Crystal Bridges

On our last weekend of Mandy’s visit to Tulsa, Bryan and I decided to take an extra day off work and use the long weekend for a trip to northwest Arkansas. We took Hayduke with us. He behaved really well in the hotel (except for the one very serious bark he directed at a housekeeper in the hallway) and we enjoyed walking with him around the U of A campus, Dickson Street, and the square in Fayetteville.

Northwest Arkansas has really put a lot of effort into the bike trail system in the area. We ate at a burrito place on the bike trail in Fayetteville, and were impressed not only with the infrastructure they’ve been working on, but with the amount of traffic on it. The Walton Foundation (?) has paid for a bike/ped coordinator in Bentonville in recent years, and has backed a lot of new trails there as well. We were really impressed – I don’t remember ANY of that being in place a dozen years ago. Has it been that long since I’ve spent time in that neighborhood? I guess it has.

Hayduke stayed at a doggy daycare in Bentonville while Bryan and I spent an afternoon at the very awesome new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. I was really impressed not just with the museum itself, and with the art on display, but with the pains they’ve taken to make art really accessible for people. Galleries are small-ish, with walkways between – they feel more friendly and less overwhelming than lots of museums I’ve been to. Between galleries are little sitting areas with low tables and shelves stuffed with books. How thoughtful, to provide spaces to rest with older people or little ones, complete with art books to look at! Even the restaurant is friendly – people order at a counter and sit down in a giant arched sunroom to wait for their food. The menu itself is kid-friendly, with familiar-sounding food like macaroni and cheese, but the recipes are good and the ingredients are sourced locally.

We wandered around the nice little system of trails around the museum. They’re well built and include outdoor art installations – what a nice little walk! We ventured into the edge of the Slaughter Pen mountain bike trail system, too.

Being back in northwest Arkansas was a sort of mixed bag of emotions for me. It’s where I dated and later married Mandy’s father, and where I lived for the first three years of my formerly married life. There are some good memories from that time, but there are also a lot of bad ones. The museum’s been built only a few blocks from our first apartment, for example, so we drove by that place. We ate bad Greek food in a restaurant that used to be a breakfast joint we frequented. We drove past the school where we picked blackberries every year, and the hospital where Mandy was born. It was something that needed doing, I suppose.

I’m glad to have some recent good memories to layer over old ones. We taught Hayduke to jump off a dock into the Lake Fayetteville¬†and laughed while he dried himself in the sunshine on the dock. The Thai food at the place near our hotel was wonderful, and I found a typo on a display at the art museum. It really was a good weekend.