2021, to me, has been maybe even stranger than 2020 for some reason. I think we are all still processing the pandemic while simultaneously still living through it. Certainly our lives are starting to get back to "normal" as vaccines have made it possible for numbers of Covid cases to go down and we are able to now start going places in larger groups even without masks. We are all so ready to get back to "normal" but I hope that we do take time to process and reassess what we have been through and what things we are going to do differently because of it.
In many ways, my summer of 2021 is going to look similar to my summer of 2020. It was still hard to plan things earlier this year, so while I usually do a big trip in the summer, my travel bestie and I decided to keep that South American adventure we had planned for 2020 postponed until 2022. While many countries are now starting to open up, things still seem somewhat shakey to me and I would rather just be safe and enjoy what I can safely for now.
For that reason, I planned another domestic road trip for this summer, which have become my thing when I am not planning an international getaway. Three summers ago, my friends and I did a Southwestern Road Trip through New Mexico, AZ, and Southern CA, and two years ago, I went to two cities I had been wanting to visit- Asheville, NC and Savannah, GA.
This year, I had watched A LOT of TV in quarantine, and had seen a couple of food and travel shows about the Mississippi Delta. My parents, who are big music people themselves, had taken a similar trip a couple of years prior. So I decided to start my research and put together yet another domestic road trip, this time, including a state I had not yet been to: Mississippi.
In addition to wanting to be on every continent (I'm getting close to achieving this! I've been to Europe a bunch, Central America, Asia Minor, Australia, and Africa! Antarctica isn't really on my agenda. If I get there, great, if not, I won't be disappointed to not have been cold for a week or more) I've also made it a goal to visit all 50 states. I'm also getting close to achieving this goal. After this past week, the states I still need to visit are:
- Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Vermont and Maine. If anyone wants to do these with me in the future, let me know!
People always want to know how I plan these road trips and it's a combination of a couple of things:
1.) I usually go to Pinterest and search for blogs and pins about the places I want to visit.
2.) I go to Trip Advisor and Atlas Obscura and search for things to do in the cities I want to visit.
3.) I look at Google Maps and see if there are any other cities nearby or things to do that I am going to be passing through.
4.) Lastly, I go to Air B n B and see if there are any fun stays around the places I want to visit.
Pretty easy! But does require some time to research.
Below is a brief outline/timeline of my latest summer road trip to the Mississippi Delta. Usually, I am somewhere exoctic on this feast day like Prague or Portugal like I've been in the past. But today, I am back in Richmond, praying and processing what I saw last week.
I decided to drive to make it a true road trip and to stop and see some friends that live in Huntsville, AL on my way down from Richmond. But you could very easily drive or fly to Memphis and start there, though I will say, I saw some pretty cool things on my way to Memphis from Alabama.
Day 1: Huntsville, AL - Muscle Shoals, AL - Tupelo, MS, - Oxford, MS - Memphis, TN
Muscle Shoals is the home of the FAME Music Studio which records famous artists even today. It was a good first stop to get me in the mood for a road trip about American Music. I didn't take the tour of the studio, but they give tours and I wish I would've had time to take one!
Helen Keller is from a small town very near Muscle Shoals and you can also tour the grounds with a guided tour, which I didn't do, but snagged some pictures of the home from the outside.
From Muscle Shoals I drove to Tupelo, MS which is the birthplace of Elvis. It also has a very cute downtown where I had lunch. I definitely could've stayed longer in Tupelo, but again, I was on a mission that day!
My last stop on my way to Memphis was in Oxford, MS, which was a little out of the way, but I wanted to pay tribute to William Faulkner. I didn't take a tour at his house, either, as it was closed (many museums are closed on certain days which I found out the hard way in some cases, so definitely check websites for the museums you want to visit when planning!)
After all of my early AM and afternoon stops, I made it to Memphis, TN. I had a 3pm ticket to visit the National Civil Rights Museum which is connected to the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. It was a heavy start to my trip, but also set the tone for some of what I would encounter on the trip. I also checked out the Peabody Hotel for a drink afterwards as well as Sun Studios before it closed. It was a very full first day!
Of all the studios I could've toured on this trip, I chose to tour Stax Studio in Memphis and I'm so glad I did! So many amazing black artists recorded here. Definitely recommend checking it out if you go to Memphis!
Day 2: Memphis, TN - Tunica, MS - Clarksdale, MS
I started my day in Memphis with a tour of Stax Recording Studio and Museum. It was the perfect way to start my musical journey into the Delta Blues. Soul music is so connected to Blues music so it gave me great inspiration to start the rest of my journey.
After leaving Memphis, my next stop was Tunica, MS. This is kind of a weird place and reminded me a little of driving through the deserts of AZ and CA. Not so much for the landscape, but how deserted it kind of is. There are lots of casinos which I did not decide to stop at, but I did make the following stops:
Brent's Diner is in fact a diner, but if you go to the back by the restrooms, you find this door. Go through and find a "speakeasy" bar- The Apothecary.