Memphis to Branson

Trip Start Nov 05, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Missouri
Saturday, November 8, 2008

~1520 on the odometer...
Left the hotel with the intentions of swinging by Graceland for a quick photo then over to Beale Street and the National Civil Rights Museum.  I had to make things quick as I had to be in Branson, MO by 5pm.  Well, I arrived at Graceland only to be met with a fee just to park.  I didn't want to tour the place, just get the token photo of the house.  Well, in the scale of important things American's should do in their lifetime going to Graceland fell in the ranking compared to the National Civil Rights Museum.  So I did a u-turn, took a quick photo of the entry sign (to prove I was really there and not sitting in DC somewhere) and headed into downtown Memphis.  
I found the city to be filled with an amazing amount of culture and nostalgia.  The river walk drive (not sure if that is the name) along the Mississippi was beautiful.  A quick turn into the city and you are immediately immersed in the city culture.  Tall buildings and the hustle of a city.  But it was a manageable feeling, not overwhelming like NYC can be.  Another turn a few hundred feet into the city and you are taken back to the 50's, street cars and all.  The store fronts and architecture kept their nostalgic feel as I drove through what appeared to be the starving artists district, for lack of a better term.  Made another turn down a side street and came upon the museum.  
A protester to the museum was sitting on the opposite corner of the museum.  I was immediately drawn to the woman due to her "Gentrification" sign (see photo, once I have a chance to get it uploaded).   She felt the city could be using the funds more humanely by helping the community of Memphis with more affordable housing and food for the hungry.  Have an affinity to help those in need for food I sympathized with her efforts.  She also felt that they were defaming the name of Martin Luther King by having "parties" in front of the spot he was slain.  She even showed me some photos if what looked like some frat boys with beer bottles sloppy drunk and dancing in front of the Lorraine Motel.  I completely agree with her, that is sacred land that should not be used as a backdrop for drunken idiots who probably don't even know the significance of the location.
But, I was not sure if I agreed with regards to the museum.  I wanted to learn more in depth information about the civil rights movement.  So I chose to cross her protest, pay the entry fee and soak in as much as I could.  It was one of the most amazingly somber experiences I have ever had the opportunity of engaging in.  The amount of detail they had in the museum was intense.  Photos, pamphlets, TVs scrolling actual footage, an actual bus to walk in, sit, feel.  You could see the room/balcony where MLK was shot, and even stand (sort of) in the area in which the sniper was.  They even had an exhibit on Gandhi, the first non-violent protester, MLK's role model.  Unfortunately, I could not spend a lot of time due to my time constraint.  
I am absolutely putting Memphis on my must visit again list and so should you!  Every American should walk through this museum and gain a better understanding of what really happened during the civil rights movement.  It is so hard to understand that people could harbor so much hatred for someone because of the color of their skin.  But, it also gives a better perspective of just how far we have come.  We will have a president presiding over us shortly that less than 50 years ago could not even sit where he wanted in a restaurant, or even use the same bathroom as a white person.  Now he is in the most powerful position an American can hold.  Yay!!!
I then got on the road and took the scenic route to Branson.  It was about a 5.5 hour drive through winding roads in the Ozarks.  Beautiful but dizzying.  There were these "flea markets" all along the way, which were just over sized yard sales with a ton of junk.  I guess since they really don't have stores in this part of the area they just exchanged junk with one another.  I didn't really have the opportunity to stop and take photos, there weren't any shoulders on the road, and there was either a ditch or a cliff side next to me.  But the Ozarks are beautiful.  I arrived at Jack and Joann's, ate dinner, then was whisked away to a "show," which apparently is what you do in Branson.  We went to "The Duttons," a very large Mormon family that puts every member of the family to work - HA, just kidding!  But they did have all, I think, 17 grand kids on stage.  Jack & Joann are good friends with them so we had the opportunity to chat with them for a bit after the show.  They are lovely people that are very talented.  I just couldn't believe how wholesome the show was.  It was just the family members demonstrating their talents, singing, dancing, playing the violin, etc.  But no cursing, lude behavior, or crass remarks.  Unfortunately, I could not relate.  But I think the other 700 patrons that were over 70 enjoyed themselves.  
I slept well last night and expect to again tonight.  I am not sure if I will hit the road tomorrow or stay one more day.  I enjoy my time with Jack & Joann and hate saying goodbye.  So I may wait till Monday.  I will be heading to Oklahoma then to New Mexico and Arizona.  I am disappointed to find that there really are no hostels until NM, and they may not even be along my route.  So I may be staying in hotels more than I would like.                           
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Where I stayed
Jack & Joann's
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