2019 Tour of Honor – Ride 12

Last week we had a lot of work finally finished around the house. We have gotten the front yard cleaned up, new sod put down, and a new fence. I need to seal the fence in a week or so, but today isn’t the day. My bride took her aunt to the doctor and I am sitting around the house. What to do, what to do?

80 degrees, not a cloud in the sky. What to do, what to do? I hear a noise in the garage, sounds like crying. I go out and Love bug is crying. She doesn’t like being in the garage with the weather this nice. I agree. I take a quick look and decide to tackle a few optional sites.

I leave a note for my bride and head out. Gassed up and about to mount the bike when the phone rings. I don’t have the headset with me, so I do a quick check before taking off. It is my bride, so I tell her what I am doing, she tells me she is off to go to the farmers market.

I head toward the Natchez Trace, then to US-72. Before getting to Memphis, I make the turn and head to Southaven, MS. A short trip on the interstate has me at DeSoto County Veterans Park. I scan the area looking for a statue of a K-9. Nothing. I get my picture of the bike at the park, now I have to find the memorial. I take off along the path that circles the pond. I find memorials for each conflict/war in which the United States has been a participant. “Global Terrorism,” “Vietnam,” “Korea,” “WWII,” “WWI,” “Spanish American War,” “Civil War,” “War of 1812,” and the “Revolutionary War.” Only one more memorial ahead of me, “They Also Served.” This memorial is not only for K-9s, but also for carrier pigeons, and horses. I complete the circle around the pond and now back at the bike. I mount up and head to the next memorial.

A quick trip on I-55 and I exit at Stateline Road. Two lefts and I follow the road past the memorial park and the Southaven Police Department. I make a U-turn at the library and park the bike Jim Saucier Memorial Park. Another trail around a pond. I see several exercise stations around the pond, but I also see a marker of black granite on the other side of the pond. I make the hike and see the marker is off the trail. This is a memorial to K-9 “Bach” who was killed in the line of duty.

I make the hike back to the bike and the phone rings. My bride is calling to ask where I am and when I will be home. I tell her I am in Southaven, should be home by 4″ish”. I also tell her that I am thinking about adding the stop in West Memphis. She tells me to ride safe and she will see me when I get home.

Back on I-55 and head into Memphis. I went to college and lived in Memphis a few years after college before making the move to Washington, DC area. I recognize many names of streets and places. I make my way to Overton Park. I knew of the place many years ago, but it is a lot different now. It has been cleaned up and now has the “Charging Doughboy” near the entrance to the park. I park as close to the Doughboy as possible for the picture.

I plot the location of AR-7/West Memphis into the GPS and ready to go. I head out of Overton Park, making the right on Poplar Ave. The GPS wants me to take its route, but I have other plans. I ride down Poplar past familiar landmarks: Jack Pirtle’s Chicken, the “old” Western Auto store (where I worked in college) which is now a healthcare center, and some old houses. Making the left onto Bellevue Blvd, I pass what was Bellevue Baptist Church. Making the right onto Madison Ave and onto I-240, I head to West Memphis, Arkansas. I pass Southland Park which is a dog racing venue and casino. Exit the interstate, follow the service road, then turn onto Missouri Street. I follow Missouri until I get to Broadway Blvd. I make the right onto Broadway then a left into what was the municipal court. Last time I was here was to testify in an auto accident where I had been hit. I see the memorial and circle the drive. The place is deserted, even though it is shortly after the lunch hour. I decide to ride the bike on the sidewalk for a close-up picture.

Four sites visited today: 1 Tour of Honor Site (AR-7/West Memphis), 1 Doughboy, and 2 K-9 memorials. Three hour bike ride back home, no clouds, heat isn’t as bad as it has been, and Love Bug is happy. My bride has supper waiting for me as I walk in. She is too good to me. Not bad for a last minute short 350 mile ride.

Bittersweet ride. Loved the clear skies, loved visiting old haunts, disappointed on run down towns. West Memphis seems to have fallen on hard times since I was last here, and it looked rough in the 80’s when I left Memphis.