Fort St. Jean Baptiste

November 16, 2018

The trading post that would become Fort St. Jean Baptiste and the town of Natchitoches was founded over 300 years ago. The site they chose was ideal for making trade connections. The Red River flowed into the Mississippi River nearby, connecting this area to French Canada and the Gulf of Mexico. A bridge was built over the original location of the fort, so this site is a reconstruction based on original maps, drawings, and documents.

Visitor Center

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Natchitoches, Louisiana

November 15-19, 2018

“Turn on the Holidays” kickoff to Christmas in Natchitoches

We had a very busy five days in Natchitoches (pronounced Nack-a-tish). We took a guided tour of the town and a fort, visited a museum, and spent a day at the Cane River Creole National Historic Park. We also attended their “Turn on the Holidays” festival where they decorate the streets and line both banks of the Cane River with Christmas lights and launch a very impressive fireworks display. They’ll be launching fireworks every Saturday and December 2nd is their BIG Holiday event with parade, Santa… and more fireworks. The 92nd Natchitoches Christmas celebration runs November 17, 2018-January 6, 2018.

We also got to taste the local cuisine… several times… and were happy every time. We hit Lasyone’s first (meat pies, yellow grits, hot spiced Louisiana tea), Maglieaux’s Riverfront (burgers, sweet potato fries, adult beverages), Cane Brake Cafe (beignets), and El Patio Mexican back near our campsite (combo fajitas, Pina Colada). We DID NOT try the alligator on a stick or crawfish pie that was served at the festival. We looked, we thought about it, but we wimped.

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Arkansas Post

November 13-14, 2018

Arkansas Post Museum

John went to this one on his own while Holly huddled in a heated camper with a head cold. (Too cold, not going! Such a wimp – but a warm, happy wimp.)

For those of you who know me (John) or have followed our blog, you know I can spend hours wandering through a museum and around a historic site. I was done with this one in about an hour. That’s how small it was.

This tiny museum, Arkansas’s first county museum, was a little strange with an “eclectic” collection of buildings and exhibits.

You enter the complex through the main house where you will find the visitor center, gift shop and one room containing a somewhat odd collection of artifacts including this ancient Edison phonograph. There was no information about the item, who owned it, or why it was there. That turned out to be the rule rather than the exception.

Edison phonograph

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Trials and Tribulations – and wimping out

November 14, 2018

We’ve been using the “Find a Park” site to try to hit all the National Park Properties that interest us in any given state This is how we picked up on Arkansas Post. We wanted to camp near the site to reduce drive time so we chose an Army Corps of Engineer Campground just a few minutes away. Our site was up high and right on the Missouri River so we had an awesome view. Unfortunately this is when the snow rolled in. Yes, an inch of SNOW in southeast Arkansas in mid-November. The locals said – “never happens”. We are seriously weather jinxed. We woke to heavy gray skies and snow blowing horizontally past our windows. Little snow dervishes were dancing across the choppy waters of the Arkansas River. It was actually pretty cool right up until we had to go outside; then, not so much.

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Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

November 9, 2018

I am very glad we made this stop because it was a real eye opener. What made it especially valuable was our tour guide. He personally knew several of the black students who went to that school when it was forcibly desegregated in 1957. The courage and endurance of those nine students was amazing.

The visitor center was very good with plenty of exhibits describing life during segregation, the truth about “separate but equal”, and the fight for racial equality. We also watched two movies, one a government “propaganda” film produced during the Cold War to counter Soviet claims of American hypocrisy regarding freedom and human rights. We also “toured” the school, which is still in operation, although we just walked through the front doors and into the auditorium where our tour guide talked to us about what went on once the black students finally made it through the door. (If you want a tour, call ahead so you can get on their schedule.)

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Hot Springs Fordyce Bathhouse

November 7, 2018

The Fordyce Bathhouse holds the National Park Visitor Center. You can tour the entire building from the hot spring bubbling up in the basement, up to the men’s and women’s spa rooms on the first floor, the music room and lounges and more treatment rooms on the second floor and up to the gymnasium on the third floor.

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Hot Springs National Park

November 4-12, 2018

Visitor Center

Welcome to the Valley of the Vapors. Sought after and enjoyed by Native Americans, French Explorers and all who have come after. Here you will find fountains and springs spewing water that is heated by pressure deep inside the earth before it travels up through fissures in the rocks and emerges at the surface at an average temperature of 140 degrees. The hot water meets the cooler air and clouds of steam rise and roll with a life of their own. Bring a cup and “quaff the elixir.” Bring a jug and take all you want. This water belongs to the people and is protected from contamination by the National Park Service.

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