Archive for April, 2017


Art! Part 2. American Art

The museum is built around and above water with view points that bring nature inside. The exhibit are in pods and you walk from one to the next in a circle with views of nature and water as you pass through.

 

Eleven, at Crystal Bridges. Ate at both the coffee bar and the restaurant. Had a cap and sweet goodie, then when I was ready to leave, a trout club sandwich. Yummy!

Susan Catherine Waters, 1855-1860. Portrait of a girl and her dog in a grape arbor.  Self taught in a time of male dominated art. Women’s suffrage movement and an animal right’s activist. 

Randolph Rogers 1825-1892 Atala and Chactas

Francis Guy 1760-1820 Winter Scene in Brooklyn

Asher B. Durand 1796-1886 Kindred Spirits 1849. Memorial to Thomas Cole, Catskill Mountains.

Frederic Edwin Church 1826-1900. Home by the Lake, 1852 Optimistic view of America’s future.

George Inness 1825-1894. Sunset on the River, 1867.

 

Frederic Remington 1861-1909 Cowpuncher’s Lullaby, 1906

Stuart Davis 1892-1964. Still Live with Flowers, 1930.

William Hunt Diederich 1884-1953. Greyhounds 1913. Bronze.

Yasuo Kuniyoshi 1889-1953. Little Joe with Cow, 1923. Japanese born American artist.

Grace Hartigan 1922-2008. Rough, Ain’t it, 1949.

These are a few of the pieces I photographed as a sampling of the range and quality of American Art represented at Crystal Bridges. Good thing I don’t live closer or I’d be rooted; likely doing duty as one of the volunteers and sketching till I’d mastered each piece. Have been taking an Adult Ed course on American Art in Santa Barbara so, if you’re into art, maybe you can image my thrill to see some of these pieces in person and if not, just know that art hold a precious place in my world as a method of direct and subterfuge communication of both the tangible and intangible, perceived and visionary, representative, political or imagined and twisted nature of our lives.

Cool Stuff! In the Gift Shop.

More in the Gift Shop.

Hard to leave but the dogs are waiting! Wind and rain was picking up, so one last walk and off we went. As I take my last walk I think more about how art, culture, music, brings a cultural bubbling, like a spring itself, mixing, unsettling, stirring…  I saw cars from New York, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado, Arkansas, Missouri, Wyoming, Ohio and me from California in the small upper parking lot on that random morning when I stumbled in.

Another walk with dogs.

 

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art  I’d almost forgotten what I’d been told and how I had to stop here, so glad I remembered! Approximately 500,000 visitors a year. 

General admission to Crystal Bridges is sponsored by Walmart. There is no cost to view Museum permanent collections. There may occasionally be a ticket fee to view special exhibitions. Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 by the Walton Family Foundation as a nonprofit charitable organization for all to enjoy.

This museum is changing the shape, tone and nature of the Arkansas Ozarks. 

“Many press reports about the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, have mentioned the more than
$1.2 billion in 2010 contributions (including $800 million for endowment) provided last year by the Walton Family Foundation, for which the museum’s founder, Alice Walton, serves as a board member.Nov 28, 2011″ 

The grounds of the museum full of orchestrated delights. Pet friendly! Woof! 

120 acres of native Ozark forest which include natural springs, streams, geographical features, and a host of native plants and animals.

The Staff/Volunteers, absolutely talk to them: informative, welcoming and sweet. I arrived an hour before the museum was to open, thinking I’d take a quick look and depart, that’s when I learned the trails are perfect for your dog. The fellow watching over the entrance convinced me to go get my dogs out of the van so he could meet them and then get exploring on the trails. Was a day of light rain on and off, clouds and bursts of sun. I think we hiked every beautiful inch, didn’t get too wet either. 

LOVE. I learned during my visit how many West & East Coast people are relocating to this area.

The Gardens and Trails are full of American Art, like this guy.

Finally we spot bears that didn’t scare my dogs!

Inside The Way Of Color  Chamber

It was hard to leave these beautiful grounds to check out the interior but finally I put the dogs back up in the van and set out to see what was inside.

