Friday, March 29, 2019

Beautiful Travel Day, Overnight Snaffu, Blog Catching Up

I first must apologize to everyone for the catchup posts. I’m sure all you need to read is the last one to know where and how we are. On Wednesday, Mar. 27th it was 6:30 when I opened my peepers for the first time. Bill was just getting up so when I noticed it was light out, I got up too. I declined a tea, instead headed out the door for my walk. It was only 38F but we seem to have left the winds back in Texas so it felt wonderful. The sky was clear blue.

It was easy to see a beautiful day was headed our way
this was on my morning walk
 I took my big Canon with the zoom lens in case I got lucky again and spotted any deer but it was not to be. I turned back after a mile and caught the sun rising off in the east, through the forest. This is a beautiful place. Any place is beautiful where we can leave our back blind open in the Suite after the sun has set and all we see is woodsy parkland. Oh, and then in the morning, we have another great view of the sun peeking at us.

And this was the view from our back window while here
We finished our coffee and tea and Bill had his toast. I reheated my leftover omelette and cleaned that up. It would be a few nights without power so not feasible to keep it in the fridge any longer than that. It was delicious, almost as much as it was the first time! We cleaned up dishes, washed and then closed things up. The last thing I did was to leave one of my painted rocks on the picnic table before I left. Not hidden but still left behind.

Sweet Home Alabama
(wouldn't you think they'd have a prettier eye catching sign?)
We were all pulling out at a few minutes before 8. Rob began in the leader position but because our gps’s were different than our printed instructions, he asked us to take over. It was a bit of a gamble on how was the best way to leave Tupelo but they all took us to US-78E and soon enough we were on track. The drive was uneventful and then at 9 we crossed the state line into Sweet Home Alabama. I do believe I could come up with a more appropriate sign.

It was a beautiful driving day and very little early traffic
I noticed these bird houses up on the hill
How cute!
Around 9:30 we took Exit 30 and stopped at a travel station for a piddle break and to make a coffee for Rob and us. It is easy for us to do with the Keurig and only have to open one slide. Rob and Pat can offer the use of their bathroom as they don’t have to open a slide to get to it. Bonus on both accounts. We share equally what we can. Once we approached Birmingham, we began watching for the turn off to I-20E but missed the earlier Detour sign.

Hamilton already? Oh, no, this is Hamilton, Alabama not Ontario
The traffic was heavy enough around that time and with such short notice and being in a middle lane, it just wasn’t going to happen. We needed to rely on our gps to get us around all the One-Way streets and construction going on. This meant following it downtown, zigging and zagging onto I-65N and then finally I-20E. That was not fun but our truck gps got us through very easily. Phew! Once through/around the city we stopped at a Race Way for fuel top ups.

Downtown Birmingham, like it or not, here we come

turn left, turn right, turn left
We were very watchful along with our gps
These are so much nicer than Love’s or Flying J’s, the price is usually .20¢ cheaper per gallon. We gave Black Beauty her drink at $2.79/gal and pulled down the street to the Walmart parking lot where we could stop and eat our sandwiches. We were back on I-20E at 11:45. The temperature has risen to 64F and the sky is still a gorgeous blue with white fluffy accents here and there. Bill said the word “Spring” at one point and looking all around us, it is easy to see the season’s GREEN.

We drove through Lincoln and Talladega which had a huge sign indicating that Talladega was the home of the Motocross Raceway as well as their Museum. I know someone back home who’s son may enjoy that if he hasn’t already competed there. Rhonda, that blurb was for you. We left Alabama after a couple of ‘nice rv!’ and ‘welcome to Al-a-b-ama’ s around 2 pm and crossed into the sunny state of Georgia.

See, now that is an appropriate welcome sign
Just Peachy!

These 4 pictures are for you roller coaster buffs

this park was huge!

I don't like the things but I was fascinated

So much 'terror' to me
A few miles in was their Information Centre so we pulled in for a pit stop before reaching Atlanta. I picked up a couple of maps. The boys decided to skip the 285 Bypass around the big city, instead saving some 40 miles and driving straight through. It is the middle of the afternoon, mid-week and for the most part of the drive on I-20E we whizzed through Atlanta quite easily. There was a slow down with traffic congestion for the last 20 miles but going west it was even more of a mess.

We were glad to be heading east rather than west
We plugged through and even though we lost sight of Rob and Pat a few times, eventually they would catch up. At least we had contact either by CB radio or text. When we got to our destination of a Walmart, the assistant manager denied our request to stay for the night. All it said when we searched was “Notify Manager” and that usually means just tell them we’re in the lot. Well, this put a bit of a kerfluffle in the trip.

