Road Trip! Chicago to Memphis

Thursday morning, we got started pretty early: up for Fajr, then around the corner to Peet’s, for a change (though Dunkin Donuts coffee is better, really…), where we ate out on the street and enjoyed the cool morning air before packing up the car and heading south.

We stopped after an hour or two and Hana took over driving, which gave me some time to shoot a bit, mostly with Hipstamatic.

Traveling south from Chicago to Memphis is a long drive: practically the whole length of Illinois, plus a bit of Missouri and Arkansas too. With a highway that long, there’s bound to be construction, and there was…

I hadn’t made this drive before, not the whole way, anyway, and the landscape was different than I expected: less corn, more soybeans and open land.

Hipstamatic was a good choice for this, I think. I used the Shake to Randomize function and just shook and snapped for awhile.

The land just kept rolling by, but the construction was that type of construction where just when you think you’ve made it through, it starts up again.

The iPhone 5 is starting to show its age, largely in the form of regular autofocus misses, as if it didn’t even try to focus. When it’s dark, I understand, but in bright daylight? Sheesh.

But then we were through it, mostly, and I could just enjoy the landscape.

Enjoy the landscape, and enjoy someone else driving for a change.

We stopped for lunch of leftover Lou Malnati’s at the Rend Lake rest area: nice place, but loads of bugs.

After lunch, I took back over driving. Hana was feeling tired and I let her sleep, but I couldn’t resist shooting the Mississippi as we passed.

I only took one more picture before we got to Memphis, just to admire the (slight) change of landscape.

We drove past downtown to visit the Memphis Islamic Center. It too was closed, but we found an open door and prayed our Dhuhr and Asr prayers before traveling on to the hotel.

To be honest, I was a bit worried about Memphis. It’s kind of a small town, and it’s in the south, and my wife and I tend to encounter bigots in places like that. But to my pleasant surprise, everyone was lovely, more or less, and those that weren’t were just tired of the day or their jobs and there were nasty to everyone, so it was really a nice place.

We checked in and had a bit of a nap at the Holiday Inn downtown. It was a nice enough motel, but quite a step down from the Blackstone, and even from the Springfield, IL Hilton.

After naps, I took the my usual opportunity to shoot the scene out the window.

That’s the famed Peabody across the street.

And here’s what I could see of the rest of downtown.

We went for an early-isn dinner at Bangkok Alley just down the street—tasty, in particular, the panko-crusted avocado stuffed with spicy crab and raw tuna appetizer: if you’re in Memphis, it’s a can’t miss, IMO.

After dinner, I really just wanted to have a quiet evening in the hotel room and an early nights sleep, but Hana had other ideas.

So we walked downstairs and across the street, and climbed into the back of one of those horse-drawn carriages in the picture above for a 20 minute clop-trop around downtown Memphis, with running commentary from a nice woman whose name I’ve forgotten.

Hana enjoyed it, I think, and I did too, even though I barely lifted the camera.

All in all, it made for a nice way to end the day.

Tomorrow, we head back to Dallas and a return to regular life.

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