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War Eagle

December 1, 2012

Arkansas – Tuesday, November 27

I added a few more photos to the last post – had an error message when they were loading. I still don’t like how they all show up in a long single row, bur the attachment tab seems to have changed…

First thing in the morning, Tula and I headed back to Bentonville so we could walk all the Crystal Bridges trails. First we walked 2 miles around town and out into the neighborhood, then worked our way back to the trails. Crystal Bridges is a big art museum and there are lots of trails in the preserved land around it. We started on the Crystal Bridge trail which led to the Art Trail (bronze sculptures), which led to the Tulip Tree Trail, which led to the Orchard Trail, which led to a big park, then the Dogwwod Trail (imagine 500 dogwood trees blooming in spring!), and then the Rock Ledge Trail. We spent more than 3 hours out walking, and covered nearly 9 miles. Once we were back I town, I went to the Walton 5 and 10 store, which is attached to the old style soda fountain and the Walmart Visitor Center and Museum. The Walton 5&10 store was Sam Walton’s (founder of Walmart) first store. Walmart certainly has some issues now, but it was founded on good principles of fair prices and treating people right. I enjoyed an ice cream treat at the old soda fountain. Then, since I was ahead of the game with donations, I finally took the time to shop for new walking shoes. I was desperately in need of a new pair, and I really dislike shopping for shoes – I seem to have a lot of trouble finding comfortable shoes with good support. But I had seen a New Balance store, and figured I would go there and find someone to help me. And, they were really nice, and I got a good pair of shoes that fit really well (and as I’m writing this, I’ve already walked 25 miles in them, and still like them!). I was relieved to find a new pair that I like.

Then it was time for a drive on the curvy mountain roads to the tiny little town of War Eagle. The War Eagle Mill is one of the few working grist mills in the country and the only mill still using an undershot water wheel (I think that refers to the direction the water turns the wheel??) I had wanted to see this the day I went to the big cat refuge, but couldn’t squeeze it in. The mill has been rebuilt several times since the original one was built in the mid 1800s. They were prone to fire in the early days, and then it was destroyed during the Civil War. But it is a working mill and I was able to see the water wheel and all the pulleys (don’t quite understand the system!). The grinding stones are made from French granite – harder than U.S. granite – and are scored to give them an uneven surface which is better for grinding. The actual grinding stones were enclosed in a wood box to keep any unwanted debris from being ground up too. It was a 3 story mill and the first floor was the working floor with bags of finished products; the second floor was a gift shop; and the third floor was a cute little restaurant that sold their signature bean soup, fresh cornbread and cole slaw. I enjoyed an early dinner there. While walking through the mill, I could feel the vibrations and hear the rumbling of the water wheel, even though it wasn’t quite as big as I would have thought for the work it’s doing. War Eagle really comes alive twice a year for big outdoor craft shows with music and food and all. There are only a few narrow roads in town (town really only consists of a couple buildings at one intersection!), and they apparently use pastures for parking and booths. For those weekends, it becomes the biggest town in Arkansas and I can’t imagine the congestion in that peaceful little hollow! It was a fun visit, and worth the drive, and I did a little shopping there too! I needed to leave before dark though – those twisty roads weren’t anything I wanted to be on after the sun went down. I had just kept my same motel room since I knew I’d be in the general area all day. We made it through the mountains before it was totally dark, then I got Tula out for a walk in Rogers so we could enjoy the Christmas lights in the historic district. She’d been in the car all afternoon after our hours of morning walking, and I figured she needed to get out and stretch a bit. We walked a little over a mile, which brought our total for the day almost up to 10 miles. I’ll use the extras on Saturday when I finish up Arkansas.
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