Last Monday marked our 30th anniversary. For us, it was a bit like Mary's childhood birthday celebrations: we celebrated and celebrated, beginning with our Italy trip and continuing last week with a fly fishing trip to Arkansas. We had planned our Ozark trip at least a year ago, before Italy, before the Czech Republic, before NYC. Had we known about those trips, we may have opted to stay home and enjoy our time at Farm Dover. Instead, we packed the car and headed west for a week. I'm glad we did.
While we were traveling, sister Sherry forwarded me an article from The Wall Street Journal about how to enhance cognitive function. (These are the kind of articles we circulate among the sisters in the hopes that we can somehow ward off ending up like our mom who suffered so from Alzheimer's.) The gist of the article was that by getting out of your comfort zone and learning new skills, one might show improvements in memory and processing speed. Something about tapping more diffuse brain circuits and pathways to compensate for age-related deficits.
It seems our travels afford lots of opportunities for Ed and me to get out of our comfort zone and learn new skills – or at least see new sights and experience different cultures. This trip was no exception. Once we crossed the Mississippi near Wickliffe, KY, I felt a bit like Dorothy: "I've a feeling we're not in Kentucky anymore." Stretched before us in all directions were cotton fields. I thought they were spectacularly beautiful; I made Ed pull over so I could make a photo, or two, or ten.
Our first destination was Norfolk, Arkansas where we hiked and fished the White River for two days. Because we only fly fish a couple of times a year, it seems I need to relearn the basis skills every time. Chalk one up for my brain development.
From there, we drove to Bentonville, corporate headquarters for Walmart. Don't get me started, but just know that I am not a fan of Walmart stores and believe they have done much to destroy small-town USA. Having said that, the Walton family has given much back to the small town of Bentonville. We stayed the night at the very hip and very fun 21c Museum Hotel and toured the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, founded by Alice Walton. We had two excellent meals in the downtown square: a late lunch at Oven & Tap and dinner at Tusk & Trotter.
The last part of our trip we spent at Petit Jean State Park, where we rented a cabin. We made some good hikes; cooked some simple meals; read some good books and enjoyed the fall colors and beautiful sunsets (as well as the antics of a funny armadillo that lives in the back yard of our cabin).
On our way home, we stopped in Nashville to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame; checked out the independent bookstore, Parnassus (co-owned by bestselling author Ann Patchett); and met up with long-time friends, Wade and Lacy, for dinner.
At noon today, we turned into our drive.
We were back in our comfort zone.