I may not get there with you.....

Trip Start Jun 06, 2011
Trip End May 22, 2012

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Where I stayed
Rodeway Inn
What I did
Got the Blues

Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday 11 June

LK: Po-boys for breakfast ie. massive baguette filled with scrambled eggs, cheese and some kind of spicy sausage, accompanied with a plateful of fried potato cubes salted to a cardiac arresting level. Americans just love their food, and lots of it, but it's a bit light on the fruit and veg (I’m sure they count eggs as vegetables). Off to the Amtrak station again, with a sense of dread. We get on the train and it leaves on time, can you imagine?

KK: A double-decker train at that so we sat upstairs. Volunteers for the Park Service were on the train advising us to look left and right as we passed scenes of interest. Just outside New Orleans the train felt like it was teetering along as it passed over a twelve mile wide flood plain engineered to keep the Mississippi out of people’s houses. The muddy water rushed under the tracks and the imagination fair plunged. Then we were into lush green swamp land with elegant egrets and cranes stalking the shallows and striking black and red birds swooping about amidst fist sized dragonflies. There was an observation carriage with a glass roof where the Volunteers answered questions (unless you asked about the black and red birds) and had animal skins to touch. "That alligator skin is dyed" – such a shame you can’t actually get scarlet alligators. Needless to say within three hours we were an hour behind schedule.

LK: Anyways, we arrived at Memphis Amtrak station around 10.30pm to walk through the middle of the finery of a black American wedding reception. We asked a couple of the more senior guests where we could get a cab; this seemed like a strange question to them. A policeman advised us to walk up seven blocks to the main drag of Beale Street which we did, accompanied by lightning dancing across the sky, noticing our hotel’s cross road on the way. Exhausting the left hand turn of Linden Avenue we confidently deduced that the Rodeway Inn would surely only be about 10 minutes away the other side. After 10 minutes, Linden Avenue ran out of residential buildings in a way that could be described bleak, or menacing, and our main aim was to make it to the gas station lit up ahead. Our guardian angel came to us in a yellow cab; it was at least another 40 minute walk, he helpfully told us that there were dubious housing projects in the vicinity and that you didn’t really want to risk it by walking along the road, and we gave him a generous tip for rescuing us. Our massive room is on the second floor of a motel-style building (open front balcony walkways). We plan to go to the Civil Rights Museum tomorrow where Dr Martin Luther King’s motel stay didn’t go terribly well.

Sunday 12 June

LK: CNN has some interesting programmes – one was scrutinising the behaviour of the media in reporting certain stories (in this case Anthony Weiner – crazy politician). Nice that journalists should be held to account for their actions from time to time.

KK:  Got a cab to the Civil Rights Museum for a quick look. 3 hours we were there, it was exhaustive but interesting, they have got the actual Rosa Parks bus and there were films and more information than even Lynn could take in. Fascinating and moving.

LK: However, I did remember that Harriet Tubman ran a network on the railroads for freeing slaves in the mid/late 1800s, and she was armed. Get in girl. As the slogan on some of the merchandise in the gift shop read: “No well behaved woman ever made history.” You could view the inside of the motel room Martin Luther King last stayed in, then cross the road to the guesthouse where James Earl Ray shot from. There are plenty of questions still left unanswered as to how and why these events unfurled. Ray was lifted in London, and pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty, spending the rest of his life in prison until his death in 1998.    

KK:  In contrast we then went to The Duck Parade at the Peabody Hotel.  What began as a drunken prank in the 1930s has been a daily tradition ever since. At 11 am the ducks (4 of them at the moment) are escorted (via the elevator) by The Duck Master to the fountain in the hotel’s lobby where they spend the day. At 5 p.m. The Duck Master escorts them from the fountain along a little red carpet back to the elevator. We witnessed the latter event. Although disappointed that the ducks didn’t sport little bow ties, hats and monocles the whole event was a grand affair with a flash bulb popping crowd delighted by the happy quacking VIPs. “The first Duck Master served for 50 years” they proudly announced – not mentioning that a more recent Duck Master is in jail for trying to rob a bank (apparently).

LK: Visited Beale Street for a couple of beers after all that duck-related excitement. There’s a lot better soundtrack in Memphis than New Orleans but it doesn’t seem a very lovable city. And our barman had a ridiculous Johnny Ramone haircut. “Can I do anything for you guys?” he kept pestering. “Yes, get your hair cut, you look stoopid.”
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Frank on

Glad to see all is, by and large, going well. Nearly as exciting as my itinery: Fenham, Walker, Newbiggin Hall - although Saturday is the big event - cricket with Tony (oh dear: beer and Yorkshire fans. You probably know - and don't overly care - Nolan off to W Ham. Good news about Danny Baker, he has been given the all clear. Suppose the whole point of the American leg is to visit the crossroads of highways 49 + 61 in Clarksdale so Kris can buy his soul back from the devil. Take care...

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