Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rolling Hillsides

Let's see how this goes. I'd like to share some pictures from my trip again today. The images are from the drive Mom and I took through the Ozarks. If driving over big, scary bridges was not stressful enough, we now faced curvy, mountain roads that dropped out of view quite often.

Scary Road
Windy Road

And this just seems fitting proof as to being in the Ozarks. Yeah, we didn't stop to eat here. Wonder why?
Booger Hollow Chuck Wagon

Here is an old building that we passed on the road. I just really liked how this picture turned out.

Old Building

Living in a rather flat state (rivers and lakes are beautiful scenery, don't get me wrong, but we've got little for hills), I was fascinated by the mountains. Sure, it's not like we were in the Rockies or visiting after the leaves turned, but the colors were still pretty great. Rows and rows of shifting hues greeted us as we drove and stopped at different overlooks.

Ozarks 6
Ozarks 5
Ozarks 4
Purple Mt Majesty
Ozarks 3

This overlook was kind of cool. We met the Seizemores at it. This couple had driven up to the overlook to use their cellular phone. They live in the valley near the house with the red roof. (Which I couldn't find.) Reception was poor at home, so they made their way up the mountain a couple times each day. The husband told us their story on how they chose to live here. He was working, fixing all the lights in the Arkansas school districts, and he saw this view. He called home and said, "Honey, we're moving." They now found themselves building a house in the valley, hoping the roof would be done soon because the bear had destroyed their tent five times now. He let us know we were standing on top of a giant cave, probably where the bear lived.

As we spoke with the couple, the man asked where we were from. When we replied, "Minnesota," he asked, "Ever been to Ponka?" The blank stares must have indicated our confusion. As it turns out, he has a friend in Ponka. It's about 20 miles from where we were and it is known for elk herds crossing.

It was a beautiful place to view the mountains.

Ozarks 2
Mom cringe
As I said, the drive was a little stressful. Mom is playing here, but this isn't too far from her expression behind the wheel.

A nicer picture of Mom. And yes! I got her to use a camera on the trip!
Beth at Ozarks
Mother and Daughter
Ozarks 1
Ozarks 10

And just a few more pictures of our time in the Ozarks. Because I'm not addicted to photography. (I guess I just like these pictures.)
Buffalo River Bridge
Ozarks 9
Ozarks 8
Ozarks 7

Also, while we were staying in the Ozarks, we decided to see a waterfall. Unfortunately, this plan didn't work too well. We had figured on going to a waterfall that was an easy, 1-mile hike. In speaking with people, we were directed to Lost Valley Trail. As it turned out, this trail was 3 miles one-way and a moderate hike. With Mom's hip replacement, this wasn't the best idea. We didn't make it to the waterfall, but I did get to see a few pretty butterflies.

Butterfly 2
Butterfly 1

And for Johnny, each did remind me of Uzi.

As far as trip photos go, I think I only have one more set that I'm going to share. Hopefully I'll get to them tonight. I'm going to try and jump start my blog back up and try to post daily in November. This also means I need to visit daily in November. Let's see how this goes. I used to love writing nightly, and there are things to write about. I'm off to work now. I have to give an interview tonight and it is Halloween, so let the madness ensue!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

More of Memphis

I've shown you Graceland, Beale Street, and the Mighty Mississippi, but there is even more of Memphis left. On our trip, I found this city to be fascinating, inviting, and comforting. I am glad that we spent the longest amount of time in Memphis because the city is a great place to visit.

One of the days, we decided to visit the Civil Rights Museum. It took us some time to find it, following street signs pointing this way and that. But we did eventually find the site. This is where it gets to be a little disappointing. When we arrived, we walked up to the entrance, noting the scene and taking a couple of pictures I will share here, but we ended up not going into the museum. Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed inside and with Mom's hip and my desire to not leave expensive cameras sitting in the car where people could watch us put them in there, we walked back to the car and left. That didn't stop us from taking a couple of pictures outside of the Lorraine Motel, the site of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. If I do go back to Memphis, I will take the tour of the museum, but I'll leave the camera behind.

Lorraine MotelCivil Rights MuseumLorraine Motel SignMLK Assassination Site

Our hotel room had a nice view of Downtown Memphis. There was a church next to our hotel and we heard the bells ringing a few times. Here are some pictures of downtown, as the sun set and the sky darkened.

Downtown MemphisEvening SkySky over Memphis

Besides seeing Graceland, the Arch, the river, and some mountains (still to come!), our trip had a focus on good food. The "Trifecta of Ribs" had a stop in Memphis. Southern style BBQ ribs were quite the draw and so we found ourselves going to Corky's. The food was very good, even with a full restaurant and a mishap that occurred right away. Mom ended up with sauce on her shirt before the food even arrived. Unfortunately, there was BBQ sauce on her menu and it did make her feel pretty sad. The server ended up comping our appetizers, BBQ pork nachoes and something else I can't remember for the life of me right now. Our meal consisted of a shared BBQ pulled pork sandwich, complete with the coleslaw right on the sandwich, a rack of dry ribs cooked to perfection, jalepeno hush puppies (which Mom loved!), and a side of spaghetti (ordered solely for the experience of having spaghetti as a side dish). Hush puppies are deep fried corn bread, for those like me who didn't know.

Corkys BBQ SignDry RubMom at CorkysJalapeno Hush PuppiesPig signCorkys Sign

Also in Memphis, we stopped by the Memphis visitor's center. Inside, there were large bronze statues of two of the biggest names to come from the area. The King of Rock 'n Roll and a blues legend stood tall inside and I had to take pictures (what else would I do?)


