Memphis: Mud Island, BBQ and Beale St Blues!
Trip Start Jul 20, 2012
18Trip End Jul 30, 2012
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What I did
Mud Island is a small peninsula on the Mississippi River fronting downtown Memphis. The island incorporates a park called the Mississippi River park which contains a neat 1/2 mile long scale model of the lower Mississippi River from Illinois to New Orleans (which is1000 actual miles long). The cool thing is the model's running water (representing the flowing river's water) allowed us to walk in it to cool down as we explored every curve representing the Mississippi River. It was exhilarating in this heat. Our walk ended at a pond represented as the "Gulf of Mexico". At this point there were some floating Swan boat rides so of course Aria just had to get in one. I let her and Jadin hop on one and paddle away in the heat as Laneshia and I sat in the shade and watched
We walked back up the 1/2 mile model to the car and left just after 5PM as the park was closing. It was a refreshing walk.
Next was a short drive through Memphis to see the Saturday afternoon crowds along the streets of downtown. Beale Street looked tame at this time of day, but I knew night time would be different there. There was a baseball game starting up in the downtown ball park and a crowd was headed that way. after the short trip we headed back to the hotel for a quick shower to prepare for dinner.
For dinner I called a cousin of mine who stayed in Memphis whom I hadn't seen in over three decades. Lori and her husband Greg and daughter Brittney joined us for evening dinner at the Neely's BBQ place around 7pm. This was a restaurant by the Food Network celebrities who are the hosts of Food Network’s “Down Home with the Neelys”. We enjoyed each others company and I learned more about my cousin & family and life in Memphis. As for the BBQ... it was just alright in my opinion.
After dinner, they drove us to the National Civil Rights Museum which is housed in the former Lorraine Motel - the site where Dr
By this time in the evening the air had cooled to a comfortable temperature so we spent some time just talking outside the museum. I was impressed by the two nicely restored cars in front that were representative of the vehicles there at the time of the assassination. The motel site was very approachable and open outside so I was surprised there were no random vandalism acts done to the site. Greg informed us of the history of the site and how it's viewed as almost a sacred site in the community.
We then drove back to the hotel but my day was not complete. It was Saturday night so I wanted to see what all the Beale Street fuss was all about. After valet parking the car we strolled the two blocks to the world famous Beale Street but we were met with a surprise: a line to get onto the street. For security control everyone has to get screened to get on Beale Street. Well, this was too much for Laneshia and from the loudness we could hear and "grown" looking crowd lining up to get in, we weren't going to send the kids in there
For all the hype it's only two blocks long but as many people as possible squeezed into those two blocks. I loved the live music and festive vibe there. I caught a live R&B and Blues performance by a local musician (Darryl Wilson) and his band who put on a good show. It was amazing to see how people of various ages and nationalities would react when a certain song they knew or liked was performed. They were playing for tips and whenever the tips in their bucket would slow down they would pause the music and start talking instead of playing - true showmen. But when a big tip came in they were very responsive and played whatever that person wanted to hear.
I spent almost two hours watching the performance then spent more time just taking in the scene. Saturday night on Beale Street - this was definitely the place to be and be seen.
I got back to the hotel around 1am and got a good nights rest.
We're out of Memphis tomorrow and Little Rock awaits us as our Mid-America Family Vacation continues.