Dallas TX and the Story of Two Presidents

Today was a presidential museum day and the first stop on our tour was The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza or, as it was previously known, the Texas School Book Depository. The 6th floor is located in  what is now the Dallas County Administration Building.  The cost to park was $7.00 and entry fees to the exhibit is $16 per person. This is where, after 4 different investigations by several different bodies and many conspiracy theories, it was agreed Lee Harvey Oswald set up his gun at a corner window on the 6th floor behind stacks of boxes to shoot and kill President John F Kennedy.  He had the opportunity to do this as the presidential motorcade passed by the building. For those of you too young to remember, this unfortunate and senseless event took place on November 22, 1963.

Road motorcade drove down before turning to drive by Dealey Place

Road motorcade drove down before turning to drive by Dealey Place

Even though I was a quite young I remember the events well. So deep is the imprint in my memory of that day and the days after many of the photographic exhibits seemed like they came from my photo album.

As well as focusing on all parts of the assassination and the investigations into the assassination the museum chronicles the life of JFK, other events/happenings/culture of the 1960’s, including the music, the presidential campaign details and his legacy.  One part of the exhibit focused on Jacqueline Kennedy and the fashion icon she became.

6th floor cnr window book depository Dallas

6th floor cnr window book depository Dallas

It’s certainly comprehensive and has more than 75 exhibits on this floor including photographs, recordings and other memorabilia such as the invitation to the luncheon he was to attend.  A number of exhibits (photographs and film footage) were donated by ordinary people that were part of the crowds waiting for the president’s motorcade to pass by.

One person to capture the most comprehensive view of the shooting was a clothing manufacturer named Abraham Zapruder who was standing on a raised section of concrete almost directly in line with the car carrying the President and his wife. Zapruder was using his colour home movie camera….it was a silent movie camera. This piece of film was used as part of the investigation and most of it is the footage we’re used to seeing. Zapruder’s film captures the 2nd shot to the Presidents’ head.

The area where the shooter hid to carry out this dreadful deed has been recreated and sits behind a class wall…naturally the FBI took away the boxes he had stacked around him and some he used as a kneeling pad. Consequently visitors aren’t able to stand at the 6th floor window but are able to look out nearby and see what the shooter saw. The gun used by Oswald is also on show behind a glass case.  I thought it a little strange that one exhibit item was the suit Detective Leavelle, handcuffed to Oswald when Oswald was shot by Ruby, was wearing. The suit was on a mannequin in a glass case with an explanation about the suit, what it was made of, how it was given/lent to him by a family member and so on. It also included the shoes he was wearing on the day.  Perhaps Leavelle donated it and it may be of interest for the style of suit worn in 1963.

We weren’t permitted to photograph any part of the artefacts, documents or photographs in the museum.  Security staff walk in and around the visitors and the exhibits constantly so as notorious as they are for ignoring ‘no photograph’ rules not even a Japanese visitor with a camera could get away with taking a sneaky photo.

However the 7th floor was all accessible and this floor healed information about the 1960 election campaigns.  We weren’t really interested in this and Ty said ‘There’s no point in going up the stairs it’s only information about the campaigns’.  I looked at him and continued to walk towards the stairs. ‘Are you going up the stairs?’ he asked. ‘Yes, I am’ I replied as I walked towards the first step.

He was correct; there were posters and documents regarding the political campaigns but looking past that there was a security guard leaning against a wall and behind her was an area with nothing in it but floorboards and a couple of windows.  This was above the window where Oswald sat….I could see a man over by the window and as I looked back the security guard said ‘ You can go over there and look out the last window you’ll see the whole scene and you can take photos’. ‘Thank you’ I said as I walked on past her towards the window.  Ty followed…we looked out the window at the corner of Elm St and Dealey Place and could see the white X a little further down the road in the middle lane of the 3 lane one way street. X marks the spot where the 2nd shot hit JFK in the back of the head.

