As this was going to be a rather long trip, we rented a car from AVIS and left Orlando around 9 in the morning, intending to pass through Georgia on our way to Alabama where we planned to spend the night.

After crossing the state line into Georgia, we stopped for a while at a Visitors Welcome Center to pick up some maps and brochures. I would like to mention here that I like this about the USA, where there is always an Information office for visitors when you travel from state to state. Free coffee is usually available at these places, sometimes even fruit juices, like in Florida. We passed through small towns some of which were quite interesting. One of them was Dawson. I don't think they were used to seeing outsiders as we got stares from the townspeople when we parked our car in downtown Dawson. Another interesting town where we stopped was called Weston. It wasn't really a town of any sizable nature (population; 75), more like a small village. But they did have a huge general store called Merritt where we bought delicious pecan pies encrusted with really big pecans. And much to my surprise, I also found that tiny Weston also has its own post office!

We reached Alabama in the late afternoon and saw some beautiful scenery in that state. The town of Opelika looked promising, at least on the map, so we stopped there for the night at a Super 8 hotel. There was a Captain D's restaurant near the hotel, so we went over there to have a good seafood dinner. The next morning after breakfast (included in the hotel rate) we headed towards the state of Mississippi, our destination - Tupelo, the birthplace of the King of Rock n' Roll. (A separate journal enty on Misssissippi has already been posted here on IPERNITY). On the way we had intended to stopover in Birmingham to see the Vulcan statue, the Greek/Roman God, which is said to be the symbol of the city. However, it rained cats and dogs as we entered downtown Birmingham. I was driving at that time, and could hardly see the road and cars ahead. Luckily, we didn't have any accidents.

It was early evening when we arrived at the outskirst of Memphis in Tennessee state. We got lost there trying to find a hotel, and finally ended up staying at another Super 8 Hotel in West Memphis in the neighboring state of Arkansas. Fortunately, although the hotel is in another state it was not far from Memphis itself. We just had to cross a bridge on the Mississippi River to get to downtown Memphis. It was so convenient that we stayed there for two nights.

The next day was a very busy one for us. First we went to the Welcome center located on the shores of the Mississippi River. It was appropriately named the BB King/Elvis Presley Welcome Center. After getting directions we went to the AVIS office in town to change our rental car, but was informed that we had to go to their Service center near the airport where we got a bigger and better car. Being in Memphis we had to go see Graceland of course, the mansion of Elvis where he lived and died. We were expecting to encounter huge crowds there, but surprisingly, there weren't that many people around, so we took the opportunity to walk along Elvis Presley Boulevard with its many souvenir stores. We also went to have a look inside Heartbreak Hotel.

We couldn't leave Memphis without seeing Beale Street, the other major tourist attraction of the city. For all blues music lovers, this is the place to go. This famous Memphis street is lined with blues bars and restaurants. It was crowded when we went there, but we had a good time 'Walking in Memphis' so to speak. Had dinner at one of the restaurants called Silky O'Sullivan's where they had a live band playing popular hits of the past, as well as songs requested by the diners.

The next morning we took a side trip to Forest City in Arkansas. But first, the usual stop at the Welcome Center. The lady there was quite helpful in giving information about that part of the state. When she mentioned that the area grows a lot of rice I was naturally a bit surprised, so when I asked her whether the rice was for domestic use, she replied that it was exported to China. I casually said, "I thought it was the other way round." To this day, I'm not sure whether she appreciated my remark, as I noticed her demeanor suddenly changed. Anyway, back to Forest City. It is a typical Southern town with a typical Southern flavor. Not exactly a place where tourists visit. I remember one instance somewhere in that town where we stopped at a red light. Another car pulled up next to me, and when I rolled down the window to ask for directions, the look of astonishment on his face was priceless. I suppose he wasn't expecting to see an Asian face suddenly pop out from a car window in the middle of his unknown city!

The next day we departed for the well known city of New Orleans via Mississippi (see my Miss. travel blog). When we arrived in New Orleans we headed straight for the famous French Quarter, and toured that district on foot. We walked around a lot mingling with the vast crowds, pausing here and there to take photos, and enjoy the view along the banks of the Mississippi River. There is so much to see in this great city, and we tried to take in the sights as much as we could. We finally left New Orleans in the early evening, and went all the way to a small town in Mississippi called Moss Point where we checked in late at yet another Super 8 Hotel.

The following morning, July 22nd. we were on our way again, but this time homeward bound. I wanted to see the Battleship Memorial Park just outside the city of Mobile in Alabama state, so we re-entered Alabama with the customary brief stop at the Visitors Information Office. For World War ll historians and researchers this is a very interesting place. The WW2 battleship USS Alabama is berthed there, also the submarine USS Drum. Besides these two warships, there are also various military equipment on display, and two memorials honoring the soldiers who fought in the Korean and Vietnam War. Inside the gift shop I met an elderly veteran by the name of Colonel Glenn Frazier who survived the Bataan Death March in the Philippines during the Second World War. He later wrote a book, "Hell's Guest" in which he described the horrors of life in a Japanese prison camp. I have a copy of this book signed by Glenn Frazier himself. Our last stop in Alabama was the town of Daphne. Incidentally, this is the town where Mr. Frazier resides at present.

We arrived back in our home state of Florida sometime in the late afternoon and dropped in at the Visitors Center for some refreshing drinks. For your information, both fresh Florida orange juice, and citrus fruit juice are available for free at the Florida Welcome Centers!