On To Jackson and Houston

Week of July 18, 1999
After taking several days of hiatus from our Washington D.C. trip, we headed out again late in the week to Jackson, Mississippi. From there, we drove on to Houston, Texas, and stayed at Traders' Village. This is an RV campground located next to a large flea market. The sites were nice with concrete slabs and a wooded area nearby. We used our Good Sam's Discount card. We then headed on up to Smithville, Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Bear Country and Arkansas

Week of July 25, 1999
The following morning, we headed on over to Alma, Arkansas. On the way, near the Ouachita National Forest in Oklahoma, we saw a large male black bear amble across the highway about thirty yards in front of us. He was at least all of 500 pounds. We camped at the KOA Fort Smith Kampground in Alma, Arkansas. The park had a pond where we used the paddleboats. We discovered that Alma is the spinach capital of the world, and has a statue of Popeye in town. It is near Fort Smith, which has a rather wild history.
The next day, we headed over to Petit Jean State Park (take Exit #108 off of I-40 at Morrilton), the first state park in Arkansas. The mountain was named after Petit Jean, a French girl who, over 300 years ago, disguised herself as a boy to accompany her sweetheart sailor to America.The park is one of the most beautiful areas in the state, with large geological formations (including "turtle rocks", Bear Cave, and the Grotto), scenic overlooks, hikes, and Cedar Falls, a 99 foot waterfall. View of Arkansas River from Petit Jean Mountain

   Several building structures used in the park were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the early 1930s. We stopped at the Petit Jean Country Store for refreshments, and got some additional historic tidbits from the owner. After we got back, it was time to take a dip in the pool. The summer heat wave has kept the temperatures in the high 90s.

From Alma, we then headed to Rogers, Arkansas to sightsee the Eureka Springs area. The Beaver Lake Hideaway campground which we stayed at was at the end of miles of long curvy, hilly roads--it was definitely a "hideaway". It had a pool ...and was close to Beaver Lake. The Beaver Lake area includes caves, hiking trails, a water-powered gristmill, and water-related recreation. We really enjoyed the tour of the War Eagle Cavern. The cavern had several early inhabitants, including Indians, Spanish explorers, and even moonshiners. It was noted also that Frank and Jesse James and even Pretty Boy Floyd reportedly used the cavern as a hiding place at one time. Inhabitants today include the Arkansas brown and gray bat, salamander, blind trout, and large crickets (which are blind with long antennae). The James gang used the bat poop for gunpowder since it is very high in nitrogen, and it is still used by the French for cosmetics! The cavern is a living cavern, given that it is fed by an underground spring, its origin unknown. Bill Nolan, the manager, provided us with alot of information on the cave and the gemstones found there. The next day, we explored Eureka Springs and went horseback riding at Red Bud Stables. My horse, Rag, was part Arabian, and seemed most intelligent. He was always trying to get to be the lead horse. During our trail ride, we went through shaded trails and saw several deer and an old springhouse. Next day we took a day trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma and decided to look around town for the old section of Route 66, which is 11th Street in town. We passed several old buildings, with neon signs, many still in business. Dedicated on November 11, 1926, Route 66 originally ran from Chicago to Santa Monica, California. It was the first completely paved transcontinental highway in the country, nicknamed the "Mainstreet of America" and the "Mother Road". We stopped at a Kinkos to check our email. One tip, if you have a laptop you can hookup for free at Kinkos to check email. We decided to dine at the Metro Diner, which looks the same with its 50's-styled neon decor as it always has. The cherry limeaid and fried chicken were most tasty. We'll provide more on Route 66 as we venture further out west.
Next Week: Eureka Springs Again and On Through Kansas

Look for numerous photos from our visits to appear here soon.

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