After an overnight stop at Cracker Barrel in Herculaneum, Missouri- we began the trip that would show us to and through four states. From MO, we headed South through Arkansas into Tennessee, and after our stop in Memphis, we would end up staying the night in New Albany, Mississippi.

Driving into Memphis, we came up on this semi, hauling 30" steel pipes. Not very exciting until Simon comes up the front and starts taking multiplication! Like: "Four times four is ....... 16, right Dad?" He pointed out the pipes and very satisfied, we shared the proud moment of using school for real life had come.

Memphis is worth some discussion. We picked this city for its strength in civil rights character. Like so many other things we’ve stepped into, this issue seems important, and always has to Kelly and I. The skill of looking at the person, versus the ‘book cover’ has been easy for our children, with a significant Chinese influence within the walls of our home. The impact of those idiots that can’t get the book open because of the cover was very well represented at the National Civil Rights Museum, within the footprint of the Lorraine Motel- the site of Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination. This museum laid out the black and white conflict that was so recently a way of life. It was impressive to make small talk with the kids that this attitude was even possible. Anya got that funny look on her face when we were discussing the imbalance of rights, and how poorly black folks were handled even at the drinking fountain. Her look of “are you insane?” said it all. Fortunately Anya’s perspective is that that attitude is garbage and beyond belief. The museum was technically, and aesthetically impressive. It was also expensive: we would have spent $100 on tickets alone for our 9 if we weren’t members! Kelly signed us up for the family plan – which cost $65 and allowed the parents and children in, free for the year. The membership cards are on the way to the house… Always look at the family memberships- which may be a better deal for even smaller families if it’s something you’ll use as little as one time- or in most cases pays for itself after 2 visits. Within the museum, it was breathtaking to be within reach of the spot that MLK fell to after being shot.

From the curb outside, it was very impressive to see the spot that MLK had stood that fateful day in 1968. The emotion came up when we were standing in the room that was set the way it was that day, and look upon the concrete that caught shed blood from this great leader. Wow.

Another surreal moment in time that we had located ourselves within reach of history on this trip. The little boys may forget the feeling of being there- but thanks to lots of photos and an obsessive Dad and his journal (that I’m passing off as a blog), they will be able to recall the visit and the impact of MLK in school discussions and life will hopefully be a bit more powerful. Part of the display was continued across the street where the shooters roost inside a boarding house bathroom was recreated on the same spot. To look down the line of fire, to review all of the evidence on display (everything from the slug that killed Dr King to the wooden window frame that the gun rested on), to consider the conspiracy theories on display were all too much to take in on one trip. We followed the signs to the end of the tour and emerged on the street adjacent to a Memphis Fire Station circa 1953. Of course we asked to look around!

Either everyone in Memphis was really nice, or we lucked out several times in a row. It started with the firemen. The driver didn’t just let Meila and Anya and Simon and Henry sit in the truck, he showed them how to start it, start the generator, turn on the lights and offered to pull it out and raise the aerial! Get this- the man that offered had been on the job for 26 years….

He didn't just let them sit in the seat, he ran the truck and let them flip switches- now that's a real fireman, huh?

Doesn’t everyone get grumpy and hold back when they’ve worked somewhere for that long? Not this guy. Very good impression on the kids. The other younger fireman jumped on my humble request to sell me a couple of their work shirts- he rounded them up after some digging and said I could send a shirt in trade for them- offered me his name and address. Not only is it nice to see that trust and kindness firsthand- but it’s very good for the kids to see others setting that example. Thanks MFD (shirts will be coming). After they recommended a local rib place, we set off for Beale Street, and the Blues City Café. Sure enough, the ribs are good there- and on the table within 5 minutes of the order (we guessed they anticipate some rib sales each night and are ready to fill orders as fast as they come in). It’s St Patricks Day, so the street, normally closed to auto traffic, was abundantly filled with green clad drinkers. We wandered along to take in the sights, neon signs, and find the source of the thumping live music. We found all of these things, and the kids caught several sets of beads, glowing buttons and knick knacks that one of the establishments was tossing into the crowd from an elevated platform. On the recommendation of Kellys Mom, we sought out the ducks at the Peabody Hotel- who were sleeping on the roof terrace overlooking the city. Apparently the ducks at this hotel have been following a routine for many many years that goes like this: rest on the roof until the well dressed man comes for you at 11am. Follow him single file to the lobby and swim in the lobby fountain until 5pm, when you waddle back into the elevator and to the well appointed coop on the roof. People line up to see it they say. If you don’t get there for the duck walk- take the elevator to the ‘S’ level and walk out onto the roof for the view. Sure, see the ducks, but savor the view. We walked back to the bus, and relieved to see that it had all the tires, we started her up and headed fa few hours further South for our overnight rest stop at a Lowe’s parking lot. We’re working our way through the novel Tick Tock (audio book), so we don’t mind the driving! What a day. Fortunately or unfortunately- they all are not like this. (I do have photos, but will have to add them later since it’s late - 2am) and they take a while to resize and download- so I’m hitting the hay. I want to be up early enough to be able to get out of tonights parking lot before I get blocked in. (you never know what it’s gonna look like in the morning when you choose a free parking spot in the middle of the night….)

The next morning, we were parked next to a Radio Shack, which had the largest supply of truck antennas, especially whip antennas- that I've ever seen at a Radio Shack! This could be because every 3rd truck in the parking lot had a big ol' CB antenna (like 7' tall). It was good listening for us traveling through. This addition to our new radio setup made a world of difference.