The Mid South – A 1350 mile drive across the USA III – Memphis and Graceland

It  was time to hit the road again, heading South and into the sunshine, on our way to Memphis where we arrived at sunset.

 Tennessee

 Tennessee

 Tennessee

 Tennessee

Memphis TennesseeMemphis Tennessee

Memphis and Nashville are often talked about in a similar way, when in fact, they could not be more different. Nashville is known as the home of country music and Memphis is known as the home of the blues, and it’s easy to see why folks would be singing the blues here. Where Nashville is vibrant and busy, Memphis is sleepy and seems almost empty by day. Whilst travelling around town on the local town car we saw many buildings that appeared to be abandoned and in serious disrepair. This certainly is a town that’s feeling the pinch. The nightlife is different too – where Nashville is young, fresh and original, here,  the bars and venues have house-bands who have been playing the same sounds in the same bars to tourists for 30 years.

Memphis Tennessee

Even Memphis’ famous Pyramid Arena now stands empty, having not hosted any sporting activity since 2004. It is due to be converted into a shopping mall next year :-(.

Memphis Tennessee

Memphis Tennessee

Memphis Tennessee

By far the most interesting thing in Memphis was the National Civil Rights Museum, set adjacent to the site of Martin Luther King’s assassination, the Lorraine Motel. I thought I was reasonably well versed in US Civil Rights History, but I still learnt tons going through this place. It really reminds you just how recent segregation is in Southern history, with the last school to allow black students to attend only converted in 1971! That’s only my parents’ generation. It is little surprise that we found the communities in this part of the country to be living fairly separate lives.

Memphis Tennessee

Memphis Tennessee

Lorraine MotelLorraine Motel

Memphis Tennessee

Finally, the Mississippi River, which would accompany us for the rest of our journey as we set off on Route 61, The Blues Highway, which follows the Mississippi down towards New Orleans.

Memphis Tennessee

Memphis Tennessee

Memphis Tennessee

Onward, to Graceland! Yes, we are PROPER tourists, so Graceland had to be done, even though I’m REALLY not an Elvis fan. Strangely, with everything I had heard about Elvis’ excesses, I had expected Graceland to be bigger than it was. But what it didn’t have in physical size, it sure made up for in interior decor. Yikes! The exhibits and history of Elvis’ life was interesting, though quite heavy on Elvis’ charitable work and light on any part of his life after his divorce from Priscilla – but then, that’s to be expected.

Graceland

Graceland

Graceland

Yes, it really was that colour!

Graceland

Graceland

Graceland

Graceland

Graceland

Graceland

And as a wedding photographer, of course I had to get a shot of Elvis and Priscilla’s wedding outfits!

Graceland

Graceland

Seeing the intricacy of some of these costumes up close was really very impressive – and they must have been super heavy to wear.

GracelandGraceland

Elvis’ resting place.

Graceland

And of course, there’s the cars…

Elvis CarsElvis CarsElvis CarsElvis Cars

Time to leave Graceland behind and continue on Route 61 towards the historic town of Vicksberg…. if only we could get through the rush hour traffic!

Route 61

Route 61

Route 61

“Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear”… umm… what objects?

Route 61

There was a lot of this. Lots of emptiness taking us through tiny places that aren’t big enough to have a town square or a cinema, but you can be sure that there’ll be a chuch every 100 yards! Few of the properties we passed were made of bricks and mortar – this was trailer country – although some of the trailers were permanent structures with nicely appointed gardens, but many looked like they were on their last legs waiting for the next hurricane to take them away. Looking at some of the buildings here, it is really no surprise that these big hurricanes cause so much damage – the trailers have no chance of standing up to them. Many of the delapidated houses had very nice pickup trucks parked out front. The local saying goes “well, you can sleep in your car… you can’t drive your house”.

Click HERE for Part IV – Vicksberg, Tennessee.

If you are looking for the start of the journey and the introduction, it begins HERE.

If you would like to see the full gallery of all the images I took (way more than on the blog), without the commentary, please click HERE.

 

 

 

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