This is a small town story. There's a motel, a Dairy Queen, coffee shop, yoga studio, grocery, lots of rolling hills.... and not much else. I arrived into Harrison, Arkansas midday Nov 1 on a Jefferson Lines bus. The official bus stop in town was, of course, a gas station which I now almost expect:
The bus ride north from Little Rock was fascinating. The bus was pretty full and the mood was decidedly upbeat. I hadn't been on a bus with so many excited people since fieldtrips in grade school. And never seen such joy in so many adults at once. With some keen listening I figured out why.
Most of my fellow riders were just out of jail. I should have guessed from the awkward fitting clothes, slipper shoes and telltale brown envelopes and paper bags holding possessions (while I've never been to jail, recently I took a train out of Jefferson City, MO with 5 guys just out of prison).
The constant conversations my fellow passengers kept having with each other between seats and across the aisle were heartwarming. I really wanted to root for them to succeed. The living situations they spoke of heading back into though gave for pause. For some it was a significant other that was the worry. One younger man worried about avoiding walking by his go to drug buying spots. And there was a young girl who worried just about having a steady place to sleep. Here's audio of me rattling off the details of what I heard right after I hopped off the bus:
Prior to my arrival, word of mouth on Harrison, AR wasn't the best. It's probably down to this guy coupled with the overriding whiteness of the area. It wasn't a place I had initially planned to stop, but on every trip I leave room for bending to local recommendations. A great couple I met in Springfield, MO on my trek down to Arkansas were from Harrison. We were fast friends and I liked what they had to say about their hometown.
The first place they spoke of was Tallgrass Prairie Market. Pardon the out of sequence sunny weather photo:
After a very warm welcome at Tallgrass, I plotted where I would be staying. I was very much at that giddy, content but tired phase common at the tail end of traveling for me. The Family Budget Inn was just up the road and the price was right. Done.
There was an interesting surprise as I approached the motel to check in. A vintage Ozark area roadside attraction right on the property:
After checking in and taking a nap I took a walk towards the main town:
I hadn't counted on there being a yoga in Harrison, but sure enough there was a studio:
Hot yoga in a dark room. Very pleasant people many of whom said they had seen me on my way in. My way back uphill in the dark to my motel was creeping me out a little bit, but it ended up great. I stopped at the grocery along the way and found a handle of chocolate milk to help me recover from the heated yoga class. I drank the entire quart of chocolate milk. It was a quiet and moonlit evening with the sweet smell of damp fallen leaves in the air. Some well placed streetlights reassured me on the last lonesome stretch:
Movie night back in my room:
The next day was my 40th birthday. I stepped out into magical warm weather:
It was a simple cereal, toast and coffee breakfast set up in the motel lobby. The serenity in the quiet sunlit 1960's era structure more than made up for the lack of quality calories to the food.
Damn was it nice out. Hit 80 degrees by the end of the day.
I looped past the Dairy Queen and got into some beautiful scenery:
Took the back way down into town strolling slowly. I had already hit my 100 mile walking goal so my pace was deliberate. Stopping often to take pictures and reply to happy birthday texts. I got down by the historic town square for lunch:
I found a nice bottle of beer to drink back at the motel and headed back. Liquor is sold strictly at stand alone stores in Arkansas so it took a slight amount of searching. I treated myself to a DQ blizzard on a park bench atop the park hill at sunset. Even snuck in some yoga before dark at the abandoned mini-golf:
Another great movie night ensued:
I had scored myself a steal of a dinner to enjoy while watching the Stallone classic. I picked up a past sell-by date Pepperidge Farms gift box for $2.99 earlier in the day:
The final morning in Harrison was foggy and overcast. I had a few hours before the bus back to Missouri was due in.
I spent my time back at the friendly confines of Tallgrass one last time. I tend to need strong coffee on these trips so I sipped on a double red eye. Then down to the Kum & Go to get picked up:
And that was it for Arkansas. I'd had a great 12 day adventure around The Natural State.