We flew from Asheville to Little Rock, arriving early enough in the day to have lunch at the historic Capitol Grill and do a little exploring on our own. Our room was overlooking the Arkansas River and had this spectacular view.
After lunch we walked to the Market Square and then through the sculpture garden that decorates the riverside park on the Little Rock side of the river. Here's a postcard photoshoot of another bridge:
During the first full day of the program, we stayed in Little Rock and visited the Clinton Library. Adjacent to the Library is the headquarters for Heifer International and the campus includes their urban farm. This llama seemed to want to have his/her photo taken.
We also visited the historic first capitol building, which is now an eclectic museum of all things Arkansan and not. Coincidently there was a nice display of some of the museum's collection of quilts crafted by black Arkansans. Since the docent was not too knowledgeable about quilt construction, Alice pointed out interesting aspects of the quilts on display. She did a good job!
On the second day, we visited Little Rock Central High School which is a national historic site as well as continuing to be an operating high school. We had an excellent ranger led tour giving us the background of "the Little Rock Nine," the first black students to attempt to desegregate the all white school in 1957 and the explosive political and social aftermath. TV cameras made this local issue an international news item. It was a very moving presentation.
Our travels took us to northwestern Arkansas, with several interesting stops along the way, and we had an evening in Bentonville, home of the original Walmart 5&10 store. The next day we walked through the Compton Gardens to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which was the highlight of this trip for most participants, us included.
The three bears accompanying me was one of the first sculptures we encountered.
Crystal Bridges has an impressive collection, including a Buckminster Fuller dome and a Frank Lloyd Wright house, but the architecture of the space was also amazing. The museum is nestled in a ravine and the galleries are literally bridges spanning the Crystal stream that the Walton children played in as children. Sam Walton's daughter started collecting American art and it seems as though she is the driving force behind the Walton Foundation which operates this facility free to the public.
This photo was taken of the architectural model on display in the lower lobby and was the starting point of our architectural tour.
It gives you an idea of how the structures span the creek and float above it.
Here is a ground level photo of an actual part of the museum.
It was an amazing day. We were literally on the museum property from 10 AM to 9 PM.
We meandered back to Little Rock via the Ozark Craft Center where we had some time in the craft village, were treated to a wonderful evening concert, and spent the night in a very comfortable cabin. After a hearty breakfast, we were entertained by an Ozark storyteller.
We returned to Little Rock and had a tour of the current state house, as well as a docent led tour of preserved historic neighborhoods.
Our final day consisted of a stop at Garvan Woodland Gardens as well as lunch and an afternoon at Hot Springs National Park. Here is a view of bath house row.
The RS program ran from Monday afternoon through Monday morning, a full and busy week. In addition to the things I've highlighted in this blog post, there were many other places that we stopped at or learned about. Our guides were native Arkansans and were very knowledgeable about their home state, it's resources, history, politics and they had good suggestions for restaurants to eat at on the few times we were on our own for meals.
It is a popular RS program, running several times throughout the year, and it has been fine tuned. There is very little I would suggest to change and, as usual, I continue to be a fan of RS travels.
Who knew Arkansas was so interesting???