Oklahoma to Atlanta

Atlanta, GA

In our last blog we were just finishing our visit to Oklahoma.  We left there and continued our journey east in I-40.  Since, like many people, we don’t like to drive long distances, we set our sights on Russellville, AR, about 200 miles away.

Our first visit to Arkansas

We arrived at Old Post Road COE (Corps of Engineer) Park early in the afternoon and quickly found our site.  The site is a bit low in the back so we had some difficulty getting the motorhome level without lifting the rear wheels off the ground (not a good idea).  With the temperature in the high 90s and the dew point in the  70s we were pretty wet by the time we were settled in for our two night stay.

This park is right along the Arkansas River just below the Dardanelle Lock and Dam.  The dam is not very high as its purpose is not flood control, it is to increase the depth of the river behind it for navigation purposes.

The Dardanelle Lock and Dam

We didn’t do too much during our stay in Russellville as the heat and humidity continued to be oppressive.  We then drove about eighty miles further east on I-40 for a visit to Little Rock and set up in another COE park, Maumelle Campground, a few miles west of the city.

Maumelle Campground

While in Little Rock we decided to pay a visit to the William J. Clinton Presidential Center. First a disclaimer:  The writer of this blog is a Republican who did his best to remain objective during this visit.  Some displays in the center made this attempt very difficult!

The first thing that struck us as a bit odd about this facility was the two rather large, moving dinosaurs next to the main entrance and a large banner announcing a dinosaur exhibit on display for six months.

William J. Clinton Presidential Center

We asked someone about this and were given a lengthy explanation that boiled down to it being an attempt to attract families with children to visit the center.  We inquired as to the connection between Clinton and dinosaurs and found it was the fact that he designated the Grand Staircase-Escalate National Monument as a national monument in 1996 using his authority under the Antiquities Act.  Since 2000, numerous dinosaur fossils over 75 million years old have been found there.  Go figure!

The displays in the center are informative and nicely arranged, but the information was a bit over the top if you are a Republican.  John expected to see a picture of Clinton in a superman suit as it appears he saved the country from the evil Republicans during his time in office. OK, end of rant . . .

Little Rock has a nice biking path along the Arkansas River, but one look at the temperature on the dash of the Jeep in the photo below will explain why we decided not to explore it.

We did take a ride past the famous Little Rock Central High School.  The school was the focal point of the Little Rock Integration Crisis of 1957.   Nine African-American students, known as the Little Rock Nine, were denied entrance to the school in defiance of the 1954 Supreme Court ruling ordering integration of public schools.   This provoked a showdown between the Governor Orval Faubus and President Eisenhower that gained international attention.  Eisenhower ended up ordering army troops to insure the students were allowed into the school and troops patrolled inside and outside the school for the remainder of the school year.

Little Rock Central High School

The next day we continued east on I-40 to Tom Sawyer’s RV Park in West Memphis, AR.  This is a very nice park sitting between the Mississippi River and the flood controlling levee so it tends to flood quite frequently.

We were assigned an end site on a concrete pad with a great view of the river.  We placed our chairs in the shadow of the motorhome and enjoyed watching the barges go up and down the river.

The park is very prepared for the frequent floods.  The office is on wheels and the main electrical boxes are placed about 15 feet up telephone poles.  The photo below shows the laundry room located on the second floor above a concrete room.

Our only full day in Memphis was filled with sight-seeing.  We drove by Graceland and found Elvis had left the building, so we decided not to join the thousand visitors lining up in the hot sun for a visit.  Instead we drove downtown for a visit to Sun Studio, where an 18 year old singer named Elvis walked in one day in August of 1953 to record a song for his mother.

On December 4, 1956, Elvis stopped by the studio while Carl Perkins was there cutting new tracks, with Jerry Lee Lewis backing him on piano.  Johnny Cash was also in the studio and the four started an impromptu jam session. Sam Phillips left the tapes running and the recordings survived and have since been released under the title Million Dollar Quartet.

The Million Dollar Quartet: Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash

We continued into the downtown for a visit to the Peabody Hotel to check out the famous marching ducks.

The marching ducks are part of  a custom dating back to the 1930s.  The general manager of the time had just returned from a weekend hunting trip in Arkansas.  He and his friends, after enjoying an adult beverage or two, found it amusing to leave three of their live English Call Duck decoys in the hotel fountain. The guests loved the idea, and since then, five Mallard ducks (one drake and four hens) have played in the fountain every day.

