Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Graceland Tour of the South: Day 2, 3, & 4: Out on Highway 61

On Tuesday, July 23rd, Denice and I actually started our travels.  We left my Mommy's house in Crivitz, WI, with the intent to get as far as we could considering we have ADD when we are traveling by van.  Everything seems larger than life when we are on vacation.

Our first task today was to drive straight west across the state of Wisconsin to get to the Mississippi River.  Remarkably, we only had one distraction:  the St. Vincent de Paul store in Merrill.  I scored some ceramic doll heads, a plastic mannequin head, some jewelry and a bunch of odds and ends.  Total cha ching:  $25 American.

This old car was parked behind the thrift shop. 

Guard Rail of Lost Soles

We were so excited to arrive in Hudson, WI, because we knew that we should see the Mississippi now.  By driving through downtown, we discovered a pedestrian walkway that looked like it would take us to Minnesota so off we went. 

When we got to the end of the walkway, we realized that we were not going to be able to walk into Minnesota because the walkway ends short of the western shore.  We also discovered that we were on a walkway over the St. Croix River.  Hmmm, one wonders how the original white explorers found anything because we could not find the Mississippi and we had maps!

We did see this cool assemblage made from crap found in the river.  Sad, but still art.

Now it was time to turn south on Hwy. 35 to parallell the Mississippi River.  Both of our meals today were out of a bag in dedication to the goal of adding miles to the odometer.  At the end of the day and our patience, we decided to bed down in Prairie de Chien, WI.  Our total mileage for the day is 500 miles.

On Wednesday, July 24th, we were off to parts south, always paralleling the Mississippi.  It was a foggy morning.

Most of the time we were following Hwy. 61, or what is known as The Great River Road.  One of our other goals was to stay off the federal highways and stay on the smaller blue highways.  The odd thing about this entire trip once we left Wisconsin, we rarely saw the River.  Honestly, we expected more but still had some fun on the road. 

Our first stop this day is the Gockel Cemetery outside of Glen Haven in Grant County (WI).

Next up was the famed Dickeyville (WI) Grotto.  This unique religious site is both moving and weird at the same time.  The Holy Ghost Parish hosts the work of Father Matthias Wernerus completed from 1925 to 1930.  With mortar, the priest created huge shrines made out of color stones, coral, and found objects like plates, fossils and wood.

To an assemblage artist like myself, it is inspiring.  I am not sure what effect this place has on true believers but there is a steady stream of visitors every time I go there.

We cross into Iowa and shift to that side of the Mississippi and onto Hwy. 61.  On and off for most of the trip, Hwy 61 will be our route as it is The Great River Road.

One of my real targets is now in our sites:  Le Claire, Iowa, the home of Antiques Archaeology from the History Channel.

I am not sure what I expected but we followed our GPS right to the street where we found some construction going on and a big semi truck blocking the street.  It was only on our second time around the block that I saw the famed old fab shop and rusty car in the drive that identify home base for Mike, Frank and Danielle.  Once we parked and walked around the construction (one can only assume they are building a bigger, better and newer tourist trap) we were on the site.

 We walked around, I took a few pictures and then I realized something:  being there pretty much meant little considering how excited I was to get there.  Hmmmm.......

As we drove down Hwy. 61, we made a decision to put a lot of miles on the van today and get passed St. Louis.  Eventually, we chose Arnold, Missouri as our resting spot and we decided to eat at a rather unique restaurant there:  the Cracker Barrel.  Total mileage for the day:  500 again.

Thursday the 25th we were up early and eating breakfast at a Waffle House.  It was here we met our first "Southern" character.  He was the only customer in the place.  An ex-Marine and a cement plant worker, he had no problem yackin' at us throughout our breakfast.  This was one of those conversations where it is just best to keep saying "yes," nodding your head and smiling a lot.  Actually, he was entertaining and harmless but it is amazing how open Southerners are in the area of sharing. 

St. Mary's Church in Arnold, MO

In Perryville, MO, we came across the Belgique Cemetery.  This is an eerie cemetery to visit as most of the graves appear to be those of small children.  Framed by a remote cornfield, it is both pastoral and creepy at the same time.  According to a website I found, "this was the cemetery for the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Beligique from 1885 to 1992. Since the flood of 1993 there is no longer a town, but the cemetery remains."

We stopped for pizza in East Prairie, MO, and then found ourselves in the movie North by Northwest as we headed down Highway 61 outside of Osceola, MO.

We arrived in Memphis with no plans for housing.  I am not sure why we did not think of this for the trip but we made a spontaneous decision to stay at the Heartbreak Hotel.  Lucky for us, they had a room.  The hotel is directly across the street from Graceland so we can park the van for the night.

We decided to ride the pink taxi over to Marlowe's for ribs.  Evidently, it was know to The King because...

Total mileage for the day:  370.

To view all the photos from this trip visit:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/gniebuhr/sets/72157649764414692

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