Here’s a fun video, walking in high speed!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Is4fcWYbjo

Ghosts: Eureka Springs, Arkansas

 

Harrison, Ak I think. Wasn’t much going on. Walked around and then drove around.

 

Wedding being setup.  “Since you were a little girl, you may have dreamed of your perfect wedding… held in a Nostalgic destination ….. high on a romantic mountaintop  …. With memories made only in a Castle in the sky.” 

Seems there are chills about, strange moaning, folks fainting, the appearance of orbs, good place to test your esp skills and as my license plate frame says, the edge of reality. . . .    maybe this is the place where the edge coincides with the center.

The Haunted 1886 Eureka Springs Arkansas Resort: Pet Friendly too. “As an Ozark mountaintop spa resort, The Crescent is surrounded by 15 acres of both pristine woodlands perfect for hiking and formal gardens ideal for romantic walks with full service and casual dining, swimming pool, hot tub and the most expansive spa facility in Eureka Springs.”

OK, you see him, right?

 

Eureka Springs Bark Park: Adjacent to Harmon Park is the Eureka Springs Bark Park. Offering a fenced shaded area for pets to roam freely with owners. There is a fenced section for large dogs and a separate fenced area for smaller dogs.

My campsite for the night. None of the folks in the three trailers seemed to appear, the car camper did, I heard them, long after I’d gone to sleep so was a very quiet peaceful night. Just me, the dogs and the ghosts.

Arkansas Ghost Storys

 

Cardinals, Red-Winged Blackbird, Grackles, Goldfinch, Sparrows, Northern Flicker, Bluebird, Teals, Grebes, Egrets, Herons, Osprey, Bald Eagles…  and more of course. Lots of deer, rabbits and squirrels. Lunker bass, catfish, crappie, bream and the popular rainbow and brown trout. The vivid red birds and blue birds stole my heart, while for the dogs it was the big fat squirrels!

Sun coming though a little, some rain, misty out.

 

Bull Shoals White River State Park

Not knowing any better I tooled into this state park expecting, if not empty like so many other RV Camps, it would have plenty of room so I had a bit of a dispute with the Park Host when she told me there were only 2 spaces available and both of those were shared spaces. She confused me by saying I could go look and anything without a reservation sign was free, turned out she didn’t mean that exactly as I returned breathless and eager with a list of 3 spaces.  Nope, she said only those 2 I circled are free. the others, well, the signs aren’t up that’s all. I was miffed by this confusion and decided I’d go see what other camping was around. Was this even the place I was informed about but as I sat in my RV with the excited dogs I changed my mind and took one of the shared spaces. Senior rate didn’t apply for out-of-state visitors on the weekend.  Loved my space during the rest of the day. I pulled way over to the side so the newcomers would have room without being on top of me. The Park was indeed full to capacity, the RV spots were stretched along the river. Mine was at the beginning with extra space for the beach access with sets of layered stairs, swing seats and canopied benches below.

The White River near my camp spot.

This Park was GORGEOUS. Even the sun came out to celebrate! It’s 732 acres and if you come to stay awhile there are daily activities and interpretative programs including butterfly walks, kayaking, guided nature hikes, eagle hikes, fly fishing classes, outdoor cooking classes, lots of walks and classes on birds, owls, woodpeckers, vultures, the sounds of the night, bears, river cruises, tree id and more. I’m not sure if you can bring dogs to any of these classes or events. Lots of campers had dogs.

 

 

 

 

Nope, no fish in this spot… try further down, lots of fish there! They give fishing lessons here, this guy needs someone to gift him one of those. Why? Other than time of day, it may not show from this picture since there is a small tributary but the water where he’s been standing all day is STILL WATER, very quiet and in the center of the river where a fish would be exposed and no food would be found when right down a bit from him is turbulence and oxygenated water, a bit muddy and near shore…. yum yum say the fishes, that’s where they are chowing down and hanging out on the calm edges. If the fish aren’t eating they will rest in the undercurrents near submerged or overhanging trees on the river bank, somewhere protected, not like sitting ducks just waiting to be gobbled by all the birds.  Maybe he’s just standing there all day with fishing gear and pole to be picturesque.

