Some of our goals with this project are to go places we’ve never been, meet people we wouldn’t otherwise meet, and learn more about our vast and varied country.  These last few days in Mississippi have offered opportunities to do all that.  We’ve learned many valuable lessons and realized some assumptions we had were completely incorrect.

Memphis BBQ is Terrific

Upon learning that Memphis was the closest airport to our RV dealership, and knowing we had a couple hours to kill, several options for what to do immediately came to mind. Exploring what makes Memphis “The Birthplace of Rock and Roll,” visiting the highly regarded National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, and stuffing our faces with Memphis BBQ were all high on the list.  However, our flight landed at 10:30 on a Sunday morning causing us to quickly rule out the first two options. We will explore them on our next trip, when we have more time.

Some quick research revealed several well known, historic, BBQ restaurants in Memphis. After reading numerous reviews, we settled on Corky’s, a Memphis favorite, first opened over thirty years ago.

To put it simply, the ribs were the stuff that BBQ dreams are made of…. fall off the bone tender, smoky/sweet sauce on half, dry spices on the other….Deeeeeeelish!  (and yes, I realize that this subheading doesn’t actually fit under the title of this post, but it’s my blog, so whatever.)

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It’s like a ladder of happiness

You Can Find Good Sushi in Tupelo

When we imagined visiting Tupelo, we assumed we’d be faced with a pretty limited list of restaurant options; a couple BBQ places, some chain restaurants, and the usual fast food joints.  And while there’s certainly plenty of those around here, we’ve found a surprising range of other options, including an Asian Fusion restaurant that received pretty high marks on Yelp. Given how much BBQ we’d already eaten, we decided to check it out and were duly impressed.

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One more reason to not assume anything about anything…

You Can Miss Out on Good Tupelo Sushi Because You Spend Too Much Time Hanging Out at Walmart

Walmart

We have avoided Walmart for years because of their reputation for treating their employees like crap and leaving economic carnage in their wake.  But, given our current situation, we don’t necessarily have the option to take our money elsewhere (thanks to Walmart putting everyone else out of business.)  The reality is we need food and supplies to get us through the next several days as we make our way home, and we won’t have a rental car anymore, so we need to stock up before we hit the road. Plus, where else are we gonna get an 88 cent “chef’s knife”? (Note: Buying an 88 cent “chef’s knife” from Walmart is a spectacularly bad idea, but that’s a topic for another day).

In any case, we hadn’t set foot in a Walmart in years, so we stopped by Sunday evening intending to do some quick recon work. We then promptly fell down the rabbit hole.  By the time we left, it was almost 8:30, which, in Tupelo terms, is basically the middle of the night.  So, as a result of spending too much time wandering the bargain shopper’s wonderland that is Walmart, we missed out on sushi that night.  Instead, we got pretty good Thai (again: who knew??) and sushi waited until the following night.

$49 Hotel Rooms are not Necessarily Terrifying

Speaking of limited options, the hotel market here in Tupelo isn’t exactly booming. Most of the options I found online seemed somewhat sketchy. But I found one on Tripavisor that got pretty solid reviews, and given that our options weren’t exactly overflowing, I figured we’d give it a shot.  Sitting right near the highway, directly across the street from an extremely busy truck stop, I imagined a $49 hotel room in Tupelo would likely come decorated in crime scene tape from whatever terrible atrocity happened there most recently.

But… what do you know?  $49 in Tupelo gets you a basic, clean, functional hotel room.

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And the best part? Instead of police officers in the parking lot filming the latest episode of COPS, we found the front door zealously guarded by this rooster.  He sat in front of the front door until we walked up, ambled around the side of the building as we walked in, then returned to his spot in front of the front doors, peering in on us as we collected our keys from the reception desk.

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Officer Rooster reporting for duty!

I have no idea what he was doing, but given what I had thought might greet us at this little hotel, I was pretty happy.

People in the South are Weirdly Friendly

Look, I grew up in the northeast where being “neighborly” meant “making no eye contact whatsoever.”  Then I spent 14 years trying to put criminals in jail.  If someone randomly starts talking to me in a public place, I automatically assume they are either a) trying to con me; b) trying to sell me something; or c) crazy.  Those are the only three options on the table.

Enter Mississippi…. land of the freakishly friendly.

Everyone is nice… but not in a syrupy sweet way.  They’re just friendly. They’re helpful.  They’re courteous.  They talk to each other.  They talk to me.  It’s weird.

But Folks Around Here Don’t Give a Crap About Being PC

Laura:  “Wow, it’s really hot here today!”

Random Person From Here: “Sure is.  Humid too!  That’s just the way it is around here.”

Laura: “Yeah, well, we’re kind used to it being from DC.  It’s always humid there in the summer.”

Random Person from Here: “That’s because of Obama.”

Laura: “Wait….  What???”

When I was growing up, I was taught that it was not polite to talk about religion, politics or money with strangers. You just didn’t discuss those topics with people you didn’t know… and even the ones you did know, you tread very, very carefully so as not to offend anyone.

Here???  Folks say what’s on their mind and they are not concerned about potentially offending you.

