[photo: library of congress]
There are more than a few developments down in Northwest Arkansas that look something like this, with a little more land (but similarly few trees):
It’s depressing. I know this isn’t endemic to this region alone — sadly, these tract houses are almost everywhere now. I don’t need to live in a palace, I just want a house that I can identify even if the numbers weren’t on it and the street names disappeared. Is that too much to ask?
Enter Mark Zweig.
[photos: mark zweig]
This man and his firm are singlehandedly transforming Fayetteville, one house at a time. He’s not the only one with an eye for design and individualized homes in this area — but he’s one of the few standouts and I love what he is doing. Take some time to surf his site.
Of course I like this guy’s style — he lived in Massachusetts for several years and renovated a few homes there. Read that on his website after seeing his projects and le soleil se leve (Sidenote: I had a French teacher in high school who, when he could see the “a-HA” light bulb of realization flip on in a student, would say, “Le soleil se leve a Marblehead!” But I digress).
[photo: yoga life style]
Surprise! There is yoga in Northwest Arkansas, and quite a lot of it for a community this size. While much of this state is horribly unhealthy and economically poor, development in NWA is on fire and with it brings some of the amenities you’d expect in your everyday suburbia or your run of the mill college town (Note: I realize yoga should not be dependent on income but it’s true that most of rural America has yet to come around to this logic).
[photo: snerq yoga]
My personal hero is Krista DeBuhr of Snerq Yoga. Based in Clarksville, another, much smaller college town — home of the University of the Ozarks (yes, my dears, there is such a thing as a private liberal arts college not based in New England) — Krista comes to Fayetteville every Sunday and teaches a class I’d happily attend in NYC. There’s something about this year that has increased my focus and made yoga so much more fulfilling than it ever used to be. I’m sure part of it is Krista, but I’m also confident a lot of it has to do with my head going 1000 mph all day, every day and needing someone to forcibly slow it down.
There is also a class called ‘Hollywood’ that I heart and try to get to when I am here — Brittany Allison developed it and now there are a few others that carry on her tradition.
It’s not because of a lack of classes that i don’t try more of these fun activities; the issue is that all of the classes are either in the middle of the day or far too early in the evening (you get out of work in time to make a 5pm class, really? If so, then I hate you.)
There should be a series developed on The Real Housewives of Northwest Arkansas.
[photo: everything is electric]
Just east of the Northwest Arkansas Bentonville-Rogers-Springdale-Fayetteville corridor is a crazy snake-like body of water that weaves its way through the hills. Hello, Beaver Lake. It ain’t called The Natural State for nothing (though I think this lake is actually man-made…). Of course, we have all the hunters and sportsmen as you might expect, but we also have a critical mass of camping, hiking, canoeing, cycling, running, etc. Pack Rat in Fayetteville actually sells brands like Patagonia.
Anyway, back to the point of the post. After skirting around this winding ramble of a lake, Eureka Springs, AR awaits on the other side.
It’s a small town without a flat stich in sight — mountain bikers love it, as well as the other kind of biker, too — best known for an eclectic collection of events, facts and tidbits:
- It has Christ of the Ozarks (just like Rio, right?), a monument that should have been the centerpiece of some guy’s religious theme park;
- Major event of the year (see abovementioned Ozark Jesus) is “one heckuva passion play,” aptly reviewed by my friend’s grandfather;
- It’s a gay-friendly oasis;
- The place is full of B&Bs and Victorian gingerbread house architecture;
- It’s home to a pile of artists and writers — check out The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow;
- The place was a hideout for Jesse James and his gang, and perhaps Bonnie and Clyde; and
- It has a ghost-inhabited hotel with the tours to prove it.
And if you’re hungry, Local Flavor treats you right.
You can also find a barber-cum-“Tall Tale Fishing Guide”-cum-town-gossip as well, replete with pre-9/11 World Trade Center photos and images of military pride. There’s more about this guy but I’ll have to tell you over drinks.
I will write about Washington, DC, but will try not to bore you with political rants or your run of the mill tourist info you can find anywhere else.
On 1812 1/2 11th Street, NW, for example, there is a row house with an unusual entry awning. The sign reads “S & M Beauty Salon” and the front window, door and yard offer no further information or explanation. The row house itself is just far enough away from the U Street commercial district that I think it is: a) like The Wonderland Ballroom in that it’s just an edgier, underground speakeasy sort of place in a more residential area; b) a home whose residents love the irony of the sign, which could very well have been Steve & Mary’s Beauty Salon back in the 1970s; or c) it is a truly off the grid, more-than-edgy-in-a-way-I-don’t-need-to-know beauty salon, bar, dominatrix abode, or other deviant establishment. You are picking up what I am putting down.
Walking by it at night, its red walls with black and white trim in the entry area are clear. After that, it’s up to my imagination (and yours). The strangest thing about it is that I can find *zero* legitimate online breadcrumb trail for it. The sensationalist in me wants to jump right to Option C in the abovementioned choices, but the realist in me thinks it’s either A or B since it’s not in the crime reports in the Washington Post Metro section. If it were A, though, the blogs would have mentioned it at least a few times and there is nothing. NOTHING.
What the heck is it?
Item 1: There are armadillos in Northwest Arkansas, and lots of them.
I never gave the armadillo a passing thought – and then I started seeing them all over the place when I moved here, mostly as roadkill. They are everywhere! And they look totally prehistoric. I’ve also managed to see a few live ones; either way, they never cease to surprise me just a little.
[photo: Le Creuset]
Item 2: Apparently state parks now teach cooking classes.
Remarkably, one of the state parks near me — Hobbs State Park in Rogers, AR — is hosting a cooking class focused on the Dutch oven. I find it sort of remarkable that a state park is hosting a cooking class, but I find it really out of this world that the class focuses on the Dutch oven because it is the “state cooking vessel” of Arkansas and not because it’s an all-around great culinary tool. Seriously? This factoid begged further investigation, and it appears that only Arkansas, Texas and Utah share the rarefied honor of having official state cooking vessels. Given that two of the three states share the same cookware, I’m not so sure this category is going to sweep the nation.
I mean, every state doesn’t even have its own animal, and the second-rate bureaucrats overseeing this sort of thing couldn’t even agree to “animal” and instead had to break out separate categories for land mammal, marine mammal, wile mammal, domestic mammal, reptile, bird, etc. I don’t know that this qualifies as the “radical inclusion” Burning Man espouses.
FYI that the armadillo is not the state animal of Arkansas.