BB King
BB King Statue

I had a great time in Memphis.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Mighty Mississippi

In early June, I went on a roadtrip by myself. On that trip, I headed north a little bit to the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Having lived so close to the river most of my life, it has been an interesting year to "discover" the river for myself. I've seen where it starts this year and now with this last trip been able watch it grow. One can walk across the headwaters easily and hardly imagine standing there how massive the river gets by the time it empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

I drive over bridges crossing the Mississippi all the time. One less since the collapse of the 35W bridge in early August of this year, but that was a bridge I had crossed many times. Whenever our family had visitors from the Post-Soviet realm, Andriy included, we would go to a boat launch site within five miles of our home to view the river. During my first attempt at college, I found myself going to that spot to relax and watch the river when stress levels increased. When my grandma passed away, I drove down to the river and sat there, reflecting. DM and I went to the river one night to take pictures and met Shrunken Head Man.

As much as the ocean is part of the lives of those who live on coasts, the Mississippi River has influenced my life. But I've known it as a decently sized river, one that it takes less than 30 seconds to cross when traffic is moving at the speed limit on the highway. When this trip idea started, my mom suggested going to Memphis so that we could both see a bit of the South, experience Beale Street, and visit Graceland. She also suggested a route down to Memphis that was longer than Google Maps would suggest. Her idea, probably to entice me, was to travel down the Mississippi River where I could take pictures. The idea was formed prior to the bridge collapse, but after I visited the headwaters.

That's where this started. With that, I want to take you on a journey down the Nile of North America. We won't reach the delta or where the river ends, but we'll see it grow and watch it change.

Before we go on our journey, here are a couple of older pictures of the river that I've taken. The first is the headwaters and the second is from that boat launch in Fridley, Minnesota. The third picture is taken in downtown Minneapolis, not far from where the 35W bridge collapsed.

Headwaters of the Mississippi (4)

Mississippi River

Bridge (24)

Our first river stop was in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. It's not too far from home, but it is after the St. Croix River joins the Mississippi River. The Minnesota River joins near the Cities and so the Mississippi is a notable river by the time you reach LaCrosse.

Bridge at LaCrosse

Besides the river and a big, scary bridge, there are many statues in LaCrosse. Here are three:MajesticWaving StatueNative American Statue

We entered Dubuque, Iowa late in the afternoon.

Bridge at Dubuque

After Dubuque, it wasn't long before we made it to the Quad Cities. The Quad Cities are made up of Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa and Moline/East Moline and Rock Island, Illinois. The cities all have a history around the river. We stopped in Davenport and Rock Island. The first two pictures here are in Davenport.

Bridge 2Bridge 3

We found a place with the word sunset in its name right as the sun was setting, so it was a good indicator to pull over and check out the view. This is in Rock Island.

Rock Island BridgeSunset and Bridge

We made it to Burlington, Iowa late that night (well, late for Mom. Early for me.) In the morning, we headed out again, but not before checking out the river in Burlington. It was another neat bridge!

Bridge 2

The next stop was Hannibal, Missouri. Hannibal is the hometown of Mark Twain and hopefully we are all aware of the effects of the Mississippi River on his writings.

Bridge at Hannibal

Kind of a neat tribute to the man.

Mark Twain

That evening, we stayed in St. Louis, which I've share already. There are plenty of pictures of St. Louis on this site already, so I will only put one up showing the river itself.

River Wide

The day we left St. Louis, we drove a route into Kentucky. The pictures from crossing the Ohio River into Kentucky have been shared already, but we did need to cross the Mississippi again before we made it to the Ohio River. We crossed in Cape Girardeau. As we approached the bridge, Mom said, "Is that a church?" She saw the tops of the bridge in the distance and hoped that it was steeple towers. It wasn't. We found a side road along the river and stopped for a nice view.

Cape Girardeau Bridge 8Cape Girardeau Bridge 4

To view the river and not just the bridge, we stopped at a way station shortly after driving near the Cape Girardeau bridge. At this way station, I got a little "gusty" and climbed up on a fence to see over the tree line. Mom got a picture of it, but the picture didn't show the fence. Oops. Here are views of the river from that stop.

River from Waystation 1River from Waystation

Finally, we visited the river one more time. In Memphis, we saw the Mississippi River after the Missouri River and the Ohio River joined the banks. By this point, the river is very large and impressive. There are two bridges in Memphis, connecting Tennessee to Arkansas. We did cross both, much to Mom's fears.

This bridge is Highway 55. Along this bridge, we saw the wide river and the bridge kept going. The bridge is built out over a flood plain.

Hwy 55 Bridge 1Hwy 55 Bridge 2

We walked around the park near the river in Memphis. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the sights. It was just great. Simple to say, but true.

Mississippi River in MemphisMississippi River

The other bridge in Memphis is the Interstate-40 bridge. I liked this one. At night, it is lit up and we saw it coming in the first evening.

1-40 Bridge 1I-40 Bridge 2I-40 Bridge 3Bridge at Night

There is a pyramid in Memphis. I'm not sure what is housed in the structure, but I do understand why the city has erected this type of monument. The Mississippi has been referred to as the Nile of North America and Memphis was named after the Egyptian city. With this in mind, there is a pyramid. It's neat to see.


Along the waterfront, we saw a memorial for Tom Lee. I like how these pictures turned out.

Memorial 2Memorial 1

And here is my mom, sitting by the memorial along the banks of the Mississippi.

Mom in Memphis

When we left Memphis, Mom took a few pictures on the bridge. I like this last one because it does show the bridge and the pyramid.

Leaving Memphis