Our final stop on our winter trip was at Tom Sawyer's Mississippi River RV Park in West Memphis, Arkansas, where we spent a week. It is right across the river from downtown Memphis, Tennessee.
|When we arrived all we could see was flooding.|
|We decided to drive over to the parking area for our rig and saw this building on the left with an informational placard. That made me feel good!|
|The roadway to our parking spot had areas under water along with small (newly formed) lakes on the sides.|
|As we got closer we saw a barge going down the Mississippi River. Note where the road ends and the river begins.|
|Barges were going up and down the Mississippi. The ones going up the river lumbered along, the ones coming down the river flew past our park.|
|This buoy had been flung out of the water onto land. See our rig (upper left corner) on the higher ground in the park!|
After the first night, with me waking up often because it felt like we were floating, the park looked the same. The weather was spotty with rain and wind so we decided to do some reconnoitering of downtown Memphis. We stopped at the visitors center to find out about the different attractions in the city.
|Crossing the Mississippi. The drive to Memphis is about six miles from where we were staying so it was a quick trip back and forth.|
|While in Memphis we stopped at a dog friendly restaurant called the Fuel Cafe.|
|It was a renovated garage with a menu of all natural foods including vegetarian, vegan and grass fed meats.|
|I had a grilled walnut meatloaf sandwich. It was delicious and much better than any veggie burger I've had in the past.|
|The Captain had red bean and quinoa chili and he thought it was delicious. We've bought quinoa before but never quite knew what to do with it. Now we have a splendid idea.|
|This beautiful old church in the neighborhood had trees in bloom and our skies had turned blue.|
|Downtown Memphis could be seen in the distance.|
|We took the pups on a walk down Beale Street to see some of the local sights.|
|This building has a brick facade on the front and behind it is an open air restaurant serving drinks and food.|
|Beale Street is only a few blocks long and they have closed off most of the traffic so it is easy to walk through.|
|On the street are music notes representing all the great musicians in Memphis past.|
|How's this for a carriage ride.|
|Jerry Lee Lewis has a club there........|
|and the Captain and pups got their picture taken in front of one of his towne cars.|
|A band was starting to set up on the street.|
|Right off Beale Street is the home of the NBA basketball team, the Memphis Grizzles,|
|and a Minor League Baseball team, the Memphis Redbirds.|
|How's this for a stretch limo.|
|Waiting in line to take the shuttle across the street to tour Graceland along with all the other masses.|
|Each visitor is given headphones and an iPad for the tour. The cost of the tour is an average of $40 per person and the mansion has over 600,000 guests per year. You do the math.|
|Graceland is on 13.8 acres in a more established area of the city about 9 miles from downtown.|
|The house was built in 1939 and was 10,266 square feet. Elvis Presley bought it in 1957 for $100,000 and eventually expanded it to 17, 255 square feet.|
|This is the living room. All the furniture was made especially for the house and was used by Presley for 20 years while he was alive.|
|Many of the rooms have mirrors on the walls so the rooms look larger.|
|The dining room where Elvis entertained his friends. Every room in the house had at least one TV.|
|The kitchen was fully equipped and always stocked with the items Elvis liked.|
|In the basement there is an entertainment center with multiple TVs. The ceiling has glass tiles.|
|There is also a craft room with the walls and ceiling covered in the same cloth material. It took professionals three weeks to decorate the room. Presley had a pool table added for friends.|
|His 'jungle room' has green carpeting on the ceiling and floor.|
|The crafted furniture is in animal motifs because it reminded him of Hawaii.|
|It also has a little waterfall in the corner.|
|Outside are stables and pasture for his horses.|
|Horses are still on the property today.|
|One of the wings Elvis added is now used to display all of his music awards.|
|There are clothes from his wedding to Priscilla and|
|outfits from when he performed.|
|Another area was a workout and relaxation room alongside a racquetball court.|
|The racquetball court houses more artifacts.|
|One of the additions to Graceland was a Meditation Garden that was used by Elvis to reflect on any problems or situations that arose during his life. Today it is where Elvis, his mother, his father, and several other family members are buried.|
The tour of the mansion was crowded and it pretty much felt like a cattle drive with all the rules and security people watching everyone. We had purchased the PLATINUM PASS which allowed us to also look at another building which housed recording studio memorabilia and an additional building that housed all his cars. Mind you, there were other more expensive passes that allowed you to tour his two jet planes (one named Lisa Marie) AND if you really went for the big bucks you could get a special VIP tour of it all. I was Elvis'd out after touring Graceland and decided we needed a drink so we left and found a nice brewery a few miles away.
|This area of Memphis is called Overton Square and it is very trendy.|
|It was a cool area, we had some local beer and a good meal, and headed back home to the rig.|
After several days we finally got some nicer weather and were able to get these sunrises over the Mississippi.
