Monday, February 29, 2016

Be your own travel agent. . .

We’ve had a mild winter in Arkansas, so spring fever came on unexpectedly and with urgency. Rediscovering Arkansas Curiosities on my bookshelf, I began to plan some day trips or one-or-two overnight trips. 

Stop #1
Earlier this month I set out for nearby Mt. Ida and the Wegner Quartz Crystal Mines where I spent a fun couple of hours with a screen and a bucket of sand “mining” for an array of minerals and gems. 

 Stop #2
  Coming away with quite a full bag, I headed back to town and spent an enjoyable hour kibbitzing with folks in the recently opened art gallery and  the wood shop on a small town square which just might come back to life someday.

Stop #3
Then I headed to Norman, an even smaller town, to visit what may possibly be the smallest free-standing library in the United States! Follow the link for more great pictures. Walking back to my car parked in front of the City Hall, I encountered who appeared to be the only employee as she left for lunch. As most small-town folks do, she smiled and offered more information about the town--a site right up my alley: the old high school which is being renovated as a museum. I can’t wait to go back when it’s finished!

Stops #4 and #5 
Back in the car, I headed down the road to Caddo Gap and the Indian monument built in 1936 by the WPA. It commemorates DeSoto’s arrival at the most westward point in his explorations. Four additional markers tell the history of the Caddo Indians in the area. On the way back, just before crossing the bridge into Norman, I stopped at the Caddo Indian Memorial which, though in need of repairs and regular upkeep, is a fascinating look at the lives of the people who first inhabited the area. 

 Stop #6
Stopping to snap a few pictures of the old high school as I retraced my steps, I pictured it as central to a new story!

Stop #7
By now it was past two o’clock in the afternoon. Breakfast being a mere memory, I enjoyed a “real” hamburger at the Mt. Ida Café, one of those small-town restaurants you can always count on for good food in a cozy atmosphere. 

In retrospect. . .  
There's a museum in Mt. Ida, too, but unfortunately it wasn't open this month. I think I have a good excuse to go back. . .maybe buy that painting of a mockingbird at the art gallery. . .perhaps price the woodcarving of the same bird at the wood shop. . .and, of course, stop for another real hamburger in the cozy cafe! 

But that day, for the price of gas and a hamburger, I had a lovely day, met some nice folks, took some pretty good pictures, and learned a lot. You can’t ask for more!

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