We wanted to explore more of the area and our timing coincided with the “biggest arts and crafts fair in Arkansas” in nearby Rogers, Arkansas. This sounded like a fun activity even though we are not in the business of acquiring more “stuff”. However, we did find some tie-dye t-shirts, more homemade jelly AND a really cute “Happy Campers” sign with an RV illustration that we were able to personalize with our name – “The Lopezes” which we now proudly display at each campsite.
The fair was located in the War Eagle Mill, the only working mill in Arkansas. The mill is powered by an eighteen-foot cypress waterwheel, very cool! The mill store sells many products made on site and, although we don’t really bake, we did buy a couple of the (easy to make) flour products. I’m a sucker for natural, locally made food products.
We then traveled to nearby Bentonville, Arkansas to visit a relatively new museum, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, founded by Alice Walton, daughter of Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-mart.
The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s main exhibition is “Celebrating the American Spirit”. It’s a fine collection that conveys the evolution of American Art from the 1600’s to the present. The museum is located amongst a number of beautiful walking trails.
While there, we took a quick tour of the center of Bentonville. Sam Walton’s first store, Walton’s 5 and 10 was located in the town square and has been converted to a museum highlighting the store’s history. And we stumbled upon a farmer’s market in the square. Although small, this market had some great stuff, including some fabulous peach strudel, grass fed beef, free range chicken and eggs and MORE jelly.
We’re still trying to find a balance of “sightseeing” and time just spent outdoors – walking, hiking, bicycling and just sitting by the campfire. This is important, as we want to make sure to take time to really appreciate the outdoors as well as some of the important sights in each place that we visit. It does mean that we won’t necessarily get to see all of those “sights” as we are accustomed to during our vacations, and that’s okay. This is not a vacation, this is a lifestyle.
On the way to Bentonville we stopped briefly at the Pea Ridge National Military Park. The first of no doubt many Civil War related places we’ll see along the way. I’d never heard of it, and it wasn’t one of the most important battles, but a LOT of people died here. Wonderful that our National Park Service preserves these places so simply and beautifully for us to enjoy and learn from.
Ironic how Wal-mart started as a small five and dime, and then became the retail behemoth that later killed so many small businesses including lots and lots of small town five and dimes! Oh well, such is progress …
Love the small town charm and natural beauty of this area. Totally get how it is such a popular vacation destination for folks from all the surrounding states.