This camper needs camping lessons! The one smoking an entire soaking wet tree! He broke the tree by wedging it between the table and the bumper on the camper! It’d  been raining a long time and the wood is soaked but drenched in enough started fluid off it goes.  The smoke was so bad they eventually hid inside their camper with the doors and windows closed while leaving this thing to smoke! They also left their porch light on all night!!!  NO NO NO…   go back to camping school! I had to run both my heater and air conditioner trying for some breathable air, still woke with a bad headache and sore throat, such a shame. CAMPERS ….   Please, Please learn to build a smokeless fuel-efficient fire and turn those darn lights out so the rest of us can enjoy the sky.

Would have loved to stay at this park for a few days and do more of the trails. so many butterflies, birds, wildflowers and the river however the park was full, noisy and smoky. Turns out I don’t like crowded as an older adult. When the park is crammed full and sites are close together it’s especially important that campers follow best practices.

Campground Etiquette: How To Be A Good Camping Neighbor

It so smoky at my RV site so I sat by the river with the dogs on the swinging bench watching the moon.

Managed to lose one set of my RV keys. Did I throw them in the trash with a pooper bag? Never found them but had a nice chat with the Camp Host that had checked me in…  yeah, about dogs of course! She told me that this State Park was the most popular in the state and was full like this on most every weekend. For my RV’er friends I suggest you keep a few extra sets of all your camper’s keys, I also keep a hidden entry key in a secret location, no fun getting locked out of your house and vehicle.

 

Gaston’s White River Resort …  Buffet Breakfast!  They have their own airstrip if you’d like to fly in and are canine friendly 🙂 View, excellent. Food, fair.

Gaston’s White River Resort began 59 years ago when Al Gaston, Jim Gaston’s father, purchased 20 acres of White River frontage with six small cottages and six boats…the year was 1958. Present day, Jim’s grandson – Clint Gaston – will carry on the family legacy for many years to come. The resort now covers over 400 acres, and has 79 cottages ranging in size from two double beds to ten private bedrooms. The airstrip has grown from 1,800 feet to 3,200 feet. The six boats are now over 70, and with a state of the art dock to hold them all. The years have brought an award winning restaurant, private club, gift shop, tennis court, playground, game room, duck pond, three nature trails, swimming pool, conference lodge, and fly fishing school.

Another shot of the restaurant at Gaston’s.

Once past the river you come to the dam and Bull Shoals Lake. This area was mostly deserted as the tourist Season had not yet begun. Getting back into geocaching would be fun, seems it’s encouraged with a permit to place hides in the 52 State Parks.

 

Would have liked to have seen the Ozark Folk Center State Park dedicated re heritage of the Ozark people and the Buffalo National River. From what I see there are activities for everyone in the Ozarks, even Road Scholar programs, caving, cultural, art and history tours, music, learning native crafts, swimming, river running, snorkeling, mountain biking and cycling, climbing and hiking, educational programs. It’s all here.

The Dam. Saw just an edge of the large reservoir lake. Much of the city area was very quiet, not attracting out of season crowds like the State Park

Another park I would have wanted to see:  Chicot State Park in South Central Louisiana….  another time, another day.

