Tell us about yourself and what you do for a living?
I have one of the best jobs in the world. I get to be with couples on the most magical day of their life. Since 1983 I have been a wedding photographer. I also have a background in development as a mental health professional while serving in hospice. My partner and I have been together over 24 years. Together we have been active in our community both as entrepreneurs and volunteers. We also run a community Internet video channel providing countless hours promoting the very community that has been so good to us. Nothing makes us happier than when we see other LGBTQ families roll into town and discover Eureka Springs. We have also hosted Del Shores for two separate performances here in Eureka Springs. I also have the distinct pleasure of serving on the board of directors of the Del Shores Foundation, which serves to inspire and support LGBTQ writers from the South.
How long have you been living Eureka Springs?
We rolled into the one blue dot on the map in Arkansas in 2004.
If you moved from somewhere else, what influenced your decision to move here?
I think we both wanted to move to a location where we felt safe and welcomed. Having lived in Memphis, Tennessee, and fighting the high traffic every day, we needed to find a slower lane. I was also inspired by the thousands of weddings that happened here in Eureka Springs. I saw it as an opportunity to increase my business.
What are your favorite places to go for a cocktail and/or dinner?
That’s the toughest question of all so far. It really depends on what I’m in the mood for. But honestly there are several of our restaurants that are world class, and I continue to be inspired by the culinary arts here in Eureka Springs. If I’m looking for a little bit of romance and a quieter evening I might step in to Ermillos, which has some of the best Italian food you’ll ever put in your mouth. If I’m looking for something a little bit more eclectic and more diversified, I’ll probably step into Local Flavor or Sparkys. When I’m starving and need to boost my energy I’ll have a pizza at Café Amoré. That happens at least once a week. And if I want to experience all the senses it’s the New Delhi Café. Cocktails in Eureka Springs are a sporting event, and there are so many options to choose from. My top pick is my “cheers bar” atmosphere place, Missy’s White Rabbit Lounge. There I can have any cocktail that suits my fancy, but trust me they know what drink to pour when I arrive. Missy’s always has a great live band and such a fun atmosphere. It’s always here that tourists become fast friends. For an afternoon cocktail to get the evening off to a slow start I might step in to the Wanderoo Gravel Bar and catch a new band in town. If I’m looking for a romantic night with my babe, I might go to The Stone House wine bar, order a charcuterie plate and a bottle of wine. Sitting under the canopy of beautiful trees while sipping a fine wine is where I want to be on any cooler summer night.
What cultural attractions are a must see for visitors to Eureka Springs?
Without a doubt you must go to Thorncrown Chapel. There’s something truly magical about the place and it’s an amazing building that will move your soul and stir your heart. If you want to dive deep into what is truly the most unique city in Arkansas, you must go by the Eureka Springs Historical Museum. There you will learn all the amazing history that shaped us into who we are today. One of Eureka’s best-kept secrets is the Underground Eureka Tour. Once you take this tour you’ll never look at our hillside city the same way ever again. Of course if you really want to know what it was like to live here in the early years, you might want to go and learn from the ghost tour guides at the Crescent Hotel and Spa. There you will hear the tales of the people that checked in and visited Eureka Springs but never left. Be sure and bring your camera, you never know who might show up.
A friend is coming to Eureka Springs for the first time… Please describe the perfect weekend.
