Carolina: Cruising Past 70: OLA: Exploring from our 'Dock' in Pittsburg, Kansas

Monday, October 29, 2012

OLA: Exploring from our 'Dock' in Pittsburg, Kansas

Christ of the Ozarks, largest statue of Christ in the US and the 4th in the world
In the last post I wrote about one disadvantage of the RV cruising lifestyle. But, there is still that one big advantage: to address the lure of the places we hear and read about, to actually see them with our own eyes, and then to write about them from our own perspective. In the past 2 ½ months, not only were we able to visit with family and cultivate new friendships and celebrate but we were also able to make wonderful day trips from our base, the warmth of the Docks’ home.

the tree of hope in Joplin, rows of white trailers at the back
First, Missouri. Joplin (please see our first visit there by simply clicking, the city that was almost totally devastated by an EF5 tornado in May 22, 2011, the third to strike the city in 40 years, was our first stop. She still has the scars of that disaster. Long rows of white trailers provided by FEMA are still around for  those who are still homeless. Trees that lost their foliage but refused to fall were painted in living colors. One building, a former hospital, was totally wrecked and the next day we found out in the news that it had finally been imploded. 

a great view of Truman's Presidential Library
The other city is Independence, Missouri, part of the Kansas City SMSA, where Truman was born and lived. His presidential library and museum also houses his gravesite, resplendent with bright yellow flowers!!! Nearby, his home is now a National Historic Site and at the city plaza a statue of the man stands proudly. He made one of the most difficult decisions a US president had to make: drop the atomic bomb! 

a view of his burial site at the back of the presidential library
Kansas City Public Library
Second, Kansas. Whenever we visited Pittsburg, we always made it a point to go to Kansas City (please see ) but I didn’t know that one of the best designed buildings in the world was there! The Kansas City Public Library is designed like a shelf of books (I understand they selected thirty two of the best loved books of all time) for its fa├žade. Books like The Republic by Plato, 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, etc. are memorialized as a giant book on this giant shelf. Even the stairs leading to the entrance doors were designed like books stacked on top of one another. What a most appropriate design for a library! But the trees that were planted many years ago are now practically hiding this gem. The City should really do something!
the very first Walmart: 5-10 Walton's in Bentonville, Atkansas
Third, Arkansas. We took the RV to Jay, Oklahoma, just two hours from the Docks for a week; it is one of those in our network of resorts. From there we explored parts of Arkansas that we had missed on our first visit there (please see Bentonville, Arkansas is the site of the Walmart Visitors Center and the giant retailer’s headquarters. The very first 5-10 discount store Sam Walton started stood there as it did in 1962. Even his old pick-up is displayed with a famous quote from him: ‘I just don’t believe in a big showy lifestyle. Why do I drive a pickup truck? What am I supposed to haul my dogs around in, a Rolls Royce? ’. 

his modest pickup truck
Sam walton's office, still the way it looked the day he died
The office which he occupied remains untouched from the day he died. It is an office that looks neat because Sam liked nothing more than management by wandering, being close to his ‘family’.  And now his idea is a business legend, operating 8,500 stores in 15 countries. It‘s the world's third largest public corporation, the biggest private employer with over two million employees, and the largest retailer with 2011 sales at $300 B.

inside the Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
An hour from Bentonvile is Eureka Springs and that is where the Christ of the Ozarks stands atop the Magnetic Mountain, hands outstretched to minister to all, the fourth  largest statue of Christ in the world (behind Poland, Bolivia, and Brazil in that order) at 67 feet (and the largest in the US). It is on the grounds of the Passion Play Park that runs from April to October. I imagine that the park becomes very much alive during Easter and Christmas. Not far from this Christ is the Thorntown Chapel, with the structural woodwork designed like the crown of thorns. It was truly spiritual to be there. And just a few miles away is the Celestial Wind Chime, the largest tuned wind chime in the world hanging from a tree at 36 feet. Bill had fun swinging the pipes to create holy sounds.

Bill playing with the largest windchime in the world, at 36 feet, in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
the Clinton Museum in Fayetteville, Arkansas
But the big surprise of our Arkansas day trip was Fayetteville. There the very first home, and where they were married, Bill and Hilary Clinton owned while they were professors at the University of Arkansas. Though small at 1,800 ft., the home is absolutely beautiful in its stonework, just the right size for a small family, and well taken care of. The twist is that a colorful razorback is in front of their house, the mascot of the University of Arkansas, one of several pig projects in a fund-raising PIGshibition for the Ozark Literacy Council. Bill Clinton’s boyhood home is in Hope, Arkansas and his Presidential Library is in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Har-Ber Village, legacy of Harvey and Bernie Jones
 in Grove, Oklahoma
Fourth, Oklahoma. The campground where we stayed in Jay, Oklahoma is called the Pine Island RV Resort because the RV sites, including ours, overlooked the Otay Lakes with the Pine Island on it. Every morning and every night we look out to this peaceful scene of calm and cool waters providing comfort to those who temporarily make it home, like us. Then at nearby Grove, Oklahoma just ten minutes away there is a beautiful park dedicated by the couple Harvey and Bernice Jones for the enjoyment of the public. What a legacy they have left behind!

The End of the Trail at the National Cowboys Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museu
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The Female Cougar
We had been to Tulsa before (please see ). But this time we wanted to experience Oklahoma City, the center of 43 Indian tribes in the state, only three hours from Jay. The National Cowboys Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum features wonderful statues but ones we most liked were the ones entitled 'The End of the Trail' and 'The Mountain Cat'.. 

The Oklahoma City Bombing National Memorial
There we saw the grand memorial built for the victims of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building on April 19, 1995 that killed 168 people, including 19 children, and affected 324 buildings in 16 blocks. The two pillars at each end are marked 9:01 and 9:03 AM because the bomb actually exploded at 9:02. The water that stands between the two is shallow but shimmering and the rows of empty chairs alongside make for a moving cemetery. A nearby church that was almost destroyed erected a statue of a crying priest. It was the largest terrorist attack before 9/11.
the cemetery of empty chairs

the crying priest
These are some of the reasons we decided to do the fulltime RV cruising lifestyle. We had such a long bucket list that we felt we had to go at the pace we did. Living a dream is more passionate than mere living. But now we have to be more pragmatic, visit more of friends and family, and as you will read in the next post, take care of ourselves better as we advance in years.