Remember when the Peanuts Gang piled in the back of that station wagon?
November 10, 2015 3:46 PM   Subscribe

"Over the meadow and through the woods to grandmother's house we don't go". We're taking Thanksgiving on the road this year--perhaps a little more thankful of family if we get away from them for a while! Renting a house w/Mrs. Moth and two teenage Moth-ettes near Eureka Springs, Arkansas. We need ideas, efficiencies and even recipes for making the best possible Thanksgiving Dinner with the least fuss as well as any hints about what to do in the local area, how most memorably to spend our time together, etc. This is probably a once-in-a-lifetime in-law-less holiday for us all...

Thinking of preparing as much as possible in advance, tossing it in a cooler and putting the finishing touches on it there. On the other hand, it might be fun to cook a dessert together while there.

Also, games/fun things that don't require "stuff" other than just being together. Even a great family audiobook recommendation for the drive appreciated. (Not interested the whole Passion Play/giant milk-carton-Jesus statue thing.) 3 nights.
posted by TigerMoth to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Oh hey, you're going to my native lands! And I have to say, I'm very envious. Arkansas' a great distance from me now and I haven't been back in autumn in about a decade. So first and foremost, soak it up for me! And thank you for specifying that you're not interested in the passion play.

You don't mention how long your drive will be, and I see from your profile that you could be anywhere from, like 4 to 10 hours distant. That might make a difference in terms of what you'd want to pack up for the journey. I'd say you should make your showpiece in advance but otherwise you'll be able to stop at a grocery closer to Eureka Springs and pick up fixings for green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and the like. Eureaka's a bit of a foodie spot in the state, relative to the region, so you may also find some seasonal produce for sale depending on the weather. Keep your eyes peeled for roadside vendors.

If the geography works for you, I'd highly recommend taking the Pig Trail / Hwy 23, from (at least) where it meets I-40 and then all the way north from there. It's absolutely gorgeous and takes you through a very remote part of the Ozarks. I've skinny dipped in most of the streams you pass, so take advantage of the remoteness and stop a few times to take in the view or mosey into the woods a bit.

You won't have any trouble enjoying yourselves in Eureka. I mean, there's plenty of great food, antiques, art, massages and so on to go around. I encourage you to walk through the windy streets of central Eureka. There are little businesses here and there that are out of this world and totally off the grid. There's a shop that sells original art prints and lithos that I never actually have an address for, I just walk around until I find it. The guy who lives there bought the house in the 60s and is a quiet, sort of eccentric fellow, but he knows so many Southern artists from the last 50 years it's crazy. Art is just stacked everywhere, and you can thumb through it all you want. If you're nice and get him going he'll spin you up a good yarn or two about almost any artist whose work is in the shop. A lot of artists left him loads of their accumulated work when they died. Such is Eureka!

If you want to get mobile during your three days:

Thorncrown Chapel is worth a visit, and it's so close and small that it'd be a sin not to at least pop in for a moment.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is about an hour's drive from Eureka, but it's quite worth it. Go see what summa that good ol' multi-generational Wal-Mart money can buy in the art world. The grounds are spectacular, too.

You could also make a nice day trip out of going to the Buffalo River and grabbing a meal in Jasper. Here's a map taking you in a loop across the Buffalo at Ponca (which is very isolated, but gorgeous because of places with view like the one where Steel Creek joins and the top of the adjacent bluff; so many great vistas, even in winter) before heading to Jasper, crossing the river again and heading back to Eureka via a different route. Jasper randomly has great food and, like Eureka is anomalously progressive relative to its surroundings (but nowhere nears as much so as Eureka). I crow about the Arkansas House all the time (they have vegetarian gumbo that is crazy good, and walnut pie!!!), but the Ozark Cafe is just as good and much more basic. On your way back, stop at La Luna in Berryville for the best pupusas you've had in your life. It's an anomalous little place, just off the old square in the middle of "downtown," with just two women working there. But they'll chat with you while they cook and the loroco pupusas are seriously tasty. Total drive time for that loop is probably 3.5 hours. Not bad!

Have fun! Tell 'em all I said howdy and I miss y'all and I'll try to come home for Christmas!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 5:13 PM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

Dogwood Canyon is nice.

We recently enjoyed The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making as an audiobook, however some of this depends on how long you are in the car.

Teens would likely enjoy some of the storytellers on The Moth's podcast.
posted by childofTethys at 5:18 PM on November 10, 2015

Get takeout. Seriously. I don't know that area, but in mine, you can get full Thanksgiving takeout dinners from tons of restaurants, grocery stores, etc.
posted by metasarah at 2:51 AM on November 11, 2015

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, if that sounds like a thing you'd enjoy.
posted by box at 2:45 PM on November 11, 2015

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