“There’s such a lovely world to see….”
Toad Suck and Beyond
We know the route well, across Arkansas. But, how did we miss the town of “Toad Suck?” Yes, and in an online poll it won the honor of being the “worst” named town in the USA. There is even a Toad Suck Campground and motorcycle dealer!
Crossing Arkansas on Interstate 40 is more than dangerous with 12 trucks to one car — tooling down the road. Some of them were in caravans as far as you could see. Our goal for the day was to land at the birthplace (so-called) of Elvis Presley. We have visited this holy site a couple of times but had missed exploring the rejuvenated town of Tupelo, Mississippi.
Oh, Elvis! We remember you in Tupelo!
Tupelo will welcome you. Tupelo Hardware Store where Elvis’ mom, Gladys, bought his first guitar, was beyond charming. Bolts, etc., were stored in old wooden boxes. A well-coiffed and dressed public relations fan guarding the door, was full of stories and love for Elvis.
“People just don’t understand what a wonderful man he was. He influenced so many people and came from nothing.”
After our stroll through town, we stopped at a bakery, of course! They were also selling chances to win a 6-caliber pistol. Huh? Is that legal?
Elvis was not at home when we arrived.
I made the holy circle around the home built (supposedly) by his father, Vernon. More statues had been added to the landscape, and there was more “stuff” to do and view while worshipping his little home place.
There is a statue of a little boy Elvis. According to legend, Elvis had his nose fixed early in his career. You can find photos of him with a flat nose when he was young. He said that his father, having a bad dream, threw him against the wall when he was a baby. Elvis had Native American blood in his line and his great? grandmother bore many children by many men. I always wondered if he had African-American ancestry too!
Even a bus-load of foreign tourists, carrying hefty box-lunches, loved the museum and their moment of silence with Elvis.
Sweet, Sweet Alabama
Heading toward Birmingham, the state sign, “Sweet Home Alabama” welcomed us! Remember that tune? I don’t. And the rendition is a little rough for me. Click on the title to hear Lynard Skynard sing!
Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet home Alabama
Lord, I’m coming home to you, here I come
Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers
And they’ve been known to pick a song or two (yes they do)
Lord they get me off so much
They pick me up when I’m feeling blue, now how bout you?
Next was an overnight at the very tired Queen Peach RV Resort, and then we headed for a night’s stay in Columbus, Georgia. Arriving early, the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center near Columbus was waiting for us.
National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center
The architecture is stunning. It evokes Jefferson’s Monticello and even the White House. Inside this $110 million dollar building (Yes, $110 million dollars.) are tributes to Infantry soldiers and the tools of war. But it is more. The exhibits and re-creations of conflict sensationalize war and personal sacrifice. They are so well-done that you feel like you are in the war. The violence is unbearable! Why do they need to re-create death scenes, when we see them every day on the news?
One former infantryman came up to Tom. He was young! He said that he was fascinated with guns but never understood about the killing and war. He has PTSD and visits the museum often. He is a broken man who can’t bear to live because his friend jumped on a grenade that saved him. He visits the museum often!
This museum is like no other that we have visited. It is a startingly effective venue to recruit young people. While not as many infantrymen have been killed in recent wars (like WWI and WWII), thousands and thousands (50K or more) have come back physically maimed and emotionally destroyed! I tried to find the data on the soldiers but every site listed different numbers of deaths and wounded.
Tom kept asking the question, “What about the young men and women who return? Why don’t they tell their horror stories here?” Young people need to be told the whole story before they sign up to sacrifice themselves!
Skidaway Island State Park
Savannah, new territory for us, was our final stop on this leg of the journey. Crossing the Moon River (Yes, the Moon River), we entered an off-world experience at Skidaway Island State Park. Batman would have loved trolling around here. Spanish Moss reaches out and almost suffocates you. Don’t touch it because it harbors chiggers!
The whole park felt like a cave. Kudzu (that vicious killing vine from Japan), Red Cedars, Palm Trees, Oaks, and Maples created a surreal and gruesome landscape. In the evenings, you could not see two feet in front of you. Where were the stars? During the day the sun never flickered through the gnarled mess. Save me quick, Wonder Woman!
A fella camper extolled the beauty of the medieval forest to us. I told her that I felt claustrophobic. Her husband asked us if we were from “out west.” (Is Kansas City out west?) They said they hear the claustrophobic thing a lot from people who live in Colorado and big sky country! This is cocoon country, and they loved it!
People rave about Savannah. It was not what we expected! Certainly, it had plenty of graceful historic buildings, but I had a great need to take a pressure hose with bleach and wash everything clean on River Street and Factor’s Walk.
Talking with a bartender, we both agreed that Savannah was a lot like New Orleans. To me, it was an outdoor museum that needed a bit of upgrading.
While walking around the historic district, we did not talk to single person who had a southern accent. We heard plenty of other languages. Even the store owners did not speak with a southern accent. How odd!!??
We passed by gorgeous religious buildings. The 19th century Reform Synagogue, begun in 1733, is housed in another building now! They claim to be the oldest Reform Synagogue in the United States. And the Cathedral of St John matched the beauty.
The best part of the day was the grand and expensive dinner we shared with Tom’s colleagues at Garibaldi’s. (Tom was teaching a short-course he had developed with researchers from around the world, at the National Mastitis Council.) It had recently been renovated “to appear as if” it was an elegant 19th century restaurant.
After leaving Savannah, we headed for St. Augustine, and are now residing in sparkling Sebastian Inlet State Park where the temperatures are in the seventies. Look it up on a map. The sights are more than gorgeous!
As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge