Nashville to Memphis - home of the King!
28.06.2013 37 °C
Left Nashville and headed for Memphis. Had a short stop at the Casey Jones Railway Museum.
Then travelled on to Memphis. We arrived at lunch time. Memphis is on the Mississippi River and Arkansas is on the other side of the river. Memphis is situated high on a "bluff"which means it never floods. However, in 1811 an earthquake caused the Mississippi to flow backwards and the Indians thought that the new steam boats that had just been invented, had caused it.
Memphis water is supposed to be the best and freshest drinking water in the United States because it has four underground acquifers. We are experts on tap water because Canberra's is the best in Australia and I must say that Memphis water is pretty nice too. The Chickataw Indians and the Spanish were the first settlers in this area. Memphis is a predominantly black city with 62% blacks, 31%whites and 7% of all the rest. FedEx has its headquarters here, hence all the FedEx trucks. All parcels in the USA come to Memphis to be sorted and are then distributed by FedEx vans. Memphis is known for its excellent hospitals. St Jude's Hospital specifically treats children with cancer and they come from all over America to be treated here. Danny Thomas, the TV actor has donated millions to support the hospital and has encouraged other stars to do likewise.
The Holiday Inn hotel chain began in Memphis. The blues, gospel, rockabilly and rock and roll started in Memphis. It has the third largest delta in the world, following the Nile and the Amazon. The Peabody Hotel in Memphis is famous for the ducks that live on the roof. Apparently, every morning at 11.00 am they catch the lift down to the ground floor, march out to the pool, accompanied by a band and then at 5.00 pm, they come back into the hotel and then, accompanied by the band, march back through the foyer to the lift and back up to the roof. True!! It attracts huge crowds. Unfortunately we won't be here at those times.
While we were driving along, we watched a DVD of an Elvis concert which really set the mood for our visit to Gracelands.
Memphis has a pyramid that is the tallest in the world. It is silver and shines beautifully in the sun. We called in for a photo opportunity. It is extremely hot and humid. We don't know who built it or why and at the moment some sporting goods store has bought it and is undertaking renovations inside. Looks like it is about to become the most unique sporting goods shop in the world!
We visited the Memphis Information Centre. While I was standing on the edge of the Mississippi taking photos, I suddenly realised that I was standing on an ants nest. Just little brown ones, but they sure packed a punch.
We then visited the Lorraine Hotel, the site where Martin Luther King was assassinated by James Earl Ray. It was a very emotional moment. We just couldn't believe that we were standing under the balcony where Dr King was shot. The motel has been preserved as it was in 1968 and it is now a museum to Dr King and the Civil Rights Movement. There is also a row of bricks in the ground that points straight to the building where James Earl Ray was when he shot Dr King on 4 April 1968. That is the middle window in the photo of the red brick building. Dr King was a preacher in Alabama in 1955 and became involved in civil rights when Rosa Parks, an African American refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white person. And the civil rights movement started then. In 1964, Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize and his birthday is now a national holiday in America. James Earl Ray was apprehended in London on 9 April, confessed to Dr King's murder and was jailed. He died in prison of liver disease. We felt very honoured to have visited this place and will never forget it and the struggle of the African Americans which is still ongoing today, in a more subtle way, despite what they say.
THEN OFF TO GRACELANDS TO SEE THE KING!
I took a stack of photos, so they can tell the story. We were at Gracelands for about four hours. We had lunch and then we joined a queue for a shuttle bus to take us across the road to Elvis' house. It was lovely. We only saw the downstairs rooms. There are rooms and rooms of gold records, his costumes and stacks and stacks of photos and memorabilia.
We saw the graves of Elvis and his mother and father. They have ornaments and artificial flowers on them which I thought was very tacky. If I had anything to do with it, I would just have the graves set in the lovely green grass. But it was an absolutely huge thrill to be there. I couldn't quite believe it.
Then there were the planes - Lisa Marie and Hound Dog II.
And the cars.
And the costumes.
There were gift stores everywhere but it was all a bit kitch but great to see it all. He certainly is Memphis' favourite son, and with good reason.
He paid $102,000 for Gracelands in 1957.
We are all dying in this heat. It is awful, hot and humid and about 100 degrees.
We hopped on the bus at 5.00 pm and on the way back to the hotel, we stopped off at Sun Records where it all began. Amazing! Oodles of memorabilia there too with some photos of a very young Johnny Cash that Phil just loved seeing.
Had a big thunderstorm this evening, thunder, lightning and heavy rain. We had a nice dinner in our hotel of salad, Mississippi cat fish and chocolate cake (which we shared and didn't finish) and had a very frank and educational conversation with our African American waitress. You'll be pleased to know that racism is alive and well in the USA, but what's new? It's the same all over the world, just a bit more subtle these days.
In all our travels, I have never ceased to be thrilled by actually seeing places that I have read, learnt and heard about . Our world is amazing.
Crown Plaza Memphis, Room 508