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Arkansas Engagement: Victoria Davis & Matthew DeGroot

Gallery by Sterling Imageworks

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Victoria Davis and Matthew DeGroot from Texarkana are engaged! The duo will say their vows on Saturday, May 23, at Garrison Gardens in Texarkana (the Arkansas side, of course).

We love this sweet engagement session by Sterling Imageworks of the high school sweethearts. Here's the beautiful story of how it all happened from Victoria:

Matthew proposed on Christmas Eve in front of the Christmas tree in Bryant Park in New York City while the snow was falling. He planned a trip there that he gave to me on my birthday. We went on a hoarse carriage ride earlier that day, then dinner and then a walk through Bryant Park. A couple pretended to take our picture and then he got down on one knee. It was truly a fairy-tale moment.

We met at pleasant grove middle school in 8th grade. We will have been together for 10 years this May! We attended the same high school where he played football and I was on Drill team, and the same undergrad at UCA. We now both attend different grad schools: I'm in pharmacy school at UAMS and he is in physical therapy school at UCA. He has always been my best friend and I can't imagine my life without him. We push each other to reach our goals, and that's why I think our relationship works! We are definitely each other's biggest supporters.

Can't get enough of these two. Congratulations, Matthew & Victoria!

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Traveling Arkansas' Scenic Highway 7: Day 4

Gallery by Kat Robinson

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Above: Hunter delights in the slag glass at Jessieville's Coleman Rock Shop.

Spring Break is a great time to travel to a destination and enjoy experiences with your family. But what do you do when you’re used to travel? For me and my daughter Hunter, it’s time for a road trip.

This week, we’ll be traveling the entire length of Scenic Highway 7, the longest state highway in Arkansas. We’re going to find attractions along the way and share where we went. You can follow us at @TieDyeTravels for live updates.

Yesterday, we were awakened at four in the morning when the thunderstorm rolled in. We’d opened one of the windows in our room at The Arlington Hotel and Spa a bit to let in the temperate air outside, but when the storm came it caused some sort of disturbance that actually knocked a picture off the wall!

After that, Hunter went back to sleep, but I stayed up and wrote a bit. You can hear what’s going on along Central Avenue from this room on the eighth floor, but it’s not overpowering. I would take a look out from time to time as the sky started to lighten.

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Hunter slept in, but when she did finally decide to get up, we went across the street and had breakfast at the world famous Pancake Shop. The 75-year-old restaurant is a favorite of mine, and as usual it was packed. We managed to get a table in the back. Hunter got a blueberry pancake and an order of sausage, while I had my usual cheese omelet and toast with apple butter. Hunter decided she really liked the apple butter and the sausage, and the pancake, too. She couldn’t eat it all, so asked for foil and stuck the sausage in her pocket. I could not make this up.

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Once we were done with that, we went next door and checked out The Savory Pantry, which offers samples of all different sorts of great gourmet products from here, there and everywhere.

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Because it was raining, we decided not to go play miniature golf or visit the alligators. Instead, we set out to see what Galaxy Connection had to offer. This sci-fi store and museum along Hobson Avenue had caught our eye on the way downtown from Mid America Science Museum.

Inside, we found a Star Wars-themed gift shop and we were asked if we wanted to take the tour. Well, sure. After a short wait, another family came in and we went through the exhibits.

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When she saw this X-Wing model a gentleman in Memphis had built, she had to get in. There’s a lot of cool stuff there, including actual Stormtrooper and Darth Vader costumes from the original movies. We learned a lot of great stories there, too. Hunter wasn’t so thrilled with her first photo op with Darth…

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Our tour guide, Richard, even got in on some Darth Maul action with Hunter. Read more about our visit to Galaxy Connection here.

It was time to head north. We made it up to Jessieville and visited the Coleman Rock Shop. I’ve been going to this rock shop since I was a child, and I have plenty of tumbled stones, crystals and necklaces from it. But Hunter had never been. She went a bit crazy.

