River Walk, downtown San Antonio, Sunday, February 25, 2018

River Walk, downtown San Antonio, Sunday, February 25, 2018
River Walk, downtown San Antonio, Sunday, February 25, 2018

Monday, November 3, 2014

Our Rig was Spared by Inches - Tues., Oct. 28

Let me paint the picture for you...

Heading south from Branson, Missouri into Arkansas there are A LOT of hills. Some of those hills have passing lanes because much of the route is a two lane, winding road. On one of those passing lanes in Arkansas we were in the slow lane and people were zooming around us. As you know, passing lanes give plenty of warning when the lane is about to end. A couple more cars zoomed by us as the lane was ending. There was zero shoulder, just a 15-20' drop down to some trees and pasture. The passing lane was gone and the two lanes had almost finished merging to one.

Bob was still as far to the right as he could be. He totally stressed because an 18-wheeler was STARTING to pass. The driver did not back off. He came so close to us on the left side, I was sure he was going to hit us and we would roll off the edge of the hill. Another car was coming from the front. The oncoming driver must have stopped. I couldn't see because the truck was in the way. Somehow the truck missed hitting us and the oncoming car.

That driver endangered three vehicles plus all the people in them. Here is a photo of his truck and him.

Heartland Express truck

Here is scenery from our drive south:
Farm land
Sorry the next two photos are blurry, but the camera couldn't overcome the motion of the truck. These are the hills I'm talking about.

Arkansas - No grade percentage was listed
Going up!
When we arrived in Little Rock, we made our way on narrow, bumpy (but paved) roads to Maumelle Campground (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) on the Arkansas River. Our site backed up to the river so we had a gorgeous view out our rear window.

View out our back window - Arkansas River
View out our dining room window - marina
Our site - # 14
Once we were settled, since it was early and rainy, we decided to do the interior tour of the state Capitol. It was about a 20-minute drive into downtown Little Rock.

Information for the next few paragraphs was gleaned from "Through These Doors: A Self-Guided Tour of the Arkansas State Capitol."

The Arkansas State Capitol is the second capital. The first, now called the Old State House, was not large enough and fell into disrepair raining chunks of plaster onto the Senate floor. Yikes!

In 1899, the state's legislators voted to build a new State Capitol. They found the perfect spot about a mile up the Arkansas River from the Old State House -- a plot already occupied by the state penitentiary. They used 200 convicts to level the prison and build a new Capitol in its place. (The irony of this does not escape me.)

The first architect, George Mann, oversaw the project until 1909. Delays included cost overruns, budget shortfalls, and even charges of bribery. (Where's that penitentiary when you need it?) The state replaced Mann with renowned architect Cass Gilbert who was noted for his designs of the Minnesota State Capitol and the United States Supreme Court building.

Gilbert quickly had substandard materials removed and revised the interior design. Features that were intended to meet a low budget were upgraded. Marble for the floors and wall panels came from Vermont, and the grand staircases were carved of Alabama stone. Elegant fluted columns were quarried in Colorado. Hard, lustrous Batesville, Arkansas limestone formed the exterior walls while softer Indiana limestone was used for the dome.

In 1915, the construction was officially declared complete. The final cost of the project topped $2.2 million, surpassing the initial budget of $1 million.

Today, the neo-classical Arkansas State Capitol looks a lot like it did in 1915. The distance from ground level to the top of the dome's cupola is 213 feet. It is topped by a copper ball finial covered in gold leaf. I didn't get a lot of photos of the exterior because it was raining.

In comparison to the other State Capitols we've visited, this one was, sorry to say, plain Jane, sterile, white-on-white, institutional, cavernous, and very little art. The arches have their own beauty. Here it is.

Their state seal is backlit and is gorgeous
I will have to describe the following photo...We are looking up into the dome. The four half circles are archways of the fourth floor. The "pearls" in the middle are the chandelier.

The chandelier is suspended from the ceiling by a 73-foot chain. The rotunda chandelier weighs more than 4,000 pounds and is approximately 12 feet in diameter and 18 feet in height. This light fixture, along with several others in the Capitol, was designed for the Capitol by the Mitchell-Vance Company of New York. This grand, intricate chandelier is assembled using thousands of brass, copper, zinc, iron and glass parts.

Looking up at the fourth floor arches and dome
Dome and chandelier
Stairs to second floor
Lovely fireplace in Governor's Reception Room
Stained glass window in a door, Governor's Reception Room
"Governor Bob" hard at work
You can see how small Bob looks in the Rotunda
"The six, ten-foot-tall bronze doors located on the eastern side of the rotunda were purchased from Tiffany's of New York in 1910 for $10,000. Today, those same doors are valued at $250,000. In order to keep the uncoated bronze surfaces shining as the architect envisioned, the doors are polished by hand, inside and out, each week.

"The bronze doors served as the main public entrance for much of the Capitol's first century. However, since 2011, visitors have entered via the ground-level tunnel doors through security stations operated by the State Capitol Police."

From "Through These Doors: A Self-Guided Tour of the Arkansas State Capitol

I can report the doors are awesome. They look like they're made of gold.

