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Florida or Bust: Alligators in the Swimming Hole, A Plantation Home, Memphis BBQ, Frozen Custard and an Arch in St. Louis, Mark Twains Home and Some Frank Lloyd Wright for Good Measure

Day 13

Another morning another new campsite. This time we drove back into Mississippi to Clear Springs campground in the Homochitto National Forest as we are taking US 61 back north.

I tried to pretend I was sleeping. The little one knew better than that.

At this point I think all of us were sick of camping. Meadow was getting up too early every morning.

I wasn't. I just wished we could have spent more time at each campsite.

This was my favorite camp site on the entire trip.

Driving around looking for a campsite the night before we saw a sign for swimming so we thought we would check it out. 

We joked about alligators on the way, but I didn't think they would be this far north. I was wrong. I sure am glad I wasn't the one who noticed there was an alligator in there.

She would've freaked out, but I guess anybody would.

For the campground to be called Clear Springs the water was pretty brown.

We played on the playground instead.

As it was my turn to drive I saw a sign for a plantation and turned right away. The sign said it was a bed and breakfast, but they do tours too.

I don't think you should be that excited to go on a tour of a plantation.

The Rosswood Plantation was built in 1857 for $10,000. It was home of 1250 acres of cotton fields. During the Civil War it became a hospital for wounded soldiers. The original owner kept diary while he lived here and the current owners had a copy for guests to read. Had we stayed here I would have read that whole thing. 

Oh and they built it to support their plantation. You know...slaves.

The current owners bought the home and are quite the collectors of antiques. The owner, a southern little old lady couldn't understand why we would want to live in Minnesota with all the snow. We replied that we enjoyed it. 

The home was beautiful despite its troubled past.

This turned out to be more of a tour about her antiques than the history of the plantation. The home was quite a ways from the cotton fields. So only house slaves lived here.

I had hoped to see the inside of a plantation home on our trip.

Ummm...a plantation isn't a house. It's the land including the house that used slave labor as a means of production.

Okay I was hoping to see a Civil War era home to be exact.

The owners husband only had one collection in the whole house: his beer steins.

The owners let children go out into the property with a metal detector to see what they can find. There's a rumor that treasure is buried somewhere out there. This is what has been found so far.

While the other slaves lived 5 miles away the house slaves were able to sleep in the homes basement. 

The upstairs bedrooms were made into the rooms for the bed and breakfast.

It was your typical bed and breakfast apart from the whole plantation thing. Why are b and bs always so frilly?

Meadow loved sitting on this wicker chair on the top porch.

The porch was pretty nice.

I guess my pretty ladies enjoyed their time here. I still feel a bit awkward about touring a plantation for shits and giggles.

It's a part of history.

Our gracious tour guide recommended checking out the Windsor Ruins about 12 miles from her. Built by the same guy who did their house this one cost $100,000 when it was built. You can imagine how grand it must have been. Although it survived the war it was burned in a fire in the late 1800's, burning all the plans and photos of the home. 

Based off a sketch by a solider this is what they believe it looked like.

It was surreal to find something that looked like a Roman ruin in the middle of Mississippi.

In front of where the front door would have been.

We decided to stop in Vicksburg for lunch and a little stroll.

We decided on Walnut Hills for lunch. I liked that it was in an old home.

The only thing that would've made this better for Brooke would be a restaurant in a mansion.

Heck to the yea.

Scott found his favorite part of traveling. Old buildings in ruins.

You know you're in a small town when...

Meadow was hungry now and didn't want to wait until we got to Memphis. I found a small church on the side of the road that would have to do.

This place was straight up creepy. We could here someone talking inside. We think it was just a radio.

Once in Memphis we first tried to get something to eat on Beale Street.

It was mostly bars and tourist traps so we went on our way.

Interstate Bar-B-Que was supposedly open and highly rated. When we go there they were just closing.

Even though we live in North Minneapolis, Memphis seemed in worse of a state. 

The first state park we went to just south of  Memphis was a little creepy. We drove through then left right away. 

We were still starving after we left T.O. Fuller State Park. We ended up eating at Taco Bell and staying at Meeman-Shelby State Park north of the city.

Day 14

We had to clear away the crazy pine cones that Tennessee has to make way for our tent.

These things were really pointy.

This is pretty much how our car looked the whole trip.

On the north side of Memphis we found a Green Bay Packers bar. I guess since they haven't had a team in Tennessee until recently this makes some sense.

Memphis was more run down than any other place we went on the trip, but it was home to some cool sites like Sun Records.

I wanted to see Graceland. Before we went on our plantation tour I thought it would be fun to check it out. That was until I saw how much admission was.

With a tight budget it was either a plantation or Graceland. One former was way cheaper.

 I was hoping to at least see the house. This was as close as we could get. We even drove around the neighborhood to catch a glimpse and still couldn't see it. 

