Back to Little Rock, AR
We left Branson and retraced our route back to Maumelle Park north of Little Rock where we stayed a week earlier on our way north. We really like Maumelle Park with its long, paved, extra-wide sites. We also like the fact that although there are trees, there are still a lot of open sites where we can get satellite reception, and we like that many of the sites overlook the Arkansas River. Paying half price at this Corps of Engineers campground with our America the Beautiful Senior Pass helps, too. The photo below shows our site this time in Maumelle Park, which was next to the one we had on our way north.
The other good thing about Maumelle Park is it is quiet with no traffic noise and are no trains. There were only a few riverboats pushing barges up and down the river accompanied by some bass boats on the river on the weekend.
On our way north, we didn't make reservations because we were only staying one night and it was the middle of the week. We were surprised to find the campground almost full because the local schools were apparently on spring break. On our way south, we made reservations because we were staying five days over Easter weekend. We learned that a lot of people in the south camp over Easter and Thanksgiving weekends, so we thought it would be wise to make reservations. Although it was the middle of the week again when we arrived, we were surprised the campground was only about a third full this time. The next photo shows a view looking down the road from our site.
Eventually, the two loops along the river got pretty much filled up, but a lot of people didn't arrive until Friday evening and even Saturday. We thought more people would arrive on Thursday because they would be off work and out of school on Friday.
One of the things we wanted to do during this stop in Little Rock was to go to the Mean Pig BBQ located a little northeast of Little Rock in Cabot, AR. Our friends Marilyn and Alan introduced us to the Mean Pig when we met up with them last fall in Maumelle Park. They brought a wide variety of Mean Pig menu items to share with us at the campground.
We arrived at the Mean Pig in mid afternoon, and there were several pickups parked out front. Pickup trucks parked at a barbecue joint are usually a sign of good barbecue.
We both had a half rack of pork ribs. The ribs are smoked with dry rub, and more mild or hot dry rub is added when the ribs are served. Mild, hot and sweet barbecue sauces are available. The ribs are very smokey, meaty and tender. We both had the sweet sauce, which was delish. We also had sides of slaw (traditional with barbecue) and smoked beans, which are excellent.
Paul again toasts Marilyn and Alan (this time with a pork rib) for introducing us to the Mean Pig.
In addition to mild, hot and sweet sauce, the Mean Pig also has Shut Up Juice, which is a sauce so hot they require you to sign a waiver to even order it. The waiver is probably mostly for publicity, but it also serves as a warning as to just hot the sauce is. The Mean Pig was featured on the Travel Channel program Man v. Food where the host, Adam Richman, had to down a chopped pork sandwich smothered in Shut Up Juice within a certain amount of time. He won the challenge, but not without a lot of sweat and tears! Our friend Marilyn was at the Mean Pig picking up the take-order for us when the episode was filmed last fall.
We liked the ribs so much we picked up a pound of chopped pork to take back to the motor home for a future dinner. The next photo shows Paul placing the order.
Some of the famous people that have enjoyed barbecue at the Mean Pig include Billy Bob Thornton, the entire band Aerosmith, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, current Arkansas governor Mike Beebe, the band Chicago and the cast and crew of Cirque de Soleil.
We finally got the warmer weather we have been seeking. Temperatures in the Little Rock area have been in the mid to upper 70s to low 80s, and we are finally back into our shorts. Of course, we also heard much of the eastern half of the country warmed up,too. We had one evening of rain that went on into the night; but the next morning, there were just a few fluffy clouds left, and they made for a beautiful sunrise over the Arkansas River.
Spring was a good bit farther along in Little Rock than it was at our last stop in Branson, and that's one reason we headed back south. The leaves on the trees in Little Rock were fairly big; but they were still not full, and they were a tender green color. The redbuds were absolutely gorgeous, especially in contrast to the bright green of the new leaves on the surrounding trees.
We had several days to relax and enjoy spring. In addition to eating out at the Mean Pig, we also went back to Larry's Pizza where we ate about a week ago on our way north. Larry's is right down the road from Maumelle Park, and they have a delicious buffet five days a week for lunch and Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday for dinner.
We worshiped on Easter morning at The Bible Church of Little Rock, which was a short distance from the campground. The service was a little more traditional than we're used to, but it was very meaningful for a holiday like Easter. The worship music included an organ, a grand piano, a 50-member choir and a 25-piece orchestra.
We were struck at how well-behaved the children were during the 1 1/2 hour service. They provided not one distraction (did they have no Easter candy?).
Like most churches these days, there was a lot of enthusiastic fellowship and chatting before the service. We liked the immediate response of the congregation to become quiet so the fellowship didn't compete with the musical prelude. In some churches, the visiting continues through the prelude making for quite a bit of confusion that is not very conducive to preparing for worship. Also, we don't know the last time we were in a service where the congregation joined in the singing as enthusiastically as the choir. We did miss the friendliness that is present at a church that is more intentional in inviting and welcoming guests; but all in all, it was a great Easter service. We are grateful for the opportunity to worship with other believers as we travel across the country.
Instead of ham for Easter dinner, we had our pork barbecue we brought back to the motor home from the Mean Pig. The chopped pork was very smokey like the ribs, and it was still moist even after a couple of days in the fridge. Margery liked the sweet barbecue sauce, while Paul liked the mild sauce because it was a little tart, which he thought contrasted nicely with the crispy sweetness of the cole slaw Margery made to go with it.
In the morning, we left Maumelle Park and headed even farther south. We'll tell you all about our next destination in our next post.