From Chattanooga, we decided to visit Memphis Tennessee before continuing our journey home.
We were in Memphis from May 6th to the 11th of this year.
The drive from Chattanooga was uneventful. US 72 is a good road all the way to Corinth where we picked up US 64, another good road; we had easy sailing all the way. Fuel consumption pulling the new fifth wheel seemed a bit less. The highway was pretty flat most of the way which could account for the slightly better mileage. Over all I think we'll get the same mileage as before.
Matilda, the StreetPilot 2720, gave good directions and we arrived with out getting lost. We did get a bit turned around the first evening when we went out for dinner and shopping, not all that unusual for us in a strange town. With the StreetPilot as our guide, getting lost is almost a thing of the past. When we know the address of our destination, its a simple matter to enter the info into the GPS device and follow directions. What did we do before Matilda joined our family? We were lost sometimes and argued a lot. Matilda has been good for the care and feeding of our trusted navigator, Johnna. Reading maps, especially the very fine print, is a nuisance and constant distraction when all you want to do is look at the scenery. GPS devices free up the hands and mind and are worth every penny when you're in a strange location.
The RV park in Memphis is old but adequate. No WiFi, no cable. Cable I can live without but I would like to have WiFi.
Monday, May 7th, we drove to the Welcome Center to load up on pamphlets, maps and what not. A center staff member told us Memphis operates a trolley line that runs four or five miles around and through the downtown hotel and restaurant area. One of the lines starts across the street from the Welcome Center, loops down main street and back; because the trolley line crosses Beale Street, we took the ride, got off there and wandered around for a couple of hours.
A trolley car at the Welcome Center station.
Elvis in the Welcome Center.
B.B. King in the Welcome Center.
Beale Street Memphis seems a perfect reflection of the blues its famous for. Blues is about life. It tells of requited love, the abused, over used, lied to, taken from, lost to, stole from, being down but not out. Listing to the blues has never left me depressed or sorrowful; the blues reflects on life's down side while looking for the brighter side; a little kinder treatment, a better day, and maybe some good mojo. Just life. Beale Street is a bit seamy, shabby and frayed around the edges; it's probably seen its share of the good and bad life can offer but remains upbeat none the less.
The blues, food, and attitude, not cleanliness, is what Beale street is all about. Monday, I walked into the Pig BBQ joint to get a menu; I don't think the floor has seen a mop in years. My feet stuck and unstuck with each step. But, hey, the atmosphere was fine, and the food, a BBQ sampler, was good. Streets and sidewalks catch spilled drinks and food, are walked on, but not, I think, ever cleaned.
Most tourists visit a small part of Beale Street. Two blocks of restaurants, barbecue joints and gift shops; low down blues thumps from high output sound systems, tourists wander up and down, gawk at the characters hanging out on the street, go in and out of shops, snap pictures, stop to eat; and this is during the day. At night, it's one continuous mass of people having fun or looking for some. You can carry your drink with you from club to club, as long as the container isn't glass. When you get tired, sit down, eat, and start again.
B. B. Kings Blues Club on the corner of Beale Street and S. 2nd St.; two blocks down is the Hard Rock Cafe.
The Rum Boogie Cafe a block down Beale from B.B. Kings.
The Rum Boogie Cafe has been on Beale street for many years and is famous in its own right. James Govan and the Boogie Blues Band play every night, when there are no visiting performers. Sometime back in the 60's a musician autographed his guitar and someone decided to hang it from the ceiling. A tradition was established and today autographed guitars from such musical luminaries as Carl Perkins, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Joe Walsh dangle over the tables.
Monday we wandered up and down Beale Street, bought a cap from B.B. Kings company store, ate lunch and went back to the RV park. Tuesday our plan was to visit the Gibson Guitar Factory one block off Beale street. We were an hour early for the tour, so we stopped for lunch at the Rum Boogie Cafe, whose motto is, "Eat, drink, boogie, repeat." We ordered their BBQ sampler, and a couple of glasses of wine. The plate had, chicken wings, chicken nuggets, nachos, deep fried dill pickles, pulled pork and assorted sauces; it was messy and tasty. BBQ is good in Tennessee, mild but tangy sauces, not to sweet or thick, and light on the vinegar.
When we did finally walk one block over to the Gibson factory, it was four PM and all the craftsmen were going home. We didn't want to tour the factory with no one working, so we didn't do the tour.
Up the street to BB Kings.
From the corner across the street.
Down the street from BB Kings. We ate lunch Monday at the Pig; more good barbecue.
In the middle of the second block is a small park where performers can do their stuff.
One of several bill boards/screens hanging around.
Beale street was fun, although we didn't get there after dark. The RV park was over twenty miles from down town and I wasn't up to driving the Memphis freeways after a night of carousing; next time for sure. We think the way to do it, will be to stay in a hotel close by the action.