A while ago, I wrote about my strategy to get the Southwest Companion Pass that would enable me to bring a companion along for free on every Southwest flight I take for 23 months. I’m happy to report that it went exactly according to plan – I signed up for the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Card (50k) and the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Plus Card (50k), paid for some business expenses on one card and got the required 110k points in order to qualify by the third week of January. I am now in possession of the coveted Southwest Airlines Companion Pass.
My initial plan was to make an escape to Florida this month, but I’ve been involved in a humanitarian project in Haiti that will send me back this month and prohibit me from doing any playing this month.
But as you would expect, it’s burning a hole in my pocket and I’m not about to let it lay idle for long. Most of my wanderlust is not domestic, and while Southwest will start some service to the Caribbean this summer, the great majority of their routes are within the US, so I’m having to reach a bit to come up with ideas of where to go and what to see. But I am getting a little help from a cold Idaho winter.
As you know, where I can travel and stay inexpensively tends to dictate where I end up traveling, so my first thought was to start with the list of Priority Club Points Break Hotels – where I can stay for only 5k points/night and have a reserve of 80k+ that I got from the Chase Priority Club Select Visa.
The first thing I notice is that there are 4 hotels in Arkansas. It wasn’t too long ago that I read “Summer of the Monkeys” by Wilson Rawls to my sons, so I have a little bit of Ozark fever and I’m drawn to the idea. Plus, I’ve never been to Arkansas, and neither has my brother – so that’s one more state I could get on him. So the next thing I do is to plug their locations into Google Maps to see how I could work a loop through each of them.
Well I’ll be darned if it doesn’t make for a perfect loop – starting and ending in Little Rock – an airport Southwest Airlines just happens to service. Not only is it an airport that SW services, but I can book a flight for a 3-day weekend at the end of March for a mere 14,500 Rapid Rewards points!
I start to get excited when I recall that there was a medieval castle being constructed in Arkansas – along the lines of the Guedelon Castle that is busily under period-specific construction outside of Paris, France – something that has held my attention for almost 8 years as I’ve watched them re-make a castle as if it were the year 1200. But when I search for the project online, I’m dismayed to see that it’s stalled due to lack of funding and there’s not much there to see.
I go to work seeking out things to see and do in the area and here’s what I think could keep me busy:
Little Rock (Candlewood Suites)
- Mark Twain Riverboat Tour
- Murry’s Dinner Playhouse
- The Old Mill (a water-powered gristmill, featured in “Gone with the Wind.”)
- Quapaw Quarter Historic Homes
Pine Bluff (Holiday Inn Express)
- Bass Fishing (Pine Bluff is nick-named “The Bass-Fishing Capital of the World”)
- Delta Rivers Nature Preserve
- Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame
Hope (Holiday Inn Express)
- Crater of Diamonds State Park
- Hot Springs National Park (Between Hope and Little Rock)
- Hiking in the Ozarks
By now I’m pretty well convinced that a trip to Arkansas is in the near future for me – maybe even in March. Have you been to Arkansas? Are there any other amazing things I need to see there?
If you’d prefer another day of nature instead of the Little Rock sites, Petit Jean State Park is about an hour north of L.R. and has some really nice dayhikes.
Stephen, Thanks for the trip advice. Obviously we haven’t been there quite yet, so your input is appreciated.