Monday, July 30, 2012

Lakeside Dining – Great Setting but…

Laurie and I recently spent a night in Hot Springs Arkansas… It was dinner time and I hadn’t researched the area for interesting restaurants, so I asked the person behind the counter at our motel what she would suggest.  She told us that there was a restaurant on the shore of Lake Hamilton that was very, very popular.

Given the information received, it was off for a bit of lakeside dining at Fisherman’s Wharf, situated adjacent to the Lake Hamilton Bridge.  The setting was very nice…boats passing by, early evening sunshine, etc. 

Fisherman’s Wharf was quite busy!  We had about a 20 minute wait before they could seat us.  We were seated about as far from the windows as possible but we weren’t here just for the scenery…

I went outside to take this photo of the very large open air dining area at the end of the Fisherman’s Wharf property.  It was just too hot for us to sit outside but the views from this vantage point were very nice.

Our entrées came with either this basic dinner salad, cole slaw or, as shown above, a broccoli salad.  While the brocolli salad showed some creativeness, both salads were OK, just about what one would expect for a salad served with a meal.  

We decided that we’d order an appetizer…and we spotted one of our favorites on the menu.  We ordered the Bang Bang Shrimp. ($9.95) While they were spicy enough, there was just too much sauce…and, worse yet…the shrimp were soggy…overcooked!

Other appetizers on the menu include Fried Clam Strips ($6.95); Fried Pickle Spears ($6.95); Spinach and Artichoke Dip ($9.95) and; Fried Okra ($6.95).  Oysters from the Raw Bar were at Market Price, while a half pound of Peel and Eat Shrimp was priced at $11.95.

For her entrée, Laurie ordered the jumbo Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Shrimp with rice pilaf. ($16.95) These were not as ‘jumbo’ as we might have expected…and for about $3.00 each, they weren’t that great either.

The dinner menu at Fisherman’s Wharf is fairly extensive.  Much of the focus was of course on seafood.  Options included: The Galley Catch Platter with shrimp on a skewer, broiled jumbos scallops and a broiled white fish ($23.95); Herb Crusted Tilapia and Coconut Shrimp ($19.95); Grilled Grouper Tacos ($14.95), and; Frog Legs ($15.95).
Steaks and chicken are also available.  A 16 oz. Ribeye Steak was one offering at $23.95.  The Grilled Chicken Breast was priced at $14.95.

I ordered the Admiral Byrd’s Fish and Shrimp with the rice pilaf. ($16.95) It was a good choice and I enjoyed my meal.  My second choice would have been the Pan Sautéed Grouper topped with a Dijon Cream Sauce, with Shrimp, Crab Meat and Asparagus. ($19.95)

As mentioned, we were disappointed with the appetizer and Laurie wasn’t impressed with her entrée.  In addition to these issues, we must add that service was slow and uneven, to say the least.  It was hard getting our server’s attention, (or even finding him), when we needed something.  Watching the servers in action was not like watching a finely choreographed dance recital.  There seemed to be a fair amount of confusion and wasted effort.  Pricing seemed a tad high…but the location probably justifies any extra cost.
Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant is located at 5101 Central Avenue in Hot Springs Arkansas.  Phone: 501-525-7437.  Website:
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, July 27, 2012

Hot Springs AR - Our ‘First’ National Park

OK… Most of us believe that Yellowstone was America’s first National Park.  But to paraphrase Bill Clinton, it’s all about how you define ‘first’.  The US Congress set aside the hot springs and adjacent Ouachita Mountains as ‘The Hot Springs Reservation back in 1832…40 years before Yellowstone was designated as a National Park.  The ‘Federal Reservation’ title for Hot Springs wasn’t changed to National Park until 1921.  At 5,500 acres, Hot Springs is our smallest National Park.

This pretty view of the city of Hot Springs is from part way up one of the mountains adjacent to the city.  Most National parks cover thousands and thousands of acres, far from city streets…but not Hot Springs.  The heart of this park is right in town.  Bathhouse Row on Central Avenue is the main attraction.   There are 8 remaining bathhouses, 2 of which are actually still in the business of providing the ‘healing mineral-rich waters’ of the Hot Springs to visitors.