My friend Davin is from Memphis and he suggested we go to Central BBQ and get the nachos. 

"Give me all them nachos."

These were totally worth the awkward campgrounds and running around Memphis the night before. I just wish they'd been open past nine that night.

I usually clip a toy to Meadow's high chairs when we are out to eat. She apparently thought her ring toy was a foot holder.

I think this is considered child abuse in some circles.

"More nachos please."

They even had a bbq smothered portable mushroom sandwich. That's a nice nod to the vegetarians out there.

I really wanted more BBQ after eating at Central.

While Brooke fed Meadow we walked over to the Lorraine Motel next door.

It hadn't occurred to me at that moment that this was where MLK was shot. It was really heartbreaking after driving around the run down stretches of this city.

This neighborhood was one of the nicest in Memphis and still has the original streetcars.

After we got back to the car it was onward to St. Louis. We drove through Arkansas for a bit, but it wasn't even worthy of a picture.

As St. Louis is also famous for frozen custard you can bet your bottom dollar we had to get some.

The original Ted Drewes had not reopened for the season. Wait, you close your Frozen Custard joints in the winter? Milwaukee's Leon's is all outdoors and open year-round.

We had to go to the slightly newer location on the edge of town.

They had so many flavors it was hard to decide.

They have tons of flavors because they specialize in concretes: basically vanilla frozen custard mixed with your favorite toppings.

While I appreciated their unique spin on frozen custard it doesn't live up to the high standards of Milwaukee's Kopp's and Leon's. 

Nothing ever will.

While on another breastfeeding adventure I told Blake to take some pics while I dropped off the boys at the pool.

He did just that.

You have to see the arch when in St Louis.

So that's what we did. 

Blake and I had both seen it many years ago.

This was the first time for me.

Seeing it in real life is surreal, even more so than when I saw the Eiffel Tower.

I didn't realize how large it was.

Meadow and Brooke played on the big lawn between the arch and the old courthouse.

These last few days were starting to wear on Meadow. I'm pretty sure this trip set her back on many milestones. She barely got to crawl around. I thought I would stay with her while the boys walked around so she could stretch her legs. The grass was so foreign to her she didn't want to move.

I needed to use a bathroom/change Meadow. The arch was already closed for the day so we went to the nearest hotel.

Then it was time to eat again.
We found a few restaurants near Washington University that looked good for dinner.

We settled on pizza once again at Pi.

St. Louis you were a pleasant surprise.

Day 15
Our last morning in the tent.

"I want to see this grass stuff again."

I really liked this state park. It was along the Mississippi and had great views. we were at Cuivre River State Park that is like 30 miles west of the Mississippi.  A river,  yes.
Oops, my bad.

 Of course if we had actually gotten here during the daytime we would have seen that a few campsites down were the sites overlooking the river.

We took Missouri 79 back to US 61 and ended up in Louisiana, Missouri briefly.

There were some great scenic views along the way.

We stopped for lunch in Hannibal, the hometown of Mark Twain. The Becky Thatcher 3rd Street Diner had some pretty great choices. Blake and I went with the black bean burger special.

They also had bendy straws.

I got the fried chicken special with greens. I had to eat some more southern food before we returned to Yankee country.

I missed out on another adventure to feed little bear.

There was another main street closer to Mark Twains childhood home.

Brooke missed out on so many great places. Meadow...

We knew our trip was coming to an end when we arrived in Culver's territory. Did you know they have a happy hour and you get a dollar off of your food?

I think it was only this location.

I got a mini mixer while Scott went with his usual blueberry malt.

We had abandoned US 61 near the quad cities for the interstate when it was clear that it was going to rain all day.

In Urbana, Iowa we made our last breastfeeding break.

The rain made our last pitstop a come down from the past two weeks.

It was freezing outside.

Empty main streets will do that to you.

We were sick of taking the interstate in Iowa. It was so boring. Scott found a more scenic route that happened to go through a town that had Frank Lloyd Wright's only standing hotel. Blake is a big fan of FLW and we enjoy the Prairie School style so it was another must stop.

The hotel was recently restored.

I really like this era of Wright's work.

The ceilings in all the hallways were so short. I guess I'd never actually been inside of one of his buildings.

There was also a home designed by him down the street. It was already closed for the day so no tours.

Saved by the bell. I don't think I could do another home tour.

It's always been our dream to eat at a casino buffet.

You could say we have strange life goals.

We thought we would take the chance and see if we could bring Meadow in so we could eat there. Scott went in and asked, but didn't really get a clear answer so we said forget about it. Someday it will happen.

We settled on the Wok "n" Roll in Albert Lea, Minnesota.

Best buffet name ever?

It looked like when we pulled up the owners were excited to close early until we walked in.

They were not going to screw over the last meal of our trip. 

We all got awkwardly full before calling it a night.

We drove the last 100 miles or so back home on very full stomachs.

Can we go to the beach again?


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