Like most full-time RVers we try to keep our travel days short. We don’t have any hard and fast rules, but anything over four hours is usually too long. Since this is our life and not a road trip or vacation it doesn’t make sense to push ourselves by driving any farther. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way. Like a few weeks ago when we drove from Hillsborough River SP to Florida Caverns SP. It was 330 miles of interstate travel (our least favorite kind) and after the necessary stops for gas, lunch and bathroom breaks it took us most of the day. It was also incredibly boring. So last weekend when we made a multi-day trek from Northern Florida to Hot Springs, AR we decided to have some fun with it.
Sometime mid-afternoon on Friday we left Florida Caverns SP and drove up into Alabama and then diagonally across the bottom corner of the state. This time we stuck to smaller roads which meant we got to pass through small towns and enjoy the country scenery.
Our planned stop for the night was at a Walmart in a town whose name I have since forgotten. We pulled in briefly, noted that it was still 85 degrees out and kept going. There is nothing worse than roasting inside a metal tube surrounded by pavement. It was also still on the early side and even if the weather had been cooler, how long do we really want to spend in a parking lot? An hour and a half later we arrived in Monroeville, AL where another Walmart and temperatures below 80 greeted us.
And guess what? As we pulled in we spotted a carnival across the street! There was no way were going to miss this. After a quick dinner, we risked life and limb to cross the four-lane highway and walked in the direction of the bright lights and sound of screaming kids.
As far as we could figure the carnival was being put on by the local high school (it was set up on the school grounds.) There was no entry fee to get in so we just wandered around a bit watching the action. We didn’t go on any rides, indulge in any fair food, or play any games, but we had a blast walking around watching the full on fair frenzy.
The next day we continued west into Mississippi. Tim pulled over so I could take this photo and in an effort to capture some of those small red flowers in the shot I stepped a bit to the side and my foot was instantly covered in red ants! Of course, I was wearing flip flops. Now I have four red ants bites on the top of my foot to remember our one day in Mississippi. And I didn’t even get a good shot of the flowers.
We had a long driving day planned with the intention of making it within a few hours of Hot Springs before nightfall. In an effort to add some fun into our weekend we added a mid-day stop for some barbecue. The last time we visited Mississippi we had some really memorable barbecue and hoped to repeat that experience. After all, isn’t that what Mississippi is known for? Our route took us through Jackson, MS where Google told us the best BBQ in town was found at the Pig & Pint. Airstream parking in that part of town was sparse, but luckily we found a closed bank with a big parking lot only a few blocks away.
This place stood up to our Mississippi BBQ memories. I had the taco trio with one chicken, one pork and one fried green tomato taco. It’s impossible to pick a favorite as they were all fantastic. And I could have eaten a whole plate of that sweet, spicy mango slaw slathered on top. Tim had the brisket sandwich and reported that it was some of the best he’d ever had. They also had a small bar inside serving local craft beer. Overall it was a very cool place with delicious food. Out only regret was that we didn’t get take out to eat for dinner.
After lunch, neither of us felt like getting back on the road yet so we headed a few blocks over to the Lucky Town Brewery. This place is not much to look at from the outside.
The inside isn’t any more polished looking, but it had a friendly welcoming vibe with tables filled with board games that said, “come on in and stay awhile”
They do things a bit differently at breweries in Mississippi. It’s currently against the law to sell beer at breweries — although that law is changing on July 1st. To get around the silly rule they sell you a “tour” that includes free beer. For $10 we got a 30-second tour which consisted of the bartender pointing at the tanks and tubes while giving a super condensed spiel about how beer is made. We then got to pick six beers to taste. And by taste, I mean a 6-ouncee glass of the beer of your choosing. That’s six 6 ounce beers for $10. What a deal!
Since I was taking the afternoon driving shift I didn’t get my own tour/tasting but I couldn’t resist a few sips of the Gose Gamblin’. This sour wheat beer was both spicy and sour making it very refreshing in the sweltering Mississippi humidity. I’m a big fan of sour beers and this one was downright delicious. We spent at least an hour at Lucky Town while Tim sipped his beers and we made our way through some of the old school board games.
Eventually, we had to get back on the road, but not before I spotted a man in the parking lot wearing a pair of giant black wings. What the… Turns out he was one of the amateur wrestlers there for the show that was happing at the brewery that evening. I was both intrigued and a little frightened. We really did have to get going, but a tiny part of me regrets not staying for the show. After all, when will we ever get the chance to see amateur wrestling at a brewery in the middle of Mississippi again?
Despite having to pull over for a brief heavy rain storm, the 2.5-hour afternoon drive went smoothly and before we knew it we were crossing the Mississippi into Arkansas.
An unremarkable night spent at a tiny Walmart not far from the Mississippi/Arkansas border passed and the next morning we only had a 1.5-hour drive to Hot Springs. Neither of us has been to Arkansas before and my first observation is that it’s very green. We started off the morning driving through miles of farmland in the fertile land along the river.
Eventually, we left the river behind and started to see rolling hills covered with dense forest. Yay! It feels good to leave all that flat land behind. We’ve been in Hot Springs since Sunday and have been busy exploring the town and enjoying the lovely national park campground with family and friends. More on that next time…