X marks the spot where car was when second bullet hit JFK

X marks the spot where car was when second bullet hit JFK

I don’t think too many others looking at the campaign exhibits realised that from these 2 windows we could see where the motorcade traveled along N Houston, turned into Elm and passed by Dealey Place. The famous grassy knoll was in view as well. We wandered around outside for a short time taking more photos of the surrounding area which look pretty much as it did in 1963.


George W Bush Library

George W Bush Library

It was time for lunch before our next museum – the George W Bush Jnr Presidential Museum & Path to the Presidency.  There are 13 Presidential libraries in the US and these are mainly in the areas each President represented not necessarily where they were born or grew up. GWB was neither born or grew up in Texas but he married a Texan and made Texas his home.

This is the first Presidential Museum and Library we have visited…not something  I’d think of doing given I don’t have a lot of interest in US politics. Visiting the  JFK museum is a little different. However, our friend CA, from Denver suggested we visit GWB museum for the artefacts and other interesting pieces on show here.  So we’re on our way to SMU as the museum and library stands within the grounds of the Southern Methodist University.  The buildings within the University themselves are well worth a drive through!

We arrive at the designated parking area and take a ticket…$5 for the first hour and .75 cents for each half hour after that. Ok, ticket in hand we look for a parking spot that is a little shaded from the 105 degree F heat….good luck with that….most of the spaces with a touch of shade have a sign stipulating the spot is for hybrid or electric vehicles!  How many hybrid or electric vehicles do museum visitors drive we wondered. Eventually we found a spot with a tree at the side and one at the front which would hopefully provide enough shade to stop the car from becoming a furnace.

Walking up to the building I think to myself have large and imposing the building is and how amazing those windows and doors are…..they’re huge. There’s that adage coming to mind again – everything  is bigger in Texas! Pushing open the giant timber and glass door we stepped into a massive tiled atrium with a wall listing every person or group that donated money to build this Library/Museum. The cost to visit was $17 per adult.

Tickets in hand we walked down to the other end of a very large hall to be met by two members of the museum staff.  These ladies were very friendly and one lady asked where we came from, when we told them the taller lady said her neighbour came from Brisbane. So this lady knew quite a lot about Australia which was very nice.

More than 10 minutes later we were still chatting about Australia, the US, dangerous snakes, travel and all sorts of other things and probably would have been there longer but there were other museum visitors they needed to attend to.  My husband is Mr Have a Chat so best we move on or these ladies wouldn’t get any work done! This part of travel is great, being able to meet people and having a chat you learn so much about their country, cit or town and themselves as well.  We certainly did that with these ladies..they were lovely with a great sense of humour.  Eventually we thought we’d better take in the museum…lol. Unfortunately we never exchanged names but Ty did give one of the ladies our card, if you happen to read this blog ladies, thank you for your hospitality and the information you bestowed on us about Texas and the GWB!!

For those not really aware of George W Bush he first took office in January 2001 and was the 43rd President of the USA. He was not born in Texas but grew up in Texas and was the Texas State Governor prior to being President. The library and museum holds millions of records from his administration.  The first section of the museum included the election campaign, early days in office and the world events happening at the time.  Lots of photographs to look at and articles to read.

There is a very informative and moving display on the tragic events of 9/11.  The exhibit is centred around four themes; Compassion, Freedom, Opportunity and Responsibility.  The first part of the display is highly emotive as it shows the planes flying into the North and South Towers, The Pentagon and the last plane that didn’t make it’s destination because the passengers heroically tried to disband the terrorists.  There are the voices of the passengers as they made phone calls to loved ones saying their goodbyes, the images of the faces of New Yorkers on that morning as they watched in disbelief as the planes hit each tower.  Further images of people escaping though the dust and dirt in downtown Manhattan. Images we had seen a hundred times but it doesn’t matter how many times you see them you still have to stand and watch in horror as this dark day unfolded.  Probably, for me, the most memorable part of this room was the list of every persons’ name that died that day and the huge steel beam is 22 feet tall and stands in the centre of the exhibit all twisted and disfigured by the extreme heat of the inferno.

