Friday, November 30, 2007

All the lovely lights... a holiday dream on Cane River Lake

Natchitoches, Louisiana is, for many travelers, a waystop between Shreveport and Alexandria on Interstate 49. For others, it's the setting of a favorite movie, Steel Magnolias.

But during the month of December, it becomes something else on Saturday nights. It becomes a lighted wonderland on Cane River Lake. And it's pure magic.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Things you may have wondered.

Some updated answers for this at the bottom.

Most websites have a Frequently Asked Question section. Me? Well, I haven't really been around to have been asked frequently about anything. But there are some things you may have wondered.

Why "Tie Dye Travels?"
To those who know me, that may be patently obvious. To those who don't, the explanation. I've always had a streak of wanderlust, and I have no problem with jumping in the car and driving a couple of hours, just to satisfy my curiosity. Add in my wardrobe (an eclectic blend between bohemian and tie-dye), and there you go.

It also comes down to the very first week I did this. There was a nice fellow I was supposed to meet for an interview at the Fuddrucker's in Branson. I went and sat in a booth and never connected. I got back to my accommodations and emailed him to try and meet again. He told me he'd be the bald guy with the bright red tie. I told him I would be the girl in tie dye. It stuck.

Where do you get your ideas?
Mostly from word-of-mouth and my own dusty memory. I love to share stories, and I love to listen to them, too. Invariably, when someone finds out what I'm doing, they have a suggestion right off the bat. I don't follow up on every suggestion (there's a certain place that begins with an "H" that I'm trying to avoid) but I do give them a listen.

Why don't you tell people you're coming for a review?
I worked as a television news producer for approximately 12 years of my adult life. I found that, if I mentioned what I did for a living, that people usually changed their tune and did things differently from normal. That's not my gig. I want to share with people the way things are without the "oh, you're here to write a review!" attitude.

On top of that, the review biz can be a bit polarizing as well. Being identified as a media member can sometimes lead one to a rapid exit... not everyone is willing to share their secrets. The only secrets I'm really willing to reveal to the general public is that secret dish that you don't see advertised in the paper.

Just who are you, anyway?
I'm Arkansas Tech University alumnus and a member of the 1991 Parkview Magnet High School class (and yes, I did know Kevin Brockmeier back in the day, and no I'm not surprised he's a novelist now, and yes it'd be cool to talk to him, and no I don't know his phone number). I have a score of letters on my resume -- letters like KXRJ, KABF, KARN, and KAIT. I spent eight years producing Today's THV This Morning before my leap of faith into the writers' world in September 2007. I have a fantastic husband, Paul, who's been extremely supportive through my decision to leave television on what is unarguably a shaky career move. I also have a Great Dane in his ancient years (11) who's great at interrupting my online storytelling (he likes to come up and lay his head on my keyboard).

What are you hoping to accomplish here?
Well, a lot of things. On the selfish side, it'd be super if someone who reads this website decided to hire me as a writer for their publication. Or maybe they'll buy a post - this website is an article clearinghouse, after all. I love to write -- and, what a coincidence, it happens to be what I do for a living. But more than that -- I'm hoping to share my love of Arkansas, the South, and the road with others. That, and I love to tell stories about the places I've been.

Can I reprint your articles?
Well, yes -- sorta. This is, after all, what I do for a living. Tie Dye Travels appears in the Little Rock Free Press as a monthly column. It's also the basis for the Tie Dye Travels podcast. However, the columns are not exclusive. Tie Dye Travels is available for syndication to your newspaper or magazine on a monthly or weekly basis. Please contact me direct at for more information.

For individuals who want to share my articles with someone, send them a link. You can do that by clicking on that little envelope with the arrow on it on the bottom of each post.

Can I link to your website?
Absolutely. I highly encourage it.

Can I advertise on your website?
Let's talk. Oh, gotta tell you -- I still consider myself a journalist. I don't do reviews for money for restaurants. I don't let ads influence what I write. But I'll be happy to post an ad link to your website in the right hand column for a small fee.

