Although we've been living in Northwest Arkansas for over six months, this weekend was the first chance we've had to get to the central part of the state. Both my wife and I can remember distinctly the year the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum opened its doors. At that time, we lived in Wisconsin. Both of us think highly of his presidency, and we would have loved to visit the library--but Little Rock is a long ways from Wisconsin and not on the way to anywhere, so we thought there was limited likelihood of a visit.
We were wrong. Friday we visited Little Rock, and our first two stops were his library, and Heifer International Village right next door. For those unfamiliar, Heifer International is a non-profit organization whose goal is to help end world hunger. Many families, individuals, and congregations donate to Heifer. They specialize in helping donors understand the significance of their gifts, by designating the amount it costs to provide, say, a heifer for a village or family in need.
The village is an interpretive center, and the neighboring office complex is an award winning "green" building. Even the parking lot is green.
You can walk from Heifer to the Clinton Library, which we did, in spite of the temperature--hovering around 104 degrees! The Clinton Library is beautifully designed and laid out. They actually use the columns of the building as storage for some of the archived papers. The main portion of the facility takes his presidency year by year. Of greatest interest to our family were the displays of the many gifts he received over the years from various nations and dignitaries, all on display and fascinating to our children.
Here's one quote. Clinton said, "If elected, I'm going to focus like a laser on this economy." That's my paraphrase, but I think it is pretty close. Kind of wish the leadership in our nation were focused on the economy in a laser-like way. Instead, it seems to me there are more smoke and mirrors than lasers right now.
We stayed in the downtown, near the river market, and primarily walked the river front part of town. There are great pedestrian bridges across the water, some spectacular eateries (including a fish place next to Courtyard Marriott that rivals Fayetteville's Catfish Hole), the market itself, a "tunnel" park and fountain, an electric trolley, and interpretive museums on the history of Arkansas (I'm only naming here the places we visited).
On our second day, in addition to what I've listed above, we also drove to Central High School, famous for the Little Rock Nine and desegregation--toured the Razorback submarine--and visited the Daisy Bates house (the architect working on preparing it as a museum offered us a quick look inside, but the baby was asleep so we just saw it from outside).
It's a great little capitol city, a nice drive through the Ozarks from Northwest Arkansas, and we'll go back soon. En route there are a variety of places I want to tour, including Petit Jean, Acxiom in Conway, and much more.
Just further proof that Arkansas is a great state. Just think, if you've ever heard that Arkansas was "backwards," it's so backwards it gave birth to Walmart, Tyson, and J.B. Hunt (all in Northwest Arkansas) as well as Heifer, Bill Clinton, and Acxiom. You be the judge.