|Dates:||October 9 -12, 2005|
|Location:||Wanderlust RV Park
468 Passion Play Road
Eureka Springs, AR 72632
|Hosts:||Judith and Ed Leswig|
Thanks to our hosts, Judith and Ed Leswig, the pre-rally for the first National Born Free Rally "jumped off" to a great start in Eureka Springs, Arkansas on Sunday, October 9, 2005. As long-time residents, this dynamic duo kept us on the straight and narrow for the next seven rally days with Prussian-like precision.
Eureka Springs is a quaint, Victorian city that offers a unique taste of Southern hospitality. Legend claims that Native Americans found its springs relaxing and healing. Later, Dr. Alvah Jackson proclaimed the springs to have healing properties. Settlers came ... and stayed. Today, it is a popular destination for tourists, weddings and honeymoons. Like those early settlers, about 40 Born Free units converged on Eureka Springs from all over the U.S and, get this, ... New Zealand! (More about that later.)
Judith and Ed set the tone for the rally Sunday evening by introducing us to area's most popular delicacy, described as genuine BBQ'd Road Kill, scraped fresh off the very mountain highways we used to get there. Despite the description and initial trepidation, most people agreed that it was quite good (tasting suspiciously like pulled-pork). And while we were digesting that, Judith admonished the group to take notes on our maps as she helpfully reviewed the area offering an ala carte menu of must-see activities, restaurants, trolley routes, entertainment, Victorian architecture, 1886 Crescent Hotel, the namesake Springs and other points of interest.
The next morning, survivors of the "Road Kill" boarded a tram for a narrated tour of this historic city with its preserved Victorian architecture with its gingerbread detailing. After that, we were on our own for two days exploring the area on trolleys that defied steep hills and winding streets. In fact, there isn't a straight, level road in town! The smart strategy-of-the-day was to get off the trolley at the highest point and walk down through the village shops!
Armed with Judith's maps and penciled notes, we spent the remainder of Monday and Tuesday visiting places like: Myrtie Mae's Restaurant, Ice Cream Delights, Bubba's BBQ, the Crescent Hotel, Ice Cream Delights, the Great Passion Play, Thorncrown Chapel ... and Ice Cream Delights! So much for the well-intentioned dieters.
And speaking of the Thorncrown Chapel, to find a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired design of glass and beam structure that has been ranked the fourth best architectural structure by the American Institute of Architects was a "find" in itself, only to be exceeded by its woodland setting and the Music Director's beautiful voice. Who knew? .. . out here in the backwoods of Arkansas!
And who will ever forget those wonderful, hot, fresh cinnamon rolls for Tuesday breakfast provided by the nice people at Wanderlust RV Park. From the moment we arrived, the Wanderlust staff and its excellent facilities made for a carefree stay.
Oh yes, about the couple that came from New Zealand. Wayne and Susan Berry, from Queenstown, New Zealand, travel to the U.S. frequently and after intensive research of the motorcoach market, they felt that Born Free offered the features they wanted to see the U.S.A. as well as visit other properties they own here. They picked up their unit recently and already had 9,000 miles on it. They stopped by for one night to consult with President Howard Norlin about future caravans, etc. as well as Dick and Nancy Simpson about their Alaska route via the Inside Passage. They were very excited. Watch out. They may be in your neighborhood tomorrow!
Breaking camp on Wednesday, we caravaned in three groups to Branson, with Ed and Judith making every attempt to avoid confusion by assigning sequential numbers to peel off into our respective sites at the Branson KOA. (It almost worked!)
Prepared by Dick Simpson.