Wednesday, Nov. 8 – Day 71
Cloudy and cool 48 degrees as we pulled out of Bob’s, our ‘Boondockers Welcome’ host, a much cooler temperature than we’ve experienced on our tour to date. Except for Newfoundland where we woke to frost on the pumpkin a couple of mornings.
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We headed north from Watertown to highway I-40 and west toward Nashville. Memphis is about a 4-hr drive from Nashville, but it will take us longer we decided to use a by-pass highway rather than fight I-40 traffic the main interstate route.
The morning drive was uneventful under cloudy skies and warming temperatures. The only notable occurrence was a dead animal laying in the ditch covered by a flock of buzzards jousting for a meal.
Allyson broke the silence over the walkie-talkie with an announcement of a lunch stop, a rest area an hour or so ahead.
I noted the time and settled back to driving. Lynda was doing her usual Buddy face check when she spotted a grey bump on Buddy’s nose. Thinking it was dirt she pulled it off, it didn’t come easy.
The chunk fell on the truck floor mat at her feet, she poked the soft grey ball, a tick we presumed. After we arrived at the rest area for lunch I checked it out the size of the tick indicated it had not been attached to Buddy for long it was not swollen from sucking his blood.
Lynda checked Buddy’s nose for signs of swelling as well as the rest of his body. Satisfied he had no more unwanted friends, she dabbed the tick bite with peroxide and ointment.
The last time Buddy picked up a tick it partially paralyzed him, he couldn’t walk.,I suspected a tick. I checked him over and sure enough under his ear was a fat grey deer tick. It fell off in my hand. It took several hours for the poor little guy to return to his old self.
The afternoon drive continued through more rolling hills and fall colored forests. The only change in the landscape since we left BC has been the Smoky Mountains, it never occurred to me that North America was so flat.
Memphis is a dangerous town, we’ve been told, when visiting be cautious of where you go. This fact jumped forefront in my mind as we left the freeway and entered a lower income area dominated by the staring eyes of young African American men.
As we drove deeper into the neighborhood toward the state park my concerns grew until I saw the entrance sign the park has 24 hr patrols and the gate is locked at night.
Thank goodness we have a quality GPS.
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We arrived at T.O. Fuller State Park campground mid-afternoon. The park is a secluded area on a dead-end road, surrounded by a dense semi-tropical forest of large trees and vines, it resembled wilderness more than suburbia.
The camping area has 50 campsites most large enough for any size RV. We meandered through the park until we found three adjacent sites. The sites angled from the road making backing in easy.
The price of $22. per night was a bargain with full hookups, spacious sites and laundry a $1 a load.
As evening approached the sun dropped and so did the temperature. Ralph brought out the propane fire to chase away the chills. The group enjoyed the evening around the fire recapping our Nashville experience of the Grand Ole Opry and 3rd & Lindley.
Thursday, November 9 – Day 72
The coolest night so far on the US leg of our trip so. The thermometer dipped into the low 40’s as the morning sun poked through the forest. Heat from the electric heater warmed the trailer nicely. The local weatherman promised a warmer day and an end to the cold nights.
After breakfast, I unloaded the back seat of my truck preparing to ferry the gang to Graceland. I was not terribly interested in exploring Elvis’s home or museums. I’ve never been a huge Elvis fan, not that I didn’t like his music. I just never got swept away like many millions of others.
Considering the $60. entry fee plus souvenirs …………..and chores needed my attention I decided to skip this outing.
A pleasant sunny day as we left the campground for Graceland. I dropped the gang off across the street from Elvis’s mansion. A sprawling property with several large matching buildings no doubt museums.
A full itinerary lay ahead for me today. First laundry,………… I have not done laundry in…… well……forever, but I have been given strict instructions and procedures to follow so underwear etc. does not turn out pink.
Shopping is on my honey-do list, the truck needs diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), Buddy needs a flea and tick collar or medication because of his encounter with the tick. The group has a couple of empty propane tanks and last and certainly not least we are down to our last couple of gallons of the juice of the grape.
Most of the chores were no problem except for the propane, every propane vendor I drove to were either out of business or only offer 20 lb. bottle exchanges, I finally gave up.
The gang called mid-afternoon announcing they were done with Elvis, apparently, he had left the building, I picked them up and headed back to camp. The gang was excited about their day with the king, lots of information was tossed around as we drove.
Back at camp, everyone freshened up for our evening in downtown Memphis, the blues capital of the world.
Evening was upon us as we headed downtown to take in the sites. The center of the blues universe is confined to a few blocks. We walked the strip checking out the clubs. With only one night to spend the experience must be blues at its best.
The area is rich with history, plaques everywhere detailing the lives of many Memphis residents who influenced the blues, rock and roll and African American segregation and eventual freedom from suppression.
Decaying buildings lined the streets, standing like sentinels bearing witness to a troubled past. Some propped up with steel beams like old men’s canes no longer able to support themselves.
Our first stop was an interesting bar displaying antique guitars hung high on the interior walls with the names of famous musicians on plaques below. The establishment had three side by side levels facing the street with a bar on each.
The levels had been crudely joined together long ago by a hole through the wall. Little care was taken to hide the transition which fit well with the dilapidated buildings of this part of town.
The walls and ceilings were plastered with nicotine colored greenbacks indicating Memphis’s smoking laws have not yet caught up with the rest of society.
We drank a cheap happy hour beer and headed back onto the street continuing our search for the perfect place to spend the evening.
Both ends of the street were now blocked by police cars, not sure if this was a regular occurrence or just heightened security due to a recent threat.
Finally, after checking sidewalk menus and talent lineups our destination for the evening was no other than BB King’s Blues Club. How could we go wrong with a club named after one of the great blues singers?
We paid the $3 cover charge and climbed the stairs to a dark narrow balcony. Our table was a perfect spot overlooking the stage.
BB King’s Blues Club was busy but not crowded, to be expected on a Thursday night during offseason. The club was not large, a perfect size for watching and listening.
We enjoyed a great evening of listening pleasure. Two African American groups performed, singing their own style of modern blues. Not the old blues style we were expecting but a memorable evening of beautiful music.
The evening was not as expensive as you might imagine at the Blues center of the world. Dinner, including drinks and the cover, was less than $100 per couple, no need to sneak out the back door at that price.
We headed back to the truck before the last set was finished, tomorrow is another driving day……..a long day. Because of our mechanical issues in Watertown we need to make up some time.
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