Rock n Roller 16: Home of the Blues

As I headed south through Tennessee I had my sights set on a little town called Memphis, you know the one–the home of the blues, Graceland, bar-b-que and the largest Bass Pro Shop in the world that is built like a pyramid. Let that sink in for a second. America in all of our consumerism glory thinks it okay to built a massive pyramid shaped fishing store replete with a hotel and a couple restaurants.

As I drove through Tennessee it was raining buckets. I had to pull over a couple times so I wouldn’t hydroplane the big truck and end up in the ditch and one of those special, “drug enforcement vehicles” that the state police drove a 100 miles an hour through the state. I guess there is a big bathtub meth problem in these parts, far from the day of moonshine stills in the backwoods and whiskey making in dry counties. How is that for a marketing ploy? Make your product in a place that nobody is allowed to drink or buy it. I guess Jack knew what he was doing.

I arrived in Memphis early in the afternoon and drove by the infamous St. Jude’s Childern’s Hospital. You know the one that you have been sending $9.95 a month to for the last couple of decades. Not to sound insensitive but it doesn’t look like the hospital is hurting for cash as it is a sprawling facility taking up most of Danny Thomas Blvd. Do you know who Danny Thomas is by the way? He was born, Amos Muzyad Yakhoob Kairouz. How do you get the name Danny from that? He was also a famous television producer for shows like The Andy Griffith Show, my all time favorite, by the way.

I headed down to Beale Street and checked out the Gibson guitar factory where they make Les Pauls. I sent Michele a picture and asked If I could have one. She agreed until I told her the price, starting at 3500 bucks. Well there goes my life long dream of playing Sweet Child o’ Mine in a top hat. Hint: this reference will come up later in the rock n roller 16 tour!

I also checked out a very cool Memphis Rock n Roll Museum that took over two hours to complete and followed the history of this area and the music from its roots in slavery all the way up to today including Elvis, the Toadies, Dave Matthew’s, Ike Turner and more. This was one the coolest things I have done on the whole trip and I was glad I came.

I dove into some awesome Memphis-style Bar-b-que at a place called The Pig on Beale. It was finger lickin’ good with a roll of paper towels on the table and a waitress that was a spittin’ image of Marla Gibbs who is known for her role as George Jefferson’s maid, Florence Johnston.  Of course I had to try the banana pudding for dessert before I walked out into the stifling heat to check out the rest of Beale.

Afterwards I headed over to the Bass Pro pyramid and can tell you it is much bigger on the inside. It truly does have a hotel inside with balconies that overlook the store below. We have a Bass Pro Shop in Anchorage that opened up just a couple years ago and we have the same stuff, sans hotel, but it was still fun to check this out.

I stayed in a cheesy motel a few miles outside of the city and took me almost an hour to get back. Driving there I saw one of the worst accidents in all of my years of driving. A tractor trailer had flipped over, probably driving way to fast in the rain, and was crushed on those huge concrete barriers in the middle of the freeway. As I drove by they were just covering up the truck driver with a yellow sheet. This would not be the last deadly accident I/we saw on this trip. One in Colorado involving a motorcyle was much worse but that is a story for another day.

Tomorrow I would be heading toward Texas and ‘Big D’ by the way of Clinton’s old stoppin’ grounds of ArKANSAS as they some call it, you know sort of like Warshinton or Or-e-Gone.

Tomorrow: Six Flags Over Texas and Jerry’s World

Coasters to date on the tour: 76

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