Monday, October 28, 2019

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

We had heard that Eureka Springs is a cute little town, so it was one of the places we wanted to visit during our stay in Bentonville.  Eureka Springs is in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, and quite a scenic drive from Bentonville.

We had to drive up and around the series of connected rivers and lakes that flow through northern Arkansas – the road was curvy and hilly, winding our way through the mountains. 

Just outside of town, we stopped at the Thorncrown Chapel – it’s a beautiful little chapel in the woods, made entirely of glass and timber.

We drove through downtown Eureka Springs, and quickly determined that parking was at a premium, due to narrow streets and tiny parking lots.  The Visitor Center offered parking, and a shuttle into town and to several other nearby attractions.  We decided that was the best option, and paid for our parking and shuttle tickets.

We walked along the main street, admiring the historic buildings and interesting landscape, and browsing through the shops.

Hanging baskets adorning the balconies of some buildings,

and in other areas . . . tomato plants!

We spotted this guy in a doorway, just chillin’ out in the heat of the afternoon!  Too cute, and he didn’t get up when I took his picture – barely opened his eyes!

We walked through the downtown area for a couple hours, then found a place for a late lunch before catching the trolley that would take us up the hill to the historic Catholic Church.

We got dropped off at the historic Crescent Hotel, and the trolley driver told us to just walk through the lobby and we would find the catholic church out the back door and down the hill.

It’s a beautiful church, surrounded by rock walls, gardens and statues.

We planned on going to mass while we were here, and I had seen on the website that the Saturday mass was held in the Parish Center rather than the Church, so Tom and I looked around for the Parish Center . . . but we couldn’t find it.

Tom asked in the Gift Shop, and it turns out that the Parish Center is several miles away!  That’s a first!  Well, since we rode the trolley and didn’t have our Jeep, we couldn’t get over there in time, so we would need a plan B!

We waited for the next trolley, and rode back to the Visitor Center, and then started the scenic drive back to the campground.  It started raining on the way back, and rained through the whole night . . . we were glad it had held off long enough for us to enjoy our afternoon in Eureka Springs!

Meanwhile, up in Michigan, Bryce was getting ready for the basketball season with their annual Izzone Camp-out.  With lots of rain predicted there for the overnight, too, the campout was moved inside, though, and everybody was allowed to go back to their dorms/apartments rather than staying overnight.  They still had a great turnout, though!

Bryce was actually easy to find for a change!  As the Student Athletic Trainer for the team, he got a good spot right up front!

And in Virginia,  Nicolas’ long underway wrapped up with some exercises with other members of the Carrier Strike Group, and they posted some excellent pictures on facebook.

This is a really cool picture!

Sounds like they had a successful underway, but I’m sure they were all happy to get home . . . I know Nicolas was!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Welcome to Walmart!

We left the family in Kansas City after a wonderful visit, and headed south through the Ozarks into Arkansas.

Our destination for the next several days was Bentonville – the home of Walmart.  We had picked out a small city park to stay at in nearby Rogers, but they were full when we arrived so we had to find a plan B.  This is the first time I can remember arriving at a location and not getting a site (we tried calling ahead, but they didn’t answer their phone or return messages).

Fortunately, there was a plan B not too far away – and it actually turned out to be a nicer park.

The RV Resort is along the edge of a golf course, and we had some really pretty sunsets over the ponds on the golf course.

Our first few days were spent catching up on work, but then on Friday we were able to get out to do some exploring in Bentonville.  We drove past the home office of Walmart, and into the historic downtown square.

There were some interesting murals on some of the older buildings,

and there was an Art Fest going on with chalk art on the sidewalks and lots of artistic activities for kids.

Sam Walton’s first Five & Dime was re-located to the square,

and the building behind the still-active shop and ice cream parlor is the Walmart Museum.

It was a really nice museum – chronicling the history of the Walmart empire from a single Five & Dime Variety Store (a Ben Franklin franchise) to the global giant it is today.  Tom and I were trying to remember when we first discovered Walmart, and according to the history, the first store didn’t come to Michigan until the 1990s, so it really wasn’t that long ago.  It was interesting to see that Walmart’s growth was pretty modest for the first several decades, and then exploded in the last 2 decades after Sam Walton died.  It seems like the priorities may have changed in that timeframe, too.

We saw Sam Walton’s old Ford truck,

and his office, which was transferred to the museum in the exact state it was in when he died in 1992.

Also on display is the Presidential Medal of Freedom that was presented to Sam Walton by President George H. W. Bush, just one month before Sam died.  There was also a short movie about Sam’s life and video of the presentation of the medal.

From the historic downtown, we went to the Crystal Gardens, which is an Art Museum sponsored completely by Walmart.  Thanks to Walmart’s support, there is no admission charged for the Museum.

Art Museums are not our normal thing, but it was kindof interesting, especially many of the outdoor sculptures that they have on the grounds and along several trails.

In the main lobby . . .

the view from above,

and from below . . .

it looks like a giant spider!

And an interesting silver tree.

We walked around the outside displays first, along the Art Trail,

and up to the Bachman-Wilson House, a Frank Lloyd Wright design.