I do believe these are Wisteria trees
So pretty!
We lost our hour when we crossed into the state, now on EST same as at home, so that put us later in the day than normal. At 4, we were driving to Norcross to find a Cracker Barrel. This time, I phoned and the Manager gave us approval to stay. 

Searching for the Cracker Barrel, this was a later arrival
so we kind of got caught in the rush hour congestion
Getting there was another issue as we had to go back the way we’d come for 4 miles, catch the 285 bypass, get on I-85N to find it. It makes you shake your head when things go awry and you have to double back. No matter, we arrived just before 5 and after feeding Clemson, we went inside for a well-deserved meal.

There it is!!
Cracker Barrel never lets us down. Our meal was delicious and I asked to see the Manager after we’d finished. We just wanted to extend our thanks for their hospitality in allowing us to stay in their small lot. We aren’t just small trailers and he welcomed us. After our meal, no dishes (yay!) Bill and Rob had to re-examine our route for tomorrow. We want to be up and out of here early so we don’t get blocked in.

As you can see the Manager's "lots of room for you"
was a different interpretation than ours
However, to his credit, this was on the phone and he had no idea how big we were
Rob and Pat were across the back of the lot
This was a long driving day again but a nice drive on the interstate. The road was good without any serious bumps. The sun is still out and it is 7 pm. What a great night!

this was such a delicious meal - much better than it looks
That was 2 nights ago - Good night

Thank you for popping in. Sooner or later, these posts will get published.

Where Elvis Was Born, Tupelo Town Tour, Looking for Free WiFi? Collage Crazy

Waking up on Tuesday, Mar. 26th was another new experience. I peeked out my blind. It was 6:15 and I could see more tall trees and a few rv’s. Then it dawned on me where we are this morning. At 6:30 we got up and I knew time would be short this morning so I had my shower right away. Once dressed, I dressed further in my wind breaker (although the trees weren’t really moving) and vest and out the door I went at 7.
My morning walk
 It is cloudy and 50f but according to our weatherman (aka Rob) there should be some sunny skies later on today. Our plan is to head into Tupelo this morning and grab some breakfast (a treat for me to have someone else cook it!) and then go to visit Elvis’s birthplace. I’m prepared to be saddened, if my mind wanders, but I’m very happy to have something else to cross off my bucket list. Bill was here many moons ago, in the 70’s, but never inside the home so we are both looking forward to it.

On my walk, I noticed the cabins for rent. They are so cleverly placed in amongst the trees with a long, paved drive for privacy. I like that a lot. I spooked a couple of white-tailed deer that were eating down in the valley but they also spooked me so I wasn’t fast enough for a photo. I knew then to watch for them on the rest of my walk. Sure enough, there they were, further down so I’m hoping my pictures turned out.

Yay! I-Hop
Rob and I are happy campers now!

Back home, Bill had his shower and we hopped in Black Beauty to go. We each drove so the boys could fill up the trucks with fuel and in case we found a good wifi connection somewhere, I wouldn’t be holding anyone other than Bill up while I posted my blog posts. First, IHop. Yay! I ordered the Colorado Omelette this time since the Southwest was not on the menu……..for perhaps obvious reasons. We are in Mississippi, after all.

Downtown Tupelo, I love the Elvis murals and guitars all along the sidewalks
No matter, I skipped the free pancakes, that come on Tuesdays, and opted for hash browns instead. The waitress was good, the coffee was better and the omelette was the best! Such a lot of food for under $10. We were stuffed and with the exception of Bill, had doggie bags. He left some omelette on his plate but not enough to worry about bringing home. We followed Rob to Kroger where they ran in for something and then back to Historic Tupelo where we found Elvis’s first home.

When I first saw the house, my jaw dropped. OMG that IS tiny! I knew it was small from the pictures but seeing it in person is like looking at 1/3 of a park model trailer. It was the width that got me. Well, how big would a 2-room house be? We purchased tickets to do the 3 ‘tours’, all self-guided and set off to see his childhood church first.  A small clapboard building where the Presley’s attended church services. It has been moved to this site from the original location so we can all see and enjoy it.

Virnons car - exterior and interior
I remember my first car having that manual choke
Sitting in the church, a video is played depicting actors taking the place of Virnon (actual correct spelling of his name), Gladys and Elvis as well as a full congregation. It was well done and because the huge screens were on 3 sides of where we sat on the benches, it felt like you were actually enjoying the service in person. I had to catch myself from clapping and standing when they did. LOL, again, I’ll say it “that was well done”, in my humble opinion. 

From there we went into the story wall inside and outside the museum and read testimonials and portrayals of Elvis as a young boy for the first 13 years of his life. There is a lot of reading, if you care to take the time, and we did. I could feel myself getting drawn into the circumstances of a poor existence and how they reached hard for everything they got. The story of Virnon being imprisoned for writing bad checks alone is a heart-wrenching story of one of their struggles.

