Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Report from the Heartland: Holiday Weekend Edition

 

We have friends who own a place on a lake near Hot Springs, Arkansas who invited us up for the weekend, so we went! Hot Springs is a tourist town with a horse racing track, a casino, several lakes, and historical bathhouses. Of course, the bathhouses were closed. Restaurants were recently allowed to re-open and operate at 33% capacity. Retail finally opened back up around the first of May. My friends reported that the casino closed in March, but the horses kept racing, to an empty grandstand, until the season culminated with the Arkansas Derby on the first Saturday in May. Apparently, with online betting, the family-owned racetrack did just fine, despite the lack of free-spending spectators on site.

The action appeared to be out on the lakes: Boats everywhere! Families loaded up on pontoon boats, dragging the kids on a tube across the water. Jet skis aplenty and show-boaters skiing or wake-boarding behind powerful in-board engines. Nearly every boat was flying an American flag and I spied a couple of boats flaunting a white flag with “TRUMP” in big red letters. Our friends’ neighbor popped over to say hello while we were grilling. They are a retired couple that live in Lake Tahoe, CA, but inherited the lakehouse next door. The CA folks said that CA will not allow any boats on the water on Lake Tahoe so they loaded up and drove the three days to Arkansas to escape from CA and enjoy time on the lake. They had no immediate plans to return to CA.

On Monday, we strolled back through some tourist shops. Mask wearing was below 50%. Two shops required masks to peruse the goods. Everywhere else welcomed in customers, with or without masks, with plenty of hand sanitizer and signs reminding you to keep your 6 feet of distance. As a business person, I am always interested in how other local businesses are doing. I asked the proprietress of the Bathhouse Soapary how business had been for the long weekend and she responded that they had their best Memorial weekend ever. She said that she had no idea what to expect going into the weekend so she staffed for what she hoped would be a good weekend. She said that it was busier than she had hoped for. She also said that the boutique hotel/restaurant across the street (a fairly new place) had their best weekend ever. The cupcake bakery was overrun with customers (clearly unable to maintain 6 feet of distance with their current set-up based on my observation), but business was brisk. Everyone on the streets seemed happy and pleased to be out and about and it seemed people were mindful of one another. I was glad to see people out spending money at the local shops and I hope this is an indicator of an economy that can recover. Now it’s Tuesday, and I am back to my own business, which, sadly, had its worst week ever last week. But, I am hopeful that the mindset I saw on display this weekend will trickle out and we will begin recovery as well. Fingers crossed!

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Thank you for allowing us to share in your delightful visit!! Here’s hoping that your business picks up quickly!

    • #1
    • May 26, 2020, at 8:11 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Buckpasser Member
    Buckpasser Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Last I checked Arkansas had 115 Covid reported deaths, There are around 3 million people in Arkansas. By all means we need masks, 6 foot poles and lock downs. Maybe my last sentence was written in jest.

    • #2
    • May 26, 2020, at 8:59 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. Nerina Bellinger Member

    Thank you for this bit of hope-filled reporting.

    • #3
    • May 26, 2020, at 9:36 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    My experience this weekend has been sort of depressing. We live in the countryside of the Western part of Northern Virginia. The closest town to us is Hillsboro – a small, historic town of about 100 residents which sits on a major commute route (Rt. 9) with about 17,000 vehicles per day. The town fathers, along with Federal money decided they wanted to put in “Traffic Calming” and somehow slow down the commuter traffic. The project was to have greatly disrupted the traffic flow, but when the shutdown hit, it was decided that the work would be done on an accelerated schedule and the road would be closed down for the duration. At one end of town, there is a small “Mom and Pop” store (actually, Father, Wife and Daughter store) whose owners are from Pakistan (I think) and I have gotten to know. I try to go there once or twice a week just to give them business. The last time I saw the owner, I said as long as he is open, I will try to make it to the store.

    This week, I parked at one end of town and walked the 3/4 mile down the torn up road to the store. There was a sign saying it was closed until Mid June and it looked like the shelves were bare. I can’t imagine they will be able to open again.

