Eureka!

About a year ago, my sister, Anna, proposed an idea of taking a Spring break vacation during the Easter holidays. She’d been looking into Eureka Springs, AR. Our parents had both been to Eureka Springs before we were around and, growing up, we would here them talk about it. In 2010, Karl and I made a road trip to Kansas City and we stopped in Eureka Springs, but it was a very brief stop. So this looked like it would be a fun time, and quite a departure from the Disney vacations that we’ve taken in the past. The major activity that I had on my list of “things to do in Eureka Springs” was, naturally, fishing. A little research showed me that the area offered great trout (rainbow & brown), smallmouth, and stripper fishing. I planned on either bringing or renting kayaks.

So we left on Easter Sunday. We’d decided that it would be easier on River if we stopped halfway on the first night in Texarkana, rather than trying to drive the full distance.

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The next day, we drove through the Ouachita Mountians and then the Ozarks. While I have been through here before, it still throws me off when I see mountains. Coming from the flat, flat terrain of South Louisiana, it’s exciting to see the tops of mountains in the distance. Though my Dad always is sure to tell us that the Rockies are bigger and more beautiful.

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We made it to Eureka Springs around five or six in the evening. We stayed at Tall Pines Cabins at the corner of Hwy 62 and Pivot Rock Rd. The cabins were a big highlight for me, maybe my favorite part. I love rustic wooden buildings. Tracey, River and I stayed in one cabin (a small room with seating, a bed, desk, closet, and gas oven, with bathroom) and my parents and sisters stayed in a larger cabin (a large room with wood fireplace, small kitchen and dining area, separate bed area, pull-out beds in living area, and bathroom). The surrounding wooded area was very pretty.

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We took our time there pretty slow. No real agenda. I did get to spend some time on the White River, which was cool, though I didn’t get to spend much time fishing. The White River is beautiful though. The current was no different than what we’re used to seeing down here, at least at our location which were the Beaver Tailwaters, directly below Beaver Dam, on the northwest section of Beaver Lake.

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I had been keeping up with the fishing reports for the area through several local business sites, but when it came time to put fish in the kayak, I came up short. Though, like I said earlier, I did not fish nearly as much as I’d planned. There were plenty of other things to do!

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On day one, while Anna And I were out in the kayaks, Tracey & River, with my parents & youngest sister, Mary, went into the downtown area. Note to anyone planning to visit Eureka Springs; the parking lots are on Main St. but the stores and landmarks are on Spring St. going up the hill. The group walked all over the Main St. area before realizing that they were in the wrong area and by that time were worn out. We met them back up at the cabins and mostly just took it easy for the remainder of the evening.

The following morning, I made a run to a nearby Walmart to grab some stuff for Tracey, as well as some trout fishing gear for me. I was headed back to the river later, this time with Tracey. Again, that trip came up short. This time, while Tracey and I were out, the rest of the group took River to Blue Spring. I kind of wish I could’ve been around for that part of the trip. I don’t have all the information in front of me, but I think the surface of the spring pool is around 75ft wide and funnels down to around 25ft. The opening where the water is shooting out is around 2ft wide, if I remember reading right. The most crazy thing about Blue Spring is that they believe that some of the water shooting out is coming from the Pacific Northwest!

Anyway, when Tracey and I met back up with everyone, we returned to the downtown area. This time, we went in the right direction which took us to Basin Spring Park at the base of the Basin Park Hotel. Basin Park was pretty interesting. It’s pretty small. At the center is a well, and a stage behind that built into the side of the mountain. There are walkways that go up the mountain as part of the park. There was a shirtless man at the top who offered me three rocks and a dollar for my Pack & Paddle hat… true story.

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We also visited Thorncrown Chapel. It’s one of those places that you may have never heard of but have probably seen a picture of. It’s a contemporary-style glass & steel chapel built in the woods up the mountain. Though it was pretty, I hate to say that I was a little underwhelmed. It was much smaller than I’d pictured it. Still, it was a nice place to stop and take in.

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We also visited the Christ of the Ozarks statue. Kind of a random thing, but they have a section of the Berlin Wall right there near the statue. At least, it seems a little random to me…

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I apologize for the abbreviated details within this entry. There was a lot of stuff we got to do, so remembering it all is proving to be a bit of a challenge. Here’s some pictures of Onyx Cave!

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During the walk through the cave, there is audio that plays through a radio headset. It gives you information on how the cave was formed and discovered, and how it’s still being explored. Another thing it mentioned was that if you saw bats to leave them alone. I was looking for large bats, similar to what I’m sure are found in rainforests. As we were leaving, the lady running the gift shop informed us that we’d walked right under a bat as we were walking into the entrance to the cave. She mentioned that she believed it was sleeping there during the daylight hours. It was small, like, mouse-sized.

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Overall, it was a great getaway, but we were happy to be back. We definitely plan to return to Eureka Springs at some point. And for me, that means another chance to target trout of the White River, and smallmouth on the Kings River!

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