Miles Traveled: 3,672
States Visited: 11 – Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia
Water Bottles Lost: 1
Whew! If you take a look at that map above, you will see what an adventure my family had at the beginning of August 2019. This is the second year in a row that we have gone on a long road trip. Last year we spent a week exploring the Northeast and it was probably my favorite vacation of all time. This year, we decided to do the opposite and go South West. I’m hoping to hit the highlights of the trip here. I won’t go into to too much detail partly because it would take too long but mainly because I think I mentally blocked some of the ugly parts. That’s how vacation goes especially when traveling with children.
Our trips are unique in that we never book hotel rooms until the night we need them. This allows us to be spontaneous and not have to worry about missing something we really want to see. Most of the hotels we stayed at were decent but others were sort of terrifying. That’s just part of the adventure.
Part 1 (of 2)
8/4/19 – Day 1:
Me, Cliff (my husband), Bamma (his mom), Johnny, and George all piled into the van and set off. Our first stop was the Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant, WV.
Point Pleasant was the site of numerous Mothman sightings in the late 60s. I’d learned about it from the movie The Mothman Prophecies which was filmed in Pittsburgh! Legend has it that the entity reveals itself to people before a tragedy strikes. In November of 1968, the Silver Bridge collapsed killing 46 people. The Mothman wasn’t spotted in the area after that horrible event. The town is quaint and most known for its dark visitor. There is a museum, two gift shops, and a statue of the Mothman. A visit to the riverfront also proved to be worth our time. The town sits at the confluence of the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers.
After Point Pleasant, we debated about where to go next. Should we visit Cincinnati or go south? We chose the latter. The rest of the first day was a lot of driving and we ended up reaching just north of Nashville, TN.
8/5/19 – Day 2:
There were a few things we wanted to see in Nashville and we got an early start. First, we stopped at The Hermitage which is the home turned museum of Andrew and Rachel Jackson.
The grounds are beautiful and it was nice to get out and walk, even if it was hot. Try not to look so thrilled, guys.
After The Hermitage, we headed into the city of Nashville to see the Parthenon replica in Centennial Park. The park was built in 1897 for the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition.
We stretched our legs and walked around before getting back in the car for Bamma’s requested stop on our trip: GRACELAND. Before we could visit Graceland, we had to visit a strange place I’d seen on Atlas Obscura: The Crystal Shrine Grotto just outside of Memphis. We arrived at the address Google Maps had led us to and found ourselves inside a massive cemetery. It took a little bit of walking in the heat to find the grotto. Our sweaty trek was worth it.
Despite the ‘Beware of Snakes’ sign that terrified Johnny and Bamma, we were all in awe of what was inside the manmade caves. Actually, George was a little scared of the inside too.
After the grotto, we made our way to Graceland.
Graceland is set up so that you park at the museum and then take a shuttle to the mansion where the King lived from 1957-77. The mansion has been impeccably preserved.
In the Jungle Room, the floor, ceiling, and some walls were covered in green shag carpeting.
Lisa Marie’s playset sits in the backyard between the main house and the offices and raquetball court.
The pool in the yard was very tempting to George and I had to hold him back from jumping in.
After our tour of the King’s Mansion, we got back on the road and headed into Arkansas. We stopped for dinner at a kitschy chain restaurant (we usually never do chains) called Chuy’s. We weren’t expecting much but we were hungry and road weary. Plus, I will never turn down a chance to eat some Tex-Mex. This was the best meal we had so far.
After dinner, we found a hotel just over the border in Oklahoma. We didn’t see much in Oklahoma but at least we can say we’ve been there.
8/6/19 – Day 3:
On day 3, we found ourselves heading back into Arkansas towards Bentonville, the birthplace of Walmart. The town itself is neat and there are many businesses surrounding the small square in the center. The museum is set up in the back of an old Walton’s 5 and Dime.
After a quick visit, we headed south and had lunch in a small diner in Oklahoma. The food at the 4-Star Diner was homemade and the pies were the claim to fame.
This day was filled with lots of driving so that we could get as close as possible to our next destination: Dallas, TX.
We had to stop by the Southfork Ranch for a photo op.
Finally we made it into Dallas and had dinner with my cousin Emily, her husband Dallas, and their daughter, Ivy in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of the city. The neighborhood was filled with murals and sculptures.
The place we chose was called Braindead Brewing Company and they specialized in Beer (duh), creative pub fare, and homemade pop tarts. When we got the bill, they put it in an old children’s book.
We were staying in a hotel downtown so after dinner, we walked around. It was 9PM and about 90 degrees. We were almost as shiny as the buildings and the moon.
We made our way towards Dealey Plaza so we could see for ourselves what might have happened on 11/22/63. One of the multiple shooter theories claims that someone shot from behind this fence. We stood there and could clearly see the ‘X’ in the street where the fatal shot occured.
On the side of the Texas School Book Depository Building sits this plaque. Apologies for the shaky picture but the word circled by years of finger tracing is hard to miss.
Just underneath that word is the article “a” which is underlined.
A man on the street came up to us and pointed out that there are many sixth floor windows overlooking the ‘X’ and that this plaque proves that no one knows who shot or from where.
After our enlightening walk, we turned in for the night. We would have another long day of driving ahead of us before we would reach our next destination: New Orleans. Days 4-6 are coming soon in the next blog post. Stay tuned!