The Mechanic and I took advantage of the Fourth of July long weekend to visit his father in Missouri. Although Poppa Mechanic (who is himself a mechanic and restores and uses tractors and farm equipment) lives in Missouri, he lives so close to the Arkansas border that we fly into Bentonville, AR, and most of our adventures are in Arkansas. I had only visited Poppa Mechanic once, several winters ago, and it was freezing cold, plus there was an ice storm! On that trip we enjoyed Crystal Bridges and Eureka Springs so I was glad to have the opportunity to visit while the weather was better. The Mechanic and I were surprised and impressed at some of the unexpected treats we found.
Caves and Cliffs
I have never visited this part of the US before meeting The Mechanic, so that makes all of this area new. I’m especially enthralled with the caves and rocky bluffs everywhere! Near Poppa Mechanic is a cave that has been converted into an outdoor bar, and another is called the Old Spanish Treasure Cave. Ooh, fun! So visiting War Eagle Cavern was our second stop off the plane. The inside was not as spectacular as the entrance (and the tour guide’s grasp of science and history was questionable) but the entrance was AMAZING! Just like old movies or books, with green vines dripping over the edge – so cool.
The Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel really isn’t an elven chapel, of course, but boy does it look like one! It’s secluded location belies the fact that it is minutes off the highway in Bella Vista, AR. Between the slender, graceful swooping design of the chapel and the quiet woods surrounding it, I expected Galadriel herself to open the door to us. The architect, local Fayetteville, AR, boy E. Fay Jones, had studied under Frank Lloyd Wright, and also designed Thorncrown Chapel, just outside of Eureka Springs. If I’d known when we passed it on our last trip I would have insisted we stop. Cooper Memorial Chapel is simply magical inside and I was envious of the engaged pair touring the chapel as a possible wedding site. I hope they picked it.Good Eats
The Mechanic and I had discussed what we’d do when faced with limited vegetarian dining options, but never had to worry. Every restaurant we went to was a delicious surprise for us non-meat eaters. Even Poppa Mechanic joined us in our vegetarianism!
The first stop was the War Eagle Mill, just outside of Rogers, AR, which The Mechanic remembered as a child. A beautiful location, so many options of flour, cornmeal and more, and best of all, one of the best veggie burgers I’ve ever had in their Bean Palace Cafe on the top floor of the working mill. Our next surprise dining experience was in Historic Downtown Rogers, the next day. We ducked into Hammontree’s Grilled Cheese and found a hidden gem. Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, plus every gourmet hot dog could be made with a veggie dog! A long list of local brews, a vintage bar and a ginormous pterodactyl over the entrance were other treats but the Star Wars themed art and menu items really sold me on the place. Feel free to open another location in Arlington, guys!
At the end of that day, we had ended up in Fayetteville, AR, further south, and with no idea where to eat, simply Googled “Vegetarian restaurants” and ended up at the charming Eco-conscious Greenhouse Grille. Our meal there was delicious, and left us pining for such an option at home.
I never know what we’ll run into when cruising a “historic downtown” of any small town, but I couldn’t have been happier to run across The Rabbit’s Lair. A sewing and knitting store located in a beautifully preserved pharmacy, The Rabbit’s Lair is the kind of sewing store I wish existed in more places. I did end up buying a few things, yarn and an embroidery kit, but I’m sure I would have found more if I’d stayed there longer! I mean, bunnies and sewing! I <heart> this!
In addition to these stops, plus a few others (Who knew there was a Daisy Airgun Museum?! Yes, as in “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!” And the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks was lovely), we spent a day on Poppa Mechanic’s farm, feeding cows and driving tractors. The wheat fields were beautiful in between crazy thunder and lightening storms, and I loved looking across the fields to see them twinkle with the light of more lightening bugs than I’ve ever seen before. The highlight for me was getting to drive a vintage Ford tractor, reliving the summer I was 15 and learned to drive, on a John Deere tractor, on my grandfather’s farm.