In 1987 a read a piece in the old Houston Post – Eureka Springs, Arkansas – The Place where the Misfits Fit. It described a mountain town in the Ozark mountains of Arkansas it called, “Little Switzerland of the Ozarks.” At that time, I had new-found fascination with Victorian architecture, and it was said Eureka had one of the largest concentrations of Victorian architecture in the southern United States. In fact the entire central city is a National Register Historic District.
I’ve always been a bit of a misfit myself, so the idea of the place resonated with me. As someone once said of me, “He’s on some end of some spectrum.” In 1988 I met the beautiful 20 year old girl that would eventually become my wife. She shared my interest in adventure and all things Victorian, and we made countless trips all around the local area looking at various Victorian type things. In 1989 we bought a wonderful 1882 Victorian home in a terrible neighborhood in Beaumont, Texas.
And I do mean terrible neighborhood. One Saturday night we literally hid under the beds when shooting erupted at an adjacent bar. I eventually secured a local historical marker for the home that saved it from demolition three decades later and the old girl is still standing tall. It only took us a couple of years to decide this wasn't the place to start a family so we moved on to other things.
We both had become enamored with the idea of visiting Eureka Springs, so in the summer of ’89 we set off in our thrice-wrecked multi-color smoke-belching ’74 Chevy Nova. We may have had a as much as $300 to our name, but I think it was probably less. We probably used ten quarts of transmission fluid, and who knows how much cheap thirty weight. The motel we stayed at was $29 a night and we stayed for three days and two nights. We came home broke, electrified, and as excited as only two in-love kids still in their twenties can be.
Eureka has a certain electric charm that is almost impossible to describe unless you’ve been there. Is it cliched to describe it as magical? Ok, cliché or not, the place is magical. When you drive through the historic loop if you squint just right and pretend you don’t see the modern cars it could still be the 1880’s. Eureka is all about the water. The Springs, Beaver Lake, and White River have some of the most beautiful recreation spots in the country.
Fast forward to the summer of 1992, and we were now “party of four.” I’m perpetually putting carts before horses, so we started the family and then had the wedding. In early July being the total romantic I am, I popped the question. “Wanna go to Eureka Springs and get married.” So married we did become on July 10th, 1992 on the 2nd floor of a marriage studio in downtown Eureka.
Including that first trip we’ve been to Eureka thirteen times in ten different vehicles! Those included a Chevy Nova, brand-new Saturn, two Chevy Suburban’s, three mini-vans, and one Lincoln Continental (chalk that up to temporary insanity.) There were three of us on the first trip, and seven on the last one before this. There would have been another trip a few years before this one, but my mom broke her hip two days before we planned to leave, so unfortunately we never got to show her the place.
As many of you know I receive periodic new car loans from the manufacturers. In June I was asked if I would like a loan of the new Silverado Trail-Boss 4X4 Realtree edition and did I have some ideas for some sort of outdoorsy content? Do I ever!
Press loans are typically limited to 500 miles, and Eureka is almost 500 miles from our home. This trip required special permission from the Poohbah’s at Chevrolet, and after a couple of days word came back that we were cleared for take-off to the ‘Zarks.
The timing didn’t work out exactly for us to be there on our 29th wedding anniversary, but we did manage to arrive about a week after. This was our first trip alone as a couple so you could say we had our honeymoon 29 years late. What follows is a sort of travelogue of our doin’s.
Saturday July 17th
I had previously been booked as the Saturday DJ 1-5pm at Drifters Ice-House, which is sort of a biker bar and grill near the Sam Houston National Forest. I parked the Silverado right out front and made several announcements for patrons to look at the awesome truck. We departed by 7pm and stayed the night in Sherman, Texas.
Sunday July 18th
Usually I sleep late on Sunday, but we were both to keyed-up and were on the road by 7:00 a.m. A quick repast from the Mickey D’s drive-through and we jetted off. We drove almost non-stop except for quick potty break until we stopped in Fayetteville for lunch at Jason’s Deli. Jason’s is a family favorite as it was founded in my hometown of Beaumont, and I ate lunch at the original location multiple times a week as I worked nearby during my early career. The founder Joe Totorice Jr. was also friends with my bosses and I saw him regularly.
We finished our lunch and after a picturesque drive up as we zigged and zagged our way into the Ozarks and arrived by 1pm check-in time.
