Road Trip 2011 Day 7

Yesterday was a lot of driving.  We drove in five states (MS, TN, AR, MO, & IL).  I did not get to blogging last night in favor of simply relaxing and getting some much needed sleep.  The night before was not at all restful.  The motel in Jackson, MS was not at all comfortable and a storm raged through the city that night with high winds, heavy rain, and thunder and lightning.  So, we ended up with a rather restless night.  In the morning, the rain had cleared so we went ahead with our plan to go to Vicksburg to see the civil war battle site and the park that is there.  It is an amazing drive-through park with so many monuments for all of the various divisions that fought there.  The monuments are beautiful.  Many are pretty simple, just showing the names of the men who fought and died there.  Then there are some larger, more impressive ones.  Driving up and down those hills and through the trees was also amazing.  We reflected on how it must have been for the men fighting there, how difficult the terrain would have been for men on foot and horse as well as with artillery pieces.  The gray overcast sky made the pictures dark in many cases but pictures cannot really capture the place well, I think.  If you are ever in the Vicksburg, MS area, it is well worth the $8 per car fee to see it.

Lucky for us, they had no power for their cash registers so they were not charging for the park.  When I reached into my purse for my wallet to get out some cash, my wallet was not there.  A frantic search of my luggage did not find it so I called the motel to see if I left it there.  We ended up driving back to the motel in Jackson to search the room but it wasn’t there.  Back in the car, I found it had fallen into my duffel bag with my clothes and was underneath a purple sweater.  Since the wallet is also purple, this served to hide it well.  The story has a happy ending but it was a stressful moment nonetheless.

On the road, we headed from Jackson towards Memphis, TN.  Light rain was falling on and off but after a while, the sky became incredibly dark very quickly and we hit a wall of rain that had motorists pulling off to the side of the highway because we could not see.  That is, until the golf balls started falling out of the sky and pummeling the car.  The hail was so big that we were afraid the windshield might break.  We crawled forward in almost zero visibility, following the other cars and found an exit and then an overpass under which we took cover with several other cars.  The hail stopped and there was no damage to the car that we could find.  But I am thankful we have coverage if it had dented the car.  We maneuvered back onto the road and the rain continued on and off but much lighter than before, the worst had passed.  But I cannot adequately describe how frightening it was to have the hail hitting the car with such noise and not being able to see where we were going to take cover.  It is an experience I will not likely forget and do not want to repeat.

The rest of the drive to Memphis was not eventful and we drove around the city a bit looking for our photo opportunities.  We drove by Graceland (I am not willing to pay the exorbitant a amount they charge to see it), the controversial grave site of Nathan Bedford Forrest (I keep wanting to add Gump to his name), and the largest pyramid in the US.  The pyramid is reflective silver in color and is very big indeed.  It is right near the Mississippi River and easily seen from the river road.  Back into the city, we searched out and found Leonard’s Barbecue which is a little, out of the way, barbecue restaurant.  It was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives once and we are trying to make a point to seek out one such restaurant on each trip.  It was worth it.  The place is clearly frequented by locals and they have no problem talking up their favorite place.  One lady that was eating nearby heard me talking to the waitress and told me that they have the best barbecue in Memphis there.  I haven’t eaten any other barbecue in Memphis to compare it to but I can say that the food was great.  Steve and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  We were welcomed right away at the door and because of our timing, had no waiting for a table.  The waitress was friendly and very helpful.  We never had to ask for a drink refill and, when we were ready to leave, she packed our desert for us to take with us.  We even found she had the foresight to include plastic forks which was a great find when we finally reached our hotel later that night.  The restaurant has great decor and was just an all-around good place to eat.  We would definitely go there again if we visit Memphis.

Out of Memphis, the navigator took us across the river to drive in Arkansas for a while then Missouri before crossing again into Illinois.  On this path we did see some storm damage in those two states.  The river is very swollen with all of the rain and there were low places where some trees have just their tops visible.  I felt horrible for the people living in those parts.  I hope this weather eases up for them.  The best news is that we made it to Carbondale around 8 and there was still a little daylight to see by as we found the motel here and some light food.  Today we will be heading home.  There are a couple things to see on the way up but the highlight will be getting the dogs and sleeping in our own bed.  My next post will be from my desktop computer at home.