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At first, she was enamored with the little stone animals. Then it was tumbled stones. Then slag glass. There were a lot of rocks she wanted to add to her collection.

We had dined a bit too late to be hungry when we passed The Shack in Jessieville, so we kept on going. Just north of town, we spotted a Ouachita National Forest picnic area.

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Turns out, this little park is a trailhead for the Hunts Loop Trail. Hunter immediately wanted to walk the entire trail, but I put the brakes on that, pointing out that we’d be late getting up to our final destination for the evening.

We found other sites along the way through the Ouachita National Forest. There were still a lot of pine trees, like in the Timberlands, but they were perched on rounded-off mountaintops. After all, the Ouachitas are the only true mountain range in Arkansas, an ancient one that’s been weathered down to the small peaks and valleys we know today. The Ozarks, if you were wondering, are actually a weathered plateau.

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Just up the road, we saw the historic site for the original Hollis CCC camp.

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And a little bit further up the way, we stopped at the Hollis Country Store. It’s been open since 1930 and still uses some rather old gas pumps. When you go inside, there’s about anything you’ll need, including an old fashioned deli where Petit Jean barbecue loaf, ham and bologna are sliced to go on a sandwich with red-wax cheddar. They sell bait, too.

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We kept climbing and passed Lake Nimrod. Once you get past Nimrod Dam, there’s a long elevation on Scenic Highway 7, with drop-offs on the side. At the very top, you can just see Nimrod peeking through the trees from a distance.

A few miles further and there’s the town of Ola, and right past Ola the road flattens out. This is where Scenic Highway 7 enters the Arkansas River Valley. This wide expanse between Ouachitas and Ozarks is home to a whole lot of our grazing land and many communities both large and small.

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As you come into Dardanelle, it’s flat as a pancake—but to the left, there’s Mount Nebo looming over it all. We stopped briefly for groceries and then drove up.

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Trailers longer than 24 feet are prohibited, and this is why—switchbacks that can be difficult for longer vehicles.

We picked up directions at the Visitors Center and headed out to our cabin on the south side of the mountain.

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This is an original CCC cabin that’s been updated to accommodate all the modern conveniences we’re used to. It has a bedroom and a futon in the living room, which meant Hunter got space to herself. It also has a spa tub the size of a full-sized bed.

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And out back, there’s a stone terrace with an outdoor fireplace. Let me tell you what…while we awaited the sunset, I tried to get that dang fireplace lit, and I just couldn’t get it done. Matches would have been helpful! Or a lighter!

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We tried for a while, but once the sun went down and the temperature started to drop, we came in and roasted our hot dogs over the fire in the fireplace.

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Today, we’re headed up to Jasper to visit the second oldest restaurant in the state, the Ozark Café. We’ll also make a lot of stops along the way, and plan to take a side trip to visit the Elk Education Center at Ponca.

If you’d like to read more about our adventures, feel free to check out my blog, Tie Dye Travels; and follow our spring break Highway 7 travels all week here with Little Rock Family!

3 Green Tips to Make Your Home So Fresh and So Clean

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We've been talking a lot lately about how spring has finally sprung and all we want to do is go be outside in it. Well, as true as that may be, you still have to go back inside eventually, and when you do, you can only ignore the need for a good old fashioned spring cleaning for so long. 

So you finally bite the bullet. Good job, you. But there's a bit more to it than that. 

Many common household cleaners can be hazardous to your health - and to the environment. They contain alcohol, ammonia, bleach, formaldehyde and lye - all substances that can cause nausea, vomiting, inflammation and burning of the eyes and throat. Some of these ingredients have been linked with neurological, liver, and kidney damage, and asthma and even cancer. Yikes.

