Category Archives: Eureka Springs

A Non-Birthday Celebration at The Cabin

 

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Under the pretense of an early birthday celebration for me, Dawn and I went and stayed a couple of nights at our favorite cabin: Wisteria Lane Lodging. Dawn insisted on that elusive ‘something’ for me, despite my general lack of enthusiasm. Without hesitation, I voted for a getaway weekend for us both to enjoy. As we always do, we stopped at the grocery store at Holiday Island and marched up and down the aisles several times. We’ve always found something interesting to try. Stores which exist near retirees tend to have a few things that are difficult to find elsewhere. I picked up a couple of extras, as I was certain that my unblemished cooking record would be irrevocably tarnished this time.

We arrived at the cabin, embued with a certainty that it was going to be a great weekend.

The creek below the cabin was still flowing with cold, clear water, but both days were warmer and dry. It started raining a little as we were packing up to leave. We prefer the rainy days while at the cabin, but our request for a deluge went unheeded.

Despite being forced to endure the sunlight, we somehow managed to enjoy ourselves anyway. 🙂

While we ate like royalty, we took the time to plan healthier choices. I grilled several times and despite my vegetarian proclivities, we had steak, chicken, steakburgers, corn on the cob and even grilled bell peppers. Just to expand my limited abilities, I brought a grill glove and basket, both of which were very useful. I still managed to burn a finger nicely, though, in a moment of inattention.  Given my general disregard for protocol, I’m always relieved that I once again avoided burning either the cabin or the forest around me. It’s hard to believe other adults once trusted me with charcoal. I still suspect gas grills were popularized in anticipation of some future mishap on my part.

The picture below reveals how long and wide the covered porch is. The swing is on the opposite end. The difference with Wisteria is that it’s easy to grill regardless of the weather.  The porch is the best feature of the cabin, one which is overlooked by most vacation cabins.

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On Sunday morning, as I was grilling, a thunderous clomping of feet came from the right. I thought an antelope had entered the planked walkway alongside the cabin. Before I could react, a large labrador poked her head around the corner, very hesitant and nervous. I’m not sure who the dog belongs to or how far it had traveled, but after a minute of cooing at her, I went inside and retrieved a couple of large grilled chicken breasts from the day before. As I fed her, the dog’s reluctance evaporated. Within minutes, I had a new best friend who wanted belly rubs. It was difficult to stop petting this adorable dog, especially as she looked at me eyes filled with appreciation.

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Dawn came outside to see what all the dancing and laughing was about.

We also finally got to watch “Three Billboards,” a copy I had ordered from Amazon to coincide with its release. We never watch movies on DVD. Despite the violence, we laughed several times. Even when the son jumped up with a butcher knife and casually placed it under his dad’s chin, I laughed in recognition of the casual truth of the way it unfolded. The story resonated with me as I sat in the middle of a place where no people were anywhere around. My memories provided the nonsensical backdrop. Since I was at one of my favorite places in the world, I will always remember seeing this movie.

It was a rare treat to enjoy the movie in the middle of nothing, without access to phones or internet. I also took my laptop and connected it to the large TV, to watch a couple of our favorite shows, along with my huge digital music collection. In combination with Dawn’s nice bluetooth speaker, we had an excessive amount of portable entertainment.  We tend to have a laugh at being in the middle of nowhere while maximizing our technology reach. It requires us to plan a little better, as there are fewer and fewer places without access to cellphones or internet. One day, we’ll look back in fascination at how quaint such a thing will seem to us.

Dawn had never tried a pickle-ice ice freeze pop. She wishes she had never tried one, now. The look of horrified amusement when she tried her first while we were at the cabin is now etched in my mind. Given her desire to spit in every direction upon tasting it, I’d rate her impression as “Unfavorable.” She also claims to have never tried pickle juice over crushed ice, a delight once available when we were younger. By the way, Dawn loves pickles, so I’m not sure how to attribute her distaste for ice pops. I’d like to point out that she loathes tomatoes, but two of her favorite foods are marinara and salsa. She also doesn’t suffer fools lightly – which doesn’t make sense, either, because all evidence points to her having married me voluntarily.

