As you know, it’s a huge rarity that Chad and I get to spend a full day together (especially on a weekend), not counting scheduled vacation. So when I learned that he would have last Saturday off (because he’d be filling in for the Chief all week), I was PUMPED!
After tossing out a few ideas, it was determined that we’d road trip up to Northwest Arkansas (I’d never been) to visit the Crystal . Crystal Bridges was built by Alice Walton, daughter of Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart. It opened 11/11/11 and probably cost hundreds of millions of dollars, if not a billion dollars to build and fill with art. However, admission is free, thanks to Wal-Mart. I love free. Bridges Museum of American Art
So, we woke up early and hit the road for the three-hour drive to Bentonville. I’d never been more than 20-30 minutes north of Little Rock (to our Conway office location), so everything past that was brand new scenery for me. Once you get to western Arkansas and head north on I-540, it’s the Ozark mountains, beautiful colors and breathtaking views. Definitely made sitting in a car for so long more enjoyable.
We arrived in Bentonville and made a beeline for Table Mesa, a restaurant my friend Sara told us about (yes, I realize it’s called Table Table…Arkansas never ceases to amaze me). You know I’m skeptical of Mexican food in Arkansas (it all sucks), but Sara lived in Texas for several years, so she knows what legit Mexican food should taste like. Y’all – it was DELISH. We had guacamole and homemade chips (which were friend tortillas), I had a pomegranate margarita and Chad had a mojito, and then we both had fajitas (beef for him, beef/chicken/shrimp combo for me). SO GOOD! Who knew that to get good Mexican food all I had to do was drive 3 hours to the Arkansas-Oklahoma-Missouri border…
After lunch, we walked around the Bentonville town square and sat in the little park and petted puppies, smelled flowers and enjoyed the sunshine. Then, we made our way to the original Walton 5 and 10 (that’s five and dime, in case you were wondering). What we thought was simply an old school general store (complete with the candy/drink/toy wrappers from the 1950’s, specially made just for them) was actually a museum – an AWESOME museum! Behind the cash register was a winding maze where you could start at Sam Walton’s birth and go all the way to the present.It was REALLY interesting to see how it all started, and what it is today. For example, Chad has always had an anti-Wal-Mart thought process. I never understood this, as Wal-Mart has been a part of my life since birth. Well, it turns out that yes, Wal-Mart was in the Houston area by the mid-late 80’s, but it didn’t make its way to Chad’s part of Michigan until the mid-90’s, which then resulted in many of the mom-and-pop stores that he used to shop at going out of business, thanks to the big box retailer. Hence, Chad doesn’t like Wal-Mart. Amazing! And yes, I’m aware that the same thing happened in the Houston area, but I didn’t see it, so I can’t mourn it. I’ve always been down with the yellow smiley face and the Everyday Low Prices.
We kind of rushed through the Wal-Mart museum to make our way to Crystal Bridges, as we were told it’d take 3-4 hours to get through it and the museum closed at 6 (it was almost 2 p.m. at this point). We made it to CB and it was a beautiful building and grounds – and that’s the best part. We were both underwhelmed by the art (apparently American art really isn’t our thing) and both ended up wishing we’d spent more time at the Wal-Mart museum. After just over an hour at CB, we decided to head home so that we could get there in time for dinner.
All in all, it was a great trip. Even though we didn’t enjoy Crystal Bridges as much as we’d hoped, we got to spend some quality time together, just the two of us, for the first time in a long time. And that’s what really matters!