It’s a little known fact that I was born in Arkansas. I was always grateful to my parents for moving north before I learned how to talk. As a kid, I imagined my birthplace as forested mountains with unpainted lean-to’s and hillbillies in overalls and bare feet. I was disappointed when we drove through Jonesboro one year to find unimpressive flatlands.
I would have been more impressed with Northeast Arkansas. The Ozarks are actually quite beautiful, and Eureka Springs is wonderful old town. It sprang up in the late 1800s, when the water from its Basin Spring was reputed to heal eye injuries, cure crippling diseases, and improve health in general. The city was founded in 1879 and two years later, it was the fourth largest town in Arkansas.
Almost 150 years later, most of the city’s original buildings still stand and are well cared for, so it’s easy to imagine what it was like in its heyday. The town centers on the Basin Spring, which is on a mountainside. The streets are narrow and winding, the buildings brick or limestone. The springs attracted tourists all those years ago. The beauty and character of the town attracts tourists now. And there’s an enclave of artists that gives the place a interesting, liberal feel to it. It’s probably the most open-minded place in Arkansas (which isn’t saying a lot, but we met more gay residents there than anywhere in our travels so far).
We stayed two nights at nearby Beaver Lake Cottages and RV Park. It was a very nice, quiet place run by a retired couple. It was good to have a place to leave Bessie, because I wouldn’t have wanted to try to park her in Eureka Springs, where roads are narrow and parking tricky.
We got up early on our one day there and took Bailey with us into town. It’s a very dog-friendly town, and some stores encouraged us to bring her in with us. Mostly, we just walked around to see as much as we could, and enjoyed lunch in an outdoor café. We hiked up wooded paths, through neighborhoods to Crescent Hotel at the top of the ridge. This place was built in 1886 and is notorious for being the most haunted hotel in the country.
By then it was blistering hot, and poor Bailey was looking miserable in her heavy coat, so we headed back, stopping by the lake to let her swim and cool down.
We completely enjoyed our short time in this Ozark and would have loved to had more time there. Maybe we’ll go by there on our way back next year.