Ghosts, Healing Springs, & History: Quirky Tourism in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Arkansas is almost like a second home. I have been going there on 2 wheels since 2012 and I can never get enough of the scenery, the twisty roads, the expansive views, the down to earth people, and of course, there are always some shenanigans mixed in. This year, Bikes Blues & BBQ moved locations from Fayetteville, AR to Rogers, AR, and with it, came a new date, pushed back a couple of weeks. While I still ride a lot in October, the days get REAL short, the sunshine is mostly for looks, and the darkness creeps in much quicker - making riding around home a great option, but riding down to Arkansas a bit more of a chore (especially when I can still go earlier in the year and be WARM)! So, instead of heading down for BBBQ this year, as we always do, we decided to stick with the usual date just after mid September. Sadly, Sheila couldn't make it due to an adventure the previous week out west having an impact on her motorcycle's desire to come home and leave again so soon (clutch issues). It sure felt weird to leave her behind - September is our annual girls trip to Arkansas. None the less, Stiffy and I were the sole representatives this year. Every year I talk and talk and talk about seeing new stuff in the area - while I have been to AR 20+ times, there is still so much that I haven't seen. And surprisingly, some things are BIG tourist attractions that folks travel specifically to. We managed to see several new things this trip - and of course got a lot of fun riding in too. The Basin Park Hotel is well known for being haunted. The Basin Hotel opened in 1905 and sits on top of where a previous hotel once was - before it burned to the ground. Once rebuilt, it was the site of illegal liquor and some famous Prohibition guests like Al Capone's sister, who reportedly spent a month there back in the Prohibition day. The hotel is very popular and well known for being haunted and offering nightly ghost tours (that is also on the to do list for another day). It's a quirky place, with a restaurant offering a great view of downtown. Downtown is a site in itself - many of the buildings are made of limestone & brick, built into the rock and at a crazy downhill angle. Calf muscles and quads get an extra good workout anywhere we walk in this town!
Our next, "Never before seen" stop was at the Thorncrown Chapel, built into a hill just outside of Eureka Springs. The Thorncrown Chapel was constructed in 1980 by a retired school teacher who wanted a chapel that could be a 'pilgrimage for meditation'. The chapel is 48 feet high, 24 feet wide, and 60 feet long. It has 425 windows and had some inspiration for design by Frank Lloyd Wright. The retired teacher used only elements that could be carried by 2 people, through the woods, which is where the church is located. The driveway of the church is on a very tight corner, and goes straight uphill - I started the trek in 2nd gear and quickly downshifted! The church is quite impressive and I can see why people go there JUST to see that church.
Eureka Springs was founded because of the natural springs located throughout the area. The waters in the springs were and are thought to have healing powers, drawing a lot of tourists to the springs alone. And yet, I/we had never officially stopped at any of the springs around the area (and there are TONS of them). And so we finally did! We dipped our hands in the crystal clear, very cold water pool formed in front of where the spring comes out of the earth - yet to be determined if we are healed of anything!