Hi! I'm Lauren, and I need a Lobotomy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tiny Trip to the South

I’ve been back from Arkansas for a couple of weeks now but I am just now getting down to writing about the trip. Sorry about that!

Anywho, I made the second flight and made it to Little Rock. It was so nice to finally see Brian! You just never realize how much you miss someone until you get there and get to hug them again. I had never been to Arkansas and as we flew in on the little plane the trees and river and the rest of the scenery was just gorgeous. Being in Colorado so much of the time I really miss deciduous forests with all the undergrowth and dark secret places inside them I remember from my childhood. As we drove through town to the US Pizza Company (http://www.uspizzaco.net/) that I had read served gluten free pizza (it’s absolutely delicious and I totally recommend eating there if you are in the area) I was amazed at how much it reminded me of New England. The winding roads went up and down hills and there were quite a lot of period-style homes all over the place.

Our first night we drove around looking for the Big Damn Bridge and were totally steered wrong by the GPS. We ended up at a nature preserve somewhere in the country. No worries… We just drove to base and then tried to make a plan of attack to explore the area.

Brian mentioned Memphis was only about two hours away from Little Rock and then we decided we would go in the morning and see what it was all about. I was secretly super excited. Neither of us had been before and we thought it would be a nice little adventure. Without kids. What could be better?

I am happy to report there were no mishaps on the drive and we made it to Beale Street and parked the car. We weren’t sure what we were getting into but that is my favorite way to travel. I love to get to a new location with only a few ideas or suggestions of things to do and explore and discover as we go along.

It turns out that you can drink on Beale Street. A four block section was cordoned off by the police and you could walk up and down with adult beverages. Awesome!! Beale St. is like Duval St. in Key West but with a blues/jazz theme instead of island décor everywhere – obviously. After a rather large vodka punch the size of my head I decided that we needed tattoos. Yeah… It was clearly a drink-induced idea, but I’ve wanted one for eight years now and I guess that’s enough time to procrastinate. (I procrastinate very well, in case you didn’t know)

Vodka Punch that started it all.
By the time we found a hotel and a tattoo parlor I was stone cold sober and rather dreading my decision. I was shaking and about to pass out as Brian and I perused the fonts for my tattoo. In the end, after some intense hand-squeezing on my part and poor Brian’s hand being gouged out by my nails (lucky for him they are very short), I ended up with an awesome tattoo that is just as I imagined it for all of these years. The funny thing is - I bought all these cuff bracelets so I could cover it up and now I don’t want to hide it. It’s on full display for all to see and I’m not ashamed.

My tattoo will remind me I have the courage!

Beale St. at night is crazy! It gets so crowded that it’s hard to walk. But, it is amazingly awesome fun to wander the streets with a drink in hand and not get in trouble.

These guys were amazing acrobats. They just took off down the street with back flips, handsprings and whatnot!

Jello shot in a syringe... yup, good idea!
Notice the police car... 

This was soon after sundown - and it only got more crowded and fun later.

The next morning we woke up and decided to go to Graceland. (http://www.elvis.com/graceland/) That place is nuts… We went on the tour of the house; which is so tacky and gaudy that it’s incredible. I noticed a few pieces of furniture and accessories I’m fairly certain my grandparents owned as well. I kept trying to remember that the house was as Elvis left it and was probably very modern for the time, but it was difficult at times to take everything seriously – like I said, it was REALLY tacky! We bought the mid-priced package and went on a tour of the automobiles, the airplanes and the costumes in addition to Graceland. I must say I loved the clothes the best. It’s crazy to see so much of Elvis’s stuff in person, and reading about some of the charities and things he was involved in to make Memphis a better place to live made me appreciate him more.

The one thing that was frustrating was that half of the grounds at the museum were gift shops. It was a never ending parade of trinkets that you couldn’t get away from no matter how hard you tried as you were funneled through them on the way to and from the exhibits. The commercialism of it was a bit ridiculous and I wasn’t the only person commenting on it. I could hear whispers of people saying, “Oh, what do you know, another gift shop!” So, the shops were a bit over the top, but I am glad to say I’ve now been to Graceland. I guess cross that off the bucket list…

After leaving Graceland we decided to head down to Mississippi since Brian and I had been not been there before and we weren’t sure when we’d ever get back down that way.

It was a very pretty, pleasant drive with farm fields surrounding us and very little traffic. We decided Tunica would be where we went to see the Mighty Mississippi and get some lunch. We were ‘hankering’ for some good southern food.

Mississippi River - we missed the ride on the Tunica Queen.

On the road to the river Brian said the funniest thing after I pointed out the cotton growing in the fields: “Wow! This is the first time I’ve seen cotton in the wild!” I don’t know what it was about what he said and how it was inflected, but I broke into laughter and couldn’t stop for so long. Maybe it’s because the cotton wasn’t really in the wild but someone did painstaking labor to grow and collect it, but it was funny to me. I like to bring it up to him every once in a while and I still get a good giggle out of it. Wild cotton clearly in a field… Okey dokey then, moving right along… Nothing to see here, people…

Our lunch at the Blue and White Restaurant in Tunica (http://blueandwhiterestaurant.com/) was delicious. Trying to find something to eat was a little bit hard for me since I can’t eat gluten, but I ordered a hamburger steak with onions and mushrooms and some turnip greens with a loaded baked potato. Brian was lucky – he got to have chicken fried steak, fried green tomatoes, and something else fried that I can’t remember. Delicious!!

Our journey being over we headed across the Mississippi and back into Arkansas to get back to base. It was just a nice little road trip all around. Brian started his class on Monday and I got my work done as well. Then it was time for me to go home. It was so nice to just let our sails out and see where the wind blew us for a couple of days. It’s not often we get to do that with the busy life here at home.

We did make it to my original place of interest before going to the airport. And it really was a Big Dam Bridge!!

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