In 1940, a Bellman by the name of Edward Pembroke volunteered to care for the ducks. Pembroke was given the position of “Duckmaster” and served in that position until 1991. As a former circus animal trainer, he taught the ducks to march into the hotel lobby, which started the famous Peabody Duck March.  Every day at 11:00 a.m., the Peabody Ducks are escorted from their penthouse home on the Plantation Roof to the lobby via elevator. The ducks, accompanied by the King Cotton March by John Phillip Sousa, then proceed across a red carpet to the hotel fountain, made of a solid block of Italian marble. The ducks are then ceremoniously led back to their penthouse at 5:00 p.m.

The Duckmaster

On the roof headed for the Duck Palace

The Duck Palace

Since it was early afternoon the duck march was too long a wait for us, so we headed to nearby Beale Street, famous as the birthplace of the blues.

The King! (that’s a statue of Elvis in the background)

The main section of Beale Streat

Beale Street is lined with bars and restaurants offering live music and a variety of menus.  We stopped in a small park to listen to a band play.  They were pretty average and only attracted a small group of listeners and earned just a few tips.

The sidewalks along Beale Street honor most of the great blues musicians with musical notes containing their names.  The most famous is the recently deceased B.B. King.

We couldn’t pass up lunch in B.B. King’s Blues Club.  After all, he was known as the “King of the Blues.”

The food was just average in B.B.’s club, but the band playing that afternoon was outstanding!

The next day was another travel day.  Atlanta is four hundred miles away, farther than we care to drive in a day, so we thought we would divide that in half and stop after about two hundred miles (our usual one day distance).  But we couldn’t find a good place to stay for a night near the highway and there was a threat of rain the following day, so we decided to just dig in and do the drive in one day.  If you’ve ever been through Atlanta, you know that the traffic is terrible, especially during rush hour.  So we decided to leave West Memphis at first light so we could arrive in Atlanta early in the afternoon.

Traffic in Mississippi

Our strategy paid off as we arrived in the Atlanta area in mid-afternoon (we lost an hour changing time zones) and, although traffic was heavy it kept moving.

Traffic in Atlanta

We arrived at Jones RV, just off of I-85 north of the city and quickly got set up.  The park is not the nicest we have stayed in but it is conveniently located to our son’s home.

Remember that beautiful view of the Mississippi River in front of us from the photo at the beginning of this blog?  Well, that is long gone.  The photo below shows our view here at Jones RV!

While here John completed a couple of minor repairs in the motorhome.  The most important one was to replace the pump in the Splendide washer/dryer.  The impeller (the blade that pushes the water) came off the shaft in the pump while we were in Denver and a call to the company tech line revealed that the only fix is a new pump.

The old pump and the replacement

Replacement of the pump is fairly simple, but getting to it is a bit difficult.  The tech said to just tip it over on its side and remove the thin metal panel on the bottom.  But that would require moving it out to the living area, not an easy task as the unit is quite heavy.  So John just moved the unit out of the cabinet and propped it up with a pile of wood.  He then just bent the metal panel down, giving him access to the pump.  The metal panel is now a bit out of wack but it is not visible so that doesn’t matter.  Oh boy, no more laundromats!

We’ll be in Atlanta until Saturday, then move to Gaffney, SC to get the motorhome serviced.  They don’t have any appointments available for a few weeks so we’ll be “walk-ins,” which means we hope for a cancellation or they are able to fit us in after those with appointments have all work completed.  So our stay there may be brief, or it may not!

More on that later . . .



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53 Responses to Oklahoma to Atlanta

  1. Deb says:

    A visit to the Wm. J. Clinton Library– that would definitely NOT be on my short list. You need to curb those history teacher urges. Was there a young guitar phenom fronting the BB King band?

    • placestheygo says:

      Deb, we may have skipped the Clinton Library if the weather had been better. But with 100 degree temps and extreme humidity, the air conditioning won us over:) No young guitar player with the band.

  2. Nancy says:

    Oh that view of the Mississippi River was beautiful… Have fun visiting your son!

  3. Sue says:

    Love your campground choices, COE parks are often our favorites. We really enjoyed our stays at Tom Sawyer, doing exactly what you did…sitting in the shade and enjoying the river traffic. It gives one comfort to realize that they understand the inevitability of flooding and are prepared for it! Jones RV, not so much, but we do what we must for our kids, right! I have to say it was very stand up of you, John, to step over the threshold of the Clinton Presidential Center….did they charge you for the privilege?

