Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bikes, Blues & BBQ in Eureka Springs, Then Some Family Time

So it turns out that even though I moved to my idea of the middle of nowhere, I still ended up very close by my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Ed. Having a giant family has its advantages. We made plans to visit them at their house in Holiday Island, Arkansas for dinner on Sunday, and we ahead and booked a room in Eureka Springs Saturday night. What a surprising place that was!

As you can see, Eureka Springs is right next door to Holiday Island so it worked out really well.

I heard the name with "spring" in the title and my mind immediately went to the awesome time that I went to Hot Springs, Arkansas. Well Eureka Springs has a similar "magical spring water" boom town history but I'd say the similarities stop there. It was immediately evident that despite being in "The South" that this little town was super liberal leaning. There was an article in the local paper where an alderman equated the local power company cutting down trees for power lines to "murder". Ok.

This weekend just happened to be Bikes, Blues & BBQ, which involves a lot of Harley's roaring around.

We got into the bbq spirit immediately.

I think that a defining factor of Eureka Springs is that it's really mountainous and so there isn't a lot of space for the thriving tourist industry. That made for some very interesting entertainment district layouts. There were giant flights of stairs that would take you from one level of restaurants and shops to the next. At one point there was even a cool little walking bridge. While being cramped made the place cool it also made the parking horrible. Can't have it all I suppose.

There were bikers everywhere.

I assume these signs were for them.

All of the twists and turns and funky little alleys gave the place a really cool explorative quality.

There were a couple of biker bars that were completely packed and looked pretty intense. We picked a spot across the street and had a quiet drink and watched the mayhem unfold.

I was bummed that we missed a movie with such an awesome poster.

This is still Arkansas, so of course there is a 65 foot tall Jesus statue. And there is some sort of a live action passion play show with camels and whatnot. I drove over to check it out but it was closed for the night. Tomorrow! What I did get to see was a pretty gaudy light-up Mary and Joseph thing.

What has two thumbs and has a magic baby? This guy!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Little Stop in Seneca

In our search of another pow-wow we poked around in Seneca, Missouri. The town of 2,300 is flattened right up against the border with Oklahoma. 

Down an alley on the main street there were some nice murals painted all historical-like.

We did a bit of window shopping.

I narrowly resisted buying this cool retro Las Vegas clock for $13.

Across the border in Oklahoma, we visited a new casino and took advantage of some new member free play. Lydia cleaned up at our favorite Family Guy slot machine. I broke even.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Japan Festival in Springfield, MO

Lydia found a cool Japan festival for us to go to in Springfield, MO. I figured it was really a ploy to get me to wear my sweet yukata (a casual summer version of the kimono) in public so I couldn't disappoint her. Walking around in it while shopping for groceries afterwards was even more hilarious.

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I bought it while shopping in Kyoto. No big deal. We had some sushi and some mochi, and a couple little imported candies. It was sponsored by their sister city program with a city in Japan that's only a couple train stops away from Ashikaga, so that was a funny coincidence.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Oklahoma State Fair and a Pow-Wow

We were on a state fair streak and it was hard to stop. Next up was the Oklahoma State Fair in Oklahoma City.

One of the charming aspects of living in tornado alley is that you'll constantly be reminded of your impending doom by all of the storm shelters for sale everywhere.

Our status as recent St. Louis refugees made seeing this baby arch even more excellent. A fairground I visited in Colombia had its own arch too. It must be a thing.

Gateway to corndogs.

In an odd reversal of the order of things, Lydia was the one buying weird food this time. She bought this fried giant gummy bear on a stick. It was pretty atrocious.

From any spot in the fair you could look up and see this giant spike pointing toward the sky. It looked like one of those rides that whips you up and down really fast, but this one was never doing anything like that. Just standing there. We had to check it out.

"The Space Tower is not operational" is the saddest sentence in the English language. 

It looked pretty darn cool. It seemed more like a moving observation deck than a ride where you lose your lunch, but still very awesome. It opened in 1968 and closed in 2010 due to mechanical problems.

I thought this police lifeguard chair was pretty hilarious.

It was a slight bit chilly on this particular day, so I was responsible and wore a sweatshirt. Of course the one I brought had MIZZOU written across the front in bright gold letters. I was confronted with my mistake a couple of times, including having a gentleman inform me that "Mizzou sucks!" very loudly while walking by.

On our way back to Missouri, home of sucky universities, we passed the Wyandotte Nation Pow-Wow about 5 miles East of Wyandotte, OK on Highway 60. I hadn't the slightest idea what to expect at a pow-wow but I would say it's a bit like a Native American county fair with no rides. There are plenty of booths selling food and crafty stuff.

The main event was happening at the center of the grounds. I would say it was shaped like a doughnut. There was a group singing and drumming in the center and various types of performers danced in a track around them. Then surrounding them on the outside was the audience. I thought it was pretty interesting but didn't really know what any of it meant. Each participant had a number pinned on their costume as it was a competition of some sort.

We had an "Indian taco", which was pretty much a taco salad on top of a piece of frybread. Frybread is essentially a fried think slab of bread, sort of like a fat tortilla. According to Wikipedia frybread "was created in 1864 using the flour, sugar, salt and lard that was given to them by the United States government" during relocation. It is the official state bread of South Dakota.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Karate Kids

Today we drove to stay the night at the nearby Indigo Sky Hotel and Casino over the border in Oklahoma. Fun was had. On the way out of town we noticed that yet another little festival was occurring on our little town square.

This show alone made it worth the visit.

Monday, September 01, 2014

A Trip to Omaha's Zoo

I'd read the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium was a unique zoo. I usually avoid zoos while traveling because I assume they'll all be the same, but not here folks. This zoo has the world's largest indoor desert and the largest nocturnal exhibit. The nocturnal exhibit in particular was pretty mind blowing.

We started off at the Desert Dome. Known by me as... "The THUNDER DOME!!"

I really liked the monstrous feet on the African Jacana.

I would say that it was my first time seeing the majority of the animals in the nocturnal exhibit. It was so cool!

These three banded armadillos were funny because they scurried around so fast but their armor concealed theirs legs, producing this weird gliding effect. We agreed they either looked like Roombas or...

...those Buzzy Beetle guys from Super Mario Bros.

An aardvark relishing his premium spot at the front of the dictionary.

Lemurs I think?

A peccary licking his way through a bunch of fruit frozen into a big block of ice.

A few friends sharing popcorn.

 It's probably bad but apes always remind me of hobos: surly, napping whenever/wherever they want to, begging for food, and difficult to keep eye contact with.

The zoo was so awesome that my phone ran out of photo space for the first time ever I believe. We skipped the aquarium and large parts of the zoo just because we spent so much time and energy with what we did see. I would definitely go back.

On the way home, halfway between Kansas City and Joplin is the small town of Rich Hill. The town is the subject of a recent documentary of the same name, which follows the pretty rough lives of a few teenagers that live there.

Rich Hill is the classic post boom mining town.