Monday, November 4, 2013

Thankful for Memories

Arkansas trip 2013 October

Just a head’s up ~ it’s going to be a long post with lots of pictures!

Baby did well for a twelve hour drive. He slept a lot but I could tell towards the end of the ride he wanted nothing more to do with the car seat. 

(yes, my parents took their dog, Biscuit, on this trip and yes, that's how she likes to ride :)

One fun stop along the way was Minsky Pecan Market. It was the first time I sampled key lime covered pecans.. Very refreshing, but we didn't by any of those.  We couldn't pass up the chocolate covered pecans.

I have to say that the GPS worked great until we arrived in town. Then it kept redirecting us into odd places. Normally this wouldn't be frustrating, but at nine pm and road weary... We ended up having to call the owner of the apartment for directions.

The place we stayed was the Border house in Eureka Springs. If you know anything about New Orleans or Metairie, you might be familiar with the description "fat city," which has nothing to do with weight. Or better yet, the French Quarter... Our apartment was on the second story on a hill that was right over "downtown Eureka Springs".... It just so happens that we arrived in time for a music festival.  Every night we were gifted with the bar music thumping through the walls and sometimes coupled with the chatter of people in the hot tub which was on our level outside. At least the baby slept!

And the apartment accommodations? The advertisement said two rooms with a separate room... Ummm did you catch that? You walk into the kitchen, which opens to the front room and a bed... And the only separate other room has a small step down, into an attic bedroom. This is where we stayed with the baby. My husband said, "I feel like Anne Frank in this room." 

At every angle you had to watch your head and feet, as I unfortunately found out... there is a board surrounding the edge of the bed, which I tripped on and fell... But this was home for a week. We made the best of it and I did get some cute pictures.

Because none of the sinks worked well for bathing Gregory, he graduated to the tub and did very well there.

Gregory also tried his first cracker there. He was up to eight ounces of food or milk at a setting and we figured a small solid like a cracker might be good. We broke it into smaller pieces. It entertained Gregory for a nice little while. He enjoys new experiences!

The first morning, we went to Mud Street Cafe. 

It was kind of a hippy gypsy bohemian decor. I liked how they made the wall murals 3D with material coming out of the wall at various places.

Gregory had everyone laughing when he grabbed a menu as if he was going to order too. And when daddy's food came out, Gregory grabbed a handful of the plate before Greg had a chance to react. We have a stubborn and willful son!

The first day in Arkansas, we visited the Thornton chapel. I read about this a long time ago and remembered the great reviews as a must see. Gregory was asleep in the suburban, so my parents stayed with him in the vehicle while Greg and I did a quick tour. On the short walk, my husband started singing, "Going to the chapel and we're going to get married." It was cute.  (Do you have the song stuck in your head?)

I love how the chapel was as majestically tall as the trees. The windows opened up the building to nature's view. The person created the chapel when many people stopped on his property to look at the area. He wanted to make a place for travelers to rest and reflect.

At one point he ran out of funds and stopped the building process. He said a prayer for God's help and soon after... a lady heard of his endeavor and gave him a loan to complete the chapel.

For lunch we went to Bubbas. They had a lot of vehicles in the parking lot and the barbecue smelled good. It was a beacon to a hungry group. 

I thought the pork salad was good, but then the salad didn't have sauce on it. My family gave their pork entrees a low review. But everyone agreed the key lime pie was perfect. We wouldn't be returning.

We drove to the Blue Spring Heritage Center, which showcased the second largest spring in the area.

There was a ramp, which took a longer path to the spring which we opted for in order to use the stroller.  It started off well.

But as we went on... the "the trail of tears" took on a whole new meaning, as mommy forgot the bottle and formula in the vehicle. 

Our crying cub probably scared a lot of wildlife that day! It was the fastest stroller ride on the longest walkway!

The afternoon was spent relaxing and looking over brochures of things to do. Greg and I went to look at the shops in "fat city"... Stuff you'd find in garage sales more like. It didn't burn any holes in our pockets, except for the peanut butter fudge.. A weakness for my husband.

The next day we went to see the Turpentine Creek big cats refuge. They house over 120 lions, tigers and bears, (oh my!) but mostly tigers. These are animals that people wanted as pets and realized it wasn't such a good idea to have a 500 pound or more animal in their home.

The animals we saw were open to the public, but there's a section not viewable to the public because these tigers were badly abused. The abused animals will charge the cages, especially around men.

The animals viewable to the public ~ some were in cement cages. These are holding cages until they can afford to build a grass habitat. The organization is nonprofit, so it's a slow progress.

The tour guide said, "You hear me saying that this cat or that cat is a favorite, but understand that at no point do we go in the cages. Everything can be done outside of the cages with a safe distance away and even with that sometimes the cats will swipe their paws at us. We have a one hundred percent safety rating for our employees and we are proud of that and plan on keeping it."

They will not put down any animal. For instance, they received one tiger with enzyme problems. The animal wouldn't survive without his medicine, which cost 350 a week. Instead of putting the tiger down, they cut expenses until one visitor heard of the tiger's health problems... Her company now donates the enzyme medicine for the duration of the cat’s life!

