Day 7 - Shelby County - June 9, 2013

What an action-packed day we had today. After a wonderful night of camping in the serene setting of Chickasaw State Park, we headed out early to Memphis and arrived at New Olivet Baptist Church. Not just an average Sunday sermon, this was more like attending a concert. We were warmly welcomed by pastor Kenneth T. Whalum, Jr and the outstanding and rousing sanctuary choir under the direction of Dr. Allen F. Todd, II. The energy and enthusiasm in the room was almost overwhelming. We had a captive and receptive audience for our message of “Love the Land, Lose the Litter.” I'm proud of Jane and Harlan who got baptized in the art of public speaking when they were given a chance to share that message with the congregation of hundreds. They were greeted with enthusiastic applause, followed up by more singing and dancing.

New Olivet Baptist Church

New Olivet Baptist Church


After our memorable visit at New Olivet, we ventured to the northern edge of the city and commenced our biggest litter clean-up yet, with over 100 volunteers. We concentrated on a half mile stretch of winding two-lane road near the General Dewitt Spain airport, where there was a lot of accumulated trash. Jane and Harlan found part of a car axle and vowed to make some kind of art project out of it. While I rolled my eyes wondering where we would store the item in the R/V, Marge quickly pointed out that “Re-use is always better than recycling.” Along with the usual complement of fast food and beverage containers, there were also a lot of tires pulled out of the tall weeds along the road. One wonders how the tires got there. They certainly didn't fall off of vehicles.

Army of volunteers for litter pick up near General DeWitt Spain Airport in Memphis.

Army of volunteers for litter pick up near General DeWitt Spain Airport in Memphis.


Later on, we met up with three locals taking a leading role in litter awareness and environmental education in the city, Janet Boscarino of CleanMemphis.org, Diana Threadgill of Mississippi River Corridor – TN and Joe Royer of Outdoors, Inc. They each eloquently shared their passion for keeping the Memphis area clean and beautiful. It is so inspiring to see such grassroots activism at work and making an impact in such a huge urban area as Memphis. I'm particularly impressed with the efforts these individuals and groups have made to reach out to school kids.


One of Jane's school friends grew up in Memphis and told her about Gibson's Donuts and especially their bacon donut, so of course, we had to set aside some time to check it out. I have to say the bacon donut and all their other offerings lived up to the hype. I definitely think they have the edge on donut creativity and taste compared to Krispy Kreme. Linda agreed and she couldn't resist walking out of their store without one of their $15 coffee mugs!


We concluded our very busy day with a camp out at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park. For being so close to a major urban area, I was really surprised at how remote and isolated the park is. Instead of ten miles from the hustle and bustle of Memphis, we might as well have been 1000 miles.