Friday, January 23, 2015

ARKANSAS: A HIGH POINT, A MOUNTAIN LODGE, A DRIVE THROUGH PARIS, AND AN AFRICAN SAFARI

We ended our trip to Arkansas by visiting a series of very eclectic locations.

In addition to visiting the fifty states, my husband has a goal to summit the highest point in every state (except, perhaps, Alaska's). Prior to this trip, we had been to the highest points in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Florida, Alabama, Florida, West Virginia, New Hampshire, and South Dakota.

My husband has also been to the high points in Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and Washington.

We planned to check off the Arkansas high point before leaving the state.

We were in a rush to make it to the Mount Magazine State Park before dark. The trail to the highest point in Arkansas is at the top of this road constructed by the CCC in the 1930s. We needed to get to the trail while there was still light, but fog settling on the mountain was slowing us down.
Finally, near the top of the road, we broke through the fog, and shortly after that we entered the park.

After driving a few more miles, we found ourselves at the trail head with just enough light left in the day for us to make it to the highest point in Arkansas if we hurried. Hopefully those falling tree limbs wouldn't get us:
Off we go on a long, strenuous hike . . .

It is .72 miles to the "summit" from the road, with about 175 feet in elevation gain. Intense! (Not.)
We were the only ones on the trail, and the stillness was eerie--no rustling leaves, no traffic noise, not even birds--just our own footsteps and conversation. For some reason I half expected to walk around the bend and see a bear sitting in the middle of the trail.
The air was heavy with the promise of a deluge, and the fog from below was creeping stealthily up the mountainside.  Hurry hurry hurry!
In spite of the wintry air, however, the scene had its own brilliant palette:
It didn't take long--less than 15 minutes--until we saw the summit sign:
Bob created his own higher summit at 2,754.5 feet by standing on the bench:
We took a few pictures, signed the register, and high-tailed it back to the car, not wanting to be on the trail in the foggy dark.
Just up the road about a half mile is The Lodge at Mount Magazine, our bed for the night.
Beautiful landscaping waterfall out front . . .
A charming entrance beckoned us in.
The original lodge on this site had a fire in 1971 and was a total loss. This multi-million dollar lodge, along with 13 cliffside cabins under the same ownership, opened in 2006.

From the rear it looks a bit like New England-style architecture:
We noted that there is a beautiful view of the valley from behind the lodge:
. . . but our view was one big soupy pot of fog:
We much preferred the view inside. The lodge had a lot of nice craftsman touches:
. . . and some wildlife:

An indoor pool? I don't know why we didn't think of bringing our bathing suits to Arkansas in December!
Beautiful wood trim throughout:
Good night, Mount Magazine:
The next morning we found ourselves Paris:
Paris, ARKANSAS, to be exact, a town of 3,500 people. It is known for being the site of the last public hanging in Arkansas in 1914 when Arthur Tillman was executed for killing his girlfriend and dumping her body down a well.

Fun place.

Too bad we couldn't enjoy a picnic in lovely Eiffel Tower Park:
The most grandiose structure in town is certainly the county courthouse:
There was a nice war memorial honoring those killed in World War I (10), World War II (79), the Korean War (7) Vietnam (10), Desert Storm (1), and the Iraq War from 2003 to 2005 (55), which is the light gray stone on the right. I was surprised by the number who died in Iraq. That seems like a lot of men for a town this size.
Arkansas is quite a quirky state--lots of fun surprises, including this farm display of fiberglass African animals that we saw on our way out of Paris. There must be a story here, and I sure wish I knew what it was!
We are looking forward to returning to the east half of the state someday. We hope it has as much personality as the western half.

3 comments:

  1. I was intrigued by how you were going to connect the places in your title. Who knew they were all in Arkansas? Looks like another interesting visit with unexpected surprises.

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  2. I thought you were jumping to Fossil Rim...I forgot about the farm zoo we passed. As usual, you have focused on some fun little trivialities that lend personality. Eiffel Tower in Paris. Good stuff.

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  3. You saw more giraffes in Arkansas than we saw in Africa.

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