After several months at home in North Carolina, we chose a “monumental day” in our lives to hitch the Toad to Contessa and begin our trek west. We headed out on Saturday morning, September 21 – the 30th Anniversary of our Tango with Hurricane Hugo in Charleston SC aboard Golden Dawn.
We chose the I-40 route for this season, having done I-10 last fall and I-70 this spring. It will allow us to “do” a significant portion of the old Route 66, when we connect it with it in Oklahoma City. During the spring, we enjoyed Williams AZ, Grants NM and Holbrook NM (Wigwam Motel) at the beginning of our journey east – but there are several towns and museums across Oklahoma and Texas that we have targeted for this journey.
We started out with a shiny clean coach and toad – only to have our first night at Deer Run RV Park, a truly lovely campground but with a 1+ mile dirt road to our great campsite. By the time we were there, the red toad was covered in white dust and the coach had 1″ of white gravel dust inside the engine compartment! Ah, well, there are ways to get both cleaned – and we thoroughly enjoyed our evening in Crossville, including a campfire with wood we collected around our site.
We only had 111 miles to Nashville – and an afternoon check-in time that allowed us to participate in the Sunday Morning Services at the Deer Run Chapel. The pastor was away, but the service was led by a local group, The Cross Connection, with heart-warming and beautiful gospel song. With two guitars and a keyboard – and three vocals – we had a morning of song & worship that filled our hearts. We took the opportunity to walk the mile each way to the chapel – on a beautiful early fall morning – we were so blessed!
Safe Harbor RV Resort is only about 15-20 minutes from Neice Christy’s home – and she & Chris joined us about 2:30p for a lovely visit aboard Contessa. Chris had a flight for business out that evening, so we had birthday cake first (YAY!) since Chris 9/15, Bill 9/23, Christy 9/26 and Jann 9/4 really had something to celebrate. AND we had a superb cake complements of Beth & Steve Womble – YUM! As Christy took Chris to the airport, the Captain took the opportunity to wash the Toad. We then connected for dinner with Christy – and had a chance to hear about the end of her former job (Friday had been her last day) and her new job (after a week off). With many hugs, we departed while looking forward to being together at Christmas.
The downfall of Safe Harbor RV Resort was that while being close to Christy, it was on the east side of Nashville – which meant facing Monday morning rush-hour traffic as we had to go right thru town. So, we departed the campground at first light, connected the Toad and were on the interstate before 6:30a. Traffic was intense and the intersections of so many freeways right in downtown make navigating the roadways a real challenge. Captain Bill did a phenomenal job – and we were thru downtown by 6:55a!
Our destination was Tom Sawyer RV Park in West Memphis – and a connection with Jann’s cousins, Pegg & Pam, and their husbands to celebrate Captain Bill’s birthday. As luck would have it, there was a Semi-Truck Wash at our exit which also does RVs – so pounds of white gravel dust came off the coach, from the roof on down.
Tom Sawyer RV Park is right on the bank of the Mississippi River – and is beautiful! They were, however, closed for 5 months earlier this year due to the major flooding of the river.
The family arrived about 6:00p and after a quick tour of Contessa, we were off to Beale Street! How great to have superb tour guides who know where to go – and all the history to share with us! Dinner was at Blues City Cafe – the ribs were amazing, but the catfish was out of this world!
We strolled along Beale Street, watched the jumps & flips of young men doing amazing acrobatic tricks – and falling on the brick street when it didn’t work just right! A stop at Silky O’Sullivan’s with their live goats – and Guiness on Tap topped off the evening.
The next day we got more local tour guide expertise as Steve drove us around downtown, stopped to visit Leslie/Pam’s home to see all the superb renovations – and then met Pegg & Steve at the top of the Pyramid for dinner. Originally a sports arena, it is now a major Bass Pro Shops, with an aquarium and restaurant at the pinnacle of the Pyramid with an breathtaking view of the I-40 bridge at night and downtown Memphis.
Our last day in Memphis took us to the National Civil Rights Museum located in the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated. It has a compelling message of the trials of the African Americans – from the days long before we were a country, thru the Civil War, the terrible Jim Crow years and to the terrible day when a gifted man was slain. The “fear” of the evolution of this country to truly live up to our forefathers’ beliefs that “all men are created equal” drove people to do horrific acts.
We HAD to make a stop at the local distillery – Old Dominick’s Distillery on Front Street. Operating again by fifth generation grandson’s (cousins), they produce the “whiskey toddy” that Dominick Canale was known for. After a pleasant respite, we headed to the Peabody Hotel and then across the street to the alley and The Rendezvous. While there may be “better” barbeque in Memphis, the nostalgia of the Rendezvous and its history in Memphis was a “must stop” for us.
Thursday morning had us hitching the Toad to Contessa – and once more pointing her west. With our 300 mile rule, we pulled into Sallisaw OK about 2:30p, and will be in Oklahoma City tomorrow.