The spring waters flow from Hot Springs Mountain.  The park preserves the ‘recharge zone’, slopes where rain and snow soak into the ground, as well as the ‘discharge zone’, which contains 47 springs belonging to the park.  The water flowing up from at least a mile under-ground dates back about over 4,000 years.  About 700,000 gallons of 143 degree water flows from the springs into a complex piping and reservoir system.  Then it’s distributed to the spas and free ‘jug fountains’ where the public can fill their containers with the odorless chemical-free water. 
When an 1804 expedition arrived at the springs, they discovered a log cabin and several rudimentary shelters for people seeking the healing waters.  Subsequently, the first bath houses were little more than tents perched over individual springs or reservoirs.  Wooden structures followed but they weren’t well built.  During the Civil War, the town was basically burned down…but by 1873, there were 6 bathhouses plus 24 hotels and boardinghouses.  The Federal Government’s channelizing of the Hot Springs Creek allowed for the establishment of today’s Bathhouse Row.

Laurie took the following photos as we rolled along Central Avenue.  This is the Larmar Bathhouse.  It opened in 1923, replacing a wooden Victorian structure.  It was named in honor of former US Supreme Court Justice Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar, who was the Secretary of the Interior when the first bathhouse was built back in 1888.

The Lamar was unique in that it offered a range of tub lengths…from 5’ to 6’6”…for people of various heights.  It also had a small coed gymnasium.  The lobby, featuring a long counter of Tennessee marble, was the largest of the 8 houses on the Row.  Decorative embellishments include murals, stenciling, marble accents, ornamental balustrades and silver glass interspersed with red panel wainscots. 
Factoid: Hot Springs Ranger James Cary was the first National Park Service Ranger in our nation’s history who was killed in the line of duty.  On 3/12/27, he was on patrol on Hot Springs Mountain when he was shot and killed by bootleggers. 

This is the Buckstaff Bathhouse.  It was named for its controlling shareholders.  The Buckstaff was built in 1912 on the site of 3 previous bathhouses, the earliest of which, a brick bathhouse, dated back to the late 1850’s.  Because it has been in continuous operation for 100 years, it is one of the best preserved of all of the bathhouses.  Colorado marble is used throughout the interior, particularly in the bath halls.  All levels may be accessed by way of the building’s original elevator, with an ornate interior reminiscent of the Golden Age of Bathing.  The capacity of this building is 1,000 bathers per day. 

Should you be interested, this is one of the 2 bathhouses on Bathhouse Row that still offers baths and other spa services.  For more information, go to

From the early 1870’s until the great Hot Springs fire of 1878, the Weir and George Bathhouse occupied the site of the Ozark Bathhouse.  That fire basically destroyed the town of Hot Springs.  (Another fire in 1913 destroyed about 60 blocks of the city) The first Ozark Bathhouse was named after the surrounding mountain range…then considered to be part of the Ozark Mountains but now known as the Ouachita Mountains.

The present brick and stucco Ozark Bathhouse was completed in 1922.  Three earlier designs had been rejected as being too grand and expensive.   The Ozark was relatively small, with only 14,000 square feet and 27 tubs.  It catered to a middle economic class of bathers unwilling to pay for frills.  The Ozark ceased operations in 1977.
Factoid: Former President Bill Clinton as well as actors Alan Ladd and Billy Bob Thornton were born in the Hot Springs area. 

The Quapaw Bathhouse was built in 1922 on 2 lots that had previously been occupied by 2 Victorian style bathhouses.  When a tufa, (a type of limestone), cavity was discovered during excavation, the owners decided to promote the cavity as an Indian cave.  The Quapaw Indians had briefly held the surrounding territory after the Louisiana Purchase was completed.  In 1818, the tribe ‘ceded’ the land to the Federal government.

The Quapaw’s lease provided water for 40 tubs, making it the largest business for bathing, its main service.  It did offer some other services such as massages and electro-therapy.  The Quapaw closed in 1968, but it reopened under other management and then closed again in 1984.  It was recently reopened and it is now the 2nd bathhouse offering baths and spa services.  For more information, just go to  

The Fordyce is the largest bathhouse on the Row.  It has 3 main floors, 2 courtyards and a basement under most of the building.  The interior features marble walls, benches and stairs; terra-cotta fountains; stained glass skylights and windows; a wood-paneled coed gymnasium, and; private staterooms.  There was a bowling alley in the basement. 

