The trip from Poplar Bluff, MO to Livingston, TX covered over 560 miles and included stops in Little Rock, AR and Texarkana, TX. We’ve committed to limiting our daily drive to a maximum of 250 miles. Even with that, we were pretty well worn out at the each day of driving.
We spent two nights at the Downtown Riverside RV Park in North Little Rock which sits on the banks of the Arkansas River. We had previously enrolled in Passport America which provides for discounted campground fees. The Downtown Riverside RV Park provided our first opportunity to take advantage of the discounts. Unfortunately the discounts were limited to blind side back-in sites, which we were able to get for $11 per night rather than the $26 per night for the pull-through sites. On first glance, backing into our site didn’t appear that difficult since the sites was quite wide. However, it took several attempts and the assistance of a neighboring camper to get the job done. Although we parked as close to the water source as possible, our 25’ drinking water hose was not long enough to connect. Fortunately Phil was able to get a longer hose at the Wal-Mart a few miles away.
Monday was Jan’s birthday. Although we had hoped to do a lot of walking on the riverfront trail, we awoke to a steady drizzle. The rain finally stopped around 11 am but the weather remained cold and damp all day. Plan B involved mostly indoor activities.
Our first stop was the Little Rock Central High School, a historical site that is now managed by the National Park Service but which is still an active high school. In September 1957, nine black high school students (referred to as the Little Rock Nine) became the first blacks to attend the previously all-white high school. The governor of Arkansas called out the National Guard to keep them out. President Eisenhower intervened and sent in the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army (without it’s black soldiers) who stood with bayonets drawn against the angry white mob. Eisenhower also federalized the entire Arkansas National Guard. The black students, although accompanied by soldiers in the hallways, were subjected to verbal and physical attacks throughout the year. The governor of Arkansas closed the Little Rock high schools the following year (referred to as the “Lost Year”) to block further segregation. The museum had a very good collection of film footage from the events as they occurred as well as recorded interviews with many of the participants looking back at what they went through. It did an excellent job of capturing the racism that was prevalent at the time and power of a mob mentality to intimidate those who wanted to do the right thing. Although racism still exists in America, this visit helped to point out how far we’ve come in our lifetimes.
Our next stop was the William J. Clinton Presidential Library. The library sits next to a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Arkansas River and connects to our campground. The library, although unflatteringly referred to by some as looking like a double-wide trailer, had some nice exhibits. There was a replica of the Oval Office and Jan and Phil took turns sitting behind the President’s desk.
Since we had skipped lunch, we went to an early dinner at the Flying Fish restaurant in the River Market district. We both had catfish fillets that were outstanding. Then we headed to Cracker Barrel so Jan could have a slice of birthday cake.
The next day we drove to Texarkana, TX. This was our shortest drive and most of the drive was on interstate I-30. We arrived at the Shady Pines RV Park around 1 pm. The park, although lacking in frills, was perfect for our overnight needs The site was a pull-through and was flat and paved. The RV park was next door to the Shady Pines RV center so we were able to get our fifth wheel inspected. All vehicles, including the fifth wheel, must be inspected annually as part of the Texas registration process. While Jan caught up on the laundry, Phil took the car and the truck up the road to be inspected.
On Wednesday we made the drive to Livingston, TX. This was our longest day of driving, mostly on state roads. Including a couple of stops along the way, it took us about 5 ½ hours to reach our destination. The drive was largely uneventful. However, Phil turned too soon in response to an instruction from the GPS and ended up driving the rig down a small back road. Fortunately the GPS found a way back to our route that did not involve backing up. We were glad to be finished driving and to be in one place for two weeks.