Our Stay in Memphis

Trip Start Jul 04, 2009
Trip End Jul 30, 2009

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Where I stayed
Tom Sawyer RV Park, West Memphis

Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Monday, July 20, 2009

July 20-25 Memphis

Monday, we said good-bye to the golf carts and made for Memphis.  We stayed at a lovely rv park actually in Arkansas in West Memphis. Tom Sawyer RV is just lovely—it is inside the levee and you can park right next to the river.  It is just a neat place to stay.  We came to see Travis and his grad school but also for Tom and Travis to get some more of the food that they'd discovered when Tom visited Travis at spring break.  Pam kept telling us (not nagging—REALLY!) to go to the zoo while we were there and there were lots of other things to see.

In addition to sightseeing, we found that Andy, the son of my dear friend, Lizzie, in Australia, was rerouting his tour of the US to be in Memphis while we were—what fun ! Andy is a great guy and he and Travis seemed to like to drink beer together!  So, we had lots to do and folks to do it with.  Pam also was in town the first day we were there so we met her for dinner and visited awhile! It was great to see her again and she again strongly recommended the zoo!

 I really liked Memphis—it veers wildly from Old South to modern South (or as we like to call it the NEW South).  It has a park dedicated to Nathan Bedford Forrest, famous commander in the War of Northern Aggression (or the Recent Unpleasantness as it is called in the South) and the founder of the Ku Klux Klan! YAY!  Great fellow.  There are embankments where gun emplacements once protected the city from the evil Yankees during the Civil War and a statue of Jefferson Davis who apparently retired in Memphis at the end of the war. 

The city is a busy entrepot esp. in the cotton trade so there is a Cotton Exchange Museum—not great but a neat little preservation of an old style exchange where cotton was traded.  It is in a lovely building built by the Exchange and is just spectacular.  There are also museums devoted to the African American  southerners in Memphis—there is an Underground Railroad Museum and a Civil Rights Museum.  Memphis seems to be trying to tie together all the strands of its history—including of course, the rock n roll, the blues—all the music that comes out of it

The best part of its history though has to be the food.  The Barbeque Shop and Central Café both serve killer ribs—Andy was very skeptical of the fact that ribs could be delicious—apparently, Aussies haven’t conquered that technique the way they have making beer! He was very surprised and decided the ribs were the best food he’d had in the states.  We also ate at The Little Tea Shoppe which is a lunchroom that serves wonderful, old fashioned comfort food—fried chicken, meat loaf, fried okra and the best cobbler EVER!  Huey’s makes wonderful hamburgers—much of the recommendations came from Travis’s grad school friend, Joe, who is a local and really knows good places to eat—thanks Joe! 

Unlike Andy, we decided against Graceland—we really didn’t want to give Elvis’s estate that much money.  We hit Beale St. and the Sun Records museum and sho which is a really neat place and has a great tour.  We were lured into buying some of the vintage music too—Elvis recorded there only briefly but Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins—some of my favorites –were there longer.  An dy went to Graceland and got pictures taken! 

We had to decide which of the many museums and sights to focus on.  We decided to go to the zoo and then the last day to the Metal Museum.  The zoo was so fantastic. What a great zoo.  It is well planned and laid out with the focus on making the animals, many very endangered, comfortable and safe.  I really appreciated a note on the window of a reptile’s tank that said "I’m not here because I had to go to the hospital because someone knocked on my mirror and scared me so I ran into the window!"  I hope that might keep folks from trying to interact with the animals and just enjoy their beauty.  The panda’s enclosure is modeled after the Yew Garden’s in Shanghai even down to the 9 Turnings Bridge that was used to bewilder evil spirits. The most fun this was watching the otters and gibbons as we crossed the bridge.  The otters would suddenly all gang up, the little hoodlums, and charge into the gibbons who would scatter—some would climb to safety and swing, some would chase the otters, others just pulled back.  The otters did this twice while we watched and were just having a blast.  At least six or so ganged up to charge and then ran back to get in the water.  The pictures don’t do it justice but you can get a sense of it. 

The Polar Bear Enclosure was also very cool.  The bears were either resting in the sun or swimming.  The swimming area included a narrow area that put them close to the windown where you could really seem them swimming—using only their front feet while the back ones just hung limply.  It was wonderful theater.  Right across from that was the sea lions and again you could see them on top of the water and then underneath—the pictures don’t really do them justice again but you get an idea.  We really could’ve watched the otters and the bears all day!  The panda was very cute and eating bamboo which is what they do all day but those otters were the best!

The last day, we went to the Metal Museum which is out in an old military fort right on the river. Lovely old buildings with original wood floors, shutters and shutter locks, high ceilings and tall windows—just wonderful.  Then there are the artifacts—both inside and out. Really wonderful metal workings including a gazebo overlooking the river.  I think I could live there!  There are also two ancient Indian mounds near the museum—one was used during the Civil War to store ammunition.  IT was a great way to end the trip though Travis and I had to get to the top of the mound and my flip flop gave out at the top—stupid flip flop!  I had to go barefoot on the way back to the trailer.  After that, we picked up Andy and left Travis and him together wondering if they wanted to walk over for beer—I think they agreed they did. 

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cinderoonie on

Zoos are always fun. I like to drop by Gladys Porter Zoo sometimes. My cousin works there. They actually let the peacocks have free reign all over the zoo.. they go where they want because they're so pretty. My cousin said this method sometimes backfires, like the time they had a crane get eaten by a saltwater croc. That was a $14,000 meal right there.

indiansue on

Great pictures
You sure crammed a lot of living into a short period of time this year, Pat. Loved the zoo pictures of course, and your captions too. I would have taken a photo of the bamboo graffiti same as you did!


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