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Mud Island, Memphis

Written on: Sunday June 29th, 2008

A journal entry from: Ben & Kat's "Road Home" Road Trip

Determined to have at least one last adventure before returning home for work on monday, we decide to stop in Memphis, TN to see some sights. Neither of us were particularly interested, nor did we have time to properly appreciate, Elvis' home at Graceland. I recalled a visit to Memphis years back and suggested we go to Mud Island instead. It turned out to be exactly what we were looking for.

The first choice was whether to take the monorail over to the island or to walk. Given the surprisingly beautiful and temperate weather we chose to walk. The breeze coming off the river was very strong and it flirted with my hat. In the end my hat chose to stay with me, but it was touch-and-go for a while. Reaching the end of the walkway we were greeted with a vista of the Mighty Mississippi River. Tugboats hauled massive and seemingly unmanageable barges as deftly as you might move a wheelbarrow. It can be a bit shocking at first seeing that much mass moving that quickly down river but they seem to know what they're doing. I can only imagine the amount of engine power it takes to move those mountains of goods and ore back upstream.

Looking down from this grand ballet we noticed a much smaller stream of water with people playing and splashing in it. Closer inspection revealed that this water was in the form of the Mississippi itself. At a scale of 30" to 1 mile the Father of Waters was recreated in topographical detail from approximately Cairo, MO all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. At the appropriate points cities were also represented, including the major bridges crossing the river. Tying it all together were markers and signs to go with them, each telling a story about that particular part of the river and its history. Naturally the riverboat era was well represented, as was the American Civil War. It's hard to explain the scale of this monument to the river. Were you to take the time to read each sign it could easily take 3 to 4 hours to fully experience this creation. The level of detail in the cities gave a unique perspective and the stories along the river told tales of floods, fires, earthquakes, presidential hijinks, ghost ships and ghost towns, more floods, pirates, commercial successes and failures and tales of living at the mercy of the unstoppable water. So many of the stories went something like this: A town was founded by a trader. Due to its favorable location on the river the town grew into a bustling center of trade. Then the unthinkable happened, at least somehow unthinkable to those living there at the time: the river rose up and flooded the town out of existence. Those who were not swept away never to be heard from again moved up or down river to forget the lesson and repeat this story all over. If the town wasn't buried under the water and silt then the river would simply moved away. Dozens of towns you've never heard of no longer exist because suddenly there wasn't water for the boats to dock. And where the river went, so went the commerce. It's hard to overstate the level to which this part of our country lived and died by the river.

I could go on and on about this because the history buff in me was definitely piqued. While I enjoyed the stories and the historical geography Katharine wandered through the meandering mini-Mississipp and its many tributaries. We both enjoyed the heat of the sun and the counterpoint of the cool water. Finally reaching the "Gulf" we enjoyed the cooling spray from tall jets of water. Before leaving for the day Katharine and I just sat in the shade of a cypress tree and watched the boats float by on the river. Without even realizing it over three hours had passed since we parked the car. The mellow afternoon was exactly what we needed after nearly 15 hours of hard driving to stay on schedule. The day was as close to perfect as I can remember.

Finally, it's time to head home. No more stops for us, except for gas and food. Oh, and Starbucks. Katharine requires the high-octane stuff, and regularly. Atlanta, here we come!


From Ahmet on Jun 29th, 2012

Well argued, It has awlyas been an obvious argument you put on weight when you eat more than you need excercising will never reduce weight on a body badly nourished.Eating the right food is more difficult nowadays with modern habits as against old -time habits when food was made from fresh ingredients and you knew what was going in the pan and then in your stomach, not so nowadays. Keep up the campaign it is much easier to eat healthier with all that is available but knowing what is best needs to be learnt and all processed food should be put to the sword, apart from corned-beef and baked beans !!!!