Ok, mosquitoes and humidity aside, this place is amazing! I cannot get over how beautiful these hills are, how thick the foliage, and how friendly the people are everywhere we go. The land is so inexpensive, too. Honestly, why is it so inexpensive? It's absolutely lovely. I am (sort of) joking about dropping everything to sit here and make barrels, but I have told Michael that when we do finally decide to settle back down, I want a little cabin with a great big front porch in the Ozarks, with a little creek running through my back yard. We'll have chickens and I'll grow me some lettuce. I think it may actually be wet enough here that I may keep some alive.
After the Crater of Diamonds we headed up through Little Rock where we picked up a new mixer and aimed the bus towards Conway, AR, to meet a couple of "virtual friends" I knew only from online communications, Regina and Jackie. Regina had arranged for us to busk at a little local park with restaurants on Thursday, and even invited us to park the bus in front of her home that night, so we took her up on both. If anyone else is a virtual friend of Regina, let me just say that she really is that cool. This is no "online only" kind of coolness. We had a blast. She drove me all around Conway, we found a music shop that had the banjo picks we badly needed, and told me a lot of interesting things about Arkansas people.
Oh, and this is the most amazing part of the trip! The twins were pestering to see the Hunger Games, so we found a theater in Conway that was right by a Cracker Barrel, so we parked at the Cracker Barrel, sent the twins to the movie, and I met up with Regina for dinner and coffee in the restaurant. While I was there, Michael stayed with the younger two at the bus watching movies. A couple people came by the bus, admiring it, and Michael ended up chatting with them. They lead music for a mission church in the area and have a couple old school buses just like Benny. After some discussion, they invited us to come play for their church service the following evening, and Michael agreed. Wonderful people, and they have simply awesome taste in buses. Benny had a chance to mingle with a few other former school buses while we played a gospel set.
We then pointed the bus towards Mountain View, AR! We kept hearing so much about it, and we knew we had to go see it for ourselves. They really do have music on every corner in the evenings! Everyone plays something around here. It's truly unique, and far more friendly than this Colorado front range gal is used to. (No offense, Colorado. I love ya, but it is different here.)
We have been the guests of "Pappy" Mellon and Mellon's Country Store this week, where we played yesterday.
Pappy gave Mary a set of spoons and a train whistle. She played her new spoons for "Turkey in the Straw", and blew her train whistle right before Sean played "Orange Blossom Special".
Sean was given the "first string instrument", a mouth bow, where you place the end of the bow on your cheek, up by your jaw bone, strum the string, and change notes by the shape of your mouth. He insisted on playing it during "Turkey in the Straw" as well, and didn't seem interested in using the fiddle, though I admit, as cute as it is, he plays the fiddle better!
I have to stay out of the store or I'll buy stuff. He has everything. I want a gourd banjo and I don't even play banjo. The gourd fiddle was great, too. There there was this looooong barrel shotgun... (It wasn't made from a gourd.)
Here we all are with Pappy.
We hate to leave, but next week we are up in Mansfield, MO. No doubt I'll fall in love with that, too. This is becoming a habit, but so far the Ozarks with the pretty contest.