Archives for the month of: July, 2014
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With Mom

Those of you who follow along might recall that one focus of mine this year is to work on a more integrated life. It is a different, and I believe more holistic approach than work-life balance. I wanted to circle back around a give you an update on my progress. For one thing, and this may seem small, but it’s a really healthy development, I have been doing a lot more cooking. From pulling out the smoker and throwing down on some chicken and ribs to baking fish, and tossing salads with veggies fresh from the farmers market. I’m going to try to keep it up. Along the same lines, I have enjoyed getting back into breaking bread with, and hosting friends. My sweet, funny friend and fellow Diva Michelle and her constant companion Alice came for a visit, as did  my wonderful friend and former student, Cameron McCree.

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Diva Michelle

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Alice gets comfortable

On another front, I mentioned being in the moment with friends and family, and more frequently spending time with them. Here, I’d have to say it’s been a mixed bag. I have spent many quiet hours with Mom sitting in the unseasonably pleasant weather. Sometimes we have conversations, and other times I listen to what is on her mind. Many of those days, she enjoys a nice summer treat. It has been good. Not all our days are easy though, but I have been more patient with the tough days, making a real effort to redirect her when she is fearful or combative. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes, I am not. But I have been responsive and present, really present during our time together. 2014-07-20 18.56.24I say it’s a mixed bag though, because there are many folks I think of during the day, who I need to call, or who I’d like to see, and I’ve yet to follow through. For example, I have been missing my great-nephews and need to plan something with them, and I’ve not been on a walk with my neighbors in a few weeks. On the other hand I did get to spend some time with the Chrome Divas. We rode to Natural Falls and Grand Lake Damn in Oklahoma, and grabbed lunch in Disney, Oklahoma in a tiny little diner that serves great milkshakes. It was fun to see everyone, and to ride together again. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, and the scenery was lovely.IMG_0049IMG_0045I also mentioned getting back into providing service as a witness, in a manner that is much more hands on.  Still on the to do list is to volunteer with Legal Services. Attorney Marshall Prettyman told me he would supervise my work, and numerous colleagues stand ready to serve as resources for me. I’ll get there.

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Melissa Jones, our fantastic Sunday Supper Coordinator

In the meantime, I have enjoyed working at Sunday Suppers our church serves on the 4th Sunday of every month. They’re held at Trinity Methodist Church and this past weekend, we served 97 adults and 24 children, a healthy, fresh, delicious meal. The extraordinary Melissa Jones is our leader and she does a fantastic job of organizing and coordinating us all. Sunday Supper Sunday Supper2This past supper, I worked as a dish washer “Busting Suds for The Lord,” and went at it so diligently, that I sweated so much my hair was wet. That’s saying a lot, because I enjoy and can take the heat. (I guess that means I can stay in the kitchen, huh? Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Another opportunity to witness in terms of faith, though for sure, it’s a different kind of service, was to be a part of a panel of people of faith who support the LGBT Community. The panel was arranged by the Human Rights Campaign, as part of Project One America, “a comprehensive, multi-year campaign to dramatically expand LGBT equality in the South through permanent campaigns in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas.” Reverend Lowell Grisham welcomed everyone as the program started. Pastor Abigail, Noah Meeks, Cathy Campbell of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Reverend Britt Skarda, Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church in Little Rock, I  each spoke openly about how our faith and life experience influence our decision to be advocates for the LGBT community. Dr. Sharon Groves, Director of the Religion and Faith Program at HRC,  moderated the panel. You can read a blog post about the event here. Although the panelists opened the discussion, there was much sharing between everyone in the room, and the powerful testimonies were moving and memorable. This week, HRC released ‘the results of the largest survey of its kind to-date on the needs, experiences, and priorities of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Arkansans,” and announce the state’s new Director, Kendra Johnson.

 

Of course life is unpredictable, so during this time the air conditioning went out in both the car and the house (yes, I know–first world problems, but they had to be dealt with nevertheless). It was also a busy time for travel and meetings and such. I took a quick trip to Dallas for the NALP Foundation Board of Trustees meeting. The trip, in hindsight did not proceed as quick as planned however, because the weather wreaked havoc in Dallas and there were numerous cancellations and ground stops. This meeting was focused on strategic planning and visioning. Some of the discussion centered around branding, but we also looked at our current emphasis and asked whether that’s the proper focus for the organization and also thought out loud about what else we might be/do. I’ve mentioned the NALP Foundation in the blog before, but I’ll note here for those of you with an interest in law and the practice of law, the Foundation publishes important research that you might find to be of interest. My fellow trustees are smart, interesting people who are leaders in the profession and care deeply about the practice of law and legal education.

Professor Michael Z. Green

Professor Michael Z. Green

In addition to making the meeting, I was happy to get to Dallas, because it afforded me an opportunity to see my very good friend Michael Green, who was recently elected as a Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. I’m excited for, and proud of him for achieving this well deserved recognition. Michael is a prolific scholar who writes on matters of importance to the practice of law and working people, He’s also an AAA arbitrator and Secretary of the American Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section . More than that though, he is a terrific person and I’m happy to say, one of my closest friends and now, a fellow Fellow! I invited him to dinner with the Board, and he invited me to his law school’s reception for the new dean, Andrew P. Morris. Things worked out perfectly as the reception was being held at Belo Mansion, which wasn’t very far from the offices of Alston and Bird, where our board meeting was held, thanks to the gracious hospitality of the firm and our trustee Liz Price.

