Find my Little Rock friends anxious about health of an aging mom. Realize anew, how, even when our minds are good, body’s frailties can create a situation where our condition creates a burden for our children.
Drive downtown and park at William J. Clinton Presidential Library. (Can’t help but wonder: if Hilary Clinton serves as our President, will they take a “rib” from this one to create HERS? Is this the genesis of our phrase “taking a ribbing”?).
Its setting, on a long grassy area along the Arkansas River, is downright gorgeous. Curiously, there is a Dale Chihuly glass art exhibit upon display which seems to be a center of attraction.
Close by, a recent addition: William Clark Wetlands Park offers a wonderful use of Arkansas River’s bank. A shaded “gazebo” at “boardwalk’s” end, a string of birdhouses, native foliage offer a quiet sanctuary from Library’s tourist “buzz”.
Brave heat/humidity with my friend, touring a restored Peabody Park (new spray fountains; faux rock-climbing walls; a portion of a miles long walking/biking riverside trail), a new Vogel-Schwartz Sculpture Garden (large and modest; representative and abstract: all nestled among trees/bushes where shifting sunlight reshapes perception).
Dizzy’s, our first lunch choice, is closed, so we settle for al fresco dining at Dugan’s, just down the street from a bus station which introduces transients into Little Rock. (A seemingly unimportant point, until eating is interrupted by commotion: Dugan staff chase down a young, poorly dressed man who steals a tip left on a nearby table. Moments later, a substantively obese woman rolls in her wheelchair, and is soon joined by a young, pony-tailed man whose face is painted white. This is NOT downtown Little Rock of prior visits. In fairness, this additional foot traffic is NOT a freak show, and pedestrian activity enhances revitalization of this district.)
Next day, drive into lovely Hillcrest neighborhood: an amalgam of small shops, sloping streets, and upper-middle-class, tree-shaded homes.
An older set of buildings reflect an occasional glimpse of what might once have been a upward-yearning blue collar district newly converted to tony high-achievers.
Then on to Big Dam Bridge, which, near Murray Dam/Lock, provides a link between south and north banks of Arkansas River. In each direction, from mid-bridge viewing sites, forest and water act as reminders of challenges faced as, a couple hundred years ago, early settlers moved west.
We finish up wandering around and into Arkansas’ Capitol Building: long, wide grassy lawns outside; cool, gray-striated marble within, A Vietnam War Memorial: sculpture of a single, weary, weapons-carrying soldier (wearing flowers and flags, obviously provided by those who don’t forget sacrifices made) stands inside a wall listing names of those who gave their lives. We are surprised discovering a small granite memorial commemorating those who served?/died? in our War of 1812 (Arkansas, was not yet, at that time, a state: thus, who WERE these people?). We finally find a new Firemen’s Memorial (our original objective).
Inside, gold-butter doors, Governor’s Conference Room, and an Old Supreme Court venue claim our attention, From several levels, we join visitors gaping at domed ceiling high above, A series of paintings and sculptures honor prior governors (a youthful, almost Hippie-esque Bill Clinton gazes at us while signing, we wonder, what legislation?). Otherwise, these halls are quite quiet: staff acknowledge visitors, but move quickly and intently about the business of governing.