Surrender 14: Chinese Food & Crystal Bridges Museum

While in Arkansas today, Greg and I went with the flow, opening to the possibilities that the journey offered. We took care of a couple of items that needed doing and then surrendered to the day. 

One scheduled event was to meet Greg’s cousin for lunch in Bella Vista, in between her morning and afternoon work appointments. Pam suggested Chen’s Garden, a Chinese buffet style restaurant. 


We had an enjoyable meal, dining and chatting and laughing. I tried items from the buffet that I’ve not sampled before, such as a dumpling, vegetable egg fu-yang, crisp green beans and peppered chicken. It was all delicious and fun to catch up with Pam. 

After lunch and necessities were completed, Greg suggested a drive to the beautiful Crystal Bridges Musuem of American Art, located in Bentonville, AR. It has been almost two years since I last visited the museum complex, walking the trails through the woods for a first. The museum recently acquired a Frank Lloyd Wright house, that was meticulously disassembled in New Jersey and carefully relocated to Arkansas. I longed for a peek at this unique home. 


We discovered upon arrival at the museum that there were no tickets available until late in the afternoon, to tour the inside of the house. The day was gorgeous, with sunshine and temperatures in the 60’s. This gift of a beautiful January day had brought an abundance of visitors to the museum. No worries though. We were told we could walk around the house. 

Known as the Bachman-Wilson House, this structure, built in 1954 along the Millstone River in New Jersey, is one of Wright’s Usonian homes. Designed to be affordable for the average middle class family, the name for these houses is derived from “United States of North America”. There were approximately 120 Usonian houses built. 


During his career, Frank Lloyd Wright sought to create a new style of architecture that expressed uniquely American character. Referred to as “organic architecture “, Wright’s structures were integrated with their environment. Each has strong horizontal elements, emphasizing the building’s connection to the ground, and large windows to allow for natural light and open views to the outdoors. 

I loved walking through the museum, which is an experience in itself, and along the trail outdoors to the house. The home has been beautifully restored and it is now preserved for future generations to enjoy and appreciate. I especially liked the liberal use of wood and the many windows. We sat for a time on a nearby park bench, savoring the spring-like day and the beauty around us. 

Next time, I will plan ahead and secure a ticket, which is free, and wander through the interior of the Bachman-Wilson home. However, I was perfectly content with the way the afternoon unfolded today, and the leisurely stroll in the sunshine. It was, indeed, a gift. 


Day 197: The Rail – A Pizza Company Rogers AR

The Rail e

Cousin Linda is preparing to fly home to Illinois, and that was a good reason to meet up one more time in AR to say “Until next time…”. Greg and I met Pam and Linda at Pam’s pretty home in Bella Vista. Together we traveled to the historic downtown Rogers, AR, for a fun meal at The Rail – A Pizza Company, and a first for me.

The Rail, located at 218 S. First Street, is one of the hot spots in downtown Rogers. Housed in an older building with exposed brick walls inside, this is a cool place to gather for pizza, wings, cold drinks and dinner with friends. Or cousins, in my case. I love these historic buildings with their long narrow interiors. We slid into a booth and perused menus, conveniently located on the table.

Our waiter was friendly and attentive. He kept our drinks filled and answered any questions we had. We ordered a cheeseburger pizza and The Alfred, a pizza featuring chicken, onions, mushroom and Italian sausage with an alfredo sauce. Both choices were excellent. The cheeseburger pizza even had dill pickles and mustard on it. Our barbeque wings were a great start to the meal. The wings were pleasantly crispy with a tangy and sweet mild sauce.

The Rail cheeseburger pizza e

We arrived early for dinner and we were fortunate to do so. The tables and booths very quickly filled up. There was a festive, chatty atmosphere as people sampled an assortment of cold beer and soda and chowed down on pizza. We had our own little party going on at our booth, as we shared pizza, chatted and laughed.

Pam introduced me to a new use for those left over crusts of pizza. Each table or booth had a bottle of honey present. She instructed us to save our crusts and dribble honey over them for a simple dessert. Another first! I had never seen this done before, at any of the pizza establishments I’ve been in. After letting my dinner settle for a few minutes, I tried a honeyed pizza crust. It was delicious and just the right finishing touch to our meal. This is a suggestion every pizza place could adopt!