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Dean Andrew P. Morriss, Texas A & M School of Law

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Texas A & M School of Law reception, Belo Mansion

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Michael met me at Alston and Bird for a reception sponsored by the fire, and was able to meet a number of the trustees, as well as our NALP Foundation Administrative Staff, President Tammy Patterson, and and Senior Vice President, Michelle Nash. The reception for Dean Morriss was very well attended and I had an opportunity to meet  the Dean, A & M (formerly Texas Wesleyan) Law School alums and many members of the local bar. During his remarks, the dean gave Michael a shout of for his recent election into the College. It was an enjoyable event.

After the law school reception, we met the NALP Foundation Trustees for dinner at Perry’s Steakhouse and Grille, which is know for its pork shops. These are no ordinary pork chops, they are huge. Neither of us who order them was able to make a dent in our dinner. There was enough food left to take out for a small family. As always, our dinner consisted with warm, funny conversation and an the opportunity to catch up, on a personal level, with that was new with everyone.

Perry's porkchop

Perry’s porkchop

Our board meeting wrapped up at lunchtime the next day, and I literally flew back to Northwest Arkansas to be able to attend the Odom Law Firm Seafood Jubilee that afternoon. This is an annual tradition and is attended by the who’s who in the state. There are tubs and tubs of crawfish, and boiled shrimp, plenty of cold beer, and lots of meeting and greeting and even a little trash talking. I love it, and make the effort go if there’s anyway I can make it. I had a special reason for attending this year. Denise Hoggard, a dear friend was coming to town to attend and to solicit support for her candidacy for Arkansas Bar Association President. We were going to dinner afterwards, and as I love Neecy and her company, I didn’t want to miss her. And we  did have dinner at East Side Grill, kicking off the weekend before she had to head back to Little Rock, after what had been a busy work week for the two of us.

The fabulous Denise Hoggard

The fabulous Denise Hoggard

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A big hug from Bobby Odom

Early the next week, it was time for me to hit the road again to Hot Springs, Arkansas for the annual EEOC TAP, or Technical Assistance Program. By the way, I mentioned Hot Springs in the last post, but neglected to mention that it is the site of the Arkansas Bar Association Annual meeting every year, and for many of the Bar Association’s other CLE programs.  I don’t think that I’ve posted pictures of Central Avenue and beautifully restored bathhouses, and I thought you might enjoy seeing them.

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This year, I was had the honor of being invited to dinner the night before the conference with EEOC staff, including the General Counsel of the EEOC, P. David Lopez, a brilliant and passionate advocate for employees and Katharine Kores, the Memphis District Office Director who helped develop the ADA training for all EEOC attorneys. It doesn’t get much better than that for a labor and employment law academic, and I was grateful for the invitation. GC Lopez gave an overview of EEOC litigation and initiatives the next day, that for a law nerd like me was riveting. Dinner was in the Superior Bathhouse Brewery which features a casual menu and wide variety of beers (as you might expect, though none brewed in-house, yet).

EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez

EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez

My session, was entitled, “Tricky HR Situations,” and it’s one the conference participants enjoy, because (I think) of the format. Dan Herrington of the Friday Law Firm and I have presented this session twice. Our presentation takes the form of a talk show.

 

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Someone from the EEOC plays the role of  moderator, and Dan and I take (typically) opposing views of the issues. In fact, one of the biggest chuckles from the audience is when one of us says, “Write down this date I agree. ” Deb Abney Moser Finney, an EEOC Program Analyst, who played provocateur during the session, who was our “moderator” last year. This year it was Bill Cash, the Director of the EEOC’s Little Rock Area Office, who has a wonderfully wry and understated sense of humor. As we put our presentation together, our goal is to pick controversial and cutting edge topics. The hypothetical are projected onto a screen for the participants, and then we open the discussion with Dan and I weighing in, and taking lighthearted jibes at each other. One of the scenarios we crafted this year involved an employee from Colorado, with a seizure order to transferred to Arkansas. In our hypo, she legally used legal medical marijuana, in Colorado, to control the seizures, but stopped once she arrived in Arkansas. Soon after her transfer, she dropped a coffee pot in the break room, was injured, required to take a drug test. You can figure out the rest. The participants really got into it, and so did Dan and I which makes it fun. For all the scenarios, we both provide case law, citations to the regs and statutes, and policy arguments for the positions we take, our EEOC moderator chimes in with the Agency’s likely position.

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Katharine Kores (left) and Deb Abney Moser-Finney

I like to stay to the end of the TAP Program, but I left early this year to hightail it back for Mom’s birthday that day (circling back to the theme of this post).

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Later that week, I flew to Chicago to participate in the ABA Labor and Employment Law (LEL) Section’s Leadership Development Program (LDP). As described in LEL Section materials:

The Leadership Development Program (LDP) is designed to support Section members interested in expanding a current leadership role or growing their knowledge of the Section so that they can assume a leadership role in the future. These individuals reflect diversity and help the Section support ABA Goal III. It is our hope that at the conclusion of this program, LDP participants will have a better sense of how the Section operates and of leadership opportunities available, and will be better able to focus their future Section involvement.

