When we informed my mom exactly when we would return to the United States, she mentioned that my brother was interested in planning a short welcome-back vacation for the immediate family. My brother suggested we visit Bentonville, Arkansas. The city is in northeast Arkansas, about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from my family home in Oklahoma. My brother thought it was a good choice as we could visit numerous cultural and natural places. Jun and I agreed and asked him to arrange things.
We started our trip mid-morning on a Monday. My brother drove up from his home to pick us up. Once we loaded our luggage into his car, we soon left for Bentonville.
The drive to Bentonville was uneventful. We stopped in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for lunch at Andolini’s Pizzeria. They had a lunch deal where you choose from two options for lunch. Their pizza, salad, and pasta were quite delicious. After lunch, we continued on our way. My brother took a turn he shouldn’t have at some point on the trip. Google Maps rerouted him through rural Oklahoma. The change in route allowed us to see more of the pastoral parts of Oklahoma.
When we arrived in Bentonville, we went directly to our Airbnb stay near the historic downtown. After moving our bags into the house and freshening up, we explored the area.
We first walked to Bentonville Square. We visited one or two stores as we continued our walk. My brother continued to lead us around the city. He showed us restaurants, cafes, and ice cream parlors he thought we would like. As we walked, we ended up on a trail that took us from the downtown area to some of the cultural sights in the city.
After walking for over an hour, we decided to head back to the house until dinner. When we arrived at the house, we discussed where we should eat. After debating about it, we ended up having dinner at Table Mesa. The food there is a bit eclectic. There’s a range of choices from Asian to Mexican cuisines. We thought the food was delicious. I particularly enjoyed my crab enchiladas.
After dinner, we returned to the house and called it a day.
Early the next day, I had a virtual job interview. I woke up early to get ready. My mom and brother went out to get coffee, and Jun worked while I did my interview. When I finished the interview, my mom and brother returned and brought back breakfast.
After breakfast, we walked to the Momentary. A contemporary art space, it began its life as a cheese factory. The Momentary is a satellite facility for the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
We first walked around the outside to enjoy the artwork there. For example, we saw Yinka Shonibare’s Wind Sculpture (SG) VIII. Inside, we first went to appreciate Firelei Báez’s To breathe full and free: a declaration, a re-visioning, a correction (19°36’16.9″N72°13’07.0″ W, 42° 21’48.762″ N 71°1’59.628″ W, 36° 22′ 0.1848” N94° 12′ 8.64” W). This sculptural installation is Báez’s invitation for the viewer to consider the history and place of the Caribbean within the world, especially in the Americas. I found the work quite powerful to walk through and experience.
Afterward, we walked around Yvette Mayorga’s exhibit: What a Time to Be. Her exhibit focused on the meaning of belonging. Her works are intricate and pink. Some of her subject matter was fun and nostalgic about growing up in the 1990s, while others were poignant regarding contemporary issues such as gun violence.
After we had finished our visit to the Momentary, we walked down to the 8th Street Market. We found this lovely bookstore—Two Friends Books—with an eclectic selection. They even had the book I had tried to find!
Once we finished exploring this area, we decided to walk to the house to rest. First, though, we grabbed lunch at Yeyo’s food truck near Bentonville Square. The food was quite delicious and filling.
After lunch, we went to the house to rest in the early afternoon.
Later that afternoon, my brother, Jun, and I went for a walk. We visited the Compton Gardens & Arboretum and walked along some of the trails at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The three of us found it quite enjoyable to be in the midst of nature with pieces of art dotted through the landscape.
Soon, though, we returned to the house to discuss where to have dinner. My brother suggested we have dinner at Table Restaurant on 6th. The food there was quite good. Jun ordered a lovely barracuda entre. He also recommended we get ice cream at Trash Creamery.
He did well with his suggestion. Jun and I enjoyed the ice cream there. Wanting some time for ourselves, we ate our ice cream as we walked back to the house. Along the way, we were stopped by a group who wanted to take a picture of us for a scavenger hunt in which they were participating. They needed to take a picture with someone who was eating ice cream. We were glad to help.
When we arrived at the house, Jun and I rested before turning in for the day.
To start the day, we had breakfast at the Ozark Mountain Bagel Co. Then my brother and I got some morning drinks at Onyx Coffee Lab. After our bellies were full, we visited the temporary Walmart Museum.
Later, we drove to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. When we arrived at the museum, we first visited the permanent exhibits. The artwork in the museum is quite impressive and covers a wide range of American art. Each of us was impressed with the exhibition space and the works of art on display. I found Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room―My Heart is Dancing into the Universe remarkable. As an immersive experience, it was a treat to walk in there with Jun. It was nice having the space to ourselves for a short time. I also found Ghada Amer’s The Big Black Bang–RFGA striking. I kept coming back to this work.
After we had gone through the main galleries, we had lunch at the museum’s restaurant: Eleven. The views from the restaurant space were serene and added to an enjoyable experience.
We next visited the special exhibition Diego Rivera’s America. I have enjoyed Diego Rivera’s work since I first saw some of his murals in Mexico City. The artworks in the exhibit were extensive and covered the different phases of his career. Jun and I left happy.
We then walked along parts of the Art Trail and West Walkway. Mom enjoyed seeing quartz crystals at a stone grotto along the West Walkway.
By mid-afternoon, we decided to go back to the house to rest. A little later, everyone besides my mom decided to walk back to the museum. We went around the North Forest Trail. I’m glad we did. There are many impressive works of art there, such as Dale Chihuly’s Sole d’Oro. We also saw parts of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s nighttime experience: Listening Forest.
Along the way back, we stopped at Table Mesa Bistro and Bakery to pick up some cakes and pies for dessert. When we got to the house, we put the dessert away first and then talked with my mom about where to have dinner. We decided to have Thai food at Thai Kitchen. Then we went back to the house to eat the desserts as a pre-birthday celebration for my mom.
After dessert, we rested for the evening and called it a day.
Because of forecasted thunderstorms in the afternoon, we decided to go back to Oklahoma early. After packing our luggage and putting them in my brother’s car, we double-checked that we had everything before leaving. The drive back to Oklahoma went smoothly. While we did have to deal with the rain, my brother expertly drove us without any issues. When we got back to Oklahoma City, we stopped for lunch at Szechuan Bistro. The food there was amazing! It was an excellent way to end our trip. After lunch, my brother dropped us at my mom’s house before heading home.
Jun and I found the trip to Bentonville delightful. The weather was great. The cultural and natural aspects of the city were astonishing. And it was wonderful spending time with my mom and brother.