Oklahoma Road Trip – Day 2

Hello all!  I am blogging from our hotel room in Conway, AR. What is in Conway, AR, you ask? Well, at first glance, not much. But apparently, it is the second fastest growing city in AR and nicknamed The City of Colleges. Who knew?

We left Nashville, TN this morning just as ominous cloud settled over the downtown. Cue the dun dun dun danger music.

It didn’t take long for the snow to reach us. Luckily, we were only about 100 miles from our afternoon destination – Memphis, TN.

The snow was really falling! We had the lovely experience of traveling along I-40 with 18-wheelers and out-of-state drivers (which, erm, includes us, I guess). This seemed to translate to let’s drive either really fast or ridiculously slow. Fun! But by the time we arrived in Memphis about 4 hours later, the snow was gone and the sun even tried to peak out of the clouds every once in awhile.

I don’t watch a lot of shows on The Food Network and I am not overly familiar with Down Home with the Neely’s but we just couldn’t visit Memphis without gettin’ some down home barbeque. After scouring Yelp.com, we decided on Neely’s Bar-B-Que Restaurant and their boast/award of best barbeque in Memphis. Besides, it is always nice to check out the roots of television food personalities, right?

Weston couldn’t wait to get his little hands on some lip smackin’ barbeque. The restaurant itself was not pretentious (always a plus) and our waitress couldn’t have been sweeter.

We ordered a chopped beef sandwich (with slaw), a chopped pork sandwich (with slaw), barbeque beans, potato salad, fries, and some sweet tea. All three of us sampled everything. And you know what? It was delicious. Absolutely delicious. Maybe the Neely’s really know what they’re talking about on the moving picture machine.

After lunch, we ventured over to – you guessed it – Graceland. We opted not to take the walking tour through the house with the little guy but we enjoyed seeing the second most visited private residence in America. We were both surprised at how many strip malls surrounded the property, and quickly realized how much Memphis has expanded since Elvis purchased the property in 1957.

We couldn’t help but laugh at the souvenir/museum shops dedicated to The King. But don’t think we emerged without purchasing something. We’re now proud owners of an Elvis coffee mug, an Elvis magnet, and a couple of Elvis postcards. And of course we had to snap a picture of Weston standing in front of an Elvis mural. What a cutie! And my son doesn’t look too bad either.

We managed to take a family picture before leaving Graceland.

Our next destination was much more subdued but extremely powerful. Clay and I both wanted to drive into downtown Memphis and visit the Lorraine Motel. As you know, the motel was the site where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. As soon as we stepped out of the car, the air felt different and we were silent as we walked over to the motel, just as it appeared in 1968. You can read more about the preservation effort here.

The wreath marks where Dr. King was standing when fatally shot.

Across the street, we could see Jacqueline Smith, sitting in protest over the National Civil Rights Museum. She has been sitting in that same spot for over 23 years to raise awareness about the rejuvenation effort subsequently forcing low-income families out of the area. She argues that Dr. King would not have approved of the outcome resulting from the creation of the National Civil Rights Museum.

Clay and I couldn’t deny the charm of that particular portion of downtown Memphis. We could really see how the area was turning around, so to speak. But Jacqueline Smith’s vigil stuck with us and we couldn’t help but think about what the neighborhood looked like ‘before’.

After we drove around downtown Memphis a bit more, we hopped back on I-40 and crossed the Mighty Mississippi into Arkansas. Sadly, I forgot to snap a picture of Little Rock as we passed the outskirts and before we knew it, we were in Conway, AR. So now we’re eating some salad and soup while watching the HBO documentary, Reagan, as the little guy sleeps in the next room.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about Desi, he is doing just fine to our hotel room. We call this his George Costanza pose.

TOMORROW – WE ARRIVE IN LAWTON, OK – JUST IN TIME FOR A SNOWSTORM. STAY TUNED!

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