Brenda Sutton-Willis & Cassie Springer Ayeni,, Co-Chairs of the LEL LDP

Brenda Sutton-Willis & Cassie Springer Ayeni, Co-Chairs of the LEL LDP

The LEL Section operates on the basis of consensus and this is reflected in everything we do. This means that there is a balanced perspective for all the Section’s activities. Union and or employee representatives, management lawyers,  and neutrals share leadership responsibilities, and those affiliations are taken into account along with diversity and geography in selecting the LDP participants. You can see the consensus principle reflected in the Co-Chairs of the LDP Program this year. They are: Woody Anglade, Deputy Executive Director for the U.S. Senate Office of Compliance; Cassie Springer Ayeni, Springer and Roberts; Jeffrey A. Dretler, Fisher & Phillips; and Brenda Sutton-Willis, California Teachers Association.

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Examples of the LDP session topics include: Section of Labor and Employment Law Overview, Structure and Organization, Effective Communication and Working Effectively in a Diverse ABA, and Understanding and Resolving Conflicts.  My role in this year’s program was to present a luncheon talk on mentoring. You can view the Prezi I put together here. I was worried about it, because although I am the beneficiary of tremendous mentoring, and have been a mentor myself, I don’t think of myself as an expert on the topic. But thankfully it was well received.

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More important than being a speaker, though, was having the opportunity to interact with the rising start of our section. I always learn from them and from the other speakers, and enjoy the camaraderie of and warm friendships I have with our Section leadership.

 

LEL Leadership, (L-R) Joyce Margulies, Gail Holtzman & Stu Manela

LEL Leadership, (L-R) Joyce Margulies, Gail Holtzman & Stu Manela

 

While I was there, I was able to visit the offices of the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, which are housed on the same floor as the conference room in which the Leadership Development Program was held.  I enjoyed the tour of the place where the so much of the work of the Legal Ed Section is done. In addition, because the Legal Ed Section was preparing to present the proposed Standards for Approval of Law Schools to the ABA House of Delegates in August (the stuff of another post), I was able to visit with Barry Currier and Becky Stretch about that while I was in there.

 

Barry Currier, Managing Director of Accreditation and Legal Education at the American Bar Association

Barry Currier, Managing Director of Accreditation and Legal Education at the American Bar Association

I flew out early from the LDP so that I could return in time to participate in the One America panel I mentioned earlier. It’s difficult to know exactly what the best allocation of one’s time is. Some things are not easily categorized as personal or professional, complicating the calculus of how to think about the time spent.  But, I am being much more intentional about my choices as I continue to strive work an integrated life.

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Chicago River

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We love the staycation idea, Carol and I. It allows us to get away for a while in the midst of our crazy schedules and many commitments. This time, we decided to take Bea the Blessed Harley & Fat Boy on a 3 day ride across the state and into Oklahoma. We were fortunate because as the day arrived, the weather was unseasonably mild for July (at least at the outset). We started out early in the morning, since we were going to take the interstate through Fort Smith, Arkansas, and we wanted to dodge the “rush hour’ traffic.

I met Carol in West Fork, and from there we rolled onto I-49 South (newly renamed after years of being Highway 71). We made it to Fort Smith, seemingly in no time. It’s interesting the reaction we get from drivers on the interstate (for which we are most grateful, don’t get me wrong). Once they see two women on bikes, they slow down, signal left, get in the fast lane, and pass us. We tend to ride in our own little traffic-less pocket, for the most part, until we exit.

Talimena Rest Stop

In Fort Smith, we exited at Highway 71 South (still), and stopped at a new (to us anyway) restaurant named “The Egg and I.” We recommend it for breakfast. It is bright and clean, with plenty of plugs, free wi-fi, and a menu that offers something for everyone. It also turned out that the manager, and two of the wait staff who were both women, were riders! As you might imagine, we very much enjoyed our breakfast stop. Our food was hot and tasty, and the servers were  attentive and friendly. We rolled out of there at about 9:00 a.m., with full tummies, having made great time thus far on our journey.

Heading south down highway 71, our pace was nice and easy enjoying the beautiful scenery and agreeable weather. Anytime some doofus began to tailgate us, we found a spot to safely pull over and let him go by. It was a lovely ride, and we felt grateful that we had the time to get out to see and appreciate the beauty of our Natural State.  Stretches of the road abut the National Forest, which provides intermittent, welcome shade. About halfway to Mena, Arkansas, we made a quick stop for gas. The attendant was quite friendly until she saw me, but since all we needed was to get gas, hydrate and make a pit stop, it really didn’t matter (though she did go out of her way to make it obvious).

Our next stop was Mena. We pulled into a gas station and realized we’d finished off our water. After refueling, we went in to fill our thermoses (they didn’t charge) and to purchase snacks for the next leg of our journey. We weren’t really hungry yet, as we’d both had hardy breakfasts, but we knew at some point we’d be ready to munch. While we were there, we met a group of BMW riders from Ontario, Canada, who said they’d ridden 4 days just to ride the Ozarks. The day before they’d been to Hot Springs, Arkansas. As an aside, you may not be aware of it, Hot Springs was the place that the Chicago gangsters vacationed back in the day. Here’s a bit more about Hot Springs from the City’s webpage:

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Hot Springs Bath House

Hot Springs, Arkansas, gets its name from the naturally thermal spring waters found here.  Flowing out of the ground at an average temperature of 143°F, the hot springs produce almost one million gallons of water each day.

