When I awoke on Monday morning, I had very specific plans: have breakfast at the Arcade Restaurant (again), blog at the local public library, and visit the National Civil Rights Museum.
Because the Gaston Branch of the library did not open until 10 a.m., I stopped at the Arcade first.
On my way there, I passed under an overpass and felt a splash on my right shoulder. I wondered whether some truck had hit me with some water or something. Only when I stopped at a gas station did I realize that I had been "shat" on by a pigeon. The bird crap was on my jacket and some splattered onto my helmet.
Not exactly the best way to start off the morning -- besides noticing (earlier) the raccoon scratches on my tent, too.
Back to the Arcade...
Rather than having the sweet potato pancakes, I ordered the blueberry pancakes. Unfortunately, the latter were not as a delicious.
After breakfast, I headed back to the library and stayed there blogging an awful long time. I had two posts to create, and although the time was unlimited, it kicked you off after every 15-minutes.
Around lunch time, I stopped at a local coffee shop for some Earl Grey and a pastry (apple pie) before embarking on the museum tour.
I had read online that people took anywhere from 2.5 to 3 hours to go through the entire exhibit. so I needed a caffeine and sugar boost before the tour.
When you approach the National Civil Rights Museum entrance, you have to go through a brief security check. The polite older woman checked my bag, my jacket, and I passed through a metal detector.
As I paid my $15, I wondered what sorts of emotional reactions I would have. When much of your life's work revolves around the liberal and/or progressive agenda, it's difficult not to have a response.
I knew this tour would be a tough one for me.
Emotionally, the pendulum swung in just about every direction: awe to anger; hopefulness to sadness; reverence to disgust; pride to shame.
My tour lasted just over two-hours.
What gave me the most hope was watching families experiencing the museum together. Listening to fathers and mothers explaining the exhibits to their children; listening to a grandfather share his thoughts with four of his grandchildren; listening to young siblings grappling with the visuals.
Essentially, you're walking through the Lorraine Motel where (to quote U2) "early morning, April four, shot rings out in the Memphis sky."
It was... one of the most moving and emotionally-draining tours I have ever experienced.
If you have children, take them.
Experience it together with them.
Following the tour, I stopped at a gastropub called SOB on South Main Street where I scarfed down some sort of duck burger concoction.
Then, I stopped at Walgreens to pick up some cloth tape to use on my tent. I ran into a manager named Greg who asked me about the ride and so forth. He was a very nice person. I could tell from the look in his eyes that he, too, wanted to be on the road. I encouraged him to make it happen.
When I drove back to my campsite, I showered, and fell asleep.
No raccoon invasions this time.
I awoke, showered, and packed.
I looked at my empty campsite one last time.
As I was about to drive off, a young girl named Allison (just turned 15) stopped to speak to me.
"Where you off to next?"
"Are you touring?"
"Yes. You're right, I guess I am touring."
And so our conversation began...
Feeling the sweat pouring down (I had my helmet and leather jacket on), I spoke to this sweet girl.
This bright-eyed Western Kentucky girl -- home-schooled -- kept me engaged for about 20-minutes. She wants to join the military and become a nurse. I could tell she needed some intellectual interaction, but I was on my way out.
I tried not to be too rude.
When I found a pivotal break in the conversation, I told her that I should get going before it gets too hot outside. Finally, I added one piece of advice:
"no matter what -- just -- keep an open mind -- about life -- about everything."
I wished her well in her future endeavors.
She ran back to her parent's campsite, and I sped off.
Until we meet again, my friend.