Photo Credit: Bruce N. Meyer
It’s a safe assumption that anything in Arkansas with the
name Razorback refers to the University of Arkansas mascot and the wild boars
that once roamed the land here. They are nuts about their college sports teams
But such an assumption is a losing bet when it comes to the
USS Razorback, which is anchored in the Arkansas River at North Little Rock as
a part of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.
In this particular
case, the submarine is named for the Razorback Whale, also called the fin
whale. The USS Razorback was commissioned in April 1944, served through WW II
and four deployments to Vietnam, earning five battle stars. It’s been in
Arkansas since 2005 and is open for tour and overnight sleepovers.
Sleeping in a
submarine is just one of many unexpected and very cool things about the
Arkansas state capital.
Consider The Purse Museum – the only one in the world as far
as anyone knows. With more than 3,000 kinds of hand bags on display, this is
really a documentation of women’s growth as equal partners in American society.
Think about it. When women owned no property, didn’t drive vehicles or have
money of their own, they had no need for a container to carry keys and money
and stuff. It’s a surprisingly thought provoking museum that guys should
appreciate as well.
And while in the mode of serious thinking, schedule several
hours at Little Rock Central High School and the adjacent National Park Service
interpretive center. It was here in the fall of 1957 that nine African-American
teenagers broke segregation in Arkansas as the only students of color in a high
school of more than 2,000. It took the 101st Airborne Division deployed by
President Eisenhower to keep these kids alive during this trying school
You think your high school days were tough? Read the book
“Warriors Don’t Cry” by Melba Patillo Beals. She was the youngest of the Little
Rock Nine, only 14-years-old when she entered the battle for civil rights. The
high school is still operational and quite a beautiful building in its own
right. Tours take you through the school so you can get a better feel for the
pressure cooker it became in 1957.
After all of those intense emotions, blow off some steam on
the Arkansas River Trail. Right now, it’s about 17 miles long, crossing the
river a couple of times on pedestrian bridges. But each year, the city adds a
few more miles and when complete will be nearly 90 miles, connecting 38 parks
and six museums on both sides of the river.
People in the marathon running culture know all about Little
Rock, placing it high on the list of must-run events basically because of the
medal you get for finishing 26.2 miles. In the early days of the Little Rock
Marathon, the medallion was a flimsy little plastic thing, a joke in the
running world. So a few years ago, the medal got a remake and is now about the
size of a dinner plate and weighs two and a half pounds. It’s the biggest medal
of its kind in the world and everybody who runs marathons wants Little Rock in
At some time during your Little Rock getaway, make a
reservation for lunch or dinner at the Starving Artist Café in the Argenta Arts
District in North Little Rock. It’s basically an art studio and gallery
combined. All of the work on the walls and in display cases is for sale, and
often one or two of the artists is right there in the dining room working on a
The performing arts are showcased on Tuesday night with a
live broadcast on NPR affiliate KUAR. The show is called Tales From the South
and includes musicians, storytellers, poets and authors. Whatever the show, the
Starving Artist Café is a fabulous night of good food, good wine and great
It’s totally unexpected in Little Rock and one of the five
fun reasons this city really rocks.
What do you want to do most when you visit Little Rock?
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A Midwest farm girl at heart, Diana Lambdin Meyer caught the roaming bug early in life. Diana married well - to a photographer who also has the travel bug and whose work in still and video complements her words. Now based in the Kansas City area, Diana is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers who makes a full-time living on the road and at the keyboard. Read about Diana's adventures on her blog, Mojotraveler or follow her on Twitter or Google Plus.
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