General Update

One thing I try to do is take the recommendations I meet from people on the road to heart.  On this trip, that’s worked out in my favor.  There was one restaurant that a hotel recommended where I walked it, looked around, looked at the menu, just said no and got fast food but besides that, the road recommendations have been great.  

Truth or Consequences, NM,  NASA Johnson Space Center, Lockhart BBQ, Wlson’s Creek Battlefield National Monument, 42 Bar & Grill, seriously all the recommendations have been spot on so when I was at the George Washington Carver National Monument & the volunteer behind the desk, pulled out an atlas and started talking about scenic drives between Branson, MO & St. Louis, MO, it was pretty cool.  


Today, I’m in Springfield, MO for another multiple people recommendation, Wonders of Wildlife.  People in Utah, NM, Texas & Arkansas all mentioned this new museum by the owner of Bass Pro Shops to me.  I have no idea except the website. It’s not someplace I’ve heard of, so it’ll be fun.  

I realized at Crystal Bridges that I am museum-ed out!  It's a beautiful museum with an interesting collection but walking through, I didn't care at all.  It felt like I was checking a box rather than enjoying the experience.  Five months living nomadically out of a suitcase is my limit.  I’m so ready to be home, unpack & get things started for whatever the next chapter in my life is going to be (I’ve got ideas).  Of course, this is when a delay happened and my contractor actually asked me to try and stretch the trip out for a few more weeks.  I can’t because I have a commitment in Detroit in June & more importantly, I’m ready to be home.  My brilliant idea to not live in a wintery, construction zone is only partially going to work.  It looks like they will be working around me for the end part of the job.


Not that I mind a 30 day challenge but I kept feeling obligated to write rather than enjoying the process, so I stopped. Cooking challenges and exercise challenges were surprisingly easier than the writing challenge, so I’m going to have to do it again…

Little Rock

Planning my route, the stop after Hot Springs was going to be Little Rock even though the distance is just one hour.  Two things in Little Rock: 1. The actual building for the Clinton Presidential Library looked really cool, so I wanted to see it.  I also wrote my capstone paper about President Clinton’s Chinese foreign policy for my college capstone paper, so there’s extra interest.  2. After enjoying the tasting in Distillery Springs, I wanted to check out Rock Town Distillery.  Because there isn’t a lot of room in the car or in the condo, I like the idea of filling out my “bar” with booze I’ve picked up on the road to start.

When I saw that the special exhibit at the Clinton Library was about the history of protest music in America, I smiled.  The time I went to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was to see their 1960s exhibit, so this was an added bonus.  

The museum itself was great. I probably missed some things, skimming through The Early Years & The White House years but I lived through them & wrote about him. It’s recent history, I’m okay with that.  I did probably read every panel & watch every video in the music exhibit.  I was at the museum just as 2 different field trip classes were there.  Another group was starting as I walked out.  Thinking about how all of the kids I saw walking into this 1990s National Archive Library Museum, none of whom were actually alive during that time was a “this is where I am in my life” moment.  I recognized everything in the “look at how we listened to music in the past” display…The museum talks about the distinct change which happened when Bill Clinton & Al Gore, the first candidates both born after World War II, who used rock music as their campaign theme, changed the energy of the political conversation.  It brought up some “generational questions” for me, but that’s a different blog post…

At the coffee shop this morning, I said I was going to the Clinton Library & she told me about the restaurant.  Then both baristas agreed about eating at the restaurant and I knew where I was having lunch.  42 Bar & Table was delicious. It was 80 degrees & calm winds so I ate on the patio. When the waitress says they usually run out of the special but it’s a little quiet today, that’s a solid recommendation, so I had the pasta.  It was their combination between carbonara & Alfredo & very delicious.

 5/7/18 lunch special at 42 Bar & Table

5/7/18 lunch special at 42 Bar & Table

Rock Town Distillery is around the corner, just past Heifer International’s headquarters, from the library.  I didn’t meet the owner but his son was running the tasting room. They have a much bigger operation than Distillery Springs.  If you drank every shot at the tasting - vodka, gin, bourbon, whiskeys, coffee liqueur & moonshine, hopefully someone else would be driving.  I very consciously sipped my tastes because of this. Don’t ask me specific differences in the brown stuff. I like a good whiskey/bourbon cocktail but don’t drink it straight.  Of the ones Rock Town was selling, I took home “the green one.”  Also, the Watermelon vodka was really good, so friends will figure out something to do with a bottle of that one night as well.

 

Slacking in Hot Springs

Last time I wrote was Thursday.
It’s Sunday.
I genuinely didn’t think about writing all weekend.  Friday was rainy & miserable. The short drive was a pain & then there was that misty, sporadic, light rain that wasn’t bad when you were outside but as soon as you stepped inside felt cold & damp.  When I got back to my room from the day, all I wanted to do was curl up in bed with several layers of clothing, trying to warm up.

