Travel Treasures
Jan/Feb 2008 Issue
Off endangered list, eagles fly into Arkansas

Hundreds of eagles seek out open waters in Arkansas for nesting and feeding grounds. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism photo
The American bald eagle, once near extinction, was taken off the Endangered Species List last year, and to celebrate the majestic bird’s return to prominence, visit one of its winter nesting grounds in Arkansas.

Among the areas in Arkansas where the birds return is Bull Shoals, which welcomes 100 eagles each winter. Bull Shoals-White River State Park will celebrate its Eagle Awareness Weekend Jan. 4–5 with lake and river tours, guided bird walks, guest speakers, live bird demonstrations, children’s activities and more. For details, call (870) 445-3629, or visit the Web site www.arkansasstateparks.com.

Another Eagle Awareness Weekend will take place Jan. 12–13 at Petit Jean State Park near Morrilton. Among the activities will be field trips to Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge to see wintering bald eagles. For details, call (501) 727-5441, or visit www.petitjeanstatepark.com.

Daisy State Park will host a number of guided boat tours on Lake Greeson to see bald eagles and other wintering waterfowl. Dates for the tours include Jan. 5–6 and 19–20, and Feb. 2–3 and 16–17. Reservations are required for the tours, which cost $6.50 for adults and $3.50 for children 6–12. For details, call (870) 398-4487, or visit www.arkansasstateparks.com.

Eagle Watch Lake Tours will be conducted Jan. 12–13 and 19–20 on Lake Maumelle in Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Visitors will tour the lake on open party barges to spot eagles. Admission is $6.50 for adults and $3.50 for children 6–12. Call (501) 868-5806 for details, or visit the Web site www.arkansasstateparks.com.

DeGray Lake Resort State Park near Bismarck will host its annual Eagles Et Cetera weekend Jan. 25–27. Among the activities will be lake tours, guided bird walks, owl prowls, live bird demonstrations and more. For information, call (501) 865-2801, or visit www.degray.com.

Also that same weekend, the Belle of the Ozarks on Beaver Lake near Rogers will offer eagle watching tours three times each day, departing from Rocky Branch Marina. Expert guides will offer narration. Admission is $18 for adults and $7.50 for children under 12. For details, call 1-800-552-3803, or visit www.estc.net/belle.

Museum marks 75 years of helping people notice nature

The museum features a 100,000-gallon aquarium system. Mississippi Museum of Natural Science photo
From its humble beginnings in the 1930s as the Wildlife Museum, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson today is a state-of-the-art facility that exhibits the rich diversity of the state’s environment from sea beds to treetops.

Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, the museum’s 73,000-square-foot building features vast expanses of glass overlooking a 300-acre natural area with 2.5 miles of nature trails that meander along wooded bluffs, river bottoms, lakes and scenic swamplands. The building’s design encourages visitors to share their time between the indoor exhibits and the outdoor environment.

In the main exhibition hall, a floating Earth and outsized Mississippi maps put the state in context with the rest of the planet. A series of life-size displays gives visitors a comprehensive sense of Mississippi’s diverse habitats, along with an understanding of the relationships that exist among the state’s land, plants, animals and people. A 100,000-gallon aquarium system houses more than 200 living species of native fish, reptiles and amphibians. And a huge greenhouse called “The Swamp,” which has another large aquarium, provides a home for alligators, turtles, fish and a lush native garden.

Though unseen by most museum visitors, the facility’s biological research collections provide the foundation upon which much of our knowledge of animals, plants and fossils is based. Indeed, the museum has more than 870,000 specimens collected during a variety of scientific studies conducted across the state.

Most of the collections have their origins in the mid-1930s when Fannye Cook, the museum’s first director, sought to document the flora and fauna of Mississippi. Her research was said to rival that of the United States Biological Survey.

The museum is located at 2148 Riverside Drive. Hours are 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. on Saturday and 1–5 p.m. on Sunday. For details, call (601) 354-7303 or visit www.msnaturalscience.org.