Steel Beam 9/11

Steel Beam 9/11

I suppose you think it odd I didn’t say the phone calls or the images of the people running away covered in dust but those images aren’t new to me. As raw and disturbing as they are it’s the piece of metal and the names that adds another dimension to the horror. We’ve visited the 9/11 memorial in New York as well and that’s an extremely sad experience as well.

The next exhibit was the Decision Points Theatre which covered the crises during the Presidency. These included the Iraq and subsequent war, Hurricane Katrina, Americas worsening economic woes and takes us through his decision process for all of these and more.

A fun and uplifting part of the visit was walking into a full size replica of the Oval Office when George W Bush was President.  Each President, or his wife, redecorates and changes some features of the Oval Office.  In this museum many of the artefacts in the room came from the Oval Office.  Family photographs sit in the same places they sat in the real office, a painting of Abraham Lincoln given to Bush hangs on one wall, the Presidential desk (named the Resolute desk)  is a replica of the desk used by many of the Presidents. When Truman was in the White House he had a moveable piece of sculptured timber added to the middle section of the desk to his the fact he was in a wheelchair.  This piece can be slid across if the President wishes or, as in the case of the Kennedy children, it was a good place for a game whilst dad was working.hide.

Oval Office

Oval Office

Every visitor is able to take the opportunity to sit in the Presidents chair for a photograph.  George Washington’s portrait looks on from the opposite end of the room.

After taking the touristy photos in the Oval Office we moved on to another theatre and exhibit featuring the Bush family and their dogs and cat.  The short film featured their daughters speaking about their parents and it also showed some funny situations as George W Jnr was a practical joker putting a very human perspective to the person with a number of photos of him on the Oval Office playing jokes on his staff.  This film portrayed them showed as any regular family and George B poked fun at himself quite regularly.

We chose not to visit the campaigns exhibit , as with Kennedy, we aren’t really interested in the history of US Presidential campaigns.  We stepped out into the huge hallway again and I could see something running along the frieze of the hall I looked up and saw an amazing display of people in different dress through the ages.  As I pointed it out to Ty one of our lovely ladies wandered over and told us about the wall – it’s a 360 HD screen that is one of a kind.  It is 20 foot tall and one section of the video shows all 44 US Presidents. We looked around to see how many we could recognise but 360 degrees but the human neck is not designed to swivel 360 degrees so we missed many I’m sure. Why didn’t I turn my whole body around in a circle?  Because I would’ve fallen in a dizzy heap on the floor.

Time to leave, we had another short chat with the ladies, bid them good bye and walked back out into the 105 degree day. Thank goodness the trees were now shading a large portion of the car however it was still like an oven in there just a hot oven rather that a frying pan.

Thank you CA for suggesting we visit GWB’s library we gained new insight into a President’s daily life and learned a few more interesting facts about the US.

If you’re visiting Dallas put these 2 places on your itinerary….well worth it especially for historical value.














Memphis and All Things Elvis



Turning onto Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis after a 5 hour drive from Nashville to finally visit Graceland was very exciting.  A visit to the home of Elvis Presley has been on my wish list since I was a teenager, long before the term ‘bucket list’ became part of our vocabulary. In those days the wish was to just stand at the gates of Graceland and hope for a glimpse of Elvis.  After his death the wish changed to visit the house and see inside.  We followed the directions and drove into the parking area….it was $10 to park the car in this large open, unshaded car park.  I opened the car door to oppressive heat, over 106 degrees, the weather report said it actually reached 113 degrees for a short time early afternoon.  No breeze at all so and 90% humidity it was very uncomfortable.  With my luck, now I’m finally here, I’ll melt into the pavement before I get to the house.

There were several tour packages available, to choose from, ranging from $42 to $80 for front of line tickets.  We looked around at numbers of visitors and decided there wasn’t a need for front of line so chose the $47.50 plus tax package which gave us access to the house and grounds including the memorial garden, car museum, aircrafts and other bits.

