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Meeting my folks in Memphis
(Click on the images for a larger version.)
Memphis skyline
One of the good things about moving to St. Louis is that Ilaria and I are closer to my folks. A 10 hour drive isn't too close by European standards, but for me any distance that I can drive in a day is close.

Memphis is roughly half way between my folks house in Slidell, LA and our place in St. Louis, so we picked that as our first meeting place.
Memphis Redbirds stadium
A nice feature of Memphis is the Memphis Redbirds, the Triple-A baseball team of the St. Louis Cardinals.
memphis redbirds
It's fun to go to a Redbirds game -- the tickets are cheap, the stadium is small so you always have a good seat, and you can see all of the future Cardinals. At this game we saw Colby Rasmus (CF) and Joe Mather (C) and lots of home runs.
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After the game,
Hueys Memphis
we walked down the street to Huey's for a burger.
Benchmark Hotel Memphis
Then we headed back to the Benchmark Hotel for some shut-eye.
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The next morning, we walked down
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Beale Street (the party street at nighttime),
Gibson Factory Memphis
past the Gibson guitar factory,
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past a crazy looking store,
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past some deserted
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and past WLOX radio station (the first African-American owned radio station in Memphis; in 1977) on our way to
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the National Civil Rights Museum.
Lorraine Motel Memphis
The museum is built into the Lorraine Motel.
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Martin Luther King Jr. was shot on the balcony where the white wreath hangs.
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They tried to preserve his motel room
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and much of the motel as it was on the day MLK was shot.
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I don't know if this was a typical day at the museum, but while we were there, we certainly found a lot of family reunions with color-coded shirts.

There were the red shirts,
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the light-blue shirts, the yellow shirts,
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and the orange shirts to name a few.
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Then there was us with our many different colored shirts.

Overall it was a decent museum but not as good as I was expecting.
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When my folks lived in Alabama, my mom and I went to the Civil Rights museum in Birmingham. On the trip I got the impression that the museum in Memphis was the top civil rights museum in the country. But if this one is the best, I think we can do better to remember such an important part of our history.
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After the museum it was time for some famous ribs at,
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Rendezvous is one of the most popular places to get ribs in Memphis, though many of the guidebooks stressed that they don't have the traditional Memphis-style ribs.

They tasted pretty dang good to me.
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After our big meal, we took a longer-than-expected walk to Sun Studio.

Rocket 88 the first rock-n-roll song was recorded there. Elvis and John Cash got started there. Carl Perkins recorded Blue Suede shoes there. Jerry Lee Lewis recorded "Whole lotta shaking goin on" and "Great balls of fire there". Turns out we just missed a tour and we'd have to wait quite a while for the next one, so we just looked around
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and went to catch a trolley back.

We waited forever but didn't see any trolleys.
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After we'd almost gotten back to our hotel we saw two
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Peabody Memphis
Our hotel was across the street from the most famous hotel in town -- the Peabody Hotel.
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The Peabody Hotel is home to some famous ducks.
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Long time ago, somehow they started putting ducks in the hotels fountain. One time the person in charge of the ducks (i.e. the "Duckmaster") trained them to march into the hotel lobby.
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And still to this day, the Duckmaster marches the ducks to the fountain at 11AM,
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and at 5PM leads the ducks
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down their red carpet
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and up the elevator to their penthouse.
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It is really something odd and pathetic that the lobby starts to fill 45 minutes in advance of the duck march. Is watching ducks walk down a red carpet so interesting?
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Nope, but I did it too.
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That nite, we party animals were ready to hit the happenin part of town Beale Street.
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We went to dinner at BB King's Blues Club.
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The band was really good while we ate dinner.
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The next morning we went to see one of my dad's missions in Mississippi. Then Ilaria and I said goodbye to my parents.
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And headed to the street where Elvis lived.
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Initially Ilaria and I didn't plan to go to Graceland, but we decided we were close by, so we might as well take the opportunity to see
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the house where Elvis lived.
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The whole place is a big Disney-like production.
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The house is a great way to see the interior-design of the time (or at least the interior-design preferred by an eccentric rich person).
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It is really beautiful
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and virtually
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unchanged from when
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Elvis lived there.
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The kitchen was the only plan looking room of the house.
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Elvis had circuit breakers back in the days of fuses.
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Elvis must've really liked mirrors,
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because he put them everywhere.
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This is the downstairs room where Elvis hung out a lot. He liked to have three TVs, so he could watch all of the major networks at once.
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The last room of the house we visited
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was the over-the-top different Jungle Room.
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The house was definitely worth a visit. After you finish the house tour, it goes downhill (at least in my opinion), you can see Lisa Marie Presley's playground,
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where they kept the horses,
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and zillions gold and platinum albums.
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You can also learn about some of the man's eccentricities such as has love for racquetball. He had his own court.
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Now it just houses more memorabilia.
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Right before you leave the grounds there is the strange site of a large line of folks waiting to look at his grave. Lots of people really took this pretty serious.
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I didn't wait in the line, I just raised my arms and snapped a photo.
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After the house tour, we moved on to the car tour.
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Elvis liked cars,
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he had a lot of nice ones
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like this Ferrari.
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He had a pink Cadillac
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and a Rolls Royce.
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The third part of our tour was his airplanes.
Elvis airplane
His largest plane was a Convair 880, pretty interesting that they needed four engines back then for a plane of this size.
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The plane had a custom interior that included a gold-plated sink,
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a nice dining/meeting room,
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and a real bed. Must've been a comfortable life.
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Elvis also owned a littler plane.
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After saying goodbye to Elvis, Ilaria wanted to take a quick drive around Memphis.
Memphis pyramid
I wanted to take a picture of the pyramid (the old basketball stadium).
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On our way to the interstate, we drove by where the rich folks live.
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Lots of big
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with views of the Mississippi.
Arkansas sign
Then we hit the interstate back towards home.
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On the way to Memphis, I saw a billboard for Lambert's -- a restaurant where they throw tasty rolls across the restaurant to you.
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My family used to always stop by Lambert's in Alabama on our way home from the beach, so I told Ilaria we should stop on the way back to St. Louis.

But the wait for a table (at 4PM on a Sunday) was two hours!
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We ate Cracker Barrel instead and drove back home to St. Louis.
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Pretty nice to be able to see some relatives in only 600 miles of driving...