After a fun-filled night on Beale Street, we decided to explore Memphis a bit before leaving town. We settled on visiting Graceland, getting some highly recommended BBQ, and seeing the National Civil Rights Museum before we hit the road.
As someone who couldn’t name more than a handful of Elvis songs, I wasn’t overjoyed to see Graceland. Not that I wasn’t interested; I just wasn’t chomping at the bit to see it. We saw bits of Elvis through the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, but I truly had no idea what kind of man he was. During our visit to Graceland, we saw his home, cars, and clothes, and heard story after story about what a stand up human being he was. He donated copious amounts of money to numerous causes and took care of his family above all else. We were able to watch his transition from music to film and back to music, and I think his family and the staff at Graceland have done a very good job of making him seem more human and less mythical (at least to someone in my generation).
While I don’t totally stand by his fashion decisions, he certainly had an eye for vehicles. His penchant for Cadillacs, specifically the pink and deep purple ones, was on full display in the automobile museum. While it seemed as though he spent money on things that weren’t necessary (as do most celebrities), I’m under the impression that he was still quite modest even after he became famous. I guess my final assessment of Graceland and Elvis is this: if I’d been my age when he was famous, I’d be throwing myself at him worse than Beliebers swoon after their prepubescent idol.
After Graceland we went to lunch at the Neeley’s Interstate BBQ. I was reading reviews as we walked in and read that the food was fantastic while the service left much to be desired—truer words have never been spoken. “Hi.” was the only “conversation” our waitress initiated. I asked her how she was doing (as opposed to her inquiring) and it was really one of the most awkward interactions I’ve ever had with any kind of wait staff. This probably sounds extra critical, but having been a waitress, I know firsthand that your best tool is the ability to pretend like you care about people for approximately 40 minutes at a time.
Anyway, our food was fantastic. The ribs were melt-in-your-mouth delicious, the brisket was foodgasm-worthy, and the baked beans had a spicy sweetness that I can’t even put into words. We weren’t sold on the BBQ spaghetti, but that’s to be expected when you come from an Italian stronghold like ours. As we ate the spaghetti, I swear I could hear my grandpa screaming out in agony at the sacrilege of putting BBQ sauce and pasta in the same dish. Sacrilege or not, we had to try it because it was on the sampler platter and it came high recommended. On our way out, we grabbed two sock-it-to-me cakes because they were also recommended. We were going to leave the cakes for our later drive, but couldn’t resist trying them. These were another indescribable flavor—they’re more moist (I hate that word) than a pound cake, but not like any other cake we’ve ever had. There’s a cinnamon swirl in the middle that add just the right balance to the drizzle sugar icing on top. Moral of this story: stop here if you’re ever in Memphis and, if nothing else, get the BBQ meats and a sock-it-to-me cake (or four).
Our next stop was the National Civil Rights Museum, built on the site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. I didn’t think it was appropriate to click hundreds of pictures inside, but took one of the wreath that has been outside and maintained since the day after King’s assassination. The museum had a very somber feeling, and given the opportunity, I’d return and make a day of it. Trying to take in everything in just a few hours was impossible. If you’re in Memphis, this is a must see place, just make sure you have an appropriate amount of time.
As I type this now, we’re sitting in a traffic jam of some kind in the middle of Arkansas. In the mere 90 miles we’ve driven so far today (depressing, I know), we’ve seen some driving craziness. First, we had someone fervently signing to us from his driver side window. At first it seemed like he was just maybe jamming along to the radio (okay, maybe I’m the only one who gets really into my tunes while I drive), but then I realized he was signing something. My sign language doesn’t extend beyond learning the alphabet in the 3rd grade, so I have no idea what he was saying and, as my mother notes, it didn’t involve a middle finger so we’re hoping it wasn’t bad. Second, as we first got stuck in traffic, the truck in front of us pulled into the center median, drove down past the end of the guardrail, yeah, you know, the GUARDRAIL that’s in place so people cannot cross the median, and did a u-turn. I have a friend from Arkansas who was always a bit, umm, excited with her driving (love you, Stef!), but I didn’t know that everyone is Arkansas was so balls-to-the-wall behind the wheel!
When I wrote the above post, it was about 5:30pm and we were stuck in traffic. We ended up staying in that traffic jam for over an hour and ultimately didn’t make it to the hotel until after 11pm. We had all we could do to just climb in bed and sleep, so here I am again, posting late. Today’s a short trip from Shreveport to Carrollton (a suburb of Dallas) to see some family, then tomorrow we’ll head on over to Lubbock 😀