In the morning, I set out to Graceland. Well, first I had breakfast (delicious chicken and waffles at Automatic Slim’s). There is a free shuttle bus from the Rock and Soul Museum, a short walk from the hotel, to Graceland. There are various options, all of them pricey. I went with the combination of the Mansion Tour and the Elvis Experience, which includes several exhibits – gold records, costumes, cars, motorcycles, etc. As for the mansion, it is fairly grand and reflects about what you’d expect of Elvis’s tastes. There’s a reason everyone has heard of the Jungle Room, for example. As for me, I could live without shag carpeting (or, frankly, any carpeting) on the ceiling. But I was also never much of an Elvis fan. My tastes from that era run more to Gene Vincent. Still, I was glad I went to such an iconic American tourist attraction.
I took the bus back to downtown, where I walked over to the Peabody Hotel to see the famous duck walk. This is silly, but amusing, as a uniformed duckmaster leads a group of ducks from the lobby fountain to the elevator to go to their penthouse suite. (There is a similar ceremony, from penthouse to fountain, in the morning.) I met up with my friend, Charles, there and, after the ceremony, we headed across the street to Autozone Park, home of the Memphis Redbirds (AAA affiliate of the Cardinals). Going to the Redbirds game had been the actual excuse for the trip, by the way.
The ballpark was a very nice one – intimate, clean, reasonably enthusiastic fans. As for the game, vs. the New Orleans Baby Cakes, it was pretty much a pitcher’s duel. There’s a reason Dakota Hudson is expected to get a call up to the Cards. I can’t say I had much invested emotionally in the outcome, but it’s always a good thing when the home team wins. (Unless, of course, that home team is the Source of All Evil in the Universe. Or is playing against my Red Sox.) I should also note that Rockey the Redbird is relatively innocuous as mascots go, though he didn’t change my anti-mascot stand. By the way, there were fireworks after the game, which I stayed for largely due to lack of anything better to do.
On Sunday, after breakfast at Miss Polly’s Soul City Café (okay, but not super interesting), I went to the National Civil Rights Museum. This is located in the Lorraine Hotel, the site of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. There’s a lot of material about King, but there are also a lot of other exhibits about African-American history and discrimination. I can’t say there were things I didn’t know, but seeing it all in one place really highlighted the pettiness of the Jim Crow laws. For example, what is the possible logic in forbidding a white school to give used textbooks to a black school? My one complaint about the museum is that it is focused too exclusively on the civil rights of Black people. Without minimizing the importance (and, sadly, resurging importance) of that area of civil rights, I’d say that the hardest fought battle right now is related to sexuality and gender. To be fair, I only had time to go through about half the museum, but I’ve been told that the rest retains the same focus.
The trip home started fine and the first leg (MEM to PHL) was actually slightly early. But the plane for the leg home (PHL to DCA) was delayed leaving Tampa, allegedly due to weather in the northeast. When I looked at the FAA website and various weather maps, it looked like there were thunderstorms around the Chesapeake. In the end, we had about a two-and-a-half-hour delay. That meant a taxi home (instead of the metro). And I didn’t get home until 1 something in the morning. At which point, my digestive system was exhibiting signs of displeasure with something I’d eaten (presumably the barbecue I’d had for lunch), but that’s another story and not really interesting.
Overall, it was a good weekend excursion. It looks like there are several other things worth exploring in Memphis and surroundings, so another day or so would have been good. But, if I waited until there was enough time, I’d never go anywhere.
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