Thank 'ya very much

Trip Start Nov 05, 2002
Trip End Aug 13, 2003

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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Wednesday, August 6, 2003

Only a few entries left. Suppose that means we're nearing home. I don't know if that a good or a bad thing.

We're presently in Memphis, Tennessee. A lot of miles have been put on the clock since we last spoke but we're still on Interstate 40.

We left Winslow in Arizona and deciding to bypass Albuquerque (it looked big and scary as we approached) spent the night in Moriarty, New Mexico. At that stage I had driven approx 1080 miles, in 3 days. The next day we passed through Amarillo in Texas. Stopping off there we had to adjust our watches as we had passed through another time zone, the 2nd in as many days. We going that fast?! Ha... and as witnessed by our McDonalds feed in Amarillo, things are indeed bigger in Texas. We also tried not to collapse in the insufferable heat and humidity. I'd never experienced anything like it before. It's no wonder you see so few people out and about in this part of the World. Anyway, a Wal-Mart pit stop and a few more miles on the clock saw us spending the night in Clinton, a small town in Oklahoma. After a bit of thrift shopping in main street (!) Clinton the next morning we drove the short distance to Oklahoma City where we visited the sight of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in downtown.

At 9.03am on April 19th 1995 a massive bomb inside a rental truck exploded, blowing half of the nine-story building into oblivion. A stunned nation watched as the bodies of men, women, and children were pulled from the rubble for nearly two weeks. When the smoke cleared and the exhausted rescue workers packed up and left, 168 people were dead in the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Just 90 minutes after the explosion, an Oklahoma Highway Patrol officer pulled over 27-year-old Timothy McVeigh for driving without a license plate. Shortly before he was to be released on April 21, McVeigh was recognized as a bombing suspect and was charged with the bombing. When McVeigh's ex-Army buddy, Terry Nichols, discovered that he, too, was wanted for questioning, he voluntarily surrendered to police in Herington, Kansas, and was later charged in the bombing. Different trials, different verdicts. In June 1997 a jury convicted Timothy McVeigh of the bombing. But the verdict for Terry Nichols, who was tried on the same 11 accounts, was less straightforward. On December 23 a jury, after deliberating 41 hours, refused to convict Nichols of murder, instead finding him guilty of involuntary manslaughter and of conspiring with McVeigh. Nichols escaped the death penalty because the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on whether he was planning an attack "with the intent to kill." Nearly six months later Nichols was sentenced by a federal judge to spend the rest of his life in prison.

The beautiful memorial, not exactly what I would call a tourist attraction, is an intensely sobering place to be. Designed by Butzer Design Partnership, the memorial honours the victims, survivors, rescuers, and all who were changed forever on that day in April 1995. It encompasses the now-sacred soil where the Murrah Building once stood. The chain fence lining the street outside the memorial is still lined with cards, flowers and souvenirs for the dead.

After Oklahoma City we hit the road for Memphis, arriving here last night. Today we saw Graceland, the former home of Elvis. Me not being an Elvis fan didn't matter; it's still compulsory viewing for anyone in the area. I have to say I enjoyed the tour of the whole Graceland experience but it's so so commercial (they must be making an absolute fortune) and I couldn't for the life of me understand the crying at the grave! Comon' people. Get a life! Jeeesusss........

After Graceland we saw the other sights of Memphis including the Lorraine Motel, infamous as the place Martin Luther King was gunned down. We were there on a steaming hot Tuesday and guess what day of the week the Lorraine Motel is closed? Yep, you guessed it, Tuesday! Memphis is the home of the Blues and the birthplace of Rock 'n Roll, and it all started on Beale Street. So we tried to see it. But guess what? It, the whole street, was closed off for renovations! Hu. Good timing all round. So with the pictures of the paddle steamers down on the Mississippi river taken care off we hit the road for Nashville, 3 hours to the east still on, you guessed it, Interstate 40.
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