|The picture shows the detritus that was continually floating down the river.|
|While I was taking pictures of the sunrise in a very strange outfit :) the Captain took this picture of me. Thank goodness it wasn't a close-up.........I should probably break his camera.........|
We picked another day to go see the Rock 'n' Soul Museum in Memphis which is very close to Beale Street. The museum documents the life of the poor farmers and how the city of Memphis developed and grew into a music center because of their musical influence. In the 1940's, most farm families in the countryside around Memphis were sharecroppers who grew and picked cotton. On weekends, the sharecroppers, black and white, would mingle by sitting on the porch playing guitar and singing the blues.
|Most sharecroppers' houses had no electricity so a battery operated radio was the family's connection to a larger world but the cost of batteries limited the use of the radio.|
|Hand-crank record player from the 1930's.|
Beale Street was at the heart of African American life and culture in the city of Memphis. It was home to businesses that catered to blacks and served as a haven from the hostile places in other parts of the city. As the city grew, many black institutions and businesses operated on or near Beale Street. It became the center of black music from clubs and cafes and street performers. A stunning variety of music played on Beale Street bringing attention to performers such as B.B. King and Fats Domino.
|Wurlitzer Jukebox ca. 1946.|
|Ike Turner was a gifted young musician who became a disc jockey as a teenager. He used this piano to perfect his style and play his first national hit, Rocket 88, which was produced at a Memphis recording studio.|
Memphis is known by many as the birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll. On July 5, 1954, Elvis Presley, a 19 year old truck driver from Tupelo, Mississippi, recorded "That's All Right" as his first commercially released single. The song was aired two days later by DJ Dewey Phillips on Memphis WHBQ black radio station and released two weeks later.
In September, 1956, Elvis Presley performed on the Ed Sullivan Show. Initially refusing to have Presley on the show, Sullivan compromised by only allowing him to be filmed from the waist up. Over 60 million people, 82.6% of the television watching audience tuned in to watch the show. How many of us reading this blog remember that performance :)
The television program, American Bandstand, did more to domesticate rock 'n' roll in America than any other institution. Due to southern segregation and influence over national programming, blacks and whites could not be portrayed as equals in social space. The show did not integrate its dance floor until the mid-1960's.
One of the wildest rockers was Jerry Lee Lewis. Accompanying him on a trip to England was his new wife, Myra Gale. The international press soon learned that she was only 13 years old plus he still hadn't divorced his first wife.
|A stage costume worn by Jerry Lee Lewis.|
|The diamond and emerald encrusted wrist watch designed and owned by Issac Hayes features his initials atop the piano in emeralds. The piano lid raises to reveal the watch face.|
But the leaders of Memphis refused to desegregate the unions so in 1968 the African American sanitation workers staged a walkout over unequal wages and working conditions imposed by the then-mayor. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been to Memphis many times working with the Civil Rights Movement so he returned to participate in a peaceful demonstration.
|Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated on this hotel balcony in Memphis on April 4, 1968, by James Earl Ray.|
|It's a very beautiful hotel.|
Below is a short video the Captain took showing the march of the ducks. We were up in the mezzanine because that was the closest we could get and we arrived a good thirty minutes before the duck walk.
Just a disclaimer, we are not sure if either of the videos we added to this blog will work because Google Blogger says the blog has to be in Publish mode before they can be seen. Apologizes, in advance if you can't see them......
After the duck walk we went over to Beale Street to check out the action. It is a bustling place with people and music everywhere. We walked along the street and stopped into a few places for a drink. Afterwards we looked for a restaurant that had an opening. The first two we got into right away but we were never approached by a waiter so we finally left. The third restaurant was better and had a singer but it was still crowded.
|The first place we stopped at for a drink.|
|We skipped this one.....|
Young street performers entertained the crowds with their gymnastic performances. They were really good! The Captain also got a video of this one........with me almost in it :)
|The main lobby of the Gibson Guitar Company.|
|There were many beautiful guitars on sale.|
|I loved this advertisement.|
|They weren't giving them away.|
|The company also owns Baldwin Piano and this beauty was sitting in the showroom.|
We took the pups on a walk along the riverfront park in Memphis and it was a neat area.
|On a bluff above the park and overlooking the Mississippi River were some very expensive homes.|
|In the distance is a pyramid that used to be a sports venue for the University of Memphis and another team but now it is being turned into a mega-Bass Pro Shop.|
|This messy area shows how high the Mississippi River had recently crested.|
|One of the long bridges spanning the Mississippi River into Memphis.|
|Barges moving under another bridge.|
|People were getting on board for a river ride.|
|This building is called Beale Street Landing.|
|The roof of the building is made of grass and you can walk up it along the river walk.|
|The Captain walked up to the top with the pups.|
|Coming down the other side.|
|They had exercise equipment along the riverwalk and I've seen this exercise on 'The Biggest Loser' so I gave it a try. You can really feel it in your arms but I got to 50 so that's not so bad.|
|The next morning we got an early start heading home and caught this sunrise coming over the Mississippi River with Memphis in the forefront.|