Bull Shoals Dam

I want to reflect on the “other side” of Arkansas I traversed, route 30 from Texarkana to Little Rock and then to Memphis. I mentioned not having the best impression of Hot Springs but did I say how impressive the birds were? One thing that bothered me a lot was the practice of burning trees alongside the highway. Seemed they were chopping them down to clean the shoulder, maybe intending to widen the highway or for a fire break? The burning was like being trapped in a mini elongated wildfire that only occurred next to the stream of trucks and cars. Not particularly in line with the theme, Natural State. (My LTV does not have air filters so whatever’s outside is what I breathe.) And that leads to my point, Arkansas seemed to be a land in conflict with itself. Changing certainly. Tons of trucks on dusty reddish roads, blue trucks, yellow trucks, red ones, silver ones and white ones and they all roll right along.  I noticed how few of them had flaps. Not sure what they are called, the flaps that hang between the front and rear tires and prevent occupants of cars who collide under a truck from certain death.  There were so many trucks that I had to laugh at the no parking on shoulder signs when they were filled with resting trucks. Where else could they go when many rest stops were closed and/or had inadequate space for all those big loads? I hate closed rest stops! I need them, my dogs need them … open them up! Lots of those truckers had dogs, I’d see these adorable bits of fluff pop out of the biggest trucks.  I saw billboards saying, Arkansas is Breast Feeding Friendly, and then one about Colon Cancer. In opposition to the smoke and the trucks were naked trees bursting in pink, white and light lavender blossoms.

Traveling north on smaller roads brought me into gentle curvy mountains, except they don’t say curve or windy they say “crooked” so I started saying that too, lots of crooked roads doing dastardly deeds! I began to see cows and horses, lovely rolling land with farmhouses, ponds, lakes, big two-story brick homes, huge churches. The ever-present wind strengthened under the patchy sky, all like a painting one could drive through.It would not be wrong to expect a mythical creature to be waiting around the next curve. Saw signs for produce markets and flea shops, all closed. Saw a chiropractor and massage shop on one side of the street and cows on the other side of the street. In the small town of Ravenden along the Spring River Hwy 63, stands a 12 foot RAVEN with red eyes. Apparently is says on the back: “The RAVEN was the first bird sent from the ark in search of land,” and “The RAVEN has the reputation for DIVINE or MAGICAL powers.”

I passed a campground next to a river that was devoid of campers, there were a few boaters using the launch, on my way to a State Park where I wanted to camp.  The State Park was CLOSED when I arrived, apparently they had just finished a special “hunting” season  and were not ready to open for the public.

Disappointed both in the “other” interest in birds, mine being looking at them alive and not knowing where to go I headed to Mountain Home. I stuck gold at the Info Station meeting another single mature woman who told me THIS WAS THE BEST PLACE FOR A SINGLE WOMAN TO LIVE …   HANDS DOWN, Yeah, I’m capping because she practically shouted it to me once we got beyond the being complete strangers thing. Most people warmed up once they realized I actually wanted to see the beauty of their area and not just the tourist traps. I never explored the town of Mountain Home as I thought I would although the little I saw of it on the main drag was one of those typical shopping mall cities with lots of traffic.  Do people really shop at all these ditto stores (repeats in every big town.) There was some variety like the Waffle House which I never did try even though I like waffles, Popeyes or Mapco and Citco gas, plenty of others but mostly the same old, same old, though I admit I stopped a few Whole Foods Markets. Speaking of which I was appalled that at the Memphis Whole Foods almost all the produce was from CA or WA, the only local produce were strawberries and pecans and Whole Foods didn’t have these available. I did try a little natural food store that was not a chain, not sure, don’t remember where and found some local apples. Come later in April, May, June it would be different.

The Info lady instructed me to head to Bull Shoals White River State Park to camp only she did not give me the name of the camping area or even that it was a State Park, nor did she warn me that it would be full (ALMOST). I wound my way up and around following the little map she provided. Because what she led me to so astounded me and because it’s time to quit writing for the night I will post it on the next blog.

 

 

The wind lessened allowing a nice drive through Arkansas.  The Info guide had told me I’d be passing though a cross-section of countryside and towns, some prosperous, some not and then I would reach the Ozarks. I had a fantasy of heading north through Missouri until reaching the turn for Denver / Boulder and crossing the Rockies over I-70.  Like I said a fantasy, comes from living in Coastal CA too long, heck my old camper-van can double as nice sporty ski car or a trusty SUV, right? It was late March, barely April, that’s winter in the mountains; nevertheless heading north afforded adventure. It was a dark day, beautiful, green, flowery, lush with tall trees, rivers and lakes, lots more butterflies, brightly colored birds and pockets of sunshine.

A town on the way

Another town,. . . needs some paint.