Statue of Elvis as a young boy walking with his guitar
A familiar sight in Tupelo at that time
Inside their humble abode, I envisioned their life and it wasn’t until after we left, I wondered ‘where did Elvis sleep?’ The story goes that other than the kitchen wood stove, the furniture is NOT original. However, when trying to bring back the truest replica of that time period, Virnon offered his assistance by picking out the pieces to furnish the home. He directed Museum staff how to place the furniture to make it as ‘real’ as possible. We saw the bed where Elvis came into existence. Cool!

The first of two rooms in their home

The second - the original wood stove Gladys cooked on
We eventually made our way around the ‘Walk of Life’, a concrete circle surrounding his birth home. Dated granite blocks display each year of his life from 1935 to his death in 1977. There is just too much to comment on and some of you have already visited this attraction. The family story changed when in 1948 they took up roots and moved to Memphis for a new start.

Personally, I think this is the back entrance as it leads directly into the bedroom
but it is facing the street

This to me would be the front entrance with the garden and picket fence
Lastly, we walked into the place where Elvis’s dream of a meditation chapel became real. Designed and erected in 1979 with multiple fan club donations, and a bench from Charlie Hodge, this is where Elvis’s bible sits, on the original pulpit from the first church. This chapel is available for personal meditation and rented as a venue for weddings and special services. It was a beautiful little place with gorgeous stained-glass windows surrounding the opposing walls.

Up on the hill, behind the museum and gift shop, was The Overlook. This is where, as a boy, Elvis would take his guitar at the end of a day and play looking west towards the lights of Tupelo. Now, it is a beautiful spot for his friends to visit and admire the 2 statues of Elvis as a young boy and a successful entertainer. Together, they are called simply ‘Becoming’. 

A view to the Outlook before we walked there
Hey! I know these two!
A closer view of the statue and memory wall
And I got to pose with Elvis as a boy and a star
And an even closer view
The detail was amazing
In the gift shop, we all wandered for a bit. I found and brought a souvenir home with me, one that I wasn’t expecting to get. I’m not real big on purses but sometimes when you see something special, it ends up coming home with you. This was one of them and the price was right. I also found a stick pin to add to our collection.

This beautiful area was actually called 'Reflection'
but I didn't get a picture of the plaque
We parted ways there and Bill and I returned home to Clemson. This tour ‘day’ took about 2 hours longer than we expected, no regrets, and he was home alone for 5 hours. You can guess what that meant. No hunt for wifi today. No big deal. Y’all know we’re okay, thanks to George, and we can manage just fine with connections to our family by phone and texting availability.

My authentic Elvis purse
And I didn't pay anywhere near the $40 price because the handles are fraying
I'll replace them and be just as happy

Back home, Bill read for a while and I wrote, Clemson slept. At 3, I took him out for his walk. Not only does the little bum enjoy our 3 pm walks but once I get out there, I enjoy them just as much. I just have to keep the half hour free and then it isn’t an interruption for me. When we returned, I was quite warm and found it even warmer inside the Suite. Rather than opening windows I took my book and water outside and sat at the picnic table to read. This helped me cool down.
My morning discovery is watching me too
And a cardinal watches Clemson and I on our walk
I came inside around 4:30 and took my book upstairs. It is a different story this time by James Patterson called Cradle and All. Different or not, it has me turning the pages very quickly. Bill had the tv on downstairs and if I can avoid the distraction, I do. At 6 I started supper while Bill put some fresh water into our tank for the road. We’ll be on the road for 3 nights. Supper was small pork sausages but if I’d thought about how small they were, I would have cooked the whole pack.

Yum yum
They tasted good all the same with my brussel sprouts and Bill’s corn. After such a big breakfast, we didn’t need a huge supper anyway. This was a great day, seeing Elvis’s birthplace was very touching for me. I won’t forget it. I hope you enjoyed your day.

Goodnight after a fantastic day

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Leaving the Natchez Trace, WiFi Search, State Park

Bill said it rained and we had thunderstorms through the night and early morning hours. I didn’t hear a thing until around 5:30 on Monday, Mar. 25th and then it was just light rain hitting the roof as we nestled under the tall cyprus. There is something about these trees that draws me. I can’t keep my eyes from roving up the bark to the tallest branches in the sky. Beautiful.

Back on the road again following Rob and Pat
We got up at 6:30 and sat with our morning brew and books until some daylight brightened things up. Rob knocked on the door to check on departure time and we asked him about the weather as well. There will be some clearing skis later in the day so that was good news for our batteries. Remaining hooked up overnight, we did not have access to our generator if we needed it. Luckily, we did not. For breakfast we used Rob and Pat’s toaster since their genny was running and their toaster out. Thanks guys!
And there is the clearing skies 
The fellow in front of them pulled out around 8 so we finished cleaning up, pulled slides in and gingerly edged our way around the cyprus and left the Jeff Busby area. It was a nice overnight spot, very pretty, but not ideal for big units. We were on the Natchez Trace by 8:30 following Rob to our next destination. Today would be a well-deserved short travel day to a park with hookups and a city with wifi! Yay! We hadn’t been driving long and the temperature had risen to 60F and there were definite patches of sun.
One of the Bynum Indian Mounds
2 more huge cyprus trees
they must be related
We pulled off to see the Bynum Mounds which are 2 large hilly grassy mounds built by Chickasaw Indians between 1,800 – 2,050 years ago. The story is that they buried their dead there as a memorial. There was a recording you could listen to but it didn’t play for Bill and I and of course, I couldn’t google it for more information. There didn't to seem to be any information for the visitors to the site. I’m sure you can check it out here
Along the Trace Parkway, there was a 'prescribed' burn for quite a stretch

There was a sign advising us about the burn so it wasn't reported

At Tupelo we exited onto US-278E, left onto US-45N and right onto S. Eason Blvd. This took us into the small town and I could feel excitement building when I saw a sign that said '←Elvis Presley’s Birthplace'. This is where he went to school, this is where he went to church, this is where he goofed around as a teen! Another sticker for our map, staying in Mississippi for 3 nights. 

It is obvious that we would follow Rob pretty much anywhere!
But this was a beautiful drive back into Tombigbee State Park

Bill and I noticed our destination on the right but somehow Rob and Pat missed the turn so we followed along an even more winding road. We should have followed our instinct and stopped but figured they knew where they were going. We’ve all had ‘woops!’ moments and this was one but Rob found us a turnaround lane and we were back on track and entering Tombigbee State Park by 10:30. Now that is a nice short travel day!

Um, shouldn't we be turning here guys?
We checked in and secured 2 of the 20 park sites with 50 amp and water for 2 nights. Great price too at $17/night inclusive. This is a small park for a state park but it looks pretty. It is a mild day at 67F even with the cloud cover but Bill also notices some humidity in the air. We were set up, plugged in and Bill got our satellite dish hooked up before noon hour so the rest of the afternoon was free. I wrote the beginnings of my post and on the first (not the seventh) day (Monday), I rested. 😊

I liked the natural beauty of this park

Home sweet home for two nights
At 2 o’clock, I got up, stretched, used the facilities and took my camera and my phone for a walk. Part way to the back of the park, I noticed a wooden stairway with leaf covered steps going down into the valley. Throughout the valley, there was set up for disk golf games. I’d never given this game a thought until I saw it at Brownfield’s Coleman Park. Here was quite the elaborate set up, down, up and across the terrain. Even posted on a bulletin board within the play area, was a map of the locations for the ‘tees’.
I waited here for Pat to join me

This is a tee for the disk golf game played with frisbees

I texted Pat to see if she wanted to join me on the rest of the walk, down the stairs and further back to the tent camping area. She joined and we managed to get another selfie. We’ve been lacking in that area, haven’t we? As we headed back, I told Pat that it would be close to 3, time for Clemson’s walk. When I actually got back to the Suite, the little guy was sleeping for another 10 minutes when he was ready to go.

Pat and I descended the stairs to the valley of leaves

and then ascended this natural staircase
Buddy selfie
We walked around the front area of the park, to the lookout over the Tombigbee river. Lots to see here and many new places to sniff. Clemson was happy and I let him rule 90% of the walk before returning 30 minutes later. The sun had come out and our temperature rose to 65F at midpoint of the afternoon. I took my book at sat at the picnic table for about an hour and watched another Mobile Suite pull in to the park.

Cowboys and Indians?

Then it was Clemson's turn to walk with me

Some pretty views from every angle
Rob and I hatched up a plan, well, he hatched it and I agreed, to go to IHop for breakfast in the morning. Tomorrow is ‘touring Tupelo’ day for us so we’ll get an early start. At 5, I came inside and since lunch was almost non-existent, I started the air fryer preheating. Chicken nuggets and Caesar salad was on the menu for tonight. I’m so loving having hookups expanding our meal choices during these short stays.

Tonight, being Monday, means a busy tv night for us. Once again, yay for hookups as it means we don’t have to keep an eye on our batteries.  Supper was great, the nuggets were delicious and we were all cleaned up by 6. Because our satellite connection wasn’t the best down here in the trees, we weren’t able to get a few of our channels. That means missing some of our key shows. I guess we’ll be reading a few chapters tonight.

Yummy, this was a good supper
This was a good day. Short distance travelling and early arrival in a state park. I hope yours was just as good.

And the sun is still glorious through the trees after 7 pm
Thanks for the visit!