A Travellerspoint blog

Arkansas Surprises

Hardy not what I was expecting -

sunny 95 °F

A couple of weeks ago I headed to the Spring River to meet some folks for a morning of fly fishing. The fishing was uninspired - it was just too hot - but the town of Hardy offered up some pleasant surprises.

Northern Arkansas has a number of older towns that are now primarily tourist destinations. There's lots to bring tourists to the area- fishing, canoeing, scenery - and the economy of these old towns, Hardy included, is entertainment - old buildings retrofitted with ice cream parlors, gift shops and such. The Hardy Main Street is old stone storefronts with shops and restaurants. Since I didn't want to get up at 5am to drive over on Saturday, I came in ahead of the rest of the group and stayed in a Hardy B&B.

The B&B was overpriced and uninspiring. After the drive over, a glass of wine sounded good so I walked to the Price Chopper grocery to get a bottle of wine. They had four wines: white zin, sweet red table wine , muscadet and pinot noir. But they also had a gun store . . . in the grocery store!.

Nearby was a book store and coffee shop, Word Afterwords, with live music. I headed over to get a sandwich expecting they'd have maybe a guy playing the guitar and singing.

First surprise - I got the Friday night brisket special. $12.99 for brisket smoked out back that was really good.

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The music was really good too. It was a group of three guys who were much better than the local amateur I had expected.

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And then a murmur through the crowd when an older guy with a ponytail walks in with his wife. He and his wife ate dinner and afterwards he was invited up to join the guys on stage.

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Turns out it was David Lynn Jones who wrote Living in a Promised Land (big Willie Nelson hit) among others, released his own albums and sang with the likes of Charlie Daniels and Johnny Cash. Not that I had any idea at the time. Had to go to Google for that. I just knew he was really good too. Apparently he and the other guys are professional musicians who had retired to Hardy. And they were playing for tips in a coffee shop - hopefully because they loved playing, not because they were hard up.

And confirmed by a reviewer:

If there were any justice in the universe, David Lynn Jones would be a household name. He would sell records like Neopolitan ice cream and be considered the natural heir to Bruce Springsteen, Arkansas-division. Because he’s that good. Instead, he’s among the countless Jonahs (John Brannen, Marty Brown, George Ducas, ad infinitum) that Nashville swallowed whole and spit out on the beach. They were too country, not country enough, not pretty enough, too edgy for the average housewife, and not conducive to line dancing. Check him out on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kL2PG6YavsI&list=PLE1j6fyawAhzigR9jy5P9sTzLBsn2eyQU

Next day on the way back from the river I stopped at Pig and Whistle which in Arkansas one would expect to be BBQ, right? Nope - it was a British pub. Menu of fish and chips, bangers and mash, etc. A slate of British beers. Soccer on the tellie. (or I guess that's football on the tellie).

Pig and Whistle

Pig and Whistle

A very good "British" BLT which was I would call Canadian bacon sandwich. Anyway it went quite well with a cold beer after a morning not catching fish.

British BLT

British BLT

Posted by MissRumphius 18:04 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Texas Hill Country

View from my condo

sunny 80 °F

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Fall 2013 017

Texas Hill Country is a unique geography - this is a golf course, so more grass, but same hills, same mesquite trees

Posted by MissRumphius 19:27 Archived in USA Comments (0)

I'm in cowboy country now

Trick roping at the Flying L

sunny

Staying at Flying L Dude Ranch. Friday night entertainment, Kevin Fitzpatrick, trick roper. Actually, quite entertaining. More interesting though – in addition to doing advertisements, etc. he does shows in places like Dubai – apparently folks from places we consider exotic find our cowboys fascinating!

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Posted by MissRumphius 18:47 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Vacation should always start with a Bloody Mary!

River Walk San Antonio

sunny 79 °F

The San Antonio River Walk is quite pleasant. Leafy paths following the San Antonio River – lined with Tex Mex, BBQ and chain (think Rain Forest and Hard Rock) restaurants interspersed with tshirt shops and such. So I was quite pleased to find Ostra (Spanish for oyster) restaurant. A pleasant white tablecloth place with uncrowded outside seating for good people watching.

Perfect for the traditional start of vacation bloody mary – rimmed half salt, half chile powder, which was actually a nice bit of kick. Also had a blackened Texas redfish sandwich that was very good.

I can see why it's a popular place for conventions – the Riverwalk is a pleasant diversion close to the convention center. I'm thinking it's not an independent destination though. Beale Street without the music, French Quarter without the party.

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Posted by MissRumphius 19:06 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Crownthorn Chapel and Eureka Springs

award winning architecture secluded in Ozark woods

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As I was planning this trip, a coworker advised - "You must see the Crownthorn Chapel - Fay Jones!" Turns out Fay Jones is a very famous Arkansas architect and this Chapel is listed by the AIA as the 4th on the list of top designs in the 20th century!

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It is quite remarkable - has the same soaring presence as the famous historic cathedrals but probably a 10th the size. The turnoff from the highway would be very easy to miss - I don't think I would have thought of stopping there if I hadn't been looking for it.

It's just outside the very touristy town of Eureka Springs. As the name suggests the town exists because of the springs and the downtown is on the National Historic Register. But once the buildings are admired, it's indistinguishable from any number of other tourist towns - shop after shop selling t shirts, jewelry and taffy.

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Posted by MissRumphius 08:14 Archived in USA Tagged arkansas Comments (0)

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