Translation: From Arkansas to Missouri
Time to pick up the pace! Another long drive, this one from Dallas to Bentonville, AR. I opted to get an early start as I was staying south of Dallas and had to drive north through the city hoping to beat morning rush hour traffic. That didn’t work. I managed to get there for peak morning traffic. Oh well…it was a good test of my towing skills and nerve. My philosophy was…I’m bigger so watch out. No issues but the traffic situation added about an hour to my total drive.
Dallas and neighboring cities sprawled northwards and were separated by lots of road construction. It wasn’t really until Oklahoma that I got away from all of that…but then I had to deal with the shit road conditions in southeastern OK. It was a pretty area but at one point I nearly pulled over thinking I had a flat…it was just the undulations of the concrete road.
I arrived in Arkansas after about nine hours on the road and checked in at Monte Ne RV Park at Beaver Lake. The older gentleman who checked me in spoke in a slow southern drawl and was a chatter. Normally I love these conversations but I was so tired I kept my responses brief…not sure if it helped but I was finally able to pull into my site, set up and crash.
The First Walmart:
Bentonville is the home of Wal-Mart and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which was started by Alice Walton and designed by Moshe Safdie. The museum includes a collection of American art from the Colonial era to contemporary art. They also had a temporary exhibition of Safdie’s work including Habitat 67 in Montreal.
Next stop was Branson, MO…not far as the crow flies from Bentonville but somewhat of a hilly, windy, twisty road from point A to point B…and no shoulders on the road…truck and trailer did good though.
Branson was going to be a bit of a reunion with some folks that I met at Alumafiesta in Tucson (Jim & Jon and Jeanie and Jim) and their friends and family. In all, there were about seven or eight trailers (three Airstreams) in a cluster at Indian Point Campground on Table Rock Lake. It was a beautiful spot and a great campground…I had a nice view of the lake from my “living room”. We had a nice time catching each other up on stories of our travels and I had a nice day out in in Branson with my tour guides Jim & Jon…they knew exactly where to find the best margarita in town!
One of my goals in Missouri was to see the Gateway Arch designed by Eero Saarinen in Saint Louis. I had two nights there which would give me one full day to see the sights. I stayed at my first urban RV park, essentially a fenced off parking lot in the city. It was not a great part of town but the facilities were top notch. Great pool area and modern clean restroom/showers…and the skyline right there.
Everything felt close by so I left the truck behind and set off walking towards the arch in the morning. It was two miles away…a straight shot down market street. I expected lots of distractions, by that I mean cafes etc. but not a one…all the way. I was dying for a coffee by the time I got close to the arch. I judge cities by the abundance of pedestrians and cafes…Saint Louis got a low-grade…maybe I was in the wrong part of town.
The Gateway Arch is a part of the national parks system…I purchased a national parks annual pass at Joshua Tree and it paid for itself very quickly. The ride up the tram to the top of the arch was cool…you crawl in a little module with about five other people and sit on a bench crouched down…very cozy. At the top there were small sliver windows to peer out to the city in one direction and the river and Illinois in the other direction. The museum at the base has a lot of information on the exploration of the American West…Lewis & Clark and even Sacajawea gets a mention.
From the arch I walked to the Anheuser Busch Brewery (Budweiser) through the historical neighborhood of Soulard…again, a little short of cafés and pedestrian life. I’m not sure it was the best idea to walk really; I think I was walking through some bad areas but not a taxi in sight to get me where I was going. The brewery was nice and the beer at the end in the beer garden made the trek worthwhile.
I capped off the day by walking back into the city and attending a ball game…my first major league game. Saint Louis Cardinal vs. The Arizona Diamondbacks. Great stadium and I had a great time though decided to duck out early and get a cab back to the RV park since I had another long drive in the morning to Indianapolis.