    Dave wants me to tell you he’s impressed with your washer fix – you’re a man of many talents!

  4. Dave Burdick says:

    I lived just 40 miles south of Little Rock for 23 years…wish you would have stopped at Petit Jean Mountain, I think you would have enjoyed it. Many of us “Arkansans” think the Library looks like a Mobile Home on Stilts. But the inside is fairly impressive…should have seen that entire area down and around the Library back in the early 90’s, it is so different now. We stay at Maumelle Park when we go through Little Rock…my doctor is there at UAMS, so we go through each year. –Dave

  5. Janna says:

    So glad we are now caught up with your travels–didn’t know you had a handy cowboy too! :))) Even though Little Rock is old stomping grounds for me I’ve never visited the Clinton library–next time I go home, I am going. And next time I go home I am going to dig for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park–somebody found an 8.5 carat diamond lately!! :))

    • placestheygo says:

      Janna, I can’t imagine living in an RV and not having a handy man since there is always something wrong:) John is very handy and repairs most of our problems. I did read about digging for diamonds, but with the heat we had it didn’t look very inviting:)

  6. Holly Ritger says:

    I can’t believe you guys are at Jones RV Park! We have just purchased a spot at their long term storage lot to keep our RV when we aren’t on the road. We bought a ranch house near by in Lilburn just this week and close on August 13th. We can no longer oark the RV in our own yard, due to neighborhood covenants. We live less than 10 minutes from there. We are picking up family at the airport for a visit this morning. There is a LOT more rain coming, and there is a good chance of rain all week. I definitely would not recommend this area in summer due to heat and very high humidity. I hope you guys don’t wilt. Most people stay inside with the AC on in the summer around here!!

    • placestheygo says:

      It certainly is a small world, Holly. We don’t usually visit Atanta at this time of year. Generally we are going through this area in September, which isn’t any better! After being out west for so long the traffic in the east is just too much. Atlanta gets a little worse with each visit. We are hoping for a break in the rain this afternoon so we can get out. We’ve had rain every day during our stay.

  7. Nice job fixing the washing machine yourself! It’s too bad you’re suffering through so much heat and humidity…next summer should be better out West!

  8. Too bad it was so hot and you didn’t get to ride your bikes in Little Rock. We stayed at Maumelle, too, and rode the loop along the river and downtown. We skipped the library!
    Hope you had a good visit with your son in Atlanta

    • placestheygo says:

      I went back and reread your post on Little Rock. I was sorry we didn’t get to ride bikes or hike Pinnacle Mountain. It was already 80 in the early morning and very humid. Too bad we were there during a heat wave. Thanks! We had a wonderful three day visit with Kevin.

  9. Gay says:

    That was quite the trek you made. Can you believe we have never been to Memphis? Even before RVing, it was a place I have wanted to go…
    Nice fix on the washer/dryer. It certainly is nice to have an on board handyman!
    And yes, Atlanta traffic is always the worst…the interstates go right thru the city making for lots of congestion.
    Hope your wait in Gaffney isn’t too long!

    • placestheygo says:

      This was our first visit to Memphis, Gay! The city was just never on the route. I must say, I wouldn’t go out of my way to come here. I was rather disappointed especially in Beale St. I am thrilled to have my washer/dryer back. And I love having my handy man around:) I do believe the Atlanta traffic gets worst with each visit.

  10. Jodee Gravel says:

    I promise to visit the Reagan or Bush library so there will be balance in the universe 🙂 If the dinos don’t work for the kids, maybe the cape and tights idea could be Plan B. Loved the information and photos on Sunset Studio – will have to make that stop for sure! Do the COE sites have 50 amp service? I can’t imagine that humidity without it 😦 Glad you’ve made it safely to your destination, hope the weather cooperates for enjoying family time.

    • placestheygo says:

      We’ve only visited the Eisenhower and Truman Libraries prior to this visit. John didn’t have any problems with those:) John did say it would be interesting to visit the Bush library as a comparison. I like the tights and cape idea!!! Yes, both parks had 50 amp and our air conditioners ran almost constantly. We had some rain every day during our visit with Kevin. We are now hoping for a let up this afternoon so we can move to Gaffney.

  11. LuAnn says:

    We have been wanting to explore that part of the country but not with those temps and humidity. Nice job fixing the washer John. Great to have a handy man around the house! Enjoy your visit with your son.

    • placestheygo says:

      I love having a Mr. Fix-it Man around:) Yes, this is definitely not the time to visit this part of the country if you want to do outside activities. But this trip works for visiting family especially in northern NY:) We had a very nice three days with Kevin and got all caught up.

