Arkansas

After a big lunch in Oklahoma we headed for Fayetteville, Arkansas.  I think this was the part of the trip Max was anticipating the most, a big SEC game.
They certainly know how to do football!  Miles of tailgaters greeted us as we drove toward the stadium.  
We had to park pretty far away but they are a well oiled machine with buses coming to pick up tailgaters and take them to the stadium every fifteen minutes.
When we were planning this trip we bought the tickets before the game time was announced.  For a type A planner like me, it was agonizing waiting until the week before to learn what time we would need to be at the game by.  I was hoping it would not be a morning or early afternoon game.  I was so relived when it would be a six o'clock game.  That would give us plenty of time to stop in Oklahoma. Sometimes things work out so nicely on these trips and other times the best laid plans blow up.
After five hours in the car Max and I were ready to try an Arkansas beer while we tailgated.  Maybe the setting made it taste extra good, but we both loved Arkansas Red.
It was a classic fall afternoon with a soft, warm breeze and rustling leaves.  We played catch and stretched our legs before heading into the stadium.  Hank is my little mini.  :)
Football on the West and football in the Midwest and South is a whole different ball game.  While a team T-shirt and yoga pants or jeans is standard game day attire for us, we felt a little under dressed in Arkansas.  Ladies in red dresses, boots and pearls, with men in slacks and buttons up shirts.  Some people were dressed nicer than when we go to church!  We learned football is a point of pride and people show their pride by dressing up for the occasion.
It was unlike any football game experience we have had.  
At the beginning of the game they had parachuters land on the field to get everyone on their feet.  If Hank winds up in the Ari Force I will know the day the seed was planted.  He looked at me wide eyed with a big old grin and said, "That is what I want to do!"
After the parachuters a huge marching band performance with fireworks and cannons erupted.  Pom-Poms for everyone and every single seat was filled well before the game even started.
The most surprising part was when they called out the players.  Everyone would raise their arms like they were praising the Lord in church and let out a, "Whooooooo."  Then put their arms down and repeat, "Whooooooo" as they raised their arms a few more times.  We all looked at each other like we were in a foreign land.  After the rhythmic chanting they yelled out, "PIG SOOIE!!!"  This ritual would be repeated every time they scored.  It was fascinating to see the intensity of the fans.  We had a great time being HOGS for a day.  But by half time Roll Tide and steamed rolled the Hogs and it was time for us to move out before they became bacon.  Despite how badly they were getting beat, we were one of only a handful of people leaving early.  Hogs are seriously devoted fans.
These games are so big that even though we bought the tickets months in advance and I went to book a hotel at the same time every hotel within a 35 minute radius was sold out!  We had no choice but to drive another hour South to Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Our first day was going to be our longest day in the car.  With 6 hours of driving we had traveled through 4 states, eaten a massive meal, and had a near spiritual experience at a football game. :)  It was a busy day even by my standards.  It was time to get all my little pigs in a blanket for some rest.
The next morning we departed with Memphis, Tennessee in our sights.  Little Rock, Arkansas is right in the middle of the four hour drive across Arkansas.  Since it was Sunday, I anticipated the Capital to be closed but we went anyway because we always like to walk around them and see how each state built their Capital.
To our surprise the Capital was open to explore!
This was one of the kids' favorite things we did.  Sometimes unexpected gems become part of the plan.
The building was gorgeous and they loved exploring every stairway and hallway.
  We nearly had the place to ourselves and explored it for over an hour.
We decided the Supreme Court is my sister Mel's next step as a judge.  :)
Some fun facts about Arkansas:
 Walmart was founded there.
In Hot Springs more than a million gallons of water a day flow from 47 springs.
Mountain Valley water claims to be replacing Pierre at fine dining establishments.  It was very tasty and hey if they can sell it for half the price, I am in!
Orangettea soda was started in the 1920s in Arkansas and is now sold exclusively in Walmarts there.  We liked it better than Fanta as it is not as sweet.
What?  Asian food in Arkansas?  Are you nuts?  Riceland in Stuttgart, Arkansas is the world's largest miller and marketer of rice and Arkansas produces far more rice than any other U.S. State.  More soybeans are also grown in Arkansas than anywhere else in the world.
 I figured the best way to try rice and soybeans was to eat at a sushi place and have some rice and edamame. For fun we tried the Little Rock Roll, however the California roll remains the family favorite.
I couldn't agree more with my fortune.
After a fun break exploring the capital and trying a few foods of Arkansas it was time to get to Memphis!


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