From Eureka Springs we motored just a ways down the road to Fayetteville – time for some fun with family and friends! While I was enjoying the fall hues along Hwy 62W, Steve’s efforts were focused on keeping Betsy between the lines on the continuously curvy and narrow roads. Warnings were posted in two areas (a 2-mile and a 6-miles stretch) alerting us to the crooked and steep terrain we were entering. At the end it was all in a day’s work, and we arrived in Fayetteville unscathed and ready for a cold beer.
My nephew Jerome and his wife Liz had activities lined up for us to experience while here. They picked fun things that my adorable great niece Hattie would enjoy, too. First they took us to Fayetteville’s farmer’s market. We try to patronize as many FM’s as possible, and Steve was so impressed with this one that he declared it the best we’ve been to this year. Of course, that meant we went home with a lot of fresh veggies and other goodies – yum!
Next we visited a local small family-owned farm on the outskirts of Fayetteville, where we met up with some other families and their little ones. We had never heard of pastured pigs before coming to Mason Creek Farm. They breed and raises pastured pigs and chickens that are free to roam around and eat grass and seeds as they please.
Steve used to raise pigs when he was young, but when he saw the size of these hogs I thought we was going to take off running! Pastured pigs, which we learned first-hand taste a lot better than store-bought pork, are typically raised on small farms and often sold at farmer’s markets. So if you see a meat vendor selling pastured meats, pony up the extra cash and get ready for something special. They are rightfully proud of how they care for their animals. I only wish we had bought more while we were on the farm!
The sows, boars and litters on the farm were free to roam around the large fenced areas. Believe it or not, there was no “pigsty smell” here!
We can attest (as Hattie does below) that pastured pigs create the BEST tasting pork chops ever. That night we had a delicious BBQ dinner of pork chops we bought from the farm, and green beans from the farmer’s market. Now that we know the difference, we’ll be looking harder for the “real deal” pork in the future.
On another day I met a girlfriend from my hometown in the Philippines, Jenna, and her husband. They invited me to check out the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville, AR. The museum, opened in 2011, was founded by Alice Walton, youngest daughter of the Walmart empire’s founder. I initially thought it would be just another museum to celebrate someone’s success, but boy was I surprised. Nestled in a beautiful wooded area, the architecture flowed naturally with the surroundings and there were walking trails available for those not so into admiring fine paintings. There is also a section there for kid activities.
The inside of the museum might remind one of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, except that you’re in rural Arkansas. And the best part is that viewing the world-class permanent art collection is free! Since I have never acquired much of a taste for fine art, we pretty much just breezed through this pavilion.
However, Jenna and I were more fascinated with the one-of-a-kind exhibition at the State of the Art section, where more than 100 artists from every region of the U.S. display a diverse offering of American art. All the displays at this pavilion were everyday stuff made into something with “grace and grit”. This is where we spent most of our time, inspecting and admiring the work of these talented artists. The State of the Art will be on display until Jan 14, 2015.
Continuing my Walmart experience, we went to where it all began – at the Bentonville town square where Sam Walton opened his first Walton’s 5&10 in 1950. Next door was the Walmart Museum yet another free museum. Inside was a multi-room gallery showcasing Sam Walton’s life and his leadership in making Walmart into the company it is today.
My Walmart experience was enhanced by being with my friends, who took time from their busy schedule to show me around. Thanks Jenna and Dingcol!
Spending time with little Hattie and the family was a great break from our usual “routine”. It’s always nice to have such wonderful tour guides to show us their town and have a good time. I sure will miss Hattie for I won’t be seeing her for a quite a long time.