You’d think that with an overload of four graduate courses, I’d stick around the house during Veeka’s fall break. But noooo, the thought of my now 8- 1/2-year-old prowling about the house bored for an entire week was enough to make me think up an alternate plan. I hatched a pretty ambitious one: We’d attend a worship conference at the International House of Prayer, a church/conference center in SE Kansas City. More on that in a bit. To get there, I decided to go the touristic route: Through parts of NE Arkansas that we didn’t get to see in June. I’d always wanted to see Eureka Springs and figured this might be our one opportunity. And so on Tuesday, I took Veeka to class with me at the University of Memphis and then we set off west after that. Ended up at the La Quinta in Russellville (right on I-40) that night. Built in 2008, that was one nice La Quinta. The room was very up-to-date and there were cookies waiting when we staggered in at 8 pm. The breakfast was so-so but I’ve yet to see a chain hotel serve REAL scrambled eggs.
The next day, we headed north on Rt. 7. which is quite the touristic route across the Ozarks. There were some pretty turnouts with viewpoints, but as one sign explained, the Ozarks are not mountains as such; they are the heights and depths on this immense plateau. One of the prettiest spots was the Cliff House Inn, which had sweeping views of the valley below. The road was pretty hilly and eventually it dropped us into a small town where we got a pizza to go from the Blue Mountain Bakery and Deli and repaired to a riverside park in Pruitt, 5 miles away. Actually it was Pruitt Landing, I think, and it was right before the bridge. There we lunched by the Buffalo River, the same river we canoed down in May. Once again, the lovely white-and-grey-strata cliffs banked the river. We then headed north, eventually ending up in Eureka Springs, our destination for the night.
The Springs was one funky, New Agey sort of place. Much of the shops and hotels were made of limestone blocks with various springs bubbling up in little pocket parks along the main streets. We stayed at the Palace Hotel; one such stone lodging where they leave champagne, crackers and Laughing Cow cheese for you when you arrive. The whole town is squeezed into a canyon with paths and staircases going every which way up and down the cliff sides. I found a blog that compared the town to the game of Chutes and Ladders and that perfectly describes the set-up there. Veeka was always charging up and down various stair cases or she’d disappear around a corner and into a shop, which drove me batty. We puttered around a bunch of the shops but after dinner at Nibbles, I made her stay with me at the hotel for the rest of the evening.
The next day, we drove about four hours to Kansas City where we spent the next few days at this conference. There’s so much I have to say about that place that I’m devoting a separate post to it (which I’ll put up shortly). One of the nicer things about it was there was a separate children’s track that emphasized kids learning how to intercede and pray for each other and do the kind of worship that isn’t available where we live now. So while I was attending sessions for the adults, Veeka was in classes for 6-12-year-olds. There was a small army of adults teaching them, which impressed me to no end. She met one little friend there who’s her age and the child’s mom and I clicked too.
Unfortunately they live in Iowa and we’re in Tennessee but Veeka’s already had one Google Chat conversation with her new friend and we’re going to try to schedule more. It’s been so hard for Veeka to make friends here, so anything that can dispel her loneliness is appreciated. We got back last Sunday, 1,320 miles later and I’m neck deep in my courses. There’s one I am A’cing (got 100 on a test today – don’t know if I have ever gotten that grade before on a college test); another I’m doing well enough on and then there are the other two! One’s a computer skills course that is way over my head and the other is that research and statistics course that I need to pay way more attention to. Studying for that will be all I do this weekend.