Monday, August 3, 2009

Chapter 6: Graceland and the Gateway

View USA in 80 Days: Likely Route in a larger map

So by now we will be approching the halfway point of our little drive. I think this section should take about 6 days. The first thing to note is that it's no great shame that if I don't really get into Tennessee in this leg. We will get a chance to get in as far as Knoxville later on as we snake back South. For now though, if we deviate in this part, it will be West into Arkansas.

The first major town in this chapter is Memphis. Now I would be keen to visit this place anyway for its name. There is something that goes well together between Americana and Egyptian mythology for me (Memphis being an ancient Egyptian city). Maybe it's just because I like that movie Bubba Ho-Tep, but that would make sense given the other reason we want to visit Memphis: Graceland. What American pilgrimmage would be complete without a visit to the shrine of the King? Maybe I can win some kind of Elvis impersonating contest. I will not buy any tacky souveniers. I will not buy any tacky souveniers. That's the biggest reason why I am only carrying the smallest bag possible, to remove the temptation to stock up on junk I will never use.

From Memphis, we intend to follow the Mississippi River as closely as possible all the way up to St. Louis. I'm hoping that we don't encounter much snow at all on this part of the trip, it will only be early November - but I know how things are. Hopefully lots of small old towns pop up along the banks as we go. This whole area is supposed to be the American heartland, so I'm looking forward to seeing what the people are like throughout this land. I hope it's not too cold to sit on the banks of the river.

St. Louis is a 19th Century town in my mind. I only really know it from old books and movies. I bet it's nothing like that now, so it'll be the perfect chance to really test how different the real America is from the America in my mind. Still, hopefully there will be lots of good food and good music here as we say goodbye to the Mississippi and head North toward Lake Michigan. Springfield Illinois is the last stop for now. Some  history this state  has. Abraham Lincoln and now Barack Obama both come from this state, so I'm expecting lots to see and do around the area.

Next will be Lake Michigan and Chicago in Chapter 7: The Windy City

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