A few weeks ago, Mr. Beers and I loaded up the car and headed out for Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri. A road trip! Our travels were scheduled around family birthdays:  Darren Beers was turning 50 and there was a great party happening in Tulsa. Liz Bobo was turning 80 and there was a small family celebration going on in Branson. So we planned a trip that would start with one party and end with the other. And in the middle, we still had time for some other stops along the way.

The view just outside Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
The weekend in Tulsa for Darren's birthday was really fun. It's always a treat to get to spend time with the Beers clan, but we had extra special bonuses this time! Jill Sjodin made the trip from the Great Northwest, while Jeanine and Denise and Rose ("Aunt Sister") all came from the New York / Long Island area. So we got to see and visit with some sweet people that we don't get to see very often. It was a special time, and I think we should thank Darren for having his 50th birthday, but the extra super happy fun time big time THANK YOU goes to Jen Maki Dolan, who can throw a party like nobody's business.

After our time in Tulsa, we headed for Little Rock and Conway, where we visited with both old and new friends. Though we were only in central Arkansas for two days, we managed to visit Hendrix College, eat at a couple of great restaurants in Little Rock, catch up with some near and dear folks, and even do a little shopping at Sweet Home / clement on South Main in Little Rock. If you find in yourself in Little Rock, check out the shops along South Main. When it's time to have dinner, go over to Kavanugh and hit Tacos & Tamales or Boulevard Bistro. Good stuff. Even better stuff: being able to see Ann & Pam & Jim & Eric & Chris & Nathan. Loved it.

Pinocchio at Crystal Bridges
From Little Rock we went to Bentonville. "Bentonville?" you say. Bentonville is not only the home of Walmart, it is also the home of an amazing museum of American art called Crystal Bridges. It has only been open since 2011 and holds an awe-inspiring collection of all kinds of art - including - a Frank Lloyd Wright house that was originally built in New Jersey. Crystal Bridges had the house dismantled and moved and reconstructed on the grounds at Crystal Bridges. It's a great place to visit, and that part of Arkansas is beautiful. The Bentonville bonus for us was that we had dinner at the home of one of Wayne's oldest and dearest friends from his high school days, Allyson Burns Brown and her husband, Tim.

The next day started with us loading up yet again and heading down the road toward Branson, Missouri. If you are driving from Bentonville to Branson, you get to see some of the most beautiful countryside there is. And you can stop along the way in Eureka Springs and soak up some of that funky groovy Eureka Springs vibe. We had a light, delicious lunch at Local Flavor Cafe before getting back on the road.

Liz, Mary, Linda, and Gail. Also known as Elizabeth Ann, Mary Alice, Linda, and Abigail. Also known as the Lauterbach girls. Also known as dancers, singers, card players, and all around good time gals.

Once we got to Branson, we were able to spend some quality time with the women pictured above. They are, without a doubt, the sweetest women on Earth. The one on the far left is my mom, and once she decided that she might like to spend her 80th birthday in Branson, my wonderful sister Sheila got busy figuring out how to make that happen and ended up with plans for us all to meet in Missouri for the celebration. Sheila made arrangements for the family to stay at a beautiful lakefront property and we gathered there. We talked and ate and laughed and ate and played games and ate and had a really good time. Aunt Mary made some really good soup. Jimmy grilled burgers and hot dogs. Charlotte and Sheila made sure breakfast was delicious. We went into town a couple of times for shows, but we had the most fun was hanging out with everybody at the house.

Mr. Beers and Mr. Bobo at Crystal Bridges.

After a couple of days in Branson, it was time to load up and look at the map (GPS navigation style) and think about heading home. It was a wonderful road trip. We were gone a total of ten days and spent roughly a total of 30 hours driving from destination to destination. We saw some beautiful sites, but more importantly, got to spend time with beautiful people.


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