We now have a rough structure for our days.  I get up too early, go out running for a little while, return to find Lydia stirring.  We get dressed, eat breakfast, pack up the room, depart.  This morning we were on the road about 7:30, about as early as I have ever been on the road on this kind of multiday trip.

Our first goal was the Mississippi River in Memphis.  More specifically, I was hoping to see the model of the river on Mud Island, but that part of the park does not allow pets, so we turned around and walked along the River for a while in the park.  The dog especially enjoyed this part of the trip because we were behind a painting truck, moving very slowly, and she had her head out the window.  Apparently the Mississippi has many interesting smells.

We crossed the great river on the route 40 bridge and entered Arkansas.  I have been in almost every state but not, until today, Arkansas.  It was somewhat flatter than I expected, and hotter and drier, although I suspect that is the drought.  We passed a number of corn fields that looked like they had been burned by a fire, and the grass outside our hotel here in Van Buren is dry and brown and nearly dead.

The thermometer in the car was over 90 by noon, so for lunch we stayed in the car, and kept the AC on for the dog, each going in to McDonald’s to get something takeout.  By midafternoon the thermometer said that it was 104 outside, and that felt right when you touched the window.  We arrived here in Van Buren early, around four, and went downtown at five.  Van Buren is proud of its downtown, with reason, for many of the late 19th early 20th century buildings have survived and some have shops and restaurants.  It is not easy, in this age of Walmart and Target, for a downtown to survive.  Unfortunately, especially for Lydia, the shops were almost all closed, it being just after five.  We had an early dinner at an excellent restaurant, Sisters Gourmet Bistro, ending with sumptuous desserts.