Little Rock, AR Part I: Clinton Library
It was about a three-hour drive down U. S. Route 65 from Branson to Little Rock. Actually, we stayed a little north of Little Rock right across the Arkansas River from the town of Maumelle at Maumelle Park. Maumelle Park is a Corps of Engineers campground just upstream of the Murray Lock and Dam.
Maumelle Park has 129 RV sites with electric and water hookups. Some of the sites have 50-amp electric, and some sites have a nice view of the river where you can watch the barges that occasionally pass by. The roads and pads are paved, the patios are gravel, and the sites are widely spaced with grass between. The campground was nice and quiet, at least on Loop B where we were, even when it filled up on the weekend. All those nice features coupled with half-price camping provided by our America the Beautiful Pass at this Corps of Engineers campground skyrocketed Maumelle Park to near the top of our list of favorite campgrounds. The photo below shows our site at Maumelle Park.
And the next photo shows the sunrise over the Arkansas River from one of the river view sites across the road from ours.
Last year when we passed through this area, we stopped and met a couple for breakfast who had been following our blog. Marilyn and Alan, who live in the Little Rock area, are interested in full-timing, and we had been corresponding with them by email and answering questions about the mechanics of getting started in the full-time lifestyle.
Since we were staying in the area this time, they offered to show us around town; and they reserved the site next to us at Maumelle Park. It was great to have locals who knew their way around point out interesting things to do and good places to eat. The photo below shows them in their RV Pilot and Co-pilot shirts.
Little Rock is the home of the Clinton Presidential Library. While we don't want to turn our blog in a political direction, those who know us know we aren't big fans of the Clintons. Yet, we realized the library might provide an interesting view of the Clinton presidency and the times that surrounded it, so the four of us headed toward downtown Little Rock one afternoon. The archives of the Clinton Presidential Library are the largest of any of the presidential libraries containing 2 million photographs, 80 million pages of documents (which proves how wordy politicians can be), 21 million email messages, and nearly 80,000 artifacts from the Clinton presidency. The library was opened in 2004.
William Jefferson Clinton was born in 1946 in Hope, AR. After attending Yale Law School, he became a professor at the University of Arkansas. Clinton was defeated when he ran for the House of Representatives in 1974, then he ran unopposed for Arkansas Attorney General in 1976. At age 35, he was elected as the youngest Governor of Arkansas in 1978. Bill Clinton was defeated in his run for re-election as governor in 1980, but was successfully re-elected in 1982 and served as governor until 1992 when he was elected the 42nd President of the United States defeating George H. W. Bush. He served two terms as President defeating Bob Dole in the second election.
The new President got a new limousine when he was inaugurated in 1993 - a Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. The limousine, which it more properly called the Presidential State Car, has a 454 cubic inch (7.4 liter) engine coupled to a GM half-ton pickup truck transmission. The truck transmission was required to handle the extra power from the big engine and the weight of the beefed-up car. The car can carry up to 6 passengers and had state-of-the-art communications.
This is the last presidential limo that will be put on public display. When future vehicles are replaced, the old vehicles will undergo security testing which will likely result in their destruction.
The next photo is taken from the upper floor of the library and gives you an idea of the layout. There are alcoves with information on various phases and accomplishments of the Clinton presidency. On the floor below, the panels form a time-line that highlights the events of Clinton's 8 years as President. The alcoves in front of each panel have corresponding photos, documents, and artifacts.
As you may know, Bill Clinton played the saxophone. Back in high school, he won the state band's first chair in the saxophone section, and in his younger years he briefly considered devoting his life to music. By the time he was 16, however, he realized he wanted to hold public office. The next photo shows a display at the library of several saxophones presented to Bill Clinton over the years.
The museum has a replica of the Cabinet Room. In the photo below, Paul is trying to look presidential in his T-shirt while sitting in the President's chair. Margery is occupying the spot that would belong to the Secretary of State.
One of the features of the library that we liked the most was the replica of the Oval Office as it appeared during the Clinton administration.
On another day, Marilyn and Alan took us to Little Rock Air Force Base, which is the home of the 19th Airlift Wing and the training facility for C-130 transport aircraft. The base isn't open to the public, but Alan was stationed there as an aircraft mechanic during the first part of his Air Force career. As an Air Force retiree, he has a pass for the base, and we went as his guests. Marilyn also worked there until recently in a civilian job.
The photo below is a composite of several of the aircraft they had on display at the base.
The description of the planes (clockwise from the upper left) is as follows:
1. C-130 Hercules troop/cargo transport. The particular plane pictured stands at the front gate of the base and was the last transport plane to leave Viet Nam one day before the fall of Siagon in 1975.
2. B-47 Stratojet strategic bomber
3. C-118 "Packet"
4. B-57 Canberra bomber
The facility was also a Titan Missile base back in the 1960s and 1970s. There is a scale model of a Titan Missile in the background and a nose cone that has been made into a time capsule.
There is also a memorial to two airmen who lost their lives in the recent conflicts in the Middle East.
We got to see the BX, the commissary, some of the base housing, the movie theater and bowling alley, various buildings used as offices and for training, and the flight operations area (from a distance - access to this area is restricted). It was the only time either of us can remember ever being on an active military base, and it was quite interesting. It was like a small city.
On our way back to the campground, Marilyn and Alan suggested we go to Larry's Pizza for an early dinner. Larry's has several locations around Little Rock, and there was one right down the road from Maumelle Park. Larry's has pizzas and sandwiches that you can order from the menu and they have a pizza buffet that is outstanding. If you're interested in the buffet, check the schedule for the individual locations because times and days vary. Their pizzas are very creative. In addition to pizzas with the usual toppings, their pizzas also include chicken fajita, chicken honey mustard, steak Alfredo, chicken Alfredo, baked potato, BLT, meat lover's, and cheeseburger. Their dessert pizzas were up to the same high standards and included chocolate peanut butter, blueberry, peach, chocolate chip cookie dough, cherry, and vanilla. They also have a salad bar.
Our friends Marilyn and Alan had more ideas for interesting things to do around Little Rock, so look for our next post.