So before you throw up your hands and lose all motivation, Shelley Green, owner of The Green Corner Store, 15th and Main Streets, Little Rock, offers a few tips to keep in mind when buying and using cleaning products:

  1. Read the labels of the cleaning products you are looking at buying carefully to make an informed environmental decision.
  2. Use less. Part of greening your cleaning routine is to reduce the number of cleaning products you use. Despite marketing claims made by some manufacturers of conventional cleaners, it isn't always necessary to use a different product for each cleaning task in your home. For example, an eco-friendly antibacterial product will kill germs in the bathroom, as well as the ones in the kitchen. Likewise, a green product made to clean wood floors is likely suitable for wood furniture and paneling. 
  3. Make your own. Believe it or not, some of the greenest cleaners are the ones you make yourself. Click here for a few great DIY green cleaning recipes.

The Green Corner Store has a healthy selection of earth friendly cleaning products from Dr. Bronner's and Better Life. Still have questions? The staff there can help you pick out what you need to keep your house clean and green (and we don't mean mold).

And make sure you stop by the Loblolly Creamery counter while you're there. You deserve it.

 

This article was first published in March 2014. 

CALS Launches New Community Learning Courses

Image by Luke Jones

Witsell Evans & Rasco restored or renovated many buildings including the main branch of the Central Arkansas Library System.

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We know. We never thought the day would come when we’d be scrambling to sign up for summer classes. If our weird teenaged selves ever caught us, they would totally beat us up. As if.

But that’s a risk we’re willing to take for the Central Arkansas Library System’s brand new line of Community Learning Courses starting in May.

The CALS learning programs have increased 215% since 2005, according to their website. The Community Learning Courses, however, will provide more specialized and intensive learning opportunities to guests. 

So what’s on the list? Right now the summer session lineup includes:

  • Introduction to Herbs and Spices
  • Self Defense for Women
  • Alterations 101
  • Starting a Small Business
  • Beginner Sewing
  • Knife Skills
  • ZUMBA!
  • Exploring Inversions: A Yoga Workshop

And it all kicks off with Community Paint Night at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, at Hillcrest Hall, 1501 Kavanaugh Ave. Not only will guests get a free guided painting course with artists from the area, but they’ll also get a sneak peek at the upcoming sessions.

Registration for the Community Learning Courses will open April 1 right here.

Until then, make plans for the paint night and find out more about the summer program on the CALS website and Facebook page. Your teen self will get over it. 

Dinner and a Show at St. Joseph Center Seek to Preserve Historic Building

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The Voices of St. Joseph is a group of advocates dedicated to telling the story of the former St. Joseph’s Orphanage in North Little Rock, and raising funds for its preservation through an annual stage production.

“Joey’s Journey” is the inaugural drama chosen for the 2015 show, an original script and musical score about a boy who lived at the orphanage and the friendship he forms with a drifter. 

As part of the production, guests will enjoy a meal together, good old fashioned family-style. Wine, beer and a farm-to-table menu will be served before the show, which is dedicated in memory of William F. Laman Library director Jeff Baskin.

The evening’s activities begin at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at the St. Joseph Center of Arkansas, 6800 Camp Robinson Road. Click here to purchase tickets, with proceeds going toward maintenance of the facility. 

For more information about The Voices of St. Joseph, visit their Facebook page.

Ashley Childers Offers Designer's Touch at Emporium Home

Image by Jason Masters

From plush seating and gemstone chandeliers to graphic wallpaper and cozy rugs, each piece that Emporium Home’s Ashley Childers designs is luxurious with a distinctly feminine edge.

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She was a dancer. That is what Ashley Childers did and who she was. For years, she was a student of the body’s movement and form. She studied dance in college, even ran her own dance studio for 13 years.

When Childers and her family left Conway for Little Rock, she left that world as well. And then suddenly, dance wasn’t what she “did” anymore.

Childers grew up in a home that acted as a very creative space, one where her mother was an interior designer, so as she settled into their new house years later, she naturally took to making it her own.

