Sunday, October 31, 2010

Little Rock and Gulfport

Did I mention on my last post that we reached Little Rock, Arkansas on Friday? In the morning there was a good layer of ice on the rear window of our car. But the sun was out, the sky was clear, and the day soon warmed up nicely.

In the morning we visited the capitol building in Little Rock. It was another beautiful building, well worth seeing. There is a sign on the grounds that states that these capitol grounds are the most beautiful in the nation. Well, they are very nice with lots of trees and flower beds. There were fresh blue and purple pansies planted in front of the main stairway.

This is the first capitol building without a statue on top. Instead there is this lovely cupola, grandly gleaming in gold leaf.

Arkansas had a hard time getting this building built. The cornerstone was laid in 1899, and then nothing more was done for four or five years because the current governor consistently cancelled any appropriation to pay for the building. The cap on costs was supposed to be $1 million. But over the years they had several architects, contractors, building firms and problems galore. So the final tally was more like
$2 1/2 million.

Inside there is lots of limestone, and, again, gleaming marble floors. That was one consistent feature of the capitol buildings we've visited: scrupulously clean floors. The limestone was one of the problems posed by this building, as the legislation specified that Arkansas limestone had to be used. The only available limestone was exceedingly hard and needed special, expensive cutting equipment. The original contractor surreptitiously substituted an inferior, softer limestone. When this was discovered, that firm was fired; the interior of the building was gutted; and they started from scratch again. They were conscious of the desire to build "for the ages" not just for their present time.

One of the delights of these older buildings is the vast amount of great woodwork, and the "built to last" fittings all around. I loved these brass doorknobs and lock sets. They've been in use for over a hundred years and they still look wonderful.

By contrast, we've lived in our present home for eleven years and we are already on our third doorknob set for the backdoor! The other ones simply fell apart after three or four years use!

Much of this building has been restored to the original state.

Here's a look into the Ladies' Washroom. In the
outer "chamber" there was a divan, just in case
someone needs a little "laydown." And in the inner sanctum there was this delightful little "boudoir" in case your makeup needs refreshing.

Around noon we left Little Rock and headed south. There was a little misunderstanding about just what roads we were using. Jim thought we were going into Mississippi next, but if I followed the route he had showed me that morning, we would dip into Louisiana for just a bit before entering Mississippi. (He pilots and I navigate--that works well for us.)

We were having a slightly "vigorous" discussion about Mississippi or Louisiana as we went along, because he saw that we were on Hwy 82 and that Greenville, Miss. was just 16 miles away. I kept saying, Yes, I know, but 82 is going to turn east, and we'll keep going south, and that's why we'll go to Louisiana.

Well, Hwy 82 kept going straight, and Hwy 65 turned right, but we didn't. SOOOO... we found ourselves on this magnificent new bridge across the Mississippi, and into that state. We never did get to Louisiana.

It took us about 20 miles out of our way, but east of Greenville we picked up Hwy 61 and followed that south to Vicksburg, and east from there to Jackson, the capitol city of Mississippi, where we stayed the night.

This morning we decided to head to Gulfport and skip seeing the capitol building of Mississippi. We had stunningly beautiful weather: clear, sunny and warm, just perfect.

All along the coast there are these typical
"houses on stilts." This one is rather grand,
but great and small, most are built a story off the ground. We also saw many groups of posts standing lonely, the house they supported blown away, or so badly damaged that it had been removed.

There is an awful lot of property for sale along this beach road. Perhaps people are fed up with the problems posed by
destructive hurricanes.

From Gulfport we drove west a little ways,
heading for Buccaneer State Park, right on
the coast. Here we are after enjoying a picnic lunch in a shelter at the park.

After lunch we walked on the beach. The sand was clean and warm. We had to take off our sandals and wade into the Gulf.
Hey! The water's warm!!! There were oodles and oodles of little "breathing holes"
visible where the water met the sand, evidence of a healthy community
of some sort of intertidal creature.

Although everything looked and smelled clean to us, there were these two fellows digging holes, sifting the sand and making recordings, taking pictures of what they found. So they are still working on the after effects of the huge oil spill.

We also saw quite a group of people in yellow vests, obviously part of a clean up
crew in one area of the beach. They were all sitting in the shade when we went west to the park, and still sitting there when we came back after lunch.

So here we are half way through our holiday, having made it to the Gulf. What a lovely spot! I wouldn't mind staying here for a week or two. But after our "little dip" we got back in the car and headed north again.

We've so enjoyed this warm weather. Feels like we're cheating winter a little bit this way, but if this is cheating it feels pretty good!

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