Before I arrived in Eureka Springs, I lived in Seattle, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, New York City, Orlando and Dallas.
People say that living is Seattle is like being married to a beautiful woman who is sick all the time. That best describes the area's unique combination of breathtaking scenery and the weather that often masks the beauty. With consistently gray skies from November to May, you can see how the area gets its reputation for gloom. What is less publicized though is the reverse effect: Summer rarely sees a drop of rain and when you do see a rare, cloudless sky on a Summer day, that's the bluest, blue sky you ever will see in your life. I used to tell people that the residents of Seattle suffered from seven months of expectation and five months of disillusionment. I still say this from time to time when I talk about life back there.
Boston's historical physical development can make navigating the metro area by car very tricky. Unlike neighboring New York City, where streets are aligned in a grid pattern, Boston's roads have no logic whatsoever. To add insult to injury, Boston drivers live up to their reputation of being some of the most emotive and aggressive drivers on the road. I was flipped-off by four different drivers as I went from the airport to my parents home on Thanksgiving Day 2018.
Despite Fort Lauderdale's reputation as a vibrant, Spring Break party town, the metro area's population skews older than you might expect. The median age in Fort Lauderdale was 41 when I lived there in the 1990's, slanting older due to the large number of baby boomers and retirees who live in the region. Perhaps less surprisingly, many singles live there, too. I was single when I lived there and while the weather and beaches are favorable I had this odd vacant feeling in my heart that always told me "visiting here from time to time would be much more fun instead of residing here all year-round." My heart was right. I enjoy visiting Florida, even today, far more than I ever did when I lived there.
New York City gets a bad rap. It's often described as a hot, busy, dirty concrete jungle, but there's plenty of culture and
green space in New York City. Local officials are dedicated to maintaining and improving access to green space across New York City's boroughs – there are more than 1,700 parks, playgrounds and recreational facilities there. Central Park may be referred to as "New York City's backyard," but The High Line is my favorite. In 1933, the first train ran on the High Line and transported tons of meat, dairy, and produce. After years sitting unused and abandoned, The High Line was destined for demolition but instead it has been beautifully repurposed. This urban revitalization project on the Lower East Side has become my preferred park space in NYC.
So while everything you could possibly want is available to you in NYC, even nature at The High Line, unless your a Vice President at your Company, you'll need three jobs to enjoy everything you could possibly want in the city. It is just so very expensive to live here. I lasted a short time, after college, and then moved on.
The Orlando metro area, which includes the nearby communities of Kissimmee and Sanford, houses upwards of 2.5 million residents and while Florida has a reputation for being a retirement hot spot, most of Orlando's residents are of working age. I mean let's be honest, Mickey & Minnie employ the thousands of sun-kissed teens and twenty-somethings that reside there. I was in that crowd. I was twenty-something and working as an entertainer at Universal Studios. When I lived in Orlando, GPS apps on cell phones weren't all the rage yet and I cannot count how many times I saw a confused Dad with a blank stare on his face as Mom unfolds the AAA paper map she bought at the gas station to navigate their journey. Life in O-town was choppy. I just couldn't get into the Orlando vibe.
In Dallas, I vibed. I absolutely loved our Dallas/Fort Worth chapter. It was just so vibrant. I was in my forties when I lived there and it felt right. Most nights, live music echoed out of bars and theaters across the metroplex. In general, when I think of life in Texas, I think it has to be one of the most patriotic places that I have ever lived. Everyone knows that Texans are proud to be Texans.
Fort Worth is underrated and kind of an amazing little secret. Fort Worth offers the annual Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, along with weekly rodeos at the Stockyards and weekend two-stepping at Billy Bob's Texas nightclub. My husband Jeff is from Texas. Within our first month living in Dallas, he took me shopping so I could get my very first pair of cowboy boots. I'll never forget the fun nights two-stepping in our boots at The Round Up Saloon. Dallas really is a great place to hang your hat and scoot your boots. Yes, it was hard to leave but hey, it's just down the road a piece, so we can visit any time.
When I arrived in Eureka Springs, Arkansas for the very first time in July 2017, it was that little voice in my head that whispered to me, "you belong here." It was Diversity Weekend in Eureka and Jeff, wanted to go somewhere new and different for his birthday, so we packed up the SUV and drove from Dallas to Eureka for a weekend in a treehouse. I knew from that very first visit, there was something about this place that was going to offer something unique and different in comparison to my previous "big city" experiences.
In 2017, I was 47 years old and in my research about the ages of Eureka Springs' population, I discovered this:
To me, this chart meant, "yes, listen to that voice in your head, you do belong here."
Jeff and I sold our home in Dallas just ten months after our first 2017 visit to Eureka and we moved into our East Mountain home in downtown Eureka Springs in June 2018. Nestled in the Ozarks, Eureka doesn't feel like a concrete jungle at all. Compared to Orlando which has 2.5 million residents, Eureka has 2500 diverse residents year round and boasts no stop lights or traffic lights anywhere in town. The feelings people feel when they visit here for the first time varies, of course, but the most common thing you hear is that "it captures you," "gets a hold of you," "overcomes you," and "makes you feel like you belong" - just like it did for us.
Founded and named on July 4, 1879, (ha, talk about patriotic) The City of Eureka Springs, Arkansas has welcomed visitors for decades. Although our little mountain town is known today for our incredible architecture, arts/events, history, antiques & shopping, as well as the great outdoors, the original draw to be here was simply - natural, healing spring water. As the story is often told . . . early Native American tribes believed that the cold mountain spring water that flows through these hills could cure ailments of all kinds, and for this reason all that surrounded was deemed sacred.
It was not long after the discovery of the healing water when health-seekers deemed these hills to be full of miracle cures and flocked to the area by the thousands during Victorian times, thus creating this stylish mountain retreat that you may still come to experience, even today. Here, we remain perfectly perched in these beautiful Ozarks surrounded by the grand, green curves of Mother Nature and we truly believe that this place is sacred. One visit is all it will take for you to feel that hard-to-explain, magical tug on your soul - connecting you to this corner of the world.
Nowadays, it remains to be said that the rejuvenating spring waters continue to emit these mystical, magical energies that tug at your soul, ground you and connect you.
Through the decades of the 19th century, it was a time of immense growth for Eureka Springs as thousands of people visited. Eureka Springs was famous on a national level for those healing waters and the lore flourished about their abilities to renew a person back to health and wellness.
Elaborate buildings in the architectural styles popular during the Victorian era were constructed at record rate from 1880 to 1910. Public improvements included gas lighting for city streets in 1885, a city municipal water system. An estimated 60,000 cubic yards of native limestone was used to construct walls, sidewalks, and public stairways leading from steep hills to other steep hills in the 1880s and 1890s.
Most of these features still exist today including ten flights of public steps in the historic district leading from one street to the next. Of particular note is the stairway called “Jacob’s Ladder” which begins on Jackson Street and comes out on Copper Street, containing more than two hundred steps and connecting three streets.
Quite simply, Eureka Springs is one of those unexpected gems in America.
Eureka Springs has been featured in many magazines and publications as a top place to get married, a top place to visit, a top place to shop for art, a top place to see live music, a top place to experience nature, a top small town in America and a top place to go mountain biking. I'm sure there are more attributes to list about the many things that are offered here, but I must say this feature on the website LGBTQ Nation, is exceptional and it is absolutely true - we are "an oasis for those looking to get away from big cities."
Check out the feature on LGBTQ Nation here.
This is Eureka! You found it! You belong here.