Because Helena was sort of en route to my next destination, I decided to visit it on a Sunday morning.
I drove along 1 (the Great River Road) to 49 west. Once I crossed the bridge over the Mississippi, I saw signs welcoming to both Arkansas and to downtown West Helena.
I easily found a place to park and walked along the famed Cherry Street.
All that could be heard were pigeons coo-cooing.
In addition, I saw a man pushing a baby stroller; he too appreciated the quiet morning.
What can I say about Helena?
Just another example of a Mississippi River town trying to make it.
Just another town trying to reinvent itself.
Is it working?
I don't know.
It's hard to tell on a Sunday morning.
Not exactly a day of hustle and bustle.
I did see a large KIPP school; I did see working businesses.
However, I saw plight, too.
The old movie theater above eerily appears as if it's open for business.
Lights appear on, yet no one is home.
Perhaps, it's the glare from the sun?
Meanwhile, the building on the right is completely in disrepair.
Helena, Arkansas was home to one of the richest counties in the state.
History has been unkind to many towns along the Great River.
I headed back on 49 east to rejoin 61 north.
Specifically T.O. Fuller State Park.
The route along 61 was smooth and clear.
A little traffic here and there -- near the casino locations.
When I entered Tennessee, the topography began to change.
Going up -- going down.
I thought I would need to stop to look up directions to the state park, but the signs in Tennessee were well marked.
The park was directly off of 61.
How that happened is a mystery to me?
I followed the signs to the campground and found site #28 -- my temporary location for the next two days.
Unloading my stuff and setting up my tent, I decided to take my chances and try to find downtown Memphis.
I could not have asked for a better location.
Literally, I was less than 15-minutes away from Main Street.
I was starving.
I ran into this place: Arcade Restaurant.
A Memphis staple.
All this on accident.
I walked in and found a seat at the counter.
I ordered the sweet potato pancake breakfast with two eggs and bacon and other sides.
As I devoured my food, a man named "LA Daniel" sat next to me. A homeless man -- sort of by choice -- explained to me the "ins and outs" of how to get around and where to go.
He was a wealth of information. I picked his brain for awhile.
Then, I told him it was time to do some... touristy shit.
My young waitress got a real kick out of that statement. She kept repeating my words to herself over and over again while laughing.
I headed out into the scorching day.
Did I mention I was wearing jeans?
With no destination in mind, I wandered.
I found a relatively new pedestrian walkway and was able to get a nice shot of the Mississippi River. I ran into a few people who wanted pictures of themselves with Memphis in the background. Hence, I played photographer for the tourists along my route.
Below is a sculptural rendering of the Great River. It could be seen from the walkway above -- I stood high above to be able to take this shot. Some children could be seen playing in the flowing river rendering.
Considering the temperatures outside -- who could blame them?
As I continued my walk, I stumbled upon more artistic renderings on Main Street.
Revitalization has changed some of the old seediness of Memphis that I remember. I even ran into some hipsters along South Main, yet homelessness is still present.
Like Vicksburg, it's nearly impossible not to run into homeless people -- many of them homeless men.
Somewhere around 7 p.m., I headed back to my campground. I desperately needed a shower after the day's dogged heat.
To my surprise, the T.O. Fuller State Park had wonderful bathroom and laundry facilities.
I took a cold one, and laid down in my tent.
It was getting dark, and I had had a very long and somewhat weary day.
Unfortunately, during the night, I was awakened by nosy raccoons.
Twice, I was startled into complete alertness.
Scratches on my tent could be seen the following morning.
Until we meet again, my friend.