Current Location: Fayetteville, AR

We were off to a bit of a slow start this morning in formulating plans for the day.  Driving back from breakfast, I still wasn’t sure where the afternoon would take us, but I did start to get a better feeling for Fayetteville.  It’s funny to me that there are things about Fayetteville that I would have absolutely not expected, like a main street that’s dedicated entirely to bars and nightlife, and then there are things about Fayetteville that I absolutely did expect, like being the only people at the restaurant this morning not outfitted in church clothes.

In general, Fayetteville seems like a wonderful place to live.  If I thought that the people in Austin were nice, the people in Fayetteville are headed for sainthood.  Each time we’ve entered a restaurant, a store, or just pass someone walking down the street, a wave of friendliness falls upon us.  Being the capital of Walmart, Northwest Arkansas has taken the chain to new levels, and I was glad to experience Walmart Market today, the grocery store version of one-stop shopping.  In addition to Walmart, Fayetteville, in my eyes, is also known for local banks, which along with a church, there seems to be approximately one of per citizen.  God must really create prosperity in life because evidently, the people of Northwest Arkansas necessitate a bank on each and every street corner.

After coming back from breakfast and our thrilling adventure at Walmart Market, we were still somewhat unsure about our next destination.  We searched online for “things to do in Fayetteville”  and were directed to “make hummus.”  Not exactly what I had in mind.  Then we attempted to search for museums in Fayetteville and were presented with the link, “how to work in a museum in Fayetteville.”  I guess Google got word of my current state of unemployment.

Finally, we found out about the Clinton House, which is just around the corner from where Melanie and Kyle live.  The Clinton House is an old house where Bill used to reside and where he and Hillary were married.  After the success that I had with other presidential locales, we decided that this museum might be worth checking out.  Unfortunately, we had forgotten the other cardinal rule about life in Arkansas – #1, you go to church, # 2, nothing is open on Sunday.  Feeling defeated, we decided to check out something else that Melanie had heard about, the Christ of the Ozarks.  We weren’t sure exactly what to expect, but she had been told that it’s worth a visit.  And being a church, it was likely to be open on Sunday.

The Church of the Ozarks is about an hour away, so because of that, we were hesitant to make the drive.  “How awesome could a church be?” we wondered.  It would be a while before we uncovered the answer. Before making it to the church, we winded through the hills of Arkansas and saw beautiful farmlands as well as old country stores and kids playing in fields and riding tractors.  Fayetteville is a Mayberry kind of town.  Time seems to have marched on throughout the rest of the world but for whatever reason, stopped abruptly when it hit Northwest Arkansas.  When we decided to stop for lunch, we were instantly drawn to Sister’s Cafe, a family run restaurant with four tables in the living room of the owner’s home.  The menu features three selections and though each one is great, the best part of the experience is dining in a room that proudly displays a large photo of Elvis.  The sisters had come from Memphis, and they didn’t want to move without the King.

After lunch, we proceeded along with our drive, and though tempted by signs advertising “100 large cats,” we decided to press on for the Church of the Ozarks.  To our dismay, when we finally arrived, the area looked closed.  How could this be?  It’s Arkansas. It’s a Sunday.  It’s a church.  Undeterred, we kept driving through the parking lot which guided us along a left-hand turn.  It was just after we made the turn that we saw it.  It wasn’t just a church.  It was the world’s largest statue of Jesus.  It was the best thing that I had ever seen.

The statue of Jesus is sixty-seven feet tall and every bit as amazing as it sounds.  It’s a gigantic sculpture of Christ that stands atop a hill dubbed, Magnetic Mountain.  And magnetic it is.  I couldn’t take my eyes off the thing.  We took many pictures (in several of which we attempted to create the allusion of high-fiving with our Lord and Savior) and sat in the statue’s remarkable presence for quite sometime.  Although, for us, the sculpture was breathtaking, we overheard another visitor voice his displeasure in the depiction by exclaiming that “Jesus should have bangs.”  Let me suggest a suggestion box, sir.

I hadn’t been sure if I would be able to find something as remarkable as Bedrock City or something as historical as Dealey Plaza, but somehow, I managed to stumble upon the mothership with the Church of the Ozarks.  On the drive home, we noticed a white Dodge Caravan that had been decorated like a NASA space shuttle, but after coming face to face with Jesus, my heart just wasn’t in the rocket.  I can say that, without hesitation, a trip to Northwest Arkansas is incomplete without a visit to the Church of the Ozarks.  And in my opinion, that rule extends to a drive across America too.

I’ve posted the photos below, but unfortunately, they don’t do justice to the experience of viewing this incredible wonder firsthand.  I hope though, that you can get an idea for the majesty that we encountered today.  I couldn’t ask for a better 25-and-a-half birthday present.  I couldn’t ask for anything more from Arkansas.

Like had been the case today, I’m not sure what tomorrow will have in store for us, but I can now say with certainty that I have 100% faith in Fayetteville.  I will be here for another two days, and I can’t wait to share my future experiences with you.  I can’t promise anymore towering likenesses, but I can promise some interesting times along the way.  I hope that you all have a great week, and thank you for reading!

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