Monday, March 2, 2015

Valentines Day Trip

On a recent Saturday, Valenties Day, to be exact, Lynn and I treated ourselves to a day off from the ongoing process of getting settled and sampled some of what Northwest Arkansas has to offer.  We started the day with breakfast at The Farmer's Table, a restaurant we will most definitely visit again.  Don't let the picture fool you, the food is anything but ordinary and well worth the wait for a table.  The cuisine is decidedly Southern but not in the traditional sense.  My omelet was accompanied by a tasty side of braised kale and spinach instead of potatoes or grits.

Following breakfast we went to the Ozark Botanical Gardens.  Even though it is still winter, and there isn't much color to be found, we enjoyed walking along the trails and imagining what it will look like as soon as spring arrives.

Our last stop was the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.  If you live in the Northwest Arkansas area, you know what a treasure this is. If you haven't been, we'll look forward to being your guides sometime.  Here's their website, if you'd like to know more:  Crystal Bridges Museum

Lynn got to pose beside one of her favorite paintings, Cattleya Orchid, Two Hummingbirds and a Beetle, painted by 19th century artist Martin Johnson Heade.  A framed print has been hanging in our home for the past three years so it was a treat for her to see the original.  A Van Gogh exhibit is coming soon.

Did I say, the museum was our last stop?  There was actually one more.  After dinner on Dickson Street I prevailed on Lynn to let me spend a few minutes browsing in my favorite book store.  If you're ever in the area and can't find me, you might try here.  Pure pleasure!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Oklahoma City Weekend

February 4, 2015

We recently spent an enjoyable weekend in Oklahoma City with Lanny and Debbie Neal, friends I have known since college. Lanny was kind enough to trust me to drive his 1973 Corvette along historic Route 66.  We stopped for a quick photo beside one of the iconic road signs.  It was a quick stop because, even though the sky was blue and the sun was bright it was windy and cold.  It sure was a fun ride.  Might have to ask Lynn if I can buy one someday.  I'll let you know what she says.

Since it was such a cold day we spent most of the weekend inside - in their house and in restaurants.  It's good to have options when the weather isn't cooperating.  We did make it to downtown which has been transformed since the last time I was there by a revitalization project that could be the envy of any city in the country.  If you're from Seattle, like me, you'll notice the Oklahoma Thunder sign proudly celebrating their "theft" of the Sonics.

Basketball regrets aside, I was quite surprised to see an outdoor ice skating rink - I told you it was cold.

Nearby is their minor league baseball park where the Oklahoma Dodgers will be cracking the bats later this year.  Lynn and I loved going to Safeco Field in Seattle to see the Mariners and will have to drive a little farther now to see our favorite sport.  I'm sure we'll catch a few games here this season.

In addition to the sporting venues there are parks, an arboretum, and summer concert venues.  Definitely worth a return visit.

Another place that's worth a return visit is Nic's Grill - as soon as my digestive system recovers.  Lanny is a fan of the show Diners, Dives, and Drive Ins and Nic's has been featured on the show.  It certainly lived up to expectations.  Seating is limited so you'll have to plan to wait even for an early lunch on Monday, which is when we "dined" there.  I think the pictures below speak quite effectively.  The counter is about three feet from the grill so diners have a front row seat to the preparation of their burgers.  Lunch was a no-holds-barred gastronomic event that day.  Dinner was light, to the point of non-existence.  I'm not sure what Lynn things but I'm looking forward to another burger. Maybe I'll just split one with someone next time though.

This was also Super Bowl weekend so maybe I was consoling myself for the Seahawk's loss by driving fast cars and indulging in the guilty pleasure of one of Nic's burgers.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Moving in: Fayetteville/Elkins

We finally arrived at our new home 2363 Stonecrest Drive in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  If you come to visit you may find it a little confusing since our house is in the city limits of Elkins but we have a Fayetteville mailing address.  I'm sure there's a perfectly logical and necessary reason for the discrepancy.  Yes, I'm quite sure there is.  

It's been a very busy but successful few days.  We arrived on Sunday, looked at houses for rent on Monday, chose the first one we saw and got the keys on Tuesday morning.    The first two shipping containers with our belongings were delivered on Tuesday afternoon and the last two came on Wednesday.  Most of the items arrived in good shape.  The only casualty was a broken bookshelf that will need to be replaced.  As I write this, on Thursday evening, all the items are in the house but we are still surrounded by many boxes waiting to be opened.  

We're on a quiet street that should be an excellent place for walking.  The spacious back yard is a bonus that our granddaughter, Ada, will surely enjoy. 

I was pleased to discover a small city park nearby.  I anticipate it will be come a favorite place for picnics and other family outings.  The White River, one of the most popular fishing and recreation destinations in the Ozarks, runs beside it.  

