Every Valentine’s Day weekend we take a little trip. This year was no exception. It was also our first road trip of the year. Our destination was Memphis. Although we’d passed through Memphis a couple of times in the past, this was our first time actually stopping in the area. But first we had to get there…
At this point we set the GPS for the city of Metropolis – which celebrates its name with a Superman-themed town. Getting there proved to be difficult. The GPS took us a different way than what our Google maps had shown. In fact the roads we were on weren’t even on the maps. We never even found the road we were “supposed” to take. And that was a little disheartening because Metropolis was located in Massac County, which just happened to be the final county in Illinois that we needed to get to. At some point we entered it. But we wanted to get a picture of the sign. So we drove another four miles out of our way to find the one I knew was there. But we got it! Illinois marked our fourth completed state. Only 46 more to go! We then headed into town to see the Superman sights. In addition to Superman himself, there are also statues of Lois Lane and Kryptonite. There's even a Superman soda machine.
We headed west towards the small city of Lovelaceville. Its location is very close to an (almost) four-way county corner of McCracken, Ballard, Carlise and Graves. We picked up the other three and continued south on HWY 307. Along the way we picked up Hickman and Fulton Counties. Once we reached Fulton County we headed west towards the city of Hickman. From there we headed south, crossing into Tennessee and picking up Lake County.
We continued south on HWY 78 towards the city of Dyersburg. We picked up Obion and Dyer Counties on the way. We then stopped for gas in the city of Fowlkes. At this point we had to get off the main roads in order to pick up Crockett County. Once we crossed in we then headed west to pick up Lauderdale County and get back on the main roads. From there we headed towards the city of Brownsville. We ended up driving into Haywood County, and through the small city of Nutbush – birthplace of Tina Turner. Unfortunately it was too dark to get a picture of the “Tina Turner Highway” sign. But we were on it!
From there we headed straight to our hotel in Southaven, Mississippi – which is just south or Memphis. We picked up Tipton and Fayette Counties along the way. Our resting place for the next two nights was the Hilton Garden Inn Memphis/Southhaven. We ordered a pizza and relaxed in our room for the evening.
After leaving Graceland we headed south on HWY 61 for a little side trip. We entered Tunica County, and stopped in the city of Tunica for lunch at Church’s Chicken. While eating in the car, we continued south, picking up Coahoma, then taking a side road a few miles in to pick up Quitman county to the east.
After leaving Clarksdale we continued south into Bolivar County. Once we reached the city of Shaw, we got off the highway because the border for Sunflower County was only one block away. Once we got it we got back on the road and continued south, entering Washington County, where we stopped at the Jim Henson Museum/Chamber of Commerce for the city of Leland. It was pretty cool to see. And admission is free!
Once we left Leland we headed west, crossing the Mississippi River into Arkansas and Chicot County. From there we went a few miles inland before heading south on HWY 65 through the city of Eudora, followed by the Louisiana state line. We only spent about 10 minutes in Louisiana. But we managed to go through two Parishes. Louisiana doesn’t have counties. They have Parishes, which are the virtual equivalent of counties. And once we crossed the state line we found ourselves in the Parish of East Carroll. About five miles to the west we crossed into (You guessed it) West Carroll Parish. From there we briefly drove through the tiny town of Kilbourne before heading back north back into Arkansas.
From there we more or less headed back to our hotel. We went north and east, picking up Monroe, Phillips, Lee and St. Francis Counties along the way before we got on I-40 towards Memphis. We had one final stop however. As we approached the city of Midway we got off the interstate, went a mile or two north and crossed into Cross County – our final new county of the day. Feeling quite satisfied we stopped for a late bite to eat at Memphis Barbecue - which ironically is in Horn Lake, Mississippi, just south of Memphis. After a long day of driving we retired back to our hotel for the night.
From there we drove a few miles to the Lorraine Motel, the sight of the assassination of Martin Luther King. The motel has since been converted into a Civil Rights Museum. But the exterior of the Motel remains unchanged. Like Sun Studio, we had the run of the place, as there were literally no other people around. It was very surreal. Apparently a woman was evicted from the motel in 1988 when it was converted into a museum. She’s been protesting ever since. Although her sign was there, there was no sign of her.
After leaving the Lorraine Motel it was time to go home. We had a little over 10 hours of driving to do. Of course we also had a few more counties to reach. We started off by getting on I-55 north. But instead of following the interstate system all the way home, we got off near the city of Gilmore and headed northwest on HWY 63. A few miles later we crossed into Poinsett County. Shortly thereafter we turned north onto HWY 135 and drove through the small cities of Lepanto and Rivervale before crossing into Craighead County. We continued north on HWY 139, drove through the tiny city of Black Oak (while singing a few lines from “Jim Dandy,” and wondering how a rock group could hail from a city of just 231 people) and crossed over the Missouri border and into Dunklin County. We continued a few miles further until we reached HWY 412 near the city of Cardwell. From there we took a left turn, drove a few blocks, crossed the St. Francis River, and found ourselves back in Arkansas again – and Greene County. This was to be our last new county of the trip. At that point we put home in the GPS and headed north. Our commute ended up being a couple of hours longer thanks to an ice storm in Missouri (which caused about a dozen accidents on our highway) as well as a snowstorm that covered nearly all of Illinois. Thankfully we missed the brunt of it. And the roads were relatively cleaned off by the time we drove through.But it was nonetheless a rough ride.
We arrived home at 9:55, watched the mid-season premiere of “The Walking Dead” and went to bed. Our first excursion of the year netted 47 new counties. So what’s next? Well we have a little trip planned for late March/early April. We’ll be heading to Universal Studios in Florida. And since the trip is by car, there will be new counties to pick up along the way. We’ll see you there!
NEW COUNTIES - 47
TOTAL COUNTIES FOR 2016 - 47
ALL TIME COUNTY TOTAL - 1312