Thursday, April 25, 2013

Walking in Memphis...Going to Graceland

Now, if I could only get those two songs out of my head!

Today was the day to explore Memphis. First, however, we had to get there. Getting to Memphis from West Memphis has probably been our biggest worry of the whole tour. The MRT Guide book tells how to do it, but from the other direction. It really wasn't too difficult except for when we both realized there was no longer a shoulder as we came to the bridge. There was a pedestrian walkway, so we both ended up lifting our bikes over the jersey barrier. Fortunately for me, I did not have my luggage with me, so it was pretty easy. Christian who was a ways behind me, had to take his front panniers off so he could lift the bike. Once on the walkway, it was easy going.

On the other side of the bridge, in Tennessee, we rode down a grassy hill to the street. From there we needed to find the Mississippi River RV Park so Christian could drop off his stuff. There were no signs, but Christian found it.

After Christian checked in and set up his tent, we had to do some tricky maneuvering to get to downtown--more grass riding. We managed, but it was kind of confusing.

First we wanted to go to Midtown Bikes which was on the way. We were too early and they weren't open yet. So, we rode on to Sun Studios. Sun studios is where Elvis first recorded as well as many other musicians (Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Maroon Five, and Stray Cats to name a few). We didn't bother with the tour as it was expensive and long. Still, we took lots of photos.

After the Studio, we headed back toward Main St. On the way we passed the Peabody Hotel. This is the hotel of the famous ducks that live on the roof and are escorted every morning to a fountain where they spend their day, and are then escorted back to their rooftop home.

We headed to Beale St., but turned right first and went to the river. We wanted to go to the Visitor's Center to see if there was a "Welcome to Tennessee" sign (there wasn't one on the bridge). The closest we could get was a big egg (see photo below).

From the Welcome Center, we could see the De Soto Bridge (I-40--no bikes allowed). This is the bridge that is lit up at night. We could also see Mud Island (more of a kids place) and the hanging monorail that goes to the island.

We rode back to Beale and decided to go to the Lorraine Hotel. This is the hotel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Of course it is all part of the Civil Rights Museum with a charge to visit. But, we could go into the parking lot of the hotel and take photos of the balcony. It's also under renovation "to make a better museum experience".

The bike shop was very close so we went there next. Christian was hoping for a Memphis jersey, but the guy didn't have much in the way of clothing. I asked for a sticker, and he also gave Christian and I Midtown Bike can-cozies (I had to explain to Christian what a can-cozy was). I noticed a Subway cup on the counter. I asked the guy where the Subway was. It was just up Main St.

We had decided to eat at a BBQ place. We ended up eating at "Pig (Pork With an Attitude)" on Beale St. We were able to sit outside so that was pretty cool. Pig has won several BBQ contests so we figured it would be pretty good--it was.

After lunch, we did the rest of Beale, then went in search of the Subway (had to check off a Tennessee Subway). Of course we didn't have sandwiches, we just had cookies. Across the street was a marker telling about the first Piggly Wiggly. Piggly Wiggly was the first grocery store where the customer picked out their own groceries. Prior to PW, the customer handed the grocer the list and the grocer put the order together and wrote the price on the paper bag. PW revolutionized grocery shopping. I did not know that!

Originally, we had decided not to go to Graceland. But, we rethought it, and decided we should at least go to the gates. Graceland is a 10 minute drive from downtown which makes it about a 30-45 minute ride. Riding on Elvis Presley Blvd. was highly unpleasant. The road was bad and the traffic was heavy. But, we made it to the gates of Graceland (did not see any ghost of Elvis). It was sort of anti-climactic, as you would expect something...I don't know...bigger? More ostentatious? Really, it's not. What is more ostentatious is all the touristy stuff across the street from Graceland itself. The area of town surrounding the Land of Elvis is pretty low-rent. I can't help but wonder what the area would have been like if Elvis had lived to a ripe old age???

After Graceland, we retraced our ride on the nasty road. Once we got off of EP Blvd., things quieted down. We stopped at Stax Studio (also a museum and Music Academy) for a photo.

Christian had Google directions to get back to the RV Park. With just one wrong turn, we made it back. At the RV Park, we said our goodbyes. It was a great tour. I told Christian I'm sure I will be looking for him in my rearview mirror for the next couple of days as I make my way to Little Rock.

The way back to West Memphis, Arkansas was not bad. I just had to walk down and up a few embankments to avoid much of I-55.

When I got back to Tom Sawyer RV Park, I decided to take a shower. When I got to the restroom/shower, I noticed a toiletries bag sitting on top of the paper towel dispenser. Uh-oh, it was Christian's! I emailed him right away and told him I would leave it at the office for him. He will come tomorrow to get it. I will be gone by then. Bummer!

Anyway, it was an interesting day in Memphis. Now, onto Little Rock!

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