From Hope to Graceland

Last night I tried to convey how hard it was to get into the Motel 6 in Texarkana. You’re traveling down a two lane, one way frontage road and at 3pm it is filled with traffic (I took the photos this morning). Look quick! Where do you enter?

No visible sign saying Enter, and besides there’s someone on your tail. If you miss the entry there’s a 1 mile loop you have to do before chance #2. I think I remember shouting “#2 #2 #2!”

A few miles into Arkansas is a beautiful Visitor’s Center. A friendly old Guy suggested, I stop at Washington State Park.

I already knew I needed to stop at a town called Hope. Hope is where Bill Clinton was born and raised. Bill grew up in his maternal grandparent’s house. It was on a dirt road that is now a paved 4 lane poor quality highway. Things have gone downhill in the local area. The house next to the Visitor’s Center can be bought for $125,000.

Inside the Center.

Across the street from the Center are RR tracks.

Bill.s home is around the corner.

According to Bill, the house looks a lot better now than it did when he was a boy. The Visitor Center is to your left of the house. See the nice highway?

A look inside the house. Here’s the living room. The Ranger Guide took two of us on the tour. You can see the woman in the mirror. She is from Seattle, but is headed home now.

A Kindergarten picture which includes Bill and 3 other high ranking officials in his government. One of them is Vince Foster, who you will remember committed suicide, while in office.

The Grandparents gave the Master bedroom to their daughter.

Here’s Bill’s bedroom. As a kid he loved the windows in his room.

Here’s a letter he wrote his Grandma,when he went to college. He reports a trip to New York City, and says he’s not sure he could get used to living in a place like that.

Just around the corner is Vince Foster’s house. Money has been raised to fix it up too. The Clintons were very upset by those who suggested they had Vince killed. He was a very close friend with both of them.

From Hope I went to Washington State Park, about 10 miles north. There is a tavern/ restaurant that has been In continuous service since the days when Sam Houston, Daley Crockett ands Sam Bowie came through. There were a bunch of cars in the parking lot.

During the Civil War this town was the state capital. Here’s the courthouse.

Two old churches in town. I asked the guy working on the Methodist who is paying for the restoration. He said “The congregation. They are still an active group.”

Tofu and I walked all over this town. I’ll just give you a few more samples.

I realized we had to get on the move, or we would be getting to Memphis at rush hour. As we screamed down the road, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the scenery. It was flat with some rolling hills, grass and trees, much more pleasant than Nevada, but lacking the dramatic moments of Arizona. I was listening to the next “Slow Burn” podcast series. This one is about the Clinton impeachment. I got so mad I decided I wasn’t going to the Clinton Library in Little Rock. Well, we really were too late for me to sink into that whole scene. I didn’t see any signs pointing the way, so I didn’t have to work to hard to blow through that city.

I really wanted to get to Graceland. We did end up going through Memphis in the middle of heavy traffic. After getting us tangled around, we finally came upon Elvis Presley Boulevard. If I were Elvis I would be rolling in my grave. I wouldn’t want a street named after me that looked as bad as that. I had envisioned Graceland out in beautiful horse country. I remember pictures of the entrance. I wanted a picture of that. So let me set this up by saying that Graceland is set amid the squalor and poverty of Elvis Presley Boulevard. I pulled up to the entry and (just like Wally World), the entry booth said it was closed. But I could see lots of cars parked inside, so I just drove through the closed ticket booth. In the parking lot I couldn’t believe that THIS IS GRACELAND!

It looks like a shabby, broken down Amusement Park. I wonder how Paul Simon felt after he took his 9 year, the child of his first marriage to Graceland? I am disappointed. Graceland should be better than this.

Memphis should be better than this. I wandered all over that place, winding my way to our Motel 6. Drove right by Sun records, but didn’t really get a look. Poverty, manic mania driving. Getting into the motel was a white knuckle experience. In the lobby was a man screaming at the staff. He wanted his money back. He had paid in cash. There were bed bugs in the room. The man had two friends with him who hung back and said nothing. This is one of those situations when I’m the only white person in a room with a bunch of angry people of color. The cashier called the manager on the phone for back-up. Anyway I was just standing there as sweet as can be, when the angry man turned and stomped out, talking on his phone. So after securing our very fine with no bugs I could find, I encountered the Manager. She said the man and his friends had been in the room a couple days, doing drugs and trashing it. She said, they were trying to run a scam, but they didn’t succeed. So… that was an exciting end to the day.

In closing I will report that Tofu got sick last night. I had to get up 6 times, yes 6 times in the night to walk her. At least she let me know she had to go before she went. Also, it was by far the most pleasant evening outside for a walk. Stars were shining and a soft wind blowing. That was closer to Graceland than Graceland. Tofu has been in recovery today. I don’t know what got into her but I assure you it has mostly come out. We’ll be driving into the heart of the Civil War tomorrow.

Sweet dreams Everyone. Love

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