USA Road Trip - Day 19 (Dallas, Texas to Little Rock, Arkansas)

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North America » United States » Arkansas » Little Rock
April 3rd 2016
Published: April 6th 2016
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Mesquite, TX to Little Rock, AR

Had Special K fruit edition for breakfast and managed to get away at 8.30am today. One thing Kerry noticed this morning was that another guest was wearing a t-shirt that we thought would be a good idea for Luke to have. It had a slogan on the back saying “What’s for dinner ?” and that is exactly his first three words every day when he gets home from work ! A quick refill at the gas station and we were back on I30 heading East. One thing about this area is the size of the overpass system. The interchanges are just massive and enable traffic to flow effectively across the city as long as you remember to take the right exit of course ! Our first stop was unplanned. It was a small town called Hope. We saw a sign on the Interstate saying this was the birthplace of Bill Clinton and you can go to see his first house so we decide to have a look. As we arrive in there are some homes that are barely habitable and I can recall Bill Clinton saying once “There is hope for Hope”. Well it looks like they need more than that here. We found our way to the Historical home site and they had a guy who was in charge who said we can’t go inside the home as it is being renovated but we are welcome to take photos etc from the outside. They had some information inside the entry building about his life in Hope (like a mini museum) and we knew nothing really about his early life so I asked this guy a question and suddenly he opened up told us all sorts of stuff about Clinton’s early life. He looked like he was a secret service type of guy protecting this historic asset and then he came to life with a real passion. I noticed there were displays and photos of Bill Clinton saying his name was William Jefferson Blythe and his mother’s name was Cassidy, so I was a bit confused. Turns out his father William Blythe died 3 months before he was born, his mother went to New Orleans to study nursing so he grew up with his grandparents (Cassidy’s) in this home for his first few years. His mother would remarry a guy called Roger Clinton and he had a half-brother called Roger Jr, and Bill eventually decided to adopt the Clinton surname so he had the same name as his brother when he was about 15. We really got a sense that he had a pretty tough upbringing and certainly not what I expected to see. We moved on and soon passed over the border into Arkansas where we stopped for lunch at a place called Arkadelphia. It was time for Cracker Barrel again. Soup again (Chicken & Rice for Kerry and Vegetables for me). Angela served us this time and she had 4 stars. We did the peg game and Kerry had 3 left, 2 for me. We arrived in Little Rock which is the capital about 3pm. We went straight to our accommodation for this evening which is a Bed & Breakfast called The Empress of Little Rock. This place has so much history and tradition. It was a mess in 1993 when the current owners had to totally restore it to bring it back to it’s grandeur. As we went inside the assistant innkeeper showed Kerry to the ladies parlour room and me to the gentlemen’s’ parlour room. There was two ladies enjoying Sunday afternoon high tea. She showed us around this beautiful building and to our room. We left all the luggage in the car (a decision I would later regret !) as we wanted to go to the Bill Clinton Presidential Library before it closed. The library was downtown about 10 minutes away in the River Market area on the banks of the Arkansas River. It cost $10- entry and another $3- for the audio device to hear Bill Clinton’s' own voice describing different exhibits. It was after 3.30pm when we got here and it closes at 5pm so we did not have much time and had to rush through. We both thought the best part was they had these binders where each binder covered each month of his time as President. Inside was a copy of his daily schedule for every single day. It was amazing seeing what he was up to whether it was morning jogs, tv interviews, or having lunch meetings with Yasser Arafat or Tony Blair. Sundays looked to be a regular activity of mornings in church and afternoons playing golf. They had exact replicas of the Cabinet room and the Oval Office. We then drove to see the State Capitol which looks very much like the one in Washington DC and has been used many times in movies apparently as it is easier to use I guess. We then went back to River Market area and got real lucky getting a parking spot real close to the Flying Fish restaurant. I had been told go here by one of my golfing mates Louie who is from the States who said they have the best catfish in USA here. It was about 5.45pm and we thought we’d head down to the river for a while before having dinner. They had a really nice amphitheatre area overlooking the river and the old railway bridge. After about 15 minutes we headed back to the Flying Fish only to find a queue of people waiting outside. Not again another wait for dinner ! It took us about 20 minutes to get inside the front door and then we could see how long the queue was inside (at least another 20 people ahead of us). As I got closer to the front, Kerry managed to sneak over and get the only available booth seat. We both had Catfish. Kerry had hers in the traditional way and I had mine cooked “Snappy”. No that does not mean I am hungry and want it quickly although that is true. It means they make it a bit spicy (the only positive about waiting so long was that the guy in front of me as helping explain what Snappy means) . It was served with vegetables and rice and it was delicious and only cost about $12- each. Definitely worth coming here. Back to the Empress for the night and the one bad thing about these old places is that they don’t have any elevators and the staircases are huge as the ceilings are so high. That means carrying the suitcases upstairs. No porters here so it’s me doing the hard yakka. We have two large suitcases weighing 25kg each and they had several signs saying DO NOT place luggage wheels on the stairs so I have to carry each suitcase above my head walking up about 20 flights of stairs without a stop. Hardly a normal carrying position but being the perfect refined specimen I am the first suitcase caused no problems, but as I placed the second on the bed of the Petite Jean room I felt like someone stuck a dagger in my lower back. Ouch !! Let’s hope it’s just a small problem.

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