This was in Hardy towards the end of the downtown district. Lots of shops, restaurants, historical areas and more…  sorry didn’t take many photos. Took a nice walk with the dogs.

Yep.

Hardy Arkansas   Started as railroad construction camp in 1884  . . . The little town of Hardy, AR boasts three museums, summer musical shows, bed and breakfast inns and several festivals each year. Cherokee Village, the state’s first resort/retirement settlement, is just southwest of town, offering lake activities and two championship golf courses.

I didn’t take enough pictures to show the charm of this little town and surrounding areas. I could image it being very crowded and lively later in the season.

From their website: Art & Artisans, BINGO, Canoeing, Cultural Heritage, Fishing, Floating, Hunting, Wildlife, Kayaking, Music, Fish Hatchery & Aquatic Center, Parks, RV Camping, Dining, Lodging, Shopping, Zip Line, Spring River Artist Guild, Festivals, Events & Retirement.

The campground at Hardy. Was only one camper in a rather spacious riverside campground.  I thought about staying, went exploring looking for the section of lake area retirement homes. I’d met a woman, a bit my senior in a downtown cafe who told me how much she loved living here. She explained how she’d lived in Coastal Oregon and in Colorado but returned to Arkansas in spite of her grown kids request to have her closer. Living was easy, not complicated, she told me, safe for women on their own; a place to enjoy rather than struggle. She truly loved living here, was happy near one of the lakes, and although we didn’t know one another, she encouraged me to check it out. That it was a better life here.  She wouldn’t be the only, on her own, mature single woman to tell me similar about Northern Arkansas.

 

 

Gonna post this while I figure out the next photos and time.  The Ozarks out in Arkansas were so lovely!

Leaving Memphis

The day I left Memphis was W I N D Y ! My dogs trust me, people say to me how much my dogs love me. I don’t know what they are picking up, but they are my priority. I treat them better than I treat myself and why wouldn’t I? It’s my job to keep them safe and happy and that means not letting us flip over or get eaten by the weather goddess. I’d looked at the map the night before deciding to head to the lake camping just north in Tennessee. I could lake-hop my way to Nashville. First though I needed propane; that wasn’t as easy to find as I’d assumed and required some driving. That’s when I discovered how WINDY is was! As the attendant filled the tank with me and dogs standing about outside ….  he made sure we all exited the vehicle, he told me of last night’s damage in various parts of the city; vehicles including RVs, homes and other structures had been damaged or destroyed. It was so windy out there talking about dogs and wind I had to pick up Mason so he wouldn’t get blown away. Once back in the van I clicked my weather apps, yep D A N G E R O U S winds to the north, darn! I could make it, I reasoned, everything was fine last night. How windy was too windy? Would there be hail? The road I’d picked looked a bit desolate. You can see where this is going. I bailed and decided (wisely) to head for the next nearest campground; this time I picked a KOA back over the bridge on the Arkansas side. On the way I stopped at the Info Station, I was feeling disappointed about Tennessee. The “info” woman was super friendly, mapping a scenic cross-section of Arkansas just for me and of course she had to come see my dogs.  Dog viewing is a standard thing; anytime someone hears about my dogs, and I frequently mention them, that person often gets excited, their eyes pick up color and their faces start expressing joy; oh, they’d never seen a Lagotto in real life, could they meet one!  That is if they didn’t think I’d fabricated a name like Lagotto Romagnolo.  My dogs are friendly so it works out. I think they are all proud of themselves and enjoy showing off.

I pulled into the Memphis KOA mid morning, a line of big rigs following me. How can I describe the force on my vehicle? My van would jerk hard to one side with my hands vice gripped on the wheel, I’d bash it into place and then wham it’d go the other way, like a twisting bucking bronco determined to throw its rider to the ground, esp when you add the lifting sliding effect of movement forward with the wind tunnel underneath.  A passing truck is really insane, I’m gonna call it  an earthquake machine that is coming from the air rather than the ground, it would be fun if it was an amusement park. And it was wet too.

