|Scenic Byway 7 is just that, scenic. We meandered through small towns with very little in population but certainly lots of beauty as we passed each overlook. Lots of dense greenery abounded with a big skyline as we looked down in the valleys of Arkansas from the high plateaus.
We made a stop in Petit Jean State Park and took a 5.5 mile hike to the picturesque Cedar Falls. The trail was not crowded meandered along the river and ended at the falls. The park is a decent size with some nice stone camping cabins; quite decadent considering that they are offered by the State Park Service.
Our second day was spent at Mount Magazine, the highest mountain in all of Arkansas. It stands at 2700 ft. and is a plateau. Views of Arkansas and the Petit Jean River below were worth the drive.
On our way back to the campground, Ivy Cove in Russellville (did I mention the owner used to play guitar for Trace Adkins?) we stopped by the Subiaco Monastery. We took a self guided tour of this monastery, founded about 1890 intended to minister to the German-Catholic immigrants in Arkansas. It is now home to 40+ Benedictine Monks, a catholic prep school for boys, a stadium, gardens, farm and outdoor worship area. At one time they were fully self supporting with cows, chickens, etc. but because they house students the state insisted that they provide commercially produced food. Today their farming has subsided and is only utilized by the monks. Before departing we stopped by the gift shop to somehow support their efforts. We departed with some green and red hot sauce. As it turns out, one of the monks while traveling in South America picked up some seeds for a variety of habanero chili. He claimed it is the hottest variety ever. Since Mike pours the stuff on just about everything, excluding oatmeal, this seemed like a win-win. These monks are blessed to live in such a beautiful place where they live in the country and do God’s work. I will add Mike agrees with the monks and I will vouch for the fact that this is the only hot sauce that has ever caused him to non-liberally add to his plate!
Little Rock was so much fun! We stayed at an RV park just across from downtown Little Rock but a huge bridge connects to the other side. Downtown is full of shops, eateries, museums, the President Clinton Library and Heifer International. The day we visited the Clinton Library it poured but we enjoyed the library, gift shop down the street and the famous Flying Fish restaurant nonetheless. This is where Mike enjoyed his first plate of authentic mud bugs, crawfish or whatever you want to call them. His smile was ear to ear and he enjoyed every bite of it of that spicy goodness….so much so we ate there more than once.
Another day was a walking downtown tour through many historic buildings, where Clinton announced his candidacy, museums and the park just outside the presidential library. This day was Earth Day and the weather was beautiful. We enjoyed some of the festivities there such as the kids marching band, chatting with a few locals and taking a tour of Heifer International, one of my favorite philanthropic organizations. There headquarters are beautiful and green. I’m talking environmentally green and what a nice job they have done. There work is done around the world in developing countries and they provide a hand up, not a hand out.
The last day here we enjoyed a 17 mile bike ride to the “Big Dam” bridge. The trail runs along the river to the dam and back down the other side. Most of the trail was good but they still have a bit of work to do to make it a biker only path but a nice respite in the midst of the city. Little Rock was a great stop.