Was a very enjoyable day except for the few mis-turns all went good. We left McAlester this morning and drove thru a beautiful section of Oklahoma. I know I have been in Oklahoma many times before driving to somewhere but don’t remember visiting much. When I was very young and traveling with my family I remember seeing an Indian ceremony with dancing and music, but not much else. I was rather surprised with the beauty we saw today, the rolling hills of limitless trees and beautiful lakes. The roads were empty and the drive was relaxing. They call this rolling countryside mountains, but my viewpoint is that they are larger hills, but certainly no mountains.
We arrived in Fort Smith. Go to the visitor center first. It is right downtown Fort Smith in a beautiful old restored home, it once was a bordello. We had a lovely lady take us on a tour of the house, and we picked up some additional brochures on the area. There is no charge for the tour, but a donation is always nice. We then toured the old Fort Smith fort and Federal building and saw the gallows that were used by the hanging judge. Remember to take your Senior Pass as this is a National Park, and once you pay for a pass you can enter all National Parks for free (65 and older). Fort Smith is an older town and besides the riverfronts parks, personally there wasn’t much else of interest.
We drove scenic route 71 north which runs parallel with the interstate. Regrettably I was disappointed. We have taken many back roads and most were more scenic than this route. Except for 2 pull offs to view the scenery you were really just looking at people’s yards and houses. There are too many beautiful scenic routes in this country, and if you don’t have time to take this route, my opinion, is that you are not missing much.
We arrived Fayetteville, home of the University of Arkansas – yeah Razorbacks! They had a very nice entertainment district which I’m sure would be hopping in the evening with all the college kids, but during the daytime there was no activity at all. They do have an Air Museum in town, but we didn’t stop, but that could be a good stop that we missed, maybe somebody can tell me about it. Drive carefully in this town, as the young kids don’t!
We headed north for our final destination, Bentonville, AR. Now you ask, what is in Bentonville? Well, any baby boomer is going to know that is where the Walmart story begins. In addition to Fort Smith and Fayetteville, we also stopped in Van Buren and Rogers, both old towns with antique and unique stores, but when we arrived in Bentonville, I liked this town a lot. It seems Walmart has been good to Bentonville. They have beautiful parks, bike and hiking trails, and more restaurants than any town this size should have, which in my book, is wonderful.
If you are in or near this area I have to say that stopping in this town is a definite must. We went to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and it was great. It has nineteenth and twentieth century art. If you like art, it is worth the stop. It is free as it is sponsored by Walmart. The buildings themselves and how they are built is art itself. It was too hot today, but they have many walking paths that none exceed a mile, with art along the way and nicely landscaped. You could easily spend half a day here. It is amazing that a small town this size has such a beautiful museum.
We had dinner at another good restaurant called Colton’s, which is a chain in AR and surrounding states. It is very similar to Logan’s with peanuts on the table and rolls that seem to be exact to what you get at Logan’s. If you see one of these restaurants I don’t think you would be disappointed.
Bentonville has a square downtown and the Walmart Visitor Center is right on the square. The hours it is open is from 6:30AM to 9:00PM, the hours are convenient so don’t miss it. It basically tells the story of Sam Walton and the beginning and growth of Walmart. Some might laugh at this but I thought it was well done and thoroughly enjoyed my time reading the Walmart history. I think I found it interesting as this has happened in my lifetime and I can relate to this story. It’s not history that happened long before I was born, but history in the making during my lifetime.
We then drove by the Walmart Corporate headquarters. It looks like a grouping of buildings that are at least 30 years old, no high rise, no gleaming glass, just an old looking building that basically a multi trillion dollar business is run out of, to say the least I was shocked. With so many of today’s company’s having these unbelievable fancy offices, you probably would also be shocked by the initial viewing of the corporate offices. I haven’t seen a Target or a K-mart; I do believe this is a Walmart town. It’s a very nice small town, so if driving near, take some time to take a look, I think you will enjoy.
Tomorrow we have another full day which will take us to Branson, MO. I will let you know what wonders we will see tomorrow. Until then I’m traveling down the road………