This weekend was our annual roadtrip to Memphis. When I picked Lucy up from school on Friday afternoon, she was clutching Martin the Moose--the second grade class mascot. Each kid gets Martin for a weekend, and they have to journal about what they did with him and then read it to the class. Lucy's teacher leaned in the window, "Is this OK with you--bringing Martin on vacation? I didn't think you'd want to, but Lucy insisted that her mom said it was fine." I said, "Oh yeah, sure, no problem, though could you let me know where you bought him, in case I have to buy a replacement?"
So on Saturday morning, Martin set off with us to Memphis. About an hour down the road, the girls started bickering about which DVD they were going to watch until finally Darren reached up, snapped the player closed, and said, "This is family time. You two are getting way too spoiled. Mom and I never had movies to watch on vacation. Now everybody look out the window and see how many hawks you can count."
That was met with a little protest, but then, after not seeing any hawks, they decided to play I Spy and that went well. My contribution to this vintage portion of the roadtrip was to look out the window and listen to Don Henley sing "Dirty Laundry."
Ten hours or so later, we hit Memphis, and within 15 minutes, the girls were in the pool. The next day we took Martin to his first landmark, of course, Graceland.
Then we spent time scanning the wall and finding all of our names on it so we could pose next to them. Here's Lucy:
"I miss you, Elvis--Elaine":
My personal favorite:
If you couldn't read what that said close up, it is: "Thank you Elvis for the music and helping me become the man I am today--Darren." Actually, "Darren H. Presley." Was his actual last name Presley or did he change it when Elvis helped him become the man he is today?
"Alice" was much harder to find. I guess people with that name don't scrawl it on the wall outside Graceland, so I had to settle for simply "I heart Elvis." Also, while I'd love you to believe that I'm dressed up to visit the King's house, it's really because we just came from church.
On Sunday we had the big family reunion/fish fry. We had at least 70 people there, with all sorts of kids jumping in and out of the pool non-stop, including my two. I didn't take pictures of the spread this year, and there's no way I can recreate everything that was on offer, but I'll just start with fried fish, french fries, hush puppies, coleslaw, and homemade red velvet cupcakes. Oh yeah, we were Down South.
Sunday afternoon we headed to Chattanooga to see my Aunt Sandy and Uncle Joe, my cousin-who-is-my-extra-brother, Joseph, and my cousins Dawn and Paul who came up from Atlanta. I thought it took four hours to get from Memphis to Chattanooga, but it actually takes at least 5 1/2, plus longer if you stop 3 or 4 times with your kids and there's a time zone change to EST, and you get lost up on Lookout Mountain. We told them we'd be there at 8 but actually got there at 11.
The next day we took in downtown Chattanooga. I haven't been there since I was in high school, and it's completely different. There's a beautiful riverfront park that includes a fountain area for kids to play in and a restored carousel.
Lucy on her choice...
Elaine on hers...
Playing in the fountain--Elaine got up in the morning and put her suit on underneath her clothes. She figures you never know when you might get some water to play in so you better be prepared. I brought a coverup and dry clothes for Lucy.
Perched on a stone turtle...
Next we visited the famous Chattanooga Choo-Choo, where Martin the Moose had another photo op.
At night we had a fantastic cook-out on the patio and surprise, the girls swam in the pool until it was almost dark.
In the morning, we headed for a brief stop in Nashville to have lunch with Darren's brother Scott and his wife Denise and our nephew Joseph. Our other nephews were at school. They all just moved to the Nashville area, actually Brentwood, a suburb. Unfortunately, Martin did not get a photo taken in Nashville. I offered to jump out at a road sign by a gas station and hold him up, but on closer examination, the sign posts went down into a ditch and I would have to be about 11 feet tall for that to work. We did eat at MacAlister's Deli where Darren saw some NASCAR person, so he was moderately pleased.
And that was basically our road trip. We headed back through Jackson, Missouri, and got home yesterday around 4 in the afternoon. Darren printed the Martin pictures, and we pasted them in the class journal while Lucy wrote about his and her adventures. At the end she wrote, "I love Tennessee!"
Yup--we all do, including, I'd like to believe, Martin. And I didn't even have to buy his replacement.