Sunday, June 26, 2011

Take A Trip Outside Your Door: The Beauty of Local Day Trips

Pat Austin @ And So It Goes In Shreveport has developed a whole series of posts of one-day jaunts to nearby small towns: the "Take A Trip" series. I've written about them before, and her posts are themselves a bit of armchair travel that can help the cares of a crazy day fall away just reading them.

This week's "Take a Trip to Natchitoches and to Melrose Plantation" has a special focus on the architecture in the area: ranging from poteaux-en-terre to post-revolutionary African Congo-style construction to antebellum churches with copper roofs to sleek new design that's a pure study in the range of light and shadow.

Set aside an hour or so to immerse yourself in the images and follow her generous links to more information. Notice the surprises: how many knew the first American plantation built by and for free Black Americans was in Louisiana shortly after the Revolutionary War? That it was the home of primitive artist Clementine Hunter? Or that Natchitoches is the oldest permanent settlement in the whole Louisiana Purchase - dating back to 1714? Or that it now boasts the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and a great independent bookstore?

In the waning years of the Baby Boomer World where so many have become "jet setters" - dashing about on holidays to exotic locations, when it comes to renewing vacations, the bluebird of Happiness is still right in our own backyard. A lovely day spent exploring the countryside around our own home can be as memorable as, and probably more meaningful to our quality of life than the All-Inclusive Here's Your Menu 4 Days 3 Nights Fantasy Cruise.

There's something renewing about walking along the corridors of our own time, the trails of our own past. As we balance on the railroad tracks of our youth and look across the graveyards of those who balanced themselves before us, there's a great opening perspective.

This is real: right here, right now. The beautiful decay of rusting sheet iron made way for the shining stars thrown by the welding torch that builds a continuing future just as bright and exciting as the past we still admire and learn from.

All we have to do is turn 180 degrees and our future waits, just one footstep further along to the horizon.

Go see it.

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