It’s hard to tell exactly how long people have been visiting the springs. Native Americans called this area “the Valley of the Vapors,” and it was said to have been a neutral territory where all tribes could enjoy its healing waters in peace.  Spanish and French settlers claimed the area in the mid-1500s. In fact, famous explorer Hernando de Soto was the first European to visit Hot Springs in 1541.

The hot springs were such a coveted natural wonder that in 1832, President Andrew Jackson designated Hot Springs as the first federal reservation.  Hot Springs Reservation was essentially America’s first national park, predating Yellowstone National Park by 40 years.

Here I feel the need to digress again for a moment. For those of you who ride, or who are interested in riding, Butler Motorcycle Maps are a must. [I am not a paid endorser, for Butler or any of the products or place I mention in my blog.] Their maps are invaluable. They provide detailed information on routes and roads. The roads are coded according to the type of ride and each map sets out recommended routes that have been ridden and rated by an owner of Butler Maps. For example, there are G1-G3 rides. The maps describe a G1 ride as, “Steep climbs, tight switchbacks, deep canyons and million dollar views. These roads have an undeniable appeal that set them apart from everything else.” The roads to Hot Springs, depending upon the routes taken, are examples of those highlighted by the Butler Ozarks map. The maps also list all the bike shops in the state, and have QR guides that link to useful information by using a smart phone. The maps themselves are durable and beautifully made. You can read more about the Ozarks map here. End of digression.

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The BMW riders were headed to ride the Talimena National Scenic Byway, which is also where we were headed. Knowing our tendency to be poky riders, we let them roll out first, then geared up and pulled out. We rode through Mena, past the courthouse, and the Skyline Cafe, which came highly recommended, but we didn’t stop to try since we weren’t hungry. Being there reminded me that it wasn’t long ago that Mena was hit by a terrible tornado. It was nice to see that the city appears to have fully recovered from that awful event. Before long,  we were on the Talimena Scenic Byway, “54 miles along the crest of Rich Mountain and Winding Stair Mountain in the Ouachita National Forest.”

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We stopped at the Visitor’s Center which was right at the entrance to the highway. I walked back to get a picture of the sign, and it took so long that Carol thought something had happened to me. It was a walk folks, I hope you appreciate the photo. There was a nice, older-than-us guy, in the center and he seemed happy to have company. He gave up maps, brochures, tips on the road, and seemed genuinely concerned for us. He finally bid us farewell, with a “Be careful out there you two.” We promised we would, and with that we geared up again with a sense of excitement and adventure to explore the highway. IMG_0003IMG_0006IMG_0005

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There are 26 vistas along the byway. They are each colorfully named: the Choctaw Vista, Potato Hills Vista, Castle Rock Vista and many more. Each has a detailed explanation for the name of the view. The road itself has turns, but really few serious twisties (tight curves) and the views are spectacular. Remember the Butler Ozarks map mentioned above? It highlights the Talimena Byway, and classifies the roads as great rides.

Talimena Road

Perhaps because we went on a week day, the traffic was light so we felt free to ride at our usual meandering pace. We stopped at many of the scenic overlooks, each of which is named, and took photos. We were astonished at how amazingly, achingly beautiful the views were. Neither of us had been before, and we wondered how we could have lived in Arkansas for so long and not have visited this breathtaking treasure. The day began to get warmer, so we peeled off a few layers and took a break to hydrate and snack at one of the shadier vistas.

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By that time, it was getting to be late afternoon, so we started to think about getting to our resting place for the evening. All in all, I’d say we spent about 3 hours up there marveling over the breathtaking views, enjoying each other’s company, and trying to capture what we saw. I’m not certain that our photos do it justice. [One note for riders, some of the vistas are gravel and there is no indication which is which. In addition there was a lot of loose gravel at the entrance to, and in some of the paved vistas/overlooks.]  The Byway runs through Queen Wilhelmina State Park, which has a lodge that is closed for renovation. It has a restaurant, and what are supposed to be vastly improved rooms, once the work is completed.

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We headed west and a bit south on another scenic road, Oklahoma 271 (also highlighted on the Butler Map). It took us into Talihina, Oklahoma, where we were staying at the Hootie Creek House Bed & Breakfast. It dawned on me as we rolled into town, I had no idea where B & B was from the highway. We decided to pull into a drugstore parking lot to ask. A guy in a very large pickup truck, seemingly bemused by us, laughed and said, “You’re almost there. It’s right around the corner!” We rode the block and a half to the Hootie Creek and parked across the street (next to the police station). By then, we were hot, tired and ready to “stretch out” as my Aunt Ethel used to say. Essex and Carolyn were waiting for us and had ice-cold water ready. Wonderful! We got checked in, and they helped us carry our things upstairs and showed us around.

