As a Brainerd lakes area "snowbird," Liz Curren felt her life had become too fragmented.
She and her husband, John, spend their summers in Manhattan Beach and their winters in Bella Vista, Ark., a largely retirement community in the upper northwest corner of Arkansas in the Ozarks.
Curren belonged to two different communities, but didn't feel connected to either one. She felt there might be others who felt the same way.
While in Bella Vista four years ago, Curren put a notice in the area newspaper to gather together people who winter there and spend their summers in the Brainerd lakes area. She and her husband were friends with three other couples from their church who were from the Brainerd area and knew there must be more.
They were right.
At the first official lunch gathering of the Bella Vista/Brainerd Club, six couples showed up. There are now about 30 members of the Bella Vista/Brainerd Club who meet monthly for lunch in both Brainerd and Bella Vista. The group includes summer residents of Brainerd, Manhattan Beach, Crosslake, Cushing, Breezy Point, Deerwood, Longville, Fifty Lakes, Walker, Outing and Clearwater.
"We compare mosquito bites," joked Allen Gray, founder of KLKS Radio in Breezy Point. He and his wife, Lee, bought a townhome in Bella Vista in 1992.
"And the fishing, mostly the lack of," added Larry Tritsch, of South Long Lake and Rogers, Ark. "It's just nice to see everyone."
"It gives you someone to socialize with here and there without starting over," said Liz Curren.
Group members keep a scrapbook and during their monthly meetings keep one another up-to-date on the happenings in Brainerd and Bella Vista. They also stay in contact via e-mail. It's a 10-hour drive from Bella Vista to the Twin Cities. The Currens were one of the first couples to migrate north for the summer and warned the others via e-mail that Interstate 35W was under construction.
The group welcomes anyone who lives in northwest Arkansas during the winter to join them for lunch, not just those who live in Bella Vista, said Curren. The Bella Vista/Brainerd Club meets at 11:30 a.m. the third Wednesday of the month May through September at the Sawmill Inn in Brainerd. From October through April, the group meets for lunch the first Monday of the month at the Highlands Clubhouse in Bella Vista, Ark.
For reservations, call Liz at (218) 575-2281 or Jan at (218) 692-2240.
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