Memphis, Tennesee

We technically stayed in Arkansas… because there’s a great RV park right along the Mississippi river in West Memphis. We did go out in Memphis twice, I think this was the first time we had been to a city that neither of us had been to before. It was a better choice than Branson…

Tom Sawyer’s Mississippi River RV Park

IMAG4393.jpgI think this is just about the only RV park close to Memphis. The reviews were great for this park.m But at first when you’re coming down the road you think… “Oh man, this is where we get kidnapped”. But like most RV parks it is run by friendly people who are very welcoming. The sites were large and flat and most of them were situated right along the large banks of the Mississippi river. You can watch barges go by all day, it’s actually pretty relaxing.

Beale Street

IMAG4400.jpgIMAG4403.jpgThis is where the action happens in Memphis. I like that all the attractions in Memphis seem to be lumped into a tight 10 block area. The Grizzlies stadium, Beal Street, and downtown are all right there. It’s one of those closed off streets where you can take your drinks to go from bar to bar. It’s like New Orleans with Ribs.

Blues City Cafe

IMAG4399.jpgWe walked down the length of Beale Street and decided that we should get some ribs. This place seemed to have a long line outside but went REALLY quick. So quick that I couldn’t finish my 24oz beet that I bought outside. We ordered the ribs and were surprized that they came out to the table in about 45 seconds. I guess when you only make one thing, it’s easy to cook them ahead of time. They were ‘dry rubbed’ but it was a little too dry. It’s decent, but there are much better places to eat in Memphis.

Rendezvous

IMAG4418.jpgSpeaking of better places to eat… This is THE place for ribs. We were told to go here by my cousin Andy who runs a restaurant in Marietta GA. So he knows what he’s talking about. It’s a little hard to find, per some tradition the entrance is in an alley behind the building. But this is no small place. It seems like they have a whole city block of endless tables with servers in white shirts scuttling around delivering juicy racks of ribs. We decided to wait upstairs which seems to be a whole restaurant that they just use for a waiting area. Its as if in some renovation they opened the attic discovered a place that hadn’t been opened since 1975. Its a litle dusty but they have a bartender who seems to operate only on cash and only serve one kind of beer, in pitchers. It only adds to the mystique. When we finally did get seated we must have seemed confused ordering, because the server just said “I’ll take care of you” and he did. The ribs were BAR NONE, the best I had ever had, we had just come from Dallas where I said the same thing about Pecan Lodge. Back to Back best ribs.

Pearl’s Oyster House

Another Foursquare find. We normally wouldn’t have thought about getting oysters, but the reviews were too good to pass up. We tried a sampler of baked oysters and it was a revelation. WHY HAVE WE BEEN EATING THESE RAW? They’re so good cooked. NEVER AGAIN!

Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid

IMAG4419.jpgIMAG4425.jpgI had read about this place online and it seemed like a joke. It’s the arena that the Memphis Grizzlies used to play in, now turned into a Bass Pro Shops. I drove Laurel there one night with the same strange curiosity that had caused me to originally place Branson Missouri on our Route. I don’t hunt, I don’t fish, We kind of like camping. But this place exceeded all expectations. It’s like outdoorsy Disneyland. There’s a lake, with fish and live ducks. There’s a huge fishtank wall. There’s two restaurants, hundreds of huge artificial trees, and a bowling alley. Did I forget to mention that there’s the largest free standing elevator in the world. All that and you can book a hotel room that overlooks the ladies lingerie department.

Bud Hill Disc Golf Course

IMAG4435.jpgIMAG4428.jpgThere was a small window that I could fit in a round. There were courses that were closer, but I couldnt pass up the opportunity to play on a 5 star rated private course. I sent an email ahead of time to the owner of Bud Hill, he told me to come on out that despite the rain the course would be playable. I got there and said hi to  the two guys who were hanging out in the ‘clubhouse’, one of them showed me where the first tee was and gave me a rough description of the course. I thanked him, put a donation in the box by the first tee and started the course. It was a memorable round, mostly for the fact that I slipped on the 6th teebox and almost tore my ACL. But I kept playing and had a couple really amazing shots, but nobody saw those. What they did see is on 18 where I slipped on the tee again and threw my drive directly in a lake in front of the clubhouse. I stopped at the clubhouse after the round and hung out with the 5 or 6 people who had gathered for their rounds. I met a guy who was just passing through the area on the way to a footbag tournament, he had been to several of the places that we had been. So I took this as a sign and made friends with him on Facebook.

Blue Beacon Truck Wash

IMAG4439.jpgSomething like 10 months on the road and this is the first time that we’ve had the RV washed.

 

 

West Memphis Three

I can’t let this post go by without mentioning that we stayed 2 miles from the neighborhood where 3 children were murdered in 1993. 3 local teenagers were arrested and convicted of the crime, they spent 15 years in jail before being released because of new evidence that had come to light. A series of documentaries called ‘Paradise Lost‘ were produced during and after the trial. It was the original “Serial” podcast. I have seen all of them and became interested in the case for a while. When booking the park I had no idea where is was. I though of driving through the neighborhood but I felt even that would be in bad taste. There are some that believe that they are still guilty, I’m pretty sure that they’re innocent. Victims of a their own attitude and a culture easy to blame satanic teenagers. We will probably never know the whole truth, but the state of Arkansas accepted a plea stating that they were probably innocent. The real takeaway I get from the story is that in 1993 the city police force was more of a small town trying to pretend that it was playing with the big boys.

Memphis

Memphis has a feel about it like a lot of small southern cities who are trying to retain some of their past but also move on to a vibrant future. The architecture recalls a past of money and industry that has left long ago and might never return. There are people here making great food, making art, making music. It might not be on a list of Americas greatest cities. But there’s something about Memphis that sticks with you long after you’ve left and calls you back.

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