Monday, August 14, 2017

Road Trip!

A bit more than a long weekend, a bit less than a full-fledged vacation. We recently took off for Bentonville, Arkansas—an easy drive from Kansas City.

My plan, carefully thought out, was to leave at two and miss the afternoon traffic. With two teenage daughters, that plan was a pipe dream.

We left at four and everyone but me in the car seemed bemused by the number of cars on the road.

Really? Had they never heard of lake traffic? It was a Friday.

I sat in the passenger seat and pressed an imaginary gas pedal. Our tickets were for 8:30. Yes, tickets. We had tickets to the Chihuly exhibit at Crystal Bridges.

Thanks to the traffic, a three-hour drive was much longer and there were rumblings from the back seat about dinner. Loud rumblings. Rumblings I ignored. We did, after all, have tickets.

We checked into the hotel and hurried down the outdoor trail to the museum where we presented our tickets and viewed the Chihulys held in the museum. Then it was outside to see the Chihulys in the forest. Needless to say the exhibits were breath-taking. They would have been even more fabulous if my youngest hadn’t taken to calling Chihuly Chilupah.

Apparently the child had Mexican food on her mind. That or the glass in the boat reminder her of hot peppers.

We followed the dark path away from the Chihulys. The very dark path. So dark we got lost.

The forest had thrown off our sense of direction and we emerged far from where we wanted to be.

I ignored the peanut gallery—“We’re hungry,”—and waved down a shuttle.

I stuck my head inside the little bus. “Excuse me, we’re lost.” I got no further.


What were the chances of running into someone I knew?

We climbed onto the never-so-grateful-to-climb-on-a-bus bus which took us back to the museum.

“All the restaurants will be closed,” said Miss Chilupah. “What are we going to eat?”

“We’ll order room service.” Did room service deliver stiff drinks?

From the museum, we took the mile-long trail back to the hotel.

We ended up eating at the hotel restaurant. They served stiff drinks. It was marvelous.

The next morning, the Bentonville square was filled with farmers selling produce, artists and artisans selling their wares, and all sorts of people. My husband and I sat in the shade, drank coffee, and watched.

Eventually our daughters dragged themselves out of bed and joined us. They had the audacity to tell me they were hungry. We got in line at the creperie across from the hotel and the girlies happily downed fruit crepes.

Next on the itinerary was Hot Springs.

Here comes an admission. I drive on inter-states. It never crossed my mind that there were roads of less than four lanes. I was wrong. Very wrong.

The road from Bentonville to Fayetteville was easy.

The road from Fayetteville to Hot Springs winds. And twists. Then winds some more.

My husband wasn’t happy. Not at all.

The situation wasn’t helped by my explanation that one could drive anywhere at 70 miles per hour. To my way of thinking that meant 140 miles should take two hours.

Not so on this trip.

When we finally arrived, the first thing the girls said was, “We’re hungry.”

How did people travel without smart phones? Oldest daughter picked a restaurant in downtown Hot Springs and the food was delicious.

We fell into bed that night.

I woke up early and wrote (deadlines are inexorable), we went out for breakfast, then we piled into the car for yet another drive down twisty roads.

We dug for diamonds. It was…fun. I never thought I’d enjoy sitting in the dirt sifting through rocks. I did. We all did. We didn’t find any diamonds.

Back to the windy road. Back to hearing, “I’m hungry.”

That night we promenaded around Hot Springs. The Grand Promenade, then a walk past the eight bathhouses that line Central St., and finally a visit to the Arlington Hotel (“Why aren’t we staying here, Mom?”). We should have. My mistake.

And, unbelievably, Miss Chilupah said, “There’s the place I want to go for breakfast.”

None of this has anything to do with mysteries or writing or the book that’s coming out in October. Except is does. Creativity springs from seeing new things, eating new foods, and, apparently, driving twisty, turning roads.

Hope the remainder of your summer is filled with adventures!

Julie Mulhern is the USA Today bestselling author of The Country Club Murders. 

She is a Kansas City native who grew up on a steady diet of Agatha Christie. She spends her spare time whipping up gourmet meals for her family, working out at the gym and finding new ways to keep her house spotlessly clean--and she's got an active imagination. Truth is--she's an expert at calling for take-out, she grumbles about walking the dog and the dust bunnies under the bed have grown into dust lions.

Her latest book, Cold as Ice, releases October 17th.


  1. I'm so jealous about the Chihuly exhibit at Crystal Bridges!! So glad to hear you enjoyed it.

    Looking forward to your upcoming Cold as Ice!! --kate / c. t. collier

  2. Kate, the exhibit was breath-taking. Would have been even better without hangry kiddos!

  3. love this, I can relate. I'll be in Hot Springs in Oct.