Monday, January 17, 2011

"Y'all Aren't From Around Here, Are You?"

It was with some surprise that we realized in early November that it had been nearly six weeks since we had gone out of town.  Still getting used to Memphis and new jobs (plus Jon's epic studying for the Professional Engineer exam...which he passed, thank you very much), we had holed ourselves up in town for quite some time.  I recognize that six weeks really isn't that much time, but after the amount of traveling we had done in the previous six weeks, we were in the middle of quite a drought.

Jon wisely recognized that we needed to get away from the stress of work and tests, so he took the lead in finding a quaint bed and breakfast in rural Arkansas.  As soon as we could, we took off on Friday afternoon and drove the approximately three hours to Heber Springs.  Our goal for this trip was to relax, and seeing as how we were sort of in the boondocks, that was not difficult.

We arrived at the bed and breakfast in just enough time to hop back in the car to race to the only restaurant in town which would be closing shortly.  At 9:00 pm.  On a Friday.  It was technically a private club, labeled as such in order to skirt around the laws of a dry county.  Thankfully the head waitress let us sign in as members so we could have a drink with dinner.  The food was good, and we were re-introduced the Midwest phenomenon known as the salad bar (I had never really noticed that there weren't many salad bars in the Northwest).

We were both pretty exhausted at the end of a long week, so after taking baths in the whirlpool bathtub, we fell right asleep.  We awoke just in time for breakfast prepared by the chef.  Seriously.  He has his own cable access show.  At breakfast we started to get a hint of the special quirks surrounding these particular accomodations.  The chef, who pretty much runs the place, lives there with his parents...and a French guest who had been staying there for three months.  Evidently this was not the first time he had stayed with this family, even though he doesn't speak English.  Surely there's a story there; I just wasn't able to figure it all out.

This would not be the last indication that we were in unfamiliar territory.  After another bath in the whirlpool (all in the name of relaxing, right?), I joined Jon--who had been waiting patiently, of course--for our tour of Heber Springs and the surrounding area.  Our first stop was a gas station to pick up a map and some bottled water.  Perhaps it was our lack of accents, Washington and Nebraska shirts, or the fact that we weren't driving a pick-up truck (and have all our teeth...I couldn't resist), but our presence prompted the clerk to ask in an extremely thick drawl, "Y'all aren't from around here, are you?"  No, most certainly not.

We spent our day just enjoying the outdoors.  Absolutely beautiful.  We walked along the Little Red River and checked out the Greers Ferry dam, a Corps of Engineers project (one guess who was more interested in that).
 
Little Red River (a girl having senior photos taken was just off to the left)

We had been encouraged to hike up Sugarloaf "Mountain" (more of a hill, really), which provided some incredible views. The sense of relaxation seemed to just wash over us.
Sugarloaf Mountain (with a branch of Arkansas State in the foreground)

My version of senior photos, from atop Sugarloaf Mountain

We headed back to the bed and breakfast late in the afternoon and ended up sitting out on the back patio with our respective books until sunset.  We heard more fascinating tales from the chef, whose past life included a stint in the military.  By this time, nothing he said surprised me.  If my life were only that interesting, I would have my first memoir already penned.  But since it was nearing dinnertime, he had to glaze some turnips for the Frenchman.  We ventured into a neighboring town for dinner (salad bar #2 of the trip) and called it a night.

Sunday was another beautiful day, which allowed us to enjoy the scenery we had missed in Friday night's darkness all the way back to Memphis.  While our weekend was not the most exciting, I cannot reiterate enough how nice it was to relax and get away.

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