Wednesday 3 November 2010

Day 68 – The Other King Of Memphis

While we’ve been on the road we’ve had time to discover what works for us and what doesn’t. Based on the first half of the trip we found that a long string of busy days got tiring and that breaks were needed, but through the second half of the trip the momentum of it coming to an end has helped in giving us a second wind. It was because of this that a while back we decided to move around our plans for the final ten days.
We cut our last ‘rest/hotel’ day and we chopped up some longer drives by moving on to ‘halfway’ hotels rather than spending an extra night in the same spot. Case and point, tonight we drove four hours towards our next stop instead of getting up again in Memphis tomorrow and having a day where we just drove six and a half hours.
The main reason for doing this is that it has allowed us to fit in some extra tourist spots as another thing we discovered was that the less activities we had, the more boring the road could become! This was working fine, until today we discovered a downside to this: We really loved Memphis! That hotel day we cut? Yep, it was gonna be here and we also would have had the rest of today here. So, instead of four full days, we were in a rush to get on the road and ended up with only a day and a half. Of course, the upside is, Memphis has made it to the top of our ‘hope to return’ list!

This morning started out with a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum. The museum is housed in the once functioning Lorraine Hotel – Where Martin Luther King was murdered in 1968. The hotel actually continued to be in use until 1982 when it was bought and converted into the museum--despite the inside being gutted and modernised, the front of the hotel has been kept intact to how it looked the night of the assassination.
The Civil Rights Museum doesn’t actually allow pictures inside, but nonetheless it is an extensive and interesting exhibit that follows America’s racial history. It’s amazing that such a young country has such a shocking past and also how much has changed even in just the last hundred years. In today’s day and age, the thought that one person could be considered another person’s property is just sickening. Even to believe that public places were segregated seems far-fetched in the modern world, but these things really happened and people accepted it!
In some ways it’s comforting to know that big changes can be made, that there are people that will stand up for what’s right, but the museum also makes you realize that high prices are often paid to make the world a better place. This trip has taken us through the history of America; a country that has achieved great things, but that has also encountered some huge embarrassments. We’ve learnt about the inspiring people that work to take things forward and the insane people that want nothing other than to drag things back. And the irony is that on a day like today – when the mid-term election results are coming in – it becomes clear that this is a country still in process.

After getting serious, we tried to move onto the lighter side of history and made a small trek downtown to famed Beale Street – the home of the blues. Pushed for time and hampered by the rain, we made a quick tour of the neon lit street which is now mostly a mix of bars, BBQ restaurants and gift shops.
The city of Memphis has a lot to do that we didn’t get time to fit in, Beale Street in particular was a cool area and is also home to an NBA team, the Gibson guitar factory and the Rock and Soul Museum. Sadly we didn’t get to experience any of those and only stopped to grab something at Starbucks. This is one of the only times on the trip where we felt we had planned our time poorly…so, not too bad for 74 days really!
Before we ran out of town we stopped in at the Blues City Café for what might have been the best chicken tenders meal I’ve ever eaten. The place had a great old fashioned blues diner feel to it, so I’d recommend giving it a try if you’re ever in the neighborhood!
Once on the road we stopped in Nashville; not to be ‘a little bit country’, but to see a movie. Killing time before it started we browsed the racks of the only viable store in a very strange strip mall – the Burlington Coat Factory. Joe may not be picking out his own winter coat this year… The gaudy Regal Theatre had an excessive 27 screens and one hell of a crazy paint job, but the sun had disappeared by the time we came out and then I kinda digged it! By the by, we weren’t fans of the film we saw: ‘Hereafter’-- nothing happened that justified a 2 hour running time.

Finally, please enjoy a little video that Joe created on his iphone of our time so far on this roadtrip:
So, until tomorrow…

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1 comment:

  1. Good Little Video but I didn't see Anita doing any silly dancing??