This year me and my family didn’t feel like going skiing during our Winter Break so we went to explore the Mid-South.

On December 20th we started on our way to Little Rock, Arkansas. After a short two hours of driving, we stopped by Alabama for lunch at Saw’s soul kitchen BBQ. The food was nice but I thought the coleslaw could be improved.

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We then got back on the road for another four hours to Memphis for dinner at Central BBQ (That is long!!). The barbeque here was very nice considering the flavor and the texture of the ribs.

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We drove for another two hours to Little Rock, finally got to our hotel, and fell asleep tiredly.

In the morning, we headed to Hot Springs National Park for a history lesson about the golden age of bathing. The city was known for its natural resources of hot water. Many bathhouses were constructed and attracted many visitors from all over the country. These eight or more bathhouses are now called the Bathhouse Row.

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You can now visit these places and tour the inside of these ancient relax centers. Their bathing style is very much like their European sisters. Two bathhouses, the Buckstaff and the Ozark, offer modernized services.

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We also visited the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. The view of Bill Clinton’s boyhood hometown was very nice because you could see the great buildings such as the Arlington Hotel and the Bathhouse Row.

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We then went to nearby Garvan Woodland Gardens to see the holiday lights. The display uses 4 million lights to show a winter wonderland. The lights were stunningly beautiful. This is a must-see when visiting Hot Springs during the holidays.

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Next morning, we started on the long road to the Crater of Diamonds State Park. This is the world’s only “Keep What You Find” diamond site.The crater was created by a nearby volcano eruption spilling ash and diamonds onto the ground. The biggest diamond found was the Uncle Sam diamond during 1942. It was 40 carats when found, but 12 carats after it was cut.

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The vast land of dirt devastated me. How was I going to find a diamond?

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After a long day of work I found a quantity of jasper, calcite, and quartz, but no diamond. In fact, no one found a diamond in the last couple days. So I had fun and didn’t feel that bad.

On the way back, we stopped by the capitol of Arkansas and checked out it’s wonderful lights. The five dots above the pillars say PEACE but you can’t see them. I really do wonder how many lights they used.

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Next morning, we visited Central High School, one of the famous sites of forced school desegregation.  In 1957, nine students, now known as Little Rock Nine,  volunteered to take their education at the school but was denied by the Arkansas National Guard directed by Governor Orval Faubus. Governor Faubus met with President Eisenhower and withdrew the National Guard. However, when the nine students attended the school, riots erupted and the mayor of Little Rock asked President Eisenhower for help directly. As a result, President Eisenhower sent in the 101st Airborne Division to ease the tension and allow the Little Rock Nine to attend school. This place made me realize the importance of equal education.

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This gas station near the school (now across the visitor center) was very significant during the crisis because it was the one of the very few places in Little Rock that had a public pay phone. During the crisis, many reporters came to the scene and had to use this only phone to report their stories back to their radio stations and newspapers.

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To learn more about this gas station, go to: Magnolia/Mobil Gas Station Significance

We then visited the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History to learn about the great life of General MacArthur (Douglas MacArthur) and his military service to our country. He was the five-star General of the Army and did many things to help the spread of democracy and peace through out the world. He also had two famous quotes:

“I shall return”, when he liberated the Philippines and “ the old soldiers never die, they just fade away” at his farewell speech at Congress.

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We spent time in the River Market for lunch and headed to the Clinton Presidential Library for a tour of Bill Clinton’s legendary life. The library (or should I call it a museum?) featured the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room. The Library was interesting because of it’s wonderful exhibits telling how Clinton worked to improve relations with other countries.

We also watched video that the Clintons’ used the plot of “Forrest Gump” to express their sense of humor.

Clinton “Forrest Gump” Spoof

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We then head back to Memphis for dinner at Charles Vergo’s Rendezvous Charcoal Ribs. The dry rub ribs were amazing with a nice texture and moist in the inside.

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Next, a visit to Elvis Presley’s Graceland begins our day. What a glorious mansion! Many of Elvis’ awards were displayed there. His music was widely popular because it was quite a new and different style back then. His body was originally going to the nearby Forrest Hill Cemetery but was laid to rest at Graceland with his parents and grandmother.

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We then headed to Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken for a tasty lunch.

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After lunch we stopped by the legendary Sun Studio. We looked inside the old recording place and saw the old records they had produced. We also stopped by the Stax Studios.

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We spent the whole Christmas eve catching up the earlier star war movies and then went to watch the episode 7 – The Force Awakens on Christmas day.  There was barely any people in the theater and the movie was amazing!!!

After Christmas, we headed to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, the place that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.  The museum has many exhibitions to show the history of civil right movements.

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In the boarding house across the street from the motel, we visited the bathroom where James Earl Ray shot Dr. King.

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On this day, our lunch was at Dyer’s Burgers on Beale Street. The burgers were fine but very much like the burgers you get at a fast-food restaurant.

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After lunch, we went to the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum which told the history of famous musicians that changed the way music was played. The exhibits explained the evolution of rock ‘n’ roll very well.

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My favorite song from the museum is Suspicious Minds from Elvis Presley. Her are some runner-ups: Blue Suede Shoes, Don’t Be Cruel. However, my brother’s favorite song is I Am Somebody.

After the musical history, we visited the Bass Pro Shops at the Memphis Pyramid to see a wonderful skyline of Memphis and two states.

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For dinner, we had Corky’s BBQ . The place was packed so we did take-out. I couldn’t believe how many people liked this place.

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Next morning, we went to watch The Peabody Ducks at the Peabody Hotel do their inaugural march. The tradition was created by the general manager of the hotel when he returned from a weekend hunting trip and used their live hunting decoys in their lobby fountain.They were fantastic! Watching them scuttle along the red carpet was amazing!

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After the waddling sensation, we headed back to Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken again for lunch. We finished our last meal here and started our long trip back home.

This trip was definitely better than skiing so we cannot wait to plan the next one!

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