Day 2: December 20, 2009
Sun at Last
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There is a pretty good gathering of US highways in Sikeston. US-62 separates itself a few miles and even gets Missouri and America byway signs though I haven't been able to sort out just which, if any, byway it is. Thirty some miles later, Sixty-Two reaches Arkansas. It is the path a knife would follow to remove Missouri's boot heel.

I had been looking forward to reaching Arkansas. Just before leaving home, I'd become aware of an AP survey ranking states by "happiness". Ohio was 43rd. That's not happy at all. I live in a corner of the state just miles from Indiana and Kentucky. It's a pretty sad neighborhood, I guess. Kentuckians are a little happier at number 35. Indiana is among the saddest at 48. Wow! Apparently I live in one miserable part of the country. Illinois, which I passed through at Cairo, ranked 45th; Missouri 38th. In Arkansas, I'm finally among people in the upper half. Arkansas was 18th. Texas, at 15th, will be even better and even New Mexico was in the happy half at 24th. Maybe it isn't Christmas I'm escaping from but all those sad sack neighbors.

ADDENDUM: Dec 22, 2009 - I failed to list Oklahoma, another state on this trip. It ranked 21st.

The town of Piggott has a nicely restored train station for its Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center. The modern courthouse, however, is rather bland. It's dressed up a bit by pieces of petrified wood from the area. The large piece stands at the northeast corner and, while there are no clues as to why it was erected, it is known who did it.

The 1839 Randolph County Courthouse is retired but still standing and still looking good. It's in Pocahontas.

With all those pictures of road signs and courthouses, I guess it's obvious that there isn't much excitement on this overcast day. And that impression is reinforced with this picture of a train crossing near Ravenden. Things picked up a little in Ravenden itself. The statue may not be world famous but it has been noticed by Roadside America.

The sun appeared for the first time on this trip just moments before I pulled into Hardy, Arkansas. Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!

Hardy calls itself "The Antique Capital of Arkansas" It is an interesting town even though I'm not much of an antique shopper. I was more excited about the "Good Old Days Vintage Motorcar Museum" at the west edge of town but it was closed. I was there during posted hours but I'm guessing there is some sort of holiday break. The 1984 police cruiser is the first one ever owned by Hardy. After being damaged by fire, it was parked in the town as a decoy and is now doing the same in front of the museum.

Rail and auto bridges crossing the White River at Cotter, Arkansas.

The Hotel Seville originally opened in 1929 then reopened just about a year ago. It's in Harrison, Arkansas. The updating was nicely done. The Seville is a classy place with reasonable prices. John Paul's Restaurant & Gathering Place is just off of the lobby and is "Harrison's only wet restaurant in this dry county". It closed at 6:00 for an employee party but was open when I arrived so that I was able to enjoy a couple of Fat Tires and some tasty chicken marsala before they locked the doors. Look into my room here. A big thumbs up on this one.

The Seville is just a block from the courthouse square. The year's last performance of A Christmas Carol took place at the Lyric Theater this afternoon and tonight a private Christmas party filled the theater. The courthouse itself was tastefully decorated with blue lights. The Seville looks pretty good at night, too.

In the past, gingerbread men traveling with me have met their end shortly after being photographed. My current baked companions have not yet been consumed though neck injuries keep them from standing. I let them relax in the empty bed while I edited photos.

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