Yes, there really is an Eiffel Tower in Paris, TN.  I have now seen it with my own eyes,  As well as the playground, swimming pool and tennis courts that surround it.  Granted, it is miniscule compared to the real one in France (which I have also seen live and in person) but it is well done and quite recognizable.

After covering 1,696 miles and being in five states (Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri) this week, the tower is just one of the many memories I have filed away

Others include: somewhere in the Missouri Ozarks between Cherryville and Bixby there is a real live, honest-to-goodness, still in operation drive-in picture show.  Now dang if I know who comes to the movies because people are few and far between in that part of the world.  In fact, the Ozarks seems like a great place to hide someone who is in the witness protection program.

Those who think agriculture is dead or dying should have been riding with me.  I passed about a jillion aces of corn and soybeans in Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and the boot hill of Missouri.  And while Alabama has endless acres in planted pines, I don’t recall seeing any on this trip..

Outside the little community of Milburn, KY I happened upon a sign announcing “tuxedo rental.”  This struck me as being oddly out of place.  I stopped at the only gas station in Milburn and asked the young lady there if I were in downtown Milburn.  “Ain’t no downtown,” she told me.

Time after time you pass through a small community where a very large cemetery lets you know things were not always like they are now.  Back before interstates and Wal-Marts and Dollar Generals.

A high overlook at Wickliffe, KY, centuries ago the site of Fort Jefferson, stands guard at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.  You have to marvel at the history and commerce this site has witnessed for generations.

If you are looking for the best deal on gas for your car, go right around the corner to the nearest station.  Avoid Tennessee at all costs.  I filled up in Alabama for $2.44 a gallon, it was $2.99 some places in the volunteer state.  Other states were between these extremes.

Some recall U.S. Route 66 that opened in 1926 and ran from Chicago to California.  If you are in Cuba, MO you can find Shelley’s diner located on a portion of the original highway.  Shelley’s began life in the 50’s as the local Dairy Queen.  I got a cheeseburger.  I’ve had better.

We have done a fine job of homogenizing America.  The arches of McDonalds sprout above the landscape in countless communities, large and small.  We have franchised our way to a bland sameness in too many locations.  Still, there are sights to see if you look closely and leave the interstate.

And even with all our warts, we are each blessed to call the United States our home.