Van Buren, Arkansas

The original plan was to drive to Little Rock, Arkansas and stay there for a couple of days. Until we read the following:

With a crime rate of 73 per one thousand residents, Little Rock has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes – from the smallest towns to the very largest cities. One’s chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime here is one in 14.

The accompanying chart was a bit sobering.

We have travelled widely in the United States and we have visited most of the large cities. And we know that there are typically safe zones but for whatever reason, Little Rock did not seem to be an area where we wanted to spend a couple of days. We decided to find a different rest stop between Nashville and our next major destination, Oklahoma City.

Van Buren, Arkansas.

Why Van Buren?

I have no idea. It seemed to be in the sweet spot of how many hours on the road we wanted to spend and it looked to be about halfway between Nashville and Oklahoma City. Although, as we discovered later, it was considerably farther than halfway.

We found that a few of these overnight stays were becoming a bit confusing. Every roadside hotel had a similar look and feel.

Recalling the room and floor started to be a touch problematic. We were staying at Hilton Garden Inns, or if a stop did not have a Garden Inn, we would default to a Hampton Inn. Each hotel looked eerily the same.

The power of points though. We wound up collecting almost 100,000 points over 20 hotel nights as part of the crossing.

Perhaps we might get a free night or two as a reward. We’ll see.

As we had a day to fill, we decided to tour the Fort Smith National Historic Site.

It is hard to look back on the early history of North America without reflecting on the harsh conditions people faced when they settled the country. Whether it was the conflict with the Indigenous peoples or the maintenance of law and order in the community.

The exhibits at Fort Smith were focused on both of these challenges.

Lorraine was able to sit in Judge Parker’s chair. He was a seemingly ruthless judge, condemning 160 people to death where the condemned had no right of appeal. He became known as the hanging judge based on some sensational cases and mass executions.

I think Lorraine might be a friendlier judge!

We walked out to the original settlement and crossed the historic boundary between Arkansas and what was known as the Indian Terrority between 1834 and 1907.

Such a different way of living back then. It struck me as harsh and unforgiving.

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