Are you the yoga diva?
Nope... that's the other Kat Robinson, out of Doniphan, MO. You might check out her Active Kat Yoga website... I am envious of her mad yoga skillz....

Are you that guitar chick?
No, I'm not The Great Kat, either, though I admire her ability to shred. Nor am I the Kat Robinson that's the high school track star, or the model from FRM, or the 18 year old from Essex, or the Student Body President, or the psychic advisor, or the attorney, or the woman with my name associated with EMW Film and Talent.

However, I am the former radio show host and voice-over artist, former TV news producer and more. I currently write for several Central Arkansas publications, including Today's Man magazine and the Little Rock Free Press. I've also written recently for Little Rock Family and the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. Chances are, if you do an extensive search for my name, you're going to come up with a lot of Today's THV entries as well. After all, I did work there for eight years!

Do you write for hire?
Well, yah. Drop me a line and we can negotiate.

Do you shoot your own photographs?
Most of them. There are some that I acquire from attractions and Convention and Visitors Bureaus in rare cases (such as when a museum doesn't allow photographs of exhibits, or the Christmas light pictures from Natchitoches that my camera refused to pick up) but I try to take all of my own whenever possible. I figure I'm giving you a glimpse into what I see -- the pictures just make sense.

Oh, and I am now shooting on a Nikon Coolpix 50, a very wonderful Christmas gift from my mom. I still utilize my Fuji FinePix for some outdoor shots.

Can I write you?
Well, sure. I try to answer all of my email that doesn't come from investors in Zimbabwe... though if I am traveling it may take a few days for me to get back to you. And... to head this off at the pass... "42," "African or European," and "because he's his own dad."

How do I keep up with what you're doing?
Because so many people have been asking me where I'm being published and what's going on as I try out this new career, I have a MySpace page. I try to keep it updated with random pictures that may or may not have appeared on this blog, plus the publications and websites where you'll find my work.

Can I have your autograph?
We'll talk. That will likely involve an SASE.

UPDATED 9/5/17.  After all this time, this seems so very, very dated. A lot has changed in the interim. I suspect I should write a proper FAQ.

Maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

History, interrupted in Calico Rock.

The approach northbound into Calico Rock on Highway 5 is one of the prettiest sights you'll see, especially when the leaves are just starting to turn. The highway parallels a cliff face on the White River for nearly a mile before swinging due north and crossing into town on a high bridge.

There's a rail crossing right as you come off the bridge -- and then Calico Rock's commercial district sprays out in front of you, a canyon of progress impossible to ignore.

But if you take a right when you pass over that crossing, or even at the next block, you can travel a whole 75 years or more back into the past.

Monday, November 26, 2007

No Cans Here, Facci's Is The Real Thing.

This restaurant has closed.

If you like the same Italian food time after time after time, go to Olive Garden. If you want the real deal, made with love and made from scratch, hit the road and head to Facci's.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Forget Atlanta, Tara's Ghosts Live Here.

Jefferson, Texas is 650 miles away from Atlanta, Georgia. But Margaret Mitchell's epic novel finds no better recognition than at the Scarlett O'Hardy Gone With The Wind Museum.

That's right -- O'Hardy, not O'Hara, the famed last name of the notorious Scarlett.

The name comes from Bobbie Hardy, one of the biggest fans you'll ever meet. She's collected GWTW related merchandise for decades, and here she can share her fandom with the world.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fast Lane, Slow Cooked Burgers at Legends Burgers in Mountain View.

This restaurant has closed.

The drive up to Mountain View up from Clinton through Rushing on Highway 9 is full of fast curves, gliding slopes, and gorgeous views.

What better place to refuel than Legends?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Colorful Tradition at Jefferson, Texas's House of the Seasons.

