All Over Arkansas

Last week I took a trip to Arkansas for work. We have some fantastic foundation partners in Arkansas who have made a huge difference in the state's public schools, and hopefully after my flurry of meetings we'll have some new corporate and foundation partners, too!

The trip started with a late night arrival in Little Rock. They do a nice job lighting the capitol building, which is modeled after the the national capitol in DC.

Also, in Little Rock I was able to see the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum. Maybe next time I won't be as rushed and can actually go inside (by the way, none of these pics are mine since I didn't have a camera...thanks random people on Flickr!)

They say the museum looks a bit like a trailer, which was kind of funny. I did learn a great deal about the grounds though and the area's sustainability (and architecture), which was really cool. Next door is Heifer International, which has some amazing grounds and architecture of its own.

My favorite stop was dinner at Bosco's a local brewpub known as THE restaurant for beer lovers. I had a nice dinner of chicken puttanesca which included the best sweet potato fries ever, but the real highlight was the beer. After chatting with the waitress (and probably because I was one of only a few people there that late), she brought me samples of 6 of their specialties, which were all very good. They included:

-Bosco's Famous Flaming Stone Beer - a very flavorful light beer
-Downtown Brown - and English-style nut brown ale, it was fantastic
-Isle of Skye Scottish Ale - I'm a big fan of scotch ales, and while this wasn't as good as the autenticly Scottish McEwan's, it was incredibly good, and I'd probably rank it above Schlafly's which I really like. This one had a hint of vanilla that was a nice touch, too.
-Bosco's Schwarzbier - a German-style black beer that looks like a stout but tastes much milder. I really enjoyed it but definitely felt like something as strong as it looked.
-Hook Slide Ale - a cream ale that was pretty good
-Bosco's Stock Ale - a colonial-era beer that uses extra hops (Clusters and Willamette) and cane sugar. It was unlike anything I have had before, and I really enjoyed its depth.

I ended up with pints of the Scottish Ale and Stock Ale and really enjoyed my Bosco's experience. I'll likely stop by next time I'm in Arkansas (or Memphis or Nashville).

I also had a fun lunch at Cotham's in the City, which is near the state capitol and a staple of locals and politicos alike. Known for their bugers and catfish, I enjoyed fried catfish, french fries, fried okra, hush puppies, and fried corn fritters (yep, they sure fry a lot down south!). It was all really good, except the hush puppies which were pretty bland.

After meetings in Little Rock, I had to rent a car and drive over 3 horus northwest to the Fayetteville/Bentonville region for more meetings. Although I heard the drive was quite scenic, it was late in the evening so I couldn't see anything. I got into Bentonville very late, but had great meetings the following day. Rolling into Bentonville at midnight, I was able to see the empty town square all lit up with stunning Christmas lights, which was beautiful and a nice way to be welcomed to the city.

After a downtown Bentonville meeting (and by downtown, I mean small town square), we stopped at Sam Walton's very first 5 and dime store, which has been turned into a Walton and Wal-mart museum. It was fun to look around and see the place where this mega-corporation began.

In the Walton museum the even preserved Sam's original office from the 50's.

Overall, it was a fantastic trip, and I look forward to my next visit. The Arkansans are wonderful people and were incredibly hospitable and welcoming. Hopefully more corporations and foundations there will start funding classroom needs through DonorsChoose.org!

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