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Arkansas

2019-06-02 – Traveling West – Eureka Springs and Bentonville, AR

We attended Sunday Services at Thorncrown Chapel.  Worshiping in such a beautiful place is a very special experience…

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An interesting point was that the preacher was the son of the founder and of the chapel… And there was some good old hymn singing going on…

A mystery occurred behind the blue pilaster on the right.  The minister suddenly appeared from behind the pilaster, then he went back again during some of the singing.  Is he just sitting on a chair back there, and had he been there since before we arrived?  Or is there a hidden back door there that he can slip in  and out of?  Or is there a stair to a basement with an exterior entrance?  Any ideas?

After the service we drove to Bentonville; along the way we found, quite by accident, Hoss’s RV Repair.  The place was littered with old Airstreams (23), in various stages of repair and restoration…

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We traveled on…

Bentonville is home of Sam Walton and his family.  And his family’s store:

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The town Square is very nice…

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We had brunch at a very nice modern diner…

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We were very impressed with the center of this town of 70,000 people.  (In 1960 when the first WalMart was built the town had about 3,000 people…)

We wondered, as we looked around at these downtown buildings, how much of this was built, rebuilt, and/or owned by WalMart?  Did the first WalMart, built outside of town on the highway, kill the town?  Did WalMart buy up the deserted buildings and create this Disneyesque town square?  I don’t know…

(By the way, the original Walton’s 5 and dime is just a facade for the WalMart Museum.  There is a WalMart Neighborhood Market just a block away…)

In any case, the reason we were here was to see Crystal Bridges, the Museum of American Art built by the Walton Family Foundation… It is about 3/4 mile from the heart of town…

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The museum was designed by Moshe Safdie, world famous architect…

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The museum sits atop a small creek that has been dammed to form several ponds at several levels.  The weirs (dams) are under the buildings, so the surfaces of the ponds are kept mirror-still…

The vaulted roofs are supported by suspension cables.  Remarkable!

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But the REAL reason we are here is to see a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house.  The Bachman-Wilson House was originally built in New Jersey in the mid 1950s.  Over the years it was lived in by a variety of families.  In 1980 it was restored; unfortunately, the adjacent river took up a bad habit of overflowing its banks on a regular basis.  By 2004 the owners appealed to the Walton family and convinced them that there is no greater American Art than a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house.  The house was disassembled and moved here, and it was reassembled on a site adjacent to the museum…

It is a classic Usonian, which typically turns a blank face to the street for privacy.  FLlW also typically hides the front door…

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There’s the door…

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(Sorry, no interior photos…)

The house bears remarkable similarities to the Spring house in Tallahassee and the Rosenbaum house in Florence, AL.  The board and batten siding, the views out to the forest, the horizontal lines, the cantilevered carports, and the stenciled cut-outs applied to the glass…

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The house has been beautifully restored and preserved… It is, indeed, a piece of American Art…!

But we move on!

In the little town of Bella Vista, in the far northwest corner on Arkansas, within a mile or two of the Missouri and Oklahoma borders, is another Fay Jones chapel…

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In contrast to Thorncrown Chapel, this chapel is built of steel.  Again, the details are beautiful…

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Built to honor Mildred Borum Cooper, wife of John A. Cooper, Sr., founder of Cooper Communities, Inc, the Chapel is a fitting memorial.  Besides being a devoted wife, mother, and member of the community, Mrs. Cooper had a deep spirituality and a love for nature.  Her family commissioned the Chapel in her honor to celebrate her life and her dedication to God and his creations.

We returned to Eureka Springs and enjoyed a dinner in a fine French bistro: Le Stick Nouveau:

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We enjoyed five courses of appetizers and hors d’oeuvres… and a bottle of fine Pinot Noir from Oregon…

As is our custom, we returned to the Villa for Happy Hours and a light supper; an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-06-01 – Traveling West – Eureka Springs, AR

We left Little Rock about 8:00 am.  Arkansas is green…

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We were driving through the Ozarks National Forest…

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We stopped for a respite along the way… driving through windy, steep mountain roads is taxing, and relief was required…

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We arrived in Eureka Springs, and set up at the Green Tree Lodge and RV Park, a nice but basic RV park…

Then we drove one mile down the road to see the work of E. Fay Jones, an early apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin, and a prolific architect and educator during his long career.  This is the Thorncrown Chapel:

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The interior is as spectacular as the exterior…

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The light fixtures along the “walls” are exquisite; the light is in the shape of the cross…

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As a true student of Frank Lloyd Wright, Fay’s chair designs are great, too!

