Tuesday, December 1, 2015


For the last several years, I have had the blessing of going on an "expedition" with these two good-looking grandkids!  We plan our time together to be around their July birthdays, which usually means it is HOT.  It is also prime time for ticks and chiggers in Arkansas, so although I would enjoy  hiking outdoors in the woods with them, our July expedition does not usually find us deep in the forest.  Fortunately, we are blessed with dozens of other "kid-friendly" pursuits in our area, so this blog post will tell about some of those.  Our first stop was the Museum of Native American History, in Bentonville, Arkansas ( www.monah.us/   ).  A great thing about the museum is that it is FREE!   There are photo ops even before you go inside, as this large teepee sits beside the museum's front entrance.  The grandkids have a "link", of sorts, to one of the exhibits in the museum, and one of the books for sale in the gift shop. That's because the kids' mother is a radiologist, who used to work with another radiologist, Dr. James Cherry----- an authority on ancient effigy head pots of native American cultures, and he has published a highly-acclaimed book on the topic.  There is also a link to some of Dr. Cherry's archaeological radiology research studies, on the website of the Museum.
Our next stop required us to drive through some lovely meadows in northwest Arkansas, and that is where we spotted a field full of youngsters, doing some equestrian training.  Since I am always interested in passing along stories about Kaitlyn and Jacob's grandfather, I told them about the experience their grandfather and I had, when we attended equestrian events at the summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.  Our equestrian event tickets were scheduled for early in the morning, so we left our motel (one hour outside Atlanta), long before daylight, without turning on any radio or television news.  (Of course, this was before the days of smart phones)  We were well into the Atlanta city limits, when we turned on the radio to hear the announcer warning people, "DO NOT COME INTO ATLANTA TODAY BECAUSE OF A BOMBING A FEW HOURS AGO AT AN OLYMPIC VENUE!".  Since we were already near the equestrian park, we kept going, not knowing what else to do!  As it turned out, the equestrian event had NOT been cancelled, but everything was running at least three hours behind schedule because of GREATLY enhanced security measures at all event entrances, as a reaction to the bombings.   The grounds of the equestrian venue, was our first opportunity to use a pay phone to call our loved ones back home, to let them know we had not been at the location where the bomb went off, and that we had plans to continue on with our Olympic itinerary.  I am really thankful we did, because it was a great experience to see the pageantry in the dressage, and observe the OLDEST-ever Olympic athlete, compete against their much younger counterparts!

But getting back to the "Arkansas expedition", our travels took us to the tiny town of Gentry, Arkansas, for a restaurant I had been wanting to visit for over a decade, because it was recommended to me by a fellow Registered Dietitian.  I took a photo of this wall decoration in the restaurant, because the words are very meaningful to me----"ARKANSAS, you run deep in me".

This photo shows Kaitlyn and Jacob in front of The Wooden Spoon restaurant in Gentry ( www.woodenspoongentry.com ).  I was so amused that within minutes of me divulging where I had planned for our lunch, Jacob had looked it up on his smart phone, and was reading the "rave reviews" it had received, to Kaitlyn and me!  The on-line endorsement made me thankful to finally being able to visit there.  Although there was a line of people waiting to get inside, the line was shorter when we arrived, than when we left!  My advice----get there early!

Following our lunch, we made the short, scenic drive to Gentry's other big attraction, The Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari (www.wildwildernessdrivethroughsafari.com ) to encounter some amazing animals!

The gigantic horns on the bovines in this photo are simply amazing!

Likewise, the rack of antlers on this big buck, make him easy to spot, as he took a little swim to cool off, on this hot day in July

There were giant birds!

There were camels!

We marveled at the design of these zebras!

It was fun to see this very curious ostrich repeatedly pose for our photos!  He was not at all camera shy!

One of the employees at the park gave us the special giraffe food the park supplies, so we could try actually "hand feed" this long-necked critter!

I was especially thankful to get to see and pet one of the kangaroos at the park, since I went all the way to Australia and back, without getting to do that!!

I am using this photo of a very good-looking brother and sister, as my visual aid for my First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) memory verse that says, "He has given us this command;  Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister."  I John 4:21   This brother and sister treated each other with both love and respect throughout our expedition, (as they have on every other trip we have taken together!), and I greatly enjoy spending time with them!   By the way, camel rides are available right here in Arkansas!  My son and I once made a trip to the Memphis zoo for the sole purpose of getting to ride a camel, but it is no longer necessary to go to the Middle East or out of state, to have this experience!

The gorgeous outdoor setting for this photo was our next stop, and was located down an unpaved county road outside Siloam Springs, Arkansas, at their newly opened natural water park on the Illinois River.  You can learn more about it by visiting their website at www.siloamspringskayakpark.com  .
The final stop for our expedition was at this cross, located high above the city of Fayetteville.  It is fun to find the towers of "Old Main" of the University of Arkansas, as you look westward.  If you would like to see this spot for yourself, just click on www.mountsequoyah.org for driving directions, and a list of all the services offered by this mountain-top retreat owned by the Methodist Church.  Writing this blog article is a reminder to me to always be
giving thanks for the Cross of Jesus and these precious grandchildren!  They give me "MILES OF SMILES"!!!  Tricia