Crazysister at the Big Heads

Sunday, August 2, 2009

From Springfield to Memphis... then HOME!

We survived the night at the Springfield KOA... the train stopped roaring past from midnight until about 5:00 am. We managed to get some rest between the acid reflux and indigestion from the evening's dinner (take-out Mexican for some... take-out Chinese for others). We learned that Missouri's #1 tourist attraction, the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield, opened at 7:00am. So, the truck and camper crew roared in there not long after that time. Katie, Miss Wendy, and I decided that we needed to get a jump start on the big day at Laura Ingalls Wilder's Home (50 miles southeast of Springfield) so we skipped the Bass Pro and headed off to Rocky Ridge Farm.
From what I heard, it was Uncle Bud who had to drag Crazysister and Aunt Jeanie out of the Bass Pro Shop. Nathan and Grayson even made an early morning appearance from the camper... an extremely rare event! Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy the sites and the good prices.
The "Little House on the Prairie" fan club arrived in Mansfield shortly after 9:00. We toured the museum but were disappointed that pictures were not allowed inside... so, no picture of Pa's fiddle. We did see it though ! The museum was mind boggling. Mrs. Wilder kept everything! We saw lots of things from everyone in the Ingalls family. Also, I was shocked to learn that Almanzo Wilder (note: The powers that be pronounce his name - Al -MAN (like man)-Zo - not Al- MON-zo like the TV show) was such a skilled craftsman. His handiwork was evident throughout the museum. PETA would be proud to know that he made a "catch and release" mouse trap. After the museum and house tour (no pictures inside) , we spent a little time and a lot of money at the gift shop. We were also able to tour the Rock House. Laura and Almanzo's only child, Rose, made quite a name for herself in journalism, and she decided to build her parents a new house not far from the farm. We were able to tour this house... and see more of Almanzo's handiwork (rock wall and steps around yard). He did this work when he was 72 years old! (They don't make them like they used to.... ) Just in case you didn't know, Laura Ingalls Wilder did not start writing her memoirs in the "Little House Books" until she was in her 60s. She and Almanzo lived in Mansfield, Missouri for the last 60 years of their lives. They only lived in the Rock House for 10 years (while Rose was back in town... living in the farmhouse). As soon as Rose left town, they packed everything up and moved back to the farm. Rose also bought them a car and paid for them to have electricity (she was making good money ... long before Laura began her writing career). We found it interesting that they were asked why they never had a television, and Laura would always reply that they didn't have time to watch it. This place was one of my favorites. We left Mansfield, Missouri in awe of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Almanzo Wilder. If you are ever near Springfield, Missouri... you have to check this place out!
The Big Heads bunch made our way to Memphis (actually just across the Mississippi in Arkansas). As we passed through Arkansas, we couldn't help but think of home. We were not driving on the interstate so we were able to see some interesting sites. I don't know if it takes place all over Arkansas, but when we went over a bridge... the signs always said - Ditch #40 or Ditch #62. Now, I couldn't quite figure out what kind of state would number their... ditches! I mean, they had water in them ... We call them creeks or rivers. Who knows? I don't guess you would be shocked to learn that the only rebel flags we saw the entire 2 weeks ... all happened to be in Arkansas.
Once we arrived at our KOA just off Interstate 55, Nathan, Grayson, and Katie went for a swim. It didn't take long to notice one major thing about this area. MOSQUITOS ! I don't know if it was because they had recently had gotten a lot of rain, or if it is always like that... but you couldn't walk to the bath house without eating several. I even changed my bathing habits to try to help make myself less tempting for them.... no bath and body honeysuckle body wash... Nothing worked. Miss Wendy and Jeanie had been sleeping in the vehicle spots ... and seemed to rest comfortably most nights... but not this night ! They swatted and slapped at mosquitos all night long! I can't believe that we complained about all of those flys in Fort Collins KOA near Cheyenne. Have you ever tried to take a shower and realize that there are 15 blood sucking mosquitos just waiting for you to take your clothes off?
We were all exhausted, but I kept telling myself that this was our last night... we have to at least go to Beale Street. Uncle Bud decided to skip Beale Street. The rest of the bunch loaded up the Excursion and headed across the river. Wouldn't you know it.. as soon as we crossed the Mississippi into Memphis, the GPS went out! I thought that I remembered that it said take exit 12b, well that didn't turn out too good. We looked like fish out of water, and every road was a dead end ! I broke a few traffic laws by driving over and through medians, but somehow we managed to make it to Beale street. Unfortunately, we parked on the wrong side of the "tracks". We did have a gentleman offer to escort us down the street; Crazysister took him up on it and promptly gave him the $5 he requested. I would have paid him $25 to have taken us back to our car. Beale Street on Friday and Saturday nights is pure madness! I felt like I had taken my child to the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans with a little New Years Eve in Time's Square mixed in... She kept saying, "I do not like streets like this ! " As for Crazysister... well, she loved it! She could have stayed all night! We ate at the Hard Rock Cafe on Beale, and "power- walked" back to the vehicle. (strength in numbers !)
Saturday was to be our return day home, but we couldn't leave without taking Crazysister to Graceland! She is the biggest Elvis Presley fan in the world! She had on a t shirt that said... Before Elvis there was nothing. ( a quote by John Lennon) Our Mama was a big Elvis fan so I guess the gene was passed down to Crazysister. Uncle Bud, well, he is not an Elvis fan at all. He did not partake of all of the Elvis activities. As we pulled into Graceland, Crazysister got all "swimmy-headed". I thought that she was going to pass out in the giftshop. She had that glazed over look that I get when I go into Kilwin's to buy ice cream. We had a great time touring Graceland... we saw the grave although Crazysister would swear to you that he is still alive living on an island. (Katie says that Laura Ingalls Wilder is also on that island ! )

Our summary of Memphis

M - mosquitos
E - Elvis
M - millions more mosquitos
P- parking in an area that we shouldn't have near Beale Street
H- Hard Rock Cafe to the rescue...
I - interesting 'escort' to Beale street/ or Internet not working at KOA
S- swatting and slapping at mosquitos swarming our bodies

After Graceland, everyone's motto became - Let's Go Home ... now. So we headed east on Interstate 40... There weren't many stops -except of course, I just couldn't be on the same sided of Nashville as the Loveless Cafe and not stop to eat. Remember, that was on my bucket list of food. Well, Miss Wendy, Katie, and I stopped to eat and were not disappointed. If you have never eaten there, you are missing one of the best meals you will ever eat. And as a challenge, if anyone can make better creamed corn and fried chicken than this place, I would love to taste it and will personally reward you with cash!
We made it back to Uncle Bud's around midnight, and I pulled into my driveway about 1:15 am (Sunday).
The journey was amazing. We saw more things that we ever imagined. I think that this trip opened up a new way of travel for all of us. It really made us see how beautiful and interesting our country is... and how it is a shame that most people never get to experience it. We have traveled almost 4,500 miles in 2 weeks. This trip has made me want to explore more of the United States... and do it in a RV. A lot of people would rather travel by airplane... but you miss so much of what makes our country the greatest place to live.

Thanks to everyone for all of the well-wishes and comments ! Everyone enjoyed reading them.

We will keep you posted on what and when the next adventure will be...

Thanks for following along!


sherrysummer said...

And thanks to you for sharing the trip with all of us! Welcome Home!

Elaine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kkhindman said...

Welcome home! Wow, thanks for allowing me to get a glimpse of this amazing journey. Jeanie, I can't wait to talk to you and read your journal!