Graceland, Fried Pickles and "Coon Ass"

Trip Start Aug 18, 2008
Trip End Aug 27, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Saturday, August 23, 2008

After hanging out on Beale street the night before and being uneasy with our current hotel surroundings we decided to switch hotels for our second night in Memphis. We called around and reserved a decently priced higher end Hotel. At this point it was 10:30am and check out was at 11. We packed, cleaned up and loaded the car. When we went in the lobby to check out, we were greeted with a big shiny gold smile from the blonde girl the previous night! Awesome, you just don't get to see that kind of stuff in Cali.
It was too early to check in to our new digs so we set out for Graceland. We plugged the address into good old Betty and away we went. Now from the maps we had been looking at we knew Graceland was a couple miles south of Downtown where we had been. But when Betty had been guiding us through miles and miles of really scary neighborhoods and projects we started to wonder just where she was sending us off to. I realized I had made the mistake of choosing Shortest Distance and not Use Most Freeway (keep us out of bad neighborhoods should also be an option).
We finally made it to Graceland and pulled into the first parking lot we saw. We decided to grab a quick bite at the Rock n' Roll café in the Elvis shopping center next to the Heartbreak Hotel. Lunch was average and nothing special (chicken sandwich and side salads) but we sat and filled out and caught up on our post cards. After lunch we headed right over to the Elvis Mecca. It's more like a 4 block Elvis compound. The Mansion is just across the street but they still make you take a tour bus. I was preparing for a more lengthy trek to Graceland... like a pilgrimage of some kind. Nope, just crossed at the light and up the swooping driveway.
Graceland was awesome especially at our discounted AAA rate (thanks Dest). However it is not something that we would pay for again, but recommended that you don't pass it up if you're in Memphis. If you like any part of Rock n' Roll you should go. We learned new things that day such as that Elvis had a twin brother and that he and his family members are actually buried on the property! After the mansion we headed back to the compound to cruise through the car museum and his personal jets (totally recommended).
After Graceland we set out for the Civil Rights Museum back down town. This time we made sure to select most freeway use. The freeways there get a little confusing and Betty likes to wait till the last minute when you're going 65 that you've missed your exit and starts barking at you to make "legal" U turns. We took the right exit at first, then thought it was the wrong one and then were convinced it was right. Long story short, we cruised through 3 of the 4 clover leafs on this particular intersection. None the less, we made it to the museum.
The Civil Rights Museum is amazing and a must see. The museum is actually part of the hotel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968 - The Lorrain Hotel. We were unable to bring camera's into the museaum so we only have pictures out front. The museum takes you through the long history of American civil rights movements from Slavery to the 1960's. Very educational and a great way to tie in all the stories you've read and heard about this turbulent time in the South. We got to walk through the bus and hear Rosa Park's story, we sat at the counter with the protesters at a Sit In among many other fantastic exhibits.
After our tourism extravaganza today we were pooped and ready to check in at The Crowne Plaza. We decided to get freshened up and hit the town. We were only 6 blocks from Beale street and we wanted to get some more BBQ. Our first stop was BB Kings where a band playing Tina Turner and other cover songs. Their ribs are awesome. We also, of course ordered more fried pickles. Just can't get enough of those things along with the sweet tea.
Our first night on Beale was a Thursday, and it was pretty busy for a weeknight. Well now it was Friday and the streets were packed. The energy level is so high and everyone is in the streets having a great time. You literally walk down the street until you hear music you're interested in and then go on in. We watched a band playing Stevie Ray Vaugn cover songs in an Alley with a bar set up. As we were heading back up the street to check out some other clubs, we noticed we were being hollered at from above. We looked up to find about 20 bikers in leather vests leaning over the upper level balcony asking us to come up and have drinks with them. We politely smiled and kept walking. But then realized that there was a cool band and nice patio downstairs so we sat down for a while.
Low and behold one of the bikers from the balcony comes sauntering down the stairs only to find us sitting there relaxing. He asks why we didn't come up to join them and we explained that we don't generally gravitate to large groups of men heckling us. He agreed that if he was a chick he wouldn't have come up either. He sat and chatted with us for a while and filled us in on this Southern Riders bike club and how there are 700 riders in town for a convention to benefit St. Judes children's hospital. Mike (a.ka. Trix) is a 29-year-old Marine veteran and current Army reserves medic who works in emergency medicine in his hometown outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Good guy for sure. They don't care what you ride, it's that you ride! Not the scary bikers we had anticipated. After we decided he was a nice and interesting guy we went up stairs to hang out and meet his friends. See the flashing pictures. I somehow got the old guys all riled up since I refused to "flash them" (Emily) and I made them show me the money. All I got were some beer bellies and butt cracks, but it was totally worth it.
As Mikes group of friends dissipated we decided to go check out some other clubs and again we ended up at Coyote Ugly. This time it was more packed and the girls were up dancing on the bar. Mike ended up running into another member of his riding club who is up from Louisiana, Bradley (a.k.a. Scooter). The two southern gentleman were perfect company for us out on the back patio as we all exchanged stories about the differences of living in the South versus California. Everything from learning about the versions of Baptists, nick names for trashy people (we are common in the White Trash and Redneck, however in Louisiana there is a term called "Coon Ass" which is someone who lives in the country and never comes to the city). They were a hoot and offered to walk us back to our hotel since they were only a block from ours.  It was another late night since the bars don't close until 3am and we closed it out after last call. We thanked our Southern gentleman for a lovely evening and were off to bed in our really NICE hotel room.
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