Friday, April 6, 2007


We came to Toad Suck COE campground planning to spend two nights, then to move on to Shreveport, LA for two nights. We scrapped that plan when we discovered how much there is to see and do in and around Little Rock. On our first day here, we visited a nearby State Park, Petit Jean, spending the day hiking and enjoying the springtime blooms. I wish we had visited Little Rock first, as we didn't have nearly enough time to visit all the fascinating places when we were in town today... and we ARE leaving tomorrow!

We started our sightseeing day at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site. Here, in 1957, the "Little Rock Nine", nine black high school students, attempted to integrate, by federal order, an all-white high school. I can't imagine the courage of these students and their parents - the photos of the treatment they endured are terrifying.

Three years later, in 1960, Odel was one of the handful of black students to integrate Memphis State University. I admire his courage. I was ten years old, and of course oblivious to what was going on with the Civil Rights movement.

Our next stop was the RiverMarket area of downtown Little Rock, for some lunch. RiverMarket is a revitalized area along the Arkansas River, filled with shops and restaurants, so we grabbed a quick fish lunch before we headed off to the Willim J. Clinton Presidential Library, a short walk away. All we got to do here was gawk at the outside; we didn't have anywhere near enough time to do it justice, so decided to wait until our next visit.

I was completely surprised to find that Little Rock is home to the headquarters of Heifer International, a non-profit organization I admire greatly... AND the headquarters are right next door to the Clinton Library! Their headquarters building is only a year old, part of a complex still in the works. It was built "green", with recycled and sustainable building materials, a self-sustaining water system, low energy requirements. I was sorry to find that the 30 minute tours of the building ended at 3 pm, so we missed out. Another addition to the "next time we come" list.

Though we missed the tour, we did get to watch this Buddist monk at work on a sand mandala. He filled a long, pointed metal tube with colored sand, then scraped gently back and forth on the side of the tube with a flat metal implement to "vibrate" the sand out of the pointed end of the tube. The speed and energy of his motion controlled the flow of the sand as he worked his way around the table creating the intricate design. Quite a talent.

Though there is much we didn't get to do here, we did get a great overview of all the reasons we should return - when it is warmer. Tomorrow we plan to travel to Shreveport, LA, forecast to be quite cool, as well. One night there, one night in mid-Texas, then we have a four-night reservation in Fredericksburg, TX - another city that had so much to offer we vowed to return!

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