Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Happy Birthday & Anniversary to Us


Today we are celebrating being married 54 years.  Yeah for us!


Where have the years gone?

On Monday, Dick had his 79th birthday which is no small feat.

We decided we needed to celebrate these momentous occasions by taking a mini road trip, which is one of our favorite things to do together.

We left right after church on Sunday and headed northwest into the state of Arkansas.

After a delightful 3.5 hour drive through the country side - no major highways for us if we can help it - we ended up in Mena.

Mena is a small town with an interesting if not tragically sad history.  It has been known as a "Sundown town" because of the lynching in 1901 of a black man, after an alleged altercation with a white girl. There were other racially motivated instances during those years, which along with the absence of employment, caused the Black community to move elsewhere.  It was once advertised at a "100% White Town," thus the title. Today, there is less than 0.2% black population.

In the 1980's Mena airport was the headquarters of one of the most notorious drug smuggling operations in the country, led by Barry Seal.  Think Bill/Hillary Clinton days in Little Rock.

In 2009 a violent tornado destroyed much of the town and homes killing three and injuring 30.

Our over-night stay was not focused on the past thankfully.  Mena is a nice, friendly place and we could not have been more pleased with our accommodations.




The Fennelwood Executive Suite


After getting settled into our lovely B&B, we took a driving tour of the town.  Being a Sunday, there weren't many open places, but there are museums, galleries and shops to entertain during the week.


Perhaps the most striking building there is the St. Agnes Catholic Church.  It is Spanish Mission Revival style and was built in 1921-22 of local fieldstone.  It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.


The cross in the side yard was quite interesting if not unusual.

From Mena, one can enter into some of the most well-known tourist spots in the Natural State.  Our destination from here would be into the Ouachita National Forest which extends westward into Oklahoma.


There are numerous opportunities to pull over in order to take advantage of the scenic vistas.  It was early morning, so there was still a haze over the mountains.




 
The Rich Mountain Fire Tower is on the tallest point along the Talimena Scenic Highway.  It served as the lookout point for the forest from 1940's-1975.  It is now a popular picnic area.  The tower is no longer open to visitors.


These outdoor restroom facilities are no longer used, but a reminder of what life must have been like many years ago when the fire ranger and his family lived on this spot.


As I was walking around, I spotted a nice size black bear playing on the road we had just used.  It fled when a car approached and before I could get a clear picture.


Also part of National Forest and right on the highway, is the Queen Wilhelmina State Park and beautiful lodge.


The view from here is beautiful, but we decided an even higher vantage point might be interesting.  The Lover's Leap Hiking Trail looked inviting and since we were celebrating our love, why not take it.  After all it was only a mile long.


Truly, the view from the Lover's Leap lookout point was breathtaking.


We also knew that since the first half of the hike was fairly easy, the last half would be a challenge.  We were right.


It went straight up and was very, very rocky.  My fitbit showed we had climbed 29 flights of stairs by the time we got back.  Not bad for two old folks.



Our reward, other than the view was seeing a doe and her two fawns right along the path, but they were too hidden in the branches for me to get a good clear picture, but you may be able to see the mama here.  You will just have to trust me that they were beautiful.


Inside the lodge was a bear exactly like the one I had seen earlier and he wasn't going anywhere.


Coincidentally, while at the lodge, Dick found his surprise birthday present.
Only, the owner had not been notified yet.  LOL!


From here we went south into Oklahoma.  We stopped at a place called "Shuck Me" for lunch in Hochatown.  The food was delicious as evidenced by Dick's plate.



Bread Pudding served as his birthday cake and neither of us were complaining.


This whole area is a sportsman's paradise with lakes and state parks.  The Broken Bow Lake was beautiful and there were many families and groups out picnicking and boating on this Labor Day.




The Beaver's Bend State Park is nearby and provided some of the most beautiful and scenic drives we had seen.



This totem sculpture reminded us that we were in the middle of Choctaw Nation.  


Even though this was a whirlwind road trip, we confirmed that these 54 years have been wonderful years together and we look forward to taking many more trips together.

9 comments:

  1. I'd never heard of Mena, but enjoyed its stories (and your photos!) enormously. Happy Anniversary … and belated blessings to Dick. It's our anniversary today, as well!

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  2. Well, what a fun adventure to celebrate two very special occasions. Y'all just keep having fun and making memories.

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  3. Congratulations on your anniversary and a very Happy Birthday to Dick! A great trip to celebrate both.

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  4. Happy Anniversary!...and what a fun way to celebrate with a great road trip! Beautiful scenes and delicious looking food! I hope you have many more years of happiness!

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  5. Happy Anniversary, dear Elizabeth and Happy Birthday to you hubs. Looks like a wonderful getaway. Any celebration that involves bread pudding is a great one in my book!! BTW.. You're not getting older, you're getting better!!!

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  6. Happy Anniversary, friend. Sunday is our 41st. I keep wondering where the time has gone! :)

    Happy Birthday to your beloved as well. You both look amazing.

    <3 Rebecca

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  7. Happy, happy anniversary! Looks like you had a good time celebrating. That inn looks pretty.

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  8. Wow, what a great trip you had. Thank you for the history lesson. Love all the photos. Happy Anniversary and Happy Birthday to Dick! I do love that cross.

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