The fourth day of our Southern tour was a real cracker.
It involved Memphis. And if you can involve yourself in Memphis, I’d suggest you did exactly that.
After a breakfast of sausage, scrambled eggs and fried potato, the GL had the hire car on the road, and headed for Memphis, via the rather lengthy detour destination of Muscle Shoals.
We were going the long way round to take in the famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.
Within its nondescript walls, some of the music world’s absolute greats had recorded albums; think Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and many many more.
And we added an extra two hours onto our day’s drive for what was basically a twenty second photo op of the GL (in a rather lop-sided step) before the brick studio.
With that task out of the road, and the four of us reluctant to get back onto the road, we recharged our batteries with an early lunch, served by some of the most attentive wait staff we encountered on our entire trip.
For the GL, the meal consisted of a Cuban panini and a large Coke. It wasn’t worth getting the camera out for.
The staff hovered, we scoffed and then we were on the road again; the sister and I reading and the GL and Zach engaged in their typical conversation of silence, broken by the occasional comment on a passing car.
In other words, the four of us were extremely content as we travelled State Highway 72, bound for Elvis’ hometown.
Memphis was just It and a big deep-fried Bit. It was one hell of a brilliant spot and the only shame was, we had just a 24 hour stint in which to enjoy it.
Therefore, without any kind of unnecessary ‘ado’, we got ourselves to our hotel, unloaded our gear and made tracks for the entrance line of the Graceland Museum.
In terms of house tours
I have paid decent coin for the GL has paid decent coin for, Elvis’ is well up there with that Brighton wonder, the Royal Pavillion.
It’s a rather under-stated, colonial style mansion, decorated in the loudest, most overt and overdone fashion one could imagine. Obviously I loved it.
We wandered, listening in to the audio tour, through the bottom floor of the house, into the backyard, before the studio with attached squash court. Here, when the audio tour reached its devastating climax – Elvis’ final hours – to the gut-wrenching soundtrack of the Great Man playing keys and singing a stripped back Unchained Melody, I wept.
Wiping tears before the GL could see and trying to untangle myself from the stupid headphones, I exited the memorial and headed for the on-site ice-cream parlour to share a double scoop (boysenberry and cookies ‘n cream in wafer cone) with my own Great Man.
We headed from Graceland to Downtown Memphis. Memphis is a beautiful city, set where it is on the mighty Mississippi. It’s streets were easy to wander and so we spent time traipsing here and there, my pregnant sister keeping up without complaint, as we slowly made our way to tourist epicentre, Beale Street.
From there it was to the hotel for a freshen up, an overdue break for the couples, and some time off our feet.
Refreshed, the GL and I took off early. We were peckish, so we dropped in at a tempting eatery called Flying Fish and began what was set to become a mammoth, hours-long eating session of the best Memphis could throw at us.
While waiting for Ria and Zach, we snacked on a fried jalapeno chips basket and drank beer.
It was over-flowing with people and we both noted it couldn’t have been for the decor or the ill-fitting chairs. It had to be the food, which we ate our way through quick.
Soon enough our party turned four, we found a table to share and began our attack on the menu.
While we all ate our fair share, given this series is devoted to exactly What Backs Ate, I’ll stick to his meals that evening: Hula Poppers (jalapenos stuffed with prawn and cheese, wrapped in bacon and deep fried), followed by a main of jambalaya on rice, with corn on the cob and a half loaf of bread.
By the time we left, they were mopping the floor.
Mostly too full to do anything but sit, we still trudged to Beale Street to see if we couldn’t uncover some decent music.
While high tourist areas are never a sure thing, this night, we got lucky and took in the King of Beale Street at BB King’s Blues Club.
The GL was spellbound and like his parents, stood centre stage to take it all in.
We rose the next day mostly still full, but the GL managed to squeeze in a waffle with maple syrup, before the standard servo hot dog with tomato sauce and mustard on the road between Memphis and New Orleans.
That was a long trip, so lunch was also on the road and a Wendy’s Gouda burger which looked about as good as it sounds. But it didn’t matter, because we were a mere hour from New Orleans and only Beignet goodness awaited us. Or so we thought.
Stay tuned for the climactic conclusion to What Backs Ate – The Fried Chicken Which Broke His Backs.