Travel Journal – June 12, 2015
Our time in Memphis, albeit only four days, was one day too long for me. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but several events, along with drives through depressed areas, left me melancholy.
I am glad I came to see this area, but I guess it was the reality of the people struggling to make ends meet, the failure of communities and businesses that I passed, that left me sad. I have experienced this several stops in cities as I travel eastward this year, but not to this extent.
There are glimmers of hope as money is invested in the tourist areas along the Mississippi River. Hopefully they will turn it around for those living there now.
As Jagger and I drove further away from the city for errands mentioned later, I did notice a different picture. Where people and communities were building and living a less stressful existence.
We stayed at T.O.Fullmer State Park, originally designated Shelby County Negro State Park in 1938, but the name was later changed. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp in the area constructed the park facilities in 1938. The park has many designated areas for all kinds of recreational purposes for visitors and residents, including a public pool not far from the campgrounds.
The campground and surrounding 1,200 plus acres, to my understanding was placed within what was once the Ensley Cotton Plantation of over 40,000 acres.
I enjoyed the walks around the campground with Jagger, other than the plentiful variety of insects. On the second day we were out walking and the campground host asked if I saw that snake in the tree near the back of the park. Of course I missed it, lucky it didn’t drop down on Jagger and I. The Host got some tools and went back to move it to a non-public area, but it was gone. Not stowed away in my Coach, I hope.
Plantation – Boxtown
On Friday, as Jagger and I were leaving our Memphis camp for a “drive about”, I noticed the road that exited the campground area was named “Boxtown Road”. Let’s explore some Jagger. So instead of turning left and going into the main state park area, I turn right. There we pass through an area I later learn is called Boxtown.
As we travel around I notice most of the homes are on larger grassy lots. Typical of this area. Most are in decent shape considering their age. Some of the brick homes were quite nice, probably newer modestly built homes. Of course there were a few in pretty bad shape and those seemed to be abandoned for the most part. What few streets we drove on we never saw anything resembling what I later read about on the internet that sparked someone’s imagination to call this area Boxtown. I don’t know if those buildings still exist to this day and quite frankly I’m not sure I would feel safe in some of the areas that may be that poor.
First Major Breakdown
Early Friday evening I remember my supplies were running low so I decide to go out and find a place to get a quick meal. I’m thankful I took Jagger. I end up exiting the park in a different direction, again still exploring the area. Where I end up is not a place I should be driving around, especially as dusk was approaching. So I quickly turn down a rough looking street filled with huge potholes, some the size of a tire! Google was indicating that was the fast route to get the heck out of dodge.
What Google didn’t know is somewhere on the road was a piece of metal roughly 1/2″ x 3/4″ that was sharp. It punctured my tire. Just as I pulled out onto a highway, to cross a bridge over a major train switching area and the Nonconnah Creek, my instrument panel sounded an alarm and the tire pressure warning panel displayed in the main screen. My rear right tire was losing pressure, at a very rapid rate 55..50..45..35, with only seconds passing. There was no shoulder to safely pull over and I was panicking. I slowed down looking for a place while telling myself “I am not pulling over where it’s unsafe”, I would rather lose a tire and rim if I need too. 30..25..all in less than a minute. Up ahead I see a road leading off to the left, just before crossing the creek ..20..15. I continue to slow with my flashers going and pull into the left lane and center divider so I could turn while continuing to slow down to a crawl. I turn left, no pressure is in the tire now and I know I am now destroying a tire that still has about 10K miles left on it 🙁
I pull stop near the corner so a service truck can find me. Then I get out to see the damage and evaluate my situation. Well Jagger looks like we are stuck in an unsafe industrial area, right next to a swamp and it’s getting dark. I pull out my Good Sam Club Card for the first time and dial the number. A pleasant lady answers the phone and I explain my dilemma. She asks where I am located and I give her the names of the streets. She says, “sorry sir I can’t find your location in our system”. She goes on, “I found you on Google Maps but I still can locate you in our system to dispatch a service tech”. May I disconnect you to talk to a supervisor and call you back? Sure I say and then wait – not patiently.
She calls back and tells me a service tech will be there within thirty minutes. Twenty minutes later I get a call from Larry who is now attempting to find me. We talk as he makes a turn and arrives. As he gets out of his vehicle, Jagger who is next to me alerts, growls and starts a very throaty bark. I comfort him and tell him the man is here to help us. Larry comes up to Jagger and makes friends with him and then gets out the tools, proceeding to change my tire.
As he is doing that, I ask him where would be a good place around here to purchase a new tire on the weekend. He looks at me and hesitates, I tell him I am traveling and don’t mind driving. He smiles and says, “I would recommend the Firestone Store”, and gave me directions. The store was thirty miles away and in the outskirts of Memphis, a very nice area I might add. I appreciated his candor. I will be the first to admit this neighborhood is not the place to be at night, especially for an older white person.
Until next time, Safe travels…Gary
More Photos: Memphis Tennessee