William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park

I ended a recent visit to Little Rock with a stop at the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park. The park is a later addition to the center, which opened in 2004. It was my first time to walk the park and I was pretty impressed.

The center and park are located next to the Arkansas River and includes a bridge that spans the river. Clinton Presidential Park Bridge, formerly known as the Rock Island Railroad Bridge, is a ramped pedestrian walkway and bicycle path that was completed in September 2011 and now closes the loop on the 15-mile Arkansas River Trail. The trail runs along the river’s banks on the both the north and south side. I was just a little too tired to walk the bridge on this visit, however, I hope to correct this soon.

The neat thing about the park is that includes the Bill Clark Wetlands project, a restored 13-acres wetland habitat that will eventually allow urban fishing. According to the center’s website, it’s designed to showcase wildlife and river life and is named for Clark because he was an “avid outdoorsman and strong business, civic, charitable and political leader in Arkansas for over three decades.” Here’s some pictures from my trip.

Mourning Dove who refused to move from its spot near the statue.

Hanging out in Little Rock

Two Rivers Park

I’ve found two new favorite places around Little Rock: Pinnacle State Mountain and Two Rivers Park. Lately, I’ve taken to the half-mile Kingfisher Trail at Pinnacle. I love that its more quiet and peaceful. The Two Rivers Park is longer, but more populated with people.

Graffiti near the Kingfisher Trail.
Two Rivers Park

Woodpeckers: Downy vs. Hairy

Downy Woodpecker

I finally saw my first Downy Woodpecker at my aunt’s house in Little Rock. OK, I might have seen it before but its hard to distinguish from the Hairy Woodpecker. Both are the only common woodpeckers to have vertical white strips on the back. They also have black and white wings with a comma-shaped black mark, although the mark is more obvious on the Hairy.

According to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Project FeederWatch, the easiest way to tell which one you are looking at is by the size — the Downy has a short, about one-third long bill and is smaller at about 6.5″ long while the Hairy has a long, chisel-like bill about the size of its head and is about the size of a robin, 9-13″ long.

It also helps that Downys are more likely to be found in suburban areas. The Downys have weaker, squeakier  calls with a slower drum than the Hairys, which have louder, more powerful calls and a faster drum.

 

Mushrooms galore

I visited Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Little Rock for the very first time recently, and fell in love. It was peaceful, beautiful and had plenty of activities to do. During my visit, I walked the park’s Arkansas Arboretum trail. It’s an easy trail with plenty of audio sign panels to learn about the various plants and trees lining the trail. There was also a good variety of mushrooms as well. Here’s a few mushrooms that I saw.

 

Morris Hall Chapel

About 10 years ago, I attended my first mass at Morris Hall Chapel on the grounds of St. John Catholic Center in Little Rock. It was during my first Diocese of Little Rock retreat and I ended up visiting the center multiple times over the next year as a staff member for the following retreat.

Last Friday, a candidacy mass for my cousin Stephen reintroduced me to the chapel. We arrived really early (my dad was afraid of traffic despite my repeated assurances that we would be fine) so we had plenty of time to learn about the chapel’s history.

It’s actually pretty neat. Architect Thomas Harding Sr., whose father designed The Cathedral of St. Andrew in the 1880s, designed the Little Rock chapel. Following a 1951 dedication, it was originally used to serve seminarians attending St. John Home Mission Seminary. The seminary closed in 1967 and the St. John Catholic Center is now the site of the Diocese of Little Rock’s administrative offices.

The chapel, renovated in 1989, is gorgeous. It has statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph (see above picture) that a German artist near Interlaken, Switzerland, carved out of lindenwood while Italian artist Lenatori made the altar in 1910 in Rome. Bishop John B. Morris purchased the altar in 1915 and it was originally used in the Little Rock College chapel before being moved to Morris Hall in 1952.

There are also 12 stained glass windows depicting saints whose lives are associated with the church’s priesthood or missionary work. The most meaningful one to me was the one portraying St. Theresa, the Little Flower.

St. Theresa (1873-1897) became a Carmelite nun at age 15 and is the patroness of missions. She is known for her “little way” of quiet acts of love, humble suffering and simple trust in God alone.

She is definitely some one worth being like.