Around the end of every September, Fayetteville plays host to Bikes, Blues, and BBQ, an enormous biker rally. And while motorcycles don't get me hot and heavy, in theory, I love the latter. I'm all about some blues and BBQ - unfortunately it's cheap festival barbecue (not that slow, southern lovin' variety) and typically a high quantity of mediocre Journey cover bands. It's great for the bikers having fun, the local businesses earning additional revenue, and whatever charity is being sponsored that year (the Children's Safety Center was this year's so, obviously, I'm a big fan). Having said that, there's always at least one biker that gets hurt in a(n easily avoidable) wreck. Some businesses actually experience a decline in revenue. And despite being billed as the US's largest charity rally, it's not uncommon for the event to earn as little as $0.15 per attendee. Perhaps the choice word "largest" merely represents the thousands upon thousands of attendees, and not how much charitable giving they're actually doing.
Worst of all, our little Arkansan town gets a taste of what living in a tourist city is like. The locals hate this festival. The traffic is so congested; it's evident that the rally has outgrown all of Northwest Arkansas as the bikes purr up and down even the smallest of streets, all the north to Eureka Springs and south to Fort Smith. The noise is deafening; if not the revving of a hundred thousand bikes alone then it's the sound of aforementioned Journey cover bands blaring through closed windows into houses miles away.
You just can't escape it if you stay in town. You either board up your windows, blare your own decent blues and slow cook your own BBQ, or you join them, for better or for worst. I moved to Fayetteville only a week after BBBBQ my first year, and I attempted to have fun at the festival the next couple of years. I'm not even a claustrophobic type of person but that's precisely how I felt when I joined in, suffocating in denim and leather and watery drinks at my favorite bars, unable to hold a conversation with whoever I was with over the roaring sounds on Dickson. But it does make you think about the potential our town has to hold a real charitable rally, without the confederate flags waving about.
So this year we escaped.
|But not before shooting a few rounds with his neglected bow first.|
I endured the first couple of days (it runs a Wednesday through Sunday) - and working downtown, parallel to Dickson, it's not easy. They even have to close the office early on Friday because streets are closed off and you can't go home after arriving to work. But the second Pete finished his deeds for the day on Friday, we were off to the little town where we met: Conway, AR.
Now, I didn't take a lot of pictures for a variety of reasons: it didn't feel like anything out of the ordinary that you would take pictures at (like going grocery shopping), there was a lot of water involved (I'll get to that), and we spent most of the time with his family (and I'm not currently at a place where I feel it's appropriate to post photographs of other people's families), but just believe me when I say it was glorious.
A few months ago his dad bought the best historic home, which is expertly decorated and large enough for the five dogs and ~10 humans (off & on) that were present, and it has a pool. It was already near bedtime when we arrived so we weren't going to let the dogs in the pool gate, but Pete's dad joined us and, for whatever reason, Kafka's initial reaction was to jump in.
I wish I had it on camera because it was hilarious. He had never even seen a pool before, though he enjoyed playing fetch in the river when it was low, but he immediately freaked out since he couldn't touch the bottom. He wouldn't get back in for the rest of the weekend.
But it was Saturday, the following day, that we spent the entire day in the pool after a hearty breakfast of pancake, bacon, eggs, sausage, and biscuits. I've never actually spent the entire day in a pool before. Usually I'm done after about 30 minutes (which feels like three hours) - I thought I prepared enough by applying sunscreen five or so times but I still managed to get pretty burned... my arms are the only parts of me that seems to want to keep a tan, too, leaving me lookin' like a true Arkansan farmer.
Now, unlike Kafka, Lucky loves the water (even when he can't touch) and while we may never know what kinds of breeds work together to make him up, it's without a doubt that he has lab (though I swear he's a pyrador, light on the Pyrenees) running through his blood.
I guess you know you're getting old when a vacation means getting out of town, away from a big loud party, and hiding away in a quiet pool for an entire day. I also used this as an opportunity to visit my grandmother who, despite a recent fall at the ripe age of 95, is still getting around pretty well. I wish I had gotten a new picture of us together! She enjoyed talking about her trips and our trips and asking us what we had planned next, and we reminisced about her big birthday party over the summer.
Sunday night we made some tacos and relaxed while watching a few nostalgic Game of Thrones episodes, wishing for the new season to come sooner rather than later (and sadly out of show material - any suggestions? We recently polished off the Americans and Stranger Things).
I'm okay with getting older if it means relaxing weekends and visits with family you don't get to see often enough.