The building was completed in 1915 and it closed in 1962.  It is now a historically furnished museum. 
The Fordyce provided more services than any other bathhouse on the Row.  In addition to the standard hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, massage, and mercury treatments, the management offered a full range of chiropody services, a beauty parlor, a shoe shine stands, an assembly room with a grand piano, a pool table, iced thermal water, Zander exercise machines, a roof garden and many other amenities. (For more on the early Zander exercise machines, you can just go to
Factoid: The entire Bathhouse Row has been designated as a National Historic Landmark District.

When the Fordyce was completed in 1915, William Maurice set about renovating and upgrading his father's bathhouse, aptly named The Maurice.  It had opened only 3 years earlier, in 1912.  With a total space of 23,000 square feet, this facility had ample room for the complete range of services and amenities.  The Maurice had a gymnasium, staterooms, a roof garden, twin elevators and, at one point, it was the only bathhouse to have a therapeutic pool.

Factoid: From shortly after the Civil War until 1967, Hot Springs was a hotbed of gambling and prostitution.  The police department was on the take and the mobs controlled the city.  At one point, there was a gun battle between the mob's city police department and the county sheriff's department.  Four officers were killed.

Factoid: Al Capone was a frequent visitor, staying at the Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa.  This massive hotel, built in 1925, is still in operation and, as per Esquire Magazine, its lobby bar is one of the best bars in America.  For more on this historic hotel, or if you might want to stay there, go to

Factoid: Hot Springs was cleaned up and the mobsters moved on when a new governor, Winthrop Rockefeller, declared war on the the gambling and prostitution.  His predecessor, Orval Faubus, had avoided any such efforts, turning a blind or convenient eye towards the problem. (Governor Faubus is better known for his stand against the desegregation of the Little Rock Arkansas public schools.

The current Hale Bathhouse is at least the 4th building to use this name.  The first Hale Bathhouse was built in 1854.  This is the oldest bathhouse on Bathhouse Row, as it was completed in 1892.  It closed for business in 1978.  This building has 12,000 square feet.  The lobby arcade was used as a sunroom where guests could relax in rocking chairs.  In 1917, one of the hot springs was captured in a tiled enclosure in the basement and this feature is still in place. 

This bathhouse was also connected with a thermal cave carved out of the mountainside and used as a ‘hotroom’ in the 1890’s.  This cave was rediscovered during the completion of a 1993 drainage project and it’s now a federally protected archeological site.
Factoid: From the 1880’s through the mid 1940’s, Hot Springs was the major training site for Major League Baseball.  The Chicago Cubs, the White Stockings, the Reds, the Pirates and the Red Sox all trained here at one point or another.  It wouldn’t have been unusual to see Babe Ruth walking down the street. (Interesting…major league baseball…gambling…prostitutes…mobsters…)

The last of the Bathhouse Row facilities is The Superior.  The style of construction is much different than the other bathhouses.  The business’s name was supposed to be derived from it’s offering of superior service but it may have also been meant to appeal to the many health seekers from the upper Midwest.  This bathhouse opened in 1916.  The smallest bathhouse on the Row, the Superior also had the lowest rates.  It offered only basic hydrotherapy, mercury and massage services.  It closed in November of 1983.

For more on Hot Springs National Park, including some great old photos, just go to  To learn more about the city of Hot Springs, which has a metropolitan population of almost 100,000, you can go to,_Arkansas or you can check out
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge it...
Thanks for stopping by and sharing part of our roadtrip...and America's history with us!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rockin’ Robin’s – Booneville AR

Moving south from Rogers Arkansas, then skirting around Ft. Smith on our way to Hot Springs, we stuck to the back roads.  We headed east on Arkansas Rte. 10 through some really pretty country, planning to turn south on AR Rte. 7 and then on into Hot Springs.

