Travel Treasures departments
Jul/Aug 2009 Issue

Hang gliders will soar over central Arkansas in August

Atop the biblically named Mount Nebo in central Arkansas, visitors will find heavenly views of the Ozark National Forest, the Arkansas River and Lake Dardanelle from 1,350 feet above the forest floor.

And when you add the excitement of hang gliding to the magnificent mountaintop, the divine vistas become even more enthralling.

In its 16th year, the annual End of Summer Hang Glider Fly-in will be Aug. 22–23 at Sunrise Point in Mount Nebo State Park. Spectators can gather on the mountain to watch as members of the Central Arkansas Mountain Pilots (C.A.M.P.) take to the skies with their colorful craft to soar over the park.

The park is a popular place for hang gliders because of the winds that blow against the face of Mount Nebo and rise up over it. If the pilot stays in this band of lift, known as ridge lift, he or she can remain aloft for as long as the wind blows.

For those who prefer to have solid earth under their feet, the park offers 14 miles of trails that explore Mount Nebo and showcase its fascinating historical and natural features. Some of the trails, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, follow a “bench” around the mountain, a narrow shelf that encircles Mount Nebo.

The park also features rustic and modern cabins, camping sites, a visitor center, a pool and picnic areas. The park is located seven miles west of Dardanelle on Arkansas State Highway 155, which zigzags through the mountainous area.

Note that due to hang gliding’s high dependence on weather and wind, no times are announced for the event. Weather permitting, the pilots will fly throughout Saturday and Sunday beginning in the afternoon.

Call (479) 229-3655 for details, or visit www.arkansasstateparks.com.

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Mount Nebo offers spectacular views of the Ozark National Forest, and it is a popular place for hang gliding. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism photos
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Louisiana plantation celebrating 150 years of grandeur

Nottoway, one of the largest remaining antebellum mansions in the Southern United States, is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, and recent additions and renovations to the property promise to keep it an American treasure for decades to come.

Visitors to Nottoway are amazed at the grandeur of the massive plantation–truly an “American Castle”–nestled along Louisiana’s Great River Road in White Castle at the heart of Plantation Country.

A dramatic multi-million dollar renovation recently was completed to restore Nottoway to her days of glory, as well as to upgrade popular amenities to meet modern-day expectations.

Guided historical tours of the mansion, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and an on-site museum provide a unique glimpse of plantation life. In addition, Nottoway is a full-service historical inn, offering modern accommodations in elegantly appointed guest rooms and suites. Overnight guests can choose the Caretakers’ Quarters overlooking the iris pond, a more spacious layout in the Overseer’s Cottage, or an authentic bedroom in the mansion itself.

The mansion’s second level Grand White Ballroom has provided a breathtaking backdrop for many weddings. An intriguing outdoor pool accents the bridal suite, and a dressing salon fit for a queen is a new wedding feature, along with an on-site spa.

The Mansion Restaurant, nestled in the historical home, specializes in classic cuisine with a south Louisiana flair and is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Le Café offers a variety of coffees, teas, snacks and pastries. Plus, there is a Business Center and a special venue for weddings, corporate events and more.

Nottoway, which is a AAA three Diamond inn and offers discounts to members, is located at 31025 Louisiana Highway 1. Guided tours, which are offered from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. daily on the hour, are $15 for adults and $6 for children under 12. For more details, call (866) 527-6884 or (225) 545-2730, or visit online at www.nottoway.com.

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The mansion offers overnight lodging and tours. Nottoway Plantation photo

 

Follow in Degas’ footsteps to see the New Orleans that inspired him

Edgar Degas reached a turning point during a brief stay in New Orleans, becoming one of the pioneers of the Impressionist movement. Today, visitors can be transported back to the 1870s on a new tour through the neighborhood that inspired him.

For nearly five months in 1872-73, a young Degas, not yet the world-famous French Impressionist master, lived at his maternal uncle’s house just outside of the French Quarter. While there, Degas soaked up the local culture, painted and wrote letters home to his family in France about the city.

Now, through a special walking tour of the neighborhood, visitors can learn more about the structures and landmarks that were in place during his time in the Crescent City. “The Creole Neighborhood of Edgar Degas” tour is based on some of Degas’ observations during his walks to the newly-opened Fairgrounds race course, the French Quarter and more.

Tour attractions include the elegant Gayarre Place; the romantic old Fleitas House, known as “the House on Bayou Road”; and even the avenue’s original brick banquettes.

Visitors will learn how Degas was inspired by the social interaction and architecture of the neighborhood, known as Esplanade Ridge. Despite failing eyesight, Degas produced 18 works there, including “A Cotton Office in New Orleans.”

Walking tours originate from the Degas House, located at 2306 Esplanade Ave. There are also tours of the house, which are conducted by a great-grandniece of Degas. House and walking tours are by appointment only but are available 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily. For tour rates and additional information, call (504) 821-5009, or click on www.degashouse.com.

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Degas painted 18 works while staying with his maternal uncle in New Orleans. Degas House photo

Monsters of the deep sea lurk in Mississippi museum

Visitors to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson, Miss., will come face-to-face with the giants of the sea–from the past and present–in a special exhibit called “Monsters of the Deep.”
On display through Jan. 8, 2010, the exhibit includes displays from prehistory to the whales, sharks and turtles that inhabit our oceans today. Don’t miss the 21-foot, fleshed-out, toothed Zygorhiza whale that dates back 50 million years.

Using a combination of skeletons and amazingly realistic fleshed-out models, the exhibit transports visitors into the aquatic creatures’ natural habitats, past and present.

With their incredible teeth, gaping jaws and long snake-like necks, the bizarre monsters of the ancient seas were unlike anything known today. And although the creatures of the deep have changed over the past 65 million years, we are still fascinated with our present-day sea creatures, such as the elusive giant squid and fearsome sharks.

The museum is located at 2148 Riverside Drive. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for children 3–18. 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.

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Shop till you drop along 160 miles of Arkansas sales

The Arkansas River Valley will be overflowing with antiques and other treasures during the annual Bargains Galore on 64 this August.

In its 10th year, the three-day sale along Highway 64, which parallels Interstate 40, will feature 160 miles of yard sales, flea markets and sidewalk sales in towns from Fort Smith past Conway to Beebe. From Aug. 13–15, commercial vendors, non-profit groups, individuals, schools, churches and civic organizations will sell a variety of items, with an emphasis on antiques and collectibles.

Shoppers will find bargains in more than two dozen communities. For instance, Van Buren will welcome visitors along its Victorian main street with shops teeming with a bounty of arts, crafts, exquisite furniture, stoneware and other hard-to-find items. Plus there are restaurants and cafés to fuel your shopping journey.

Along the entire route, shoppers can enjoy the scenic beauty of the mountainous Ozark terrain where high bluffs overlook meandering rivers and streams. And interspersed among the hardwood forests are a host of small communities where town squares remain the center of city life.

To find sellers participating in the weekend shopping extravaganza, look for the yellow sale signs. Food vendors also will be located at various places along the route. For details, click on www.bargainsgaloreon64.com, or call (479) 667-4455 or (888) 568-3552.


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