Oct 17, 2023 – Memphis, TN, to Little Rock, AR
We were frustrated by highway construction detours when we headed out to see the Bass Pro store that our Uber driver recommended last night. The detour and, possibly, Bill’s navigation error somehow landed us on the bridge across the Mississippi. So, intended or not, we were on our way west.
But, at the end of the bridge Sandy spotted a sign for the Big River Crossing so we stopped to explore the crossing. At nearly a mile in length, Big River Crossing is the longest public pedestrian and cyclist bridge across the Mississippi. We decided to walk at least part of it. The Crossing hangs from the side of a railroad bridge. As things would have it, the western end, where we started, crosses a huge field before it gets to the river. It has a roof over the portion that is below the level of the tracks, presumably to protect walkers from potential falling debris from trains. The roof ended at the edge of the river so we had a great view of the river and of Memphis in the distance. Also prominent was the huge pyramid that housed the Bass Pro store.
Big River Crossing Hangs on Far Side of Bridge
Heading Out the Covered Portion of the Crossing
Memphis Skyline and Pyramid in Distance Across Low-Water Mississippi
Back on I-40, we continued west to Little Rock and our campground for the next couple of days. Downtown Riverside RV Park is actually in North Little Rock, right on the Arkansas River and right across the river from the Bill Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock proper. Conveniently, there is a pedestrian bridge right next to the campground that leads almost directly to the library.
We headed into town for groceries before returning to the campground and settling in. The campground is devoid of vegetation, a well appointed parking lot, really, but otherwise very nice. Our site, right on the river, is actually quite pretty … for a parking lot.
Oct 18, 2023 – Little Rock, AR
The day dawned sunny and warm. After a leisurely morning we limbered up our bikes to ride across the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge to visit the Clinton Library and Museum. The bridge is pretty cool. It was a railroad lift bridge that was locked in the raised position to allow for river traffic and outfitted with a new deck for use by walkers and bikers. It affords a nice view of the Arkansas River and the cities on both sides. It is lit at night with lights that cycle through colors.
Clinton Presidential Bridge Connects North Little Rock with Clinton Library Across River
Downtown Riverside RV Park from Pedestrian Bridge
WAWA’s Site at Riverside
Clinton Library from the Pedestrian Bridge
Series of Globes Message Ways to Save Our Planet
This Globe Urges People to Use Public Transportation and Junk Their Cars
Main Entrance to Library
We paid the admission fee, explored some of the main floor before the next showing of a nice introductory film. After taking in the few exhibits on the first floor we headed upstairs to see most of the publicly displayed material.
Clinton’s Presidential Limo
Surrounding a reproduction of the Cabinet Room are many display sections detailing events that happened during Clinton’s presidency. The sections are divided by sections of actual library stacks that contain thousands of boxes of correspondence between private citizens and the Clintons. Those documents make up only 2 to 3% of the estimated total of 30 million documents produced during his presidency. The rest of the collection is housed in a separate building.
Inside the outer ring of displays are copies of Clinton’s daily schedule for every day he was in office. It was fascinating to see how tightly scheduled he was and how many events he took part in every day. Exhausting!
Each Display in Library is Flanked by Cases of Blue Boxes of Letters from Public
The third floor was similar in make up but featured not politics but the many personal and social occasions and displayed some of the many gifts and letters received by him from foreign countries and from citizens of the U.S. All told it was a very interesting glimpse into a presidency.
Overall View of Library
Oval Office Reproduction Features Resolute Desk
Rear of Oval Office
Glass Christmas Tree Gift
Jade Sculpture was Wedding Anniversary Gift from China
Casual Dinner Anyone?
Believed to be Hillary’s Bicycle
Collection of Clinton’s Saxophones
Bill Relaxes on Bench on Second Floor
For lunch we headed to the lower level to “42 Bar and Table” for an excellent lunch seated outdoors, under the library overlooking the river. We then rode our bikes down along the river and through the paths behind the library and down along the paths through the William E. Clark Presidential Park Wetlands.
Returning across the bridge, we took another ride up the North Little Rock side of the river on the Arkansas River Trail. This multi use, paved trail stretches for miles up and down the river and is part of a system that stretches into the cities on both sides of the river. Very nice!
Downtown Little Rock from Bike Path
Returning to the campground we talked for awhile with new neighbors who had just picked up a new-to-them 40 foot Class A camper. Having two large slides, it has more square feet than some small apartments!
Oct 19, 2023 – Little Rock, AR, to Oklahoma City, OK
Travel day. After breakfast we refreshed our water supply and dumped our waste. Then it was back onto I-40 headed west for a four-hour plus drive. Heading west we passed flat, already harvested fields, gently rolling hills where cattle grazed and into Oklahoma. A couple of hours later we finally exited I-40 into downtown Oklahoma City.
We’d arranged to spend the night at Anthem Brewing, a Harvest Host with tentative plans to spend the following night at another brewery a few blocks away. Well, the neighborhood looked a bit sketchy, an older warehouse and light industry district with a visible homeless population. We drove to the second brewery but it was about the same.
Checking reviews by other campers about staying at Anthem, they said that, although the neighborhood didn’t look so hot there were no issued in that regard. So, we took our chances, parked WAWA in the clean, mostly fenced, level, well lighted parking area and went inside. Almost immediately we struck up a conversation with a couple from Tulsa and got on really well. Anthem’s Anniversary IPA was tasty and Pam, the other woman, convinced Sandy to try the seltzer she was drinking. We had a fun time with them.