I’m not sure what they would do if we challenged any of the various comments we’ve received, but honestly, we’re just not interested in discussing politics or religion.  We’re here to enjoy life and have fun.  Therefore, we’ve just been using the old “nod, smile and change the subject” maneuver.

Not All Salesmen Are Trying to Sell You a Bridge

We’ve been at the dealership the last couple days living in the RV and learning to use everything.  The paperwork is done, the checks have been signed.  We are basically just squatters on their land.  Yet, every time we walk into the building, someone stops and asks us if they can help us.  And then they DO help us.  Every minor problem we’ve raised thus far has been addressed and when we’ve asked for advice about what after-market items to buy or not to buy, we’ve been given honest answers — often: “save your money…. you don’t need that.”

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Our campsite at the dealership.

This is a small operation. It doesn’t look like much – a big industrial looking parking lot sandwiched between a busy highway and a set of heavily used train tracks – but they know their stuff and they’ve been great to us.  They clearly recognize that reputation and word of mouth are key and they are doing everything they can to make sure we are taken care of. It’s been refreshing, to say the least.

We’re Adaptable

Is sleeping in a parking lot 100 yards from busy train tracks ideal?  No.  Is monitoring waste water tank levels glamorous?  Certainly not.  Are 88 cent “chef’s knives” effective? Not at all. (Seriously, don’t do it.)  But who cares? We’re learning to adapt, we’re becoming more flexible, we’re meeting people we wouldn’t meet otherwise and we’re not stressing out about things that aren’t worth being stressed about.  It’s exactly what we were hoping for.

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Simply put, we’re having a great time and looking forward to the future.  We’ll drink to that…even if we are currently stuck using plastic Solo cups!

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*Featured image courtesy of Sean Davis on Flickr

18 COMMENTS

  1. I just realized I don’t have to miss our afternoon walks at work because I can just read your blog and laugh my a$$ off. Miss you but I’m glad to see you are still learning new stuff.

  2. Congratulations, RV looks great. Have you driven it yet?
    Now its time to fill all the cabinets.

    • Thanks!! We just finished day 2 of driving lessons. We are feeling pretty ok about the general driving. Maneuvering in tight spaces and parking in campgrounds is pretty terrifying, but will get better with practice. I am really happy we started learning down here though rather than in NoVa. That would have been terrifying. There’s so much less traffic here and people are laid back. Home? Not so much….. I feel like every day we get through without a major disaster is a victory. So far, so good. 🙂

  3. Hopefully in your travels you will go to Louisiana and get the chance to meet Kevin’s Cajun relatives. Now that will be an experience you will never forget. You will have a lot of fun.

    • Oh we’re going… and you’re gonna meet us there!! We’re not facing that stuff by ourselves!!! 🙂

  4. In an RV, you’re not driving through places, you’re really in them So you get to meet Tupelo-ians and get to know their foibles. Southerners are different, as this Philadelphia boy learned when he went home to his then-girlfriend’s Virginia family home. And Texans are different from all. And Floridians are not even part of this country. You’ll see

  5. Miss you, but so happy to sit here and take a break from this crazy Friday and read what a great time you are having.

    • I miss you too, Lyndon!!! I could definitely use some help keeping my shit together with this whole project. You want to come with us???? 🙂

  6. You’ve opened my eyes. I certainly did not know that Tupelo had good sushi or thai! I’m with you on Walmart though. Before we started, we never shopped there. Now it tends to be our go-to place since it’s everywhere.

    Barney looks SO CLEAN! Your counters are shiny and everything is so roomy… we’re jealous. Rover doesn’t look like that anymore. :-/

    It’s fun watching you guys getting your RV and learning about it. Course you may not think so when you have your first black tank mishap. 🙂 I hope Dixie adjusts to Barney as well as you two have.

    • I think the days of Barney looking pristine are gonna be short. He’s already been pretty well plastered by bugs who tried to play chicken and lost in spectacular fashion. Little punks. Now I gotta go clean them off because of their poor choices. Yuck. In any case, once we really move in, the place will be very different, I’m sure. But – so far, so good. We’re having a great time. And yeah… poor Dixie. She’s gonna be soooooo mad about this. She’s really gonna have to remember that she promised UNconditional love. 🙂

    • Driving – we’re good. Parking??? You’re asking a lot…. I might just turn it off in the middle of the street and walk away. Parking is hard. 🙂

  7. I just ready about how Justice Clarence Thomas travels the country in his RV with his wife over summers, and is looking forward to doing it more if he retires. Let me know if you see him on the road!

    Love the updates and we are enjoying following your exploits from afar. Let us know if you’re passing through the RVA and we’d love to get together and introduce you to the local craft brew joints! Plus you can try my homemade BBQ and see how it stacks up.

    • Hey Patrick,

      We heard about Justice Thomas and his RV. If we run into him, I’m totally gonna pepper him with questions about the Court’s decisions. Because you know how talkative he is about that stuff. 🙂

      We will definitely let you guys know when we are down in your neck of the woods. probably in the latter part of the fall. Beer and BBQ sound great! Hope you guys are doing well!

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