Memphis ended up being another Joyce family favorite. Some of the kids still stand by that they could easily see themselves living in Tennessee some day.
Before I get into the usual touristy stuff we did in Memphis, I’ll tell you what impresses me about the city. The last time I was there was around 1994. What I remember was a lot of homelessness and a general feeling of it not being the safest place. It was run down and an eye sore in many areas. A lot has changed. The city has been revitalized with new buildings and it is clean. The streets are filled with security officers keeping the homeless from loitering near tourist destinations such as Beale Street. There was always one of these well marked patrolmen within sight. Speaking of homeless, they were a different breed of homeless, likely because they know they’ll be sent away if they cause trouble. The ones we did encounter weren’t asking for our money, they were being proud of their city and being helpful. We were clearly there on vacation and they were quick to welcome us to Memphis and remind us not to miss out on seeing x, y, or z and point out where it was. Another addition to Beale Street is the Flippers. If you’re unfamiliar, the Beale Street Flippers is a group of kids from underprivileged neighborhoods ripe with gangs and drugs whom instead of getting wrapped up in street life, are taught to flip over people and do street gymnastics for money. They’re great entertainment and their story is inspiring. I encourage you to look them up or, if you have a chance, to go see them.
Some of the things we did in Memphis were the expected things that everybody does when they visit, like going to Graceland to see Elvis’s mansion and planes and to visit Elvis’s grave, seeing Sun Studio where Elvis first recorded his new sound, seeing the Lorraine Motel where MLK Jr. was assassinated, getting fancy desserts at the Peabody Hotel and watching the ducks parade across the red carpet, getting ice cream and souvenirs at A.W. Schwab- established right there on Beale Street back in the 1800s, and spending evenings on Beale Street eating BBQ and listening to live music like we did at BB King’s Blues Club. We also walked to Arkansas across Big River Crossing, the longest pedestrian bridge over the Mississippi. We went to The Pink Palace Museums located in a pink marble mansion built by the man who started the Piggly Wiggly stores, which happen to have a fascinating story. Our most surprising find in Memphis was the Pyramid holding the world’s largest Bass Pro Shop. It sounds silly, but you can easily spend hours there. They have a really neat bowling alley, 2 restaurants, aquariums, the tallest free standing glass elevator that brings guests up over 300 feet, hotel rooms with internal balconies overlooking the store and its indoor lakes with catfish the size of large dogs, alligators, and ducks.
The only disappointment we had during our stay in Memphis was when we drove over to Arkansas to go to the greyhound races one night and discovered that they don’t allow children there. I figured that was probably our last chance to ever do that now that racing greyhounds is being phased out just about everywhere, so we were pretty excited and then equally as disappointed. Our disappointment was short lived because the lack of tornados made up for not seeing greyhounds! Lol, too soon?
*pic- one area of Bass Pro showing the swamp full of giant catfish and the hotel balconies in the background