. After a leisurely start once we got gas (where the attendant was a much thinner yet spitting image of Mimi from The Drew Carey Show), we continued east on I-40. When we were leaving town, we found the hottest spot in Henryetta – The Pig Out Palace, open 24 hours a day. It’s a 100% buffet styled “restaurant” that serves everything from grits and gravy to t-bones and catfish – each item in all-you-can-eat portions.
Little Rock Central High School - site of integration. One of the most well-kept, beautiful high schools. Lots of architectural detail. The senior class projects are murals, mosaics and planters which help beautify the school.
We did not venture in, but the parking lot was completely full, so I’m sure that means it was a quality establishment … right? But I digress, we’ve got to get back on the road again.

Upon entering Arkansas, we stopped at the Welcome Center at a rest stop. While this next description may seem trivial, I am going to share with you what rest stops are like in these states beyond California and Arizona.

The rest stops – or picnic areas in some places – are like mini parks off the highway. Covered cabanas, expertly manicured lawns, pristine restroom facilities and information boards about the state/region that you are currently in are present at all rest stops. Every single one has dumpsters or trash cans and others even have playground equipment or fenced dog runs.
They’re amazing. We stopped at the Welcome Center rest stop, which is the first one in every state on the major highways. We were looking for a good camping stop for the day so we could explore Little Rock, and the Welcome Center has a full-time staff of helpers.

My mom and I walked in and were amazed by the building – resembles a craftsman lodge, the inside is all river rock structures with pine furniture and there are rows upon rows of tour books, maps and advertisements broken down by the region within the state – all information is free for the taking. A central desk has 3 attendants, all ready to help you with your Arkansas visitation needs. It is amazing, clean, organized and everyone is very helpful. After speaking with Margie, she informed us that Maumelle Recreation Park was better than staying in the city and is along the Arkansas River with very inexpensive rates for full hook-ups (electricity, water, sewer) - $20/night! We take her advice and decide this is the spot for us.
Governor's Mansion, Little Rock.

Returning to the parking lot, I make the rounds checking the exterior of the motorhome for any suspicious changes or damage. I am ALMOST done and notice that our protective mudflap across the back underside of the motorhome is hanging precariously low to the ground on one side. Upon further inspection, I see that that the metal bracket holding it on is broken in two on one side and it is being supported only by one bolt. To the vast majority of you reading this, you’re thinking, “Good God, Jason – why are you telling me all this?!” Good question.

Answer: If that mudflap were to fall off in transit, it would hit the tow car behind us and do some serious damage to our towing gear, the car, and who knows how many others following behind us. Good thing I caught it.
Arkansas River at Maumelle State Park - Little Rock, Arkansas. This was built by the Army Corps of Engineers as their own campsite while doing work on levees and damns in the 1960's. It was then turned into a state campground. It was amazing.
Bad news? Having to fix it in the parking lot. But, like I said before, these rest areas are impeccably clean and this was no exception so I had no qualms climbing under the motorhome.

Once under the motorhome, I realize two things: 1) The mudflap cannot be repaired with our tools/supplies and needs to come off, and 2) There’s enough room under there for me to sit up and work comfortably.

As I’m taking apart the remaining side of the mudflap, I hear a southern-drawled voice that I do not recognize (mostly because I only know 2 other voices in Arkansas and neither of my parents is southern).

“Whatcha got going on here son?”, asked the trucker who pulled in next to us.

Startled, I say, “Well, the angle iron bracket broke, and I think we’re just going to take it off.
View from the river back to our campsite.

“No, that’s no good. You need this to protect your vehicle back there. Here, I got some tools and supplies in the rig. I’ll be right back.”

Before I could say “Don’t trouble yourself” the trucker was off unloading enough tools and supplies to make a NASCAR pit crew blush.

He promptly returned with an air drill connected to his truck’s air compressor, a variety of metal drill bits, several brackets and nuts and bolts.

Well, together the trucker and I drilled two holes, mounted a new bracket and fixed (not patched, but legitimately fixed) the mudflap.

After sincere thanks by our whole family and helping him pack up his tools, I finally remembered to introduce myself to this remarkably humble, sincere and helpful guy who – as a long haul trucker – used an hour of his precious time to go unpaid and behind schedule to help us at a rest stop.

So, today, I proclaim as William Aaron Day – a day where we should all remember to do something nice for someone else without expectation or selfish motivation. I doubt he’s out there reading this, but thanks again William.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled update … we made it to the beautiful Maumelle Park. Literally, our site has a picturesque view of the Arkansas River and it’s own dining area surrounded by flowering plants and shade trees. After settling in, we hopped in the car to explore Little Rock.

Arkansas is covered in woods. Not forests with pine trees, but dense woods and the whole state is incredibly clean and tidy – like Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico before it (at least the parts we’re in). I am still shocked at how my preconception of these regions is 100% different than the reality presented – and I’m pleasantly surprised by the landscape, the nice people and how easy it is making our travels. Once we finally made our way into Little Rock we saw:

Capital Building (which is under construction, so we could only get pictures from the vantage point in the photos)

Central High School – first site of integrated public education

Downtown by car: an amazing historic downtown district with great architecture, some parts still retaining their brick streets

Governor’s Mansion

Unfortunately, due to both time constraints AND construction zones, we couldn’t make it to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Park. I am disappointed because I really wanted to see this place and look at all the displays. I know that the history dork in me is showing up loud and clear, but he had some major benchmarks during his presidency. Since I like this town so much, I could see coming back here (probably by plane the next time) to do some more exploring of the region – and on this future trip, I will visit Clinton’s library.

As the rain patters on the roof, we re-watch Stand By Me and I end my journal, I am excited for tomorrow’s adventure to Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Capital at Little Rock.  The rest …
Capital at Little Rock. The rest…
Little Rock Central High School - …
Little Rock Central High School -…
Governors Mansion, Little Rock.
Governor's Mansion, Little Rock.
Arkansas River at Maumelle State P…
Arkansas River at Maumelle State …
View from the river back to our ca…
View from the river back to our c…
Little Rock
photo by: electricapples