Santiago Casas: Day 5, JF Spring Trip

Sunday, February 26, 2012:

I’m not sure what it is, but nothing is as serene as staying at a lake-side cabin.

Blind Faith Cabin

The serenity helped us get a good rest, and we headed out for The Melrose Plantation.

Junior Fellows at the Melrose Plantation

The plantation was full of artifacts and the buildings embodied various and interesting architectural styles.  The highlight, however, was seeing the art of Clementine Hunter, an African American folk artist who lived to be 101, and painted until her last days.

Following the plantation visit, we ate at Merci Beaucoup, where we experimented with diverse entrees: Cajun potatoes, jambalaya, gumbo, meat pies, crawfish pies, and red beans and rice.

Our final trip was to Texas, where we enjoyed our final and most thrilling event: the Zip Line.  I beat Ryan.

Santiago Flying In

On the final two hours of the trip, we reflected on our trip and picked our highlights.  Here’s mine.

My top three restaurants: (1) The King’s Palace (Memphis): I loved The King’s Palace because here is where I first tried alligator meat and also gumbo that hadn’t been made in Texas. Both dishes were super tasty. (2) Damgoode Pies (Little Rock): I love pizza so a locality that can make a good pizza will win my heart, so that is why I loved Damgoode Pies. (3) The Landing (Natchitoches): The Landing won my two thumbs up because the gumbo there was super delicious, and you can’t travel to Louisiana and not have a bowl of gumbo.

I had never visited and learned so much history in one trip as I did on this one, and I feel extremely lucky to have had this opportunity. We visited many museums and historical places, but my favorite were the Sun Studio (Memphis), the Supreme Court Building (Little Rock), and the Little Rock High Museum.

The Sun Studio was my favorite place to visit, because I got to stand in the exact spot where Rock and Roll was created and Elvis Presley stood as he recorded his first album. I think what added to making Sun Records my favorite was that we had an exceptionally good tour guide. She was lively and very knowledgeable. She seemed like she loved her job and music so the tour experience was a great one.

Santiago, Singing Where Elvis Cut His First Record

The Supreme Court came in a close second. The fact that we got to sit in the chairs that the Supreme Court Justices sit in when they have hearings was an amazing experience.

Santiago Pleading His Case

The Little Rock Central High Museum took my breath away. It was broad like the Civil Right Museum in Memphis and wasn’t solely concentrated on the Little Rock crisis. It was amazing to see a more in-depth biography of Elizabeth Eckford and how she probably is the most famous one of the “Little Rock Nine.” To add to the experience of the museum, the actual high school sits just across the street. Getting to walk up the same steps the “Nine” did was very fascinating.

The Junior Fellows with Elizabeth Eckford

The outdoor activity that ranked the highest for me was our hike through the Petit Jean State Park. The scenery was beautiful and the hike was bit of a challenge. It was not your typical flat ground hike. The hike consisted of hills and crossing water and climbing rocks. All this made the hike more “real.” The jaw-dropping splendor of the water fall was just amazing. If you love nature and need an escape from the busy world, I recommend taking a hike here.

The Junior Fellows Overlooking Cedar Falls in Petit Jean State Park

On this trip I gained some notable first-time experiences. For the very first time I ate alligator strips in Memphis at the King’s Palace. They were a different texture, but since I am a big fan of sea food, I enjoyed the taste. Also, I had bread pudding for the first time at Merci Beaucoup in Natchitoches. In Little rock I got to kill two birds with one stone. I had never been to a Presidential Library or a Governor’s mansion. So doing so in one trip was pretty neat.

My favorite city to have visited would definitely have to be Little Rock, Arkansas. I have been there multiple times, yet on this trip it was a totally new and wonderful experience. I got to see the city from a different perspective. I toured the downtown more in depth than I had before.

Beautiful Little Rock at Night

I would just like to thank our organization advisors, who did a lot for us. Also to my fellow Junior Fellows who were on the trip with me, Justin Beiser and Christian Bionat. You both were a great asset to the trip. Lauren kethan, friend of the Junior Fellows, kept the trip lively and upbeat. Last but not least, Ryan Brim, kept all of us laughing with his wit and humor.  He’s the best Junior, Junior Fellow you can have. Trips like these are what every student, if not every citizen should experience.

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