    In the other direction – about a mile down our road – is a stone Lutheran Church which was built in 1892. It has about 45 members, mostly older – what I would call the Viet Nam generation. I drove by there this afternoon, and one of the leaders was out painting the outdoor benches. I stopped to talk for a while and asked if he thought they would be opening this Sunday. He thought they would not, since they had been told by the Bishop that the Pastor and leadership would be financially responsible for any illness that could be tied to church attendance. He also thought that most of the congregants were afraid to go into public and would not attend.

    So in the space of about 3 miles, we have an immigrant family that at a minimum will be struggling to keep their business alive and a group of people who lived through some serious troubles and have a history in these parts that go back hundreds of years who are afraid to attend their church.

    and I am trying to find what our dear Gov. Blackface (Northam) will allow us to do this week in terms of a shutdown.

     

     

     

    • #4
    • May 26, 2020, at 11:11 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  5. Front Seat Cat Member

    People in the heartland should be forgiven for not maintaining the 6 ft. distance in front of a display of cupcakes! I just had lunch with my friend on her porch in a big beach community nearby. I’ve never seen it this busy – even over the 4th of July. Bikes, golf carts, people on front porches, I didn’t see that many masks, tons of kids. My friend said she and her husband were on the beach, and a girl was wearing a Trump 2020 bathing suit and sun hat! Everyone wanted their picture taken with her! Restaurants were booming.

    We had a small cookout yesterday and my sister in law said she went to the crowded beaches at Panama City Beach. Some of the group of friends of our aunt rented houses and brought the kids, grandkids and their friends. Our aunt’s friend is a hair stylist and they all lined up outside on the first fl porch at the condos to get haircuts.

    My friend’s husband went to chiropractor. The chiropractor had to head up to NY because his mother broke her hip he told him. They wanted to send her to rehab and she said no way, I’m going home to recoup. She was tested and had antibodies of the virus, never had a symptom! The chiropractor then got tested, and his brother since they were around her, and they both had antibodies – no symptoms!

    No one knows but we do know that fear is ruining our country.

    • #5
    • May 26, 2020, at 12:49 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  6. Dave of Barsham Member

    We had a similar experience up in Gatlinburg, TN. We spent Saturday at Ober Gatlinburg, and while attendance was certainly down and there were social distancing rules/stickers on the floor all over the place, there were hardly any masks. People were happy to be out. Precautions were being taken to wipe down everything after each use and people’s hands sanitized after rides, etc… Not a single freak out that we could see by people walking around about it. Instead of cupcakes though, it was a huge display of fudge in all its glory where I got more than really should have. Who can pass up chocolate pecan or peanut butter fudge? It was great.

    Sadly, If I want a dose of the covid fear all I have to do is check into the Nextdoor app for my neighborhood and read where people are loosing their minds about stupid things as if the virus was going to kill us all the minute we step outside. Not sure we can help people that are that emotionally absorbed into the fear.

    • #6
    • May 27, 2020, at 8:27 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  7. cdor Member
    cdor Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    WillowSpring (View Comment):

    My experience this weekend has been sort of depressing. We live in the countryside of the Western part of Northern Virginia. The closest town to us is Hillsboro – a small, historic town of about 100 residents which sits on a major commute route (Rt. 9) with about 17,000 vehicles per day. The town fathers, along with Federal money decided they wanted to put in “Traffic Calming” and somehow slow down the commuter traffic. The project was to have greatly disrupted the traffic flow, but when the shutdown hit, it was decided that the work would be done on an accelerated schedule and the road would be closed down for the duration. At one end of town, there is a small “Mom and Pop” store (actually, Father, Wife and Daughter store) whose owners are from Pakistan (I think) and I have gotten to know. I try to go there once or twice a week just to give them business. The last time I saw the owner, I said as long as he is open, I will try to make it to the store.

    This week, I parked at one end of town and walked the 3/4 mile down the torn up road to the store. There was a sign saying it was closed until Mid June and it looked like the shelves were bare. I can’t imagine they will be able to open again.