  12. Laurel says:

    Ugh, heat and humidity, absolutely the worst combination. That’s why I left Florida oh so many years ago. But I know there are good reasons for going back East — family, for one! Looks like you had a great site at Tom Sawyer park, and your tour of Memphis looked like a lot of fun. We also always enjoy the COE parks. And yay, no more laundromats for you! Public laundromats are my least favorite part of full-time travel.

    • placestheygo says:

      Yes, Laurel, family is why we decided to make this journey during the summer. This is the nicest time of year along the St. Lawrence River to visit my mother. So while east why not add in the rest of the family and a maintance stop in Gaffney, SC! We could have done more outside had this whole area not been having record breaking heat and humidity. I am so excited to have my washer back thanks to my handy husband:) We had one of the nicest sites we’ve ever had with a water view and FHU’s at Tom Sawyer. And we had lower humidity and temps so we could enjoy the outside.

  13. allisonmohr says:

    Jones RV park was one of the first parks we stayed in back when we had the travel trailer. We got there in the dark and it was pouring down rain. It was one of those events that made us truly wonder, what have we done. Memphis was not that interesting for us, either. We saw Graceland and that was ok. We stayed in Olive Branch, Mississippi in a really nice new park, that was under the flight path for the airport. The Fed Ex planes kept us awake most of the night, flying in to Memphis. Good times!

  14. Lenore says:

    What the heck are you doing in the south in the summer??? Get back up here soon! : )

  15. Pam Leonard says:

    All the presidential libraries are like that, though. They’re not going to talk about their failings, just their successes. I can’t even imagine what the Nixon library is like! I really enjoyed Ford’s library and I’m a Democrat. Been watching Veep on HBO Go, nothing like poking fun at the political process, especially elections.

    • placestheygo says:

      We figured that this was how the other libraries would be, as well. We have only visited the Eisenhower and Truman Libraries prior and they were from a different era. Nixon’s would be interesting to see how things were handled.

  16. Denise Colby says:

    I love the places you stay and especially the way you present it. My daughter was on the same path on the same days only she continued on the 40 to NC. Happy trails

  17. We’ve stayed in two of these campgrounds on different trips. I’m glad to see Tom Sawyer still has free laundry! Nothing like sitting back and watching the barges go by. You are brave to travel from Memphis to Atlanta all in one day!

    • placestheygo says:

      This was our first stop at Tom Sawyer and we enjoyed it so much. We had such a wonderful site. We could have sat there for days watching the barges. We weren’t as brave as watching the weather. This was our one day window of opportunity to get to Atlanta with all the areas free of storms. A 400 mile drive is way over our limit. But it went smoothly, thank goodness:)

  18. We totally understand the heat and humidity! If you are not used to it it can be awful! We have lived in the south for the past 20 years and have finally sold the house and can’t wait to head west!! Enjoy your son while you are here!

    • placestheygo says:

      We do understand the heat and humidity living in PA for most of our lives. This is the reason we love the west. But this is also the best time of year to visit family in norhtern NY where we are headed. So we will just be reminded why we don’t live in the east anymore as we travel here:) We had a great visit with our son, thanks:)

  19. With a name like Orval Faubus you know he had to be a right wing bigot. I’m glad Eisenhower won the day.
    You certainly have packed a lot into a few days!

    • placestheygo says:

      It does sound like we have been busy but it hasn’t felt that way, Carol. We have just been moving 200 miles every other day or every two days and taken in a few sites. It’s been very laid back:)

  20. Sherry says:

    Congrats to John on his pump replacement. You two are real troopers to do the south in July. H-H-H we always say……hazy, HOT and HUMID. We did Graceland and it was a hoot. But next time we’ll add in Sun Records and Beale Street. So sorry you missed the ducks marching. Too funny, a “duck master”. Wonder who got promoted to that job in 1991?

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, Sherry! It’s nice living with a handy man, isn’t it! We knew it was going to be hot and humid as we crossed, but we weren’t expecting a record breaking heat wave! Oh, well, we survived but did miss some neat outdoor activities. We would have stayed around to see the ducks march if it had been a further distance. But it was just a matter of yards from the fountain to the elevator. So I passed. I really just wanted to see the ducks and the duck master.

  21. Marsha says:

    No dinosaurs when we were there, but glad you asked for an explanation. Now we know the rest of the story. We really enjoyed the Library.

