With just a couple of days here in Carthage, we weren't going to let a little heat (little???) keep us from exploring a bit. Especially since we had Forrest & Gail, practically natives, to be our tour guides. But, first on the list was breakfast, of course!
On the way to breakfast, Forrest took us on a drive past a Catholic Viet Namese college that was hosting a festival. He said that Viet Namese folks come from all over the world for this week-long event. There were tents everywhere! Some of the homeowners living adjacent to the college even rent out space on their lawns for people to set up. I can't imagine living in a tent in this heat.
After breakfast we took a drive through the countryside. As we went, Forrest told us about a nearby town called Red Oak that had died as its residents grew up and moved away. One of those residents, Lowell Davis, returned in the 1970s to find that his hometown was no more. He wanted to buy the town but because of the town charter and such, he was unable to do so. Many years later on his own land, he recreated his hometown by buying up existing homes and businesses in the old town, giving birth to Red Oak II.
You can read more about it here. Mr. Davis lives in the former home of Belle Starr.
From Red Oak II we drove along a bit of history Route 66 to Precious Moments Chapel and Park. I wasn't too sure about visiting the park because I've never been enamored of those little figurines as so many others are. Don't get me wrong, I think they're cute, but never felt a need to collect them or anything like that. However, I highly recommend a visit to the park if you're in Carthage. Sam Butcher, the artist who created the Precious Moments figures we all know instantly, is a man of devout faith and family. He built a park that reflects this. Of course, there's the obligatory gift shop and cafe, but they are attached to a “village” the depicts large figurines living their lives. It's great. Unlike many places, you don't have to walk through the gift shop if you don't want to. You can bypass it and go straight to the chapel.
And the chapel is the crown of this park. It is filled with Mr. Butcher's vision of his faith. Beginning with the hand-carved doors that allow you entrance to the chapel, one side of the chapel depicts scenes from the Old Testament while the other side's scenes are from the New Testament. As you enter the chapel, you are confronted with the Hallelujah Square that is Heaven. In the balcony area, Mr. Butcher created seven scenes to reflect the first seven days of Creation.
Throughout the chapel there are many, many stained glass windows – all with Mr. Butcher's Precious Moments artwork. There is a chapel devoted to his son, Phillip, who died at 27 in a car accident. Outside, in back of the chapel, runs Center Creek. In the middle of the creek is Grandpa's Island on which he built a castle and where his seven children and many, many grandchildren and great grandchildren have played.
There is so much more to Sam Butcher's story than I can share with you. Or that you would want to sit and read in a blog. :) So, if you're interested, take a look at the Precious Moments website, it's pretty cool.
We had a great day of exploration and got home as the heat rose. This is what our thermometer read when we walked in the door. Whoa.
Tomorrow we're going to do a little more sightseeing. Until the next time . . .