Saturday, November 24, 2012
We are now parked in a Grand Prairie city park near Joe Pool Lake. It is in the Dallas-Fort Worth area - a place which was not in our plans to be parked. Apparently there is a Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins foot ball game going on this week-end, so all the recreational vehicle parks are full. Had we known, we would have reserved a spot ahead of time. But it has turned out to be all the better for us. In the park where we are located there are lots of beautiful trees and no city noise. A neighbor said a skunk walked past his campfire the other evening. Yesterday I saw a coyote walking close to our home- that sure made our cat sit up and take notice! John and I were in this area a couple of years ago, so we have already seen a lot of the tourist sites of Dallas and Fort Worth. However, we have not seen the Water Gardens located in downtown Fort Worth. That is where we headed out to visit on Wednesday. The gardens have lakes, forests and a mountain. The mountain is in reality concrete sandblasted tiers rising 20 feet above the ground. As you may imagine, this is not the real deal, only a sense of it. The gardens do contain over 500 species of plants and trees. One of the architects of the park, Philip Johnson, referred to the story of "Alice in Wonderland" in his description of his design of the Water Garden. He wanted visitors of the park to have the experience of growing bigger and also smaller with never having a clue as to when that would happen. I felt very small standing in the pool pictured below. The pool has a circular waterfall tumbling 38 feet down multiple tiers into a pool surrounded by stepping stones. It also gave me a dizzy feeling just hearing the water rushing under and flowing around me.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
We had a beautiful drive down through Arkansas on Friday. Highway 71 took us through the Ouachita Mountains and national forest by the same name. Many trees now have their leaves off, but some still have their yellow and red leaves which, with a bright sun shining on them, gave quite a show of autumnal beauty. I do not know where they were cutting trees, but many fully loaded logging trucks passed us. We are now parked outside of Texarkana, a town on the Arkansas and Texas borders. There is a street in Texarkana called State Line, which we walked along on our tour of the city Saturday. On one side of the street is Texas, and, upon crossing the street, we were in Arkansas. In downtown Texarkana are two municipal buildings which have to deal with this unusual conundrum. The Bi-State Justice building is home for 20 city, county, and state judicial and law enforcement agencies. Because the building is located in two states, special legislation by both Arkansas and Texas created unique legal jurisdiction applicable to just inside the building. It is the only such facility of its kind in the world. Another unique building straddling the State Line is the Post Office and Courthouse. The Federal Building sits in two zip codes, its official address is listed as Texarkana, U.S.A. 75501. There is a special photographer's island outside the building where a picture may be taken of it. As with the Bi-State building, two different state flags fly in front of it.
Friday, November 16, 2012
Thursday, November 15, 2012
When we drove into Fort Smith yesterday we had no idea of what we were looking for, other than the historic district. We ended up on the grounds of the old fort, built from 1938-42. It was fortified with stone walls which were 12 feet high and 2 feet thick. Fort Smith was the last of its kind, after 1840 frontier forts were not built with such fortification because they were too costly to build. During the Civil War the fort was fired on once, it was an attempt by the Confederate troops in 1864 to take back the city from the Union army. They were not successful. After the Civil War the military closed the little used fort. However, for over 80 years the fort was used by the federal government to establish and maintain order in Indian Territory, land which was set apart for them in 1828 and which would become Oklahoma. Pictured below is one of the buildings which first served the fort as a military barracks.. In the late 1800s it became a jail and a Federal Courthouse for Western Arkansas. Currently there is a wonderful museum in the old courthouse with exhibits pertaining to the jail which use to be in its basement, as well as a replica of Judge Parker's courtroom. He held the bench for 21 years, settling thousands of disputes and violence between Indians and non-Indians. In Western novels and films he was known as the "Hanging Judge".
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
It has taken us a bit longer than expected, but we are now in the northwestern corner of Arkansas. Deep in a valley of the rugged Boston Mountains is the Devil's Den State Park. The mountains are the southern end of the Ozark Highlands. Below is a picture of those mountains which I took at Lake Fort Smith Park.
Monday, November 12, 2012
This monument lies south of Carthage outside of the small town of Diamond, Missouri. George W. Carver was born in this area in 1864 to a slave woman. As I mentioned in my last posting, guerrilla warfare was rampant along the Kansas-Missouri border during the Civil War. The infant child and his mother were caught up in this turmoil when they were kidnapped by outlaws. Only George was later found in Arkansas and returned to his owner, Moses Carver and his wife Susan. They raised George as their foster child. The Carver Monument has the graveyard where that couple is buried, as well as the second home in which they lived. By the time they lived in that home (pictured below) George was attending school in Kansas. He did return to this home at various times over the years to visit his foster parents. I had expected to see a large plantation house, but Moses and his wife were farmers and Mary, the mother of George, was the only slave they owned. The approximate area of the slave cabin in which George was born is noted in the park.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
This small Missouri town of about 15,000 people has an impressive 160 years of history. After perusing the travel brochures on this town we decided that a visit here calls for more than a two day stay. Our first stop in the town was the town square where we were immediately drawn to the courthouse. It is the second most photographed building in Missouri, after the St.Louis Gateway Arch. Architecturally it is an impressive building, constructed of stone from a local quarry. It was built from 1894-95.
After leaving St.Louis we had spent a couple of days in Farmington visiting John's family. On Thursday we left Farmington and drove west across Missouri. In southern Missouri is the beginning of the Ozarks and our trip Thursday took us through those rolling hills dotted with wooded acres and farmland. It was a beautiful autumn drive. We had planned to drive straight through into Arkansas, however, the weather turned warm and we learned that in the Carthage, Missouri there are some places which we had not as yet visited. For all of our years living in Missouri, we had not seen the Precious Moments Chapel and Gardens.
Friday, November 2, 2012
The tires for our motor home have come in and we had them installed today. Hooray, we are now a bit closer to our goal of heading south! My sister Julia suggested that we check out the Missouri River Greenway Trail while we are waiting on our tires, as the trail is just down the road from the tire shop. That turned out to be an excellent suggestion. Hard to believe that there is any trail left in the St.Louis area which we have not covered, but the Greenway Trails have just come about in the past ten years. An interpretive sign along the trail explained the building of the "river ring". It is a system of 8 hiking trails along a number of rivers such as the Mississippi, Meramec and the Missouri. The goal is to have all the Greenway Trails eventually connect to each other. I think it is an exciting concept and we look forward to checking them all out in the future. The trail we visited today is along the Missouri River in Bridgeton, Missouri.