Mena, Arkansas

My husband and I cleared the calendar and took a day trip to Mena, Arkansas. Took about one and half hours to fly there from Edmond, OK, in our little Grumman. Clear, cool weather enhanced the flight as we followed the Talimina Drive which runs atop the Ouachita Mountain fifty-four mile ridge.

Mena is not a large town but since it lies at the end of the scenic drive, it’s a great place to stop, eat lunch and drive (or fly) back. We saw lots of motorcyclists. We rented a car and drove up Skyline Drive to Queen Wilhemina State Park, the leaves having morphed into bright reds, oranges and golds.

The hole-in-the-wall Skyline Cafe was packed so we walked down the street and partook of the culture at Hops Flamin Bar-B-Que Grill. Our son-in-law would be proud.

There appears to be many cabins, neat resturants, and bed and breakfasts in the area.

Finally we made our way to Lake Wilhemina to relax for a few mintues before heading back home. Left at 10 a.m. Got back about 7 p.m. Nice way to spend a day!


Seoul, South Korea

Visiting South Korea after almost 40 years brought surprises. Some things were familiar, others not. It changed and it didn’t change. Yes, I was astounded at so many new developments. Tall sky scrapers, wide highways, iphones and bottled water, modern restaurants and hotels, E Marts, shopping malls, clean market places, and a subway system to beat New York’s.

And, of course, thousands of fashionable college-bound young people representing the future roamed the streets at midnight. 

But the old, the ancient way of life that has been there for thousands of years, still exists.  That’s the part I remember, the culture I hold dear, like the rice paddies flooding the valleys while shrines grace the hillsides, the sight of flounders and squid at the open fish market, Hangul or Korean-lettered signs up and down the narrow streets, umbrellas flashing like rainbows, older generation men wearing traditional baggy pajis or pants.

We visited three markets, Namdaemun, Dongdaemun, and Insadong in two days. We could have spent much longer at each one.

And the food! The delicious food still entices me to overeat! Kimchi! Yes, I can eat my share of the spicy fermented napa cabbage, along with easier foods like bulgogi, chop chae, and kimbops. Do try.

Temples of historical dynasties represent a colorful past, like the one we visited, Deosku Palace of the Joseun Dynasty, which was right in the middle of Seoul. We timed it right and watched the changing of the guard.

One evening we ate dinner on Yeouido Island, and saw the Han River at night. What a gorgeous place.

We visited a traditional Buddha Temple, but worshipped in the English service of a Christian church. We enjoyed it all, especially the kind and helpful people who live there!

This dichotomy of cultures only touches the sights and sounds of Seoul, South Korea – definitely worth another visit!


Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The Ozark Mountains felt like home. No, I’m not from Arkansas, but the rolling hills, the blooming redbud trees, and friendly people were like a visit to Grandma’s place. Our original anniversary trip plans failed, the train to Fort Worth already booked up. So Thursday night, Bill was on the computer until midnight looking for a place to go. We left Friday about noon for three days in Eureka Springs, hopefully for a good vacation.

Crescent Hotel

Bill flew us into Rogers Airport (near Wal-Mart headquarters, I think) where Rogers Lake Aviation is FBO. We rented a car and drove north around Beaver Lake to get to our cabin, Pond Mountain Resort, a suite with so many windows it felt like we were camping out, especially when gazing at stars from the outdoor deck.

Eureka Springs nestles in a narrow valley – the shops, restaurants, and bed and breakfasts built into the rock-covered mountains. We drove the historic loop and got lost, but enjoyed the sight-seeing. Then we ate at The Local Flavor, easily our favorite restaurant, and wandered around South Main up through Spring Street.  Most shops had already closed, so we didn’t purchase much, but the window shopping was fun.

Beaver Lake
Eureka Springs

Saturday, we drove to Beaver Lake, a short distance away, and then came back and had lunch at Bubba’s BBQ, eating pulled pork in tribute to our Razorback son-in-law.  If you’re going to have pulled pork, that’s where to have it.

Thorncrown Chapel

One of the special places we visited was Thorncrown Glass Chapel, 48 feet tall with 425 windows and over 6000 square feet of glass. Wow! Surrounded by God’s beauty, it felt like a holy temple.

The 1886 Crescent Hotel and spa was surrounded with thousands of colorful tulips. That’s where we saw an older man back over the side but he was unharmed.

Crescent Hotel & Spa


Bill wanted to visit a cavern, so we chose Cosmic Caverns based on Bubba’s recommendation, and drove about 20 miles east of town, stopping at Berryville Airport (Bill likes to see airports). It had rained heavily two weeks before, flooding the caverns, and still had a pond in the bottom and water dripped on us from above, but all in all, a good hour underground. We saw cute little bats hanging from the ceiling.

We ate at Rowdy Beaver Restaurant and Tavern and took off south around Beaver Lake, stopping at Hobbs State Park visitor center, worthy of an educational tour. Then bebopped over to War Eagle Mill, and had lunch. I had their specialty – good old-fashioned cornbread and brown beans.

Sinking Springs Trail


Before driving back to the airport, we hiked through the historic Van Winkle Place and the Sinking Springs Trail. For a spur-of-the-moment trip, it was remarkable. I’d go back to Eureka Springs any time, just like I’d always go back home to Grandma’s.


