Memphis Blues

After getting our country music fix in Nashville, we were anxious to visit Memphis, which is about 3 hours down the highway in the southwest corner of Tennessee on the Mississippi River.  Memphis is best known for the blues and BBQ – a perfect combination – so we were very excited.  We were told that the best, closest campground to Memphis was just across the Mississippi in Arkansas so we went over there.  It was a good decision, particularly since the laundry was free (front-loaders too).

We spent the day doing laundry and the evening (Nov 8) watching the election results.  So here are a few observations on that momentous day, particularly from the vantage point of an interesting part of the country.  Just 2 days before the election, a road rage incident involving a young white male was captured on cellphone video in Memphis.  The 4-minute rant included some absolutely outrageous racist slurs against a young black motorist, which the local media played in its entirety.  The white male began the rant by shouting, ‘Trump! Trump! All the way, Trump!’   This video went viral and was watched by millions of viewers.  We, like many, thought this was just another ugly moment for the Trump campaign.  And then he got elected…

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The incomprehensible thing for us, as Canucks, is that a country that came into being in order to resist the tyranny of a king has now seemingly embraced one (and certainly not the benevolent kind).  Instead, based on his neo-fascist rhetoric and off-the-wall promises during the campaign (never mind the abominable remarks against women), the US is likely in for a period of frightful leadership.  We’ll stop short of calling Trump a soon-to-be despot (like many in the media) because that would give him the credibility of someone with a clear and despicable agenda.  Instead, America will soon have a flim flam man at the helm, who conned half the electorate (that voted).  It’s a very unfortunate outcome for the country and the world.  Anyway, enough about that – you’re probably not tuning into bearsgroove for in-depth political discourse…

We drove over to Memphis the day after the election and toured the Memphis Pyramid. The Pyramid stands 321 feet high and is considered the tenth tallest pyramid in the world (we’re guessing some of the other nine are in Egypt).  Inside is the Bass Pro Shops megastore, a river, a hotel, restaurants, an archery range, and an observation deck.  Weird but interesting…

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We then walked through the downtown area.  Memphis is known as the birthplace of the blues and rock and roll, the latter thanks to Elvis Presley.  Elvis was born in Tupelo Mississippi but moved to Memphis when he was 14 (more on him later).

Memphis was eerily quiet, perhaps due to the election hangover, with the few people we saw seeming rather subdued (probably in shock).  So after we wandered in and out of a few shops, we made our way over to Gus’s Fried Chicken, which came highly recommended.  The Bear was allowed inside so we could all take in the atmosphere of a packed southern restaurant.  The food (and service) was outstanding, and could’ve been the subject of a separate post.  The ‘dry’ fried chicken was incredible as were all the sides.

After lunch, we wandered over to Beale Street and toured up and down the iconic strip, including taking in an outdoor blues session.  It was midday so things weren’t very busy – apparently it really comes to life after dark – but we had a lot of fun during the afternoon anyway.

The next day we changed campsites and moved over to the Graceland RV Park and Campground in south Memphis.  This was to allow the Bear a day of sleep while we toured Elvis’ mansion and grounds, which were all within walking distance.  We were a little circumspect that this would be a tacky tourist trap but were pleasantly surprised to discover that Graceland and the associated exhibits were all excellent.

For the Graceland portion, visitors are given an iPad and headphones that provided an interactive display and commentary throughout each of the rooms and outside grounds.  It was terrific and very interesting.  What struck us most was that the Graceland mansion wasn’t very big – the rooms are quite small (by mansion standards).

As a quick summary, Elvis Aaron Presley was born in 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi, moved to Memphis with his parents at the age of 14, and was a worldwide sensation by 22.  Elvis starred in 31 movies and had 150 albums or singles that earned him gold or platinum awards.  He had 18 number one hits in the US and gave nearly 1,100 performances.  Elvis received 3 Grammy awards as well as the Grammy Lifetime Achievement award at age 37.  He died in 1977 at age 42.  He is universally acclaimed, ‘The King of Rock and Roll.’

We were left with the impression that Elvis was like a big kid (he enjoyed his toys), had a love of life and a very generous heart – giving much of his wealth to charities or those in need.  He was incredibly talented and his many accomplishments, at such a young age, are still unparalleled.

Several days later, we were still talking about Elvis, which for us signified a worthy stop on our journey.  And compared to the election outcome, our visit to Graceland made us feel good.  Thank you, thank you very much Elvis…

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4 thoughts on “Memphis Blues

      1. We were at Graceland several years ago and were pleasantly surprised by whole show. Everything was very well done. Grounds were beautiful.
        Donna and Bob. ps Elvis was born same year as your U. Jack and Bob.

        Liked by 1 person

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