The irony of Memphis
Memphis Travel Blog› entry 6 of 24 › view all entries
July 25th, 2008 – by: eurowestgirl
Past the thunderstorm, the drive was uneventful. Our kitty cat Ema started to get too warm, which I only figured out after watching her get restless and then start to pant. That's awful watching your normally sweet peaceful kitty start breathing quickly and then meow with her tongue hanging out.
Once we arrived in Memphis, we headed to the hotel to check in. However, the hotel was overbooked and the clerk said to check back in an hour to get a room. We couldn't sit outside with windows rolled down, as it's nearly 100 degrees and Ema obviously can't take the heat. So we decided to head to a barbecue joint that had rave reviews from one of George's coworkers as well as web review sites. Called Interstate BBQ, it's located a short distance off of I-240 West in a nondescript area just south of downtown Memphis.
George had to run in to pick up lunch, and boy did he do a good job picking out good food. He got us both a chopped pork sandwich loaded with spicy barbecue sauce as well as a side of the yummiest baked beans for me.
After we finally checked into the hotel room, we chilled in the hotel room for a bit, letting Ema get used to her new surroundings before heading back out. The heat and humidity this afternoon was absolutely oppressing, making it hard to even breathe. We were spoiled in Nashville and Mammoth Cave with 80-something degree weather and low humidity. I watched the car thermometer climb from 68 this morning in Nashville to 99 by the time we reached Memphis. Just too damn hot! Chalk that complaint up to yet another reason why we're leaving the East Coast for the West. ;0)
We had a couple sites in mind to visit, the first being Sun Studios near downtown.
We got to see the original recording equipment used to record Elvis, Johnny Cash, BB King, Roy Orbison, U2, and many many others. When I had first done this tour back when I was 13, the most impressive part to me was being in the same studio where U2 recorded songs off of Rattle and Hum.
The tour guide, Dave, was an interesting fellow. He was young, in his late 20s and obviously a rocker. In fact, all of the employees looked like rockabillies in their late 20s and early 30s. Dave said he was interviewed for a long time for the Walk the Line documentary about Johnny Cash and Sun Studios, but that all his interview material was cut in the final production.
After the tour, we spent a few minutes taking pics inside and outside the studio, which of course I can't share with you just yet. Still no camera cord, argh! Then we looked at the clock and realized that we had about 30 minutes to get downtown to the Peabody Hotel to watch the ducks trail from the lobby upstairs via the elevator.
The next thing George wanted to do was walk across the pedestrian bridge to a peninsula on the Mississippi called Mud Island River Park. George wanted to check out the five-block replica of the Mississippi River. We walked through the downtown, checking out buildings on Main Street. Normally we love walking through downtowns, but today it was just too bloody hot. We were drenched in sweat (sexy, huh?) very quickly, and of course, walking between buildings was the worst without the river breeze.
We continued walking until we eventually reached the Mud Island visitor center. but...the place was closed! It closed at 6 PM, and it was about 6:30 at the time. Boy, were we not happy. It just didn't make sense why the pedestrian bridge was closed to the public at an early time.
So now we were cranky, hot, and thirsty. We decided to walk back to the Peabody, but along the way thought it might be fun to check out Beale Street for a block or two. Along the way, we came across Front Street Deli that had several handwritten signs for milkshakes. I figured, hey we're on vacation and need to cool off, why not get one and check out a local place at the same time? And what do you know, George tries the door, and it's locked.
By the time we reached our car, it was about 7:30. We felt we had walked around the city for hours, although it had only spent less than two. I was supposed to attend an anthropology conference in downtown Memphis in March and now am kinda glad I couldn't go. I don't think I would've enjoyed spending several days without a car just walking around the city. I saw so much despair and poverty on the streets that I haven't seen in a long time, and that makes my heart feel heavy with sadness.
We were near S. Third Street, so we decided to head back to Interstate BBQ for dinner. We got to see a part of the city that normally we would've bypassed on the interstate. Dinner was delicious, and I enjoyed listening to other diners' conversations. The TV in the dining room was tuned to CNN, which was discussing its Black in America special. That sparked an interesting conversation between two older black men eating ribs, and it was interesting to hear their thoughts after having formed some opinions about race relations in Memphis based on observations throughout the day. One of the men had a neat Obama "Progress" tee shirt on, and though I'm not quite sold on Obama, it was just neat to see someone who evidently was proud that Obama's running.
Tomorrow morning we head out early to Oklahoma City to meet up with a friend I met on Kaboodle.
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