Sunday, December 6, 2015

From Oklahoma to Florida

The morning we left the Winstart Casino, we headed for Arkansas. We decided to continue searching for National Park sites that would give us additional learning opportunities.

Along the route, I noticed many signs of the Choctaw nation. There was a billboard welcoming us to the Choctaw Nation. There were Choctaw hospitals, Choctaw mental health agencies and a Choctaw head start program. The profit from the casino was making a very positive difference in this community.

All five tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw and Seminole) forced from their land because of the Indian Removal Act traveled across Arkansas. This section of the Trail of Tears is called the Heritage Trail. We followed the same "road."

We traveled across the southwestern corner of the state to the town of Hope, location of the boyhood 
home of former president William Jefferson Clinton.

Here he is, known as Billy Blythe when he was born.  He spent his earliest years with his grandparents while his mother went off to become a nurse anesthetist so she could support him. He won a baby contest in Hope and this is a picture of him with his trophy.

Our ranger told us several stories about him. He loved Hopalong Cassidy and had a desk in his bedroom. His grandmother told him to take good care of his things and to always do his best.  She  said he would need to remember this because he might become President someday.

Apparently, Billy had a good imagination. The ranger told us he used to stand on the toilet seat and pretend he was trying to catch fish in the tub.


President Clinton said he learned more about treating people as equals from his grandfather.

His mother returned and married his stepfather. She had produced a brother for Billy and eventually, Bill decided he wanted to have the same name as his brother and legally changed his last name to Clinton. So at fifteen, he became William Jefferson Clinton. As you know he became
The 42nd President of the United States.

Through southwestern Arkansas, observing what was part of the life of the state.  We saw lumbering, and beef cattle, and many large poultry operations.

Of course, next stop was a Walmart Parking Lot for the night. We were looking forward to a stop in Louisana, and eventually a visit to a special campground for us,Cajun Haven.

We found two sites to visit to explore the question what is the difference and the similarities between Creole and Cajun Cultures. The first was the Cane River Creole National Historical Park. (Cane River is a local name for a part of the Red River.)

The first was a visit to the Oakland Plantation. We were told by a ranger that this land had been owned for nearly three hundred years by one extended family named Prud'Homme and marriages with the Leconte family. In addition, the same enslaved families remained on this land as well. Google Cane River Creole, National Park Service to learn the stories of the Cane River Creoles.
Here are some of the historic buildings. This was the corn crib, I think.

The carpenters shop

The plantation owner's store 

The mule barn

The Overseers home 

The doctor's home

We could see by comparing the sizes of the main house, the overseers house, the doctors house and then the smallest of course, the slave cabins the expected hierarchy of the plantation. Here, cotton was king!

This is a picture of a cemetery we saw as we traveled along this low country. Notice that all the graves are above ground protecting them from flood waters.

This was the second site we visited and here we had another major learning opportunity.



Here is a look at a Crayfish trap. It,is about 10 inches at the base and about 10 inches high. These are used in either a harvested rice field during the winter months or in a crayfish pond, a rectangular made specifically to raise crayfish.

The oil fields

Rice is King here.


Finally, we arrive at Cajun Haven, meet up with Killer for a grand reunion. We have loved this place since first stopping here eight years ago.  We consider them our friends, Jeff, Wendy, Mark, Earle, and the team. Great to spend some time with CJ too.

A lunch spot we enjoyed for the buffet...

Here is a shot of a rice field (harvested) with the tops of the crayfish traps showing. The tops are white and it is hard to see them.

This is the crayfish season.  They come out of the mud to feed when the weather gets cool.
The season goes until February and right now they are expensive.  It costs $40 dollars to buy five pounds.

Acadiana is the name of this part of Louisana. It includes 22 of the 64 parishes in LA, and is the heart of the  Cajun Culture.

Note the signs for Cracklins and Boudin!

When we left Cajun Haven, the friendly people, and a part of the country we love, we aimed at another spot for some R and R... The Gulfshore National Seashore at Fort Pickens.  This is a shot of the dunes between the campground and the ocean. 

Our walks for a few days

I love 

Our site in this great spot.

We are off tomorrow to spend two days heading for my mother's house. We will stop at Walmart for our final stop on the Walmart Shuffle. We have had a wonderful month together "on the road".  We are looking forward to the holidays with Mom and Chick, and celebrating each day as a gift that we are given to share with each other. Sending you all a wish for a wonderful celebration of the Holidays...or actually the Holy Days!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Fall Trip - 2015(5)

(Special note: please forgive the typos, the misspellings, and the awkward sentences. I have been pushing on writing these posts to catch up and realize, after sending them, that there are a lot of mistakes­čśö
This will be the last post of this section of our trip. As you may have read in previous posts,  we had determined many purposes for this trip. We wanted to visit our final six states to complete visits to all fifty.  We wanted to visit any sites that would help us know more about three themes of history and the people that lived them. We wanted to visit our friend Rusty, and as it worked out, our former student, Effie. And a very important destination for the end of November was the Winstar Casino in Oklahoma for a very special celebration of Latona's birthday with tickets for a Willie Nelson Concert. We would spend several days here to make it a special Thanksgiving/Birthday week! So this post will take you along our route from Kansas to Oklahoma!

