Arkansas and the Ozark Mountains

The Ozark Mountains straddle northern Arkansas and southern Missouri. The forested ridges and sparkling creeks roll into the horizon like a perfect landscape painting.      Our rides took us past small towns with unique and fun names including Blue Eye, Holiday Island, Ben Hur, Chimes, and Beaver. Our first stop was in Mountain View. This charming village claims to be the Folk Music Capital of the world. Picking Park has four music gazebos. Even on a Sunday evening there were several Bluegrass and Folk players competing for audiences in impromptu jam sessions along with other musicians playing in several spots in the center of town. There are musical themed benches to sit on and enjoy the local talent.          On our way out of town we passed the hair salon that I wished had an appointment available. Maybe next time.  Only a few miles from Mountain View in the Ozark National Forest are Blanchard Springs Caverns. Our guided tour took us more than 200 feet below the earth’s surface. We were informed that many of the formations date back many thousands of years. They range in color and size and  all are fascinating. Who sunk the battleship?Also in the Forest is Mirror Lake and some small waterfalls.    The steep winding streets of Eureka Springs are lined with funky shops, several flatiron buildings and Victorian gingerbread houses. There are no longer ‘healing springs’, which was a bit disappointing but there is great street art which I believe has healing powers. 

  I do like the town’s unofficial motto “where misfits fit.” In the hillside just past the town center is the Thorncrown Chapel. It was completed in 1980 by E. Fay Jones. It blends with the trees and brings the outside in.      Heading further west and north to Bentonville, the curvy and steep roads continue to offer panoramic views of the countryside. No tax dollars were used for guard rails which makes many of the curves extra exhilarating. The Crystal Bridges Museum is breathtaking. It includes five centuries of American Art by famous and emerging artists. The works are all lit well and the flow of galleries is very natural. 

  The Walmart heiress Alice Walton envisioned, created and funded this remarkable site. One of the many walking paths leads to a Frank Lloyd Wright home that was saved and reassembled on the grounds.  Remarkably the museum has no admission charge. I overheard someone commenting that this was the first time they ever visited a museum. What a nice way to experience a great collection. 
A ten foot candy cane on the side of the road in Gateway, Arkansas was a good enough reason to pull into Martin Greer’s Candy store. Three generations of candy making can’t be beat. Every candy we selected was delicious.  The perfect sweet ending to our Ozark visit. 

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