The house is open for tours, but you have to get a timed ticket when you arrive at the museum, and there weren’t any left when we got there, so we could only see the outside of the home

The house was originally built in New Jersey, but was later moved to the site of the Crystal Gardens to preserve it.

Naturally-occurring crystals have been discovered in the Ozarks, and these boulders containing brilliant crystals were moved to the Art Trail so that they can be enjoyed by museum visitors.

The Fly Eye Dome was a very interesting structure . . . makes for a good photo op!

Back inside, the museum travels through time in the circular building – starting with classical art, and right through modern and contemporary!

This was an interesting display – it’s all shoelaces, and I had no idea that it spelled out “We the People” until I looked at the picture I had taken . . .

The classical art was a little boring – mostly framed paintings of people, landscapes, animals – but things got more interesting as we moved into modern and contemporary art.

Some of the art was really pretty, like these glass sculptures hanging from the ceiling . . . but others made us wonder how they were determined to be “art”!

I guess sometimes it’s about the message . . . if you get the message!

Well, it was an interesting way to spend the day!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Quilt Shop Hopping & Visiting Family

When we left Michigan and began our Fall travels, I had an agenda of my own for a few of our stops – visiting quilt shops along the way!

Our first quilt shop related stop was back in Wisconsin, as we travelled from Door County to Iowa.  In my newest addiction, wool applique, I often order patterns and hand dyed wool from Primitive Gatherings – they have shops in both California, and near Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  Our route took us through Oshkosh, so we planned a quick stop so I could do some in-person shopping.

It’s a really cute shop – and bigger than it looks from the outside!

Walking through the door, yours eyes immediately go to the neat little stacks of brightly colored wool on the shelves, and the beautiful wool projects that cover the walls.

My first thought was . . . oh, I am in trouble!!

Continuing into the first room, there were shelves and shelves full of wool in various sizes – charm packs, small and large bundles, fat quarters and larger pieces.  There was a sample on the wall of every single pattern they sell – all numbered to match the shelf where each pattern could be found.

Yeah, definitely my happy place!

So much to choose from – it was so hard to decide what colors of wool to buy, and which patterns I wanted to make.  There are many that I have already made, or have the pattern and haven’t made yet.

I found several that I liked!

That was just the first room . . . as I moved around the corner and deeper into the shop, there was still more wool, but also some very beautiful quilting fabric and patterns.

I was focused on the wool in this shop, so I just admired the quilting fabric and then returned to the first room.

After considering and reconsidering, I finally selected several pieces of wool and a pattern that I’ve been thinking about for a long time.  I think I showed quite a bit of restraint!

Our next quilt stop was unplanned – I didn’t even know there were quilt shops in the Amana Colonies, but there were, and the one that was a combination Antique Shop/Quilt Shop was really nice.  They had lots of unique fabrics that I have never seen anywhere else, and the people who worked there were incredibly nice.

I bought new pattern to work on this winter, and I’m really looking forward to getting started on it.

In Winterset, there were 2 Quilt Shops and I visited them both one afternoon, but again, I couldn’t get motivated to buy anything . . . I think I was subconsciously holding back until we got to our next stop . . .

Hamilton, Missouri

Quilt Town, USA!

Home of Missouri Star Quilt Company

It was a fairly short drive for us, and we were only staying one night.  There’s a cute little RV Park right in Hamilton, within walking distance of downtown, and all the RV Quilters usually stay there.  I gave them a call to see if they had an available site for one night -- a Thursday, and I wasn’t expecting to have an issue.

Then I found out that it was the first day of the MSQC Birthday Bash, and that the RV Park had been booked for nearly a year!

He gave us the name of another RV Park nearby, and we were able to get a site for the night there.  We arrived before noon, did our minimal setup, and headed to Hamilton for an afternoon of shopping.

Missouri Star is not just one quilt shop – it is made up of 12 individual shops, and pretty much takes up the whole town! 

Everything was decked out for the Birthday Bash with a Hawaiian theme.

There were games and giveaways,

and quilts everywhere!

I explored each shop – each one focused on a particular type of fabric – solids, novelty, vintage, florals, primitives . . . and more that I can’t remember.  There were sales in every shop – with $1 fat quarters and selected bolts of fabric at $6/yard.  The primitive shop had wool, but not much, and not many patterns, so I actually didn’t buy anything there.

One shop is for sewing machines and accessories – which I didn’t spend much time in, and then there’s the “Man Cave” . . .

Complete with comfy chairs, sports on TV, and plenty of quilts around to cover up with on a chilly day!  Tom had to check it out, but he was having fun shopping with me!

There were a few other non-MSQC shops in town too, and we visited all of them, as well as the giant spool of thread,

and the vintage sewing machine display at the Quilt Museum.

When I found out that we were going to be there on the first day of the Birthday Bash, I was a little concerned about the crowds were going to be like.  I needn’t have worried . . . there were a lot of women there, but not bad at all, and there were hardly any lines.

I did pretty good on my purchases, and actually showed a lot of constraint!  I did pick up a pattern and fabric for a small lap quilt,

and a nice selection of re-purposed wool plaids from one of the non-MSQC shops.

