Columns » Bob Lancaster

Slow train stops

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For those of you Seeing Arkansas First this summer, here are some of the don't-miss attractions, with notes.

The Trail of Tears, Jr. For brown people rather than red ones. Also different this time: illegals are the vics rather than the perps. Wends through many of the region's bigger chicken processing plants, so wear plastic baggies over your shoes if you make the tour. Learn to breathe through your mouth. 

Visit the Arkansas Arts Center at Little Rock  and you might get to see a mummy repo.

Dropping by the Dr. W.O. Vaught "Beejays Don't Count" Room in the Clinton Presidential Library at Little Rock might clear up  your lingering ?'s about how they rationalized such damfoolery.

The possum-grape and turkey-berry vintages are perennial favorites in the annual Rhoney Rubow Fortified Wine Slugback at Altus. Count me in.

Omaha got Trigger, but  the Piranha 3D beasties have signed on to moat patrol at the medieval castle going up at Lead Hill. Also the Geico gecko on passing will be glass-cased at the Lizard Museum at Parkin, which now features only the mounted heads of all the late 20th Century state senators from East Arkansas. 

The various lake state parks at Hot Springs are rotating a Jump The Shark feature that lets vacationing water skiers literally jump a shark, just like the Fonz. Only here it's a loan shark, our only native species, and frankly they've been really poor sports about participating.

Wernher von Braun used to tell campfire stories at an old hunting cabin on the Saline River near Grapevine. One night he told one as the full moon silvered the river. In it, men walked on that very moon. They bounded around on it in giant mankind leaps. He himself, ol' Wern, had helped get them there. The other hunters, watching the moon as this foolish tale unfolded, scoffed quietly. This was 50 years ago. Nine years before it came to pass.

The "Jews Unmasked" section of the Sacred Projects Library located in the right foot of the Christ of the Ozarks at Eureka Springs has all the Smithian poop — mostly from the old Dearborn Independent — on how they killed Jesus and own too many department stores.

Mount Nebo isn't the one mentioned in the Bible, but the fried chicken is better here.

Devil's Den State Park at West Fork took on allure recently when the real Devil took up residence. You can't actually see him, chained in a bottomless pit in the big cave, but you can hear his unearthly howls and shrieks. Local skeptics say these are natural sounds caused by rock stress or wind whorls, and another theory says it's just ordinary Mastersonian bagger rant, perhaps stunt amped for typically bumptious effect. But this isn't ordinary teafolk pipsqueaking. Trust me, it'll Buckwheat your hair.

The Paul Van Dalsem Museum in Perryville features barefoot pregnant women leading milk cows around on ropes. I believe both women and cows are actors, perhaps even mechanical figures, but maybe not. Such bucolic scenes are still common in Perry County. A wax Van Dalsem (or hell, I don't know, he might still be alive) leers like Screwtape from behind a ficus. 

L'il Ab Yokum now squats at one of the abandoned dogtrots at Marble Falls. Most days he hunkers on the porch step 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. like it's his job. Maybe it is. Maybe TARP. Occasionally he'll get up and throw rocks at passing cars, but mostly he just sits and looks. Older'n dirt or Andy Williams, but hip to the pop of retro.  He's said to have an agent and to have spurned an offer to Zorak for Huck. He won't talk to or pose for tourists, so you might want to skip and pull for the bright lights of Hardy.

In case you missed one, the John R. Starr Memorial Self-Adulation Room at the Arkansas State University library at Jonesboro has all 340,000 of his published tributes to himself.

Don't tell them at the Wilbur D. Mills Museum in Kensett that fathering Medicare made him a socialist. They think he hung the moon. Also, their position is, what happened in the Tidal Basin stayed in the Tidal Basin. 

The BB Gun Museum in Rogers has a unique historic collection of all the youngsters' eyes that were ever shot out by one of the damned things. Is that pickle juice they're preserved in? Creepy, but you can hardly avoid learning an important lesson. Several decades too late.

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame has all the cool shades that Miller Barber of Texarkana, known as Mr. X, wore in all the PGA tournaments he won. His balls too.

Learn the whole range of gun fun, from safari to drive-by, at Mike Ross' Rootin' Tootin' Shootin' Place at Prescott. On the Most Dangerous Game hunt you might bag you an illegal, an escaped convict, a cheating spouse, an innocent bystander, a curley wolf. The weekly raffle could win you an all-expense seat on Mike's next big deluxe junket

No trains at the West Memphis Railroad Museum but they'll school you on railroading of a darker kind. How you can wind up on Death Row not because you were proved guilty but because you couldn't or didn't prove otherwise. It can happen here. Has.

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