The staff at this KOA were super nice, one of them repaired my laptop as it was set to not accept WiFi, she somehow fixed that. I was assigned a crappy space behind the propane tank (as if I hadn’t just filled up elsewhere) with a big noisy outdoor fan attached to the back of a building as my only view. Since I had a camper-van KOA decided (and it’s all in their computer) that I should not be given a regular pull through space. I find this annoying except when it’s a better location and comes with a discount. Anyway they let me move to a better spot which I enjoyed as I had the camping area to myself while the rest of the park was jammed full of folks escaping the wrath of Mommy Nature. This was my first KOA that provided dinner; you call it in and they bring it to your site. It was pulled pork which I don’t eat but I did go to the cafe for breakfast; 2 over easy eggs, hash browns, toast and coffee for $4.80. The KOA also provides bus tours of many sorts around Memphis, didn’t ask but a great addition would be some doggy day care. I spent the day doing laundry and listening to the wind, by night-time it finally calmed.

Nope didn’t seem to take many photos. Just picture me slaving away in the wet wind hauling laundry and trying to put the quarters in the correct slot. Ha-ha!

Traveling alone is not as alone as you might think, at least not if you have adorable dogs with you and you can smile at people. I’m often amazed at the depth folks will share. I’ve started to think of my encounters as serial friendships, sure there are conversations that are polite greeting but more often about how others survive, what’s going on in their lives, why they are at this particular place at this particular time. I meet world travelers and those that are following the sun and good weather. Some are orphaned from a stick house by divorce, deaths, lack of a job, wanderlust, kids gone, retired, working mobile, lots of things bring them outside. Lots of folks have dogs too. On the road we have a temporary bond beyond the gulf of wealth and accommodation being closer to the elements, being able to leave at a moments notice and be somewhere completely different the next day.  That’s one of the things that draws me, being able take off and whatever transpired in that place gets left behind and replaced by an equally fascinating new day.

 

There is always something to do, at least there is for me.  Never have time to watch TV and rarely time for a book, much of this is because I travel with 3 dogs and am considering doing so with all 4. I walk them many times a day, they eat twice a day and I take them to dog parks, regular parks, schools, grassy fields, places to swim, we walk together in town centers and tourist areas where they are frequently so warmly welcomed. I keep a fairly clean RV, so there is an order to how the dogs and I proceed to keep it that way. When I eat dinner if there is an outside bench and table I’ll use that otherwise I’ll take out my camp chair and table, the dogs like to be nearby although little Mason frequently watches from the comfort of the bed esp if it’s cold out and looks out from the open back door to keep his eye on us.  I enjoy just looking, watching and listening . . . the sun coming up or going down, birds of all sorts and other wildlife, trees, flowers, grasses, clouds, rain, trains, what other people are doing, how things looks, little cities and towns, open fields, cluttered building, paths that lead off somewhere, the way the weather changes and how the light is different wherever I go, seeing the highway at a distance with all those huge trucks moving about, piles of debris that collect and no one seems to care. It’s not boring, there are sometimes stars or rainbows, sunclouds, rivers, lakes, desert and bugs, mountains, the sounds made from the soil, a wire overhead or within a tiny creek . . . .   … . these things are precious; our home, how will we treat it.

Scorpions – Wind Of Change

 

Glorious Spring

The night I spent at T.O. Fuller State Park in Memphis was hot, in the 80’s and muggy.  The Park was sparsely inhabited (by humans.) There were a few such as the camp host, a sparse scattering of other campers and a lonely young ranger who gave me a tour of the sparkling new environmentally constructed 1 million dollar nature interpretative center! The old golf course had been restored to a wildlife area including habitats of floodplain wetlands, wildflower valleys, native grassy meadows, and upland ponds. The Mississippi Flyway brings over 100 different species of birds to the area in spring and fall. The day I was there butterflies wafted in the air amid the moaning of wind, then they’d suddenly zoom off like streakers, black, blue, yellow. The nearby condos were slated to be soon restored into wetlands and a fishing lake. The heavy beat of nature echoing the heart of Memphis was quick and sharp to my anxiety over the power that the coming storm might bring. I’d checked and rechecked the weather apps on my phone; Memphis would be okay, Memphis would not be okay. Danger, destructive, us little campers in our RVs, if it happened, we made no difference.

