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Arkansas (State nr. 18)

The Natural State

sunny 30 °C
View America 48 States Attempt on eharpham's travel map.

After plains and scorched grass of Oklahoma we were excited for some greenery in Arkansas, “The Natural State”. I didn’t know much about Arkansas except that it was a birthplace of Bill Clinton who later became the governor of Arkansas and eventually as we know president.
This was also our first photo with a roadside “Welcome to” sign as the Welcome centre where we usually take the photo didn’t have one, very disappointing, but at least we got it!
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Best Arcade ever

Between us two Edd is definitely a bigger arcade lover and enthusiast, so it didn’t come as a surprise when he found this place in Fayetteville called Arkadia Retrograde that had the most insane collection of old arcade games. The best bit was that we didn’t actually have to pay for entry and all the games were unlimited, you didn’t need tokens every time you lost. I’ve never been to arcade of a kind and it was truly the best one yet. I tried so many new games and replayed some of the classics, including pac man, tetris and tekken. We stayed there pretty much till close at 10:30 pm.
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That night we also stayed at one of my favourite accommodations on the trip so far – The Graduate hotel. The hotel is all Graduate themed but very retro with lots of colourful wallpapers and furniture. We found out that it was in fact in chain so looking forward to staying at Graduate again soon.
The next day we didn’t have much planned except the drive to Missouri so we did a quick stroll around Fayetville, which is a picture perfect student town, and then we were headed to Crystal Bridges an art museum sponsored by Walmart, JP Morgan and some other big corporates. This wasn’t on our list but we got recommended it by a gallery owner from Oklahoma. On the way we also stopped at Onyx for what was by far the best coffee I had in America so far (and most expensive!). It reminded me off Australian coffees. I also had an incredible chocolate croissant and learned that kolach is not a uniquely Croatian thing, they sell it in America as well and it is basically a kind of a bread pastry (digani kolac in Croatian!), for a moment there I thought that people running the coffee shop were Croatian.
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Back to museum, what we thought was going to be a humble quick exhibition turned out to be a massive complex which reminded us of something from space movies, with multiple galleries, bridges and a lake, and the best bit about it was that it was free! It was a mix of classic and modern art and the best bit was that we got to see the a phenomenal piece by Yayoi Kusama called Infinity Mirrored Room. Great for some cool photos as well!
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The next stop, just next door in the small town of Bentonville was the Walmart Museum (also free!). The little town on Bentonville got its claim to fame as the headquarters of Walmart where its founder Sam Walton lived and built his fortune. We learned some incredible facts of this truly American Dream story like Sam Walton coming from a poor family and then building this multi billion business in only 60 years with with sales exceeding $400 billion! We were thinking how while it is a testament to the American dream story it also doesn’t really take into consideration the reality of the world where not everyone wants to or will be next Sam Walton the founder of Walmart, in fact it would be probably 100 times harder to accumulate so much wealth coming from the working class family, yet the extent to which there are so many significant barriers to succeeding in America, like super low minimum wage, lack of universal healthcare, massive student debt. etc, etc. are just sort of brushed aside. The point being is that pointing at someone and saying oh if he could do it you can do it doesn’t really work when in today’s context, at least from what I’ve see and experienced in America so far.
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In the Ozarks

After some cultural experiences it was back to the woods, specifically we were on the way to Branson. Missouri and were going to pass through the Ozarks. I have of course heard of Ozarks through Netflix show, which is also one of my favourites, so had a pretty good idea of what it might look like – dense dark green forests and big lakes. It was exactly like that! We finally got to see some hills and this amazing Thorncrown Chapel in the middle of the woods, which looks and feels like it doesn’t have a roof, very strange feeling, but so unique and random I absolutely fell in love with it.
Would be a cool place for weddings but I guess not the most convenient to get to and from for tipsy guests as the roads are quite scary!
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This was it for Arkansas, less hustle and bustle than usual but we really enjoyed a little break from big city lights which we unexpectedly found at our next destination – Branson, Missouri!

Posted by eharpham 20:22 Archived in USA Tagged america roadtrip arkansas walmart naturalstate

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