Tennessee Part III: Memphis

Okay, so we didn’t TECHNICALLY stay in Memphis, OR Tennessee, during our last stop in The Volunteer State. We stayed about five miles from downtown Memphis on the opposite side of the river at Tom Sawyer’s RV Park in West Memphis, Arkansas. There were only a few options in the area, and we narrowed it down to this place or a campground adjacent to Graceland, behind the Heartbreak Hotel. Tom Sawyer’s was much bigger and less expensive, plus the setting was more unique AND Mike could fish from this park. It was also the closest to downtown, where we spent most of our time away from home. We were a little nervous about making the reservation since the park’s website was very up-front about the possibility of flooding. However, since there were no terrible rain events during this leg of the trip, it turns out that we made a great decision in the long run.

Memphians are duly proud of their musical heritage and their BBQ, although I did enjoy some righteous fried poultry at the original Gus’ on South Front Street. Music and delicious food are two things near and dear to our hearts, so we really liked this place! We made it to most of the major attractions in the area including Graceland, Beale Street, Sun Studios, and the Parade of the Ducks at the historic Peabody Hotel. We saw lots of live music at the Beale Street Music Festival and at the original BB King’s Blues Club. We happened upon BB King’s just as a GREAT act started to play 2 sets. The 3-man band was called Memphis Jones. All the music they played originated in Memphis in one way or another (about, written or recorded there, or sung by a native). The lead singer prefaced each song with a mini music history lesson. I’ve never seen a band entertain an audience in such a unique and interesting manner. I think that might have been my favorite part of our entire week. We could have eaten at a different BBQ place every day, but we practiced self restraint and selected Central BBQ for a sampling of some delectable ribs. Yes, these two Texans gave a big thumbs up for the Memphis-style smoked meat. Mike caught lots of fish that week, and our park was big enough for the dogs to get long walks each day… so it was good for all of us. Lastly, the whole experience of watching the barges make their way up and down the Mighty Mississippi gave us a whole new perspective on the amount of commerce that takes place on the major rivers in our Country.

We didn’t take tons of photos on this stop, but here are a dozen that summarize some of the fun we had.

Elvis' private jet was on display at Graceland. It was lots of fun to be able to go inside and see the interior customized into different rooms and parlors. Lots of shag carpet.

Elvis’ private jet was on display at Graceland. It was lots of fun to be able to go inside and see the interior customized into different rooms and parlors. Lots of green shag carpet.

The living room is the most 'tame' and conservative at Graceland.

The living room is the most ‘tame’ and conservative at Graceland.

The city closes Beale Street to auto traffic each night.

The city closes Beale Street to auto traffic each night.

The antique trolley system in downtown Memphis added lots of charm to the area.

The antique trolley system in downtown Memphis added lots of charm to the area.

This barge had so much cargo that it needed a tug boat along side to help it down the river.

This barge had so much cargo that it needed a tug boat along side to help it down the river.

We accidentally ended up in Memphis in May... which is an organized thing. We really felt lucky when we learned that the Beale Street Music Festival was scheduled for the first weekend we were there. Perfect weather certainly didn't dampen our spirits!

We accidentally ended up in Memphis in May… which is an organized thing. We really felt lucky when we learned that the Beale Street Music Festival was scheduled for the first weekend we were there. Perfect weather certainly didn’t dampen our spirits!

There were five stages at the music festival, which is set on the banks of the Mississippi below the bluff where downtown is situated. We got to see Blues Traveler, Buddy Guy, JERRY LEE LEWIS, and Daddy Mack Blues Band. Two of our favorite acts were by bands we had never heard of before: Memphis Dawls and the Carolina Chocolate Drops. The music festival was the first event of Memphis in May. It started on Friday afternoon and ended on Sunday. We chose to go on Saturday when it opened around 2PM, and stayed until the crowd got really thick and pretty drunk just after dark.

There were five stages at the music festival, which is set on the banks of the Mississippi below the bluff where downtown is situated. We got to see Blues Traveler, Buddy Guy, JERRY LEE LEWIS, and Daddy Mack Blues Band. Two of our favorite acts were by bands we had never heard of before: Memphis Dawls and The Carolina Chocolate Drops. The music festival was the first event of Memphis in May. It started on Friday afternoon and ended on Sunday. We chose to go on Saturday when it opened around 2PM, and stayed until the crowd got really thick and pretty drunk just after dark.

Mike's fascination with geese continues... as does Piper's. For different reasons, of course.

Mike’s fascination with geese continues… as does Piper’s. For different reasons, of course.

A view from my morning walk with the dogs. This campground was large and spread out, with several walking paths in the surrounding natural areas. I just had to be on the lookout for snakes, raccoons, rabbits, and bugs.

A view from my morning walk with the dogs. This campground was large and spread out, with several walking paths in the surrounding natural areas. I just had to be on the lookout for snakes, raccoons, rabbits, and bugs.

This is probably the only campground we will stay at that is situated directly on the banks of the Mississippi River. Their website indicated that the area floods regularly, so I was a bit nervous about making the reservation to stay there. However, the weather held out and there were no issues at all. It turned out to be a very unique setting. We enjoyed our time there very much.

This is probably the only campground we will stay at that is situated directly on the banks of the Mississippi River.  It turned out to be a very unique setting. We enjoyed our time there very much.

Most of the coaches or trailers that stayed at Tom Sawyer's were only there overnight, so our neighbors were constantly changing. It was fun to see the new ones arrive each evening, and there was usually a big exodus between 7 and 9 each morning.

Most of the coaches or trailers that stayed at Tom Sawyer’s were only there overnight, so our neighbors were constantly changing. It was fun to see the new ones arrive each evening, and there was usually a big exodus between 7 and 9 each morning.

We crossed over the Tennessee River on the way to the banks of the Mississippi.

We crossed over the Tennessee River on the way to the banks of the Mississippi.

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