 

The camp host, I thought classically withered, rustic; younger than me but seemed older, had lived in the park 25 years. I liked him and once he moved past his hesitation of yet another clueless camper he began sharing the wisdom of the forest. He showed me the wild pepper and wild onions, the rare wild cherry tree outside the back window on my mothorhome where I camped. He said the space I choose used to be where he lived and every night a wild coyote would lay under his window and depart in early morning.  I wanted to be in his world for just a little bit so went off to get Chester’s Chicken at the Truck Stop and just like he told me, it was good, I bought potato wedges but I forgot to get the jalapenos…  he’d explained how those could be spread over the chicken and the extra used over a few fried eggs in the morning.  I filled the gas tank at $1.99 for regular when I  returned he told me that due to the geography of the mountain the damaging winds would tend to be over our heads — heat like this and a storm could mean large destructive hail or very damaging winds. If that happened we would all run (all of us, all the dogs and all the campers) to the bathrooms. The bathhouses were built to be storm shelters and the one at this park was newly renovated. Now it made sense the large solid entrance ways of the Texas rest stop bathrooms, they were shelters too.

It was so hot that night I barely slept. The side windows were open but I’d closed the overhead vent and shut off the air conditioning. I peeped out the window at the trees swaying listening to the terrible howling of the sky; what battle was ensuing up there? My RV rocked, the rain fell only a little, mostly it was simply hot. I was impressed, it was obvious there was a fierce storm above and I later learned that those damaging winds had attacked other parts of the town. As the camp host had said, even though I practiced in my head getting all the dogs leashed in frantic wind and blistering hail, searching for my shoes, keys and coat. . . .   I practiced running and gripping little Mason tight but the violence of the storm didn’t come down into our cove. Instead I was in a pool of sweat wishing the rain could come inside the van and cool me off, maybe I should open the vent, but I didn’t dare. It was all fortunate, especially as two late campers had arrived with pop-up campers, I did notice they both parked very close to the bathhouse. Spring, this was Spring. A Spring that was wild, terrible and beautiful.

 

We all made it through the night.

T.O. Fuller State Park was the first state park open for African Americans east of the Mississippi River. A Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp in the area initiated construction of the park facilities in 1938. It was designated Shelby County Negro State Park in 1938 and was later changed to T.O. Fuller State Park in 1942 in honor of Dr. Thomas O. Fuller, a prominent African-American educator, pastor, politician, civic leader and author, who spent his life empowering and educating African Americans. Dr. Fuller served as principal of the Howe Institute, a precursor to Lemoyne-Owen College, for 27 years.

The park is a place that protects and showcases unique natural habitat while offering a wide range of outdoor recreational assets – including a new Interpretive Nature and Education Center, hiking trails, playgrounds, an Olympic-size pool and splash pad, ball fields, basketball and tennis courts, and terrific gathering spaces for families, churches, organizations and groups.
……   http://tnstateparks.com/parks/about/t-o-fuller

 

 

Dixon Gallery & Gardens   Memphis, TN
Go see this place in person my photos cannot and do not show what a glorious fantasy it is. Especially loved all the Tulips, the Summer Snowflake, the Redbud trees, Virginia Bluebells and more amid an English Countryside with fountains, statues, alcoves, butterflies and birds, stunning architectures so like a dream.  Regrettably most of the art museum was closed the day I visited and the cafe ran out of primary ingredients for the sandwiches.

 

A Brief Tour of Memphis

Tom Sawyer RV Park on the Mississippi River.  The park is large, this is just a piece of it, I’m parked out there with the big guys.

