Read our travels from Tulsa OK to Fort Smith Arkansas
1 September 2016 Fort Smith Arkansas
It was time to leave Tulsa, my main aim being achieved – a rewarding visit to that city’s excellent Woody Guthrie Centre. It was also nice to take a look at that city which has a good feel about it, seeming to be in a state of economic and cultural incline.
I took full advantage of a late hotel check-out as I nursed my laptop to extract as much output as possible. Its battery has now drained to 2% (even while connected to the AC) and I doubt that its charge was ever going to go back up. What happens when it gets to zero? I expect the worse and am already considering the minimal features I would need for a replacement. But you never know, it might just keep working for quite a while if connected. I have now dismissed the repair option given the cost, time, travel-inconvenience and age of the device (note to self – cross of Lenovo from my potential list of replacement machines).
I was heading south-east and not exactly sure how far I would get today. It was a fairly uneventful drive for a while. There were four toll plazas to negotiate, two manned and two automated. My coin supply held me in good stead.
I did pass Muskogee Oklahoma. Now you may recall the Merle Haggard song about the ‘Okie From Muskogee’ – one of his biggest hits and strongest statements. As I passed by, the Outlaw Country station came alive with a tune from the man himself – ‘Mama Cried’. Nice touch.
Nothing much on the way until I arrived finally at a retail centre – and eventually found a cafe hidden out the back of a Subway – Aromas and had my first coffee of the day at 2.30 pm (not very civilised I know!). It was a welcome beverage and breather, with less than an hour to go to historic Fort Smith where I decided I would spend the night.
At the cafe, the TV news channel had a piece about a bear in a dumpster, live coverage from Pasadena. What will the bear do next, asks the toothy announcer? How will the bear interact with a nearby puppy? There’s a storm over Florida, as well. It has been cooler here all day with little sun, just a large rolling cloud mass as far as the eye can see. It looked threatening but just a few spots – reminiscent of Melbourne in that way.
The trip into Fort Smith was swift except for deciding on my digs for tonight. I pulled into a Cherokee Casino car park and googled rooms – I had thought about staying at the Casino, good bed (I assumed) and plenty of food options within a short walk. But the gambling environment and the cost of the room dissuaded me.
I had a look around downtown Fort Smith and liked what I saw. Lots of preserved and occupied buildings, striking murals were common and plenty of local retail and vibrancy. Speaking of murals, I was told by Sarah at Sacred Grounds Coffee there is an event called The Unexpected Project which kicks off tomorrow where artists from all over the world converge in Fort Smith to adorn spare walls.
Fort Smith is famous for many things, as I read on the city website.
“Its first fort was built at Belle Point, where the Arkansas and Poteau rivers unite. At one time, Federal marshals used to ride out of the United States and into Indian Territory at this juncture. Outlaws collided with Hanging Judge Parker (more about him tomorrow). During the Civil War, the North met the South here with devastating results. True West magazine selected Fort Smith, Arkansas as the Top True Western Town for 2013. The publication also named Fort Smith as one of the top five of the Top Western Towns for 2014. True West also honored the town with its “best promotion of a historical place” award for 2014.
It has many sites commemorating and preserving Trail of Tears, Civil War and Butterfield Overland Mail Company route history that are now part of the Arkansas Heritage Trails System.”
As it turned out, you get what you pay for – computers at my modestly priced hotel were down and there was of course no wi-fi – they were thinking about ringing the repair guy (good luck with that!). I was going to recommend a couple of repair businesses in Tulsa, but thought better of it. Ah well.
I walked 15 minutes to the Patron Mexican Grill, carefully crossing a main road – always assume that drivers will not be expecting anyone would be walking. On this occasion there was sidewalk for about half of the way, which was pretty good. Great food – a Mexican lasagna with chicken, chorizo, enchiladas, beans.
As I walked back to my room, I wondered how the bear in the dumpster got on?