I'm sitting here on a cruddy connection in a Super 8 Motel in Nixa, Mo, about 3 miles outside of Springfield, MO.
After a bad nights sleep last night (combo asthma and excitement - kept thinking I was awake - but have vivid memories of talking to Professor Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series) I left town at 7:15 this morning and headde straight for Highway 71. First stop was to see if Fouke, Arkansas had any kind of photo opps for the Fouke Monster aka the Boggy Creek Monster. There was one little statue thing that I got a picture of much to the amusement of the men hanging out at the local convenience store.
I then continued to drive through Texarkana and didn't stop until I was sidetracked by a car show in some little town south of De Queen. I was trying to get to where the cars were and stepped off the asphalt path onto what I thought was another path. I immediately sank down to my knee in mud and had quite a time extricating myself with only one foot on solid ground and nothing to grab hold of. Luckily no one saw, but I was now covered in mud and decided that my only course of action was to wipe as much of the mud off of my foot and leg and get back in the car. I turned the air so it only blew on my feet and turned in up high. I was fairly dry by the time I got the Mena, Ark and beat most of the mud off my shoe and did another tidy wipe job on my legs. I walked around in Mena for a while, but nothing was open so I got back on the road.
From Mena I just kept heading north and enjoying the beautiful scenery of the lower Ozarks and pondering over strange town names like "Y" City. Next stop was Fort Smith, Ark where I wanted to see Miss Laura's Bordello just because of the name. I got sidetracked, though and found my way to Fort Smith National Monument. Watched a movie about the history of the Fort and its later use as the main Courthouse, jail and gallows for the lawless Indian Territory of the late 19th century. Wandering around the grounds I found another car show (4th of July in Arkansas = car shows apparently) and managed to look at these cars without diving into quicksand.
I then went down the street to Miss Lauras where I was shown around by a nice grandmotherly lady named Mildred who had a good sense of humour about explaining what went on in the house. It's a beautiful house and they've done a good job of restoration. There's not much left of the original interior of the house. It was left vacant for many years after the bordello come boardinghouse (the property description was changed by the Madame when prostitution was outlawed in 1924) shut down and vagrants camped out in the house chopping up the furniture for firewood. Then the house was damaged in 1996 by a tornado and had to be restored yet again. Mildred explained that Miss Laura bought the house in the late 1800s for 3,000 and sold it 9 years later for 47,000 based on the amount of business and girls that came with the house. Miss Mildred sent me on my way with my very on certificate designating me as a clean prostitute per the Arkansas Department of Health. :)
I left Fort Smith and took Arkansas Highway 64 to Alma where I saw the Popeye Fountain there, got a picture and got back on Highway 71 again. The road from Alma to Fayetteville was a little scary. Lots of sharp turns and steep roads up and down in the Ozark mountains, but the scenery was to die for. I saw a car pulled over at an overlook and played monkey see monkey do. It turned out to be the new dam and resorvoir for the region. The people already there said that it had been completed the previous fall and had been expected to fill to capacity in 4-5 years, but the recent deluges that have struck LA, TX, AR, KS and MO had filled the resorvoir to 95% full. Crazy.
Next stop was an adventure undertaken when I saw a sign for the official Walmart Greeting Center in its hometown of Bentonville, AR. I went and found the original Waltons Store where the Center is housed, but it was closed for the 4th. Boo - but I did walk around the square there before hitting the road again.
I had another "oooh look" moment when I kept seeing signs for the Precious Moments Center. Now before I offend anyone who loves Precious Moments I'm going to say I'm sorry now. I find them only slightly less scary than Teletubbies and the My Little Pony show that came to my place of work a few months ago where the Pony's back legs didn't move, but kind of dragged behind the actors as they sang pony songs. (shudder). But PM - I think it's the eyes- they creep me out, so it was more like a trip to a horror shop when I pulled off in Carthage, MO and walked around the park.
Having finished scaring myself I came on into Springfield, MO via Interstate 44 and found a hotel. One odd thing happened though. I was taking the exit to my hotel and spotted a gorgeous rainbow in the sky. When I left the interstate it was perfectly dry, but when I got off the exit ramp the road was sopping wet and it was still raining fairly hard.
One of my friends went insane when I told here I was going to spend the night here and practically made me pinky swear that I'd go to the Bass Pro Shop and eat Chinese food while in Springfield. So I accomplished both of those missions and am now holed up in my hotel room until the morning listening to the fireworks outside my window. Although I have to say that I was quite impressed with the Bass Pro Shop - huge aquariums full of fish, turtles and even live ducks. An art gallery, a fudge shop, a starbucks, a barber shop and a museum (unfortunately closed for the day) were also in there. It was definitely cool.