It had been several months, but my summer vacation had arrived and I was more than ready for the call of the road. Ultimately, I would be making my way to Eureka Springs, AR, but I was going to make a layover in Carthage, MO so I could experience the Grand Avenue Bed and Breakfast.
It was a picture perfect day for a road trip. I enjoyed the lush foliage of Missouri as I made my way down US-71. After being behind the wheel for nearly 5 ½ hours, I was grateful for the opportunity to stretch my legs a bit as I walked up the crumbled sidewalk which led to Grand Avenue’s front door.
Grand Avenue is a beautiful Queen Anne Victorian home and I soaked up the view before ringing the doorbell. The door was answered by Michael Goolsby, one of the owners of this establishment. He gave me the nickel tour and set a door code for me so I could come and go as I pleased before leaving me to my own devices.
Grand Avenue boasts 4 bedrooms and each is named after a famous author: E.B. White, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Mark Twain. I was staying in the Mark Twain Room. I luxuriated in the blast of cool air that met me after a hot day of driving. After getting my luggage and other sundry items set up, I stretched out on the comfortable king sized bed and relaxed for a couple of hours.
Then I decided to do a little exploration of the town. Carthage, MO is a classic example of small town Americana. It’s the type of town where everybody seems to know each other and everything is closed on Sunday. The town also has historical significance as a major Civil War battle was fought in its environs. There is a Civil War museum in the town square if you’re in the mood for a little education on the town’s war history.
Carthage is also the home of one the few remaining drive-in theaters in the country. If I’d been staying for more than one night, I might have tried to catch a flick. But after a day on the road, getting back behind the wheel was the last thing on my mind.
I was keen on getting a little dinner and had hoped to eat at a famous local drive-in called Whisler’s which was well-known for its hamburgers. Regrettably, the open light had been mistakenly left on as the eatery, like most of the town’s businesses, was closed on Sunday. Fortunately, I found the Carthage Family Restaurant open so I was able to experience the local cuisine.
The restaurant was fairly empty when I arrived so I took a booth in the back and enjoyed a club sandwich while I read a new novel featuring the detective, Frank Cannon. After dinner I returned to the inn where I posted some pictures and watched Jurassic Park III. I had never seen it before and it was an OK film. After the film ended I decided to call it a day as the long drive coupled with sketchy sleep the past few nights had worn me out.
The next morning, I took a long, hot shower and went downstairs to a breakfast prepared by Jeanne Goolsby, the other owner of Grand Avenue. Breakfast began with a dish of bananas, granola, and cream with a goblet of orange juice. The main entrée was an omelet stuffed with bell peppers, chives, bacon, cheese, and onion with grapes, orange slices, and a cherry scone on the side.
I enjoyed the leisurely meal while I read a mystery of Lord Darcy (having left my other novel in the car). After a splendid 30 minutes, I returned to my room to start writing up my escapades and preparing for the last leg of the journey.
Once I had settled my bill, I was back on the road heading to Eureka Springs. Now this was the way a road trip should be. The route took me through a number of small towns and had more twists and turns than an anaconda as I wound around the Ozark Mountains.
Ninety minutes later I found myself in Eureka Springs. I first thought to find the Inn at Rose Hall which would be my home away from home for the next few days. I ended up missing my turn, so I decided to follow the signs and made a visit to Onyx Cave on the outskirts of town.
Onyx Cave is a self-guided walking tour. I wore a pair of headphones for the duration and occasionally I would come upon these boxes with a green button. A push of the button and I would get a little information on the sections of the cave that I was looking at.
There were some truly fascinating sights in the cave such as natural onyx (I know, go figure). Natural onyx is nicknamed bacon strips due to its appearance to raw bacon. Pure onyx, my electronic guide said, is completely transparent. Other impressive rock formations were the Dragon, the Fireplace, and the Elephant. Interestingly, the Fireplace and the Elephant are actually the same formation seen from different angles.
After the half hour tour, I decided it was time to find the Inn at Rose Hall, after I made a stop at a nearby visitor’s center where the friendly clerk gave me a map of Eureka Springs and walked me through the numerous interesting sights and things to do while I was visiting.
Then I began the search for the Inn at Rose Hall. Even with a map, it was a tricky place to find. According to local legend, Eureka Springs was designed on a napkin in a bar in Chicago. It is a very steep city (think a much smaller San Francisco) with streets that suddenly end or transform into other streets. Eventually, I found the inn and was greeted at the door by its owner, Zoie Kaye.
Zoie checked me in and offered me a plate of delicious chocolate chip, peanut butter, and oatmeal cookies that had chips in every bite. I lingered over my cookie as Zoie brought me to the Treasures Room which would serve as my base of operations for this trip. I unpacked my clothes and things and laid out on my comfy bed while I made some reservations for some future adventures.
After a few hours, I headed out to find some dinner and found myself at Bubba’s BBQ (It may not look famous, but it is!). I had a beef brisket sandwich along with some homemade French fries. This was the best BBQ I had ever enjoyed, especially with the hot & spicy BBQ that I sprinkled over my sandwich my fries.
After dinner, I saw a sign suggesting I visit the Pivot Rock and Natural Bridge. I followed the wise sign’s suggestion and had a pleasant half hour jaunt where I saw the famed rock formations and walked off my dinner.
I decided to go back to the inn to relax for the evening as I was going to need every bit of energy I could muster for the next day’s adventures. So as I sip a sherry, I bid you a fond good night and invite you back tomorrow for a new set of hijinks.