Rich and I recently took our first vacation since 2009; it turned out to be well worth the wait. For a year I’ve pictured myself living in Eureka Springs, AR. That’s about a 5 hour drive from our current home in Hot Springs. I shared my vision with Rich, and he worked hard to make his own, but his feet are set on more solid ground than mine; I’m always in the air, floating like a balloon, drifting one way and then another, swirling in currents just for the fun of it. I count on Rich to keep me from getting air sick. He counts on me, to make sure he doesn’t forget how to fly.
I created our Eureka Springs fantasy life from an accumulation of stories I’d read and heard, and I loved the fact that it’s located in the beautiful Ozark mountains.. But mostly it was my own imagination that allowed me to weave an entire story line around the possibility of living in a city I knew virtually nothing about.
Eureka Springs hosts a rather large Hippie population and is literally bursting at the seams with artists and chefs, writers and philosophers, entrepreneurs and a vast representation of progressive thinkers aiming their brain power toward Green Energy. In the story I was writing in my head, these were real pluses. Thinking about it though, I don’t know what I was thinking; Hot Springs has its own share of the very same sort of people, but I haven’t met many of them. Whenever we’re out, I see them milling around the historical district, visiting art galleries and antique shops and the new micro-pub that has only recently been installed in one of the old bath houses along Bath House Row. Rich and I only live about 1/2 mile from the downtown historical district, but I don’t get out nearly as often as I sometimes think I want to.
I say it that way because whenever I have the chance to sit it out, or to dance,( hee hee), I usually choose to stay home and play by myself instead.
If there was such a thing as a periodic extrovert, I may well be it. Whenever the question of intro-verses-extrovert is asked, and it has been asked a couple of times, I find myself babbling on and on that I am an exuberant introvert. (That’s when the crowd usually begins to disperse.)
Like everyone else in the world, I have needs….oh. do. not.get.me.started….but mostly they have to do with all this talk-talk thingy that’s bottled up inside me like a rocket waiting for liftoff. My passions are my exhaust valves, Aunt-Bea-Me, IttyMac, poetry, and writing, to name a few. But talk-talk has a deeper side with its need to express, to create, and to share; so I fill that endless pit bolting between projects and hobbies.
I am an extreme housewife; although not actually married to the house, I am it’s most dutiful servant and ardent admirer. I am an extreme yard-wife as well, flitting from flower bed to flower bed in a flurry of seasonal drama. I am the mother of a fine herbal garden family that I tend like a neurosurgeon, prodding, plumping, staking and tweaking until the mosquitoes chase me into the house.
This mania to wax and wane between either slipping into a pair of social butterfly wings and taking to the streets, or hunkering down in near apocalyptic isolation fixated on a 24/7 OCD work regiment is what happened to me after the nest emptied. When both of my little chicks flew away to build nests of their own, a kind of madness took over, and I begin to dig dirt out of one hole to fill another, hardly noticing I had just dug a deeper hole I’d feel compelled to fill.
Before the chicks flew the coop
After I realized I was in an empty nest
But back to Eureka Springs…family stories have my paternal grandmother, MamaMac, back in her few days of great family wealth, visiting the Crescent Hotel and Spa with her good friend Mrs.Gooch, and Mrs. Gooch’s loyal and ever humorous chauffeur, McDuff.
Off these two fluffy ladies would go, to indulge their every fantasy, even though through the years, the legend of the Crescent Hotel and Spa had had its ups and downs, eventually descending into a dark and quite horrifying state of affairs . A snake-oil-salesman-type-fellow had purchased the establishment that had, in its prime, functioned as gathering grounds for wealthy plutocrats in need of vacations. More about the creepy guy later.
The hotel served the public in that capacity for a number of years until it fell victim to hard economical times. At that point, the Crescent was converted into a college for women. Eventually it, was purchased by a charlatan who invested in it with the sole intention of converting it once again. But this conversion would have nothing to do with rest and relaxation or higher education. Mr. Baker, the unsavory investor, turned the Crescent into a cancer-cure facility. The man was not a doctor; he was Frankenstein. Well, you can imagine where this story is going. Mr. FranenBaker was a particularly cruel ghoul to many trusting, hopeful souls seeking cures for a terrible disease. Under the watch of his most evil eyes, they suffered and died the most agonizing deaths one might imagine.
Once the nasty business of Dr.FrankenBaker had ceased, once again the Crescent fell into tragic disrepair.
Masters of the Paranormal have long studied this hotel, documenting, if one is of such a mind to believe, much supernatural activity throughout its long, carpeted halls and magnificent architecture. Matter of fact, the Crescent is currently listed as one of the top ten most haunted hotels in the entire world. Imagine that, wonder why.
Now why my grandmother and Mrs. Gooch would choose to spend their good money in a place like this is easily answered by the fact of the healing springs that had originally attracted those poor cancer patients to the same grounds years before. The hotel, having been restored to its original beauty by a non-evil couple in the early 30’s, had regained its prominence in high society; thus, enter Miss Mac, Mrs.Gooch and jovial McDuff, who, of course, was relegated to the servant quarters.
When Rich and I arrived in Eureka Springs, we immediately got lost. Then fate intervened, landing us squarely in the parking lot of my grandmother’s favorite hotel. I took one look at the impending, rather menacing, structure with all its bad energy and cauldron of gloomy karma and summed it up, saying…
So off we drove to a place more suited to our less extravagant lifestyle, settling in a quirky pink motel comically named ‘The Land O’ Nod”. I could hardly contain my laughter as we pulled into the tiny parking space directly in front of our small cabin-esque-sort-of-room, imagining my grandmother rolling over in her grave.
Wonderful things happened to us on our trip. We loved our room, had the best service we have ever had before, ate amazing locally produced food prepared by chefs from as far away as Chicago, mingled with hippies our own age at the Farmers Market, discussed homeopathic medicine and naturopathic lifestyles with a former cardiologist turned naturopath following a heart attack, walked miles up and down hills visiting shops, (just ask my knees if you don’t believe me), took hundreds of photos, huddled with artists, debated and agreed with local politicians, had an absolutely amazing visit to the Tasting Room for Fresh Harvest where we sampled premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars until we needed to make a fairly hasty retreat back to the Land O” Nod for emergency pit stops.
And last, but not least, we ventured into the dark night, paying 25 bucks each for the infamous Crescent Hotel and Spa Ghost Tour.
Welcome to the Crescent..
This hall gave me the creeps..
A woman was pushed to her death here… I felt a tad dizzy hanging over the railing to get this shot.
Hallway leading to the morgue where a little unethical experimentation went on…
Eery but beautiful.
Still in the morgue… ugsh.
After all was said and done, in spite of all the fun we had together, in spite of the new friends we made, we looked at each other in car driving back through the Ozarks to the Ouachitas, and said unanimously,
“Naw. That wasn’t it.”
So now we’re back where we started a year ago.. in the planning stages for retirement… but we’d better get a move on it pretty soon because in a couple of months we’ll be 65. And though the trail ahead is getting shorter for both of us, neither is ready to exchange walking shoes for rocking chairs.