We’ve stayed a lot of different places in Eureka, but this time we decided on the local Days Inn as it was immediately adjacent to the historic district, is budget friendly, and had excellent reviews as being super clean and comfortable, which proved to be spot-on.
We had a dip in the hotel pool and then prepared for dinner. I won’t name names, but that night was our only truly disappointing meal of the trip. It shows you can’t always depend on Trip-Advisor. After an extended drive to Beaver Lake, Starkey Marina, and Lake Leatherwood Park where Ronnie tried to kidnap Sasquatch.
Another favorite spot is the historic one-lane bridge across the White River in Beaver.
Later we returned to the hotel for events that are none-ya
Monday July 19th
Monday morning, we made a anther quick pass at the loca Mc D’s and then onwards to Riverview Resort for a four mile canoe trip.
We have done this trip previously with the kids, usually in multiple canoes. My bride Ronnie’s approach to canoeing is different than mine. She like to float around, watch the ducks, smell the roses and watch the bee’s buzz. My approach is row baby row! We did the four miles in slightly less than 1 ½ hours which they tell me is almost record time, lol.
By then it was lunch time and we headed for Angler’s Restaurant where we had an almost carb-free lunch of grilled trout, We couldn’t resist a few of those mighty excellent carbo-licious hush puppies.
There are many places to swim at Beaver Lake, but we prefer the North Dam Site Park, as it is remote and not as busy as many other more accessible spots. In fact, when we arrived, we had the swimming area to ourselves for over two hours.
Late in the afternoon we headed to Blue Springs Heritage Center, which must be one of the most beautiful spots in the Ozarks. This is a major historical site related to the native Cherokee people and the Trail of Tears. It was also the site of an old mill.
The Blue Spring pours 38 million gallons of cold water each day into its trout-filled lagoon. I can’t say enough about how beautiful this place is, and how highly I recommend a visit on your personal Ozark adventure.
That evening we had a fantastic meal at what has to be one of the best restaurants in Eureka Springs the Thai House. We enjoyed it so much we took our friends there the next night as well.
Whew, we ain’t done yet!
After dinner we decided to take the Silverado Trail-Boss to an off the books place we know about called Hog Scald Hollow.
This is a place where the locals go, and a four-wheel-drive is recommended to access certain spots. This was an excellent opportunity to put the Trail-Boss through its paces and see some incredible scenery not accessible by passenger car. This was like catnip to the Trail-Boss. I’m sure we could have gone even further off the beaten path, but the sun was starting to dip below the horizon, and I didn’t want to get to-far off-road after dark, and without a support system.
Once we returned to the hotel there wasn’t any shenanigans that night ‘cause we were just to bloomin’ tired!
Tuesday July 20th
Tuesday dawned cool and clear, and I had booked us tickets at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. After seeing Tiger King on Netflix I was very concerned that we not support a place the exploits or abuses animals. This IS NOT the case with Turpentine Creek. This is a 459-acre wildlife refuge with over one hundred animals with multiple accreditation's.
Not only did we get to see some spectacular animals we learned a lot about how these cats are frequently exploited. It was stunning to learn how lax the laws are in some states grading exotic animal ownership.
Later after a quick lunch we had a very exciting laundromat visit. After that I had a 2pm Zoom call for my “real” job which I did outside at the hotel.
We hadn’t seen our friends Ed and Jan Elliot for several years. About five years ago they retired to the Ozarks about thirty minutes from Eureka Springs. At four their arrived with their grandson Oliver and once again we went to Thai House.
After dinner all five of us piled into the Silverado for a quick trip Intrigue Theater in an old church in the historic district for an amazing show with Sean Paul and Juliana Fay.
They even got Ronnie and Oliver into the act. Some of the tricks were old favorites, but others I’m still going “how’d they do that?” We didn’t arrive in time for a Tarot reading from Mystic Valens, but next time for sure.
Our next stop was the fourth floor Sky Bar restaurant at the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa. We weren’t particularly hungry, but the view is spectacular, and Oliver happily scarfed the uneaten pizza. The Crescent was one known as the Baker Cancer Hospital offering quack cancer tours. “Dr. Baker” was quite the flim-flam artist including operating an illegal radio station on the Mexico side of the border with enough watts to blow the tubes out of Grandma’s RCA AM.
