Walking in Memphis

Trip Start Oct 06, 2010
Trip End Oct 30, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Friday, October 22, 2010

Listening to the iPad iPod (Cafe del Mar Arias, in case you were wondering or even interested) we are making our way in the pouring rain from Memphis to Nashville. The three hour journey time is turning into one much longer as we have to drive slower and slower. We are constantly being overtaken by huge heavily laden trucks, many containing fuel. Not sure there is much sense being shared around these gruffoons. Idiots the lot of them.

On a slightly different note, this iPad thing is proving its weight in gold. We use it daily - mail, news, GPS, finding accommodation in the middle of nowhere and laundry facilities, music when the country scene get to be too much, blog writing....

By the way, still counting Waffle Houses, up to 41 now and due a visit for the 20th. Not sure that I feel (or look like) a waffle today so will have two wait for sometime this week.

Mikan has and is continuing to do a sterling job with the driving. Safe, secure and a no risk taker on the road. Today with the rain he has done fabulously. Well done you!

OK, Memphis! Home of the King, barbecue, great music on every street corner almost, and larger people (or maybe they were just visiting). Elvis sure is well and truly alive.... His legacy burns bright at Graceland and is one of THE reasons to visit Memphis. His estate is where he lived, died and is buried, along with his parents and grandmother. Evey year, hundreds of thousands of fans make the pilgrimage to pay homage to the man and his music. Elvis Week, which is held annually in mid August at Graceland and throughout Memphis, has apparently grown to match the myth.

After the area was claimed by the United States, Memphis was founded in 1819 and was named after the city in Egypt, due to the resemblance of the Mississippi River to the Nile. The river drew steamboats throughout the 19th century to carry the loads of cotton that poured into Memphis from plantations throughout the Mississippi Delta. The city was a major centre of the slave train, and a stop on the Underground Railrowd. Occupied during the Civil War, Memphis suffered some decline during reconstruction, but soon saw it's cotton based economy up and running again.

Cotton made Memphis great, and new arrivals poured in from Mississippi, Arkansas, and the rest of Tennessee. The melding of cultures led to a great American art form - the blues. W.C Handy, the father of the blues, honed his craft on Beale Street in the early years of the 20th century, laying down the songs that popularized the rhythmic sounds and melancholy lyrics of the cotton fields and delta juke joints. Some 50 years later, another Memphian, Elvis Presley, took the basics of blues, mixed in the gospel on which he was raised, and topped the results off with the moves that made him the first big rock star.

Graceland -
One thing about Graceland is that it very much a money making business. Nothing is free, parking Included. A steep parking fee, followed by an even steeper entrance fee (varying in price from $30 to $70), all the merchandise you could ever dream of (whatever comes to your mind, can be Elvis'd), water, snacks and food is low quality and not work forking out for. The tour is audio with a headset and your bags are searched for anything they wish to search it for. Much of the staff are too young to remember Elvis for a start and we did not find them friendly or approachable.

The "park" was full of old timers on their first or repeat trip. Lovely to see the dedication to this magnificent singer, songwriter, actor, family man, and charitable donator. We saw his home, the stables ( he loved to ride), his trophy room and walk of fame with hundreds upon hundreds of gold discs. This man was a god! We viewed and went into his personal aeroplanes, saw his enormous collection of stunning cars, and watched continuous video screens of his movies and interviews. Everywhere we went and proceeding and preceeding each exhibit was an over stocked gift shop with everything Elvis imaginable. We bought a key ring and a magnet. Took lots of photos inside and outside the rooms we went into.

The Cotton Exchange Museum -
We visited this building and did a tour of the cotton trading floor, hearing and learning about how cotton is grown, harvested and sold. And the Exchange is where the cotton was sold on the cotton market. Fascinating stuff.

National Civil Rights Museum -
The Lorraine motel, where Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, was assassinated on 4 April 1968, has been transformed into a museum that documents the struggle of African Americans and the Civil Rights Movement. King's room has been recreated as it was at the time of this death and cars typical of that period have been parked outside. The motel looks like a normal still working motel.

The live music scene here is fantastic, you have to visit Beale Street and check out all the bars and live bands.

So now we are ensconced in our gorgeous hotel in Nashville. The storm has followed us here. Thunder, lightening, rain and more rain. The tv shows severe weather warning, and in some other Tennessee areas have had tornado warnings. Eeek! That's all for now folks! Check back soon for more news.
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