But of course, one must stop and refuel oneself somewhere along the route.  So, when we entered Booneville Arkansas, we had our eyes open for a luncheon opportunity…

That’s when we ran across Rockin’ Robin’s in downtown Booneville… We liked the name and there were a couple of cars parked out front even though it was a bit after the normal lunch hour.  We decided to give it a try…

The inside of Rockin’ Robin’s was clean and bright, if a bit sparse and very basic in its décor.   

We started out with a Frito Pie for our appetizer, mainly because it had been a long time since we’d even seen one on a menu!  It was very good with lots of chili and cheese slathered over the Fritos…

I had the chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy with a side of deep fried okra.  It all tasted good to me!   Very satisfying…

FYI, We never thought that we’d appreciate okra in any form, that was until Bev, that is Big Dude’s better half, introduced us to the fried version. (Check out Big Dude’s blog and food related stories at

Since we’d already had the Frito Pie, Laurie ordered a simple bacon cheeseburger with lots of pickles on the side.  It was a bit overcooked but it still hit the spot. 

This is a photo of the chef, (on the left), and our waitress.  She moved to Booneville from Houston Texas.  She was very personable and friendly, attending to all of our needs and talking a bit about the area and her move from Houston.

Our waitress, (we had written down both of their names but I’ve apparently lost the note), was very disappointed that we were too full to try their homemade fudge.  So, she put six pieces of the turtle fudge in this box and gave it to us to take on our journey…a nice touch indeed!  It was very good fudge!

Normally, this is where I’d give you the address and phone number of the restaurant… However, I didn’t have a receipt to work from and when I tried to look up Rockin’ Robin’s on the internet or in the phone directory.   I even tried a reverse phone look up…to no avail.  Our lunch was in late May but it appears that 6 weeks later, Rockin’ Robin’s is not any more.  Too bad!  It was a good lunch served by some nice people.  Perhaps being downtown but not directly on AR Rte. 10 was the issue…
Just click on any photo to enlarge it!
Thanks for sharing part of our journey with us…
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Our Family Has Expanded!

OK…it isn’t a new grandchild or even a great nephew or niece.  Instead, we adopted a needy 7-year old who had been starved and physically abused…

So what did you expect?!  At my age, (Laurie is a lot younger!), we had to take on a responsibility commensurate with: (A) Our ability to cope; (B) Our financial status now that we’re retired, and; (C) the size of Laurie’s lap.
Let me introduce you to J.D.  He’s named in honor of our son David II’s recent graduation from Case Western Reserve with his Juris Doctor degree.  J.D. also happens to be the reverse of D.J., important because of the fact that there are already 3 D.J.’s in the family! (David Jeffrey I, II and III)
The photo above is a perfect illustration of just how J.D. woke me up this morning.  I heard a couple of loud “Meows”, (He must be part Siamese!), and then his paw was on my nose and face!  It was like he thought that I’d gone deaf because I hadn’t immediately reacted when he spoke to me…

Yes, J.D. is on our dining room table.  It was his second visit to this venue that we know about.  Our goal following these photos is to chase him off the table as well as the kitchen counters…although we haven’t seen him on the latter…yet!

J.D.’s story is sad… He was part of a family that kept him indoors, plus they had him neutered and declawed.  Then their baby came…and they decided that they couldn’t have or didn’t want J.D. in the house any longer. (We don’t know what his name was in this chapter of his life) So, J.D. suddenly became an outdoor cat!

If you know anything about cats, I don’t need to tell you that a declawed cat is going to have a tough time living outdoors… The neighborhood ‘alpha’ cat or cats kicked his butt, stole his food and in general made J.D’s life miserable.  Fortunately, a sister of J.D.’s human family came by to visit and then turned her family into the Humane Society.  J.D. was rescued from certain death!

In the last 2 photos, J.D. is posing on my Grandmother Weed’s hooked rug that dates back to around 1950 or 1951.

To continue with his story, J.D. was seen by a Humane Society veterinarian, where he was cleaned and stitched up.  (His back legs, belly, base of his tail and neck area were shaved so they could clean and stitch his wounds.)  Adopt-A-Pet, a rescue shelter here in East Tennessee, took him in and placed him with a rescue volunteer.  They named him ‘Mr. Pickles’…presumably because of the situational ‘pickle’ he was in when he was rescued.  According to the foster care 'mom', J.D. was just a skeleton when she got him and she wasn't sure he'd survive. 

