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!