Friday, September 28, 2007

Drive By Shootings

On our trip, my mom and I were able to claim making it to 11 states in 8 days. In saying this, we are including detouring a bit to drive through Kentucky for an hour, Mississippi for an hour, and passing through the corner of Oklahoma for 24 minutes. This also includes starting and ending in Minnesota and cruising up 35 in Iowa, a road that many would find boring but after curvy mountain roads, two lane highways, and "big, scary bridges," turned out to be wonderful!

Entering Kentucky, we crossed the Ohio River on another "big, scary bridge." This bridge was under construction and down to one lane. Mom, who has had a fear of bridges for just about forever, did not find the situation pleasant. We developed a trick on the trip to help her fear. I would drive over the bridge while she held the camera. By holding the camera and taking a few pictures, she ended up focusing on the camera and not her fear. It certainly helped my stress level driving and it helped her not curse as much.
Cross Ohio River

In this picture, you can see traffic merging into one lane. We crossed the river surrounded by trucks and it was hard to get a great shop.
1 Lane Bridge

We crossed the Ohio River right before it dumps into the Mississippi River. It's rather big at this point.

My mom thought it was fun to take a picture of me as I drove over the bridge.
Beth driving

Mom and I had a bit of time between Graceland and hitting Beale Street for the second night so we drove south a little to enter Mississippi. We didn't spend a long time in Mississippi, but we did stop at the visitor center. It was actually the nicest of all the visitor centers we went to. The ladies running the center had the perfect Southern hospitality. We were offered water and sodas and asked to sign the guest book. It was just pleasant.

Visitor Center


Oklahoma was brief, but at least we got to shop. And we were on a toll road, so that made the driving fast.

Welcome Sign OK

The toll booth - not the phantom toll booth.


Driving in OK

The trip home was swift. As I mentioned, Iowa was an easy road and once we found our way to Minnesota, it seemed like home was just a bit away.

Corn, corn, and more corn. And pretty countrysides.

It was nice to be home. I love the state sign for Minnesota.
Coming Home

The first day of the trip, we went through Wisconsin. Here's just a couple quick shots of the state.
Welcome Sign WI
Driving in WI

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"The Mississippi Delta was shining like a national guitar..."

One of the projects I involved myself in once I returned from my road trip was to organize my photos. With time devoted, I was able to narrow almost 3,000 pictures down to a little over 200, depicting 39 places/attractions from the vacation. My mom and I covered 2,497 miles, hitting 11 states in 8 days. We had a wonderful time and I took many pictures (surprise!).

I'm going to be sharing many of these pictures. It will help me get back into blogging, even though school has started again and this teacher seems to demand much more effort than others for participation and my group picked a topic that will be extremely difficult (which the teacher has vetoed, which is good, I figured she might, but we still need a new topic by Thursday). The topic I picked for my individual papers will not be easy, but at least interesting.

On day 4 of our trip, my mom and I went to Graceland. The home of Elvis Presley is quite the sight! It is a bit of a time capsule. The entire place is still decorated as it was in the 1970s. It is excessive and there is a general feeling of the family profiting from his name (considering a $25 entry charge - this was the highest priced tour we took). But it was interesting and I did buy souvenirs! (Because I'm a sucker.)

When you walk in, you listen to an audio program on headphones describing the different rooms and some of Elvis's history. You get to see the sitting room/living room right away. The upstairs of Graceland is roped off from tourists, but the ground floor gives you a picture of 70's excess by letting you see the sitting room, the dining room (not pictured), the parent's bedroom (not pictured), and the kitchen.
Sitting Room Sitting Room

Kitchen Kitchen
When you travel downstairs, you get to see the TV room, where Elvis liked to watch three networks at once and decorated with his symbol. The symbol was TCB and a lightning bolt, which stood for Taking Care of Business. You also get to see the pool room, where the walls and ceiling are covered in fabric. Finally, you do see the famous Jungle Room, which I have three pictures of. One of the pictures does have my mom in them.

TV Room
Pool Room
Jungle Room

Mom in Jungle Room
Jungle Room 2

A portion of the house has been converted to show some other items that Elvis either used in decorating previously or memorabilia of his life/stage show. There were displays about his movies, music, and his life events. The tour did continue through other buildings on the property (recording studio and a racquetball court turned into a display area).

A jumpsuit of his on display:

He was popular:
Hall of Records
This was one of the beds he had. It frightened me. It also has speakers in the bed. I'm not sure if it was the roundness of the bed or the fur that actually scared me the most. Probably the fur:
Fur Bed
Here is the house from outside. It was interesting to see that Graceland isn't really that large of a home. It wasn't what I expected. It's a nice sized house, but by today's mansion standards, it is small.


The end of the tour is the graves of Elvis and his family. I have a pictures of his grave specifically here, but wanted to point out how Graceland is still an attraction. His grave still draws visitors daily to pay tribute. I did not bring anything, but was amazed at how many people left flowers, drawings, and tributes.
Elvis graveTribute paid

*The title of this post is the opening line to Paul Simon's "Graceland."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Planning Stages

In less than a week, I hit the open road with my mom. There's been a lot going on to prepare and also a lot going on outside of the trip. For Labor Day weekend, I worked Saturday (normal schedule). I went to two parties on Sunday - one an afternoon picnic at Char's and one a birthday party for James. Both were fun.

At the second party, I got scared a little. Nothing much, but an odd moment. When I used the restroom, I came out to find Little Matt, one of our friends from karaoke/James/Dean/Liz/Bryan connection, sitting on James's bed, waiting for the restroom. He was just sitting in the dark, silent. I didn't even notice him at first. I jumped just a little. Yikes.

Also, I realized that I really don't know much about video games. There were a bunch of gamers at the party and I was completely lost listening to them. But I still had a good time and missed DM, who was at home with hives. I'm sure she'll explain on her site. Poor girl. No fun at all.

Today, Monday (which I guess it's past midnight so technically, it's Tuesday), I went to my mom's. We had a great chicken dinner and did some more finalizing of the trip. From what we've determined, the map below should show our trip. In a week's time, we'll cover almost 2,000 miles and drive for over 35 hours. But! It's going to be worth it.

I know I've gone over this trip before and I don't want to rehash all the plans. I guess I'm just really excited. This week is going to be interesting. I work Tuesday - Saturday and leave Sunday morning. On Tuesday, I have meetings and more meetings. Plus regular work. I have training on Wednesday and Thursday (early! Ouch!) I'm sure I'll sleep most of Wednesday night (early to bed, early to rise) and then DM and I are going to karaoke on Thursday. With the training, we can go a little earlier. That's cool at least. Friday will be a normal workday, as will Saturday, but I have to pick up the rental car on Saturday before noon. Another early day. I guess this week will prepare me for my mom's sleep schedule.

Mom and I ran to Target tonight to pick up some minor supplies for the trip. Actually, only 4 things. Two bags of candy that were on sale (we really wanted to try the candy corn flavored Hershey kisses - they're okay), a new pair of sunglasses (for me), and a notebook (travel journal!). The journal is pretty cool - it has a picture of the Eiffel Tower on the front, which has nothing to do with the trip but is a travel destination. I just liked the style of the notebook.

My To Do list for the trip is shorter, but there's still some things on it:

  • Finish packing
  • Cash in jar of change for spending money
  • Pick up rental car
  • Figure out which books to bring
  • Update iPod with new music and updated playlists
  • Upload pictures from camera to computer to clear up memory card
  • Print up puzzles for trip (Sudoku - I'm a little addicted)

Here's the map. It starts in Fridley and twists and turns to hit certain cities/landmarks.

I'm so excited!

View Larger Map