046 - USA - Memphis
03/23/09 - 03/25/09
“I'm going to Graceland... Graceland... Memphis, Tennessee...” -Paul Simon
Ever wonder how we chose the destinations for our round-the-world trip? It wasn't a scientific process but we did have some selection criteria. First, we wanted to go to places that we've never visited before (except for Greece which was our halfway 'recharge' point). So, as cool as Aussies are, I've been there, so Oz was out and Indonesia in. Next, we chose places that we'd rather not go with a family in tow... so New Zealand out, India in. We didn't want any English speaking countries... the United Kingdom out, Ethiopia in. Finally, if there ever was a time to travel to quote 'dangerous' destinations, now was it. Virgin Islands out, Middle East in!
Unfortunately, all that selection criteria was useless while planning our USA leg. Hannah's been to all 50 states, American road trips are as family friendly as the diaper change stations in Wallmart restrooms, everyone speaks English (y'all gotta love that southern drawl though), and besides a few hot-pocket crime zones in major cities, there aren't any truly 'dangerous' spots. What to do, how do we
pick our destinations now?!? Well, in this case, we just listened to one of our favorite Paul Simon songs and set off for Graceland!!! Hey, that's how things go sometimes!
Heading to Memphis from Colorado Springs meant driving through Kansas. We didn't stop for too long (only to gas up) but we did drive through a pretty amazing storm and some high winds. At one point, we saw six separate big-rigs rolled because of the high winds. Our 'rig', the Suburban, seemed to have the same surface area so we concentrated on keeping her upright through the storm for a few hundred miles.
En route we checked out the St. Louis Arch in Missouri. This 'Gateway to the West' is very impressive at over 600 feet tall, and we opted to ride to the top. The structure is designed to sway with the wind (as much as 18 inches on either side), and we felt the boat-like rocking at the top.
Finally, we made it to Memphis and met up with our friend Victoria who graciously let us stay at her palace. yes, you read right... while driving to the address I was given, Hannah asked what
The Lorraine Motel with children in front of it
The motel was the location of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
sort of accommodation Victoria had. “I don't know, I didn't ask”, I replied. “You didn't ask?”, Hannah responded. “Well, since Victoria is around our age, I figured she would be in an apartment or small house and we could sleep on her couch or on our air-bed.” Imagine my surprise then, when we pull up to the biggest house I've ever been in! We actually stopped at beginning of the long driveway and called her to make sure we had the right place! Sharing the mansion, owned by Victoria's employer, is one of the perks of Victoria's project management job in Memphis. Well done, Victoria!
Victoria took us out to experience two vital elements of Memphis lifestyle: southern BBQ and good music. The food was so delicious it's no surprise that many Memphis residents have a little extra weight they carry around (at least compared to Southern Californians)! The music was equally impressive: hometown blues and jazz the first night, and alternative country the second night, both times with exceptional musicians. After all, rock-n-roll was born in here!
Speaking of rock-n-roll, have you ever heard of a little place called Graceland? If not, and you're like Hannah asking
me on the way to Memphis, ”What is Graceland, anyways?” Graceland, my friends, is the home of Elvis Presley, the king of rock-n-roll, and mecca for all his followers and for lovers of music in general.
Everything about Graceland is cool. It may be a tourist trap for everyone from rigid German travelers to snap-happy Japanese revelers, but it's still cool. Sure, there are fourteen gift shops and screaming kids running around the grounds, but somehow, it still maintains an amazing vibe. In addition to touring the actual home of the King, there are pictures, videos, gold records, Grammies, cars, planes, and costumes on display. We wore Elvis sunglasses with built-in sideburns that Victoria lent us, and got into the groove while wandering the exhibits. If you've never been to Graceland, I highly recommend it. If you're an Elvis fan or are just plain curious as to what all the fuss is about, click here
for the Graceland pics.
Our initial plan after leaving Memphis was to head south to New Orleans. Unfortunately, the day of our departure saw a huge storm hit the region with high wind and flood advisories. So, as things sometimes go while traveling,
we made a tough last minute decision to skip the rest of the south and head straight to Hannah's mom's house in small-town Pennsylvania.
Next stop, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and then off to New York!
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