Graceland

We emptied the RV of all valuables and carried them on our weary backs all day. You would’ve too, had you seen the RV park and Elvis Presley Boulevard. It’s wide, worn down, ill lit and filled with fastfood places, gas stations, boarded up former fastfood places and gas stations and various businesses in degrees of dilapidation. It is hard to picture what it looked like when Elvis bought Graceland.

We queued to get in there, but not too long. There was lots to look at – fun to see all the different kinds of people who thought it worth a journey to visit Elvis’ home. White people, black people, hispanics, a variety of Europeans, Japanese. Young and old, couples and singles and large families. Amazing!

Graceland is really quite modest in size, but the decor is absolutely wonderful. It’s so seventies that your toes curl. Personnally I liked the bar in the basement best – and Lisa Marie, his airplane.

Corner of bar room and detail from bathroom on plane.

Enough said about that – we got a great magnet for our collection and some super cool postcards and then went on into Memphis. What a lovely city that is! People of all colours and ages were extraordinarily friendly, even the hustlers on Beale Street were friendly! We had great lunch right there on touristy but still very bluesy Beale Street and then went to the Civil Rights Museum, which is inside the hotel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot in 1968. It was a good museum holding loads of information that was new to us, but is was a hard one for Dane because there was very little interactivity and a lot of reading to do. However, the best bit was the remake of the bus, where the famous Rosa Parks stood up to the white bus driver and two policemen in Alabama in 1955. Standing inside the bus I translated and explained the whole story to Dane, and that made a big impression on him. What made the biggest impression on me was to actually stand there outside the hotel room and the balcony where Dr. King was shot. Sometimes history works best that way – see it, feel it!

We had a look inside the lobby of the famous Peabody hotel and then had dinner in the Flying Fish in downtown Memphis. I had a large Margarita, large enough for David to share, so when we’d finished that, we’d had it and took a taxi back to the tacky RV site. But that didn’t matter, because we were tired and happy after a nice day in a very friendly place.

There are more pictures and a few side stories on Flickr.

This morning we got up early and drove south through most of Mississippi. That was sad and dreary and bleak. We drove on a road, marked on the map as scenic. I just don’t get it! We’re driving in the Mississippi delta so everything is flat flat flat. But not close enough to see the mighty Missy. And there is such poverty – right in your face. And poverty is never pictoresque, it’s always ugly. So we were happy to cross the Mississippi into Arkansas where we quickly found our nice RV park. It’s just the kind of place, which I’ve mentioned earlier that David and I like. Big shady Pecan (pronounced Pe’can) trees, no fancy trimmings, a lovely lake and room between the campers. And friendly people. Dane was lucky again to find a really sweet boy to play with, so it has been a very pleasurable afternoon and evening. And it’s nice and warm outside!

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We have officially re-entered the South

as we are now in Memphis, Tennessee. More about that tomorrow, when we’ve actually seen something other than this, the bleakest of campsites.

Yesterday morning David got up very early again – despite the freezing cold.

Inspired by the catch the night before, he litterally flew out of the RV and down to the river (Ohio River, Indiana) where he started pulling out fish. It was quite the reverse of the previous week. When Dane woke up, he quickly joined David to catch some fish of his own.

We drove further along the Ohio into Illinois and then into Kentucky. I’d made a “slight” miscalculation reading the map – not noticing that the crossing of the Ohio I’d chosen was actually not a bridge, but a ferry! We debated a little whether we dared chance it and go for the ferry – not having any idea how wide the river was going to be at that point, what kind of ferry it was, if it would let RVs on board, how often it sailed. And sunset was approaching fast, with another 30 miles to drive on the other side of the river – or 60 if we couldn’t get on board. We decided to chance it – and – if we weren’t lucky once more!

And so – besides having saved around 30 miles’ driving, we had this quite fantastic experience of being ferried across the river on this little pram together with 3-4 other vehicles (=pick-up trucks), that clearly made this journey every day! Check out that sunset! More pictures here. Furthermore it was free!

And speaking of luck, check the weather forecast for Memphis!

On today’s journey I was the one with a song in my head. And it’s not by Elvis. It’s probably one of my 20 favourite songs. Paul Simon’s Graceland.

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