Well to have a perfect weekend in Eureka Springs means you have to come at least four times a year. One weekend in every season. With every season you’ll be inspired to do different activities according to the weather and the availability of activities. But I think I’ll just break it down for you this way. If I’ve got friends coming who love the outdoors maybe they want to get out on the lake and camp. We have several campgrounds out toward the lake that are fantastic. If you own an RV there are a couple of campgrounds in the downtown area if you want that experience as well. When we first moved to Eureka Springs we brought our RV and stayed at the Wanderlust RV Park while we shopped for our home. Of course we lesbians love all outdoor activities. You know it’s got to be camping, kayaking, hiking, bicycling, boating, golf, and just general nesting together. Now, if I’ve got friends that are history buffs then obviously they have to stay at either the Crescent Hotel & Spa or the Basin Park Hotel. These are the two hotels that are rich in history and it’s celebrated each and every day. The Crescent Hotel & Spa is a mountain top spa resort. They have so many activities that you don’t even have to leave the property. For the whole weekend they can entertain you from start to finish. Even us locals love to check in and have a spa weekend every now and then. Walking around downtown and hearing all the buskers singing and playing can be entertaining. So many live music and entertainment places at night, including: Missy’s White Rabbit Lounge, Chelsea’s, Eureka Live, New Delhi Cafe, Gotahold Brewery and more. Topping off my list of must do’s for the perfect weekend it’s just to come and immerse yourself into the local culture. Just sitting outside at Basin Spring Park people watching can be fun. Strolling around downtown and meeting all the many LGBTQ business owners can expose you to some of the most talented musicians and artists in our region and beyond. It’s amazing to me all the new faces and new talent that you see here in Eureka Springs every weekend. Sometimes it’s hard for even me to keep up with all the talent that is coming here.
What are the best places to truly enjoy the natural beauty of the area?
Honestly everywhere. Our downtown area is a full canopy of beautiful trees, fauna, and flowers. There’s beauty everywhere. You will see rock cliffs in our landscape from our downtown area all the way out to our lakes. If you love the water we are completely surrounded by it, whether you’re looking for a stream to put your feet in or huge lake to cruise, jet ski, or fish. Not to be missed is taking time to see all of our wonderful natural springs. You can do your own self-guided walking tours to all of our springs, but you can also take a guided tour on our open-air trolley, which will take you by some of the most popular springs.
As someone who has photographed over 2000 weddings, please tell us about some of your favorite wedding locations in the area.
All I really have to do is turn left, right, and all around. There’s really no effort in finding beautiful wedding locations here. But I have to say that nothing compares to a Thorncrown Chapel wedding at the 48 foot tall all glass wedding Chapel. Seriously how can you beat that. Thorncrown is one of the most sought out after wedding venues in our area and beyond. Typically it’s booked a whole year out. I will always be more bias than most, because my partner and I were the first lesbian couple legally married at the Thorncrown in 2015. Following in a close second behind the Thorncrown would have to be the beautiful gardens of the Crescent Hotel and Spa. These guys have great attention to detail at a historic mountain top resort. Each season on top of the mountain provides you a vista that is stunning. And a simple drive around town like a photo safari with a bride and groom can be quite entertaining and fun. As a local photographer it’s really fun to take people to some of the lesser-known areas of our city, whether that’s in the downtown area or in the countryside.
What is your favorite time of year in Eureka Springs and why?
It’s really not fair to ask a photographer to pick a season. But OK. I would have to say spring and fall. Nothing makes you feel more alive than to be in the Ozark Mountains when trees and flowers are budding in the spring. The entire downtown area is full of the sweet smells of flowers in every color. No smog to deter you from that open-air aromatherapy. Then in the fall, the deep rich colors that flow from one hill to the next can capture my attention for hours, whether I’m driving all the twists and turns on our roads or sitting by the lake at a campsite.
What’s one souvenir to bring back for friends or family?
Anything made by one of our locals. We have some of the most talented artists living here. Pick any hand made item. We can help you fill your home with items that they will cherish for a lifetime.
Please finish this sentence: Don’t leave Eureka Springs without…
Making a photo every hour you are here. There is no better way to have a little Eureka everyday in your “normal” life. Trust me, each time you scroll through your photos of Eureka, you’ll be counting the days till you can come back. Ask any visitor, no matter what season or reason they were here. They will tell you. You will long for the day you can come back. It’s how most of us got here in the first place. Eureka will draw you in and not let you go. I kid people all the time. On your first visit, you will be overwhelmed. Second visit you will be determined to do all the things you didn’t have time to do the first time. Third visit, you explore and bring friends. By the fourth visit, you start looking for ways you could make a living here. You might even get married here. But by the fifth visit, you look up a realtor and start making your way here. It’s more than just a name…. Eureka! You found Us!