Tag Archives: sightseeing

2018 – Sightseeing Little Rock, AR and vicinity


Sometimes in our travels we stay at a campground that is, in itself, an “attraction.” We’ll review Maumelle Corps of Engineers campground in a separate post, but it’s one of those campgrounds that’s so pretty with such great campsites that we enjoyed just hanging out at the campground rather than heading out to see the sights.

We did, though, spend the better part of a day at the Arkansas State Fair; our second big fair this year. We entered the fairgrounds through the midway but we quickly made our way back to the exhibit areas. We walked through a building with a wide variety of vendors and items for sale and then visited the cattle barn. My favorite building was arts and crafts. I’m always amazed the beautiful throws, pillows, clothes and quilts people make. In the same building the end wall was full of canned foods but it was the blue ribbon gigantic pumpkins and watermelons that got my attention. Our final stop of the day was at the arena where they were judging cattle and giving the ribbons. This was a new experience for me and very interesting.

Pinnacle Mountain State Park was very near our campground. We visited this park a couple of years ago and remembered that it is a terrific place to visit. As we arrived at the park near the Visitor’s Center we saw some beautiful early fall colors in the trees by the pond. We then climbed the stairs to the observation deck and were rewarded with a great view of the wetlands with the Arkansas River below us. There was no one else there and I enjoyed not only the view but also the quiet away from traffic and crowds. After a pleasant time there we went to the Visitor’s Center. I enjoyed seeing the wildlife dioramas and the live beehive behind glass. For those with with children there are interactive displays, color pages and other activities. This is a great place and surprisingly close to Little Rock.


See individual photos with captions here.

2018 – Sightseeing the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee

We always enjoy returning to the Smoky Mountains. This visit was just for a week, so we had a short but busy stay. A highlight for us was the opportunity to attend the Saturday afternoon sessions of the National Quartet Convention at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge. Thanks to some friends who were attending the convention, we got tickets for the Gerald Wolfe Hymn Sing. This was a fun “sing along” event with a full choir and several other southern gospel singers. Then, we attended a concert featuring several male quartets. As you can guess Scott was right in his element and I enjoyed my first NQC.

We spent one day enjoying the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Years ago we spent some time camping at Cades Cove and we haven’t been back there since. It was as pretty as we remembered. We took the scenic loop drive, stopping at three historical spots along the way. Our first stop was at the Primitive Baptist Church. We could see the space where the heating stove sat and the roof vent where the stovepipe vented outside. There is a large cemetery in back and we could see some the names and dates of the people buried there. One thing that stuck me in both cemeteries was the amount of children’s graves; especially those that died on the day of their birth. I was surprised to see several more recent graves there, apparently family plots still being used by families to lay loved ones to rest.

We also stopped at a Methodist Church. The building has an old upright piano. As we arrived a young lady was playing the piano and after she left Scott played his trademark “When the Saints go Marching In.” Several came in as he played and they asked for an encore! Scott said this was his day of fame! It really did sound good in that old church.

We stopped at the visitors’ center to eat our picnic lunch and then walked around the historic farm there. Next month the National Park Service will be using the historic equipment on site to demonstrate how to make sorghum which they have on sale in the store. The house is large with several rooms on the main floor and an upstairs. We also saw an old barn, corn crib, and a working mill where a man was grinding corn into cornmeal. The mill wheel was turned by water from a nearby stream. We loved the drive through the park that follows a beautiful mountain stream that features many impressive rapids. We thoroughly enjoyed our day in the beauty of God’s Creation.

There’s so much to see in this area that it would take months to really do it justice. We enjoyed returning to the Apple Barn for a meal as well as exploring the shops there. We’ll look forward to future visits here.


See individual photos with captions here.

2018 – Sightseeing Wytheville, VA and area

Our stay in the Wytheville, VA area was a brief one but we enjoyed looking around the area. We took a short drive to nearby Austinville, VA. This community has a strong Texas connection because it is the birthplace of Stephen F. Austin, the “Father of Texas.” There’s a small park there: the Stephen F. Austin Memorial Park. Austin led the group of families to Texas forming what is known as the “First 300” and he had a major role in Texas becoming a Republic.

Also near Austinville along I77 is Shot Tower Historical State Park. The park itself is small and tours are made by appointment only. According to records it was the first factory to mass produce shot on American soil. The tower is 75 feet tall with a shaft beneath it adding another 75 feet to the structure. Melted lead was pulled to the top of the tower using block and tackle. It was then poured through giant sieves. As it fell it cooled, forming musket “shot.” A tunnel at the bottom of the shaft connected to the nearby river and water from the river cushioned the newly formed lead balls as they fell into a large pot. The musket balls were retrieved by workmen from the bottom, dried and polished either on site or at a nearby town. It operated from 1807-1839.

This area is lush and green from all the rain this summer. We drove one of the many scenic byways, enjoying the forest and winding roads all the way up to the top of Big Walker Mountain, just north of Wytheville. There we looked around a long time tourist attraction, the BW Country Store. It is full of handcrafted items, tourist stuff, and tasty looking food items like jams, salsas, fudge, ice cream and more. On the weekends, the store hosts music performances. There’s a lookout tower but we chose to not go up this one. Really, tower or not, the views were spectacular: we could see for miles down the valleys on either side of the peak of the mountain. It was a great afternoon drive.


See individual photos with captions here.