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This is a terrific bed & breakfast run by lovely people. I cannot say enough about how much we enjoyed our stay there. The rooms are charming, immaculate and perfect for the typical traveler—very convenient. There is wi-fi access, DirecTV and two inside, common area sitting rooms with comfy seating and a homey feeling. Each room (there are 5) has its own bathroom, with a face bowl in the main room. There is plenty of seating, storage and outlets. Both our rooms had a little desk or table and on the sink there were amenities. If something we needed wasn’t there, they told us to ask. In addition, the Hootie Creek’s website contains a list and map of great local rides.

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After we cooled down a bit, a beer sounded like a good bet, but one of us had to ride to the convenience store. I opted to go. It was hot y’all—really hot, but the store was only a 5 minute ride up the street. When I got there, it was chaos. There are no designated curb cuts, so cars pull in from every which-a-way. To add to that, there was a chat (at least that’s what we call the small pebbles spread on the road in winter for traction) everywhere –WTH?!?, and a large group of not so friendly bikers and their even less friendly girlfriends hanging out in front of the store. This was the first time I’d even thought about carrying a six-pack in my saddle bags, and I had a fantastic time getting situated in front of an audience. I told Carol when I got back, “This had better be the best tasting beer ever!”

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We put the beer in the fridge and headed to the Hateful Hussy (yes, you read it right) diner, a block away from the Hootie Creek House. Carolyn and Essex recommended it, and we weren’t disappointed. After we got past that moment where the door closes, and everyone looks the “not from ‘round here folks” up and down, it was all good. The food is home cooking, in Flintstone sized (remember the ribs?) portions. Neither of us could finish our dinners, Carol her chicken tenders, nor me, my chicken liver supper. Sated and hearing the siren song of a cold beer we sauntered (can you do that for a block?) back to the Hootie Creek House to sit on the balcony and wind down from a great day. To our surprise and delight, there were fresh-baked cookies waiting for us when we returned and more ice-cold bottles of water. We stretched out on the balcony under the umbrella, with our feet up, and toasted to a perfect day.

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The next day was forecasted to be much warmer, so we decided to get an early start. We got up early, packed our things into our saddle bags, and sat down to breakfast at 6:30. Now, here I need to tell you again how thoughtful Carolyn and Essex are. When we got downstairs, there was a big box of clean rags by the door. They’d anticipated the wetness on our bike due to the morning dew, and had the cloths there for us to use. Breakfast was beautifully prepared and presented. We had French toast with fresh berries and whip cream, an egg, and bacon. The coffee and tea were piping hot. There was not a thing more we could have asked for. After visiting a bit over breakfast, we were reminded that we needed to get going, so we reluctantly said our goodbyes, saddled up and hit the road.

We started out on 271 north headed towards Poteau, Oklahoma. The coolness of the morning and beauty of the scenery combined to give us a fantastic start on the second day of our staycation. There were a couple of dogs that ran out on the road after us, but we were able to dodge them fairly easily–thank goodness. We stopped in Poteau to gas up and picked up Highway 112 north, which from the map, looked as though it would take us into Fort Smith right about where we could pick up Arkansas Highway 10.  We stopped in Pocola, Oklahoma, and according to the map, we were to ride through Cameron & Rock Island (at least that’s how we read it). Instead the next thing we knew, there was a sign announcing that we had arrived in Fort Smith. We had absolutely no idea where we were, except to say it was definitely an industrial area. We pulled over at a Volvo truck dealership and a couple of kind employees gave us directions (three times before we got it), and we headed out again. “Ooooooohh,” I said to the inside of my helmet as we navigated the instructions we were given. We had come out on the south side of the city, but north of highway 10. We rode south once again, passing The Egg and I, and before too long came to our turnoff on 10.

By that time, we thought it best to top off again, and take time to drink some water, because the day was heating up quickly. We met a biker (nice looking, great blue eyes and mischievous smile) at the gas station in Greenland. He told us about his vacation in Colorado, and encouraged us to ride out there if we ever got the chance.  He took off and so did we. The ride east across 10 was so relaxing a pretty that it had an almost lulling effect. We pulled over in Magazine, Arkansas to take a break, grab a cool drink and top off again. I forgot to mention that given the anxiety some of our friends and family had about our trip, we would check in on Facebook at every significant stop to let them know where we were and that we were ok. We continued on 10 west when we rolled out of Magazine. By the way, Mount Magazine is the highest point in the state, and is a lovely state park with a very nice lodge.

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The view was scenic and pastoral, with the Ozarks and Ouchitas at times framing the road from a distance. It was an easy, but hot ride. We stopped in Danville because from there we were to head north on Highway 27 for a short distance and then west again to Petit Jean State Park, which was where we would stay for the night. In Danville, having learned from the night before, we thought we would pick up some beer for later. It was going to be a real treat after a much hotter ride than the day before.  Crap! Major Bummer! Dry county. Yep, that’s right no beer to be had. None. “How far, we asked?” “Oh, not too bad. Go up the road to Dardenelle, hang a left on Highway 22 and you can’t miss the store. It will be on your left about 20 miles down the road.”

