Tuesday, 19th of September
Our first full day in Selmer–we woke up in Henderson at our fantastically homey B&B, had a nice breakfast with our hostess Diana, and proceeded to roll out. But because we needed snacks/wanted to stop in at an Amish place, we popped in at Ada’s just down the road. Because… why wouldn’t you pop in at the Amish place? Homemade whoopie pies, veggie chips, and assorted other goodies in hand, we headed onward to Selmer.
But not before peeping some little third world refugee kitties hiding underneath the porch of Ada’s!
Returning home meant hanging out on the porch for chat and iced sweet tea provided by the mum (and also layering Haitham up in bug spray, cause bless him, he is a delicious British feast for the bugs). When Dad later on showed me a photo of all the tickseed growing down at the gully, well, obviously we had to go investigate (Haitham and a pack of dogs dragged along in our wake).
Here’s the mum looking pretty as a picture with a posey of coreopsis!
It was a warm day, again. Haitham was purdy hot–here he is trying to escape to the shade. Bless his Scotland-adapted heart.
He wasn’t the only one that was warm though–so was the affectionately-named “Spaz.”
Some time after our wander, we decided to hit up the multitudes of sights found within Selmer. First up, Dad’s office’s new location, which shares its home with none other than the Buford Pusser museum. Here’s Haitham Godzilla-ing all over McNairy County.
Have you heard the story of ol’ Buford? Well, if you haven’t, I think this picture summarizes the important bits. You can just use your imagination to fill in the gaps.
After working up quite the appetite learning about ol’ Buford, next up was the quintessential dining fare of Selmer: a slug burger. They’re honestly so much better than I remember them, and chatting with owner and total sweetheart Pat was just a total delight. Although now, looking at this picture, I can’t help but be puzzled by what a “Slaw Dog” is. I guess a return trip to find out is in order!
With some time to kill, Dad and I took Haitham to one of my childhood haunts: the firetower. Haitham of course was appalled to learn that I was basically let loose here as a wee’un. But so it goes with a good ol’ southern upbringing!
We returned home to relax for a while before hitting the long road to visit mom’s side of the family for dinner. Since Tennessee is basically the longest state ever, meeting with them anywhere involved a wee drive on both our ends. They were willing to make the effort, bless them, so we ended up meeting along the Duck River for a nice meal. I unfortunately don’t have any photos, as they were taken on Haitham’s camera and so far he is still busy hoarding them all like the picture-taking-dragon that he is.
So here’s another photo of the Spaz, this time giving mom the most adoring face ever.
Wednesday, 20th of September
Our last full day in Selmer! Time flies when you’re having fun. With some advice not only from our airbnb hostess but also some of my hometown friends, we hit the roads with a gameplan. Our first stop: to see the Experimental Station in West TN, more formally known as “West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center.” Which, although it was another balmly day, was a total treat. A free garden full of quirky bottle-infused displays? Awesome!
Here’s the wee mom enjoying the bottle wall. (Admittedly, I forced her into the victory pose. She may not actually have enjoyed the bottle wall enough to do a victory pose of her own accord!)
Even better, Haitham got to experience his first real field of cotton. (We now have a little piece at home in one of my jar collections!)
However, our real quest of the day was just a spell beyond: the Tennessee Safari Park. Something my friends had suggested we check out, and honestly such a delight to experience. This was the kind of questionable, abolutely no-holds-barred sort of fun that one can only have out in the sticks of Tennessee. When describing the safari to my friends back in Scotland, they couldn’t help but shake their heads and marvel at the idea of even being allowed to feed the animals, let alone let one take a carrot from your mouth (more on that one later).
Having paid for the experience and rolling Dad’s trusty automobile (which was just a little too low for the rolling gravel road and may have bottomed out a time or two) through the dry, open fields, we were immediately greeted by a giant Bactrian camel sidling up to the car. We’d seen one in its own distant enclosure in the Blair Drummond Safari Park in Scotland and marveled at its size and two humps, but nothing prepared us for this massive guy rolling up to the car, looking for snacks.
And snacks did he get!!! Holy cow!!!! I could not stop laughing.
These animals know exactly what’s up. They know your car holds buckets of goodies, and they know that if even if someone rolls up one window, if they circle around they may sneak into another open one on the other side. Eventually despite all our laughter we realized these (now two) camels were eating all our hard-earned buckets’ contents, so were soon shouting “Go!!! GO!!!!” and rolling up all our windows to escape the persistent beasts.
Honestly, it was like the fluffier version of Jurassic Park!
We were also perplexed by the presence of so many empty buckets already littering the sides of the road as we entered. “People just chucked ’em when they were done,” was one suggestion. However, we soon learned the truth as a gigantic camel ripped the bucket right out of my hands!! Here’s one right after prying the bucket from Mom’s poor, defenseless hands. Tricky buggers, those camels!
