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Published: January 16th 2015
Well we're off to Arizona for the Winter of 2015. Left home early on January 8th and drove through -17 degrees Celcius temperatures and snow packed roads until we reached Kentucky. Arrived in Nashville 12 1/2 hours later.
Nashville, the home to Country Music, is a very interesting city. Of course we experienced quite a few "Honky Tonks" where music talent is in abundance. Visited the recently opened Johnny Cash museum and of course the Country Music Hall of Fame. Both are worth the time and money. And as a climax, on Saturday night, went to the Grand Ole Opry which is such an experience if your a country music fan. Even Debra enjoyed it! The show is held in the winter at the original Ryman Auditorium which made the performances even more memorable.
A Canadian note; At the Country Music Hall of Fame, they showed a picture featuring Hank Snow appearing on CHSJ radio in Saint John New Brunswick. It was taken in 1943.
From Nashville to Memphis on January 11th. It's about a 3 hour drive. First stop was Graceland. The tour of Elvis's mansion was excellent. His estate was more modest than anticipated, at least
by today's standards, however, we're reminded that he bought it in the late 50's for about $100,000 which was a lot of money 60 years ago. It's amazing what he achieved in such a short period of time. Although he had musical talent, I think timing and charisma had a lot to do with his success. In fact, after listening to a recording of Carl Perkins in Nashville, to me, he was a musically talented as Elvis.
Last stop in our short visit to Memphis was the National Civil Rights museum which is housed in the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King was assassinated. This was an emotional exhibit that chronicled the tremendous struggles of African Americans from the slave trade to current days. Having visited South Africa, there is clearly a lot of similarities between the history of the Black population of both countries. Of course, both had strong, passionate leaders who helped bring their respective people to a better place, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. This is well worth a visit and you should plan on at least 4 hours.
A Canadian note; James Earl Ray, the assassin of Martin Luther King, escaped and spent
some time at a Toronto Boarding house. He later obtained a Canadian Passport under an alias and travelled to London England where he was eventually captured.
Of course, while in Memphis we sampled some Barbecue of which they are famous. Headed out the next day to Austin which is the Capital of Texas and also a major competitor to Nashville as "Music Capital" of the USA. Willie Nelson is probably the most well known native of Austin having helped established the long running Austin City Music show. While in Austin, we visited the Lyndon B Johnson Library and Museum as well as the beautiful State Capital Building. Lunch at Whole Foods, which for those not familiar, is an organic and natural food store chain now established throughout North America. This was their original store and is probably one of the most fascinating food store I've ever visited (with a 32 year career, I've been in a lot of food stores through the world). My niece Victoria and her husband Ron who are both "foodies" would "flip out" in this store!!
Now in San Antonio. WOW!!!
What a great city!! Of course there is the Alamo which has
historical significance but the most interesting feature is the River Walk. The city has turned the San Antonio River into a series of canals giving access to 15 miles of restaurants, hotels and shops. If the weather is good (we had 1 good day out of the 2 we spent here), the walking along the canal is somewhat comparable to Venice although with different features and architecture. Of surprise to us was the ethnic diversity of San Antonio. There were about 25 different ethnic groups that settled in this area during the 18th and 19th century. The obvious observation, the most interesting communities are the ones with the greatest cultural influences. San Antonio is a "must visit" if you're in the area.
After driving 8 days, 3620 km, travelling through or staying in 9 States and experiencing temperature fluctuations of 32 degrees Celcius , we will arrive in Tucson Arizona tomorrow, January 16th to begin our Winter vacation. Stay tuned.
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