Again, these road trips postings are mostly for me--as a way of remembering our journey.
Up to Tuesday afternoon, we were not absolutely certain we could make this trip due to the flare up of Jim's eye infection. But the doctor said things looked better and Jim knew he was seeing better. He packed all his pills and eye drops and we hoped for the best.
Our flight was delayed for almost an hour in South Bend on Wednesday afternoon, putting us at risk for getting out of Detroit and into Memphis before dark--which was important for both of our driving skills. The autumn colors from a plane's vantage point were beautiful both in South Bend and Detroit. With a quick walk through the airport and fairly close gates, we made it in time. When we arrived, Memphis was decidedly green but was lovely and warm. The Alamo clerk tried to sell us a yellow convertible or a Cadillac but we were happy with our bright red Ford Focus.
The Doubtree Hotel downtown was free thanks to many groceries paid for with a Visa Hilton card. We decided to forego TGIF in the hotel for something more local and we definitely found it--Rendezvous--on a side alley where Jim had ribs and I had a pork shoulder sandwich--sides of beans and slaw--and served within minutes. Mine was pretty spicy and those endorphins kicked in along with my draft beer and I was feeling happy!
We walked along Beale Street which reminded us of Bourbon Street in New Orleans--noisy and crowded with open bars on the street.
We got off to a slow start and drove about 130 miles down I 40 to LIttle Rock. We found the Clinton Presidential Library easily and enjoyed the 12 minute video hosted by President Clinton after which we perused the 2nd floor displays. Many memories came back to us of those years--not only of the events in the White House but also events in the nation and world during those years. We were interested in how the Lewinsky episode would be handled and, of course, much blame was put on partisan politics and the witch-hunting Ken Starr. There were apologies for conduct however.
We took a break for lunch in the library's dining room where it took forever for our simple meal to come. Eventually we were told it would be free because of the delay!
We went back to the third floor of the museum with its replica of the Oval Office and the memorabilia of Bill's boyhood and then walked around the grounds a bit.
We relaxed in the Wingate Hotel on the Riverfront until Jim Metzger, the Notre Dame Alumni Club host, picked us up at 6 pm. He and his wife Debra Baldwin, a dean at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, gave us a bit of a tour of the town--past Central High School and the State Capitol and on to the university where JIm gave his speech on the Dead Sea Scrolls to a full house. It went well and he handled all the questions beautifully as always--including one about bowel movements on the Sabbath and Jewish expectations for a Messiah.
It was a late meal at the Old Capitol Hotel with Debra and Jim and Clea Hupp, a professor at U of A and a candidate for state legislator, and back to the hotel by 10:30--11:30 Indiana time!
We arrived in Vicksburg around 2:45 after several hours of pretty boring travel. The roads were straight, the land was flat, and really the only thing of interest was seeing cotton in the fields and bound up in large bales.
Both of us had prepared to visit Vicksburg by reading "Under Siege," a young adult account of three children who were present during those 47 days in 1863. The book was based on original sources including articles written years later by the children for Harper's Magazine.
Our destination, Anchuca Mansion and Inn, was built in 1830 and used as a hospital during the siege of Vicksburg. Our room was in a row of rooms in the carriage house. We walked around the town a bit looking first for Christ Church, where Rev. Lord preached daily during the siege. One of the children in the book was Willie Lord, his son.
We were impressed by a large, attractive red building which seemed to have bars on the windows. As we walked past the door the County Building next to it, a sheriff getting out of his car greeted us--as almost all the passer-bys did. I asked him what that building was and he replied, "You don't want to go there. It's the jail." He went on to tell us about the hanging tower at the top of 13 steps with a trap-door that let the unfortunate person drop several floors to the cart to carry him off. He said that if the hanging didn't get him, the fall would. I told him I had certainly asked the right person! What a great story I got out of it. Although maybe he was telling his fellow deputies that you wouldn't believe the story those Yankee tourists fell for!
We had supper at the inn's cafe and enjoyed shrimp and champagne caper sauce Tuscan grits with roasted vegetables. It was delicious and we made a reservation for tomorrow night as well.