Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Backlog #2: The Lighting of Fayetteville Square

The weekend before Thanksgiving, we heard via some friends (yes! we have those!) that there was to be a grand square-lighting ceremony in downtown Fayetteville. The rumors seemed to be a little grand, as I heard talk of pony and camel rides, but we figured it might be worth checking out.

As we live about 4 blocks away, we were able to wander up the hill about 5 minutes before the big event. We found the busiest crowd I've ever seen in this town (remember that I have not been to a football game) outside of the Bikes, blues, and BBQ...which was mostly people not from this town. The lighting of the square is the quintessential small town holiday activity: some city people spent over a week painstakingly stringing lights up all over the area and then the townsfolk get together to drink hot chocolate and say "oooooh" together.

Of course, there had to be some Arkansas to differentiate this small town holiday activity from similar events occurring all over the country. At our town lighting, rather than counting down from ten like normal people, we were asked to "call the hogs." Now I know that Doug did a brief rundown of the hog calling in his football post, but since that time I've been quite interested in the hog calling process. Why? Because it's really, really silly. Waving your hands above your hand and then shouting "Pig, soooie!" multiple times in a row does not feel dignified. It does not feel adult. But it does feel like a rip-roarin' good time.

Despite this, Doug has adamantly refused to call the hogs. I've tried calling the hogs in his face. I've tried calling the hogs at him when we pass each other running on the trail. I even put forth considerable effort in Albuquerque over Thanksgiving trying to get OTHER people to coerce him to call the hogs. So far, nothing has worked. Maybe I should get him to lead everyone in a hog calling before I'll actually marry him?

Anyway, after everyone but Doug called the hogs, the lights in the town square came on, and I must admit, it was pretty impressive. I mean, how cute is this:

Even better, they had a carousel of lights spinning around, where all the animals were horses except one:

I could have watched that carousel for hours. But I didn't have the opportunity, because shortly after the lighting of the square, the parade began. The parade! Now, might I remind our gentle readers that I spent six years in Chicago, where "parade" means mojitos while thousands of gay men wearing tiny gold shorts and/or exquisitely dressed drag queens throw condoms from floats.

This parade was, um, not quite that. We thankfully ran into some friends during the parade who we were able to crack jokes with. We all got a kick out of the McDonalds float. I mean seriously, when do you get to see a float with not only Ronald, but the Hamburgler and Grimace too? This is a special, special town.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Backlog #1: Eureka Springs

Several weeks back, so far back that I don't even remember exactly when, we took a day trip to quaint little Eureka Springs. Googling "Eureka Springs" reveals that the city's tagline is "The Extraordinary Escape." Extraordinary it is indeed.

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Arkansas (and yes, I am aware that "tourist destination" and "Arkansas" might be considered an oxymoron), Eureka Springs is maybe the cutest town ever. And those are strong words from someone like me, who has previously said pretty much the same thing about Madrid, New Mexico. Having now been to both more than once, I'd probably say that Eureka Springs probably wins, because it is (a) bigger, and (b) has more fudge shoppes.

A quick 45 minute drive from Fayetteville, the entire town of Eureka Springs is on the National Register of Historic places. I've seen it referred to as a "Victorian resort village," which although ridiculous sounding, is actually pretty accurate. The town has narrow winding streets, is very hilly, and has many Victorian homes in varying stages of disrepair. It's a weird mix of a town, with many shops and B&Bs dedicated to weddings, a fairly ragin' biker community, lots of artists, and for Arkansas, it's pretty hip with the GLBT folk.

Here's an example of an artist's commune fairly close to downtown:

A word of advice to those of you who might someday visit this quaint little town: it's not always very friendly to cars. If you get lost, you could end up driving around a big loop around the town, or you could look at a map and try to take a shortcut and end up on a dirt road winding through a valley. Let me tell you, a Toyota Corolla doesn't really like dirt roads in valleys.

By the time we finally found a place to park, we were starving, and in the mood for a sandwich at a cute local place. You know, one of the kinds of places that has doilies on the table and homemade bread. Um, we did not find one of those places. Rather, we sat down at the first place that we found, and their "fruit and salad plate" involved some iceberg lettuce, a poorly sliced apple and some orange slices. We were also entertained by the table next to us doing "liquid marijuana" shots which apparently is some kind of alcoholic drink that I'd never heard of.

After we had whatever they were passing off as food, we wandered the cute little town:

The best part of the wanderings was the random little stores we found. One place had a lot of used antique-type jewelry, vintage clothing, and weird stuff the owners made. Like this piece of awesome:

I cannot express to you, blog-o-sphere, how much I love this table. It's like the partner of the leg lamp from A Christmas Story! There were more of them, too! I managed to snap this picture before the owner barked at me "Some people might get mad if you take pictures without permission....good thing I'm not one of them!" before she cackled. Apparently her man makes these tables for fun...he showed us several of his other creations before we were able to escape the store. Rest assured, I'd go back there, as the woman also made some fantastic feathered hair pieces that I might think about wearing at the wedding.

Also, check this out:

It's a motorcycle...made of baskets!

Apparently Eureka Springs has lots of outdoor music, opera, and Shakespeare in the summer. They have several ice cream shops, and had we been patient enough to walk another block, plenty of adorable places to find homemade soup and bread. It's an adorable, quirky, quaint town that is just a quick jaunt away. Rest assured, if anyone ever gets around to visiting us, we will take you there, because it might just be the best place to go in Arkansas.