While Anthem doesn’t have a kitchen, they invite food truck operators to serve from a preparation area inside the brewery. This night a Thai truck was serving a beef and noodle dish. We were concerned that it would be hot so we had them hold the hot peppers and go light on the premixed curry. And, although it was still hot, we worked our way through the very tasty dish.
We spoke with a Mexican couple with two young kids who live and work in the area and with another guy who also lives here and who gave us some pointers about a park where Sandy might find some pickleball action.
Back in the camper, we covered the windshield and had a pleasant evening. We slept well regardless of the constant traffic noise from nearby I-40.
Oct 20, 2023 – Oklahoma City, OK
We set out to explore some of Oklahoma City. Sandy was excited about getting to play some pickleball for the first time on this trip. So, we first headed to Lower Scissortail Park where there were several new courts. Unfortunately, they were pretty much deserted with not even enough people for a doubles game. Apparently the game has yet to catch on here.
We drove through the downtown a bit and it looked promising but there was no good place to park. Metered street parking was limited to two hours and we’d take up two spaces. So we turned back to Lower Scissortail again, parking as near as we could to the a stop on the Oklahoma City Streetcar system and walked the few blocks to hop aboard.
The modern, silent, electric streetcars run on tracks that are often set within normal traffic lanes. Each stop has a ticket vending kiosk. The price is $3 for a day pass but is half price for seniors. There are two overlapping routes and we hopped on and off at several stops.
One stop was at Automobile Alley, originally home to over fifty of the city’s car dealerships. Many of the old dealership signs remain but the buildings have been repurposed and the district is now home to new businesses, residences and a lot of art galleries. Another stop was Ballpark which dropped you in front of Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark where the AAA OKC Dodgers play. Sculptures in front of the entrances honor famous Oklahoma ball players including major players Johnny Bench and Mickey Mantle.
Johnny Bench Statue in Place of Honor
Mickey Mantle Swing Pose is Dynamic
Another stop was at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum which commemorates victims of the 1995 Murrah Building bombing by Timothy McVeigh. The memorial consists of a reflecting pool that stands where the street in front of the original building was and where the bomber’s truck was parked. The building site is now a sculptural memorial commemorating each of the 168 victims with a bench-like sculpture. The sculptures are arranged in rows that correspond to the floors on which the victims were when the bomb went off. Nineteen of the benches are smaller indicating that the victim was a child. The sculpture garden is partially surrounded by remains of the original exterior wall of the structure. It is a very moving place to visit.
Reflecting Pool of Oklahoma City National Memorial Park
Chairs Memorialize Those Who Lost Their Lives
Some of the Original Walls Surround the Garden
Continuing on we next disembarked in the Bricktown district. Now the entertainment center for OKC, this area has seen tremendous development over the past 20 years including repurposing many buildings into restaurants, shops and residences. They built a canal through the area that you can tour by boat, which we did. A good tour, our entertaining guide described the history of the area, pointed out the things of interest and described upcoming developments. It’s an interesting and exciting place to visit. The public portion of development was funded by a 1% city sales tax and was done without incurring any debt.
Our Canal Tour Guide at the Wheel
Portion of the Canal Waterfront
Beautiful Tile Mural Depicts Early Life in Area
World’s Largest Bronze Sculpture Features 45 Figures Of Land Run Participants
Horses Balk at River Crossing
We can’t fail to mention the wonderful development of parks downtown. Lower Scissortail was just a tiny part of the much larger Scissortail Park on the other side of I-40. It is two city blocks wide and about eight long. There are sports fields, a lake with rental boats, a skating rink for street hockey, play pavilion, restaurant and walking paths. Near the center there is a large Ampitheater with a huge lawn in front. Linking it to Lower Scissortail is a walking bridge across I-40 that also supports a huge sculpture commemorating the state bird, the scissor-tailed flycatcher.
Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher is Oklahoma State Bird
197 Foot Tall Skydance Bridge Inspired by State Bird
I almost forgot to mention the Myriad Botanical Gardens located a few block from the park. We only walked through it briefly but it is beautiful. The main tropical display is housed in a large, cylindrical greenhouse suspended over a huge koi pond.
Tiny Section of Myriad Botanical Gardens
Elaborate Pumpkin Mosaic in Garden
Garden’s Signature Cylindrical Greenhouse
All in all, we were impressed by the city. It is friendly, clean and safe. A very worthwhile place to visit.
Sandy Cozies up to a Couple of Friendly Bison
Heading back to WAWA, we made the fifteen minute drive to Rockwell RV Park & Campground where we took a site. Nothing pretty about the place but they had very good facilities. Showers and laundry took up most of the rest of the day.
Oct 21, 2023 – Oklahoma City, OK, to Amarillo, TX
We opted for breakfast at Chick-fil-A across the highway before heading out on the four hour drive to Amarillo. The roads were mostly arrow straight and the terrain was very flat for most of the drive except for a short section with small canyons reminiscent of the Badlands.
Fields grazed by cattle alternated with fields of cotton, corn, wheat, sorghum and peanuts. We also noticed the occasional oil well and storage tankage. But the big energy story was wind power. Huge wind farms often stretched off into the horizon. They were quite a sight to behold.
Tiny Portion of One of Many Wind Farms that We Passed
We arrived at Amarillo Best Wonderland RV Park where we plan to spend the next couple of days. A grocery run fulfilled our dietary needs for the next few days. We spent the rest of the day working on personal logs and website updates.