Sunday, September 27, 2009

"You can sell your paintings on the sidewalk..."

It's been a rough year, a tiring past six months, and a b*tch of a few weeks. It was decided that getting away was necessary, if not imperative! So we chose Eureka Springs and a three day weekend to accomplish this goal. I'm pleased to say the trip was a success. We came back less tired, more refreshed, and no longer snapping at innocent people who had the gall to speak to any of us. *L* Seriously, it was that bad - but it's better now.

Eureka Springs was somewhat different than I had imagined and it's a very unique place. Kind of like O.C. in that, once it was a grand and elegant place to go - now it's fun and kitschy, a little faded around the edges but still worthwhile as a destination. I've put some pictures in the album - go here if you'd like to see them.

Eureka Springs has become a community of artisans. You can find craftsmen (and craftswomen) working in just about any medium you could name - paint, beads, needlecraft, glass, metals, and others. There were wonderful little boutiques and a crazy touristy t-shirt shop. There were antiques and fine jewelry and handsewn clothes and, yes, an artist selling his paintings on the sidewalk in the park.

The restaurants in the historic area are also interesting - ranging from fine food to pub grub. Outside the historic area was your basic motel restaurants, BBQ places, and one McDonald's. *L*

The hotels go from your typical chains like Days Inn and Best Western to cabins in the woods that you can rent to little B&Bs. In the historic area downtown the hotels are also historic and tend towards the Victorian era in decoration. Yes Victoria, that means tiny beds and small rooms and LOTS of stairs. We stayed at a place that had slightly hard beds, an okay jacuzzi in each room (not as big as was advertised), and a really nasty pool - so we didn't get to swim. If we ever go again I think we'll opt for one of the chains - at least with them you have some idea of the quality you're getting and you have an option to complain if the pool isn't as advertised. *L*

The people of Eureka Springs are very friendly and they really don't make you feel like a tourist. You know how some artists get a major chip about staying true to their art even when they have to be a bit commercial to survive. These people have come to very graceful terms with it - they KNOW they are artists and in order to do the art their soul inspires them to, they have to make a living. They're very comfortable with this and I didn't see a one of them look down their noses on the creations they made to sell or on the people who bought them. Mind you though, some of the artists are...ahem...
extremely proud of their art. *L* Several things were way beyond my bank account.

Another tidbit that I did not know about the place - it is very "alternative lifestyle" friendly. There is a thriving gay community in Eureka Springs and, while they don't advertise this fact, they also don't hide it. I admit that I didn't pay much attention to the propensity of rainbow flags and such around but it made sense after I spent some time there. After we had come back I was talking about the trip at work and one of my friends mentioned it. She had gone with her partner and they met several other couples from the town. She said they both felt very comfortable there - more so than almost any place else they had gone together. I was glad to hear that - both she and her partner are very nice and I'm glad they found a place where they can relax and be themselves.

Some of the pictures you'll see are a recreation of the "Great Eureka Springs Bank Robbery". Apparently some desperados from Oklahoma (doesn't it figure) thought they'd grab some quick cash by driving over to a small town, robbing the bank, and heading back over the OK line to get lost. Well, apparently the bank had a silent alarm that sounded in the other businesses along Spring Street. They hit the alarm and the other business owners responded with guns ablazing! The outlaws were killed and the money was saved. They recreate this each year during the Classic Car celebration. We had no idea those would be going on the weekend we chose but they were pretty cool! *G*

We also made a visit to the Cosmic Cavern before heading for home. I haven't been to a cavern like this since many years ago at Luray. It was pretty cool - the cavern is still growing and they still haven't found the end of it. We took the regular tour but there is also a "Wild" tour that takes you into the undeveloped parts. You have to sign a waiver of course - and you have to wear a hard hat and be prepared to rappel and climb in and out of small spaces and be dressed a certain way to do that tour. Our guide said that at one point in the wild tour you have to climb straight up about two stories or so. Maybe not much for a climber but Toto-ly impossible for ME. *L* As it was I enjoyed the formations and the small lake with the blind cave trout. Oh, and when they discovered the last room on the developed tour it made the news and one of the cable channels, maybe National Geographic, did a special on it and the room they call the Crystal Cathedral. The last room they call the "Oh My God" room - since that's usually what people say when they see it. We had a little girl named Rachel on our tour and she did very well. We all got a bit of cave mud/slime on our hands and she got some on her legs. When we got back to the surface she and I shared some wet paper towels to get cleaned up. *L* Then her mom gave her a baby wipe and got the rest of the mud off. I have some pictures but haven't added them to the albums yet.

When we left to come home we drove down by Beaver Lake. Absolutely beautiful! Also have pictures of these but not posted yet.

And before leaving Ark. we stopped at Pea Ridge Military Park. Lots of history, every bit as moving as any of the battlefields I've visited on the East coast. Again, pics, but not yet posted. *L* I'm such a slacker. Probably the most moving thing there - they have an actual part of the Trail of Tears running through the park. It's amazing to look down at a worn down path and realize whose feet wore those grooves into the earth - and why. It gave me a very eerie feeling to stand in that path and wonder what they saw and what they felt - and to know that I'll never know. I can read about it. And I can take what other's have surmised and draw my own conclusions, but it'll never be exact. That should never stop us from learning from the past.

All in all it was a very nice, bohemian sort of vacation and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. I hope you enjoy the pictures.


Carolyn (Harbor Hon) said...

Glad you got to get away. You go to the best places and I'm glad you're sharing the pictures of your adventures. Love the pepto bismol pink and bad knic knac green! :) Now you're not playing fair. The picture of the place where you said you bought my Christmas present is whispering to me. :) Thanks for posting the wall plaques, it's great to read the history of places you go. I learn a lot from them. Makes me want to go too. Adored the car show ... my favorite was the car with the big fins. Was the town quiet at night or busy like it was during the day? xxoo

wvpaperwings said...

I was here to read it all and there to see it all. Wonderful photos and very interesting commentary. Faves are Flat Iron Window, the Elvis car with the barefoot girl on it, and....The Pink Flamingoes with the bad-knic-knac-green railings!!!! And please put up the cavern pics soon. I can never go into the caverns again so I want to see, I want to see!

wvpaperwings said...

Oh, I forgot to mention the little artsy town of Berkeley Springs also has a large contingency of gays now and they have the most interesting businesses and the most money of any other species who live here! I believe I am going their way some day. NOthing better than a fine vacation with people you don't have to impress!