Tom Sawyer’s RV Park, West Memphis, Arkansas
As we continue heading north, we stopped for three nights near Memphis to explore. This is our first time in this area.
This morning we joined a group of hearty people for a two hour walking tour of historic downtown Memphis. The weather guessers had predicted today to be sunny and in the 60s, so I made our tour reservations thinking it would be a decent day to walk around outside. Unfortunately, it was cloudy, windy and in the 50s, so rather chilly. However, our tour guide Michael kept us entertained, and the tour was worth a bit of cold.
Our first stop was The Peabody Hotel, built in the 1920s and one of the premier hotels of the south. Every president since Truman has stayed here. Neil Diamond composed Sweet Caroline while staying here. We heard rooms are $1,000 per night.
The Peabody has had a unique tradition since the 1930s. Every day at 11 am and 5 pm mallard ducks are brought to the lobby and parade down a red carpet into and out of the lobby fountain. The ducks have a home on the roof of the hotel and are treated very well. They are wild and after 90 days are taken to a farm to be released back into the wild. Memphis was hosting the NCAA tournament this weekend, and there were hundreds of people in the hotel lobby to watch these ducks parade into the fountain.
We took the elevators to the roof where you can see where the ducks live. They even have their own version of The Peabody Hotel in their room.
We walked around the city and learned about some of the Civil War, Civil Rights and musical history of the city. Memphis is rich in history. At the end of the tour we boarded one of the cities trolleys to take us back to Beale Street where we started.
Beale Street is the heart of downtown and reminded me a lot of Bourbon Street in New Orleans, only shorter. Lots of bars and restaurants advertising big ass beers, Jell-O shots, with to-go cups for everything. B.B. King has a club on Beale Street.
Beale Street is famous for a number of reasons including it is where Robert R. Church Sr., the South's first black millionaire made his mark; where Elvis and B.B. King got their starts, and where Martin Luther King, Jr. marched.
Of course, you can’t visit Memphis without seeing all that is Elvis, including his statue.
Memphis became a city due to its location along the Mississippi River. For many years the shipping of cotton was a huge business here. We took a walk down to the river and heard some of the history that goes along with the river. There are still lots of barges that move products up and down the river every day. Notice the riverboat cruise ship on the left. We were to see it again later in the day.
The National Civil Rights Museum is a few miles from downtown. It is built next to the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed on April 4, 1968. He was in Memphis to support the sanitation workers who were striking at the time. He marched with them and was shot while standing on the balcony of the motel. It was one of only a few Memphis hotels where blacks were allowed to stay at the time.
There is a wreath outside room 306 where he was standing when he was shot.
Our next stop was Graceland, about 15 minutes from downtown Memphis. We were both born in the 1950s, so don’t really remember Elvis all that well. Tours of Graceland range from $34 to $72 per person, depending on which package you choose. We were not interested enough to spend that kind of money. You wouldn’t believe the lines of people we saw on the grounds when we drove by. I guess lots of people are willing to pay big bucks to see all things Elvis.
Graceland, the house, is on one side of Elvis Presley Blvd. Across the street is a three block museum with lots of Elvis memorabilia including cars and even his plane.
The house sits back a ways from the road with beautiful mature trees in the yard.
There is a long stone wall in front of the property where people sign their names or leave messages. You can see the house is quite a ways back from the road. (click on the picture to enlarge).
Here’s his plane called the Lisa Marie.
My biggest memory of Elvis is that he died the day before my birthday in the year we got married. I do enjoy his music. My favorite Elvis song is Love Me Tender. Our tour guide on the walking tour was telling us that on the anniversary of Elvis’ death in August, there are tons of people who come and mourn his death every year. He said these people are rather fanatic and will buy anything Elvis related. I find it quite sad that such a talented and promising young man ended up the way he did.
We’re staying at Tom Sawyer’s RV Park in West Memphis, Arkansas which is just across the river from Memphis, Tennessee. We have a pull through full hook-up 50 amp site with a concrete pad right on the river. They have sites on the river just for fifth wheels so your big back window is facing the water. We’ve been watching lots of barges travelling up and down the river.
The campground is nothing to get too excited about, but the location right on the river is excellent. Also, this is the only campground we have ever stayed at that has free laundry. They have six really nice newer washers and dryers. We had not done laundry in a while, so took advantage of the empty laundry room and got all of our laundry done. Bonus!!
The laundry and bath building is quite a ways from the river. There is a sign on the second story of the building showing the crest of the river in May of 2011. You can see the sign on the left on the side of the building, and that’s our camper way down there by the river. It’s so hard to believe that the water came that far inland and that high. I sure never want to experience a flood.
When we got back from our sightseeing today, we saw this out of our window. On the left is one of the many barges. Some of them are huge. On the right is that riverboat we saw docked in Memphis. It came right past our back window.
Hmm, that might be kind of fun. I may have to look into doing a river cruise. Never mind, I just looked online. A seven day cruise on this ship to New Orleans is over $4,000 per person. I guess we’ll stick with the bigger ships.
We enjoyed our short visit to the Memphis area. The downtown area has been nicely restored and felt safe and clean. I would definitely recommend it as a place to explore.
Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!