Crossing Two Favorite States

We had a relaxing day yesterday – lazy breakfast with friends in Memphis, then a lovely drive to Nashville on Hwy 100. No trucks, no traffic, no accidents, no road construction – it was heavenly!

We stopped for a visit to Chickasaw State Park, where Rex and I first met back in the summer of 1972, and then we went to Henderson (Rex’s home town) and stopped by the prayer garden at his old church, had a bit of silent prayer and conversation with his parents and our relatives at the cemetery, and did a drive by of the house where so much love was shared by the McCallum family.

In Nashville we got to see Kevin and Laura, and Laura’s mom even put us up for the night! What a fun day!

Lots of miles to cover today, so we stuck to the crowded interstates. Breakfast in Nashville, a quick stop at Kay and Kyle’s for a visit, and one pit stop were our only breaks, but it was so worth it to have Elliot come running out for a big Happy hug!! David fixed us a delicious meal and we’ve spent the evening chatting and watching football. Oh, and fun bath time and bedtime with E!


Where the Wind Blows Us, Part 1

Sunday 5 June 2011
Nashville TN to Cumberland Falls KY  210 miles

My flight was late, but my bags made it (long story, just know it’s a minor miracle that they made it to Nashville with me and not to Austin with Rex.  Rex’s bag was found a few days ago in Baltimore…) and Kim picked me up at BNA about 4 PM.  We were both starving, so we totally broke one of our major Sassy Sister Road Rules and stopped at Wendy’s for a little snack.  It just turned out that we had exited on US 31E, which is exactly where we needed to be, so after we were not starving, off we went.  Our destination – Cumberland Falls State Park in Kentucky, allegedly 3.5 hours from Nashville.  And what was the first photo that we took?  It was a pink elephant!  Who knew it would not be the ONLY one we saw?!?

As we drove along admiring the many large horse farms, old tobacco barns, and the gently rolling hills of middle Tennessee, we realized that a big storm must have recently passed through.  We saw branches and even trees down, and lots of leaves and sticks all over the place, and the road was still wet.  Glad we missed that!  Before long we were in Kentucky, and it was here that I had to really start paying attention to the maps and navigating.  Those of you who have followed us in years past will be glad to know that we remembered to gas up before we got off the main highway!  We also had to stop around 9 PM or so at an Arby’s (twice in one day we are ordering from chain restaurants!!) and get some food to take with us so that we could have a little supper if we ever arrived.

Along the way, we saw lots of critters – dogs, cats, alpacas, skunk (well, we mostly smelled them, and knew we were home again!), and LOTS of deer.  Our favorite critters of the night – a rock formation on the side of the road that was painted to look like a cow jumping over the road, and the thousands of fireflies that decorated the countryside and transported us back to our childhoods.  Kim did a great job dodging the deer, many of whom jumped out onto the road as if they wanted to ride with us.

We’ve learned a few things about the numbering system of highways – the big US highways are usually one digit or two; state roads are often double or triple digits; county roads are the triple digits; and the four digit roads….well, they are often like single lane streets, and they don’t always find their way onto printed maps.  We’ve become pretty familiar with some of them over the past few years!   We found ourselves on routes 90, 92, 27, 700, 1162 (as well as some un-numbered and unnamed roads), and 90 again before we made it to Cumberland Falls, but of course, we made it.  One other observation from our evening drive – we are still baffled by roundabouts, especially when listening to the Garmin!

We checked into DuPont Lodge at Cumberland Falls State Park, found our room (not without a bit of difficulty, and without the benefit of elevators), and had a bit of a laugh about it.  We had been told it was a small room, but we figured any room that was big enough for two queen sized beds couldn’t be too small.  Let’s just say it was big enough for two queen sized beds.  But it also had a chair, a table with a TV (old kind, not flat screen) on it, and a night stand.  That was pushing it a little!  We got settled, enjoyed our little Arby’s picnic, and hit the sack, ready for a big adventure.

Rollin’ up the River Road

Thursday, Sept 24, 2009

We weren’t in a big rush this morning, since we didn’t have far to go today.  On the agenda – breakfast, a visit to Graceland Too in Holly Springs (allegedly open 24/7, in the home of an eccentric Elvis-loving man), a stop at Kim’s house in Memphis, and ending up in Paducah in time to eat at Doe’s (we were already craving chocolate cobbler…)  It was a little drizzly and foggy – the perfect weather for dawdling.  We weren’t sure where to eat, but since Oxford is a college town, we knew there would be some great breakfast places nearby.  Sure enough, a little research on the iphone took us straight to Big Bad Breakfast, which was tucked away in a little strip shopping center.  I was pretty sure I would like it just from the name, but when we walked through the front door, which was clearly recycled from a college classroom and bore the label “Organic Chemistry” I knew we had come to the right place!

