nwa pride parade 2018

Yesterday, I attended my first ever Northwest Arkansas Pride Parade held in downtown Fayetteville. I was part of over 12,000 people from all over the area joining together to celebrate life and love and people. It was beastly hot, but the colors, the sense of community, the support, the friendship, the hugs, the spending time with Meghan, her boyfriend and my best friend and her family, the joining together for a cause . . . . all that and more made up for the 90+ temperatures. I was hunkered down on a street corner taking pictures, the whole time grinning from ear to ear, sometimes choking back the lump in my throat that I usually get during such inspiring events. You could practically reach out and touch the joy that was in the air. Just so much joy and laughter and love.

After living in the bustling Washington, DC Metro area for most of my adult life, the relaxed atmosphere of a small(-ish) town such as Fayetteville really makes me feel as though I'm a part of the community, not just another commuter/shopper/fill-in-the-blank that I felt in DC. It's the Farmer's Market and the street festivals and and events that are held on a weekly and monthly basis here in this little area nestled in the quiet Ozark Mountains that make me feel like I count. I run into neighbors and friends whenever I go to the grocery store. I can run along the trails and get friendly hellos and waves from other runners and walkers that I pass. I can strike up conversations with strangers while waiting in line at the bank or the DMV. This feeling of acceptance and friendship is so welcomed after living in northern Virginia where you never really quite got to know anyone.

And yesterday along Dickson Street in the heart of Fayetteville that feeling was never more represented than in the colorful parade that marched down the center of the avenue. What an amazing day!

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To see more of yesterday's parade, just click on the link here. 

along dickson st.

Last Friday, Dave and I had a Date Night along Dickson St., a once-upon-a-time sketchy street in the heart of Fayetteville's entertainment district that only biker gangs and drunken frat boys would spend their weekend nights drinking and getting into fights. The town cleaned up the place during the twenty or so years that we were away and now it's the heart of Fayetteville, full of coffee houses, upscale bars and a lively Walton Arts Center that puts on Broadway musicals and hosts countless concerts during the year.

Dickson Street is a far cry from what it used to be.

Saturday was the University of Arkansas's commencement ceremony, so the pubs and restaurants were crawling with parents of graduating students and family from far and near. Dickson was ripe for people watching, the weather was beautiful, and there was just a really fun vibe going on. Dave and I have both been so busy these last few weeks that it felt really good to go out for dinner (and we split this decadent desert that was a cross between a grilled cheese sandwich and blueberry cheesecake. We both fought for the last crumb!) and catch up with each other. We made plans for our summer vacation, talked about paddle boarding the next day, about motorcycle trips we wanted to take and about our Joe being awarded a summer internship at Pea Ridge National Park for the summer. 

And, after walking around for an hour, we drove home, watched the news and fell asleep. 

So much for our wild night on the town. 😉

joe martin stage race

Every April, the Joe Martin Stage Race rolls into Fayetteville, bringing with it close to 1,000 cyclists and team support from all over the States and the world. For four days, top cyclists battle it out for points and claims to fame and for pride in themselves for finishing one of the most grueling qualifiers for the Tour de France. This year, the race began on Thursday, a gorgeous WARM day, but with some seriously strong headwinds blowing out of the south. Also, for something new and "fun", the race directors had the first leg of the race (a mere 113-miler for the elite amateur men) finish uphill on top of Mt. Sequoyah, a local landmark here in town and sporting some wicked twists and turns as you head up the drive.

What is is it with race directors in NW Arkansas placing finish lines at the top of a hill? It isn't just bike race directors either, running races have the same placement for finish lines, too!

Thursday, I took a shuttle up to the top of Mt. Sequoyah to shoot some of the race for myself, which is a real treat. I don't have to shoot every racer if I don't want to, I can shoot how and what I want, I can be creative and and play with composition. And I can leave whenever I want to, also.  I enjoy doing that every now and then, helps to loosen up the juices and get them flowing again. 

Due to the heavy winds, the finish was delayed by an hour, with the elite amateur men arriving an hour later than was expected, the pro women arriving an hour later than they were expected and the pro men, likewise. Nothing like riding headfirst into gusty spring winds to make you late.

I stayed for a couple hours, shooting over 500 photos, until my shuttle showed up to take me back to my car. I had a blast, even getting a small sunburn from the strong sun beating down on all the asphalt that covered the events' parking lot. The race finished up the final stage this afternoon, and now Fayetteville will quiet down until the next event comes along. 

Quiet down and catch her breath.

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Scenes from the Fayetteville Women's March of 2018

I'm not what you'd call a very active activist. Not to get all political on you or anything, but I do believe that women should get equal pay for equal work, that we need better health care for everyone and Congress needs a good slap up the head, among other things. I admire those women and men that stand up for everyone else, that demand to be heard and and are fighting to make this wold a better place. I'm more of a closet activist, I suppose, cheering on those brave people from the sidelines.

Until today.

Today I attended my first rally and march for equality, justice and inclusion when I decided to attend the Women's March of Fayetteville, commemorating 2017's Women's March that was held nationally and internationally. I hadn't really planned on going, but I found myself texting my close friend to see if she was going, and well, we met each other at the public library at 11:30 this morning, and spent the next two hours listening to various speakers, chatting with other women and pointing out some of our favorite signs, and of course marching from the town square down to the public library. The weather was beautiful and warm, the speakers were impassioned, the crowd on point with cheers and boos. 

It was an amazing day and an amazing event. 

Maybe now I'll be more of an active activist. I took the first step today and that's all that it takes.

 
 
 

 

 

 

Block Street Party

And it really was a Party, with a capital "P"!

Every year about this time, Fayetteville merchants along Block Street have a massive party and all the town is invited to come out and play. There are vendors set up under tents selling their goods, pony rides for the children, beer gardens for the adults and concert stages set up in nearly every vacant parking lot. Block Street itself isn't that long, maybe three or four blocks, but thousands of people from all over northwest Arkansas packed themselves in between the tents and had a ball. This was the first time David and I attended and we got to see some old friends, believe it or not, amongst that mass of human beings. It was a beautiful day, not too hot, not too cold, but juuuust right. Children were everywhere, as were dogs, people were laughing, music was playing, the smell of BBQ was filling the air and everybody was in a happy mood. It was just a perfect day for a party. 

But It's So Pretty!

I know, I know, another design and I'm back to using my old site name, but the old look was just, well, "too much". I worked all day yesterday while it rained, redesigning, reading tutorials, thinking I understood how a certain element worked only to find out that I had it all backwards. By the time supper rolled around, however, I had the site looking and working just how I liked. I really like the look of the new "Welcome" page and the scrolling that goes with it. I'm thinking of adding some galleries later on down the road, too. Fill free to poke around, I don't mind. 

In the mean time, enjoy a few pictures I took this past Saturday of the morning's Farmers Market and the afternoon's  "Springfest", a yearly festival that Fayetteville puts on to celebrate Springs arrival. There was a dog parade and show ( the cutest little puppy won the small dog category, whereas a lab dressed as a triceratops won the large dog category); there were vendors set up all up and down the main drag, a break dance competition, small children running around with chalk . . . but the main attraction were the bed races. This was the first year I visited Springfest and the bed races were so much fun to watch. It was a beautiful day and I was with some of my best friends. There was laughter and crowds and such a festive mood in the air. I can't think of a better way to welcome spring.