After purchasing the tickets we moved out to the front of the building to line up for the shuttle bus which takes visitors across the road to the house.  Of course you can’t move too far in the line until you have the obligatory photo.  At a cost of $35 we didn’t purchase them – our own photos would suffice.  Once we moved on from this we received headsets, a little further along the line we received an iPad set up with pictures and audio for the tour of the house and grounds. Although the house is 3 storeys and basement visits are restricted to the main level and the floors below.  Several reasons have been given for this over the years…when Ty first visited they were told the timber floors of the upstairs area would not be able to withstand hundreds of people per day walking on them and now we were told the family wished to keep the upstairs private. Whatever the reason the choice to open or not open areas belongs to the Trust and it didn’t impact me in any way not being able to see that section of the house.

Graceland sits on 14 acres of beautifully kept lawns and includes a stable area where horses are kept.  The main floor of the house consisted of a large entry hall, a dining room on the left, 2 lounge rooms on the right, further along the hall was the bedroom and ensuite of Elvis’ parents.  Several of his mothers’ dresses and ha drags were hanging in the wardrobe.  The kitchen was next and it seemed a little small or perhaps cramped is a better description, there were a number of shelves, cupboards and benches housing a myriad of appliances.

Main level Lounge Rooms

Main level Lounge Rooms

The next part of the tour took us into the pool room, heavily patterned cotton material covered the walls and ceilings. A very long room was next, green carpet on floors, walls and part of the ceilings.  It was the Jungle Room and housed carved wooden animals such as giraffes and monkeys with a large fireplace at one end and an oversized teddy bear lounging in an equally oversized lounge chair and a jungle bar at the other end. This was the room where Elvis recorded the song  Moody Blue. There were several other lounge rooms in the house, each with their own bar.  We were informed Elvis wanted to ensure whoever was in the house at the time could find their favourite drink in the any bar in any lounge they were sitting in.

Pool Room

Pool Room

Moving on past the jungle room we descended a small number of stairs and turning to the left we found ourselves standing at the entrance to a sunken lounge room decorated with bright yellow cushions, bright yellow bar top and accessories, walls of yellow, the mirrored tiles on the ceiling made quite an effect and gave the room a very sunny outlook given there were no windows in this room.  Three televisions sat side by side so guests could watch 3 different channels at once if they wished.

After visiting the yellow room I wasn’t sure what colour to expect in the next room. We descended another small set of stairs further into what possibly would have been the basement when the house was originally built. At the bottom of the stairs we were on a landing with a bar on the right and another sunken lounge on the left.  This room was brown in decor and contained several lounges, chairs and a piano. The audio guide told us Elvis was in this room, playing the piano and singing with friends before saying he was going up to bed and shortly after ‘Elvis left the building’ permanently. The  lid of the piano was open as he had left it.

We paused for reflection at the top of the stairs. I know I imagined that last morning with everyone casually sitting around the room making music and enjoying the moment, then the devastating moment of disbelief the people in the room found out Elvis was dead.

The tour continued to the racquetball room which now displays many items from the 1970s including Elvis’ stage jumpsuits and copious awards, many posthumous. Most people stepping  into such an array of memorabilia  gasped or stared open mouthed at the amount of gold and sparkle in this room.   The trophy room was equally impressive.

Trophy Room

Trophy Room

This room also showcased his gold and platinum record awards as well as listed donations he made to charity and individuals.  Elvis was an extremely generous person not just to his friends and staff but to total strangers who needed a helping hand. Previously this area housed a large electric stock car track. Now it tells the story of his incredible music career.

Vernon Presley looked after Elvis’ finances and staff management at Graceland. Also, all fan mail and other mail was received at his office which stands separately behind the main house. Outside his office is a standard swing set that Elvis purchased for Lisa Marie.

Last on the tour is the Memorial Garden a very serene and, as you would expect, well maintained area where the graves of Elvis, his mother, father and maternal grandmother rest.  There is also a plaque for his twin brother. Fresh flowers adorned his grave and an eternal flame given by Joe Esposito, other family and close friends to the family in remembrance.

