Little Rock

Woke up early to hike Pinnacle Mountain, which is just outside of town.  They could easily call it “pile of rocks” mountain, because once you’re up above treeline — which happens surprisingly quickly — it’s like someone tossed endless handfuls of small boulders down the mountainside.  On the scrambling route I took up, I kept wondering “where is the CCC with their horrible rock stairs when I need them?”

Met friendly people (that’s a theme in Arkansas) making coffee at the top.  Views were stunning; you could see down the valley into Little Rock, over to a giant lake, and across the Arkansas River.  The only drawbacks were that it was both cloud and darned cold.

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Walked down the easier trail, where I found all of the rock staircases my little heart could’ve hoped for.

After saying farewell to my B&B, I drove to Little Rock Central High School, the site where the Little Rock Nine famously integrated the institution in 1957.  It’s an imposing edifice — hard to imagine nine high school kids having to walk up those stairs and into the front doors with armed guards at their sides.

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Spent some time reading history and listening to stories at the Central High National Historic Site Visitors Center.  It was hard — I was just shattered at thinking of all that those 9 young people went through.

After lunch, I drove downtown and walked over the wide, muddy-looking Arkansas River on an old railroad bridge.

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Then I went to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, which sits just next to the bridge.

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Once inside, I was almost immediately overwhelmed by the boosterism.  The museum (there’s really not much of a library) would have think that Clinton never did anything wrong, ever, in any way.  In fact, if you didn’t know better, you would leave thinking that Clinton had single-handedly saved the environment, given a personal computer to every household, and solved all of the problems in the Balkan States.  Oh, and it mentions that he was impeached, but it barely says why …

Best part of the museum were (1) an exact replica of the Oval Office as it was when Clinton was in office and (2) binders that held selections of Clinton’s daily schedules for several years.  He was programmed down to 10-minute intervals!

Walked very briefly to River Market, Little Rock’s attempt at a riverside set of shops and restaurants.  But it’s a couple hundred yards inland from the river, so it’s not all that cool, though I was interested in the architecture of some of the old buildings.  And it was warm out, which was lovely.

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