We caucused and decided, “What the heck? We’re on staycation and we’ve not seen this area, so let’s go for it,” and off we went. I bet you know what’s coming. Yeah, that was no “short ride.” Two counties later—we were in it to win it at that point—we arrived at our destination. The parking lot was challenging, rutted, sloped and filled with fine gravel. Yikes! We had to get an assist to keep Carol’s bike upright, but eventually we both managed to get situated. “Thanks Fellas!” Beer purchased, we headed back east on Highway 22 which was quite pretty I must say, with a lake on either side of the road in several spots.

We made a short stop in Dardenelle, so I could pick up a pair of shoes. I’d forgotten to pack mine and was tired of wearing my boots around. It was really getting hot, not warm, hot. But we figured, hey, we’re almost there, no sweat. We had seen the turn off for Petit Jean on our beer run. Yeah, uh huh, well, it was longer than we thought. Or maybe it just felt that way because of the heat. Regardless, we got to Highway 154, hung a left and headed east again. We rode and rode and rode. The ride was easy but looooong. About the time I thought I’d miscalculated, we saw another sign saying, “Petit Jean State Park 15 miles.”

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Not too far down the road, we pulled over, got off the bikes, hydrated and did a little stretching. It had been a long day and we were ready to get there, but we were pooped. It was good to stop, take a breather and perk up. Little did we know what a good idea that was, but we shortly found out. As we headed up the mountain to Petit Jean State Park, there was a surprise waiting for us–a tight, u-turn like curve and another that was deceptively tight. “Crap!,” I thought entering it but managed to navigate it. Needless to say, we were a bit frazzled when we pulled into Mather Lodge parking lot.

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We checked into our room and immediately worked on cooling off and settling down. It didn’t take long, and we were out walking the grounds taking pictures.  Here’s a description of Petit Jean State Park from the park service brochure:

One of Arkansas’ finest state parks, Petit Jean lies in a unique area between the Ozark and the Ouachita Mountain ranges in west-central Arkansas. This, Arkansas’s first state park, includes 2,658 acres of natural beauty on Petit Jean Mountain. In this lovely mountain setting are an abundance of unmarred woods, ravines, streams, springs, waterfalls, spectacular views, and surprising geological formations preserved as French explorers found them 300 years ago.

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Given that the day had been a long, hot one, we decided to eat early, come back to the room, shower, enjoy a beer and relax. And that’s exactly what we did. I’ll tell you what, that was the best shower (and beer).

Once again, we decided to roll out early the next morning as the day was to be another hot one. We ate breakfast in the lodge and headed down the hill. Knowing what was waiting for us, we took our time and carefully navigated the trick spots in our descent. When we reached Highway 7, we headed north. Highway 7 is also known for its scenic beauty and neither of us had ridden it on our bikes. We stopped to gas up in Russellville, Arkansas and headed on up 7. It really was a great ride with gentle curves, a leafy canopy and tremendous views. There was very little traffic, just the Sunday morning church goers and other bikers. We pulled in at a scenic overlook where we met a group of riders going to either Greer’s or Peel’s Ferry, I can’t remember which. They told us about the ferry that takes you from Arkansas into southern Missouri. They invited us, but we told them we were at the end of a long ride and were headed to Fayetteville.

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We continued on 7 north until we reached Highway 16 where we hung a left and headed westward towards home. One important note here. There was no gas station from the time we left 7 all the way across 16. We didn’t see anything open other than churches. When we needed to stop for water and a stretch, we pulled onto the side of the road. Only one truck passed us. He slowed to see if we were ok, and when we waved him on, that was it.  As we got closer to home, we headed north on Arkansas 23, into Huntsville for lunch. It’s a good thing we made it there because my gas light was on as we rolled into the gas station. I’m sad to say I was focused on the road and my gas situation and missed a chance to greet a group of riders of color who passed us. I saw them, but didn’t realize who they were.

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A lot of bikers ride through Huntsville, and that day was no exception. It is a central  stopping point for many great rides, especially folks headed south down the Pig Trail, or up north to Eureka Springs. The gas station was busy, and as we were about to pull out, a guy in a church van pulled in front of me. I couldn’t get around him, and the other islands were busy. I waited as he went to pay, but he didn’t come out. Eventually, I backed Bea up and threaded my way through the cars so that we could get going.

Ironically, this same fella turned up at the Crossbow Restaurant, where we were going for lunch. He muttered something under his breath about us to his wife in the parking lot, came in and glared at us. Sigh. Well this joker was a real butthead it turned out, because he made a show of speaking abusively to the waitress and left a penny tip. We told her what happened earlier and she said, “Yeah, he’s always like that.” It reminded me of my grandmother saying, “That Sucka needs prayer!”

There was a really nice family seated in the booth behind us, and the little grand baby, who was about 3, was fascinated by my helmet. He was a real cutie pie, and he was super friendly and really sweet. I let him see it and when we left he came over to the bikes. As they pulled out, we beeped our horns at him to his great delight.
Well, this was the home stretch. We took Highway 74 west out of Huntsville, which dumped back into Highway 16. It’s a route we’d ridden many times, and it felt good to be on familiar turf and so close to home. It wasn’t long before we saw the signs for Fayetteville. As is our custom, I rode with Carol to south Fayetteville before heading back towards home.  It had been a terrific staycation, and after arriving safely in West Fork, Carol texted me saying that we had traveled 601 miles. Not much on a per hour basis, but it was One Heckuva Staycation!

