Travel Reflections: Favorites from the South (and Midwest)

The LEAP Center’s mission is to offer unique educational opportunities for students.  An example of this is the Center’s annual trip to the Southern Legislative Conference, to which the LEAP Ambassadors are invited to attend.  While the conference offers the opportunity to learn about policies among 15 southern (and near-southern) states, the travel to and from the conference also presents learning opportunities.

Following the students’ 11-day trip across eight states and more than 20 educational sites, the seven students selected their favorite destinations across categories such as food, historical landmark, museums, and cities.  The results are below:

Favorite Cities:

  • Eureka Springs, AR: This quaint little town proved to be the favorite of the group, with almost every student placing it on their top three.
Flatiron Building, Eureka Springs, AR
LEAP Ambassadors in Front of “Flatiron Building” in Eureka Springs, AR
  • Lexington, KY: The site of our conference also proved popular.  With its beautiful horse farms, pretty downtown, and attractive parks, students enjoyed four days in the horse capitol of the country.
Triangle Park, Lexington
The LEAP Ambassadors at Triangle Park, Lexington
  • Hot Springs, AR: This was a surprise to our professor, but the students enjoyed seeing the springs, the historic architecture, and meeting other SHSU students by happenstance!
Ozark Bathhouse, Hots Spring Arkansas
LEAP Ambassadors in Front of Ozark Bathhouse, Hot Springs, AR

Favorite Restaurants:

Little towns ruled the culinary arts on this tour!

Favorite Works of Architecture:

  • Frank Lloyd Wright House (Bachman-Wilson House) at Crystal Bridges was the favorite, edging out some other top designs.  The large living room won the day!
Frank LLoyd Wright, Crystal Bridges, Bachman-Wilson Home, LEAP Ambassadors
LEAP Ambassadors Outside of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson Home
  • Anthony Chapel at Garvin Gardens, Hot Spring, AR was one of three Fay Jones’ Chapels the student saw, and it proved the favorite.  Although larger than the other two (which are in Bella Vista and Eureka Springs), the three designs are very similar.
Garvin Gardens, E. Fay Jones, Hot Springs, Arkansas
Garvin Gardens by Fay Jones, Hot Springs, AR
  • Honorable Mention should go to several structures.  The students very much enjoyed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the Union Station in St. Louis…
Union Station, STL MO
LEAP Ambassadors at Union Station, St. Louis, MO

…the Old Mill is always a favorite stop.

Gone With the Wind, Little Rock, Arkansas, Old Mill
LEAP Ambassadors at Old Mill, Little Rock, AR

…and The Parthenon proved a favorite as well.

The Parthenon, Nashville
The LEAP Ambassadors at the Parthenon, Nashville, Tennessee

Favorite Works of Art

  • The Turrell Skyscape, “The Way of Color” at Crystal Bridges:

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  • Au Cafe, by Stanton MacDonald-Wright was also popular, providing much head-scratching and discussion.
"Au Cafe," by Stanton MacDonald-Wright
“Au Cafe,” by Stanton MacDonald-Wright
  • George Seurat’s “Outer Harbor” at the Crystal Bridges Museum
George Seurat, Pointillism, SLAM, Outer Harbor
George Seurat’s “Outer Harbor” at the St. Louis Art Museum


  • Hiking: The students enjoyed both their hike at Pinnacle Mountain…
Pinnacle Mountain, LEAP Ambassadors
LEAP Abassadors at the Peak of Pinnacle Mountain

…and Devil’s Den State Park…

Devil's Den State Park, LEAP Ambassadors
LEAP Ambassadors at Devil’s Den State Park
  • Ropes Course at Megacavern in Louisville, KY
Megacavern, Ropes Course
Karla Rosales and Ryan Brim at the MegaCavern
  • Tie:  Skeet Shooting…
Brian Aldaco, Skeet Shooting
Brian Aldaco Hitting Targets

…and meeting Blair Hess and Cameron Ludwick, authors of “My Old Kentucky Road Trip.”

Camp Nelson, Blair Hess, Cameron Ludwick, My Old Kentucky Road Trip
LEAP Ambassadors with Authors Blair Hess and Cameron Ludwick

It was another enormously rewarding road trip, providing us with the opportunity to learn about history, art, architecture, civil rights, politics, law, and public policy.  It was a happy eleven days!

LEAP Ambassadors, Pinnacle Mountain
LEAP Ambassadors at Pinnacle Mountain

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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