One by one we all learned the hard way that these animals and their big brown eyes were not to be trusted. Mom and I both lost to different camels. Haitham lost to the creature below: a common eland! I managed to catch it in its lippy act.
Somehow though, he didn’t even have the decency to look ashamed!
I think the real treat for me of this entire spectacle was rolling up to this giraffe at the end of the safari enclosure. Dad had managed to hold onto his bucket, and we rummaged just enough of the camel-spilled crumbs in the car to provide a wee offering to this guy. She swooped her long, elegant neck down my way and very gently scooped up the remnants with her freakish giraffe tongue. It was awesome! To think that at Blair Drummond we felt so lucky to even peep a giraffe looking suspiciously out from its enclosure before disappearing back inside within moments. Here, we rolled open the sun roof and the camera shutter was positively flying!
Naturally that wasn’t all, though. Once we’d pulled the car out of the “safari” bit I spotted a sign for slices of carrots inside the gift shop, specifically for another giraffe outside. Hygiene aside, Dad couldn’t resist feeding it with his mouth when a sign nearby challenged brave-hearted safari attendants to try it out.
Here’s Haitham getting a little giraffe lick to his beard. Just look at that tongue! What the actual heck.
What a day, y’all! Thanks again Mom & Dad for the special treat–we had such a jolly good time with y’all. ❤ Can’t wait to see you both again!
Thursday, 21st of September
Our last morning in Henderson rolls around. Diana, our total sweetheart of an airbnb hostess, had kindly made us an eggy casserole to send us on our way (and then painstakingly wrote out the recipe for us as we sat chatting in the morning). We discussed our plans for the rest of the trip while also keeping an eye out the window. I’d noticed a mostly empty hummingbird feeder outside the morning before; despite its contents, a determined little hummingbird was still defending its treasure. I’d only mentioned spotting it in passing to Diana, but lo and behold, attentive and excellent hosts that they were, she and her husband promptly went out and filled it up–so we spotted our little friend first thing in the morning! Ugh, cute little stinkers–how I miss them in Scotland!
We hit the road before the morning got completely away from us–our GPS set first for Memphis for a pit-stop, then onward to Arkansas right across the river. Along the way we decided obviously stepping foot on Beale Street was the thing to do; also, we needed to pick up some bourbon to bring back with us.
Of course no stop at a liquor store would be complete without seeing some Jesus on the horizon.
After our bourbon stop, we headed towards the downtown area. I don’t think it’s a place I’ve ever actively sought out myself, having only traveled to Memphis deliberately for the mall, museums, or airport departures. I thought it’d be a shame if Haitham didn’t get to experience it even in a small way, and sure enough we did. We trekked along Beale Street marveling at just how touristy it was–nothing authentic or original to the place to be seen. However, when we’d walked less than a few blocks away to reach our lunch stop, we were immediately in a sketchy, run-down neighborhood, one in which our big cameras felt incredibly conspicuous. A man across the street began shouting something as us from a distance; we nervously picked up the pace. The man eventually caught up with us despite our efforts to ignore him as we waited at a stoplight. “We’re not all bad,” he said to us after apparently freaking us the hell out for no reason at all, and tossed some “God bless”es out as we walked away.
I would say lunch was totally worth it though. We got some portobello BBQ burgers (closest thing to veggie BBQ I could find!) and the most amazing banana pudding I’ve ever had. As we headed back to the car after, we stumbled upon the hotel that MLK was shot at, now preserved as a civil rights museum. I wasn’t expecting to see that at all.
We had no issues retreating back to the car and it was only a few more hours’ worth of travel when we pulled up in the tree-lined, quintessentially American neighborhood Jessica lives. (Haitham totally ate it up; admittedly it was really stinkin’ cute.) Upon pulling up a wee lass ran out to greet me–how big June has gotten, who last I saw at age 3!
In no time at all we had lugged all our stuff inside (June attempted pulling in my massive suitcase, which was probably about 10x as heavy as she is) and all the gifts that I’ve been accruing were slung every which way and direction. Unsurprisingly the one Haitham complained about taking up the most space in the suitcase was the biggest hit–a face painting kit for June!
In no time at all the wee artiste was doing her thing. I even went to dinner with a massive rainbow on my face, as you do. Dinner happened to be at the restaurant I’d spied on Roadside America, and true to their description, my fried pickles arrived via tiny train car running all along the walls. Amazing. And those fried pickles tho. Mmmm, mmm!
Back home it was time for Jessica to face the music and the wee artiste to flex her abstract muscles, this time making a… was it a puppy face? I’m not really sure, but the mustache really brought the whole thing together, for sure.
Oh yeah. Them’s some good lookin’ gals right there!