Monday, July 14, 2008

Get Away for Good!

Jo Donna (my sweetheart girlfriend to whom I'm so happily married it's silly) and I took off out of town this last weekend, ostensibly for a nephew's wedding, but really just to run off together. As is the trend this Summer of the Gas Panic, we decided to see what was right under our noses. The wedding was just about an hour and a half away, in Rogers, Arkansas. Rogers is located in the heart of the area known as Northwest Arkansas, home of WalMart, Tyson Foods, JB Hunt Trucking, and several other global-sized corporations. Much like Ireland during the Celtic Tiger days of the 1990s, NWA has seen a tremendous boom in employment, housing, and all the goodies that come with those.

Last time Jo and I were up the mountain was just three years ago, but we were stunned by how much the entire area had developed. We stayed in the Hyatt Place hotel of Rogers, very nice accommodations at a decent price ($79 per night for a mini-suite). The room was quite nice - Hyatt just took over and completely refurbished this property a year or so ago, so all is still sparkling new. (How new is all this we visited? Google maps still shows all cow pastures in all the places described here!)

Our room and board taken care of, we went out for a mind-boggling dinner at Osegueras (see the review below) on Friday night. Saturday was pretty much all wedding excitement, after sleeping late, enjoying the complimentary breakfast, fitness center, and pool. And that night was sheer laziness as we watched movies and played on the Internet.

Sunday, after a slow morning (yes, we played hookie from church, first time this year, thank you very much!), we headed over to the shopping ... community we'd been hearing all about since arriving. Pinnacle Hills Promenade is one of the most impressive shopping/dining/hanging-out-at venues I've ever seen. Tulsa has some nice areas, Houston and Dallas are worth the visit, and Chicago is Chicago. But nowhere is prettier, more comfortably laid out, and more entertaining to stroll through that the Promenade. (IMHO) Every cobblestone street led us to another neat area to explore.

Worn out and happily satisfied, we climbed into the car to head home. Just between the Promenade and the highway was a station with fairly cheap gas, so I pulled in to fill up. Jo, as usual, headed inside to grab a Dr. Pepper and some snacks. She came back out grinning like a cute crocodile. "You've got to see this! Park the car and come inside." Naturally, I whined. "I don't want anything, I just want to get on the road!" So, naturally, I parked the car and followed my wife inside the White Oak Station ... the "gas station."

Wow.

Some gas station! It's a gourmet grocery store with a high end meat market and hand made gourmet pizza shop. I was absolutely blown away. Remember, now, the last time we were here was just three years ago and there was nothing ... nothing in this entire area. (Check Google maps here - nothin' but pasture land.) We spent over an hour in that "gas station," drooling over delicacies and eating some of the best veggie pizza around. We left with imported Irish and English goodies, olives, breads, and definite plans to return soon to do it all over again.

MORAL OF THE STORY ...

What's this article all about? Well, it's not about NWA or Hyatt, Promenade, or even the first gourmet gas station. It's about getting away. Together.

You see, when you are in love - really in love with your spouse (as you all should be), it shouldn't matter where you are or what your surroundings are. Because ours were just the hills of Arkansas. What should matter is who you're with. Jo and I have been on Fifth Avenue in New York, in a cottage in Adare, Ireland, and in a gas station in Arkansas, and we've never been happier in one place than another, because we're together.

Marriage is what you make it. Make yours great.

Links:
The Hyatt Place hotel
The Pinnacle Hills Promenade

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