The problem came when she couldn’t find the furnishings she was looking for, so she started sketching. Fast forward about five years and Childers is now the CEO and creative director of Emporium Home, the line of home furnishings people can’t stop talking about.

Just over three years ago, she nervously launched the Emporium Home wholesale line at an international show in New York with just a few lamps and occasional tables. Since then, the line has exploded onto the furnishings scene with the “feminine edge” and “livable luxury” that became its calling card.

Now they have showrooms in Atlanta, Las Vegas and High Point, North Carolina, and the line includes everything from seating and gemstone chandeliers to wallpaper and a brand new rug collection.

Though Emporium Home is well on its way to becoming a household name, Childers does things a bit differently. For starters, she designs every piece.

“Most people think, like I did, that furniture lines design their own stuff. They don’t,” Childers says. “It really helped build our name a lot faster because people were intrigued by it. I thought everybody did that. I mean, why wouldn’t you? It’s so much fun. I don’t know why you would take the creative part out of it.”

That’s not all that people are intrigued by. Childers is one of the few home furnishings CEOs who is not only young, but also a woman.

But that doesn’t faze Childers. She’s too busy living by her mantra: Design what you like. From day one, she has stayed true to the concept that if she wouldn’t buy it for her own home, she won’t produce it.

“I love everything I design, so I put it in my home. People react strongly to that. I’m super humbled by the response we’ve had, but I’m still going to design what I like, what I see as the vision for our brand, and I’m pretty unapologetic about it.”

Decidedly striking out on a quest for authenticity in her work, Childers’ designs lack a certain jaded quality that comes when you pander to the cry of the fad. Instead, she goes in search of the adept craftsmanship required for high-end artisan pieces, even if that search takes her across the globe.

France, India and Vietnam have all held some of the more transfixing elements with their silk saris, glass beads and vibrancy of daily life. There’s something about watching somebody cast brass with their hands that is unexplainable for her, that pushes her to invest in the cultures of these artisans, furthering the conversation of design possibility.

Stateside, Childers travels to various markets, but also has a storefront in the Heights neighborhood of Little Rock. Emporium Home unexpectedly turned into a family business with an all hands on deck approach, including Childers’ husband as the company’s president and her mother-in-law as CFO.

The attention they’ve earned from national and international press and businesses alike is a proud feat for Childers, who doesn’t buy into the negative Arkansas misconceptions she keeps bumping in to at trade shows. In fact, she’s blowing them out of the water.

“It feels good when we’re at a show and people ask us where we’re based, expecting us to say ‘New York,’ and we get to tell them we’re from Little Rock, Arkansas,” she says.

But Childers isn’t running for The Big Apple anytime soon. That authenticity she subscribes to comes with a passion for creating environments that make people feel nurtured and rejuvenated, spaces that feel like home. For Childers, that’s in The Natural State.

“Arkansas is a nurturing place to be. I love to come home here. You can slow down a bit, not be in such a hurry and take in the beauty. It fosters creativity and I love our community because of that.”

Maybe in her college dance classes she never expected this role for herself. Maybe she’s just as surprised about how far Emporium Home has already come as anybody else. Maybe the pride she feels when someone chooses to live every day seeing one of her pieces in their home isn’t quite the same kind of pride she felt at the end of a recital, but there is the same zeal bursting beneath the surface.

“It’s not work, it’s art. I get to meld my passions and my job, to build a company that is an extension of me and my personal aesthetic. That’s the ultimate artist’s dream,” she says. “When you have the confidence to be creative without barriers, that’s when beauty is born.”

Farm Fresh: 6 Farmers Markets to Visit in Central Arkansas

Gallery by C. Waynette Traub

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April showers bring May produce—and maybe some flowers, too. Shopping at your local farmer’s market is not only tastebud-friendly, it’s also a great way to support your local growers, discover where your food really comes from, and help the earth by reducing shipping costs and more. Oh, and did we mention the free cheese samples? Grab your reusable grocery bags and head to one (or more!) of these six farmers markets.