Jefferson, TX's House of the Seasons is a legendary lady on a bright corner. This lady has seen rain, ruin, and revitalization in a span of 135 years, and continues to draw visitors today.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My almost but not quite famous rigatoni and cheese recipe.

You will need:
12 ounces rigatoni noodles
4 ounces crushed croutons
5 cups cheese (at least three different sorts)
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 16 ounce tub sour cream
Splash of pepper sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil your rigatoni noodles, drain and allow to cool.

Heat half of the heavy cream in a double boiler.

Crush croutons and use 3/4 to line the bottom of a 13"x9" baking dish.

Place rigatoni in single layer on top of crushed croutons.

Slowly add 1 cup of mixed cheeses to cream.

Break three eggs into a bowl.

Add 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 3 dashes pepper sauce to cream and stir.

Beat eggs thoroughly.

Add a teaspoon of the cream mixture to the eggs and beat again to temper.


Repeat again, until the eggs have come to the temperature of the cream mixture.

Your egg mixture should be a light yellow.

While you are tempering the eggs, your cream mixture will thicken.

Slowly add the egg mixture to the cream mixture, stirring slowly.

Then add half of the sour cream and stir.

Add another teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

and another cup of mixed cheeses and stir.

Your mixture should be a thin custard. The cheese should form small strings.

Add the remaining cream and stir.

Your custard is ready to use.

Place your pan next to your double boiler to prevent spills.

Carefully ladle 1/3 of the custard over the noodles.

Sprinkle noodles with 1 1/2 cups of the cheese.

Your bottom layer should be level but not necessarily uniform.

Place next layer of rigatoni on top of the cheese.

This layer should be uniform, since it's what will appear on top.

Add remaining sour cream to cream mixture and stir well.

Ladle remaining cream mixture over top of layer of pasta.

Make sure you cover every noodle. You may add a splash of milk here if your cream is too thick (it will even out in the refrigerator).

Add remaining crushed croutons to top.

Scatter remaining cheese over the top.

Add one more smattering of freshly ground black pepper.

Cover and place in refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight. To cook, place cold pan in 350 degree oven covered with aluminum foil for 35 minutes. Remove top and allow to brown for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

For the cheese -- I prefer to use a combination of cheeses, usually an 8 ounce package of Five Cheese Italian, an 8 ounce package of Mexican, and another cup of Mozzarella. Feel free to experiment. I wouldn't recommend Feta.

UPDATE 1/3/17.  Wow. I forgot I used to do recipes on here. And how awful the lighting is in my kitchen. Egads.

I also forgot how I used to cook before Grav moved in.

The Cornbread Sandwich Started Here, in Jefferson, Texas.

Don't be mislead by the title on the sign outside. The sign may announce this is the "House of Pies." But in so many ways, it's the house of cornbread.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Don't hurt Santa.

I'm not certain what brought Santa to Marshall, Texas, but apparently he's had a bad time.

At least someone cares enough to give a little better direction after whatever incident befell St. Nick.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Near Lamar, MS.

Okay, what's wrong with this picture?

Hint -- check out the sticker.

That's Donnie Bellew. He's an Arkansas State Trooper, nice guy, too. Not sure what he's doing moonlighting on a gas pump in Mississippi, but there you go.

Hunting foxes.

I found this critter perched on a chair inside a furniture store in Marshall, Texas. I have no idea what in the world they were thinking, but knowing the history of fox hunting and horns the way I do, this seems wildly inappropriate.

Probably just me, though.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Small ship, long journey - the Nina docks at Memphis.

The Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria all sailed the ocean blue in 1492 with Christopher Columbus, as we're all taught in elementary school.

Today, you too can board the Nina and marvel at the little ship that traversed an ocean to bring the explorer to the New World.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Repurposed service station in Carlisle.

This restaurant closed in 2013.

The Esso Espresso is a lovely little coffeeshop in a repurposed Esso gas station along US Highway 70 in Carlisle, Arkansas. I need to stop in here one day.