Thursday, June 29, 2023

I Can Drive 65

To get to Springfield, I took Hyw. 65 from Conway up to Missouri. Along the way, I made a little detour at the Tyler Bend access along the Buffalo River. While we did end up visiting the river (which was really low), we spent more time along this little dirt road. 

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On our way back home, we made a slight detour off of Hwy. 65 and visited the small community of Snowball. Here in Snowball is the old McDaniel's store and gas station. It is closed, and apparently the family uses it as storage for farm goods now.

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And just down the road from Snowball was this abandoned church, nearly hidden behind overgrown brush and vines.

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The next stop was in the town of Marshall, which has this old abandoned house that sits just a block away from the county courthouse.

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The house was built in 1902, and was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1993.

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And then we made one last stop, at the barn at Wiley's Cove Ranch near Leslie.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Springfield, Missouri

A few weeks ago I took Jonah up to Missouri so we could visit Silver Dollar City so we could celebrate a successful end of the first grade. I have an Aunt who lives in Springfield, so we stayed with her over the weekend, and got to see some sights. Springfield is home to the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, which is right by the Bass Pro Shops Headquarters. We went through the aquarium, which contains 1.5 million gallons of water and has over 35,000 fish, birds, reptiles, mammals and amphibians on display. It is really neat, but expensive. The ticket price cost an arm and a leg (and a fin?).

I tried taking pictures with the camera but most of them didn't turn out. I managed to get this shot of guy, not sure if it's a croc or a gator.

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And then there was the jellyfish room...

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Springfield is also known as the birthplace of Route 66. Way back in the 1920s, the course of Route 66 was mapped out at a hotel in Springfield. The Mother Road passed through Springfield, and you can still find lots of old buildings that travelers would have driven by back in the olden days. One of those places is the old Shamrock Court Motel, which was built in 1927. Sadly it's closed and empty now (but up for sale).

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Down the road is a park that has a reproduction of a sign for Red's Giant Hamburg, a restaurant on Route 66 that has operated for decades. The restaurant was a staple on Route 66, but closed in 1984. But a few years ago, it was reopened and features the same recipes as the original. We ate there and it was pretty tasty! Apparently it was called Giant Hamburg because there wasn't enough room on the sign to fit all of "hamburger."

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And one last shot from Springfield - we stopped to get gas at this station, which was right by some old silos. They had some neat vines growing on them so I ran out with the infrared camera for a quick picture....

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Thursday, June 15, 2023

Ark. Museum of Fine Arts

The other day I had a chance to drive over to MacArthur Park and check out the fancy new Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts. The museum (formally the Arkansas Arts Center) had been closed for five years while it underwent a massive renovation and expansion that cost about $160 million or so.

The museum first opened in 1937, and had expanded several times over the years. But those additions were now considered to be poorly-designed, which made navigating the galleries awkward and kept the museum's attractions separated and distant from each other. The five-year renovation removed those additions, and added on 133,000 square feet of new space. The redesign uncovered the original building's art deco facade, which had been somewhat hidden behind one of those additions for the last few decades.

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In front of the entrance is the sculpture Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge, by Henry Moore. The statue was originally purchased by the city of Little Rock to be placed in the old Metrocentre Mall, the short-lived downtown pedestrian mall in the 80s. From there it was moved to a spot along Capitol Avenue for awhile, before being moved here to the museum. If the sculpture looks familiar, a copy of it can be seen in the 80s film The Breakfast Club. In one scene, Judd Nelson hangs from the top of the statue, something that the docents at the AMFA would probably frown upon.



Out front were a few other sculptures, which I did not recognize from any other 80s movies.

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Perhaps the most dramatic part of the new expansion is the "Cultural Living Room," which is described as "a new glass-panelled pavilion, topped with an undulating pleated roof. Suspended over the courtyard with expansive, downward-sloping windows, the structure hovers like a control panel, offering views of the museum’s interior from below and panoramic views of the original fa├žade. The light-filled space...is furnished with ample seating and a custom bar, fulfilling a long-felt gap in the museum’s offerings by providing a communal area for patrons to gather and socialise."

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And right next door is another one of city's landmarks, the old Little Rock Arsenal Building. It was built in 1840 and also has been home to a museum for many decades.

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And one last shot from the Museum, which was closing when I got there so I didn't get a chance to go inside. Hopefully will be making a trip in there soon...

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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Toyota Stadium - Dallas

A few weeks ago we headed down to Texas to go to a soccer game. I'm a huge fan of FC Dallas, and used to routinely make this drive back before I had serious responsibilities (like kids). But we were able to get free and make this trip, the first visit to a game since way back in 2019 (which feels like ages ago thanks to Covid). We had good seats, had good company at the game, and were ready to watch the lads take on the expansion team out of St. Louis.

But of course, severe weather struck. A massive storm disrupted the game in the 50th minute due to lightning. This was the view of the stadium, right before the storm hit:

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The last 40 minutes of the game was postponed until tonight, and the weather was much calmer. And to make it better, Dallas won 2-0!


Monday, June 5, 2023

Thorncrown Chapel

Just outside of Eureka Springs is the Thorncrown Chapel, which was built in 1980 and designed by noted architect E. Fay Jones. The chapel stands 48 feet tall, and has 425 windows and over 6,000 square feet of glass. The design was inspired by the Sainte-Chapelle, a gothic church in Paris that was built in the 13th century. That church holds many old Christian relics that were collected by King Louis, including what is believed to be a portion of the Crown of Thorns. That connection helped lend the name of the Thorncrown Chapel in Arkansas.

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The chapel has become one of the most famous buildings in the state. In 1981 it was given the American Institute of Architects National Honor Award, and was later named one of the top ten buildings of the 20th century. In 2000, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a rare honor for a building that was only 20 years old.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Beaver

Just north of Eureka Springs is the small community of Beaver, which dates back to the 1850s. The town was built by a spring on the White River, and would soon feature an inn, post office, gristmill, stagecoach stop and a ferry crossing. Now the most famous landmark in Beaver is the Beaver Bridge, a one-lane wooden suspension bridge that was built in 1949. It's been dubbed the "Little Golden Gate Bridge," and is the last suspension bridge that is still in use in the state.

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The town of Beaver doesn't sit on Beaver Lake, but is actually on the very southern end of Table Rock Lake. There is a nearby overlook that provides this view of the lake:

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There wasn't that much traffic as were were heading home, so I managed to get one last picture of the Beaver Bridge without any cars passing over it...

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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Road 299 Falls

Road 299 Falls is a scenic waterfall that is conveniently located right by the road (299, in case you were wondering). The 21 foot-tall waterfall is located within the Madison County Wildlife Management Area, south of Eureka Springs.

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The falls run over a bluff and into a small grotto, where lots of wild columbines were growing.

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