Before we left Little Rock we were told we would be travelling along Highway 40, one of “the” busiest trucking roads in the US. Well they weren’t wrong. We calculated that there were approximately 5 trucks for every car on the road. Wow what a busy road.
I have to admit to being a tad concerned about the campground I had us booked into as the area we drove through once off the Highway was to say the least, poor. Houses boarded up and some of those that were still being lived in really should have been boarded up. Once we left this housing area, we then drove through a Propane Tank Farm. The silence in the cab as we drove through was getting very loud. It was with absolute delight that when we left the Tank Farm and drove up and over the levee we found ourselves in the most idyllic campground right on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi.
Memphis is an interesting place, so much more than Elvis. Home of Kathy Bates, Morgan Freeman, Justin Timberlake and my favourite Aretha Franklin. It was also home to Sun records and Beale Street is really the tourist music centre of Memphis. It is a “little” like Bourbon Street with the Bars, Lights, Music and buzz. We arrived on a Tuesday so it was quiet with not many people around which meant we could soak up the sights at a leisurely pace.
The following morning we made the pilgrimage to Graceland’s as Elvis was such a huge part of TOH’s life growing up. On our arrival I did stand in the car park and stared in awe at the size of the complex which made me understand how much bigger and commercialised (and profitable) his legacy is now compared to when he was still alive. For me it felt a tad wrong. Watching other visitors and how they were acting, reminded me of those that we saw make the pilgrimage to see Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Bascilica in Mexico city. My feelings about this place may be because I am not a big Elvis fan, but heaven help us if a miracle ever happens to someone here, there will be petitions to make him a saint. Personally I wanted to hear or know more about his music not the opulence he lived in.
We celebrated with lunch at Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken Restaurant. A funny little restaurant right off the beaten track (but highly recommended). Really if I hadn’t already been told to not judge it on the outside appearance, I would have not even considered entering. Enter we did to be delighted by a scene from the 50s, right own to the checkered table cloths, miss matched furniture and all the memorabilia on the walls. This place does fried chicken and not much else and believe me they weren’t wrong in their claim of the Worlds Best Fried Chicken. It was the best we had tasted since being in the South and the service was 1st class. We left feeling like they had made a mistake on the bill and surely we had not paid enough even with the tip.
We had been told of a particular bar “Rum Boggie Cafe” that has good live music, so this is where we headed for the evening. We had been told earlier in the day that there were going to me a collection of Motor Cycles to view in Beale Street that night also. Well there must have been 3-400 motor cycles. The majority were Harley Davidson’s with a few (very few) Japanese top end bikes thrown in for good measure.
Of course being a past Triumph motor bike rider, TOH, was in his element and we must have walked the street for some time, admiring the bikes as he passed them. It was an event in itself just to people watch the owners of these bikes.
At one end of the street, it was noticeable that the owners were far darker skinned than those at the other end. There were a couple of times when TOH was in the midst of the groups as he was drawn to these beautifully groomed chromed bikes like a magpie is to anything that glitters and I was tagging along trying not to stand out when I catch them watching us, and I would love to know what they were thinking.
This evening of bikes is a regular event, every second Wednesday during the summer. The noise at times was quite deafening to the point that you felt it vibrate through you as the bikes were rev’d hard in competition to each other and from those riding on their back wheel down the street. As there was a large police presence there was never any feeling of fear.
Early in the evening we were approached by a young man on the street, who was selling CD’s. He attempted to have a conversation with us but he gave up with us in disgust as we could only understand a few words of what he was saying. His accent for me was so thick. I have to admit that I am loving the Southern drawl, it usually sounds like a slow elongated purr.
We finished the night off back at Rum Boogie Cafe for an enjoyable time, where they had live music. Eric Hughes and his band were playing. They are an establish band in Beale Street and I can see why. They were good, fun and Eric is a real entertainer. Check them out on You Tube, in particular “Meet Me in Memphis”.