I am in Conway Arkansas. My first trip to Arkansas in about 40 years. Going down 65 highway was a beautiful drive. Many great scenic views as the Missouri Ozark Mountains marry the Natural State and change their surname.
At 97 degrees the blistering road softened my tires for a smooth ride. Thanks to the Good Lord for allowing man to invent air conditioning it was a quite comfortable cruise for the old man in the Buick.
The animals living along the route sought relief from the heat where they could find it. I passed a number of tree lined ponds with cows resting in the shade, muddying up the water breathing the water cooled air.
Conway is a college town with a growing population of nearly 70,000. Like your city they are working on the roads heartily. My hotel was less than a mile off Highway 65 but it took me 5 miles of driving to check in.
I was impressed by the patience Margaret my GPS showed in guiding me to the Fairfield Inn. The roads here look kind of like a fanned hand of cards. Margaret said “turn right on Sanders Road.” There are 3 roads at the “turn here” order, due to the construction none had visible street signs. The first time I took the entrance back on 65 and was prematurely heading home!
Margaret very tenderly talked me back. After only a couple more errant turns I was parking next to a glittering fishing boat in front of the hotel. Once inside I asked the kind lady behind her plastic shield how do you tell people how to get here? In understanding southern tones she replied “I just pull into the Wal-Mart and come in the back way. Margaret needs a lesson in Southern.
Through the magic of a plastic key I walk into the refrigerator that doubles as my room. It was set on 62 degrees and the air conditioner was overachieving. I adjusted the thermostat and unpacked as my eyelashes thawed.
I then headed to the fitness room for a quick ride on the elliptical before heading to the restaurant to meet for dinner. We were eating at Mike’s Place which is touted to be the best restaurant in Conway. It may also be the least likely to find.
Margaret is Arkansas challenged because she got me within a hundred yards of Mike’s Place and couldn’t get me any closer. Let me correct myself she told me 6 times I had “Arrived” but no Mike’s Place. I kept driving around and finally called Mike’s, a sweet young southern voice told me they were right across from the fountain. I said I am by the Post Office. She replied “Oh good we are across the street from the Post office. All I see across the street is a shop with kayaks.
At this point Margaret is not even talking to me and the sweet voice asks “don’t you see the fountain?” At this point I am thinking she must mean a water fountain like the kind you lean over and take a drink from because I don’t see no freaking fountain.
I am still driving when halfway down the block I see the sign “Mike’s Place” in big letters carefully hidden under the awning. Apparently in Conway right across the street means across the street and half way down the block.
Mike’s Place was a great spot for cena. (Cena is Spanish for dinner. I don’t think I saw a Latin person all night but I thought I would throw that in to broaden my story’s appeal. ) Comely inside with a modern but somewhat rustic look delivered rich woods rustic stonework and dark leather.
Our waitress Nicole was a very attentive young lady who grew up as a missionary’s kid in Kenya. So the heat didn’t bother her a bit. I asked Nicole what was the most impressive miracle she saw in Kenya? She said “Let me think about it.”
Nicole recommended Mike’s Creole. Whitefish smothered in shrimp and crawfish with red beans and rice. I grew up in Missouri calling crawfish “Crawdads”. We use them for fishing bait. Honestly they taste just like shrimp to me and it really was tasty. By the way if you are from the North and you are eating out in the South never call crawfish “crawdads” or you might get hit with a boiling pot. They are proud of their crawfish and don’t tolerate them being demeaned.
Nicole delivered the miracle with the Creole. She shared that with considerable witchcraft in Kenya her parents would hold a service and an oppressive presence would fill the tent. At the proclamation of the Gospel the dark spirits would flee and joy and freedom would saturate the crowd.
I was told by the local that Mike’s Place had been there forever and pointed Mike himself out. He was walking around talking to customers. They were truthful he did look like he had been there forever. He was a small thin gray-haired man with glasses. He had a black “C” mask hanging on his ear and a black eye patch pushed up above his right eye. Yeah, it wasn’t on his eye just above it. He didn’t make it to our table, which was probably good because I was going to have to ask. Anyway the dinner was delicious and the service great. Prices fair, I will have to try the steak next time.
On the way to the car a couple was walking ahead of me with their granddaughter. I was able to hear the proper use of the word “lollygagging” as granny was hurrying the little one to the car.
Today we will be heading to Little Rock, Bill Clinton’s stomping grounds so we will be keeping the women folk close.
I’ll try not to lollygag and get you an update soon. Tata for now Y’all.