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Gentle Reader, my apologies for taking such a long time to post again. All I can say is that sometimes living life gets in the way of sharing it. Betsy and I saw and did a lot before I left the area, and I finally have a few moments to share it with you. One of the first things we did after I got to her house was go to the Full Plate Farm Collectives to pick up her share of produce for the week.   Here’s a description of the benefits of CSAs from the website EcoLife:

These arrangements involve a consumer (you) purchasing shares (also called memberships or subscriptions) from a farmer. In exchange, you receive a weekly box (container, bag, basket) of local food grown seasonally on the farm. You may also be asked to spend time working on the farm to help out. This way, the benefits of a bumper crop are shared equally among the members, as are the challenges of a lean year.

We picked up mixed salad greens, arugula, basil, yummy whole grain bread and a few other things I can’t remember. The pickup site was located in a barn, and it had the feel of the Fayetteville farmer’s market in that everyone was friendly and chatting, and few seemed in a hurry.

After lunch we set out for more adventure. Our first stop was Ports of New York. Port wines are delicious, sweet sipping wines usually enjoyed after dinner–my definition. Read a more refined explanation here. When we arrived, we were met by our gracious host, knowledgeable wine maker and owner, Frédérick Bouché. Ports of NYThe winery’s informational brochure describes it this way:

Located in the city of Ithaca, Ports of New York is a small artisinal urban winery where Meleau™ Specialty Wines are produced. All Vinifera grapes are grown on the east shore of Seneca Lake.

Neither sweet nor dry and light in body, these wines belong to a unique category of fine Port vinification method wines. After fermentation is stopped with the addition of a 170 proof grape spirit, these wines are aged for a minimum of 4 years in a neutral oak Solera wine cellar before being bottled.

The name Meleau™ is pronounced, mellow. It is a Latin and French word which means nectar and spirit. Nectar because the yeast is grown in honey “mel” and spirit for “eau”-die-vie.

 

Port

Wine maker Bouché spent a good deal of time with us, explaining the wine making process, sharing his family’s wine making history and explaining the uses of the antique wine making equipment he had on display. I do like port and so Betsy made this stop for me. After the touring came the best part–tasting. I tasted three wines including two red, one comparable to a tawny port and the other a similar to a ruby (but better), and a white port. They were each delicious in different ways. I remember commenting that the white reminded me of an ice wine. On the way out, Frédéric gave me two small bottles to take with, for which I was most appreciative. If you’re in Ithaca, stop by. I know he would be happy to visit with you too.

Ithaca Falls Street View

Ithaca Falls Street View

Our next stop was Ithaca Falls. Yep, Ithaca has a lovely waterfall right in the heart of the city. We stopped at an area off the parking lot, but then saw folks climbing a trail. Being that we were on an adventure, we decided to follow. Well, it was a good thing we did, because the view was lovely and quite different than the one from the street.

Ithaca Falls from the Path

Ithaca Falls from the Path

 

After seeing the falls, we realized we’d better get a move on it because we still had a lot to see before our evening engagement (more on that in a bit). We headed northeast to Auburn, New York, which is home to many historical sights. Of most interest to me however, was seeing the Harriet Tubman Home and “Old Folks Home.” On the way, Betsy told me more about the area. For example, I’d never heard of the Seward House. William Henry Seward, I later learned from the website I’ve linked to, was a New York State Senator, Governor of New York, a United States Senator, and served as Secretary of State in the Lincoln and Johnson administrations.  The website dedicated to the house, describes it this way:

“This beautiful estate is surrounded by two acres of lush garden and trees. The elegant interior has been restored to its original beauty and features an unmatched collection of political and travel souvenirs, decorative arts and photographs that spans William Seward’s nearly forty-year political career.”

We drove by, but missed the visiting hours. It’s on a “to do” list for the next trip.

When we arrived at the Tubman property, it was closing time.  I was in a panic, which the kind docent could clearly see. “I came all the way from Arkansas!” Graciously, she gave us a few minutes to look around. I was able to snap these photos, but didn’t get to linger over the exhibits. The site, run by the AME Church, sits on 26 acres of land. It contains four buildings, two of which Tubman was known to use, including her house and a home she established for the elderly.

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Harriet Tubman is a sheroe. An escaped slave who made numerous trips back south to free others who were enslaved. Her courage, faith and sacrifice on behalf of others, is inspirational. She is quoted as saying, “I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves,” and “I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.” You can read much more about her in the links I’ve posted above and here.

There was much to see in Auburn, but we were running short on time. We managed to make a quick stop at another historical site that piqued my interest. However, given our short window of opportunity we had to make choices. I opted to see the Willard Memorial Chapel before we left Auburn because it is the only intact, unaltered chapel containing Tiffany glass, known to exist. Unfortunately, the chapel too was closed and I only have these pictures of the outside of the chapel.