The grave

Viewing the house and especially the racquetball room and trophy room really brings home just how important he was to the music industry and the generosity of the man himself.  It was a very moving experience, sad in a way, that he died so young and that his private life had to revolve around Graceland and it’s surrounds. Whether you were a fan of Elvis and his music or not no one can deny his great presence within the music industry and with his untimely death a huge talent was lost.  As I mentioned above the Jungle Room was where the Moody Blue album was recorded Ty was very excited to see that room; I’m sure he would have loved to sit in the room and just soak it all in…close his eyes and dream of being part of that recording session.

The  memorial garden was the final part of the tour…fitting in a way.  We wandered along the driveway to await the return shuttle which would take us back to the gift shops, eateries, Elvis’ airplanes and car museum.

Whilst in gift shop torrential rain for about 15 mins. Enough to make it more humid. Spent way too much money in gift shops but I knew I would!  Once in a lifetime bucket list visit I had to spend up big…..as you can imagine I don’t have a lot for my money….

We had a quick lunch of something horrendous, visited the car museum and airplanes.  Our tickets included  another 2 museums but I felt I’d seen enough and knew enough about Elvis not to continue with another museum because I also wanted to visit Sun Recording Studio.  It was already 3.45 and Ty didn’t think we had time, thought they would be closed by the time we found it.  However, I was not leaving Memphis without going to Sun Studios as well.  Google is a wonderful thing and as it was still raining I asked Ty  if he could check please.  He did and we found the last tour was 5.30pm so at 4pm we headed to the carpark – the rain had stopped and steam was now rising from the hot, wet asphalt…looked odd and eerie.

Sun Studios

Sun Studios

Sun Studio was a 15 minute drive from Graceland..not too difficult to find with the GPS.  Luckily there was an extra tour at 5pm due to numbers otherwise we would have to wait till 5.30 and it was 4.35 now. The studio is beside Taylor’s Cafe which has been on the site naps long as the studios have and access to the studio tour is via the cafe. When you step into the cafe you step back in time from the young man sitting at the cash register playing the harmonica to the fabulous old photographs, posters adorning all the walls and old newspaper clippings.  I love these old places that have resisted change or owners have been savvy enough to recognise they are sitting on a goldmine of history and choose to keep these places open to share the history with all lovers of music and musicians.

The actual studio  is still the same as it was in the 50’s,  it’s still a working studio. We were standing on the spots where Elvis stood, Jerry Lee Lewis played the piano and Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins stood.

Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash

Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash

How do I know that, you’re thinking, because x marked the spots where each of them stood one night when Elvis called in to see Sam Phillips and he contacted the other three and asked them to come down ‘cos Elvis was here. Sam knew this would be amazing so secretly recorded the whole evening of these music icons chatting, laughing and jammimg over a few beers  however Elvis was contracted to RCA by then and Sam couldn’t afford to be sued again so he had to shelve this rare event.

The old studio musical instruments are still there, the ceilings have not been changed, the soundproofing has stood the test of time exceptionally well.  The only new piece was the drummer’s seat.  Ty was chuffed to see they had chosen the same seat he has with his drum kit.  This was the drum kit U2 used when they recorded some of the Rattle & Hum album in the 90’s. The original microphone is still there and we got a chance to hold it and take photos but the guide said do not kiss it or get too close everyone from Muddy Waters to Elvis, Johnny Cash, BBKing, Jerry Lee Lewis and a cast of hundreds sang into that mic so who knows what it’s harbouring.

Recording studio

Recording studio

The studio was closed for 25 years because it became too small and there was no room for expansion but it was decided to reopen it and people such as Bono, come to record here to stand in the footsteps of Elvis and other famous artists.

Ty, of course, was most interested in the drum kit and now has a dream to record and cut a cd in that studio to be able to share a record label with the great artists above.

If you’re in Memphis to visit Graceland and you love your music do not leave without paying a visit to Sun Studios Ty was very happy that I had forced the visit. I’m sure he knew of Sun Studios but hadn’t realised the full importance of this place to music especially rhythm and blues then rock and roll.  So take time to visit you’ll  learn a whole lot more about the beginnings of music and the great artists of the early years who shaped the industry.  The cost of entry is $12 per person it’s well worth it.

