Friday, October 30, 2009

Little RAINY Rock

We packed up and pulled out of Springfield, in the rain of course and started heading for Little Rock, Arkansas, pretty much just follow US 65 all the way. If it hadn't been raining this would have been a spectacular drive, through the Ozarks with all the fall color, but since it was rainy, overcast and this is an older narrower road with a lot of traffic since it's the main drag between the two cities I didn't get to enjoy it as much as I would have liked.

We're staying at the new North Little Rock City RV park, River View Park, this is right on the banks of the Arkansas River right across from Downtown Little Rock. Both cities have riverfront parks opposite each other and have two foot bridges that cross the river to join them, there is also a trolley system that runs you back and forth for two dollars a day. Of course when we pulled in here to set up it was raining.

View of Little Rock from our camp site.

Clinton Library right across the river from the park

When we were in this area last year we had lunch at the restaurant at the Clinton Library and it was great, so we decided to try it again today, oh yeah it's still raining, well this year lunch was crap, we ordered the same thing that we did last year and this time it was terrible. It's still a downpour outside so we figured that we might as well tour the library, we've done the Truman and Hoover Libraries this month so we might as well add this one to our list. We're really glad that we stayed, the library and displays are done very nice, they're set up so it's never very crowded at any one area and was informative. They have a lot of video's, most with President Clinton explaining some thing on them or some type of comment and I don't care what your politics are he is a funny likable guy. Last year we missed him by two days and this year we were two weeks early, he's coming for the fifth anniversary of the opening of the library.

It's not raining today, in fact the sun is out and it's getting warm so we decided to go about a half mile down the river shore to see the North Little Rock Navy, at least that's what they call it. The World War Two submarine “Razorback” is docked here, the first thing they tell you is that the Razorback is the second largest species of whale and that it was not named for the Arkansas hog.

When we got their we found out that they were into their winter hours and were closed today, as we were standing in the parking lot one of the maintenance guys saw our problem and asked if we were from out of town, when we told him we were he told us that their were a few people in the museum doing paper work and that they wouldn't mind us looking around the museum but we wouldn't be able to get a tour of the submarine, he then took us in the back way to the museum, talk about nice. The curator and his assistant were doing some computer work, but they stopped to set up the 15 minute video for us to watch, Cathy asked them who we should pay and they said don't worry about it. After the video we started to look at the items in the museum when the assistant said, Hey I got time, lets go for a tour of the sub.

Most Naval vessels that you get to tour are totally stripped and would never been sea worthy again but this one is 95% sea worthy, the Navy made them remove the props, which are on display on shore.

The sub has a great history, starting with WW II, the shipyard where she was built launched three subs on the same day, the only time that has happen, she had an impressive career during the war and was invited to be present at Tokyo bay for the signing of the Surrender papers. She then was involved in some classified operations during Korea and Vietnam. When she was decommissioned she was sold to the Turkish Navy for a dollar and served there for thirty years, sinking two Greece ships during their war before being returned to the US and the North Little Rock Navy.

Mothball Certificate from the US Navy

Transfer Certificate from the Turkish Navy back to the North Little Rock Navy.

Since the sub is all original the only way into it is down the hatch, very narrow and deep Cathy decided that she would pass and go back to the museum, I'm not passing up a private tour of the sub so down I went, and I might mention that another 20 pounds and I don't think I would have made it. Since this was a one person tour he pretty much took me everywhere on the ship, the only place that we couldn't go was the conning tower because they were rebuilding the hydraulics on the periscope and they had parts everywhere on the deck. We ended up spending over an hour inside the sub and I have to say it was one of the most interesting hours I can remember.

One of the stories that he told me about the ship was that when it was refitted one time they removed one of the diesel engines which was no longer needed, when they took it out for it's first test they were to do a dive to 400 feet, the limit on this class sub is 600 feet, when they started the dive they lost control of the sub and it just kept diving, by the time they managed to regain control and level it off they were at a depth of 900 feet. They had forgot to recalculate the center of gravity with the engine removed. He had a ton of stories but to hear more you're going to have to tour the sub and hear them from him.

OK, one more story, when they managed to get on of the six inch deck guns for display the city sent over a crane to take it off the truck and put it on display up by the parking lot. The guy running the crane told them that they better get it right the first time because the thing was so heavy that the crane could just barely handle the weight, they got it off the truck and onto the mounts and fastened down. A few hour later they were in the office when they notice 4 blacked out SUV fly into the parking lot, he said a bunch of MEN IN BLACK got out and started gathering around the gun, a couple had binoculars and others were talking into their wrist and mulling around. No one came into the office to say anything and after about twenty minutes they all jumped back in their SUV's and disappeared. Being curious they went up to the guns location and started looking around trying to figure out what was going on when one of them noticed that their brand new 6 inch gun was pointed directly at the brand new Clinton Library across the river.

So once again we end up getting a private tour of a place that is closed, this is probably the 4th or 5th time that this has happened to us, so we must be doing something right or we just look pitiful and they feel sorry for us.

Another day, another rain storm, this is starting to get ridiculous , we haven't had two days straight without rain since we left Michigan. It let up to a regular rain around 1PM so we ran to the car for a little road trip, I told Cathy that I found a great little burger joint just outside of town in Scott Arkansas.

Now just look at this place, doesn't it look like to type of place that you would drive out of your way for. It may not look like much, built in 1912 as a general store for the local plantation, then a military commissary, jail and courthouse, then in 1984 they put a small eating area which was soon discovered by Governor Clinton and the rest is history, everybody knows that Bill knew all the good eating spots and the small area eventually took up the whole store. Famous for their Hubcap Burger which is about as big as a small hubcap, we decided to pass on that and get the daily special which of course was southern fried chicken. The food was great but I don't think we would have stopped here if it wasn't for Bubba blazing the trail, I don't think Hillary ever went here with him.

Back to camp just before the cloud burst, according to the weather there are flash flood warnings out and we're camped between the Arkansas river (right on the bank) and the 12 foot tall flood wall that protects the city. Just saw that we got over 5 inches of rain so far today, buts its starting to let up. Prediction for tomorrow more rain.

We cut our stay here short by three days and cut out a 5 day stop next week so we can just shoot right through to the gulf when we leave here.

Got up this morning to post the blog and guess what, it's RAINING!!!!

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