Arkansas - 2007
This was our first time in Arkansas. The weather was very nice and the road was smooth. The first thing we noticed as we entered Arkansas was a proliferation of Confederate flags. There were at least four along the highway. Without a doubt, some people still think, the South will rise again. We did not particularly see others later in the trip.
Our destination was Eureka Springs. We were going to look for a campground near the Dodge dealer in Berryville because the truck's computer readout said "oil change required". As we could not get an appointment for a couple days, we continued the 10 miles to Eureka Springs.
Eureka Springs . . . The Great Passion Play & Christ of the Ozarks . . .
Thorncrown Chapel . . . The ride to Bentonville & Inspiration Point . . . Wal-Mart Visitor Center . . .
Eureka Spring again . . . Leaving Arkansas . . .
Eureka Springs . . .
From the early 1800's this area was known for its "water" with alleged medical powers. Today it is a popular tourist destination, with hundreds of artist making their home here. Tourist season weekends are filled with celebrations and festivals and the area offers a variety of recreational opportunities.
Because we only wanted electricity, we set-up the HHII on a secluded site among the trees. Most of the other sites were full hookups and close together.
The first order of business was lunch followed by a ride through Eureka Springs. It is a very nice older little town built on the side of a mountain. The streets are very narrow and in need of repair. But the buildings are spectacular.
Eureka Springs has a 'ride all day' trolley system serving the town and surrounding area. The cost was only $9 per person but our plans did not permit spending the entire day on the route.
The Great Passion Play & Christ of the Ozarks . . .
On our way back to camp, we stopped by the The Great Passion Play grounds to survey the situation because rain was approaching. We were told it was open air seating.
The entrance to the complex is impressive with this ornate fountain. Like many other areas we visited, they were decorating for Christmas.
It is also the location of the Christ of the Ozarks statue. We drove to the rear of the grounds to view the statue first.
The statue, weighting more than 500 tons, has outspread arms which measure 65 feet across, and stands seven stories tall. It is erected on the top of Magnetic Mountain.
Walking down the hill in front of the statue, you come to a 'quiet place' with benches where visitors can sit and reflect. There is soft, sacred music playing. Looking one way you see the statue of Christ, the other way you see lovely woods - behind you is an overlook into the wooded valley below.
The project was originated and initiated by Gerald L. K. Smith and built by the Elna M. Smith Foundation. Their graves are beside the path around the statue.
Leaving the Christ of the Ozarks statue, we stopped by a little chapel dedicated to the Berlin Wall era.
As we approached the Passion Play amphitheater, we saw the seating area through the trees.
The Amphitheater seats 4,100 people. The Great Passion Play is presented from end of April to the last week of October. The two-hour performance features 200 authentically costumed actors.
Rain was moving into the area ... but ... the show must go on.
Their gift shop was prepared for the sale of 'rain' or 'cold night' items.
The buildings and grounds near the amphitheater were very attractive and architecturally correct for the period.
We and a few others people stopped to see the amphitheater. It was very impressive. Rain and cold winds were forecasted for the night we could attend. Due to the weather, we did not attend the performance. Unfortunately, it was the last performance of the season.
If you look hard at the third photograph above, you can see some people on the steps of the white building in the center.
We think they were taping for advertising or some other purpose.
The interesting thing was that they told those of us at the top to stop talking and stand still. Apparently the design of the amphitheater is so good acoustically, we were interfering with their taping. We waited a few minutes, whispered to each other "lets go" and tiptoed out to the truck. While the new Dodge Ram (Cummins) diesel is real quite, once it fired up we did not hesitate leaving the area.
There was no fee to enter the grounds at this time of year, October. Other times of the year and depending on the programming, entry fees are charged.
There are numerous faith based activities offered on the grounds. If you are interested, visit them at www.greatpassionplay.com.
