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Rogers, Arkansas: Right in our High Plains neighborhood

This month's journey surprised even me. No matter what I pictured for Northwest Arkansas, what I actually experienced was better than my imagination could conjure.

Those of you who have journeyed to places you have read about in my travel column during the last four years know that my home is in the Arbuckle Mountains of south central Oklahoma. Though incredibly beautiful, it reaches a measly 1,253 feet. You should have seen it a million years ago!

This story is about the mountains of Northwest Arkansas, where the climb to my destination of Rogers was spectacular, even in mid-winter.

I read somewhere there are nearly 40,000 people in Rogers, which bumps up to Bentonville (home of Walmart) and is less than an hour from Branson in one direction and Eureka Springs in another. I've saved those for another trip.

Frankly, there was no reason to leave Rogers. The shopping and culinary choices are abundant and delightful, from an eclectic collection of boutiques and bistros in historic downtown Rogers--which I promise to tell more about in future columns--to the No.1 Walmart store in the nation and every chain you can think of.

As with many towns in the Midwest, Rogers' historic downtown boasts beautiful old homes and grand old trees, a lot of benches and warm, friendly faces.

The afternoon of my arrival, my new friends (a group of "grown-up" gals) invited me to meet them at Frisco's, a smoke-free watering hole, to celebrate Mardi Gras. These matchless women, who made me feel normal, are members of their self-created "Pink Flamingo Realm." Each proudly wore a pink flamingo tiara and that night added elegant Venetian masks, flashy boas, and an assortment of Mardi Gras beads provided by the "Queen of the Realm" herself, who shall remain nameless.

The story of this friendship is a wonderful way to explain how things work in Rogers. Beginning with one and growing over the years, these ladies found themselves leasing boat slips along a specific dock on Beaver Lake, a popular destination with endless miles of shoreline due to hundreds of coves and inlets.

As the weather warms, the grills, the husbands, and extended families come out of hibernation to "tailgate" on the dock where life jackets are a must for all ages, swimming is allowed, and most everyone can walk home if necessary.

The rest of the year, this mesmerizing group of professional women get together once a month, ensuring the longevity of the Pink Flamingo Realm.

One of their newest members is "Princess" Joan, an old friend of mine from the Gold Country of Northern California. She gave me the cook's tour of Rogers, introducing me to The Iron Horse--a truly global super bistro--the famous Daisy Airgun Museum, Brick Street Botanicals, and my favorite, Poor Richard's Art.

As referred in a 1907 newspaper article "one of the showplaces of the city," this building has been lovingly renovated and is today filled with the artwork of over 70 artists of uncountable mediums.

Obviously, Rogers has much to offer, so though you will read more about the area in an upcoming Everyday Getaways story, start making plans now to see it for yourself. Visit www.visitrogersarkansas.com and tell them I sent you! You can always e-mail me for more information, too.

Editor's note: Susen Foster is the owner of Greater Success Advertising. She is the author of numerous travel books. Susen can be reached at www.greatersuccess.com or call 580-622-5408.

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