    In the other direction – about a mile down our road – is a stone Lutheran Church which was built in 1892. It has about 45 members, mostly older – what I would call the Viet Nam generation. Idrovebytherethisafternoon,andoneoftheleaders was out painting the outdoor benches. I stopped to talk for a while and asked if he thought they would be opening this Sunday. He thought they would not, since they had been told by the Bishop that the Pastor and leadership would be financially responsible for any illness that could be tied to church attendance. He also thought that most of the congregants were afraid to go into public and would not attend.

    So in the space of about 3 miles, we have an immigrant family that at a minimum will be struggling to keep their business alive and a group of people who lived through some serious troubles and have a history in these parts that go back hundreds of years who are afraid to attend their church.

    and I am trying to find what our dear Gov. Blackface (Northam) will allow us to do this week in terms of a shutdown.

    That is truly painful to hear. The difference between your’s and Dominique’s stories paints a realistic picture of where we are today in America today. The Blue States with a few exceptions will do everything they can to hold back the economy. Hopefully their citizens will rebel as they look at their Red State partners and see how well we all could be doing with the onerous restrictions.

     

     

     

     

    • #7
    • May 27, 2020, at 8:55 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Obama’s economist is predicting a “V” shaped recovery, similar to those after natural disasters and unlike 2008 to 2017. Maybe in red states but CA may not recover.

    • #8
    • May 27, 2020, at 9:05 AM PDT
    • Like
  9. cdor Member
    cdor Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Dave of Barsham (View Comment):

    We had a similar experience up in Gatlinburg, TN. We spent Saturday at Ober Gatlinburg, and while attendance was certainly down and there were social distancing rules/stickers on the floor all over the place, there were hardly any masks. People were happy to be out. Precautions were being taken to wipe down everything after each use and people’s hands sanitized after rides, etc… Not a single freak out that we could see by people walking around about it. Instead of cupcakes though, it was a huge display of fudge in all its glory where I got more than really should have. Who can pass up chocolate pecan or peanut butter fudge? It was great.

    Sadly, If I want a dose of the covid fear all I have to do is check into the Nextdoor app for my neighborhood and read where people are loosing their minds about stupid things as if the virus was going to kill us all the minute we step outside. Not sure we can help people that are that emotionally absorbed into the fear.

    What is it with the Nextdoor sites? My neighborhood in K.C. has the same thing with the local Nextdoor site. I finally asked one of the lefty commenters if he ever had a conversation that he didn’t make political.

    • #9
    • May 27, 2020, at 9:23 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. Dave of Barsham Member

    cdor (View Comment):

    Dave of Barsham (View Comment):

    We had a similar experience up in Gatlinburg, TN. We spent Saturday at Ober Gatlinburg, and while attendance was certainly down and there were social distancing rules/stickers on the floor all over the place, there were hardly any masks. People were happy to be out. Precautions were being taken to wipe down everything after each use and people’s hands sanitized after rides, etc… Not a single freak out that we could see by people walking around about it. Instead of cupcakes though, it was a huge display of fudge in all its glory where I got more than really should have. Who can pass up chocolate pecan or peanut butter fudge? It was great.

    Sadly, If I want a dose of the covid fear all I have to do is check into the Nextdoor app for my neighborhood and read where people are loosing their minds about stupid things as if the virus was going to kill us all the minute we step outside. Not sure we can help people that are that emotionally absorbed into the fear.

    What is it with the Nextdoor sites? My neighborhood in K.C. has the same thing with the local Nextdoor site. I finally asked one of the lefty commenters if he ever had a conversation that he didn’t make political.

    I’m not sure, it’s like facebook, but worse. I joined to try and find a recommendation for house pressure washing and stuff like that. It’s useful enough for that but littered with ‘Karens,’ both male and female, where their only hobby is apparently complaining and shaming their neighbors. 

    • #10
    • May 28, 2020, at 4:09 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Concretevol Thatcher

    That is how it is here where I live as well although I would say mask use is at the most 25%. Knox Co. TN has close to 500,000 people, has had 5 deaths (that number has remained the same for a long time) and has around 35 active cases and 2 people hospitalized. This is basically a non-event here. That is a good thing! It is such a disconnect from any major news broadcast though….

    • #11
    • May 29, 2020, at 5:41 AM PDT
    • 3 likes