Sunday, April 4, 2010

Girls Getaway to Arkansas - Day 1

You heard me talk about Hot Springs, Arkansas as a top travel trend for 2010 in a recent Daytime TV interview. Well, I recently got to experience the state that calls itself “The Natural State.”

I arrived in Little Rock and was greeted at the airport by Zoie. She drove me to downtown Little Rock where we toured the University of Arkansas Clinton School for Public Service (http://www.clintonschool.uasys.edu/) and the William J. Clinton Presidential Library (www.ClintonLibrary.gov). Regardless of how you feel about Bill Clinton, it is interesting to see all of the presidential memorabilia. In the library, visitors can find a replica of the Oval Office and (my favorite) a timeline of historical events that occurred while Clinton was in office.

We left the car at the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and walked along the river to one of the four bridges that connect Little Rock with North Little Rock. As we strolled across the bridge we noticed a submarine along the shores of North Little Rock. Eager to investigate, we arrived just in time for the last tour of the day hosted by Greg Zonner, who was responsible for getting the submarine to North Little Rock. Greg explained that this submarine, the USS Razorback, was one of the longest-serving World War II submarines and was most recently used by the Turkish military prior to its retirement in Arkansas as part of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum (http://www.aimm.museum/). We made our way down the stairs into the sub and walked the entire length of the vessel where we saw the bunks, mess hall, missiles, missile loaders, bathrooms and control room. Razorback conducted five combat patrols during World War II, sinking Japanese vessels, capturing Japanese POWs and rescuing American pilots who had been shot down. At the end of WWII, she was one of only 12 submarines selected to be present in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrender was signed. What a great piece of history parked here in Arkansas!

After all this sightseeing, it was time for a nice dinner with the girls at Lulav Eatery (http://www.lulaveatery.com/) in Downtown Little Rock. I had the Mediterranean Pork - braised medallions of tenderloin topped with cranberry-bourbon dijon crème,served with gnocchi pasta and roasted vegetable medley. I was a member of the clean plate club that night…so good!

After dinner, we drove about 90 minutes to Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (http://www.mountainharborresort.com/) located in Mt Ida and situated on the shores of Lake Ouachita. What impressed me as soon as I arrived was the attention to detail and personal service found at Mountain Harbor. Although we arrived late at night, I was so excited to see my name on the Welcome Sign and a personal greeting by Lodge Manager Pati Brown as she escorted us to our 3-bedroom, lakeside cabin. Mountain Harbor is owned by Bill Barnes and was the vision of his father, Hal. Bill lives and operates Mountain Harbor with his exceptional staff, most have been with him for more than 10 years. At Mountain Harbor, I felt like I joined a special family as I was greeted with some of the most hospitable and genuine people I have ever met.

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