Yesterday was a beautiful day.  It was 70s/80s sunshine, spring weather that everyone looks for.  I walked the length of downtown a couple of times, had lunch at The Ohio Club because several people told me about the history & the burger.  The history is great & the burger was tasty. They know how to make a good drink.    

 Superior Bathhouse Brewery - the only brewery INSIDE a national park. 

Superior Bathhouse Brewery - the only brewery INSIDE a national park. 

 The Ohio Club’s Patty Melt & some delicious classic cocktail. 

The Ohio Club’s Patty Melt & some delicious classic cocktail. 

I tried to make an appointment at Quapaw, also based on multiple recommendations, but couldn’t get anything until this afternoon.  Instead, I scheduled a bath at my hotel, which was amazing. It’s not just soaking in a tub.  First you soak in a vintage whirlpool bath. Vintage meaning, the whirlpool part is some motor on a stick suspended above the tub.  This is followed by a sauna. Then they wrap you in towels that have been soaked in the hot mineral waters. Then there’s this weird shower thing to cool off, which was only part working.  Similar to the feeling after the waters in Truth or Consequences, all I wanted to do after getting out of the tub was nothing. This is why I booked the last appointment of the day. I just went upstairs to my room & fell asleep for several hours.  

Downtown/National Park, Hot Springs is a one-street town in the best sense of the word.  It’s not surprising that this is the first healthful town with the therapeutic waters was the first holding of the national park system, even through Yosemite was it’s first park.  This valley that makes you feel better is 100% worth protecting. I almost booked a third night here because the old school porches are a fun hang.

I like Hot Springs, Arkansas.  

 

Caves and BBQ

The one benefit of having this 300 word challenge is keeping up with travel events.  Now, I’m sitting down and feel like I’m behind because there are a few cities to write about.  


San Antonio, Lockhart & Houston were all friend recommendations for road tripping through Texas.  All of these places were East of Austin & south rather than heading towards Detroit. Still with the attitude of “when am I going to do this again,” I went to see them.  Since I haven’t been to Kartchner Cavern, didn’t drive to see Carlsbad & found out that Mammoth is too far out of the way, I wanted to see a cave somewhere on this trip.  Cave without a Name was on the way towards San Antonio, so that was the planned stop.  It was a cold, rainy day, which doesn’t matter when you are 100 feet below ground. It was a cool stop.  I learned there’s another famous cave in Arkansas, so I may stop there as well. 

 The Cave without a Name 

The Cave without a Name 

San Antonio is known for its Riverwalk.  And everyone says The Alamo is overrated.  I was able to find a historic hotel for a decent price, right in the touristy part of town so I stopped in Austin for dinner & took a self-tour around The Alamo first thing in the morning. It’s as underwhelming as you expect.  Maybe if I took a guided tour it’d be more interested but, we all make choiced.

The next day was Lockhart, Schulenberg & sleeping in San Antonio.  Angela kept saying, “Kemah” when I said I was going to Houston for Johnson Space Center, so I booked a Boardwalk room in Kemah instead.  I actually got to see the coast, which I didn’t think would happen on this trip.

 Kemah, TX waterfront 

Kemah, TX waterfront 

Andrew put the fear of g-d in me about going to Lockhart for BBQ.  Lockhart is THE barbecue capital of Texas, hands down. I left early & only had a 90 minute drive.  He also said you need to eat at the four different BBQ places, which I couldn’t do, but I did stop into three. The first one I went into, Black’s had barely opened.  I had a little plate of turkey, beef & pork. I know brisket & ribs are the BBQ staples but for whatever reason, I was itching for smoked turkey. Lockhart is the place to get it.  Black’s was cool because they had a bunch of sides along with amazing BBQ. It was a nice plate.

 Black’s BBQ since 1932

Black’s BBQ since 1932

After that, I stopped at Smitty’s Market.  This was the place where I got one of the single best bites of food I’ve ever eaten in my lift.  Again, I went for some smoked turkey, ordered a pork chop (rather than ribs) and asked about the prime rib.  The pit master said that the piece on the table was the last piece of prime rib they had that day. You tell me in a small town known for BBQ that I’m looking at the last of the day, that’s lunch (or lunch pt. 2) and that prime rib was A M A Z I N G.  No kidding, it genuinely was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my entire life! It was incredible.

 I’m glad I took a photo of that prime rib. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever eaten.

I’m glad I took a photo of that prime rib. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever eaten.

I stopped at Kreuz Market on the way out of town and put some BBQ in my cooler for dinner.  This was where I tried the homemade sausage, tasted their prime rib, one pork rib & more smoked turkey.  Even room temperature a few hours later, with the rest of Smitty’s Prime Rib, that was an amazing, amazing food day!  

I’ll write about Schulenberg & Houston tomorrow.