Sunday - 08.27.00

Kurt and I had planned on taking advantage of the complimentary breakfast bar provided by the Drury Inn, however once the morning rolled around we determined that sleep seemed more important. We did manage, however, to check out of the hotel around 11:00 AM. We hauled our gear up a few floors to where the jeep was parked (the garage was on the top two floors of the hotel) and found a little plastic skater figure perched on the wiper blade of the jeep. Hmm… just a curious thing to find on your car in a secured garage.

To begin the day, we decided to take some pictures of the locations of our previous night's adventures (we'd forgotten the camera the night before).

(Click for more pictures)

Consequently, we went down to The Landing and took a few pictures of the area. We also went down to the arch so I could take some pictures and view the landmark in daylight.

We also stopped at a Wal-Mart and a Schnucks on the way out of town to pick up a few supplies: lunch meat, cheese and bread (to make lunch in the car); a notebook (to keep a daily log, the results of which you are seeing here); a highlighter (to record the path of our trek on the 'official' map); some film; and a few other odds and ends that we had forgotten. We finally made it out of St. Louis around 2:30 PM and headed south on I-55.

Our first detour away from I-55 was to St. Genevieve, MO. A few weeks before leaving for our vacation, we watched a show on Discovery about how the town had battled the Mississippi and lost during the flood of 1993. Unfortunately, there wasn't much to see - just a small older town with a few historic houses. We decided to continue our trek south.

(Click for larger view)

Sikeston, MO was the next stop on the trip. All we wanted to see here was Lambert's Cafe. There is a sign on I-70 west of Salina that touts "Visit Lambert's Cafe -home of Throwed Rolls". We wanted to see why this cafe was such a draw that they would advertise over 400 miles away.

Also, the sign had piqued my curiosity since I could remember. The restaurant looked popular in a Cracker Barrel sort of way. After a quick picture, we decided to keep moving.

New Madrid, MO

The New Madrid Historical Museum was the next stop. We paid $2.00 to take the tour of the Museum. Half of the information was about the Civil war and the role New Madrid played it. The other half was about the famous earthquakes in 1811-1812. This was the real reason for the stop. (Again, we had seen a show on the Discovery channel…) We were hoping to see the fault line, upturned ground or even old ruins. However, we learned the area was sparsely populated at the time of the earthquakes and that the epicenter was 100ft below the surface, so no real evidence of the fault exists on the surface. We did learn, though, that the earthquake was so intense that it had caused church bells to ring in Boston! The tour also included a bad movie on the history of the New Madrid area. We finally got out of there and climbed up the levy to get a second real view of the Mississippi River.

(Click for larger view and more pictures)

Kentucky was across the river at that point. It was weird thinking we'd be there in less than a week (taking the long way around, of course).


After the immense excitement of New Madrid, we continued south and stopped in Blytheville, AR. We needed to pick up an Arkansas state magnet. (Kurt's boss only let him off work with the understanding that he would buy her a magnet for every state we visited. You're welcome, Denise.) We also needed a post card (to add to Kurt's personal collection). There was not much to see in Blytheville so we moved on.

Memphis, TN

We arrived in Memphis right around sundown. I had never been in Tennessee before, so this was a first for me. We drove around the downtown area and took a few pictures of the bridge crossing the Mississippi - it was a gorgeous site. Memphis also has a very different convention space - it was a giant pyramid - so it deserved a picture as well. After touring the downtown area, a trip to Graceland was in order. Neither Kurt or I are Elvis fans, really, but how can you visit Memphis and not at least drive by Graceland? Elvis Presley Boulevard was easy to find but alas, we couldn't find Graceland at first! We drove up and down the strip several times looking West at all the tourist traps and the planes and the Heartbreak Hotel. Finally, we inadvertently looked East and spotted the block long stone wall - we both felt like idiots - we'd driven past at least three times.

By this time it was getting dark and the tours were over so we parked out front and climbed on top of the Jeep to take a look and a few pictures. Although the mansion was nothing too outstanding, the graffiti on the sidewalk and wall was fun to read. I guess a lot of people are still upset about his "death".

(Click for more pictures)


Next our trek led us to Mississippi. This was a new state for both Kurt and I and we were anxious to see whether or not our expectations of the state would stand true. Our first stop was in Clarksdale at a Gas Station/McDonalds. We grabbed a snack to supplement our sandwiches from earlier in the day. It's funny how McDonalds tastes the same no matter where you go. Continuing south on I-55 we passed at least a dozen giant casinos and hotels on the banks of the Mississippi in the middle of no where. They were obviously built there to draw the people of Memphis into Mississippi. Our guidebook informed us that these casinos were relatively new and had provided a giant boost to the dwindling economy of the area. All the major chains appeared to have staked their claim.

By this time, we started getting bored with interstate driving, so we took the guidebook's advice and found the Great River Road. (This is a series of US highways that follow the Mississippi from its formation in Minnesota to its delta in the Gulf of Mexico.) Following this route, we went through Rosedale, MS, and then headed out into the Mississippi wilderness. Thanks to Kurt's skillful driving, we narrowly avoided hitting a deer lounging in the middle of the road. Kurt says, "Thank you anti-lock brakes". After that little adrenaline rush we managed to find the Great River Road State Park, the camping ground we were looking for. Unfortunately the gate to the campground was closed since it was after 10:00 PM. Kurt decided to check out the gate and discovered it was not locked, only barred. With a devilish grin, he removed the bar and swung the gate wide open. Free camping was about to begin. We had to drive for about 1/2 mile to find the actual camping sites, but we didn't see a single sign of human life anywhere. It was almost spooky. We picked out a nice little spot about a quarter mile from the Big Muddy and set up camp. We had expected the humidity, but we hadn't expected to hear the tugboat engines on the river all night long - it took us a bit to place the low droning noise. Curiously we were awakened in the middle of the night by the sounds of footsteps - whatever had caused them sounded bipedal but we didn't see anything upon investigation. Does anyone know what kind of wildlife lives in Mississippi? (Day 3)

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09.25.2000 -