 

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At night, I played my13-hour thunderstorm-creek-waves sound file I made. Much of the component sounds are ones I’ve recorded on previous visits to Wisteria, standing in the overflowing creek or under the edge of the porch. It crashed and ebbed all through both nights. Though the skies were clear above us, if you had stood outside our cabin at midnight, you would have heard and felt the slight reverberation of the virtual thunderstorms inside.  Friday night, the moon shone through the gaps in the skylight like a beacon pointed down on us.

We also painted rocks again. I spent a little time cleaning them and applying a horrid bright green primer coat, possibly in an attempt to frighten any passing squirrels. We avidly grabbed our paints and started gossiping on the porch, in the sunlight, attempting to paint the rocks instead of our own fingers and faces.

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For mine, I decided to use the excuse of my birthday as a macabre prognostication of my departure date.  For those who despise Roman numerals: 1967-2037.

 

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I’m inevitably reluctant to leave the cabin. It’s a privilege to be able to enjoy it and I never fail to ask myself why I don’t adopt more elements of living simply.

We live in suburbs, aligned in symmetrical houses that seem to give our lives order.

For a couple of days, as Dawn and I lived a short while in the forest, our lives were in order.

 

Don’t Hate Me Because You Missed Out on Wisteria Lane – Again

Dawn and I used a portion of our vacation time to spend some time of quiet reflection at some of the best cabins in the 4-state region:  Wisteria Lane Lodging. The owners don’t compensate for me being so laudatory, although PepsiCo does pay me to not talk about their products. I love the cabins at Wisteria. For someone who enjoys the internet, it is quite relaxing to have no phone, no internet, and no mundane concerns while being surrounded by deep woods.

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The above picture doesn’t do the porch justice. The porch overlooks the bottom of the valley as a creek winds below. It spans the entire valley-side of the cabin and is wide enough to keep the weather at bay. With a porch swing, it’s almost perfect. Unlike other places, you can use the grill during any weather, except perhaps a tornado.

For reasons of national security, Dawn wouldn’t let me participate in the next picture, citing “overwhelming historical untrustworthiness” and something else she mumbled as she pointed the camera at herself and the taser at me as I attempted an approach to be immortalized in her picture.

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P.S. I didn’t get many pictures of Dawn, both due to her subtle “no” and “you had better not” hand motions, very similar to the one people might use to indicate an impromptu throat slitting. In addition, she displayed an allergy to what I would call “clothes.” It’s not like she cavorted or pranced around sans clothing, but she insisted on wearing the clothes that no one except spouses and emergency medical technicians get to see us wearing. (Also known as “comfy clothes” in some circles.)

We were staying at Cabin #4, which is the definition of privacy and seclusion. We could have practiced yodeling at all hours and no one would have noticed.

The picture below is an example of several I took, after Dawn’s insistent editing skills of redaction imposed themselves on my beautiful pictures. She says this picture captures her essence like none other I’ve ever taken of her.

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The next picture is of me, wearing an ensemble from the 2016 Versace Collection. It looks like I am sniffing paint, which is ridiculous. Everyone knows the only way to sniff paint is to use a paper bag. (Although I’ve been told I look stupid because I put my entire head inside the bag and then spray the can directly into my face.)

Because Dawn and I wanted to do something different with our visitor’s stones, I maximized our effort by using a primer coat on each of the stones. It’s much easier than it looks and made a huge difference in the result.

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Note to all sane people and children under 30 years of age: I was only kidding about sniffing paint. If you’d still like to see me with my head shoved into a paper bag, however, send me $20 and I’ll make your dream a reality.

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Dawn loved the fact that I finally got around to doing our visitor stones differently. Instead of just doing one, we did 6. The last one is one I made, to be the head of the long snake of rocks. It’s several feet long. I cleaned them and primed them the day we arrived. We went out on the long porch the next morning as the mist rose from below, scattered our paints and brushes, and laughed as we drank coffee, the cool air enveloping us. The head stone says “Time flies” in Spanish, with the year in Roman numerals.

The only potential downside is that future visitors might be envious of the scope of our stones for this visit. If they attempt to surpass my effort though, they should be warned: I will return and do 100 the next time. Just kidding – I’d probably stop at 30 or 40.

Dawn snapped this next one of me as I prepared to work my magic in the culinary portion of the evening. She claims that I’m prone to “weird hands” in these poses, although she uses a more endearing moniker for the pose.

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Not to brag or anything, but Dawn was happy with all the meals I made, even when I made things that started with the warning, “I’m not sure if this will be edible or thrown at miscreants on the sidewalk.” We didn’t take any pictures of our prepared food, out of respect for the privacy of the food that perished for our survival. Dawn took pictures of the fridge, as she couldn’t believe the variety of food we bought.

We resembled religious fanatics at the SunFest grocery store on Holiday Island, preparing our larders for the end of the world. We were like Noah-Of-The-Grocery as we stuffed two of everything in inventory into our cart. I felt like a pack mule pushing around our spoils as we headed to the register.

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Saturday morning, I got out early and marched the roads around Wisteria Lane. Even the downhill portions of the road were, in fact, uphill. I know this sounds impossible, but when you get to be my age, the impossible supplants both the unlikely and improbable when it’s least convenient. I saw some interesting things and had some great thoughts running around in the middle of the wild. As the roads were dry and dusty, I also had the grace of good luck, as I met no one on the roads during my entire trek.

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The above picture is to prove that all roads were paradoxically uphill. The sunlight comes a little later to the deep valleys where the cabins at Wisteria Lane are situated. It was worth the hiking to see it from a few different angles.

As for the next picture, I apologize for the weird HDR-esque quality. I tried using the filters on my phone until a prompt popped up and asked, “Are you high?” It was actually much darker than is evidenced by this picture. I loved the accidental result so much that I couldn’t bring myself to edit it out. In the distance, someone is clearing an immense amount of brush and trees. It was so tempting to venture out through there and stand in the middle of it. It would have been easy to imagine I had traveled back in time had I done so. Except I couldn’t be certain that sound of shotguns wouldn’t chase me back out.

People in those parts don’t subscribe to “Tomfoolery Quarterly, so it seemed safer to admire the torn earth from a distance.

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For fun, one of the projects I finally completed was making the “Blair Witch” stick symbols and hanging them from the canopy of trees. I bought some twine in Eureka Springs. While at the cabin, I meandered around the basin amidst the invisible snakes and collected a nice pile of hearty tree falls and snapped off relatively straight portions of their limbs. I then used the twine to tie the sticks together in the infamous “stick man” pattern. Dawn was very much interested in how my project might turn out, but she, of course, wanted nothing to with the process, preferring to remain high above on the cabin-length covered porch of our cabin. Even I eagerly found new discoveries in the trees, Dawn only offered commentary, leaving all the progress to me.

Not that anyone who knows me is going to worry about my views about witchcraft, voodoo, or omens, but in case you do, don’t worry about it. Not only because all such beliefs are both stupid and entertaining, but because my efforts were geared toward a good laugh. The idea of making several of these and placing them around someone’s house was amusing to me, especially if they are prone to being supersticious.

When I finished, I placed them up in the trees, like so…

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I imagine that it would have been hilarious had I fallen and snapped my neck. Imagine the obituary and the endless possibilities of creativity for any headline writer tasked with summing up the cause of my stupidity and demise.

I left the stick figures hanging in the trees. I hope that whoever cleans the cabins doesn’t have a minor nervous breakdown from all of them – or that the next visitor to these great cabins doesn’t notice them until their first morning at the cabins. Mayhem might indeed ensue under either of those scenarios.

I apologize in advance if anyone falls off the porch or gets scared by my bucket list project with the sticks. I’ve been meaning to do this for the last dozen visits, even as I constantly joked about all the vampires roaming the woods near Wisteria Lane.

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Above, I stopped and took a selfie as I cleared the apex of the largest hill. Again, it’s darker than it looks.

Even as I type these words, I miss it already. Some places seem to exist exuberantly outside of time and Wisteria Lane is just such a place. For being so close to home, it is an appreciated privilege for there to be such a place available to me.

Dawn didn’t drown me in the hot tub, push me over the edge of the porch, or hand me the exposed wires of a toaster during this peaceful weekend. I guess I did okay. She’ll let me know, I presume.

If I awaken tomorrow to find a Blair Witch stick figure on my front doorstep, I’ll assume it is the owner of Wisteria Lane starting her own haunting, to repay my capriciousness.

Another Great Wisteria Lane Weekend

 

By some miracle, our favorite cabin was available this weekend. Two of our f̶a̶i̶r̶y̶ ̶g̶o̶d̶m̶o̶t̶h̶e̶r̶s̶  friends surprised my wife Dawn and me a while ago with a free weekend at Wisteria. (It’s north of both Eureka Springs and Holiday Island.)

