Saturday, July 5, 2014

Road Trip Day 4: Fourth of July in Memphis

Yesterday we drove from Fort Smith, Arkansas, to Memphis, Tennessee. Well, technically our first hotel was like two miles out of Fort Smith in Roland, Oklahoma, so really we drove from Roland to Memphis,  a distance of 293 miles. This was one of our "short" driving days, and it was great!

(Oh yeah, I also want to put this in here because I forgot in in our Day 3 post - our hotel in Amarillo had waffle makers that made Texas shaped waffles. Which is awesome.)
We drove across the entirety of Arkansas yesterday, and stopped at Little Rock in the middle. We passed places named "England," "London," and "Palestine." Also, Arkansas has a lot of trees. Like, the whole state is covered in trees. Walls and walls of trees. We drove through part of the Ozarks, and it was really just a wall of trees. I was relieved when we got to "Prairie County" and it opened up a little bit to some farms for a while.

When we got to Little Rock, we got off in downtown, and…there was no one there. Like, no one. Okay, I take that back. There was one homeless guy and one other car. In the whole downtown. It was bizarre! I know it was a holiday, but was there seriously not a single person in the state's capital. We kept driving and driving around, and we couldn't find anyone! It was bizarre. 

After we took a little break and then got back on the road, we reached Memphis in a couple hours. The view of downtown across the Mississippi was really cool. And the Mississippi was awesome! It's huge

And here we had a learning moment of the trip - we hadn't talked about what we were doing to do once we got to Memphis other than in generalities, so we had different ideas of what our plans were for the day. Which led to some confusion//frustration when we got there. So - lesson learned - talk about expectations for the day beforehand. We had the first three days of this trip planned out, which is why they went smoothly, and then Memphis we didn't plan out, and we ran into problems when we got there. So last night we planned out today, haha. We've learned our lesson.

What we ended up doing when we got to the city was drive around downtown for a couple minutes, then have lunch at McDonalds, then drive to our hotel and check in. (The lady who checked us in mentioned that we got a great rate - probably because we booked so far in advance. Score!) We took a little break and changed and fed the girls and planned out the rest of our day. Once we knew what we were doing, we headed back out.

The girls being silly in the hotel room. :)

First we went to Shelby Farms, which is this HUGE urban park in Memphis. It's bigger than Central Park, and it is so pretty! We went to the "Woodland Discovery Playground" that they have and played there for probably an hour and a half. The part with the slides was closed down (which was okay - they were made of metal, so they probably would have burned Ellie's legs), but they had a whole playground of swings and another one with this big rope monkey bar web.

After playing on the playground, we walked around under the arbors and then sat on  bench for a while. Ellie was totally happy just playing with the gravel around the bench, so we saw no reason to go anywhere else. 

She told me this was a "candle cake."

Oh yeah - when we were walking under the arbors, Ellie had a handful of gravel she had picked up the ground. She said to me, "Mom, I found a lot of rocks!" and I said,"Wow, that is a lot of rocks. Would you like me to hold some?" And she said "Yeah!" and put all the gravel into one of my hands. Then she picked up another handful of gravel as we were walking and said, "One for you, one for me. I'll put it in my shirt pocket!" She pulled the collar of her shirt out with her free hand, and then put all the gravel into her shirt with her other hand. A little shower of gravel started coming out the bottom of her shirt, and she froze so that some would stay in there. It was really funny. She played with gravel for at least another half hour, and she kept putting more in her shirt. Then she'd grab the bottom of her shirt and walk around all hunched over so that it wouldn't fall out.

After we were finally done playing with gravel, we got back in the car and drove towards Germantown (a suburb of Memphis that was going to have a cool Fourth of July party). We stopped by Target (which was in the same shopping center as Walmart - strange at first, but actually genius if you think about it) because I wanted a slurpee and Jason wanted popsicles. We ended up getting an icee, little frozen lemonade cups, and some Blue Bell ice cream to try. We ate it all on a bench outside Target.

Okay, so at the risk of getting all the Texas people up in arms, we tried Blue Bell ice cream, and it was…okay. I mean, we both thought it was good, but it wasn't the best ice cream we've ever had. There are store brands (good store brands, we like them better than the brand names, that isn't meant to be an insult) in California that we've had that taste as good. So, sorry Texas friends!

After eating our ice cream and popsicles, we drove to a park in Germantown for the city Fourth of July party. And it was sooo fun!  They had five big, free bouncy houses, and Ellie loved them. She spent a lot of time in the traditional bounce houses, but her favorite was this obstacle course bounce house that ended in a big slide. She went on that one over and over. And it was good, too, because we got to the park just as the party was starting, so she was able to go on that one a lot of times before any kind of line started to form. 

The street all the bounces houses were lined up on
This is the obstacle course one

They also had a little train that took kids up and around the street. It was just kids, though - no parents. And I was so nervous when we put her on there and sent her off! I told Jason that I felt like Marlin sending Nemo off to school in Finding Nemo. But Ellie did great! She came back with a big smile on her face.

They also had some arts and crafts at the park (painting and coloring) and a regular playground that Ellie and Zelda played on. The playground had those spinny things that usually have tic-tac-toe on them, but these ones had all the states around Tennessee! It was cool.

We spent the next couple hours playing on the playground, bounce houses, and mister fans. We also stood in a suuuuper long line to get some corn dogs. Once we got our corn dogs, we went and found a spot on the field to watch fireworks. We ate our food and listened to the old person band, which was playing all sorts of patriotic songs. They also played one (and a guy sang) called "Old Man River," which is a apparently a classic in the Mid-South. Also, apparently the "Mid-South" is a thing. We heard that term multiple times yesterday. Who knew?

At about 9:15, the sun had set and it was dark enough for fireworks. And so they had the firework show, and it was great! It was seriously so good. And Ellie LOVED it. Her face when they started was just awe, and happiness. You should have seen her face. Zelda was a lot more nervous. She needed a lot of cuddling to feel okay, but she did calm down and watch them okay. She just needed to cling to Daddy or Mommy while watching them. Meanwhile Ellie was getting up and dancing at some parts with excitement. :)

It took forever to get out of the parking lot and back to our hotel, but it was worth it. It was such a good Fourth of July and it was so good for the girls to be able to spend the majority of the day OUT of the car and getting some physical activity in. 

So that was Day Four of our trip! We're getting close to the end!

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