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The rear is as great as the front…

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The attention to detail is astounding…

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The front door, repeating the diamond shape…

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The Thorncrown Chapel has won every architectural award imaginable… Just recently it was honored by leading the list of “40 under 40”, great architecture that has become iconic in less (fewer?) than 40 years…

The chapel is the dream of a man named Jim Reed, an Arkansas native, who bought this land in 1971 to build his retirement home.  Over the years he continually found strangers walking through the property enjoying the beautiful Ozarks hills.  Rather than fence them out, he decided to invite them in.  He and his wife decided to build a glass chapel as a place for visitors to relax in an inspiring way.  I think they have met their goal…

After such a beautiful place we drove to Eureka Springs and found the opposite:

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Eureka Springs was hot, noisy, crowded, and full of bikers and tourists.  There was some festival going on, although we never quite determined what it was.  The town is very historical, much like Bisbee, AZ, but the tourist factor rivaled Fredericksburg, TX, (and Graceland…)

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Eureka Springs was a late 19th century boom town which grew rapidly based on the water from their many springs.  All the quacks and snake oil salesmen came to town to sell magic water to cure everyone’s ills… The town suffered a bit when the Great Fire of 1888 burned it to the ground, but it was quickly rebuilt and grew to a population of over 4,000.  Today it has a population of about 2,000, but the historic downtown itself is nothing but biker bars and trinket shops… We did enjoy a good walk and we hope to return tomorrow for dinner at a highly rated French bistro…

As is our custom, we returned to the Villa for Happy Hours and a light supper; an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-06-03 – Traveling West – Eureka Springs, AR to Oklahoma City, OK

We left the RV park this morning with high anticipation.  Due to posting a few photos of the two Fay Jones chapels on Facebook, we have been invited to view a Fay Jones home nearby, just outside Fayetteville, AR.  In short, it was spectacular!  It is sited on a golf course, on a 1/2 acre lot…

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Immediately we saw the detailing of lighting fixtures all around the yard, carport, and entry…

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Note the blank front of the house – hidden front door, no front porch, and no windows…

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Inside, the entry has a custom designed light fixture…

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The Living Room…

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The Kitchen…

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The Dining Room.  The table and all cabinets are custom designed by the architect…

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Architect-designed bar stools…

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The study was originally a teenage daughter’s bedroom; this is the custom desk and bookshelves…

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Blueprints from Frank Lloyd Wright’s office for an unbuilt house line the wall… All the bedrooms have custom built-in wardrobes, dressers, and bureaus…

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The rear of the house opens to the back patio, a koi pond, and the golf course beyond…

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The house was designed by Fay Jones at about the time of the Thorncrown Chapel.  The current owner has been here a little more than 10 years.  (PS:  the house is for sale!  Sale includes all the Fay Jones-designed furniture and fixtures…)

It was hard to leave this place, but we must move on.  We headed towards Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma is surprisingly green!

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We checked into Twin Fountains RV Resort… Very upscale place!  It has a bar and grill, pools, rec rooms, miniature golf, a lounge, and a concierge.  (A limousine is available for free rides to any of the attractions within 3 miles of the RV park…)

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We hailed an Uber and headed to downtown Oklahoma City…

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This is one entrance to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum…

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Printed on this wall (and lots of other places) is the mission statement for the Memorial:  We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.

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These two giant black granite walls flank the reflecting pond…

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9:01 everything was normal; the blast was 9:02; the healing began 9:03…

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The chairs sit on the site of the former building; they are in nine rows, corresponding to the nine stories.  You’ll notice that all the small chairs are in rows one and two…

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This former newspaper building is now the museum…

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This is the survivor tree – it was covered in rubble and most of the branches were blown off, but the tree survived.  Every year they harvest seeds, plant seedlings, and then distribute them to various stakeholders…

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This is the new Federal Building, built across the street…

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From this viewing window in the museum you can see the memorial below…

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It is a sobering remembrance, but, for us, it did not have the impact of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis…

We looked for a downtown street to walk, one with shops, restaurants, and bars.  We couldn’t find any.  Downtown Oklahoma City appears to be a concrete jungle of office buildings… By 6:00 pm it was deserted…

As is our custom, we returned to the Villa for Happy Hours and a light supper; an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-05-31 – Traveling West – Little Rock, AR

Today we get to add another State sticker to our map:

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We have pulled the Villa through 40 States!  Next year we hope to add eight more!

We left Memphis this morning and drove to Little Rock Arkansas.  We had originally planned to stay in a great urban RV park, right on the river, directly across from the Clinton Presidential Park and Library, which are accessible via a pedestrian bridge.

Unfortunately, the Arkansas River was at record flood stage; the RV Park, the pedestrian bridge, and the park were all flooded and closed… The Library was still OK, but not by much…

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We had been forewarned of the closure by the RV park, so we were fortunate to find “courtesy parking” right downtown in one of Little Rock’s charming older neighborhoods; we parked in this back yard, right in front of another Airstream…

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We walked downtown via Main Street; Little Rock has a population of about 200,000 people and is quite nice…

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The flooding was really extensive, but nothing in downtown was threatened…

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We toured the Library…

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I’m always drawn to the interesting cars…

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The Library was typical of presidential libraries we have seen… I was great, blah blah, blah…

So we headed back into downtown, and stopped for a drink…

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or two…

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We Ubered back to the Villa; an enjoyable time was had by all…

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