Cannons, guns and a footrace commemorate Battle of New Orleans

Re-enactors will blast cannons during military drills at the event. AJ Sisco/National Park Service photo
A ragtag confederation of American troops, pirates, slaves and free men of color will rally once again to defend New Orleans from the invading British army during the 193rd anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, which forever freed America from British domination.

The sights and sounds of Jan. 8, 1815, will come alive on the weekend of Jan. 11–12 at the Chalmette Battlefield in New Orleans, the very place where the battle happened. National Park Service rangers and living historians dressed as civilians and soldiers from 1815 will share stories around their tents and campfires.

Re-enactment activities–including cannon firings, military drills and campfire cooking–get underway Friday, Jan. 11, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. As night falls, visitors can relive the night before the battle with a lantern tour (tickets required).

Activities continue at the battlefield on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. At dusk, the St. Bernard Parish government is sponsoring a separate event–a re-enactment of the Dec. 23, 1814, night battle at historic Pakenham Oaks, just downriver from the battlefield.

All events are free except the lantern tour. For parking maps, schedules and lantern tour ticket details, visit www.nps.gov/jela/battle-of-new-orleans-anniversary.htm.

Running enthusiasts can get a jump on the celebration with the Jackson Day race on Sunday, Jan. 6. In its 101st year, the 9K (5.6 mile) race follows the route Maj. Jacques Plauche’s Battalion d’Orleans and Jean Lafitte’s Baratarian cannoneers ran to get to the Battle of New Orleans.

For race details, visit www.runnotc.org/races/2008/jackson.html.

Exhibit illustrates the influence of cartoons

An ink drawing by Steve Kelley in the exhibition. Published: The Times-Picayune, March 4, 2003
The power of the pen is mighty, especially when it is in the hands of an editorial cartoonist.

With just a few strokes of their pencils, brushes and ink pens, editorial cartoonists can crystallize a complex issue, skewer a politician or comment on society–all while making people laugh. To showcase the influence of editorial cartoons with a deft combination of insightful imagery and concise text, the LSU Museum of Art in Baton Rouge is presenting “The Line That Roars: Editorial Cartoons in the Age of Anxiety.”

On display through Feb. 10, the exhibit spans the careers of three artists: David Norwood of The Advocate in Baton Rouge, Steve Kelley of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, and Pulitzer Prize winner David Horsey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The collection features 150 original artworks created during the past decade, from about 1997 to 2007.

Part of the Shaw Center for the Arts, the LSU Museum of Art is located at 100 Lafayette St. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and students and $4 for children 5–17. Hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday– Saturday with extended hours on Thursday to 8 p.m., and 1–5 p.m. on Sunday. For details, call (225) 389-7200, or visit www.lsumoa.com.

Oxford hosts a cinematic celebration each winter

As home of Mississippi’s first university and Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner, Oxford has a reputation as a culturally diverse and artistic town, and that distinction proves even more true during the annual Oxford Film Festival.

In its fifth year, the festival will assemble the best and brightest young filmmakers to show off their work during this four-day event, Feb. 7–10. The festival will bring filmmakers and filmgoers from as far away as Los Angeles and New York–and as close as Oxford–to enjoy approximately 75 films, plus workshops, panels and social events.

The Oxford Film Festival (OFF) began in 2003 as a project of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council to celebrate the art of filmmaking through the presentation of independent films. In recent years, the film festival has included Academy Award winners and nominees.

This year’s film festival will be held at the Malco’s Oxford Studio Cinema on Jackson Avenue. Purchase tickets at the door and through the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council or the Oxford Film Festival. Also, tickets will be available at www.malco.com two weeks before the event at $10 per day or $30 for a four-day pass.

A schedule of this year’s festival films will be posted online at www.oxfordfilmfest.com in early 2008. For more information, call (662) 236-6429.

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