I also managed to snag a few freebies!

It was fun, but we had plenty of time . . . we were actually back at the RV before 5pm, an hour before the shops closed!  We ended up spending the evening sitting outside with the neighbors – the men, anyway.  There were 4 RV’s camping together around us, and all there for the birthday bash.  The women were attending several workshops and classes, and the men were hanging out at the RVs and golfing during the day.

Tom and I sat with them around their fire, and when the women got back they told me about another shop in the town before you get to Hamilton, and said that it had a really nice wool selection.  One more to add to the list!

Before getting ready to leave in the morning, we took a quick drive into town to check it out.

It was a very nice shop, with lots of beautiful fabrics and a great wool selection . . . and even a spot for Tom to sit . . . not quite as nice as the Man Cave, though!

I bought a few things, but forgot to take a picture . . . you’ll just have to take my word for it that I was once again restrained in my purchases!

Back at the RV Park, we packed up and got on the road for our 75 mile drive to the Blue Springs Campground in Lee’s Summit, near where most of Tom’s cousins live.

It’s a nice campground, and you couldn’t get any more conveniently located!

We spent the next 5 days visiting with family and enjoyed many delicious meals!

We enjoyed all of our time catching up with everybody and were really thrilled that everyone made the time to visit with us!

Tom even got his baby fix!

It was a fun visit, and we can’t wait until we are able to see everybody again!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Bridges of Madison County

The rain finally ended, and we had a beautiful day for a drive across Iowa to the little town of Winterset, and our next stop at the Winterset City Park – a nice little city park with a small campground.  We settled into a FHU site and paid for 3 nights.

There was actually quite a bit to see in this quaint little town – it’s home to the birthplace of John Wayne, the Iowa Quilt Museum and 2 Quilt Shops, and it’s the county seat of Madison County – made famous by the book and movie, “The Bridges of Madison County".

We visited the town square one evening,

where I looked around in the 2 Quilt Shops, and thought about visiting the Quilt Museum, but Tom didn’t really want to and we didn’t have much time before they closed.

We walked over to the John Wayne Museum, but only visited the Gift Shop for the same reasons.

Plus, we’re not really of the John Wayne era . . .

We walked around the corner to see his birthplace, too . . . a tiny house!

Between the house and the museum, is Freedom Rock –

one side honoring all the branches of our military (with paintings of John Wayne in several movie roles in which he played a member of the military),

another featuring two prominent Winterset natives who were instrumental in development of art and technology of the 20th century,

and the last two sides memorializing 4 local Winterset prisoners of war, and honoring the Quilts of Valor organization who make quilts for veterans.

Back at the Winterset City Park, we were able to visit the hedge maze designed by the local Rotary Club --

I tried letting Casey take the lead to find the center, but she made a few wrong turns and didn’t end up finding it until Tom was already there, and she could just find him.

The sundial at the center of the maze.

The City Park is also the re-located home of one of the (6) remaining Covered Bridges of Madison County.

The Cutler-Donahue Bridge was originally built over the North River in 1871, but was moved to its new home in the city park in 1970.

We spent another afternoon driving around the countryside, visiting the other covered bridges --

The Roseman Bridge was built in 1883,

and is the most famous of the remaining bridges due to being  featured in the movie “The Bridges of Madison County”, and is still located over the Middle River.

It was a beautiful afternoon for a drive!

All of the bridges have writing on the walls inside, and some have areas painted bright white to make a canvas for the public.  This section of the Roseman Bridge was all written by one woman over the course of several years – every time she came to the area she would add to her story.

Pretty interesting!

Hogback Bridge spans the North River and was built in 1884.

Interesting perspective!

Hogback Bridge actually had a book for people to sign . . . but there was still plenty of writing on the walls.

Cedar Bridge was built in 1883, and was featured on the cover of the book, “Bridges of Madison County”, and it’s the only bridge that you can still drive across on your vehicle.

Around that time, we started smelling burning brakes and determined that it was one of our rear brakes on the Jeep.  We weren’t sure what was going on with it, but we decided that we should only stop at one more bridge which was on the way back to the park, and we would have to skip the last one.

Holliwell Bridge was built in 1880, and at 122 feet, it’s the longest of the covered bridges.

Tom talked to the host when we got back to the campground, and he gave him the number of a garage just down the road who could take a look at the Jeep the following morning.  That was good, because we were scheduled to leave the day after that, and couldn’t tow the Jeep with a brake dragging.

It turned out that it was stuck on, and he was able to change both rear drums and the caliper on that one side the next day for us.  Whew!

Our neighbor at the campground had picked Tom up from the shop and drove him back up there to get the Jeep in the afternoon, so we made plans to go to dinner together in a nearby town.  We had a nice dinner and enjoyed getting to know these Iowans, and on the way home we stopped off at the last of the covered bridges.

The Imes Bridge was built in 1870, and is the oldest of the remaining bridges.

It was a very nice evening, and a great way to wrap up our stay.  We were able to visit the last of the 6 bridges, and we saved David and Laurie a trip to this distant bridge when they went on their own covered bridge tour.