Muddy Waters

Memphis Travel Blog

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DAY 5 (6/29/08)
Little Rock, AR to Memphis, TN (T.O. Fuller State Park)
8pm / 81∞ / Still, cool with a deafening noise from all the animals and bugs in the woods

Today was a relatively short day driving from Little Rock to Memphis. Uneventful really characterizes the day. As we crossed into Tennessee, the might Mississippi River came into view (I have yet to take a picture because I was driving, but I will) and it is huge. It’s a gigantic river, with barges going up and down all day. And it’s ugly. I am sure it is great to all who live here, but really, it’s ugly. I’m used to the crystalline waters of the Colorado River, and this is not the case. For a split second, it looks like a river of chocolate … for a split second.

Something great about all the road signs in these states is that they’re usually exceptionally informative and placed in a timely distance so that you can make informed decisions about which way to go.

Crossing the bridge into Memphis we were looking for another Welcome Center to help us during our stay in Tennessee (The Volunteer State). I see the signs and follow the blue arrows as directed …

Into downtown Memphis. With 50’ of motorhome and tow car. On ancient narrow streets. On a Saturday. During tourist traffic. I’m sure you’re getting the picture.

I think I lost 2 years off of my life trying to navigate this congested, impacted, narrow venue.

Thankfully we made it to the Welcome Center and got plenty of information about the area and where to stay. Now, to navigate BACK to the I-55 to the T.O. Fuller State Park. 2 more years of my life, gone.

Once we get to the park, we discover that Tennessee quite possibly has the best state park system – ever. It is every bit as nice as Maumelle in Arkansas, but nicer!! Well laid out, organized, clean and CHEAP. $10/night for all the amenities. Completely outstanding. If you ever have the chance to camp cross-country, I highly suggest the state park systems in the states you visit.

After setting up camp, we unhitched the car and drove back into Memphis for some sight-seeing. The downtown area had become like a ghost town in the hour since we’d driven through the first time. Like many old/original downtowns, Memphis was also full of barren shops and great, historic buildings in decay.

We ended up having dinner at Neely’s, the BBQ restaurant made famous by its founders – the Neely Family. They can now be seen on their own Food Network series, “Down Home with the Neely’s.” The ambiance was … rustic? Since the show, it is obvious that they haven’t let fame affect the establishment as it seems unchanged and un-fancied up. The food, however, speaks for itself. Delicious doesn’t come close to describing this BBQ’d food and, best part, were the truly sensible portions. I thought it might be overkill with the lumberjack servings of a Claim Jumper, but no, it was truly sensible which was nice. Also, the best cole slaw I’ve ever eaten. Yeah, I’m thankful for cole slaw – it was tough driving in Memphis today.

Graceland is postponed until tomorrow, and now, after dinner, we have retired to the campsite for an evening of fireflies and crickets.

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photo by: vulindlela