I’m on the north side of Chicago, a sunny and cold Saturday morning. The car is packed. Snow is snowing. The morning traffic softens and I head out into the steady stream of drivers.
The first leg of my trip, to east St. Louis, is good and I find the home of my couch surfing hosts with ease. A young couple of rockers with a big and cuddly mixed pitbull. We go out to dinner at their favorite bar for tasty burgers and fries, then I settle in to sleep with the dog while they paint the town. When I’m awake and ready to roll, they are still cozy in bed. I leave a note, give the dog a good rub and head out into the crisp and sunny morning.
The drive toward Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is a day of listening to the radio, singing to myself and talking to the ghosts of my past. I make it as far as Springfield, Mo., before settling in to sleep.
Eureka Springs. A sprawling, mountain town riding the saddle of a crest and dripping down into the valley. I stop at one of several information stations to learn this place is laden with artists and seers of all kinds. Festivals and events dot their calendar year round, including a night-lighted parade on the day I arrive. Worth the consideration of extending my stay, however my chief reason for visiting town is the Museum of Earth History and it’s closed, for good. Apparently there weren’t enough tickets sold to support the sweet dioramas of Adam and Eve running with the dinosaurs, or the Tower of Babel complete with human skulls. I visit the Bible Museum across the way, a cool stop for anyone interested in bibles, books, or both, but I can’t talk my way in for a private viewing. It’s awesomeness will have to remain mythical.
I bum around town but any other tourist activities of interest are closed as well, so I decide to head on my way and come back in a warmer season. Maybe for a retreat or internship.
I arrived to Hot Springs, Arkansas, with my California hot springs experiences in mind. Large wood and rock bowls of mineral rich hot water out under the wide open skies, enjoying nature by sun, moon, or stars. Here, though, it’s all about the spa. Any and every spring worth its salts has been capped and piped into large, tiled bathhouses with people waiting to pound and twist your body. Not really my thing. I stroll around the town, tour the Fordyce Bathhouse, and have a tasty, little lunch at a quiet BBQ joint before moving on.
Just south of Pine Bend, Arkansas, I meet up with a friend of a friend from back in their day. We have dinner and great conversation. He’s a repo man and a gentleman, so naturally I park my van in the repo lot along side the wrecks and returns, and go for a ride-along on his night shift. After I live through a few stories-for-another-time, he clocks out and we head to a pre-dawn breakfast. I still manage to get in some good sleep before rising for my drive to New Orleans.
On that last leg of this trip, the ride is long and I fight the temptation to nap in favor of the comfort of a hot meal and a shower at my final destination point. I am certainly road weary when I arrive, but a place has been made ready for me to park and the shower is hot, hot, hot. So good to be back in the land of soft, purple evenings.