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Sunday, August 06, 2006

2191 Days and Counting

Heather Marie and I just got back from a weekend vacation to Eureka Springs to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary. Wow, it really doesn't seem like it's been that long! Knowing and loving Heather has been the greatest adventure of my life.

We had a good trip, even though we actually didn't do a whole lot. All we really needed was a chance to get away for a little while, to break out of our routine, and Eureka is a great place for doing that.

One of the things I love about going to Eureka Springs is that it's sort of a trip back in time. Not in the cheesy, touristy, Victorian Eureka way, but in the sense that it's sort of a time capsule for 20th century road trips and vacations. Highway 62 from Rogers to Eureka Springs is a smallish scenic byway now, but for most of the 1900s, that was the type of road that connected the whole country.

On the drive over, I'm always struck by how the businesses and attractions harken back to the kitsch of the 50s and 60s driving vacations. The road is dotted with dozens of roadside motels and cabins whose signs haven't changed since the Johnson administration, and it seems that every little road leads to a restaurant or diner of some kind. How is it that I've never heard of these places? There's a crowd, and it's a fairly big place, but I've never heard it, even though I've lived 30 minutes away for the past 12 years. Weird!

There are also some great roadside attractions, like Dinosaur World (which, unfortunately, was closed when we went, perhaps permanently) and Blue Spring. Of course, the main attraction is always Eureka Springs itself.

There's something very...organic about the city. Situated as it is in the deep valley between two ridges, the skyline is dominated on one side by Christ of the Ozarks and on the other by the Crescent Hotel. Because of the morbid history and spooky reputation of the Crescent, I've always thought of that as an interesting juxtaposition between the sacred and the profane. (Nothing against the Crescent, by any means, just an observation.)

I've always loved wandering and getting lost in explorations, which I think may be one reason that I like Eureka so much, since I've never been there when I didn't get lost at least a little. At the very least I usually feel lost when I'm there, which is a good feeling in our strictly controlled, mapped, scheduled world.

We stayed at the Bavarian Inn, which does a great job of providing an intimate, romantic retreat. We also ate at the restaurant on the grounds, which has probably the closest thing to really good German cuisine available in Northwest Arkansas.

To get around, we bought trolley passes for the day. Parking can be a serious pain in Eureka, and the trolleys are a good way to avoid the hassle. During the ride back to our hotel, though, I discovered that an added benefit was the ability to actually look at the town as we rode through. In the past, I've always been to preoccupied trying not to get lost (or trying to get unlost) to truly notice many of the city's features. On the bus ride, though, I saw all sorts of interesting places that I want to revisity. In fact, I think for my next trip over, I want to plan on exploring the city by either bike or hike in order to really see and visit the sites I've only ever driven by.

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