I'm glad we took the guided tour, which was informative. Gregory liked the cougars (the only active bigs cats that early in the day) and the bear who played with a bowling ball and a tub of water. My husband teased me, because I was nervous about all of the bees. He said, "With tigers and bears, you are worried about bees?" Yes but those big cats are locked up.

For lunch we ate at Pancakes Place restaurant. The food was decent, but the blackberry cobbler... Yummmmmmmmmm fantastic! Throughout lunch our son flirted with the waitresses.

Monday was my birthday! October 28th. My son greeted me first to wish me a happy birthday at 4am. We snuggled until 6am, and then started the day. My husband was upset that he couldn't find a bakery open on a Monday. We ended up with chocolate and banana nut muffins with candles on top.

That worked, because there would have been too much cake left over afterwards. Gregory liked a small sample of each.

My husband gave me a beautiful opal pendant necklace, my birthstone. Gregory promptly grabbed at it.

The trip was my parents’ gift to me (us), and they also bought me some shirts from the cat refuge. I even received a lovely card from my mother and father-in-law and lots of birthday wishes from friends and family. It was a great start to the day.

I wanted to see the Quigley Castle. The brochure shared a story of the house built in the 1940's. Mr. Quigley went to work one day and when he came home... There was no home. His wife and five children tore it down and they moved their possessions to the chicken house. You see, his wife had a dream home and she was determined to see it through. The brochure goes on to say how the house is made of stones that the wife collected since the age of nine.. And how along the walls inside they left four feet of dirt so that she could plant things..she was big into living with nature and not living in a box home. The house is lived in by a surviving grandchild.

The brochure story sounded interesting... But the reality sucked. The granddaughter was a horrible hostess....  My husband nicknamed the hostess, “the witch” – appropriate for Halloween and her attitude. 

Here is what my husband posted in Yelp.


Being a personable, congenial person, I immediately started "chatting it up" with the woman who shows the house. My comments were met by a very disinterested reply from her, which can only summed up with an impression of her, which basically screams.... “Give me cash... Here's my practiced spiel, and DONT interrupt my droning prose...” 

When we asked a question about the indoor garden her reply was "you'll see for yourself"" and pointed to the front door.   It was curt, unwelcoming and I walked away with a feeling that reminded of a quote from the movie "Clerks" where a supporting character mentioned, " This job would be great if it weren't for the (expletive) customers".

At least we all had so something to talk about on the ride home.


And the house? If that was a “castle” then we live in a mansion!  Talk about a huge overstated description.

Per Oma, it “was a bit gaudy.”  (The husband who owned the house collected glass bottles and the wife created tree branches out of the bottles.  There were 23 trees like that in their yard.)

My husband said, "I think it's ugly."  

I think we took a few cute pictures, so it wasn’t a total waste.

Below is a picture of my parents standing next to the "butterfly wall" (another novelty the brochure mentioned).  It was a little creepy. did the wife of the house capture all those butterflies??

The brochure made the "indoor" garden seem like it was along all of the walls, but it was just at the front of the house now that said, the plants grow into the second story (which is what you see behind my parents in the butterfly picture).  

We left with just enough time to get to the Belle of the Ozark ride. Oma fed him a bottle. Then Gregory reached out to me so I held him... That's when he gave me my birthday gift.... Returned eight ounces of milk from my blouse to the bottom of my jeans. Oh the joys of motherhood.

Otherwise it was a beautiful sunny day on a peaceful boat ride.  (And yes, pets were allowed on the ride too.  Biscuit was happy not to be left out!)

The name, Rowdy Beaver Restaurant, was a put off, making me think of road kill or a biker bar by the beaver’s leather jacket logo, but it was a big improvement. I had grilled chicken. I was hoping the mashed potatoes would be soft, but they were not.. I wanted Gregory to try them, but nixed that idea. Everyone seemed pleased with their meal. My dad really liked some type of dipping sauce made out of marsh mellows.

The next morning, Opa cooked breakfast. He laughed when we jumped to open doors and windows, "It's not Cajun cooking unless you set off the fire alarm!"

Though it was dreary outside, Greg wanted to do antique shopping. He reminded me how I sucked this year at gift giving because I didn't catch his hints that he wanted a rocking chair. So he was on a quest for an old chair. We found one but it was priced at 250 and shipping would cost an additional 100 dollars. I thought that was nuts. The owner kept saying, "It's at least one hundred years old!" But there were no markings to validate his claim. My husband said the owner was a little too proud of his stuff.

After going to three antique shops in the area and not finding anything, I realized something about myself... I have no antiques in my home for a reason... Can't stand the smell of those shops, prices are crazy high and most of it looks like the show American Pickers.

After we got back to the apartment, my husband went to Spring Street and texted me that we would like the shops there. My husband continued to look around there and I told my parents to go ahead to the shops. I stayed with the baby because he was clearly fighting sleep and there's no way he would be good company for shopping. But somehow I'm able to calm him down for a nap.

My mom came back with a lovely blue hat that matched her eyes and she bought me a black one too. She also found some cute toys for Gregory.