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On our drive back to Ithaca we stopped in Moravia, New York. There we checked out a general store, Jennings, that has been in existence since 1860 and is on the historic registry. I wasn’t thinking when we went in, so I didn’t take my iPhone in for pictures (duh). It was really interesting though, and much of the history was posted on the walls, including a resolution by the state legislature acknowledging the store’s history and significance. The owner shared the stories about it’s history, and its transformations over time. There was an old cash register that could only accommodate prices up to $99.99. The current owner told us how, before the new one arrived, the former owners had to ring large orders up over several tickets. He showed us a safe that Superman couldn’t lift (at least I don’t think so), and let us poke around the store to our hearts’ content. When we were about to leave, he suggested we stop at the Methodist church in town, which is on the historic registry as well, because of the amazing wood carvings inside. It was locked, so we didn’t get to see them. We did however, find a terrific ice cream parlor right across from the church. Since the day was beastly hot, we felt justified with our decision to enjoy a treat.

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Back on the road again there was one final stop, at Fillmore Glen State Park. Why? Well, why else? Because it had a waterfall! As described in Wikipedia, “The primary attractions of the park are the hiking trails with views of a stream and several waterfalls, and the swimming pond, made by damming the stream. It also features a (replica) log cabin near the birthplace of President Millard Fillmore.” We of course hiked in to see a waterfall and took a few minutes to look inside the cabin. This waterfall wasn’t spectacular, but it was pretty and worth the short hike in.

Fillmore Glen State Park

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Replica of Fillmore Cabin

Returning to Ithaca, we didn’t have very long to dress for our evening outing. We went to see Around the World in 80 Days at the Hangar Theatre. Surprisingly, we arrived early, so we sat outside and enjoyed refreshments from the Hangar Cafe. Although it had been described as hilarious, it really didn’t tickle either of our funny bones, nor did we observe anyone else in the audience in stitches. Perhaps it was just us though, because it received this good review on Syracuse.com.

Betsy at Hangar Theatre

Betsy at Hangar Theatre

The next day we set out to tackle the wine trail, but first Betsy went off and picked fresh strawberries while I played the role of the vacationer and read a novel. We headed north and stopped off in Watkins Glen, which is home to auto racing. If you are a racing enthusiast, check out the site. It mentions Ferrari and NASCAR races. Our reason for visiting was nothing as glamorous as racing. We were looking for a pair of Croc-like shoes for me. Sadly the store that once carried them was out of stock.

We did have a great lunch though at the Wildflower Cafe. The Cafe was connected to the Crooked Rooster Fish Brewpub, which featured local craft ales. Betsy enjoyed great fish tacos, and I had a yummy crab cake club with sweet potato fries. From there we went to see–wait for it-yep, another waterfall. I admit it, I couldn’t get enough of seeing them. So gracious the hostess that she is, Betsy accommodated my obsession. When we pulled up to the park, there were six bikes (Harleys) there, and I had a chance to visit with the bikers. They were great folks, of course, and I ended up taking a picture for them  on their bikes before they pulled off. Sadly, it was to be my last visit to a waterfall, but I certainly enjoyed seeing them all.

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When we left Watkins Glen we headed north on the east Seneca Lake Wine trail. Betsy was the designated driver and it was my day to taste the wines of upstate New York. As daunting a task as that might be given all the wineries, we only stopped at two. The first was Damiani Wine Cellars. I enjoyed several of their wines and purchased a bottle of the Sauvignon Blanc to take to dinner with Betsy’s family. My favorite was the Bollicini described as off-dry– a blend of Cayuga, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir–a nod to Italy’s Prosecco. We learned a lot about the vineyard, and the various wines, and even where the vintners received their training. The tasting, surroundings and staff at Damiani were all quite pleasant.

The next winery we visited was a new one, Ryan William. It’s so new it’s difficult to find on the maps, but since Frédéric recommended them both, we were determined to check them out.

Damiani

Ryan William was set back from the road and we almost missed it, but Betsy spotted the sign on the left just in time. The tasting room was small but attractive. To my surprise and delight, one of the guys there was jamming some old school R & B and funk. Just goes to show, you never know. Needless to say, the tunes were quite the ice breaker and we visited with them for a while, during which I played the role of official taster. My favorite wine was the Late Harvest Riesling.

Ryan WilliamOur destination as we headed north was Geneva to have dinner with Betsy’s family at the yacht club. However, we were distracted one more time by an interesting looking craft store.

Unexpected stop.jpg45 minutes and a few purchases later, we were back on the road again to Geneva. Once there,  we enjoyed the cool lake breezes and a fresh, light flavorful dinner in great company and beautiful surroundings.

Geneva

 

 

Shese arrangements involve a consumer (you) purchasing shares (also called memberships or subscriptions) from a farmer. In exchange, you receive a weekly box (container, bag, basket) of local food grown seasonally on the farm. You may also be asked to spend time working on the farm to help out. This way, the benefits of a bumper crop are shared equally among the members, as are the challenges of a lean year. – See more at: http://www.ecolife.com/health-food/eating-local/food-coops-csa.html#sthash.CjVHOplD.dpuf
hese arrangements involve a consumer (you) purchasing shares (also called memberships or subscriptions) from a farmer. In exchange, you receive a weekly box (container, bag, basket) of local food grown seasonally on the farm. You may also be asked to spend time working on the farm to help out. This way, the benefits of a bumper crop are shared equally among the members, as are the challenges of a lean year. – See more at: http://www.ecolife.com/health-food/eating-local/food-coops-csa.html#sthash.CjVHOplD.dpuf