There was one final discovery in these first few days that was particularly interesting.  On the road to the park is a picturesque white frame church.  The architecture is reminiscent of a much earlier time.  I stopped to take a picture and couldn't help but smile at the sign just outside.  Given my experience with two of the three denominations listed, I'm inclined to visit and learn more about this interesting fellowship of Christians.  This coming Sunday is the third Sunday so it looks like my Baptist family will be leading.  But I'm just as eager to meet the Presbyterians and Methodists.  


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Chicago to Branson

January 10, 2015

Grand Victorian Hotel - Branson, Missouri
Our plans for today were to drive from Chicago to St. Louis.  However, once we got on the road and were making good time driving past the frozen cornfields of Illinois, we decided to keep driving and spend the night in Branson, Missouri.  January 10 is Lynn's birthday and Branson is a place we have often enjoyed so it was a perfect destination.  An added bonus is that I could tell her that it was my plan all along - to take her to Branson for her birthday!  Please don't tell her otherwise.  
It's even cold in the South.  This was near the Grand Victorian Hotel.
We didn't take many pictures this day but did get a couple of photos of our car as we finally washed off the grit and grime we had accumulated from the time we crossed the Cascades in Washington.  There was a lot of American soil on that car.

Lynn managed to take a few pictures as we passed through St. Louis.  We often spent the night there on our trips to Chicago to see Lynn's sister and her family when Brian and Laura were young.  We even took the little cars (and I do mean little!) inside the Arch to the top where there is a viewing area with a great view of St. Louis and the Mississippi River.  If you ever make that short and very cramped trip be prepared for some swaying at the top.
While we didn't take many pictures along the way on this day we did take a few memorable ones in Chicago.  Here's one of our favorite scenes.  We think the reunion of these two young ladies was worth a cross-country road trip in the middle of winter.  

Lynn and Ada Lyn

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Buffalo to Chicago

January 5-6, 2015

After two more days on the road we finally arrived in Elgin, Illinois on Tuesday night and were met by our granddaughter, Ada, and, of course, her parents Jon and Laura.  It was a wonderful reunion.  It will take us a while to fully realize that this is not another short visit, the kind we have enjoyed all too infrequently during the past few years.  We'll stay here to spend some time with our family before getting on the road again on Friday for the final part of our trip.

We left Buffalo, Wyoming on Monday morning and drove to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  It was a frigid Tuesday morning in Sioux Falls - 9 degrees below zero is cold by just about any standard, especially for a couple of people who have become accustomed to the mild weather of Seattle for the past ten years.

Our plans for enjoying a leisurely road trip were altered by the weather.  Except for a very brief stop in Wall, South Dakota and the "famous" Wall Drug, our only views were from the inside of our car as we sped along I-90.  Fortunately the roads were clear and driving conditions were much improved over what we experienced between Bozeman and Buffalo.

Really? This is not weather,
 it's an emergency!
Much better road conditions.  What a relief.!

This is the famous Wall Drug, an icon of interstate highway marketing.
There is actually a lot to explore inside but we were
anxious to keep traveling so our stop was little more
 than a few minutes.

Other than a few small towns, small farms like this
were the only "population centers" we encountered. 

The landscape is only bleak if you keep looking down.
When you lift your eyes a little the scene is beautiful
and changes in kaleidoscope fashion with something
new to see every minute.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Bozeman to Rapid City

January 4, 2015

Today's plan was to drive from Bozeman, Montana to Rapid City, South Dakota.  At least that was the plan.  The weather is notoriously hard to predict so I was still hopeful for safe travels even after seeing the storm warning on my phone.  Unfortunately for us, they got this one right.  Roads were covered with snow and ice all day and the going was slow and nerve wracking.  At one point I asked Lynn if she would like me to take her to the airport and put her on a plane to Chicago and let me finish the trip by myself.  She hesitated before answering with a tepid, "I guess not."

The dangerous roads were still surrounded with a beautiful winter landscape in one of the most sparsely populated areas of the country.  I couldn't help but admire the first settlers who built lives here.  The winters are hard enough now.  I can only imagine what they were like then.

After several hours of driving slowly we shortened our trip and stopped in Buffalo, Wyoming, thankful for a safe and warm place to spend the night.  Maybe we'll make up some of the lost time tomorrow - weather permitting.

The mountains around Bozeman

If you zoom in you'll see a very cold looking
statue of George Armstrong Custer
at this Bozeman visitors center

I have to admit I was less than enthusiastic
 about starting the day's drive on this road.

And then it got worse for most of the day.

We joined the other customer for a most welcome
 rest and a hot meal with lots of coffee.

We finally arrived at Buffalo, Wyoming, a few hours short of our destination but, although it was night time and the air was very cold, the skies were clear and the roads look much more promising for tomorrow.