We started at Osawatomie, Kansas and here we hoped to visit the John Brown's Museum. Although it said that it was open during this day from 10-4 we never had a chance to get inside and see the Adair Cabin.  The house belonged to a minister and his wife, Samuel and Floella Adair. His wife was a half sister to John Brown and the cabin was a station on the Underground Railroad.

This building houses the Adair Cabin.

Statue of John Brown that had been sculpted by the same artist that crated the Statue of Liberty.
Wonderful irony.

On this land was fought a battle that was part of Bleeding Kansas, a forceful attempt made by warring factions to sway the state to go one way or the other on the slavery issue. The factions of proslavery advocates were led by John Reid and the abolitionists were led by John Brown.

We left the park so disappointed that we were never able to really view the Adair Cabin and learn more of the history of John Brown and the abolitionist movement of this area.

In our reading about the Trail of Tears, we learned about the Indian Removal Act of 1832. The shock of learning and realizing for the first time that this was actually done by the US government probably showed me how ignorant I have been about history in general, but made me realize how much I didn't know about the true plight of Native Americans. My sympathies have always been naturally supportive of this group but very uninformed. So, I was really sickened when I read that President Andrew Jackson actually signed a bill that would require over 125,000 Native Americans to leave their land in the states of Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina and Florida so that white settlers would have more land for growing cotton. The government designated land across the Mississippi to what was then Oklahoma Territory. This began the Trail of Tears. Some routes of the forced march were so ridden with the deaths of Native Americans that it was that section was called the Trail of Death.

When we moved on to Fort Scott National Historic Park, we learned that this Fort had three purposes over the period from 1842 to 1873. First, the Fort was to protect the "permanent Indian Frontier". It was part of,a string of forts built from Minnesota to Louisiana for this purpose. Soon this idea of a protective territory for Indians died a quick death.

The Fort played an important role in Bleeding Kansas, the violent battle over slavery, as well as the Civil War.  Eventually, after the Civil War ended, soldiers from the Fort assisted in the Railroad Expansion.


So we ride along with the beautiful skies and open fields with new awareness of so much suffering that occurred was this country was formed.

Lake Pleasant Resort where we finally decided we needed to have the full services of a campground, dumping, electricity and showers.  We were given this site along the lake and then never charged for our night stay.  A nice gift!

We decided to take a little jog back into Missouri to visit the area of Joplin and to visit the George Washington Carver Memorial Park. We saw the statue of him as a boy in his beloved woods, saw the cabin were he was raised by foster parents, the Carvers, and finished our hike at the bust of the adult Carver.  He had been a hero of mine since learning of his work with the peanut and the great efforts he made to bring agricultural advantages to the common person.

Now, we finally headed to Oklahoma. We had a first planned stop at the Walmart in Muscogee because we wanted to visit The Museum of the Five Civilized Tribes. Again, my education was expanding. Who were these tribes, and why did the white culture dub them 'civilized.' What measure was used to determine that category and who decided that.  We had a very informative visit here learning about the Cherokee, the Chicksaw, the Creek (Muscogee), the Choctaw and the Seminole.
One guide shared information about the art we saw and read us a wonderful book called Crossing the Bok Chitto. Although a children's book, I would recommend it.  We learned how the five tribes were forced into Oklahoma and how quickly the land they were promised disappeared.

Not a great picture, but,it shows the progression of how the land originally promised to each of the five tribes diminished and by 1907 there were no more Indian lands in the Oklahoma Territory.

On we went, looking for the local colour of Oklahoma!

Finally, a day before Thanksgiving we landed at the RV Park for the Casino where we would see Willie Nelson.  It was so much fun to finally be here and to be in the subculture of a gambling resort.  We walked around wide-eyed and dumbstruck by the fountains, all the people, and the 7500 slot machines. We did try our luck eventually and won several times...about $190.

But the best part was this happy birthday girl!

Waiting for The big present!

And the birthday dinner!

Our site at sunset!

Today, we will leave Oklahoma and start east and south through Arkansas and Loiusana eventually moving toward Florida and Mom in the next ten days. We will keep you posted - more learning moments and more times of sharing, and having fun as we travel "On the Road Again".

Sending love to you all and hope you all already knew what I have been relearning in a very vivid and real way!