After gaining some weight , he occasionally spent a little time at PetSmart…but he didn’t do well there.  There was too much going on with other cats…perhaps reminiscent of his outdoor living adventures…and he shyly stayed back in his cage.  Consequently, he was passed over by 'would be' adoptive families.  He was in the foster home for 4 to 6 months before we took him home.

Like most cats, J.D. loves lying in the sun.  He weighs less than any cat that we’ve ever had…at only 10.5 lbs. (Hank the Tank was 27 lbs. at his peak weight and even Lhasa, our Himalayan weighed a bit more than J.D. does) J.D. has scars under his chin, on his neck, legs and belly, all from his ‘outdoor’ life.  Going to a cat fight without front claws is a bit like taking a knife to a gunfight…

Almost immediately after exploring our house, J.D. decided that he was home!  He is very lanky, long and slim…(walks like John Wayne if you’re watching from behind!) J.D. uses his paws more than his cries to capture our immediate attention.  Here he’s contentedly resting on Laurie’s lap after a tough day of exploration, eating and being petted… Life is good!
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for helping us welcome J.D. to our extended family!  He's a really sweet cat and a "keeper"!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave and Laurie

Friday, July 20, 2012

Railroad Depots Plus (#3) – Arkansas

It’s time for a bit more railroad nostalgia plus a little history and miscellaneous facts.  As we drove the back roads up and down NW Arkansas, we passed through some interesting and attractive small towns.  We really enjoy the ‘little things’ and related experiences encountered as we explore the USA. 

This is the former Missouri-Pacific and later Union Pacific railroad depot in Ozark Arkansas.  This depot was built in 1911 and it’s now included in the National Register of Historic Places.  It’s now in use as the Ozark Area Depot Museum, displaying items from the area’s past as well as railroad memorabilia. 

To me, this is a sad photograph…a handsome railway depot completely fenced off from its original reason for existence…  I realize that it’s a safety issue, but it just looks wrong to me!

The town of Ozark has a population of a little over 3,500.  Factoid of little importance: During the first season of the Reality TV Series, “The Simple Life”, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie worked at the local Sonic Drive-In for a short time.

I took this photo… I just liked the view, lonely tracks stretching off toward the bridge over the Arkansas River in the distance.

Another factoid: Late night host Craig Ferguson came through here at some point after his arrival in the USA and then he said some nice things about the town on one of the talk shows.  He was made an honorary citizen of Ozark…inspiring his process towards US citizenship.  A bit later he financed a bond to build a turf field for the high school football team.

That little structure serves as the railroad station and weekend open-air market for Winslow Arkansas.  Winslow was founded as a stagecoach stop and it was originally named Summit Home because it was at the summit of the road from the Rogers/Bentonville area through the Boston Mountains south to Ft. Smith.  The town was renamed after the then President of the St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad, Edward F. Winslow, when the railway came to town.

Wait a minute!  I did say that that open air structure serves as the railroad station…not that it was the old railroad station.  For more on travel by rail to Winslow, read the last segment of this blog regarding Van Buren Arkansas…

This is the Winslow Mercantile.  It’s open one Saturday per month and serves as a gathering place for tourists and the locals.  Refreshments are sold as well as a few souvenirs.  The store is loaded with old signs plus a lot of collectibles.  Some of it is for sale but it is fun to browse through the aisles.

Factoid: Winslow was a filming location for the movie, “Frank and Jesse”.

So while in the Winslow Mercantile, I bought this town's centennial tile depicting the railroad coming to town.  Winslow wasn’t  incorporated until 1905 despite the fact that the town was settled much earlier.  The most important date for Winslow was the day in 1882 that the St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad completed the 1,702’ long, (quarter mile), Winslow Tunnel.   That allowed the railroad to run south through the Boston Mountains to Ft. Smith…and it opened up commerce for Winslow.  Today the town has only about 400 residents…

Laurie bought a split oak market basket with oak handle ( sorry, no photo) made by local resident, Randy Gibson in 2010.  He is famous for his excellent made oak baskets.  Sorry to add,...Mr. Gibson has since died.   The Mercantile only had two baskets left...So Laurie was very pleased to have purchased one of the only remaining baskets of Randy Gibsons!