There is so much more that I could talk about but, at the risk of boring my reader, perhaps another time.


In the words of Willie Nelson’s song – On the road again..

The next destination on our US road trip is Atlanta, Georgia.  This is a long drive requiring an overnight stop somewhere yet to be determined.  We have a total of 5 nights accommodation over the trip open due  to some of the large distances between our destinations. Tonight will be one of those nights where we’ll stop when Ty has had enough driving.

No matter what research you do on driving distances between cities no amount of research can tell you how long it will take to drive out of a city so whatever the driving hours are if it’s a major city, such as Dallas, add an extra hour. We drove out of Fort Worth at 11.30am and crossed the Louisiana State Line at 3.45pm after a 20 minute hold up due to an accident, a 30 minute lunch break and a fuel stop.  There are no rest areas on the freeways on the section of Texas we drove through so if a loo break is required or even a break to stretch and walk around you need to go off the freeway and to the outskirts of a small town to a service centre.

It was time for a fuel stop and when purchasing fuel at most US garages it’s a pay first then fill up so Ty went in, paid $30, came back with his receipt, filled up the car and was just closing his drivers’ door when the girl from the garage came running out pointing to him and saying ‘Y’all have to pay for your gas’.  He had paid for the gas but she wasn’t listening, receipt in hand he followed her back into the garage where he was again told he hadn’t paid for his fuel.  He showed the receipt and it turned out the cashier didn’t understand his accent and he paid for pump 5 instead of pump 4.  No apology for their mistake just quite rude as they now had to reverse transfer the $30 from pump 5 to pump 4.  Another customer waiting at the cashier apologised to Ty for the rudeness of the 2 staff members saying it was well known in the area that these particular garage cashiers are very rude to customers and she felt embarrassed given he was a visitor.

We had stopped at a small town named Terrell for lunch, options were Granddad BBQ house or Starbucks….we opted for Starbucks.  We had sandwiches with a cheese and fruit platter. A healthy option I thought and goodness knows in some of these places healthy options are hard to find.

Exit offerings

Exit offerings

After lunch we drove on with the only scenery, mile after mile, being large leafy trees. We crossed the State Line into Louisiana around 3.45 pm. We had been told to be very careful driving through Louisiana because the police highway patrol would book a driver if the car was travelling 1 mile over the State limit so to be sure and drive within the limit.  Ty set the cruise control once we hit the freeway.

By 5.30pm the trees were becoming monotonous and I needed a reprieve from this repetition of greenery luckily a billboard noting the eateries available at the next exit came into view…the round green Starbucks logo was on the list. Right turn Ty, break time. The name of this little town was Ruston.  Starbucks was quite busy and we’ve found so many younger generation sit in Starbucks using the free wifi but not drinking or eating anything. Guess wifi is expensive in the US but if I owned a cafe and people took up space for customers to use the wifi I’d be more than a little annoyed.

Sitting to have our coffee and share a slice of lemon cake (the best thing about Starbucks) we were chatting when a black* woman at a table across from us looked up from her book and asked where we were from.  This lady told me she had met an Australian before at New Orleans airport when the airport was snowed in. She was very happy to now be able to tell people she had met 3 Aussies. It seemed a little like me saying I’d seen a meerkat up close, I love meerkats.  The charming lady then told us that her daughter married an Englishman and they live in Zurich,Switzerland. She visited for a few weeks every year.  As we were leaving this lady asked us what we did for work and told us she is an English professor and was very interested in languages and accents…..’Oh bugger’ I said to Ty in the way many of us Aussies do ‘she probably thought we didn’t speak well at all’

*As far as I’m aware it is not offensive in US to describe someone as being black or white it’s the way they describe themselves.  We in Aus are way too precious.

Just as we were leaving Starbucks a grossly overweight couple were also walking out with 2 large frappes loaded with cream EACH.  I said to Ty ‘surely they’ve got others in the car they couldn’t drink 2 of those each…I couldn’t even drink one that size’.  ‘Perhaps they are taking them home to someone’.  No, there was no one else in their truck as they sat there drinking them.

