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Report 2041: Driving the Great Mississippi River Road

By BJinNM from New Mexico, Fall 2012

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Page 22 of 33: Day 22-... Those Memphis Blues Again

photo by BJ Firestone

Beale Street, Memphis

We decided this morning that we would go across the Mississippi River into Arkansas and drive the River Road north for a couple of hours. After the terrible storm last night, it turned out to be a beautiful day. It was an easy drive and we found Hampson State Park outside of Wilson, Arkansas. The Visitors' Center is a treasure trove of Nodena cultural artifacts. The Nodena were part of the Mississippian group and were mound builders. Their mounds have pretty well disappeared or they are on private land. An amateur archaeologist's grandfather owned much of the land and he early developed an interest in the mounds. He very carefully and methodically excavated the mounds and the results can be seen in the park. He is the only amateur archeologist whose obituary was reported in Antiquities Magazine. We went further north and stopped at the Sans Souci Boat Launching area on the River and got to see the Mississippi River from Arkansas.

Again we drove up the River until we got to Osceola, Arkansas where we got off the River Road and headed back to Memphis. Once in Memphis, we went to the Gibson Guitar Factory. They offer tours through the factory and it was fascinating! Almost all the work is done by hand and each guitar is made to order. Quite a production. No photography was allowed, and after seeing the sawdust and paint dust, we were glad they made us put the cameras into plastic bags. We did take lobby and outside pictures.

After the tour we crossed the street and toured the Rock and Soul Museum. It is the history of music in Memphis and of the Memphis sound. Great displays and great music!

We walked one block to Beale Street and walked down Beale Street to Blues City Cafe where we split ribs and catfish and an apple dumpling with ice cream. We have now had the very good fortune to try both "dry" ribs and "wet" ribs. It's a toss up which we like better, but we think we like the "wet" ones slightly more.

Tomorrow we leave Memphis for Clarksdale, Mississippi. It's only a couple of hours away so we may try to stop at Sun Record Studio for a tour on our way out of Memphis. Alan may take his violin down to the "Crossroads" and see if it improves his playing. We have really enjoyed our stay here and highly recommend a visit.

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