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1. Argenta Farmers Market: This Saturday morning market, located on Main Street in downtown North Little Rock, boasts an impressive number of vendors at the height of the season. Look for eggs, berries, squash, cheese, honey, bread, meats, hummus and more. Shoppers can also enjoy an artisan market and live music. Plus, shopping is made even easier with a special token system that eliminates the need for cash. Swipe your credit card at the Argenta Farmers Market booth and receive tokens that can be used at any vendor booth. The tokens don’t expire, so if you don’t spend them all, you can bring them back the next week for more shopping.

The season's soft opening will be March 28; hours are 7 a.m.-noon each Saturday. Located at 520 Main St., North Little Rock. For info: (501) 831-7881 | Facebook

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2. Bernice Garden Farmers' Market: Sunday shoppers can pick up sustainably-raised and -grown produce, cheese, nuts, salsa, soap and more at this hip market in SoMa. Scope out the public art and sculptures in the surrounding garden and treat your family to a snack from Boulevard Bread Co. or the participating food truck—we spied the Waffle Wagon on our last visit. After picking up your goods, enjoy the nearby shopping at Moxy Modern Mercantile and Green Corner Store.

The market opens for the season April 12; hours are 10 a.m.-2 p.m. each Sunday. Located at 1401 South Main St., Little Rock. For info: (501) 617-2511 | Facebook

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3. Little Rock Farmers' Market: This mainstay has been serving up fruits and veggies in Little Rock's River Market for over 40 years. Find bargains on fresh Arkansas crops, as well as a bountiful array of handmade arts and crafts. In addition to Saturday markets, this year will also include a “Night Market” each Tuesday.

The Saturday market opens for the season May 2 and the Tuesday market opens June 2; hours are 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Located at 400 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock. For info: (501) 375-2552 | Facebook

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4. Westover Hills Presbyterian Church Farmers' Market: This evening, mid-week market is perfect for picking up last-minute needs like veggies, fruit, flowers, baked goods and more. The market takes place on Tuesday evenings, but the spot is also known for its frequent food truck gatherings.

The market opens for the season May 5; hours are 4-7 p.m. each Tuesday. Located at 6400 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock. For info: (501) 420-4132 | Facebook

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5. Hillcrest Farmers Market: Little Rock’s only year-round farmer’s market is located at the Pulaski Heights Baptist Church in Hillcrest. Stroll down Kavanaugh Blvd. on Saturday mornings to survey all-local honey, greens, nuts and granola, eggs, bacon, dog treats and more. Plus, visitors can enjoy brunch at one of the regular food trucks.

The market is open year-round; hours are currently 8 a.m.-noon. each Saturday. Located at 2200 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock. For info: (501) 661-1129 | Facebook

6. Cabot Farmers' Market: This Saturday market, located in Re:New Community Church’s parking lot, features produce from local growers, as well as wares from crafters and artisans in the Cabot area.

The market opens for the season May 2; hours are 8 a.m.-noon each Saturday. Located at 1122 2nd St., Cabot. For info: (501) 920-2122 | cabotbeautiful@yahoo.com

Meet the Farmers

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Get to know the farmers, bakers and makers you’ll meet at central Arkansas’ farmer’s markets. Here are a few vendors we love:

  • Arkansas Fresh Bakery supplies some of Little Rock’s favorite restaurants with incredible rolls and breads, and you can find them serving up breakfast and baguettes at the Argenta Farmers Market on Saturdays.
  • Barnhill Orchards in Lonoke is a family farm established in 1980 by Bob Barnhill. In addition to selling at several Little Rock markets, “Farm Baskets” are also available for purchase online. For info, visit BarnhillOrchards.com.
  • Falling Sky Farm raises chicken, duck, turkey, cattle and pig free of antibiotics, growth hormones and synthetic pesticides. Year-long meat shares are available online at FallingSkyFarm.com.
  • Freckle Face Farm is a family affair—a family of nine! In addition to raising seven kids, this farm family raises cows, pigs, and chicken. At the market, you can buy a variety of meat products, including free-range chicken, bacon, brats, chorizo, chops and sausage.
  • Geek Eats produces hummus, pesto and granola. Made in North Little Rock by a husband-and-wife team, you’ll find yourself addicted to snacks like Carrot Curry Hummus, Rosemary & Black Bean Hummus and Cilantro Almond Pesto.
  • Kent Walker Artisan Cheese crafts distinct cheeses in downtown Little Rock, including Habanero Cheddar, Leicester and Gouda varieties. The local favorite is a constant on the farmer’s market circuit, though you can also find the products at stores around town. For more info, visit KentWalkerCheese.com.
  • Laughing Stock Farm is a USDA Certified Organic farm in Sheridan that is dedicated to farming sustainably. You’ll find their plants and veggies at Whole Foods, as well as local markets.
  • Little Rock Urban Farming grows organic fruits, vegetables and flowers right in the heart of Little Rock. Learn more about the group’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and how you can be a shareholder at LittleRockUrbanFarming.com.
  • Jelly Madness, produced by the Martin Family Farm in McRae, satisfies cravings for sweets with its homemade jellies. Don’t miss adventurous flavors like Lavender Peach, Dandelion and Hot Pepper; sugar-free jellies are also available.
  • North Pulaski Farms, a USDA Certified Organic farm, is owned and operated by Kelly Carney. Produce is grown year-round in high tunnel hoop houses; seasonal goods include blackberries, kale, tomatoes, sweet peppers, raspberries and more. Learn about the farm’s organic CSA membership program at NorthPulaskiFarms.com.

Traveling Arkansas' Scenic Highway 7: Day 3

Gallery by Kat Robinson

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Above: Doug’s Special Burger at DJ’s Drive-In at Bismarck

Spring Break is a great time to travel to a destination and enjoy experiences with your family. But what do you do when you’re used to travel? For me and my daughter Hunter, it’s time for a road trip.

This week, we’ll be traveling the entire length of Scenic Highway 7, the longest state highway in Arkansas.  We’re going to find attractions along the way and share where we went. You can follow us at @TieDyeTravels for live updates.

We slept very well at DeGray Lake Resort State Park and were sad we had to leave our comfortable room in the lodge, but we had plenty of things to do this Wednesday.

The first order of business was a program called Animal Tracks, Scat and Sign at the park. Interpreter Jonathon shared with us the different tracks and scat we might find in the park. Scat, in case you were wondering, is animal poop. The kids find that fascinating.

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After sharing the information, we set off with the group in attendance on a walk on Towering Pines Trail, a half mile trail that weaves through the pine forest, out to the lake and along a babbling brook. Jonathon tried very hard to find some "sign," but the best area for doing so was underwater. The lake, like the Ouachita River that was over Highway 7 to the south, was very high.

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Finally, we found scat, and the whole group stopped to check it out. Using the handkerchief guide he brought along, Jonathon allowed us to guess at what sort of scat we had found. It was either possum or skunk. We continued on, but didn’t see any tracks.

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After the program, Hunter and I roamed around the park for a bit, looking at all the other things available to do and see. We made it out to the point where the yurts are located, and immediately decided that next time we visit, we’re staying in a yurt.

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These really cool tents are based on the Mongolian gher tents from centuries past, but have all sorts of amenities inside, such as real beds and electricity. There’s also a fire pit close by, and great views of the lake.

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For lunch, we decided to try out DJ’s Drive-In at Bismarck. I’ve passed this place so many times over the years meaning to drop in. Hunter went the easy route and had chicken and fries, and I tried out the Doug’s Special Burger. What makes the burger special is that it’s seasoned with steak sauce. Though the waitress heard me wrong and went no mayo instead of no mustard, it was still a good burger.