We drove around downtown Rogers before heading back to Pam’s house. There were many cute and interesting shops to explore at another time. As the sun set, Pam directed us home via scenic back roads. NW Arkansas really is beautiful, well deserving of the nickname, The Natural State. I didn’t realize, until this evening that Bella Vista has several small but deep lakes in the area. We drove by two and I appreciated their peacefulness and beauty.

It’s been fun to spend time with Greg’s cousins the past few weeks. I enjoyed the holiday at the lake house near Lawrence KS and the excursions in NW Arkansas. And of course, it is the connections with people that makes these times memorable. I hope to see Linda, Tim and Mark, and their spouses and families, again soon. And Pam and her husband Jay, I’ve discovered, are a mere 40 minutes away down I-49. I intend to see them often. So it’s not goodbye. It really is see you later.

The Rail group e

Day 93: Buffalo River National Park


In spite of rain and the threat of stormy weather, my first for today was to go on a daytrip and visit the Buffalo River National Park. The park is located east of Springdale, AR, in a deep narrow valley. The Buffalo River snakes through this valley, along high sheer bluffs and tree covered hills. I have heard of this beautiful place for years. Today, I finally saw it for myself.

Greg has camped there multiple times and floated the Buffalo River in a canoe. It’s been years since I canoed down any river. During this year of new experiences, it is time for me to float down the Buffalo and enjoy a few days in the campground. Today’s trip, with Greg as my guide, was to check out the area and collect information about the upcoming adventure.

Along the way, we stopped in Rogers, AR to visit the Lewis & Clark store.  Another first! This store is for the outdoor enthusiast, selling bicycles, sports clothing, kayaks and a variety of hiking, backpacking and camping gear. The staff was friendly and helpful and we enjoyed walking around and checking out all the cool gadgets and gear available.

After an early lunch in Springdale, our journey continued east to the Buffalo River area. I love the beauty of Northwest Arkansas. The hills rise higher and higher until they mimic mountains. Forests cover these hills, which drop steeply down into long valleys. There is an abundance of water in NW Arkansas as well. The countryside is dotted with ponds and crisscrossed with creeks and rivers. Beaver Lake sprawls to the north of this region.

Cell phone coverage is spotty here. So I disconnected from my phone for a while and drank in nature. The trees were just beginning to show a hint of green but I could appreciate the browns and grays of tall trees and the pale olive of lichen covered rock. Without the leaves, I could see farther, marveling at how deep those ancient ravines go. The Buffalo River was running swiftly. It appeared the area had received quite a bit of rain last night. Greg showed me where the canoes are launched. Watching the water roil and rush over submerged rock, I hoped I’d not tip the canoe immediately after getting into the river! Apparently, it is a common occurrence.

The campground, located alongside the Buffalo, was abandoned today, except for a lone camper from Tennessee. He was hurrying to set up camp before the storms hit. He shared that he and his friends have been camping at the same site for 35 years, ever since his fraternity days. His friends are arriving tomorrow. Greg and I walked along the river, checking out campsites and discussing when would be a good time to return, camping gear in tow. I’m thinking sometime this month.

We traveled on to Eureka Springs, AR, one of my favorite towns. While eating dinner, we noticed the weather changing. The Joplin area had already experienced a strong thunderstorm. It now looked like NW Arkansas was about to be hit by the trailing end of the same system. Greg has a very cool weather radar app on his phone that tracks storms, showing severity, direction and how fast the storm is moving. He used that app well today. We had just driven away from Eureka Springs when radar indicated a strong storm approaching rapidly. We calculated we did not have enough time to reach the Missouri state line before being hit with a storm that contained high winds, hail and rain. We returned to Eureka Springs to wait out the storm and then proceeded home, safely.

I am looking forward to at least two firsts when I return to the Buffalo River National Park later this month: camping there for the first time, and canoeing down the river. I discovered today that they also have mountain top cabins for rent and a canopy zip line excursion. Looks like I’ll be visiting several times this year!