The menu looked great – obviously lots of dishes were prepared with locally grown and/or fresh ingredients, although you can probably guess that there weren’t many ‘heart-healthy’ items on the list.  Kim chose the Big Bad Breakfast, which was scrambled eggs, bacon, home fries, and toast.  I got the Secret History, which was fantastic!  It was a huge omelet, made with shallots, fresh herbs, tomatoes, and Swiss cheese, and it was served with home fries and a big biscuit.  Best part about the biscuit (which I couldn’t finish) was the homemade raspberry jam.  Great way to start the day!  Read more about this yummy place at – oh, and another thing we loved about it was the light fixtures over each booth.  All different and all made from recycled items – see for yourself!

Holly Springs and Graceland Too are just up the road from Oxford, so off we went.  Kim’s daughter, Kerry, has visited GT many times, so we had an idea what to expect.  It would be a little hard to describe, and many others have tried, so let me give you this website so you can be prepared –  Sadly, there were two things that we weren’t prepared for – first, the house is not pink and second, contrary to ALL published accounts and first-hand reports, NO ONE CAME TO THE DOOR!  We rang the bell, we knocked, we honked, we yelled, we circled the property, we attempted to agitate the dog, we stood around for much longer than we should have, and we DIDN’T GET IN!!  Bummer.

Spurned by the host who is always home, we dejectedly got back in the car and headed for Memphis.  We arrived just about the time we knew that Jim would be on his lunch break, and sure enough, we tracked him down.  Since we were still stuffed from breakfast and Jim had finished lunch, we just settled for hugs in the parking lot.  We stopped by Kim’s house just long enough for her to gather up some things she needed, clean out the car a little bit, off-load some things we wouldn’t need any more, and to give Kim some time to take care of a little business since she’d been gone for a couple of weeks.

In one of our less than stellar moves, we decided to take the “scenic” route to Paducah, and rather than taking the normal, albeit boring route up the parkway from Fulton, we got back on the Great River Road and toured rural (very rural) western Kentucky.  There had been so much rain lately that the road itself looked like a river in places!  There was not much to see, although we did see a magnificent heron taking flight.


We had some fond memories of family outings and picnics at Columbus-Belmont State Park, so we set our sights for it.  To give you a little background – Columbus Belmont is right on the Mississippi River, and it’s where Confederate troops got the bright idea to stretch a giant chain across the river in an attempt to stop the advancing Union troops.  You get a gold star if you figured out that the plan didn’t work.  But here’s a piece of the chain and a look at the river!

Columbus was called the “Gibraltar of the West” by the Confederates, and was considered by them the key to their defense of the upper Mississippi River valley.  The anchor weighs six tons…

It was dreary and raining a little bit while we were here, and it probably goes without saying that we were the only ones visiting this out of the way state park today.  I’m not even sure if the rangers were there!  We are impressed by the Kentucky State Park system, though.  Many of the parks have gorgeous and challenging golf courses, and most of them have pretty decent lodging and camping facilities.  Much better than the NC state parks I’ve seen!  As we left the park, we just decided to make a beeline for Paducah (not that there is a very direct route from here to anywhere…) but we got stopped by a commotion in the middle of the road.

It was almost dark by the time we got to town, so we checked into our new home away from home (it’s really strange to stay in a hotel room in the town you grew up in) and then we went straight downtown to Doe’s.  The Barbeque on the River fest was in full swing, although given the lateness of the hour and the rain that was starting to fall, we were able to get a parking place without too much trouble.  The lower blocks of Broadway and Jefferson were closed to vehicles, and there were still LOTS of people downtown.  Thankfully, most of them were eating barbeque, so we got a great table right in front of the Ole Miss – South Carolina football game on the big screen.  Gotta love Thursday night football!  Doe’s was worth the wait – man, is their food good!  Kim opted for their famous tamales and chili, but I splurged on a nice big rare filet and a perfect baked potato.  Good eats!  But the best was yet to come – the main reason we came was for the chocolate cobbler, and we were not disappointed!  Don’t miss Doe’s when you come to Paducah!

 We were excited to be back in our hometown and were looking forward to reconnecting with our high school classmates over the next few days.  But for now, stuffed and sated and sleepy, it was dreamtime!

Dreaming of chocolate…