Hunter really wanted some ice cream and asked for a banana split. I was expecting the usual five inch long banana boat you get at most drive-ins. Imagine my surprise when our banana split came out to the table in what appeared to be a mixing bowl! The massive amount of ice cream sat on top of two bananas cut lengthwise, and it was all covered with dollops of pineapple, strawberry and chocolate and a whole lot of whipped cream. We really weren’t expecting something that massive, and felt a little bad that we weren’t able to finish it.

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From there, we drove on into Hot Springs to visit the new Mid America Science Museum. I was really surprised to get there and see people parked along the road to the museum. The parking lot was full. We were lucky to get a spot when someone else pulled out. I can’t remember a single time I have ever seen that parking lot full.

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Inside, the new front desk is steel and there are things to do the moment you walk in the door. SO many things… I mean, a whole lot of things. Too many for me to cram everything in (which is why you can do that over at Tie Dye Travels).

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We crossed the skywalk, which is now called the Skybridge, and played a bit with the different light displays.  Right inside the main building, there’s a two story water sculpture that the kids just adored—with kids below lining up balls to be shot by water up to the second story, and the kids on the top aiming balls to go into a giant spring that drops balls into a water funnel to take them back down. It’s far more impressive than I just described it.

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We walked to the back of the top level, where Hunter attempted (but didn’t care for) the Arkansas Underfoot adventure. What she really loved was this crazy 3D topographical activity where kids use these little rubberized pellets to make mountains and river, and with sensors and light the machine they’re in makes them into topographical details, even putting snow on mountaintops and “raining” when you hold your hand over an area.

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Down below, Hunter immediately had to attempt the Gyroid, a geodesic playground structure. There were kids all over this thing. It had handholds and curves. Hunter couldn’t figure out how to get to the top, but that was okay.

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There was also a Tinkering Studio, and Hunter was soon absorbed in creating electronic circuits. She really liked making these little fans and lights go.

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We went outside and climbed the steps to get up to the Skywalk. This neat structure takes visitors high up in the air on a walkway.

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There’s a musical bench on the first landing… but to use it, you have to hold hands with others on the bench.

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At the end, there’s a giant trampoline structure and a couple of tightropes. Hunter was all gung-ho to get on the tightrope, but once she got down she declared it was never for her again.

The museum was really, really cool.

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We went to check in at our hotel, The Arlington Hotel and Spa. It’s the biggest hotel in Arkansas, and it’s very historic. The rooms are neat and the spa operates with the famed thermal waters from the hot springs that gave Hot Springs its name. But that wasn’t what Hunter was interested in.

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She wanted to go swimming again, and she was absolutely gleeful when she discovered that there was more than one pool. The one on the deck right outside the seventh floor is three feet deep—perfect for splashing and playing. And then there’s one above it that’s five to six feet deep for larger kids and adults. There’s also a great hot tub up on the side of the mountain.

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For dinner, we went to Rolando’s Restaurante, another favorite of mine, where we shared the Plato de Adventura. It’s a platter that includes a quesadilla, tamale or taquito, a big flattened chicken breast, shrimp, pickled cucumbers and onions, guacamole, black beans and rice and it is very, very good. It really surprised Hunter when it came to the table.

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Tomorrow, we’re heading north again. We’ll do some cool things in Hot Springs and then make our way to our next stop, Mount Nebo State Park.

If you’d like to read more about our adventures, feel free to check out my blog, Tie Dye Travels; and follow our spring break Highway 7 travels all week here with Little Rock Family!

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InArkansas.com: your guide for all things Arkansas, including where to Eat, Live, Shop, Play, Visit and Work in the Natural State. Here, find exactly what you're looking for in restaurants and shopping directories; plan weddings and events; and stay abreast of the most fashionable parties and fundraisers. See videos, photos and blogs. Use our Highly Recommended voting system to share your favorite businesses and events. And get our free Daily Recommends e-news for editors' picks of the best in Arkansas dining, gifts, events and more.