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The rain arrived early in the evening. The forecast called for rain an all day - it was an accurate forecast. We called the campground office in the morning to tell the owner that "due to the wonderful forecast", we wanted to add a day to our stay. We had scheduled an oil change for the truck the next morning, so we asked if we could pay then. That being okay, we did not leave the HHII all day.
Thorncrown Chapel . . .
Just West of Eureka Springs we stopped at the Thorncrown Chapel. The forty-eight foot high, wooden structure contains 425 windows and over 6,000 square feet of glass. The chapel is open to visitors daily from April to December. It was the dream of Jim Reed, and is financially supported by donations from visitors.
The ride to Bentonville & Inspiration Point . . .
Staying in the HHII for the rainy day was a good decision. After the oil was changed, we enjoyed the ride to Bentonville, AK to see the Wal-Mart Visitor Center.
Do these palm trees seem a little out of place?
We especially liked the view from:
Inspiration point is about five miles west of Eureka Springs.
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Wal-Mart Visitor Center . . .
When you are close to Bentonville, AK , RVers just have to go visit the Wal-Mart Visitor Center in Bentonville, AK. The place where where Wal-Mart began. After all, people associate all RVers with Wal-Mart.
There was a small amount of Wal-Mart souvenirs you could buy in the lobby.
A series of displays showed the chronological history of the Walton stores - Ben Franklin and Wal-Mart.
Of course, Fred thought the
Coke bottles were interesting.
There were a lot of displays showing the many personal and business successes of Sam Walton.
The first Super Wal-Mart . . .
You don't want to know how much value increase you missed by not holding early Wal-Mart stock . . . unless you do.
Displays document the successful expansion internationally - Canada, China and Puerto Rico..
The Walton Foundation and its philanthropic activities were noted.
Several of the displays showed the importance his family played in his life.
Sam's office in one of his stores ... Time board with timecards ...
His newer office furnishings were also preserved and on display.
If you shop at Wal-Mart for dog food, you will recognize the Old Roy brand. It was named after one of Sam's dogs.
The pickup truck that Sam used for hunting trips and other activities was there. The display included a story about a dented bumper.
If you have ever been in a Wal-Mart store when the staff is getting pumped up for a day's work, you may not know the 'noise' the first time. The second time you hear it, all you do is grin. We have both experienced it while shopping early in the morning.
These items were of particular interest to us. We did not know at the time that the Ben Franklin store in Waynesville, MO was owned by Sam Walton. He bought it in 1964. We shopped there from 1966 through 1968 while Fred was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, MO.
One thing we notice was that there were several signs telling people to be quiet. We thought this was unusual for this type of visitor center. People observed the signs but it was an eerie feeling.
The visitor's center is open Tuesday through Saturday, no admission fee is charged. Allow about an hour and a half unless you read everything.
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Eureka Spring again . . .
On our way back to camp from the Wal-Mart Museum, we drove through Eureka Springs again. It wasn't nearly as busy as our first drive through.
This triangle shaped building was very ornate.
The price on this house didn't seem to be affected by the housing market downturn experienced in some areas of the country.
This garden area was just outside of the shopping area.
We drove by this spring grotto without stopping the last time through Eureka Springs a couple days earlier.
This time we stopped to go inside. The original name stone and the historic plaque detail the history of the spring.
A candle was place to show visitors where the spring had been.
Once it started getting dark, it didn't take long for making photographs to become more difficult.
But, it was not too dark for 'eagle-eye' Mary Lou to spot three deer in the woods. One looked right at us for the longest time but did not spook. They walked down the hill and across the road, disappearing between houses.
Deer #1 Deer #2 behind tree, with deer #3. Deer #3
Seeing the deer was a nice end to another great day.
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Leaving Arkansas . . .
It was time to leave Arkansas and head for home. Well, head for the Indiana grandchildren. The hills were easier but there was always a hill in front of you and in your mirror.
Road to nowhere - that is what we called it. This four lane highway was in varying stages of completion. It looked like the project was started and then somebody changed their mind or ran out of funds. Maybe the politician who got the original funding is no longer in office.
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