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To Helena Hand Basket

Visiting possibly the worst city in Arkansas


We dine out a lot. We have a lot of respect for waiters and bartenders. My mother was a waitress at one time. We have many good friends who are bartenders and waiters. When traveling we always appreciate the advice of local waiters and bartenders.

We recently took a road trip with our friend Gillian through the southern part of the U.S. Gillian flew from her home in Manchester, England to meet us in Baltimore. From here we drove south through Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas. While in Mississippi we stayed at a Casino in the town of Tunica. It's a very small rural community but it has several very large Las Vegas style casino's.


Tunica is very near the Arkansas border. We decided we wanted to spend an afternoon driving to Arkansas. We were nearby and it would be fun to add one more state to our car trip. We asked one of the bartenders at the casino if there were any places nearby in Arkansas that would be of interest to visit. We wanted to drive someplace for lunch the next day and wanted to cross the border to Arkansas. The bartender had been very friendly to us and gladly gave us some advice. She told us to drive over to Helena, Arkansas. She told us there were places we could have lunch and that there was an active blues music scene in the city. So we trusted her.


We drove thirty four miles through some of the emptiest landscapes I have seen. We followed US 61 through miles of mud filled empty cotton fields. There was nothing to see for miles and miles.



We really didn't mind the boring drive at first. We were assured there were some interesting places for lunch in Helena and we looked forward to exploring a small town.

We found that Helena is located in the eastern portion of Helena-West Helena, Arkansas. It's located in Phillips County. And it has a population of 6,323 people. Had we asked Alexa on my google app she would have said to us "Why in the hell are you going to Helena, Arkansas." When we arrived in Helena there was absolutely nothing there to see. We found no place for lunch. And we did not really feel safe to even stop for photos. We saw open drug deals happening on the street corners.



I still have no idea why the bartender sent us to Helena. Maybe she was still fighting the Civil War and didn't like us Yankee carpetbaggers coming down from up north. Perhaps she did not appreciate Gillian's English accent. Whatever it was she did provide us with an interesting afternoon. We laughed about it after wards.

After we returned home I did some googling on Helena. I found out it was listed as the number one worst place to live in Arkansas. It has a 20.6% unemployment rate. There is a 1 in 88 chance of being robbed in Helena.

I was curious about the music scene the bartender had told us about. I found that there is an annual blues festival in Helena every year in October. But we found no music in April. I guess we were just six months too early. But I don't think we will be returning in October.

No regrets. The experience gave us a good travel story to share. We never saw the bartender again. She goes on my list of interesting people I have met while traveling. I'm sure she will remember us also and is probably still laughing at the gullible tourists she sent to Helena and back.

Posted by littlesam1 20:25 Archived in USA Tagged casino tunica_mississippi helena_arkansas waitresses bartenders helena_handbasket car_trip

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