Friday, July 29, 2016

Mississippi - Tupelo


Happy Birthday America! We traveled to Shannon, MS on July 4, 2016, this was a long drive, just shy of 5-hours. Shannon is 8 miles south of Tupelo.  We stayed at the Natchez Trace RV Park, which is just off of the Natchez Trace Parkway. The Parkway runs 444-miles through 3-states from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, TN. It was established as part of the National Park System in 1938, but wasn't officially completed until 2005. Now that is a long construction job.
The RV Park is a mix of long-term campers and over-nighters, with about 30 sites and a mix of pull-throughs and back-ins. If you plan to stay here ask for site 5, the best one in the park and we were lucky enough to get it. There is a large grassy area right out side your door, with trees for shade and no neighbor.
Our morning coffee spot
The sites are gravel and level, there is a small picnic table and the water pressure was great. We were very grateful to have gotten this spot. The trees kept us much cooler than we have been in a long time. There are sites without trees for those who want to use their satellite. The park is very quiet, there are two small ponds which are home to a family of geese, and two nature trails give you a nice place for walking. There is a small swimming pool with a only a few chairs, but it was clean.
Lots of beautiful flowers and trees
The laundry room is in a small log cabin, fairly clean but a little dusty.
There is one of each machine so don't leave a lot of laundry to do here, a dollar a load and you pay on the honor system, not coins in the machines. No WiFi on site but our Verizon hot-spot worked well enough for web-surfing but not strong enough to load pictures and such. We paid $26.00 a night with the weekly rate.

Memphis, TN was explored on this stop. We had planned to do much more in town but the two stops we made took way longer than expected, but we had a great time.

First up was the Elmwood Cemetery. The monuments were incredible. So many of them were busts and statues of the deceased. Never seen anything like it. The detail on some of them was unbelievable.

The cemetery opened on August 28, 1852. A number of Memphis elite are buried here, along with Confederate generals, victims of the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1878 and Robert Church, the South's first black millionaire.

This is one of the best kept cemeteries we have been in, very few broken or worn tombstones. Once again it was fun looking for the symbols we learned about in Nashville, TN. This is the first weeping willow trees that we have seen that are still intact and recognizable. It was used a great deal up to the 1860's and represents mourning and sadness. The clasped hands mean farewell and devotion to the departed.
The center picture is the wall that surrounded each garden.
Nancy thought they looked like a person
with their head bowed in prayer.

There a number of grave sites that are like small gardens, many with shrubs or flowers in them. The concrete boarders range from plain to very ornate. We have never seen these before and can't find any information on them.

Angels and female statues were popular as well as the figure of death.

The angels came in all shapes and sizes, most made from concrete but a few are bronze.

It is rare to see a statue of Jesus as a headstone.
Crosses in all sizes are very popular

Nancy has added a book on Cemeteries to her list of things to do, we may have to take a sabbatical to get all of her projects done.

False crypts were popular in the late 1800's and early 1900's

There was no markings or name on this mausoleum  
Next up was the Mud Island River Park.

This place was so interesting. It is an exact scale replica of the southern half of the Mississippi River, where it meets up with the Ohio River at Cairo, IL. The entire park twists and curves with the river, following every turn and all of the different depths and side rivers and islands.

There are bridges so you can walk across from side to side. Or, you can walk in the river. Along the way are informational boards telling you about the different cities the river goes through, the history of the area and more. Twenty cities are mapped out, showing landmarks and even the bridges that cross the river.

It was fun "walking" through the cities we have been to and finding all the sights. The park is on the actual Mississippi River bordering Arkansas.

Scale: 30" = 1-Mile ~~~ One contour ridge = 5 feet vertical depth ~~~
Length = 2,000 feet or 5 blocks

There is a parking lot on site, or you can park downtown Memphis and take the tram car across the river. The park is handicap accessible.
The"1,000" mile river journey ends at an acre sized Gulf of Mexico. The park was designed using Corps of Engineers survey and navigational charts. The 1,746, 4 x 8 concrete sections are installed to allow the water to flow from north to south and the water levels mimic what is currently happening with the river.

L: the "Gulf" with downtown Memphis in the background - C: you can ride a swan boat on the Gulf
R: Lake Pontchartrain has a fountain in the center of it!  

We stopped at a Farmer's Market on the way out of town. They have been few and far between on our travels, so we are always excited to find one. Nancy got an early birthday present at this one, a beautiful wooden magnifying glass.

Downtown Tupelo is filled with music memorabilia.

13 year old Elvis
This is the birthplace of Elvis Presley, so there are a number of music related things in town. Music notes and metal guitars can be found all over town. While neither of us are huge Elvis fans and really had no desire to go to Graceland while in Memphis we did stop at his birth home and wander the grounds.

The 2-room home that he was born in sits on it's original site, the Assembly of God Church where he attended and started singing was moved to this location.

Tupelo Hardware is where Elvis's first guitar was bought. His mother persuaded him to look at it instead of the rifle he wanted. His pastor taught him how to play it.  Elvis's family moved to Memphis in 1948 and the rest is, as they say history.

