Santiago Casas: Day 3, JF Spring Trip

Friday, February 25, 2012

Today was our third day of the trip and just like the other two, it was an amazing experience.

We started out the day with a nature hike at Petit Jean State Park. The Park offered various trails, with the idea being that the group would pick one and stick to it.  But not being professional trail blazers, we probably took every trail at one point or another, which made the hike much more adventurous and exciting.  We went into “bear caves”, over rapids, and up “nature made” stairs. The trails weren’t a piece of cake, but getting to the end and viewing a jaw-dropping water fall, made it all worth it. I have hiked and reached Rocky Mountain summits before, but today’s hike ranks up in my top three memories of nature.

Petit Jean State Park

Following the hike, we transitioned quickly to the downtown area of Little Rock.  Our first stop was the Bowen School of Law. Here we were greeted by Dean James, the Assistant Dean of Admissions. Dean James was very helpful and supportive of our efforts to get into law school, and she did a great job of providing information about UALR—Law School.

Dean James with Lauren Kethan

The Law School tour was the first of many for the day, and we headed to the State Capitol for our next tour.  Its marble interior was elegant and royal, and we enjoyed seeing the former Supreme Courtroom, the House of Representatives, and the Capitol rotunda.

Arkansas Senate Chamber

The site-seeing highlight of the day was the Arkansas Supreme Court, where we were granted a rare tour.  Not only is the tour rarely granted, the building was literally difficult to enter.  I tried to be a gentleman and hold the door open for Lauren, but the doors seemed to resist my efforts.  Thinking my strength might have been sapped by the early-morning hike, I tried harder, but the door still wouldn’t budge.  They were brass, 4 inches thick, and 10 feet tall.  Their weight, however, wasn’t the problem.  The doors were automatic, and they opened when they were ready, not when someone tries to move them.

When we actually entered, we were greeted by Carolyn Bond, who offered us a wonderful tour of the building while also describing the process of becoming a state Supreme Court Justice and a case’s path through the court system.  The coolest part of the tour was when we were permitted to sit in the actual seats that the judges sat in.

Santiago, Making His Case Before the Court

It gave me chills sitting down, because I knew that I didn’t deserve to be sitting there, but that with dedication and perseverance I might one day be in this room as part of my own career, and if not as a Supreme Court Justice, then perhaps as an attorney arguing before the Justices.

Our late afternoon consisted of the Duck March at the Peabody Hotel and some photos with the statues of the Little Rock Nine and, like everyday so far, we ended the day with delicious food.

Peabody Duckmaster

We did other events such as the Peabody Hotel duck show, which if you haven’t been, it’s a neat event to attend. We also returned to the Capitol and took some very nice photos with the monuments dedicated to the Little Rock Crisis and the Little Rock Nine.

We ended our day as we have every day, by eating.  We went to the Whole Hog Café, where Christian and I devoured two slabs of yummy ribs.

It was a nice day, from touring sites of legal and political and historical interest, to seeing a duck march, to connecting with nature.  It’s nice to be able to look back at the end of the day and appreciate what is given to you and to find peace and serenity in the sound of a water fall.

Petit Jean Park



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