As Willie Nelson said in his song…..On the road again………for a few more hours before we stop for the night.  The fun thing will be finding decent accommodation for the night and one with a vacancy.  At 6pm we crossed the Mississippi State Line and we drove on for another hour and 40 minutes when, just outside Jackson, we decided to stop for the night. Thinking Jackson would be too busy and may be difficult to find a hotel we opted for a town named Clinton.  Clinton is the 10th largest city in Mississippi with a population around 25,000. There was a choice of hotels, Holiday Inn, a Quality Inn, Motel 6 and Hampton Inn by Hilton plus a couple of others.  We chose the Hampton Inn and luckily they had a room available…a king suite.  Michelle, the concierge was very friendly and we were pleasantly surprised as the suite was quite good, very large and roomy. Not what I was expecting from an off ramp/exit hotel.  Our next challenge was to find somewhere decent to eat…these off ramps are great if you want a snack or burger but a higher standard of restaurant is rare.  So we asked Michelle if she could give us some  direction on where to eat and she did.  Michelle suggested a restaurant called Pastability in the small shopping centre a short walk behind the Holiday Inn.

On the road again

On the road again


By now it was quite late and we hoped the restaurant was still open. It was, well, we saw the sign for the restaurant but it was over a shopfront that was for lease. ‘That sign says the restaurant is for lease’ I said to Ty disappointed “I was really looking forward to a good meal’.  Just as I’d said that a voice from around the back of a car said ‘The restaurant has moved y’all need to go down here’ she gestured towards a laneway. ‘Thank you’ we both said as we walked past a group of people chatting by a car.

The Italian Restaurant was huge but instead of reminding me of Italy it reminded me of France with the large vases of sunflowers and pictures of fields of lavender. Of course we weren’t locals and, as we’d been learning, not many travellers visited these towns so when we stepped through a door and spoke people were generally surprised, then asked where we were from and most comments were ‘where’d y’all come from’, ‘we’ve never met an Australian before’ or ‘what y’all doing here’ but the one we heard the most ‘I love your accent I wish I had that accent’.  I thought how funny we Aussies don’t really have much of an accent and these people have great accents but they want ours!

Dinner was amazing and the chef (Dave) came out to tell me he would adapt the recipe for me because my first choice had garlic so I was prepared to choose something else. I appreciated that because that’s when you know the food and the sauces are made fresh. The food was distinctly Italian but the chef and, I assumed, his wife certainly weren’t. No down south home cooking here just great tasting Italian with fresh ingredients. So if you ever get to Clinton Mississippi or if you are passing Clinton Mississippi make sure you drop in.

No coffee places in sight…oh, plenty if you want the black bitter coffee but I like my lattes.

We left Clinton at 9.40 am and crossed the Alabama State Line at 11.15am and the scenery was the same thick tree lined motorway as yesterday.  I wish I could write in the car on such long journeys, imagine how much writing I could get done, but I have a tendency to get car sick so singing along badly to music is my only option to stave off boredom.  A few more miles and we stopped for lunch at a place called Mountville.  This was the preferred stop because there was a Wendy’s and Wendy’s does a great salad called a “summer berry salad’ which has the obligatory kilo of lettuce with sliced freshly cooked grilled chicken, strawberries, blackberries, feta cheese with a blackberry vinaigrette and crunchy pieces of dried apple.  I was hungry so when I saw baked potato with sour cream on the menuI thought I should have that too!  The salad was very good but the baked potato could have been better..I eat baked potato for the dollops of sour cream I can put on it so if the amount of sour cream is measly  and doesn’t cover every mouthful of potato I won’t eat the potato…this was the case here. Ty had a burger as usual.

We eventually crossed the Georgia State Line at 3.40pm and arrived in Atlanta 2 hours later.

The people we met along the way in the South were so friendly and helpful we really enjoyed meeting them and chatting to them. Obviously most people visit the well known parts of the US such as West Coast, Vegas and parts of East Coast including New York, Boston and Niagara Falls but the Southern States have much to offer as well.