Ten years later Elvis was back in Tupelo to hold a concert to raise money for a park, that park has a statue of him in the center of it.
The Tupelo Automobile Museum was a fun place. The self guided tour takes you past 100 antique, classic and collectible cars laid out in chronological order. You get to see the progress of the cars design and engineering over the last 100 years. It was very interesting, but rather sad how mundane cars of today are, they all look the same, certainly wasn't the case in previous years.

1957 Chevrolet original cost $2,611

We found cars from our birth years of 1949 and 1957

1949 Triumph 2000 - original cost $2,900

Great sign

A fun find that has a Michigan connection is a car that
Domino's Pizza had made as a delivery car,
8 were made until the insurance company
said there was no way they would insurance it. 
Great colors and accents!
Another interesting car was the 1954 Kaiser Darrin. This is one of the 435 that were made. The original cost was only $2,550 and it is so cool that it has a sliding door! Our first thought was how quickly it would stop sliding in a place like Michigan that use salt on the roads in the winter!

1948 Jaguar Mark IV - original cost $3,964 we wondered if the
on board tools means the car broke down a lot. 

Once again Nancy had a book idea while snapping 400+ pictures today - she was fascinated with the hood ornaments and radiator caps. Yep we are gonna need a sabbatical!

Nancy had a short run with the bug Les had in Mongomerty. Luckily she was only down for a day and a half. Unfortunately it was the day we were heading to Muscle Shoals, AL to meet up with a co-worker of Les's. Les headed off on his own to have lunch with Bill Davis while Nancy slept.
He visited the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, they are not doing tours due to construction but he was able to visit the gift shop.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Be a good neighbor
Being a good neighbor in a campground is very similar to being a good neighbor any where else with a few extra things.
~ Keep the noise down - when you are sometimes only 10-feet or less from your neighbor, noise can be a real issue. Watch your voice volume along with the radio and TV. This extends to pets too, especially barking dogs and running your vehicle.
~ If you are a smoker try not to sit under your neighbors window while smoking - sit closer to your own trailer.
~ Don't spread out into your neighbors space. Keep your things on your site, bikes, cars, towels, pets etc.
~ Don't cut through your neighbors space. Don't walk next to their trailer or tent, stay on the road.
~ Most importantly - be friendly. You don't have to invite them to dinner but a smile and simple hello is a great thing.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Alabama - Montgomery

Hope Hull

We traveled to Hope Hull, AL on June 27, 2016. It is about 20 minutes south of Montgomery. Back in March we came through this area and explored a little bit of Montgomery and Selma. The plan had been to explore more this stop, but Les caught a bug and was down the whole week. 
We stayed at the Montgomery South RV Park. It is right off of Hwy 65 so there was some road noise, but it was so dang hot we never had a window or blind open so it wasn't bad. The sites are average width and were just barely long enough for the RV, tow-dolly and parking the car. They are all gravel, ours was fairly level, with a picnic table and fire pit. Water pressure was good and the WiFi worked pretty well. Laundry room and bathrooms were clean. They also have cabins to rent. There is a large open field next to the park that was perfect for games of fetch with Mielikki. 

With so much downtime Nancy got caught up with organizing her pictures, our journal along with doing some sketching for future projects she is working on. It was a nice break from running, only wish it hadn't been because Les was so sick! 

The sunsets most every evenings were quite the treat and
Spanish Moss was every where.

We did venture into Montgomery one day. We had breakfast at the Egg and I and it was wonderful. Les lost 13 pounds this week from eating hardly anything while sick. He made a dent in breakfast but left most behind. From there we headed to Oakwood Cemetery, the resting place of Hank Williams. Some think of him as the father of country music, we had no idea he was so young when he passed away. 
He was born September 17, 1923 and passed away on New Years Day, 1953, of a heart attack in the back seat of his car on the way to a show in Ohio. He wrote a number of songs with "Hey Good Lookin' " and "Your Cheatin' Heart" among the more popular. He also wrote a number of religious songs under the pseudonym Luke the Drifter.
There were a number of other interesting headstones and monuments. 

We stopped at the First Confederate White House, it was closed but we were able to get a picture. From February - May 1861, this was the executive residence of Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. 
Across the street is the Alabama Capitol Building, which served as the first Confederate Capitol Building before the Confederates moved their headquarters to Richmond, VA. 
The Constitution of the Confederate States was drawn up and approved in this building in 1861, and over 100-years later the Selma to Montgomery March ended at the front steps. This led to the Civil Rights Act of 1965.
A statue of Hank Williams stands in front of the building.

We found one Roadside Oddity, a replica of the Wright Brothers Plane. It is in Wright Brothers Park off of I-65, near the present-day Air Force Base where the brothers had opened the nations first civilian flying school. They chose this area because of its mild climate and flat farmland. Due to the Winter weather they couldn't teach year round in their home town of Dayton, OH. During World War I the site of the school was used for aircraft repair, and became Maxwell Field in 1922, and is now Maxwell Air Force Base. 

Next up is Tupelo, MS and hoping for good health. 

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Be prepared for getting sick
There are a few things you want to make sure you have on hand for those just in case times. A first aid kit is a must, stocked with your usual things, band-aids, anti-bacterial cream, scissors, gauze, tweezers to name a few. You also want to make sure you have other items on hand for illnesses. Cough syrup, anti-diarrhea medication, anti-nausea medication, thermometer, to name a few. Many times the nearest store may be 45 minutes or more one way and when your sick you don't want to have to wait that long.