New Friends! They have a 2001 Great West on the same Dodge 3500 van.  I also spotted another same-vintage Dodge Leisure Travel and a Roadtrek in the campground. A potentially damaging storm is on the way so we are all deciding what to do and which way to go. The storm is predicted to hit Little Rock the hardest. My new friends decided to alter their plans about staying there the next night and instead head a little north.  This campground could become very muddy and mucky as it’s surrounded by the river.  Very much enjoyed the campground, it’s quiet with lots of walking and river vistas, I asked for the most scenic spot they had left and was given a space way out on the spit. I arrived early, before noon without a reservation, they were soon completely filled. I think it was fairly hot.

Memphis Riverfront:  Beautiful views, sculptures,  city and river overviews, great walking with the dogs.

Met another traveler here with a 1997 LTV! Almost twins 🙂

Driving Around… lots to see. Memphis is a huge city with lots of differing districts. Birthplace of the blues, soul and rock n’roll.

Beale Street Entertainment District… so quiet in the early morning!

Yep, Elvis is afoot!

ELVIS LIVES! Tours can be costly with parking an additional $10. Was not thrilled to find no shade or air-conditioned kennels in the paid parking area. I elected not to do the tour mostly as I felt it was too hot and humid to leave the dogs.  It would be probably be fun esp since I was there; however the cheap tour likley not so much, you’d probably want to do the Elvis Entourage VIP + Airplane Tour, but that’s nearly $100; maybe you could do the Elvis Experience Tour for $62 they sure have a slew of choices.  The generator on my rig is not working, but even so the lack of  shade was a deterrent….  there were a few spots with shade but they were filled.  The day was unseasonably hot. Walked all around the outer buildings, gift shops, soda fountains, candy store, etc.

 

Lots of people love this place. Just be prepared with plenty of cash.

I spent 2 nights in Memphis, nowhere near enough time to take in the music and art scene. Wound up crossing all over town taking care of errands, seeing a few museums and taking care of some simple repairs. Second night I spent at the State Park on storm watch! As the humidity and temperature increased so did my worry!

A pretty little lake park. almost no one was here. Hot storm slowly moving in.

 

My spot at Downtown Riverside RV Park, North Little Rock.

While I wasn’t so hot on Hot Springs, I enjoyed Little Rock. Smiles returned to people’s faces. I liked the city, the vibes and energy and badly wanted a egg, turkey sausage, tomato & goat cheese on a ciabatta bun with light pesto and basil garnish at Community Bakery but wouldn’t you know it breakfast was only served until 10:30 and it was after noon already when I wandered into this shop! Once I saw that sandwich on the menu board I couldn’t be satisfied with something sweet so I passed, well they also had a significantly long line and I’d left the dogs in the van. I was being picky, but I was happy. A conservative state but Little Rock being the home of Bill Clinton, maybe a bit progressive. Of course, storms, tornadoes, hurricanes and wind are frequent natural disasters.

The nighttime show, every night as seen from my spot at the RV Park under the bridges.

I’d spent the night under the bridge at the Downtown Riverside RV Park.  I thoroughly intended to walk over the foot bridge with the dogs but instead I took a nap. Is it just me that finds being in a metropolitan area on the water with bridges all around relaxing? I prefer marina type RV camps over any other, save next to a lake a or a river; esp I prefer this to being backed up into dark trees with no view or the dreaded concrete parking slab type place. They only had one available space when I arrived, right on the water and they didn’t want to give it to me. It was a 50 amp only Park; I don’t get pushed around anymore at RV Parks, I wanted to stay there and not at the forestry place she suggested. All I need is one space, if it’s big and meant for a big rig then I have plenty of room to fit in! I bought a 50 to 30 amp converter from the desk, paid cash, but I was prepared to forgo electricity if need be. A big rig pulled in right behind me; nope, I’d nabbed the last spot.

 

And to everyone a good night’s sleep. Was quite windy during the night, the van was rockin…  LOL. 

Starting our morning walk.

Last shot on our morning walk, after this we loaded up and drove across the bridge to explore the city.

 

Arkansas State Capital …   Arkansas agritourism: museums, hands-on activities, and tours promoting the great outdoors and methods of moving to a greener society while emphasizing the resources of The Natural State.  Lots of interesting free things to do listed as well! Hope they keep this up!