While we were hoping for a rainy deluge similar to the last visit, we somehow managed to make a great weekend out of it without much rain. For anyone who hasn’t experienced the quiet serenity of no phone, no internet, no visitors, and no people, it’s not what you would imagine; it’s better. I’ve written before about sitting on the porch swing at the edge of the forest with no one nearby. Not only can you recite Klingon poetry without being interrupted (unless the squirrels start criticizing), but you can sing Bavarian folk songs on the roof if you want to.

During this visit, we investigated such questions as, “Should squirrels eat that much butter?” and “How much meat should a lazy vegetarian actually consume?”

For the friends who gave us the gift of a weekend away, I’d like to say “thanks” again. I’d also like to let you know that I’m available for an entire month of the same at some future point -if you are willing.

Civilization sounds like a truckload of banging pots and pans after being in the middle of nothing for a couple of days. PS: The other advantage is that I didn’t have to see or hear any politician’s names during my foray into the wilderness.

We were surprised when we found out there were open reservations this weekend, so close to the 4th of July. I’m so happy we followed through and checked. We had another great weekend at Wisteria.

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One of the nefarious squirrels is in the middle of this picture, perched vertically along the trunk. I think he’s waiting for more butter and bread offerings.

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(Cabin #4, the edge of the forest, the best of them all…)

 

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(Trying hard to act normal in this picture…)

 

 

 

Wisteria Lane Lodging Main Website

 

Another Great Trip to Wisteria Lane

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Isn’t it crazy that Dawn trusts me to cook, much less to grill? I’m the worst cook with the most enthusiasm you’ll ever meet. I suppose the lesson learned is that as long as no one literally dies from my cooking, I can be trusted to continue doing it. Edit: I was doing my best to have a horrible duckface in effect when the picture was taken.
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A quip I left to let the owners know I broke a glass. I can only assume they knew I was joking about juggling the glassware.
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For my friend, who knows who he is, who just LOVES these clichés.
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Dawn is writing some sort of propaganda regarding my culinary skills. Weirdly enough, it was a comment of praise, which proves that clean air makes even normal people go crazy sometimes.

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This is the most normal picture I could manage.
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PS: sometimes I secretly joke that I’m going to switch this stained glass window with something totally crazy, just to see how long it might take for the hosts to notice I’ve done so.
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Sunday morning early, after surviving a rain-filled Friday and Saturday. Few views are more relaxing than that which one experiences from this porch and swing at the edge of the trees.

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This is the tree I traversed, wondering if I was going to hear a huge ‘crack’ as I plummeted to the water below. Assuming I would not have been impaled on the broken trunk, it would have been a hilariously good story.

My wife and I spent the last couple of days at our favorite cabins at Wisteria Lane. Much to our delight, the impending torrential rains waited until our arrival to unleash. Most people prefer the serenity of calm weather, but not us. There is no better place to be when the rain falls and the creek roars below the expansive front deck, adorned with the grill and porch swing.

The creek below our cabin rose as high as I’ve ever seen it, re-routing the bottom of the valley, with the creek widening to 25 feet at one point. I didn’t get any pictures of the stream at its widest, as the winds were howling and the rain was blowing up and down, in and out, and washing anything which ventured outside far enough to see it. But the volume was a delight to fall asleep to.

The next morning, I of course ventured out into the mess wearing flip-flops. I even climbed onto the fallen tree over the receding creek and traversed it. Dawn, of course, was playing different versions of “What Could Possibly Go Wrong,” in her mind while I was enjoying the frigid water turning my toes into little icicles. I managed to turn over an older tree without falling in the water.

My wife, being female, wasn’t keen on having her picture taken 47 times, but she took mine at least that many. I didn’t care how I looked, being intent on setting a new world record for eating “all the things” in the cabin. I failed in that quest but succeeded in enjoying being in the midst of nothing. Dawn, who usually ignores my crazy notes on the cabin’s welcome board, joined in a little this time, while I made all manner of quips, including one for my friend who hates the phrase, “at the end of the day.”

At the end of this day, though, I can only hope that most of you enjoyed a time comparable to the one I had this weekend.