    Aren’t the ducks a hoot! Such a silly thing attracts so many people.

    We aren’t too crazy about Memphis. Of course, we aren’t blues fans either. Been there twice. I don’t see us going back.

    Enjoy your visit with Kevin. I am sure y’all will have a terrific time.

    • placestheygo says:

      This was our first visit to Memphis and it will probably be our last. But I have wanted to visit the city so we did! Not too exciting. But I did enjoy seeing the ducks in the fountain and the duck master:) So cute! We had a great visit with Kevin but the weather wasn’t very nice. We did do a lot of eating out and catching up.

  22. PennSmiths says:

    I have always wanted to see the marching ducks!

    • placestheygo says:

      We were originally planning to see them in Little Rock, but Marriott bought the Peabody Hotel. I’m glad they had them in Memphis which turned out to be the original hotel. They also have the ducks in Orlando. I’ve wanted to see them ever since reading the book to my students.

  23. Sarah says:

    I have to give John credit for visiting the Clinton Center, even if air conditioning was the motivation. Of course, Tim and I loved our visit there last December. I have to admit, however, that we did not make time to see the Bush Libraries while we were in Texas, so you do make us look bad! One of our favorite campgrounds on our jaunt through Arkansas and Oklahoma was a COE park. They really are some of the nicest campgrounds. Thanks for the story about the Peabody ducks. I’ve always wanted to see them. Glad you survived Atlanta.

  24. rommel says:

    I have to say … I am actually enjoying your rants on your posts. Ahihih 🙂
    I’ve been to Memphis before. I think 2008. I unfortunately lost the pictures. I was surprised to see we got the same pictures. Elvis statue, B.B.’s, and I recall having a picture of a tent with music performers and also has red bricks in the background. 😀 I was there to watch a concert, and I had a great time exploring the city and enjoying the lively musical nightlife.

  25. I don’t think we will last long living in an RV and not having a handyman for a husband or a husband that is great handyman. Cheers to John!
    Never been to Memphis and I don’t think we will pass that way either so we are glad you showed us Beale Street. As for that library in Little Rock, Steve says its a good thing then that we did not make a detour there while we were in the area.
    I probably would wait for the duck to march in, that would be fascinating.
    Have you been to the Reagan’s Library in Simi Valley? If not, its worth a visit once you are back to the west.

    • placestheygo says:

      You didn’t miss much in Memphis or Little Rock! We were going right through so it only made sense to stop. We did love the Tom Sawyer RV Park right on the Mississippi though. That would worth the trip to the Memphis area. Now if it hadn’t been so hot and humid, we may have felt very different about both areas:) We have not been to the Reagan Library. I am sure we will visit if we ever get to that area.

  26. Sheila says:

    Kudos, from one Republican to another!!! Glad you are having safe travels!! Enjoy your time with family!

  27. So much to comment on in this post! We visited the Clinton Library too. We are a house/RV divided – I am Democrat and Deas is Republican – my family really got a laugh out of me dragging him there! He actually really liked it though. And I went to college in Memphis (Rhodes) – I really loved my time in college, but I left as soon as I graduated. One summer I worked as a tour guide at Graceland – that was a hoot. It’s actually a more interesting tour than you would think, but waiting outside in the heat makes it easy to skip. Also if you ever do find yourself on that route again, the National Civil Rights Museum is very powerful and worth a visit. And lastly – Atlanta traffic – ugh. The #1 thing I hated about living there!

    • placestheygo says:

      What a small world! We didn’t do Memphis justice since it was so hot. We knew it would be hot but, gee, did they have to have record breaking heat and humidity! There was no way we were doing the line thing at Graceland. Maybe another year:)

  28. Thanks for following our travels in Alaska, Canada and the USA. (yes I know Alaska is part of the USA but Alaskans think they are another nation altogether) I see you have been busy travelling as well.Now we are home again and preparing for another month away and a new set of adventures. Slowly we are catching up on a backlog of emails, bills, medical, dental and social engagements. Our time in the USA was restricted to one week in the suburbs of Seattle and we were at the mercy of family and their daily routine before we could sight see. Regardless it was fun and we got to see the Pikes Street Markets, the birthplace of Starbucks (we have never had a Starbucks coffee) and a trip on one of the many car ferries plying the wonderful harbour and coastal towns and islands, I enjoyed the many variations of Seafood Gumbo and Seafood Chowder. Yum. As usual we left without seeing everything we would have liked to see but allows us the chance to return..

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