Memphis had been such a great stop that our initial trepidation about heading north rather than directly west now seemed foolish. It's funny how a few great ribs and beers can do that. But really the ulterior motive for that detour north had been to get on a different route heading west all along. I had not been in two states in the US and we were now headed right in the direction of one of them. Arkansas had eluded me mostly out of having the least to offer of all the routes west but if you cross the country enough times and want to see it all, you're bound to take this road at some point.
We played with the idea of making a slight detour to see the state's only National Park, Hot Springs but it didn't sound any more interesting from this close than it had when were were planning the trip months prior. No, this would be a short but sweet swing through the state though we wanted to make some kind of stop. After all, no pride is merely driving through. You have to get out, walk around a bit. Have a drink maybe. So, with Little Rock heading our way and a brewpub right on Main Street our plans seemed to be of divine intervention. At least, that was what I thought. My wife was probably thinking six brewpubs in five days is not really necessary, is it? The sad thing was that she knew I was trying to be good, that I was actually being selective about where we would stop. That I knew it we were on a tight budget. But it still came to this, another brewery in another town. Well, to be honest, this wasn't technically another brewery. It was another Bosco's, same brewery that we had been in the night before in Memphis. She had a tough time arguing though, we had both had a great time there and the beer had been very good. So, why not stop at this one too? We were going to do a walk around town anyway. It was just too convenient.
The sun was setting and the little main street was quaint and bustling. The light was good for taking photos but only briefly. Soon enough we were in the pub for happy hour and it was quite busy. We were not happy to find there were no cask beers in this outlet of Bosco's. We ordered a couple of “ordinary” beers and that was just what they were: ordinary. No one tried to talk to us like the night before and the bartenders were too busy to notice a few out of towners. Sometimes you go to the well too many times and this was one of them. After only one beer, we knew it was time to hit the road. We'd only driven two hours and needed to get a bit further that night to get into position for a few stops the next day. Was there another brewery on the horizon? Sure, that and another 600 miles I reckoned.
The Arkansas River runs through Little Rock, and it wouldn't be right if the city didn't have a park along the river downtown, which it does on both sides of the river. On the downtown side the riverpark begins by the Clinton Library and continues up to the convention center and hotels, and maybe further. However, I was a bit disappointed with the park for several reasons.
The Riverpark for the most part was not really a park but just a Riverwalk because there was nothing to do except walk on the sidewalk or lay in the grass. There was a very small playground and a few historical markers here and there, but nothing more. The grassy areas were not flat or very large, so it might be hard to try to play ball or something of that sort.
The biggest surprise was that walking in the park on a beautiful Saturday afternoon it was nearly deserted, to the point where it almost didn't seem safe. There was trash and graffiti along some of the concrete walls down by the water. Lastly, there were a few benches here and there, but no picnic tables or anything else. I guess the reason nobody goes there is because there is nothing to do and once you see it once, you dont care to again.
The picture shows a small part of the riverpark from the north side of the river. The big blue tent is where the ampitheatre is located, but the public restrooms beside it were all locked!
Favorite thing: Another institution which brings Arkansans much pride is our renowned university system. This one, the Little Rock campus of the University of Arkansas is home to one of the foremost English as a second language programs in the nation. Because Children's Hospital and the U of A Medical Science center attracts the best of minds from all over the world, we have seen the need to serve the non-English community. This has also spilled over into the public school system, with Central High serving as the Foreign Language Magnet school and Hall High equipping the non-English speakers of our city. Feeder schools for Central are Dunbar Middle School and Gibbs International Magnet.
Favorite thing: Take note of Arkansas Children's Hospital - Something we are all proud of. This is a private, non-profit institution and the only pediatric medical center in the state. It is one of the ten largest in the nation and attracts medical personnal from the world over. Care is offered to every child, within Arkansas and without, regardless of a family's ability to pay. This hospital has a medical staff of 408 and partners with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, another leader in the field of health care. For over 80 years, Arkansas Children's Hospital has opened its doors every day to every child. It boasts a long list of 'firsts and onlys' a couple of which are: the first to offer llizarou bone lengthening procedure in the U.S. and home to 1 of only 2 pediatric nutrition centers in the U.S. Two Angle Flight Helicopters run 24 hours a day bringing critically ill children here for aid.
Fondest memory: Little Rock is my home and while I am away I miss it so. It's pretty strange right now, because even my parents don't live in my house! One day, I'm going to get a picture of a good sunrise coming up over the Arkansas river from the I-430 bridge and put it at the top of this page because I think that would just be great. Until then...
The Brewer Mansion
A stunning example of over-the-top Arkansas Noveau Riche Top-of-the-Internet-Boom architectural treasure! You must see this if you are anywhere near Fayetteville. There were rumors it might be converted into a Playboy Mansion style funhouse, according to the Yahoo message boards on Edgwater Technologies, a comapny associated with the Brewer Mansions 'proprietor'. As featured in Arkansas Living recently!
Go to the River Market. It is a great area and growing all the time.
Fondest memory: The thing I miss the most about LR when I am gone is the variety of the terrain and landscape. Hillcrest and the Heights are both great neighborhoods - especially when the azaleas are in bloom. Oak Forest (near UALR) and Hillcrest are beautiful in the Fall.
Favorite thing: A view of barges traveling up the Arkansas river. The view is from my apartment in downtown Little Rock.
Favorite thing: I recommend the Whole Hog Cafe at 2516 Cantrell Road for Barbeque at it's very best. The owner is Mike Davis. You can phone for directions 501-664-5025.