Tiffany's bronze doors
And just who might this young fellow be in the portrait below? It is a very young Governor William Jefferson Clinton.
Governor William Jefferson Clinton
Grand staircase leading to the House
Bob waiting to go in the House
Vaulted skylight over cavernous hall of arches
The lunette below is called "Religion." The four murals (lunettes) at the ends of the vaulted skylights are the only public artworks commissioned for the building. These murals came from the studio of Paul Martin Heerwagen, a Bavarian-born artist and interior decorator from Fayetteville, Arkansas. His commission for the work was $10,000. Completed in October 1914, the painted canvases were originally glued directly to the plaster walls below the skylights. The murals were restored in 2000.

"Religion" lunette
As we were taking photos and goofing around, a very nice gentleman came up the stairs and asked if we'd like to see the House chambers. "Why, yes! How nice of you."

He went to get the keys and let us in.

What first impressed us upon walking into the House Chamber was the stained glass skylight and drapes. The drapes were installed to reduce glare and dampen the chamber's lively acoustics. Glasswork and fittings of the outer dome were restored in 2012, and the interior dome and ceiling underwent restoration in summer 2014.

Beautiful stained glass skylight
I didn't think much of the chandelier until I read about it later in the self-guided tour pamphlet. The 2,000-pound, Mitchell-Vance chandelier is original to the room.

House Chamber seating
The gentleman who let us in to see the House Chamber waited patiently while we snooped around. We thought maybe the upstairs Gallery would be open, but he didn't think so. We checked when we reached the fourth floor and it was ajar, so we let ourselves in. We had a good view of the whole House Chamber.

House Chamber from the Gallery.
We also were able to see the scagliola up close. The columns and pilasters are finished in scagliola, a technique which uses a mix of gypsum plaster, glue, pigments and marble dust applied over a base surface to simulate the look of marble. The columns' capitals are gilded. (Gild = to coat with gold, gold leaf or a gold-colored substance.)

Gilded capital and scagliola on column
House Chamber, columns, chandelier and stained glass ceiling
Many, many arches
"War" lunette
Looking toward House Chamber
I'm amazed at all the places Pearl Harbor turns up. A beautiful memorial Pearl Harbor Memorial is on the third floor along with a history of Arkansas.

Pearl Harbor Memorial
The State Senate chamber
Looking up toward the Rotunda dome
Old Supreme Court Chamber
 It was a rainy day so we didn't linger outside. I took two photos.

Back side of the Capitol
Detailed porthole window
Finished with our exploration of the Capitol, we found our way back to Maumelle Campground, but decided not to go back just yet. Two miles beyond our campground is Pinnacle Mountain State Park so we continued on the road to the state park. It was sprinkling and the light was fading; however, when we arrived at the visitor center, a scenic lookout trail hooked us into a short hike.

Pinnacle Mountain State Park, Rocky Valley Trail
Old quarry highlighted by fall colors

Me in front of lake at old rock quarry
Scenic viewpoint (Bob makes good scenery!)
Oriental scene
1,011' Pinnacle Mountain
After our quick exploration, we went back to our campsite to relax for the rest of the evening. As usual, I worked on photos and wrote a blog. Bob pored over the Arkansas River Trail brochure to plan his long run for tomorrow morning. 

The Arkansas River Trail is a 16-mile loop between the Big Dam Bridge (yes, that's really its name!) and the downtowns of Little Rock and North Little Rock. Bob is stoked to run the whole thing.

All for tonight. Travel Bug out.


  1. susan you have pictures of his truck, his face and numbers on the truck. I think I would have at least reported him to the company on the truck....

    1. I really should. That was uncalled for, he could have waited.

  2. Whew Glad you're safe & sound! People drive so aggressively these days. I think I'd report that trucker to his employer if it were me.

  3. Very "heart in mouth" with truck driver behaving badly. The tour was amazing with great photos and a bonus as well with entrance to other chambers...Thank you for another tour of the landmarks of your country...

    1. Thank you. We certainly have seen a lot of our country on this trip. Almost 7,000 miles!

      I plan to report the driver to his company.

  4. Reading the events with the semi made my blood boil. Some trucks have a sign on them asking "How is my driving?" I would call for sure! He took your lives in his irresponsible hands. I enjoyed the story of the building of the Capitol. It makes perfect bureaucratic sense!

    1. As I was sitting there in the passenger seat looking down the steep slope, my blood was boiling. I still don't understand how he didn't hit us. I'm just glad he didn't.

      All of my commenters are right. I must contact the company.

  5. We had the best time in Little Rock. We stayed at Maumelle Campground also. What a gorgeous park! Hiked Pinnacle Mountain too. Great minds think alike!

  6. Everyone raves about that campground but this is the first mention I've seen of someone going to Pinnacle Mountain which is also on our list. What a gorgeous capitol, so light and bright.

  7. Oh my gosh how scary! I'm so with the others. I'd call and report as well. That's just ridiculous! Glad everyone ended up okay. Whew!

  8. Just back from traveling this week and trying to catch up on blog reading. Hope by now you have reported the truck driver. Most of them are conscientious and one like this unfairly gives them all a bad name. Looks like a great campground. I stayed at the Passport America park on the river right in town. Great river scenery and so very convenient to everything downtown. Sites closer together of course but can't beat the convenience and it was very quiet.


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