Now, it doesn't matter how much advanced planning I do, I will always be running around like a crazy person doing last minute packing. I also always make it a rule to over pack and especially in this case of not knowing exactly what to expect over the next 2 months. But with a couple of space saving techniques I came across on Pinterest, my little red car was packed and ready go.
National Ornamental Metal Museum
The first stop on my route was the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, TN. Being a metalsmith and all this was a no brainer stop that I needed to make. I just wish my first time visiting there wasn't on a summer day in the upper 90s. Other than the sweltering heat, it was such a beautiful day and an amazing place. In addition to their incredible permanent collection they have 3 additional exhibitions; Tributaries: Stephen Yusko, Drawings of E.A. Chase: Designs of a Pioneer Modernist, and their Museum Store Gallery exhibition In the Garden. I have completely fallen in love with this place and will most definitely be encouraging a SIUe group trip to visit there this fall.
The outdoor grounds of the Metal Museum.
The outdoor grounds of the Metal Museum.
I couldn't resist taking a picture of one of the garden areas. Love me some floral inspiration.
Camping on the First Night
After going to the Metal Museum, I had an online reservation for a campsite at Big Hill Pond State Park. I felt that staying in a more organized campground setting would put me a little more at ease, at least for the first night. Once I got there I was surprised to see that no one else was around especially because when I was making the reservation it looked like there would be at least 5 other campsites in use. But with no one else being there it actually put me more at ease because I didn't want to be setting up my tent for the first time with an "audience". (Mostly, I was worried that I wouldn't look like I knew what I was doing and end up drawing more attention to myself.) Now staying at this campsite made me realize one important fact to look at when booking a campsite online...double check any fine print about the type of campsite. Yes, when booking this site it said that there was a tent pad but that it was also available for camper/RV use. So, that ended up meaning that the spot mostly consisted of gravel and wood chips. I thought, "Well this won't be too bad. I should have enough padding between the 2 sleeping bags to be alright for the night." Which was the truth, it was a stiff nights sleep but bearable. The issue I had was getting the tent stakes to stay in the ground. I fussed around with them trying to get the tent stable for quiet a bit; all the while feeling like I was dying in the humidity, heat and swarm of insects that completely made a meal of me because I forgot to bring bug repellent. So, putting up the tent took a little longer than it should have because I kept hiding in my car with the ac on trying to find refuge. Once the tent was all up and semi secure I figured I try to lay in the tent and get some reading done.
Really fantastic book, but unfortunately I didn't get very far. I was extremely distracted by the stifling heat and to add to things, the far distant rumble of thunder. Naturally, at this point I was a nervous wreck. Not only was I camping by myself for the first time but there was also a massive thunder and lightning storm heading my way. I made multiple phone calls and sent out the obligatory SnapChats sharing my predicament looking for some reassurance and encouragement, which I thankfully received. I took everyone's advice encouraging me to think of the rain as a soothing way to fall asleep. In the end that approached worked, even though I still had in the back of my brain the fear of lightning hitting a tree and falling on me in the middle of the night. I only woke up 3 times throughout the course of the night, and for the most part was able to fall right back to sleep.
Now, I am in no way shape or form a morning person, I'm way more of a night owl. But with ending up falling asleep around 8:30pm, my body decided to wake up at 5:50am. Which was surprisingly refreshing. Getting up that early gave me a chance to take my time getting packed up and get prepared to head to my next destination, Georgia.