DAY 3: T.O. Fuller Park, Memphis TN This is a quiet little park and only has 45 spaces. The spaces are large and filled with trees. The bathroom is a bit dated but because of the Coronavirus we are self-contained and have our own shower/bathroom so that didn’t matter. It is in the city limits of Memphis but because of its wooded setting you would never know it. The only sounds you will hear at night are the occasional lonesome train whistle and the hoot hooting of an owl. This park has an interesting history as it was the very first park that African Americans could stay at. It was originally called the Shelby County Negro State park. This too was a CCC built camp in 1938. It was later renamed T. O. Fuller in honor of Dr. Thomas O. Fuller who dedicated his life to helping African Americans. Another interesting fact was during the excavation for a swimming pool the CCC workers found remnants of a prehistoric village. This site is the Chucalissa Indian Village. Chucalissa means “abandoned house” in Choctaw. I love finding out all the history of a place.
Memphis has bittersweet memories for me. It Seems like yesterday the Martin Family Band was playing our hearts out at the Folk Alliance trying to get the attention of a few talent scouts. Life marches on now. My children still play but for me, without my favorite “ Fiddlin’ Claude” I will take a back seat and let the young ones keep the family music going.
DAY 4. Lake Quachita State Park, AR Well the morning started out great. Nice luxuriously warm shower in my little camper. I can leave the water on for more than the typical 5 minute Navy shower when we have to conserve water. Then we have a quick breakfast sandwich and tea. I even had time to brew some coffee for the mugs. It stopped raining and the sun was shining. Off we go down Rt. 40 into southern Arkansas. We are trying to average no more than 300ish miles per day preferably in the morning so that we have the rest of the day to enjoy and then pack up again in the morning. I don’t like camping this way but when you are on a mission where the end destination is prime, you make sacrifices.
“The Big Blowout”: After a few hours down the road, we decide to stop for lunch and then we heard a loud “boom” that stopped for us. I recognized that horrible sound from before and knew we blew out a tire, which now looks like shredded black licorice. We have a spare of course, so all is not lost….. yet. The highway is filled with huge tractor trailers barreling down the road. You take your life in your hands along with the jack when changing a tire with these crazies driving so close by. Deeply concerned about my poor husband’s safety I tried to stand in front of him but each time a truck went by I screamed and that did not help at all. But lady luck saw our predicament and smiled down on us with a tie up behind us. As fate would have it there was an accident and prevented the traffic from coming. What a stroke of good luck, well at least for us not those in the accident but at least poor Carl had a chance to get the tire on and get the heck out of the way of the traffic .
We did finally stop for lunch. When travelling I like to try to keep “healthy snacks” like veggies and hummus, cracker, cheeses, pickles but sometimes the lure of the fried, tried and true. Southern style home cooking, just gets the best of you. For many miles now we have been noticing the signs for Nick’s barbecue and catfish. The catfish caught Carl’s eye. He was dreaming of it and his mouth watered so for the delectable deep-fried flour/cornmeal delectable fishy catfish, which is not my preferred catch, give me a good white fish like haddock or cod but who was I to say no. My brave husband was my hero and this was a fitting reward for saving us from sleeping in an Arkansas cornfield all night or worse. My mind goes immediately to gruesome tales of abduction, rape and forced withdrawal of money from our nondescript bank account. When the robber finds out there is no money in our account, that’s when the knives and guns come out. My mind is wired to the worst possible situations when stranded. I can’t help it this is what I was taught. It’s the way my mother kept me off the streets. It’s funny that I feel that way now because as a young girl I had no fear. I would simply stick my thumb up in the air, poke my pointy chest out a little and shake my dangly earrings and immediately a car would stop. Somehow in the 60s that was okay.
Our bellies are full now with catfish, barbecue, mashed potatoes and gravy, greens, fried okra and cornbread and of course for our desert banana pudding. I don’t need to eat for a week. Our destination is only an hour away. Nothing could stop us now. The sun was shining, the fluffy clouds danced in the blue blue sky and we were trekking down highway 40 passing not sleeping in the Arkansas cornfields. Everything was fine again until the horrible inconceivable second “boom”. Holy Mother of God, what is that sound? No, it can’t be another blow out but it was exactly that. I immediately freaked out, another holdover expression from the 60’s, but it is the only word that could describe my reaction. Screaming at my poor hero husband, “what the hell kind of bargain basement, cheap ass discount, made in China tires did you buy?? Didn’t we agree a long time ago that we need really really good tires on a trip and not retreads from Cheap Eds? For cramminy sakes what the Hell are we going to do now? We don’t have another GD spare. The profanities were pouring out of my mouth enough to make a sailor blush. My heart was pounding and the visions of the marauding highway robbers were clouding my visions again. I won’t repeat the words that came out of my sweet husband’s mouth but if you ever saw the movie “A Christmas Story” the father swearing while he tries to fix the water heater should come to mind. There we were standing on Rt. 40 screaming profanities at each other. Carl’s face was boiling bright red, his eyes were bugging out like a pug on steroids, little bits of sweat started to bead up on his huge forehead and then suddenly it appeared, the telltale sign. There is one little vein that pops out on the top right hand corner near his now receding hairline. When that happens I know to back off! It is time to retreat. Shut up Jeanean or you will just make matters worse. The real secret to a long marriage is knowing when to Back Off. We just celebrated our 51s and that is a lot of advance and retreats.
I will never complain or say I don’t need a smart phone again. You need a smart phone especially when travelling. Miss Goggle finds everything I need and then some. She found a great Tractor Supply only twenty minutes away. They had two beautiful wonderful trailer tires already on the beautiful wonderful rims and we are now on our beautiful wonderful journey again . Poor Carl though had to take off the tire he just put on and put on another tire again under the hazards of dodging a fast moving highway again. I give him much credit.
It is nightfall as we approach the lovely scenic Quachita State Park. Will tell you what it looks like in the morning when I see it. Hope I can get a little painting done in the tomorrow. For now, I hope I can get at least one PBS station on tonight, I can write a little and I do have my one last corona which will lull me to sleep. Good night.
Woke up to a beautiful morning and managed to get a little study started. Check out is not until 3:00 so that gives me some painting time….. yeah.