Carthage, Deep East Texas

Carthage, Texas, population 6,779, lies in deep East Texas where I’ve been staying to help Ma after her surgery. Thunder rolls across the sky and lightning flashes through the curtains which calls for sleeping in, but about 6 a.m. I hear Ma’s wake-up radio playing country music, something like “Blue Jean Girl.” She only has two volumes, and with Ma rocking in the other room, I know it’s time to pull out her sour dough “starter.”  She still can’t lift the 2-ton cast iron skillet with her right arm, and since I’m here to help, I get up to practice making sour dough biscuits again. Guess they’ve eaten biscuits while watching the Texas sunrise for more than forty years now.

Pa starts a fire, bringing in logs from the wood he chopped and stacked on the front porch. He sits down in front of the TV, updating himself on the world, the weather, and the war. He’s very interested in the military talk since he was in WWII. At the same time, Ma turns on the local KGAV station to find out if she recognizes anyone who died or got a DUI the previous night. There was a bad 18-wheeler accident carrying cooking oil right outside of Carthage and I heard the radio comment, “There’s enough oil out here to cook all the catfish in Panola County.”

Speaking of catfish, we didn’t get to go fishing this week, but Ma probably has enough in the freezer to feed all 6,779 Carthage citizens.  

Every day this week, Pa and I rode the wheeler to check the hog traps (no more wild hogs caught yet!) and stopped at the cabin he built to add to his old timer’s collection. A horse shearer, a froe mallet, a hay bale hook, and a knuckle buster hang on a wall in the pine-covered breezeway.  There’s more – like a sadiron, a washer plunger, and a children’s cotton weight.  The weight was used to weigh cotton picked and I guess children had a lighter weight. The display is topped off with a single tree harness for a mule (not to be mistaken for a double tree harness used for two mules). A butter churn and slop bucket sit elsewhere, along with many other artifacts. Pa would love to explain their significance if you want to mosey on down and take a gander. It’s an unusual collection. (I didn’t mention the rat trap, or the calf rope Pa wanted to hang from the ceiling as a noose – which didn’t seem wise.)

One of Pa’s proudest trophies is his grist mill. I must admit I didn’t know what it was, but Pa took a handful of dried corn, dropped it in a funnel, and turned a handle. Viola.  Corn meal.  Said a man could have made a living making corn meal. I’m  amazed at the trappings of the prior century.

I haven’t seen more deer, but a Texas longhorn grazed across the street, and mocking birds and blue jays scattered as I drove around.

The evening fog settled round the trees at the cabin and the mood took my breath away. God knows how to make beautiful. Buried in the tall pine trees, the cabin is built for a hermit, and if I’m still missing from Oklahoma in a week or two, I’m probably hiding down here in East Texas making sour dough biscuits and grinding cornmeal.


A Day in East Texas

I drove down to Texas to help Bill’s Ma recuperate after surgery, but she rested after breakfast, which gave me time to bump along with Pa on Bill’s Ranger through the back woods. The crisp wind in my face, I saw deer’s white tails disappear into the pine trees, and a dozen tiny swallows, scared out of the bushes, fan across the road.  Around the bend a coyote streaked across the road in front of us.  A mighty fine morning, as Pa said, even if the ground was a bit muddy from the recent rain.

We went to check the wild hog traps, and, although Pa hadn’t caught one in months, sure enough, there it was, an almost grown pig stomping ‘cause he just lost his freedom.  He didn’t know he’d soon be losing more than his freedom for destroying Pa’s nice smooth pasture. We drove back home where Pa got his rifle and I got my camera.  I’m not squeamish, haven’t been since learning to skin chickens on daddy’s farm as a girl, but I looked the other way before the gun went off.

Pa chained the hog to the Ranger and drug the animal over the soft ground about half a mile to the barn. “They’re always bigger ‘n they look,” Pa said. This nearly 150 pound beast looked big enough to me. Ma, her arm in a sling, came out to see the corpse before Pa strung it up for skinning and butchering. An old boar might have got dumped in a ditch, but this young one would be good eating. That’s how it is in East Texas.

Back at the house, I cooked chicken soup for Ma, 75 years old, Pa the hog butcher, 87, and Aunt Peggy somewhere up there.  Aunt Peggy sat for hours doing word search puzzles. Wish I could be as content. During the older folks’ naptime, I took the Ranger over to the cabin Pa built from pine wood cut on his saw mill.  A hawk swooped down from the clouds and landed on a nearby pine limb. I sat on the porch swing and then put flowers on the “settee” I bought so Bill and I could have coffee outside sometime.  I’m trying to figure out how to decorate the place with a distressed look, but then, it might not need much more distressing. It looks fine to me.

I hurried back to help with supper.  We went to bed early, but Pa’s polka music  played until late in the night.  Since I had to wake up at 5:30 for Ma to show me how to make sour dough biscuits for breakfast, I decided to stick around for nap time the next day.  Just hope Ma doesn’t get well too soon ‘cause then I’ll have to go back to Oklahoma. Don’t tell Bill I said life in Texas is good.