With Big Bertha loaded up we were ready to escape Florida and plan a route to Arizona to visit friends and family. We started in New Orleans, but it was not quite it’s usual raucous self. COVID had many businesses closed and crazy visitors at home. We found some live music
and we also found our first COVID vaccination.
We discovered Harvest Hosts, a great way to camp in our near big cities.
This is the Falbourg Brewery in New Orleans
Next stop was the famous Angola prison.
This is the home of Gruesome Gertie, the electric chair. I had never seen one in person!
Our route was undecided, and we had plenty of time. So we decided to head into Arkansas. We did not explore when we cruised around the USA in the Volkswagon van.
Arkansas turned out to be both interesting and beautiful. Mike really enjoyed a stop at the National Wrestling Hall Of Fame. (he wrestled in high school and college)
and then he found an acquaintance of his in the museum!
Then Big Bertha decided we needed to spend a night at a shop. New brakes and rotors were needed.
But these traveling dogs were accustomed to such adventures, and seemed to enjoy their time there.
We also camped in the Ozarks. This was much more our style than the campgrounds and parking lots we had been using. But getting Big Bertha off road was challenging. But it was still comfy for camping.
We did tour Hot Springs National Park, but did not take any photos. Honestly we found it to be touristy, crowded and frustrating. I think the time out of the USA taught us a slower way of life, and we were beginning to feel the adjustments to America again.
We really, really enjoyed Bentonville, Arkansas. This small town is home to the first Walmart. There we learned about Sam Walton and his business plans. And saw his beautiful Ford truck.
We stealth camped in the downtown, public parking lot, until the landscape crew showed up in the morning and kicked us out.
Bentonville also has numerous art installations, around town and in a beautiful art park. This giant paper airplane was interesting.
The art park had a wide variety of artistic items.
And dogs were allowed to walk the trails and examine the art!
One of the most impressive items was James Turrell’s Skyspace. This is a large, round, room with a hole in the roof. With the use of timing and lighting, the sky peeping through the hole was transformed over a period of one hour. All of these photos were taken during the sunset hour, with no changes but the sky and the lighting inside.
It was a beautiful experience. If you have an opportunity to visit one of James Turrell’s art installations (there are many across the USA) please find the time to see it. Ideally at sunset.
After Bentonville we met up with a family friend from many years ago. Although my parents have both passed away, it was very special to spend some time on a river bank in Arkansas talking to one of their pals and remembering the past. Nearby was a Civilian Conservation Corp camp which we wandered with the dogs.
It was a great reminder of the powerful history of the USA. Just what we needed at the moment.
Then we crossed into another state that we had not previously explored, Oklahoma. There we explored another piece of Americana, The Banjo Museum.
Then we stumbled upon the bone museum.
The Museum of Osteology is an educational and interesting collection of skeletons and bones.
We were all settling comfortably in to life on the road again. And Big Bertha was a very comfy way to experience it.
We have a lot more fun to explore. Keep following our blog as we share more updates on our time back in the USA!