May 9, 2016

Foam Fest, Huge Lightning, & Lost Valley

I was so excited when Cat told me she was coming to visit me - and she couldn't have picked a better weekend! There were so many events going on it would be difficult to narrow them down (it was the last weekend before all the college kids would go home, so I think this had something to do with it). Granted, it was Mother's Day weekend, but as my mom was joining her sisters to clean my grandmother's house (out of town), I wouldn't be making a trip home anyways.

Catherine is my dearest friend. I went to the same school from kindergarten through my senior year, but she joined us in 9th grade. I remember her being terribly shy - in fact, (despite being an introvert myself) I may not have even noticed her if we hadn't been assigned partners on an FCCLA project (part of the reason that little club still holds a place in my heart). We completed a chapter service project for a competition called STAR Events - we had to incorporate Family & Consumer Sciences into addressing a community need. We took our new-found sewing skills and made a ton of premature baby gowns to donate to the local hospitals (with a lot of help from other classmates too). We had to make a huge display and give presentations to judges, where over the course of several months we won gold at district, state, and national competitions! During this time we got to know one another pretty well and soon became inseparable, bonding over music, movies, and more.

Look at those babies! I look like I smell something bad which is crazy
because that there's a donut shop & she always smells of B&B Works.
I would say that in most friendships there's always one friend who talks more than the other - and I'm usually the one listening in those friendships. Cat's the only one I can say for sure listens to me blab more, making me feel very extroverted. She's an incredibly genuine, caring person and I love her so much. She's also brilliant and a talent artist/writer. She tends to be very unlucky, whether it's car trouble, someone stealing from her, or worse. If anyone deserves all the luck in the world, it's this beautiful soul.

Without further ado, here's more proof (in the form of my weekend) that Northwest Arkansas is a place to have a blast in.

Friday night was relaxed - went to Mojo's to split a C4 Explosion with a couple of friends, followed by a night in and Seven Psychopaths on Amazon Prime (so many of my favorite actors, I've been wanting to watch it since it came to theaters in 2012). Saturday, before Cat's arrival, I met up with my college-best-friend Alissa at the Little Craft Show.

You could smell this booth before you were right up on it, despite the nearby food trucks.

Alissa treated herself to this delightful soap

I managed to leave without buying anything, but if I had, I was probably the most drawn to this unique booth. 

The Green Goat is maybe my favorite food truck in Fayetteville, but I usually get one of their Cuban sandwiches with
some tostones (& shown strawberry lemonade) - it was my first time trying their tacos & street corn, mm-mm-good!

Lisa Krannichfeld's amazing print Alissa bought for Mother's Day - check out her work.

I went back to my house to clean and rest before a long night, because as soon as Cat arrived, it was time to head to Foam Fest. I was a little disappointed it was indoors for my first year, but they chose to take the safe route because of the rain last year. But it would have been a beautiful day - regardless, I already had a sunburn from the Craft Show. We also made up for it by spending a ton of time on the balcony of the Town Square.

My only complaint was the tasting line on the cup - we want more!
(Thankfully, not all booths followed the rules.)
New Belgium had lots of prizes when you first enter.
I wish I could give you some idea of how many booths there were, alas...
Okay, this Henry's Hard Soda tastes just like Crush. 
There were even chocolate samples from KYYA & Hello Cocoa
I believe these guys were called THE SQAURSHERS.

This was Cat's favorite out of all, a toasted porter from Einstok - mine was a bourbon barrel-aged Buffalo Sweat stout with vanilla beans & cinnamon from Tallgrass Brewing Co. (I'd had their "regular" Buffalo Sweat stout before & liked it as well).
Showing off her merch, sans pretzel necklace (& sunburn won from the drive up).
Agreed, thank you!
Huge Lightning Comedy Festival was put together by one of our own Arkansas natives, Jordan Haynes, which makes it even a little more special. It was a two-day improv festival and I couldn't go to the first night by the time I'd heard of it because it was sold out, and I didn't want to drag us away from Foam Fest too early in case we weren't ready (which we weren't), so I scored us some tickets to the very last show. It was practically in the same building as Foam Fest, just outside and around the corner behind West Mountain Brewery, so that was very helpful. It actually brought us to a store I'd never heard of called pAth Outfitters. It serves as an art gallery, skate shop, outdoor gear store, concert venue, and event space - and full of incredible artwork by Matt Miller... since its actually his studio and he's been gracious enough to open this space to the community.