During the time that they shopped and I calmed Gregory into a nap, I came to a conclusion. We won't be going on another family trip for a couple of years.... When bottles, formula and baby food, etc aren't needed.

I do appreciate my parents taking us on this vacation, because I'd always wonder about if we could have gone easily with a baby. But now I know better. Easily is at home. We will do staycations in the meantime. And if my husband reads this far I bet he gave a loud cheer, because that's what he has been saying all along. Whereas I have always looked forward to getting away, now with a baby, that desire has been squashed for a little while. Fortunately my parents brought us on many, many trips before we had a baby so I had the best of both worlds.

Ok, so next day.... Wednesday was a wash out. I was really hoping to go to those shops, but not with that rain and slick steps. As Opa said, "It was a crappy day." I had to say, " Oma doesn't like the word, crappy, so it was a shitty day." Oma giggled. Greg was the most productive by going to the Laundromat. Everyone else stayed in. Oma taught me the game Ruzzles.  Have you played this before?  It goes against every grain of what is taught in school for writing. Lol.  And Oma, a retired teacher, is hooked!  (She’s also quite good at it!)

When we first arrived to Eureka Springs, the trees were barely starting to change colors, but by this day, they were in full glory!  It was one of the main reasons we went this time of year and I was so happy to see the pretty hues.

I know my description of the apartment we stayed in wasn't the best, but it did create some cute memories throughout the week:

For Halloween, we weren't home.  Come to find out, if there was a Halloween to miss at home, this is the one, because it stormed that night.  During the day, we dressed our son in a pumpkin onesie.

On Thursday, we left Eureka Springs for a three-hour drive to arrive at the Ozark Folk Center.  This was awesome!  The Crafts Village had various buildings where you could walk in and watch as various artist created their work (from woodcrafts to jewelry to quilting to pottery to card-making anything you can think of).

The rain had stopped and it wasn’t crowded, because we were there during the middle of the week.  We first went to a Copper Smith and watched at Rachael Mathews “colored” a copper butterfly pendant.  (My parents bought it for me.)  

I was fascinated with the different colors!  And honestly?  My hands were itching to try it.  It’s something I’d love to learn how to make.  After watching Rachael make the pendant, my eyes were pulled to a large fall leaves copper wall decoration.  Greg saw it too and he shocked me when he said, “SOLD!”  I think it will look beautiful over the piano.

In the middle of the village, a band played.  We stopped to listen to the music.  One of the musicians got up from the stand and walked over to our son and did a nice solo in front of Gregory.  The musician then said, "Normally I play until the child starts to cry, but he just kept watching me!"  

I’m so glad we went to the craft center, because it was the perfect way to end the trip.  

That night, in trying to keep with our nighttime routine, we needed to give Gregory a bath, but decided the tub didn't look the best.  So, we opted for the sink, which was a tad on the small side, but it made for a really cute picture!

I think Gregory knew we were in for a long drive home… he gave me this expression when I put him in the carseat.

Biscuit made the car ride more enjoyable

Of course, on the road trip home, we had to stop at my parents' favorite restaurant - The Cracker Barrel.  This time was the first time Gregory was given a children's coloring book the first time he held a crayon and he took it like he owned it!

We enjoyed a lot of things on the vacation and it was very thoughtful and sweet of my parents to take us to Arkansas.

It’s not just the trip or the sights to see…. It’s the time spent with loved ones and memories made ~ I’m thankful for these memories.  Thank you, Oma and Opa.


Mari said...

What a wonderful vacation and birthday gift. (Happy Birthday!) I enjoyed the pictures too. I do remember doing staycations when our kids were little - it's a lot of work to travel with little ones!

Life Is 2 Short 2 Fold Underwear said...

Love all the pictures! Sounds like a great trip. Especially like the picture of Gregory in the sink looking at himself in the mirror!!

Laurel said...

There is a place in Mississippi that makes real nice wood furniture, including rocking chairs. I think it's close to Brookhaven?

Laurel said...

There is a place in Mississippi that makes real nice wood furniture, including rocking chairs. I think it's close to Brookhaven?

Aleta said...

I have relatives in Brookhaven, MS. I'll have to ask them about the furniture store. Greg is looking for a rocker that has curved arms and something that can be used outside.

Cheryl said...

First of all..Happy belated Birthday.

What an interesting post. I am from Arkansas so I have been to all those places.

My impression of Quigley's Castle is about the same as Greg's. The granddaughter doesn't go out of her way to be friendly but more to the point of figuring out how to make some money on the side.

The interesting part of that story is that her grandfather must of dearly loved his wife to build her that house of all the stones she collected.

So Little Gregory can cry. Who knew? He is darling even when crying.

Dakota said...

"A new meaning to 'Trail of Tears'" made me laugh... not so much fun for your son (I'm sorry!) but I got a chuckle out of it. *laugh *

carma said...

I thought Greg didn't like long posts ;-) so happy to see everyone doing so well - little Gregory is adorable :-)

Wall Sensations said...

it looks like you and your family had a great time! Your baby is adorable!