Saturday, June 25, 2016

On the Road to...Arkansas!

In my quest to see something in each of the fifty states, a while back I convinced a friend (who happens to be an artist, as well as Latvian) that we needed to visit Bentonville, Arkansas. Fortunately she agreed, and we quickly planned our trip for the beginning of June. Why did I pick the small city of Bentonville as our destination? Because it is home of the less-than-five-year-old art museum Crystal Bridges, which boasts an impressive collection of American art housed in an interesting new building located on beautiful wooded grounds featuring trails and sculptures. The museum was founded by Alice Walton, daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton. The Walton Family Foundation has provided a great deal of funding for the museum, which is an independent non-profit organization, while Walmart itself sponsors general public admission -- meaning the museum is free to visit.

My friend L lives in Houston, Texas, and our plans entailed me flying into Dallas while she drove there from Houston. Incredibly fortunately, my flight was on time, my suitcase also arrived, and we were on our way! When I'd left the DC area, the weather had been overcast and gray, but in Dallas I was greeted by blue skies and dense white clouds. There's a saying that everything's bigger in Texas -- and even these clouds looked big!

From the airport we drove north through the eastern side of Oklahoma. The drive lasted approximately 5 1/2 hours, and our way we stopped for a roadside picnic that L had lovingly prepared. 
A well-rounded meal: sandwich, potato salad, mango, tomatoes.
Oklahoma was not the most exciting state to drive through, though the eastern side was not that terrible either (I have heard from people who have driven through the state from West to East or vice versa that such a route is quite dull). The vista was enhanced by a very large man-made body of water called Lake Eufaula, though the terrain was generally quite flat. Thus, arriving into Arkansas was a welcome surprise -- it was hilly and incredibly green.

After checking into our hotel near Bentonville, we drove to the museum with the intention of eating dinner at its restaurant and getting our first glimpse of the collection. Our meal took so long that it was closing time when we were done eating, but we were glad to have visited in the evening, as not only was our dinner memorable, but the museum looked stunning at night.
Photo credit: L.
More posts to follow about our fun trip!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Yale Whiffenpoofs on the Millennium Stage

Washington truly has an abundance of riches when it comes to cultural performances, particularly when one considers that a fair number of these events are free of charge. The best series of free performances happens at the Kennedy Center -- the Millennium Stage offers a daily dose of arts: classical music, dance, contemporary music, etc, are all performed for free every single day at 6pm. Just keep an eye the schedule online, and make time to either go see the performance in person, or watch online!

When I saw that the Yale Whiffenpoofs - the country's oldest and probably best known American collegiate acapella group - were going to be performing, I immediately invited a couple of friends to join me.

It was a wonderful concert -- quite a few of their numbers gave me goosebumps. Of course, as a Latvian, I can really appreciate good choral performances! The entire performance can be seen online via this link. In particular I enjoyed their version of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer" and James Taylor's "Carolina on My Mind."

If you ever happen to have the chance to see the Whiffenpoofs perform, I highly suggest not passing that up, although the entire group changes over every year, as only seniors can be members.

And if you are ever in DC and tire of the museums, definitely check out what's happening on the Millennium Stage -- and show up at least 15 minutes (if not more!) early if you hope to get a seat!