21/3/17. (That’s pronounced “hawgs” by the way.)
We knew nothing about Arkansas other than that Bill Clinton was born there and was governor before he became president. However, it was off to a good start and the Lonely Planet Guide waxes lyrical about many parts of the Natural State.
In the morning we started descending from Rich Mountain and Queen Wilhelmina SP, passing through heavily wooded countryside with just a few small towns and villages. It was all rather lovely, if not quite as breathtaking as the previous afternoon.
After a while we reached Hot Springs which claimed to be the hometown of Bill Clinton. It is also a spa town which was infamous for the gangsters who visited in its heyday in the 1920’s, including Al Capone. Only one of the row of bathhouses still performs its original function but they are all well maintained and an obvious draw for the tourists. We had a very pleasant couple of hours wandering around and lunching in a pancake shop.
Then we headed off towards the state capital of Little Rock where we checked into a motel (no campsites in the area that we could find). After a FaceTime conversation with The Two Doctors (our oldest and his girlfriend) we hit downtown Little Rock.
Our first stop was the Capitol which, we were to be told, was modeled on the Washington Capitol and has been used in several movies. We entered passing through a body scanner similar to those at airports and saw people milling about deep in conversation. It was immediately apparent that this was a “working building” so we asked one of the policeman standing by the entrance if the public were allowed to enter. “Sure thing” he said so in we went.
It was a very imposing building but, even more impressive was how we could wander anywhere in the corridors and landings. Obviously the offices were “out of bounds” but the doors to the governor’s office were wide open and, as we gawped in, a man came up to us to engage in conversation.
“Hi. I’m Larry. Where’re y’all from?”
“Is that England, Arkansas? Or England, England?” (Next day we saw signs to the town of England!)
We then headed towards the Senate and, when we dithered outside the doors, one of the security men told us to go in. It was not in session but they were obviously on a tea break or similar as there were laptops, etc on many of the desks.
Next up was the House of Representatives. This was in session so we could not enter but one of the twenty or so people hanging around outside (lobbyists? journalists?) suggested we went up to the visitors’ gallery.
It was presumably a day of humdrum business because we watched two bills being passed with almost no debate. However, then came a one line bill relating to the killing of trapped feral “hawgs” (hence the title of this post) which was a little more contentious.
It was fascinating! It included the immortal question “What is the difference between a domestic hog and a feral hog?” and the inevitable answer “One is a domestic hog and the other is a feral hog”!! Everyone fell about laughing.
We tore ourselves away in the end but by this time the main attractions in the city had closed for the evening so we found an old style diner playing 60’s music for a good old American burger and fries.