Most of October was spent in Mountain View - it had been five years since we had last been there and boy did we see some changes, not in the town itself, which is timeless, but in the musicians.
Mountain View is the Folk Music Capital of the World. Music surrounds the area. There is picking going on around the courthouse square most times, with small groups scattered throughout - in front of the music stores, the courthouse, in the formal picking park, in all of the numerous RV parks in the area (there may be more RV spaces than hotel rooms). It is not unusual to see folks practicing around their RVs, either solo or jamming with friends - guitars, mandolins, dulcimers (of course), accordion, saxophone, fiddles, bass fiddles.
What we most enjoyed seeing were the youth carrying on the music tradition that has been a part of the Ozarks for years. Local musician Danny Thomas, as school superintendent in the 1990s, started the Music Roots Program specifically to teach students in grades four through eight the fundamentals of folk music. Instruments, and lessons, are provided free to the students, with classes taught by local musicians. We were treated to a group of some of the students performing at the Ozark Folk Center for one of the evening concerts. We also thoroughly enjoyed seeing some of the youngsters we saw many years ago grown up now and talented performers, such as Clancey Ferguson, the Cobb Brothers, and one of the Folk Center's dancers who start off each set with a square dance. This little fella wore a huge hat - he has now grown into his hat. Clancey is pretty amazing for being 15 years young - she plays the fiddle, bass fiddle, dances, sings, emcees, and calls some of the dances - is there nothing she can't do? What we are now seeing are the original Music Root students teaching the next generation of students - a wonderful program!
Some new faces we saw this year were the Glover Family - their eleven year old daughter has a powerful voice - it will be fun to see her as she continues to develop her talent. Her parents do an awesome job of harmonizing on Stephen Foster's Beautiful Dreamer - a song often requested for their encore. Another group was the Weide Family, with all but the youngest (just a toddler) performing. The fourteen year old son is quite the story teller - the audience sat mesmerized while he recited stories. Mary Parker is just eight years old but is already winning fiddle competitions - another talent to watch as she grows.
In addition to enjoying the concerts, we got together with friends often. Ron and Donna came down from their home base in northern Missouri and spent several weeks. It had been a few years since we saw them last. We also got to visit with Russ and Freda, who had been staying in Branson. We met them for lunch at Razorback Ribs & BBQ, in Yellville, a halfway point. And did any of us think to take pictures - no.....
While in Mountain View, we were able to find a pair of beautiful McSpadden dulcimers for Lucille's brother Roger and wife Kathie. It was fun 'accessorizing' the dulcimers, picking out music books, and arranging to have them safely shipped to them in Arizona, thanks to the Dulcimer Shoppe. Besides, it's always fun to spend someone else's money! We've made arrangements to meet them both in Mountain View next spring when we come by for a couple of weeks on our way to Springfield, Missouri.
Twice during our stay we went out geocaching with Karen, primarily finding caches at cemeteries. We drove on roads in that area we never knew existed and saw some pretty cool cemeteries.
Our month in Mountain View quickly came to an end but we'll be back next spring. We had a few days before headed to Huntsville, Alabama to start our annual medical and dental appointments so we spent time in Little Rock, staying at Maumelle Campground, a Corps of Engineer park located right on the Arkansas River. After we got set up, we got out our camp chairs and spent an enjoyable couple of hours watching the river traffic. The Arkansas River begins in Colorado and travels 1,450 miles to the Mississippi River, after meandering through Kansas and Oklahoma.
We had plans to visit quite a few places in Little Rock but spent most of the time under the weather. We both picked up some pretty bad colds while in Mountain View and finally decided to find a walk-in clinic in the Little Rock area. Would you believe we found one at Walmart, of all places! Four of the local Walmarts have partnered with St. Vincent's Hospital to provide urgent care - how convenient! After seeing the nurse practitioner, we walked over to Walmart's pharmacy to pick up our drugs - wotta deal!
We did manage to enjoy a wonderful lunch at Corky's, our favorite ribs place - not quite as good as the Memphis location but still worth the stop. We visited the Big Dam Bridge, a pedestrian/biking bridge on top of the dam, and part of the fifteen mile bike trail in Little Rock and North Little Rock. While there, a quadruple barge came through the lock, with what looked like less than a foot to spare on either side of the lock's walls. Factoids about the bridge: This is the longest bicycle and pedestrian bridge in the world specifically built for this purpose. It took eight years from conception to completion - 1998 to 2006; consists of 4,226 linear feet of bridge and ramps, elevated 90 feet above the river, 14 feet wide, built with one million pounds of reinforcing steel, two million pounds of steel beams, and twenty million pounds of concrete.
The only other sightseeing we did was to visit the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, spending quite a bit of time at the visitor center. The high school's architecture is a blend of Art Deco and Gothic Revival and was named as America's Most Beautiful high school. This is still an active school with more than 2,000 students. Organized tours are available through the visitor center - we opted to just drive by and look at this beautiful building.
In 1954, the Little Rock school board planned to gradually integrate the school after the Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. The 14th Amendment, equal protection of the laws, was an outcome of this ruling. Governor Orval Faubus, with an eye towards reelection in 1958, cried "states rights" and spread rumors about planned violence, calling out the National Guard to keep order, and blocking entry of nine African American students, to be known at the Little Rock Nine. Mobs threatened violence to the students, and after a court ordered the National Guard withdrawn, with only police to control the situation, they quickly were overwhelmed - an angry crowd beat both black and white journalists.
Interestingly enough, the crisis occurred in the infancy of television and was among the first news stories filmed as events unfolded. As a result of photos showing mobs screaming at student Elizabeth Eckford and beating a black newsman, President Eisenhower was forced to act - U.S. Army troops were called in and accompanied the students that school year. We can't imagine how brave and courage these nine students were to stand their ground, not so much because of their fellow students, but their parents. As one white student stated - "If parents would just go home and let us alone, we'll be all right...." You can't help but wonder when you look at the hate on the faces of the crowds what their families today think seeing those pictures. Not a part of our history we are proud of.
Sneezing, coughing and sniffling - we left Little Rock for Huntsville, getting set up at the military campground at Redstone Arsenal. The medical appointments started shortly afterwards and continued on into November.
Next up: A two-week Habitat RV Care-A-Vanner build in Tuscaloosa, helping them rebuild after the 2011 tornado; a short stop in Americus, Georgia (Habitat's HQ); meeting up with Pat and Yvette at George L. Smith State Park before moving over to Camp Carr through the end of the year.