Christian Bionat: Day 5, JF Spring Trip

Sunday, February 26, 2012

On our last day of the trip, we got to sleep in, a nice touch to cap our trip.  We visited the Melrose Plantation, where we enjoyed a tour of this historic home and, more importantly, were allowed to see the African House, where the works of Clementine Hunter are displayed.  This was a particularly interesting home, and our tour guide, Gar, indicated that the five or six murals in the African House were worth approximately 13 million dollars.  This was the most interesting aspect of the tour.

We were also able to have fun in Nacogdoches at Zip Nac, a five component zip-line course.  Although I am scared of heights and lost at every competition on the course, I still enjoyed the day.

Christian on the Zip Line

Looking back on the trip, it’s fun to think about my favorite stops.

Favorite Restaurants:

3. Whole Hog Cafe from Conway, Arkansas. The award-winning BBQ restaurant that included the six specialty sauces and the mouth-watering ribs was absolutely delicious. It was almost like the meat fell off the bones. The cole slaw and BBQ beans were one of the best I have ever eaten. I was thoroughly satisfied when I left Whole Hog and, just as MacArthur once declared, “I shall return.”

2. Merci Beaucoup was a beautiful restaurant in Natchitoches, LA. The specialty of the city was the famous Meat Pies, so of course that was what I ordered. On top of the Meat Pie Platter, I ordered a bowl of Merci Beaucoup’s version of Jambalaya and shared some gumbo with Vice-President Beiser. The meat pies and dirty rice combination proved to be an incredible dynamic duo. And to complete the meal, Ryan and I both ordered the Abita Root Beer, a Cane River specialty.

1. Topping my list of favorite restaurants is King’s Palace on Beale Street in Memphis, TN. Although the restaurant isn’t in Louisiana, the cajun and creole styled foods were top notch. The large portion of their special voodoo chicken and potatoes was quite different. The live music, lighting, and the atmosphere put this diner on top.

Favorite Museums and Historical Sites:

3. My third favorite museum on the trip was the Little Rock Central High Civil Rights Museum.  It was here that the Little Rock Nine walked into American history during the Civil Rights Movement.  Of course, having the opportunity to meet Elizabeth Eckford at the University of Central Arkansas made the trip to the National Landmark all the more exciting.

Elizabeth Eckford at Little Rock Central High, 1957

2. I also enjoyed the Arkansas Supreme Court.  We were able to visit the court room and ask questions to the court’s public affairs officer Ms. Carolyn Bond. I am sure the fact that all of us want to be attorneys made the experience more interesting, but being able to sit in the Justices’ chairs was an affirming experience.

1. My favorite historical site, however, was Sun Records Studio in Memphis, TN. The historic recording studio started by Sam Philips and made famous by musicians such as Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, was a lot of fun.

Notable New Experiences

One of my favorite new experiences was touring the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion. The opportunity to see Gov. Beebe’s residence was unique. The handcrafted silver plates from the USS Arkansas and the French chandelier in the foyer were great examples of the artistic nature mansion’s beauty. I haven’t had the pleasure to tour our Governor’s mansion, so this was quite a treat.

Junior Fellows at the Arkansas Governor's Mansion with Leonard Boyle, Sr.

Things I Learned

3. One thing I learned is that Lauren loves ice cream, and she will sprint to the gates of hell to obtain it.

2. President Clinton was a young Attorney General and a young Governor. He did not let his age stop him from reaching his goals and dreams

1. Dwight D. Eisenhower made more changes and reform during his presidency than most people know.

Honorable Mention

Cardboard can provide a nice piece of equipment to slide down a steep hill.  Ducks can be trained to walk on a red carpet.

Peabody Ducks

Favorite Outdoor Activity

Petit Jean State Park was the best outdoor experience I have had in a long time. The hike was challenging and invigorating. Cedar Falls was a beautiful as it was advertised, and if anyone has the chance to go to Petit Jean, I suggest they take it.

The Guys at the Petit Jean State Park

Favorite City

Memphis, TN was my favorite city. The rich history, architectural designs, proximity to the Mississippi River, and numerous attractions proved very attractive. Definitely a great city to visit!

I would like to thank everyone who supported the Junior Fellows during this trip and I would particularly like thank Dr. Hoffman, program chair of the Arkansas Political Science Convention, and Student Services at Sam Houston State University.

I’ll be graduating in August, and this very well could be my last Junior Fellows’ trip as a student.  I’m pleased to have spent the time with such a great group of people.  Thanks again to all.

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