The Van Buren Arkansas depot is near the southern end of the line for the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad.  The railroad has a 150 mile route from Monett MO to Ft. Smith AR.  Van Buren is close to Ft. Smith and with a population of roughly 23,000, it is part of the metropolitan statistical area.  The depot itself was built by the Frisco Railroad in the early 1900’s.   

The good news is that this is an active passenger station!  The Arkansas and Missouri Railroad is one of the few railroads that handles freight and also runs passenger trains.  Most passenger trains are operated on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  Trains run between Van Buren and Winslow and then Winslow and Springdale. For more information on this scenic ride on the rails through the Boston Mountains and the Winslow Tunnel, just go to
Van Buren was founded as a river port on the Arkansas River.  It was named after the newly appointed Secretary of State, Martin Van Buren.  Of course, he later became the 8th President of the United States.  The town was incorporated as a city back in 1842.  For more about the city of Van Buren, especially as regards the Civil War, go to the following Arkansas resource site for tourists and newcomers.
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by and sharing part of our road trip with us!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Quality Restaurant – Arrested Development?

When we traveled from East Tennessee to NW Arkansas, on our first night we stayed in Conway Arkansas.  That left us with an easy drive for the next morning…

Of course, the next question was “Where should we go for dinner?”

We asked the clerk at the desk at our Hampton Inn what she would suggest.  She told us that a local favorite was a place called the Marketplace Grill.  It was only a short distance away…the next exit down…so off we went.  As you can see, this restaurant has a nice curb appeal.

The interior of the Marketplace Grill was very open, a bit industrial  but still classy, warm and friendly.  The center service area is reminicent of the arrangement at Macaroni Grill.

The grill/kitchen is open to view, something that is fairly common these days and I find it to be a bit comforting…like I’m in someone’s home.  Décor in the restaurant is tasteful but simple, perhaps even a bit understated.   

Now…to what’s really important…the menu and the food!

We started out with an order of Jalapeno Cheese Fritters. ($4.99) Not only do they photograph well, they were also excellent, with just the right ‘pop’ of flavor.

Other available appetizers range from Fresh Salsa and Chips, ($2.99) on up to Tostada Florentine, ($6.99), and Lettuce Wraps. ($7.99)

Laurie ordered an individual Margherita Pizza, (with sausage and pepperoni), for her dinner. ($8.99)  She added a Dinner Salad for another $2.99.  Everything was very good!  The Marketplace Grill prides itself for it’s use of fresh ingredients…

Other entrée options include Pasta and Stir Fry, ($11.99 - $15.99); Chicken, Beef and Pork, ($9.99 to $17.99); Steaks and Prime Rib, ($13.99 to $21.99); Seafood and Fish, ($13.99 to $19.99).  There are also a selection of burgers, sandwiches and wraps available from open to close. ($7.99 to $9.99)
I was interested to see the variety that was available...ranging from a Turkey Filet Mignon dinner, ($11.99), to Ultimate Jambalaya Pasta, ($15.99), and on to Blueberry Salmon ($16.99)

As usual, I went with something ‘light’… In this case I did order some nice healthy broccoli to go with my Chicken Fried Steak, ($11.99), and mashed potatoes and gravy.  The Chicken, Beef and Pork Dinners come with a choice of two sides and hot bread.  Looking at my receipt, I think that I was charged an extra $.50 for extra gravy for my mashed potatoes… Curious to say the least.

In any case, this was a very nice slab of chicken fried steak!  I’ve decided that although I like garlic, it’s just a bit much in mashed potatoes.  I should have gone with either the Parmesan Spinach or the Sweet Greet Beans as my second side.
OK…Why did I include “Arrested Development?” in my title for this blog?  We liked this place well enough to inquire about expansion plans…maybe in an eastward direction toward east Tennessee!  According to our server, the owners have tried to expand beyond the 3 Marketplace Grills and 2 Marketplace Express locations.  According to her, one major deterrent seems to be the owner’s religious beliefs related to the sale of alcoholic beverages.  In most markets, it’s hard to compete if you can’t pick up that extra margin that comes from the sale of adult beverages.  Apparently, at least one attempt to expand had already failed… 

In any case, we liked this group of restaurants enough that when we arrived in NW Arkansas at lunchtime and we spotted our 2nd Marketplace location, this time a Marketplace Express, we went for it a second time!