The Crescent is listed as a Historic Hotel of America and offers all sorts of full-service hotel amenities in a thoroughly haunted environment. Surprisingly the old Grand Dame even offers ChargePoint EV Charging stations, so we’ll be all ready when Chevy releases the Silverado-EV in a few years.
Later as we were driving through historic downtown Oliver commented that it looked like Diagon Alley come to life. Well put Oliver!
All to soon it was time to bid adieu to Ed, Jan, and Oliver. But we promised to come visit soon, and they are even rooting for us to retire near them in the ‘Zarks.
Wednesday July 21st
Oh no, this can’t be our last day in Eureka! There are still so many things we wanted to see and do.
We slept in this morning, and when we finally woke up it was time to pack for our departure…but we aren’t done quite yet.
At 10:45 I had booked us a couples Mineral bath and massage at Spa 1905 in the Basin Park Hotel. Located right smack downtown in the historic district, the Basin Park is another fun historic hotel. It is located next to the Basin Spring, and adjacent to best Eureka shopping and activities. Parking can be a bit challenging, but hotel guests have guaranteed downtown parking and the hotel offers shuttles to and fro. We paid to park about six block away and made the hike. And in downtown Eureka it is a hike as the elevation changes rapidly.
Spa 1905 is an Aveda spa set in the historic hotel but with a contemporary vibe. We were greeted warmly and offered spring water and directed to the relaxation suite while our bath was prepared. There is also an adjacent sun deck that was sadly under renovation, but that gives us something to look forward to at our next visit.
After 30 minutes marinating in the hot mineral bath the chime sounded pleasantly, and after a few moments we were directed to the room (chamber?)
Ronnie and I both were a bit nervous as we’d never been to a spa, but our therapists Kelsey and Joanna immediately made us feel comfortable. OMG, are you sure it’s been an hour? Can’t we do this for a couple more? It was a fabulous experience, and if we’d had more time, I’d have booked treatments for us all day. If you go be sure and ask for Kelsey Arnold, or Joanna Bridges.
Sadly, two things were looming. The first was a 4p.m. Zoom meeting, and the 2nd was the Silverado had to be back to Chevy Thursday morning. We contemplated departing after five, but ultimately decided we would arrive home much to late, and these days I don’t like being on the roads much after midnight. That when the road goblins come out don’t-cha-know!
After calculating our time, we decided we had time to make Fort Smith in time for a late lunch, and my Zoom meeting. We arrived at the local McAlisters Deli, ate a couple of salads. At four p.m. I had my Zoom from the deli, and by 5:15 we were gassed up, hyper-caffeinated, and on the Super Slab. Actually, I plotted a rural route that meandered through extreme eastern Oklahoma. It was a leisurely drive without much traffic, and we made excellent time.
A few hours later we crossed into Texas the land of 75mph speed limits, and we piled on the coal into the Trail Boss and was soon in Dallas. After a quick gourmet drive-through dinner at Whataburger (cheese and jalapenos for us please!) we let her rip.
Our last stop was at Buc-ee's in Ennis, Texas for a quick potty stop in their sparkling clean restrooms, and iced-teas. Man, thats a lotta gas pumps! We had gassed up the Silverado just before we crossed into Texas and we had just enough dino-juice to make it home.
And make it home we did, at 1:30 am we pulling into our home in Richards.
5 Days, 4 Nights, two hotels, 992.2 miles, average 17.864 mpg including highway, around town, and off road.
The Silverado was very comfortable on a long trip, although the all-season tires were a bit loud at interstate speeds. That’s the price you pay for all that off-road prowess. I only have one major complaint. To toggle the display from MPG, vehicle status, and various odometer function requires you to reach to the center of the dash and twirl what you would expect to the trip-odometer reset. Even my daughters ’14 Chevy Sonic has a simple button on the blinker stalk.
Yes, it’s a small complaint and I suppose that’s the point. It’s a great truck and hard to find fault with much of anything.The truck got tons of attention wherever we drove it, but especially from a number of the Ozark locals. They know a real truck when they see one. See the window sticker at the trailing end of this post and be sure and watch the video immediately below to tag along for a Eureka Springs ride.
Thank you to Chevrolet for helping facilitate all of this, and to my wonderful wife Ronnie who has put up with all this automotive insanity for 29 years. Second 29 coming up!