Impressions of Memphis
We arrived in Memphis on Monday night and have been enjoying a window into a lesser known, less touristed, Southern City. We arrived from Mississippi, abruptly as after about five miles into Tennessee what we thought was an interstate stopped at a stoplight. Immediately, we were surrounded by semi-trucks. I was reading Wikipedia's entry on Memphis about this time and learned it is the second largest air freight terminal in the world and a major distribution point for freight of all kinds, most notably rail. Just then we passed the BNSF rail distribution yard and left all the semis behind. It looked like a huge shipyard minus the ships and water. We then came into the poorer neighborhood of South Memphis filled with small, single-family homes in various states of repair. GPS said we were only a mile or two from our AirBnB and we were starting to wonder. Up ahead, we crossed railroad tracks and just like that property values appeared to triple, the small homes were nicely painted with landscaped yards and more recent vintage automobiles. It was a metaphor about "the wrong side of the tracks" made true to life.
And make no mistake, trains dominate this city. You hear their whistles day and night. Fortunately, I love the sound. But it really makes you understand why there are so many blues songs about trains. Memphis and the lonely train whistle will always be coupled in my mind.
We visited Sun Studios yesterday where Elvis, Johnny Cash, and so many others got their start. It was an amazing story of a little one room recording studio that put out some of the biggest hits of the day. And amazingly, it's still undisturbed in it's original state. They played clips from some of the original recordings they have of Jerry Lee Lewis (Great Balls of Fire), Elvis' very first recording ever, and a clip of the Million Dollar Quartet jam session.
It inspired us to come back last night and play some old albums that are in the house on the portable Victrola player. That's right, good old vinyl. Today we venture downtown to see the famous Beale Street and the Big Muddy.
On Traveling Slow
Living on the road is interesting. Just a few days into it now and we are already figuring out some of the differences between being on vacation and living on the road. First, you have to do things like get oil changes, locate and visit doctors (nothing serious), go to the grocery store, do banking, etc. You also just can't maintain the pace of sightseeing you would on vacation. You need time to relax, to get things done, to catch up with friends and family. On that point, let me say, I LOVE FACETIME. It's a wonderful way to connect with folks. And connecting with friends and family is important; talking to people you know and who know you is just different than talking to strangers. It reminds us where we come from and that we aren't really alone out here.
Our rhythm is to take the mornings to ourselves and get going out and about between 11:00 am and noon. We get lunch out most days, spend the afternoon sightseeing or driving, and then head back to home for an early evening with Cadeau. Dinner has become a scarce meal in our repertoire. An outcome of this is that I've had to scale back on what I can plan for us to see in any given day. Yes, this Virgo has had to accept that we just won't see it all or get it all done. And, you know, I'm getting okay with that. This is our life, not just a permanent vacation. We aren't morning people and we never will be.
On the Kindness of Strangers and Serendipity
The South is full of people willing to help out. It's just a slower place where asking for help in a non-traditional way is accepted. Case in point, we had decided to store Black Betty (our jet ski) in Apalachicola with a serious good old boy named Greg. His Outback Boat & RV Storage was hard to find. We went to the address but just saw a house. So I called him and said I couldn't find it and he said: "It ain't called Outback after the steak house - it's out back the house, get it?" I had to laugh at that one. He thought I was pretty dumb. Anyway, on second thought, we decided we'd like to try to sell the jet ski. Of course we decided this on Sunday, the day before we were to leave, so really had no idea how we were going to make that happen. But in true Southern fashion, Greg was happy to help. Just list it he said, and send any serious buyers his way. He'd take care of it. And I believe he will.
Here in Memphis, we are staying in a cottage in Beth's backyard.
Beth's house and yard
Our little cottage
Beth has dogs and Beth is super sweet. This morning, Cadeau has an upset stomach. Now at home that's no big deal. Run across the street to Safeway, buy some chicken and rice, and feed that to her til she's better. But here? Well I asked Beth if she had some white rice, thinking any Southern woman would probably have white rice, and she did but she had brown rice "because it's more nutritious", and she also had roast chicken she had bought and insisted I take. Apparently her four little dogs do not eat dog food "cause that stuff is poison". So right there, by the kindness of Beth, no longer a stranger, Cadeau is all set and on the mend.
We've had numerous incidents like this and some seriously serendipitous moments, like when we had two hours to wait at the Florida DMV to get the truck tagged so decided to get Ruby (our truck) a wash, which then took almost two hours (boy was she CLEAN), and we made it back to the DMV just as our number was called! There's a lot about the South to question and to wish were different but we are really appreciating the people, the pace, and the more relaxed attitude toward enforcing the rules.
Sorry so few pictures here, was in a thoughtful mood this morning. But make sure to follow us on Instagram @arrradventures to see daily pics and videos.