Today we visited Poverty Point National Monument (or rather, State Historic Site) and Vicksburg National Military Park. For all the details, check out my post on scottandkimmie.com. Beyond the recap, I wanted to toss out a couple more thoughts about our trip so far.
First, we’ve seen two units – Big Thicket National Preserve and Cane River Creole National Historic Park – that really whiffed on interpretation opportunities. I’ve never seen a less useful trail guide – the numbered signs seemed completely unrelated to the booklet descriptions – in Big Thicket. Isn’t wasn’t like the trail guide didn’t have any useful information; the book just didn’t mesh with what you were looking at on trail.
While I admittedly missed the tour of the main house at Cane River, the rest of the buildings lacked any sort of context of its inhabitants. There were so many times when we thought, “I’d love to know more about this,” but there was precious little to read or listen to. I know it’s a new unit, but it’s sorely lacking.
Second, cell phone tours are for real. Both Cane River and Vicksburg utilize the new technology, which entails you dialing a dedicated phone number for a park and then entering a stop number to listen to a prerecorded blurb. I’d still prefer to see more written information, but it’s a good start – as long as you have cell coverage, of course.
Along those same lines, I’d love to see parks like Vicksburg provide a more detailed CD and MP3 driving tour for free or even for rent. The park offered a CD for $12 and a CD-ROM for $30. There’s not enough interpretation along the way (the cell phone tours were decent, but the interp signs were among the worst I’ve seen). Check out Lyndon B Johnson National Historic Park for how to do this.
Poverty Point is one of those National Park Service units that shouldn’t be one. If the state wants it, that’s fine; but it shouldn’t be called a National Monument or be on the NPS official unit list if there’s absolutely no mention of the park service or its national monument status. Also, nice job on recreating in model form near the visitor center, but I would have loved to see the site from the observation tower you apparently had at some point in the past. Note: if you’re going to tear down something like that, please update your brochures so I don’t know what I’m missing.
Finally, in a slightly unrelated note, I’d like to pass along the lesson I’ve come to on several recent trips but always seem to fail to live. Don’t skimp too much on hotels. Sometimes, just a few dollars can make all the difference in how much you enjoy your trip. Instead of trying to save the cash, spend it. Just make sure you always overestimate hotel costs when you’re doing your trip budgeting.