Again there is the emphasis on fresh ingredients.  This version of Marketplace calls for the customers to place their order at the register…find a table and then the food is delivered to your table when its ready. 

I took another shot at my version of ‘more’ healthy dining… This time I ordered the American Burger and for my side, I chose the fresh fruit. ($6.99) The bun was toasted, the burger was flavorful and juicy plus the fruit was actually ripe and very fresh!

Laurie went one better on me…ordering a healthy Thai Crunch Salad. ($6.99) She really liked it with her Cilantro-Lime dressing.  The textures and ingredients were first class…

We enjoyed both of our dining experiences with the Marketplace restaurants.  Service was pleasant and the restaurants were very clean.  Just a word to the owners of the Marketplace group… There are lots of folks here in East Tennessee that don’t drink or approve of it…and there are others, like Laurie and I, that would be happy to forgo an adult beverage in exchange for a quality meal!
The Marketplace Grill in Conway Arkansas is located at 600 Skyline Drive.  Phone: 501-336-0070.   The Marketplace Express in Rogers Arkansas is at 3000 Pinnacle Hills Parkway.  Phone: 479-273-9110.  For more information on the Marketplace group of restaurants, just go to 
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Fourth of July Celebration!

Laurie and I hadn’t seen any fireworks from a great vantage point since we were soaking in a hot tub overlooking the San Juan Islands in Washington State…many, many years ago.  So, when our friends Charlie and Karen invited us to view a fireworks show from their boat on Tellico Lake, we jumped at the chance! 

On our way to view the fireworks, I asked Charlie if he could cruise by this tow boat…one of the few working vessels this far up the Tennessee River.  I really like big boats and ships… The ‘Jeanette B’ was built in 1928 by the Charles Ward Engineer Works in Charleston West Virginia.  This vessel is 64.8 ft. long and weighs 47 tons.  The Knoxville Barge Company is a division of the Brownlee Companies.  The barge division’s focus is on shoreline erosion prevention, dock erection, river dredging and heavy material transport.  In this case, it was moving a barge full of rock to stabilize the shoreline.

For information on the Charles Ward Engineering Works, which was in operation from 1872 until 1931, go to:  For better pictures of the Jeannette B, go to  The Brownlee Companies’ website is
Now…onto the festivities!!

Karen and Charlie also invited some other mutual friends, Holly and Joel.  Note the festive neckwear that Holly is wearing… 

Here’s Holly, (with a Shiner Bock), and Karen, our hostess for this soirée…

This is Charlie trying to guide us safely across the crowded lake at night…with Joel harassing him and Joel and Holly’s son, Justin just chilling with another Shiner Bock.

Laurie captured quite a few decent photos of the fireworks…and it’s a bit like trying to catch fireflies.  They last for an instant and they’re gone!

This fireworks show is staged annually by a local dentist. (Business must be very good!) He has a big party at his house and the evening is climaxed with a big fireworks display.  He even lets his neighborhood know when he’s staging the event so they can enjoy the display…

The fireworks used to be staged off the end of his dock, but this year the sponsor of this event stepped it up a notch…complete with a professional crew and an offshore fireworks barge.

There had to be 100 plus boats scattered around this part of the lake watching the action.  In addition, the main road along the lake was dotted with parked vehicles with their emergency lights flashing…

This show was so big…and so professional…that they actually had a safety patrol boat in operation to ensure that all the boats stayed back at a safe distance.  There was applause and boat horns were sounded after every burst of action emanating from the barge!

All in all, this was a great Fourth of July Celebration!  Over 30 minutes of top drawer fireworks, no crowds to deal with, good friends to share the experience, floating on the lake in comfort, a beautiful evening… So far, retirement has really been “tough”!

We hope that your Independence Day was enjoyed by you and yours!
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave