Things Are Different in Fountain Lake

A Recent Addition At A Motorcycle Shop
This is fairly new to the neighborhood. It’s parked outside a motorcycle repair store on Highway 5.

I’ve lived in the community of Fountain Lake, Arkansas with my husband for 25 years. It’s about ten miles outside of Hot Springs.

Fountain Lake is on Highway 5/Park Avenue, which used to be the old Little Rock Highway. For more than 150 years (I’m guessing) wagons, stagecoaches then cars traveled to and from from the state capital on Highway 5/Park Avenue.

All this to say, Highway 5 is one of the oldest roads in the area. And it shows.

Nice Windows, Nice Door…No Roof

Everyday for 25 years I’ve driven past all kinds of unusal/funky and quirky landmarks in Fountain Lake. Some old, some newer…but all of them are beautiful, interesting or weird.

I believe Fountain Lake is  different than  other Garland County Communities. Kids who grow up in this area generally stay here and their kids go to Fountain Lake.

Often times we are a little suspicious of new folks.  We have lots of churches, one bar Buzz Too but the heart of the community is the school and the Shell Station at the Junction of Highways 5 and 7.  For a long long time that gas station was called David and David’s, and still is by old timers.   And the ladies that worked at David and David’s seemed to have a pretty tight clique that favored men.  It took me a long time to gain acceptance at the gas station when I first moved in with Alex.  But the ladies loved him!

Most of us have driven past all of these locations so many times we really don’t pay much attention.

Fountain Lake, it’s really kind of different out here.

A failed pizza joint that tried to turn into an Escape Room. For a while there was no “e” on the big escape room sign. This is what it looks like now. A little creepy. But it’s right there on the side of the road.

 

Arbordale was a terrific swimming destination in the 30s and 40s, with docks, diving boards, paddle boats. People danced to live music back in the day!
Arbordale was a terrific swimming destination in the 30s and 40s, with docks, diving boards, paddle boats. People danced to live music back in the day!
Fountain Lake used to have a Motel! This sign still stands on the side of the road across from the Fountain Lake Middle School.
I just love these mailboxes across the street from the school. Not sure who’s they were.

 

I really don’t know what this sign means. Either they have questions or maybe answers.

 

I absolutely  love that this big tent pops up several times a year, right in front of the bar, Buzz Too for a church revival, and after the revival it sometimes turns into a fireworks stand!

 

Horsey Healing

img_0038Everyone has wounds, unique emotional scrapes and scars. Childhood and growing up, family and friends can sometimes  beat you up and leave sore spots that we try to ignore or cover up.

I have a running joke that I cheerfully keep all my emotional skeletons locked in a closest and that’s where I want them to stay.

If we are lucky in life, we  find salves and ointments, activities, places and people who make us feel better as humans.  There are things that can smooth the rough corners and edges of life.

This year I discovered a place, right down the road, whose sole mission is exactly that.  The Loco Bonita Ranch has some horses, a lot of them: and these animals have magical gifts.  They make people feel better.

Seven years ago John and Sonja McCaleb opened their ranch and their hearts to folks who need them. Kids who have to live in “children’s homes” , stroke victims, students with emotional struggles and adults with unnamed, but very real pain have a place and some horses who understand. It’s one of the craziest most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

Sonja, John and their horses are quiet and kind, patient and encouraging.  I watched as ten year old girls, twenty year old men and middle age ladies suddenly found peace as they  brushed a 2,000 pound horse and talked. Years of physical and emotional pain dissolved as the horses nuzzled on them and tried to nibble the buttons on their shirts.

A lovely woman I know had a stroke a few years ago. She hadn’t been near a horse in forty years and all she wanted to do was ride, one more time.  Sonja and John made that happen and it was beautiful. There were tears and laughter and horse poop and the world was right for an hour. Despite her disability she left empowered, knowing she could still do anything she set her mind to.

High strung, anxious, angry teens slow down as they figure out how to brush a horse.  The look into those big dark eyes and breath in the peace of Loco Bonita. Sometimes as John or Sonja shows them how to take care of a horse they tell their stories….for the first time.

Kids who have been abandoned at home and bullied at school discover they have the ability to brush, saddle, bridle and lead an enormous, beautiful horse. And they can ride that huge animal without threats or abuse but with understanding and strength.

John and Sonja refuse to charge for any of their services.  They just won’t do it.

The eighteen horses at Loco Bonita along with the Llama, goats, pigs and dogs do wondrous good in the world.  The ranch is a place of peace and power, of grace and beauty.

Over the past 7 years Sonja estimated they’ve had at least 5,000 folks come through Loco Bonita and every one has been touched and helped by a horse. Both John and Sonja work full time.  They help people because it is their passion and God’s plan. If you would like to visit or make a donation to help feed a horse (they eat a lot) let me know and we’ll make it happen.

Peace be with you,

Diana

hampoland@gmail.com

A Boy In Love

classMy parents fell in love in third grade, during the Great Depression.

On bright fall afternoon, my father, Granger McDaniel, squatted next to Whittington Creek. Patiently, he jiggled a piece of string. There was a tiny piece of bacon attached. He knew most of the crawdads were gone this time of year but he had a feeling. Finally, Granger watched as a crawdad approached the bacon and snapped his claw onto the meat.

“Gotcha!” he said as he raised the string up and removed the crawdad.  He looked closely at the crawdads face and bulging eyeballs. “I’m keeping you for the baby! He’ll think you’re really funny, I bet.”

He shoved the string, bacon and crawdad into his deep front pocket then without hesitation or thought, started running, into the woods and up West Mountain.

There wasn’t a visible trail but Granger knew exactly where he was going. He expected every rock and log. He knew each fork and tree. He’d run this game trail up and over West Mountain so many times he didn’t really have to think as he ran.

West Mountain was steep, but not terribly tall. Granger reached the summit in less than fifteen minutes.  Grinning,  stopped to take in the view for a moment and get his bearings. Then as quickly as he stopped he bolted down the mountain, sliding and skidding, sometimes sling shotting around thin trees to slow himself down.

Exploding out of the tree line, Granger stopped completely to catch his breath. He whipped off his hat, licked his dirty hand and smoothed his dark shaggy hair.

He was standing on the edge of a manicured lawn. A beautiful white colonial house with dark green shutters and trim loomed in front of him. After dusting off his pants with his hat, he suddenly sprinted to the back door and knocked twice.

He saw Louella, in her white uniform peek out the window at him before she opened the door.

“Hi Miss Louella, can Ann play today?”

“No, Dr. Stell said she needs to practice her piano.” She handed him a small plate with two cookies and a glass of milk. “Eat up and leave the plate on the table.”

“Can I take one of the cookies to my baby brother?”

“It’s your cookie, do what you want.” She watched him for a moment then said. “Tie your shoe before you leave so you don’t trip running down the mountain.”

“Yes ma’am,” he said as he shoved an entire cookie in his mouth then slugged down the little glass of milk.

Louella closed the door as Granger dropped the extra cookie into his deep front pocket with the crawdad. He squatted down and tied the lace on his ragged shoe, pulled his cap down tight on his head and started running.

Before my dad died, when he was fifty one, he told us to pour his ashes on West Mountain, because he’d always be running to his girl.

It’s always been said, my mom and dad fell in love in third grade. It wasn’t always easy.