The last show of the festival began with a half hour word war between a couple of Last Saturday guys, Houston Hughes & Doug Shields (who are always a joy to listen to, but it was refreshing to see a lighter side). There was improv from Upstairs Gallery All Stars and Charles Enlarged - plus more Chicago improved sprinkled throughout Roughhouse alongside local writers (like Erika & Rodney Wilhite), comedians (like the Mr. Palooka Boat Show), and musician, Willi Goehring.

I didn't want Saturday to have all the fun so I made plans to fill her Sunday, too.

I decided to take her to Arsaga's for breakfast and tried to beat the Mother's Day crowd by going early... only to find out they don't open until 9 on Sundays. Regardless, I was happy with the choice because Catherine just about melted over her Crepe Atlas & War Eagle Mill grits. I love brunch and I don't treat myself to it very often so this was a treat for me too.

My favorite savory crepe (unless I need something a little sweet too, in which case I'd go with Pommes et Porc) -
roasted chicken, bacon, shiitakes, caramelized onions, mozzarella, parmesan, & creme fraiche. Why anyone in
their right mind would go for the greens over the potatoes + aioli just means they're not in their right mind.

Straight from breakfast we drove out 412 to my favorite area that you'll continue to hear tons about throughout the duration of my life in Arkansas: Ponca/Boxley. I'd actually never completed what is essentially the most popular trail, Lost Valley. How I've gone three years of living here without hiking to Eden Falls, I'm not certain - it was beautiful.

I was a little ill-prepared, though! I knew I needed to bring a headlamp and some bug spray and forgot both. Luckily, the bugs weren't terrible yet... but you really need a headlamp if you're planning on crawling through the cave at the end. I had also heard it was a super easy hike, but again, if you're planning on going past the falls to the cave, it's a little rough/slippery - especially if you're two adults sharing a dull cellphone light. I wore a wrap skirt since I thought it would be more or less a breeze, and there I was, rolling around a muddy cave in it, thankful it was dark because I'm sure I flashed some of the fellow trail-goers.

More than anything, seeing how dry the creek was again, much like at Indian Creek, I was worried neither of the waterfalls were flowing - but both Eden Falls and the cave falls were flowing beautifully. I unfortunately was not prepared to photograph a waterfall in a dark cave this time around, but hopefully I'll have a better idea how to do so now in the future. I'm also super-stoked that Arkansas has at least left us one wild cave to explore... many of them are closed to the public to protect endangered bats, and others are for-profit tours. This was honestly my first real spelunking experience, which is something I've always wanted to learn about, right up there with rock climbing (sidebar: anyone that wants to take me to either, let's go).
And that, folks, is why you should always bring a first aid kit.
See a few more cave photos in the update here where I hiked this trail!
Last, but certainly not least, I introduced yet another friend to pho and was happy to be reassured I'm not crazy for bragging on a bowl of broth. I made sure to order the large so I had leftovers to improve my Monday. I called my mom while Cat caught up on the first two episodes of Game of Thrones (while simultaneously "working on a paper") so she could join us for the third episode premiere. Am I the only one bummed nothing major really happened to anyone's story-line this episode? There was that shockingly drawn out death scene at the end I had to cringe away from, but this show's like crack, where's the plot shocker?

I can't wait to have some friends over for a ladies game night tonight, but crossing my fingers they won't judge the fact that I haven't had a chance to clean my house much (which is a joke because they're truly the nicest but they also have their bidness together way more than I do). Also feeling guilty because I won't have a chance to make any snacks since, as it turns out since setting the date, I'm working late.

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