Memphis, Tennessee

Day 14   March 31

Memphis, TN

A sunny day, even though thunderstorms were predicted.  It was warm and humid when we left at 10 a.m. to go to Mud Island where we hoped to rent bikes, but discovered when we got there that it didn’t open until the 2nd weekend in April.  On the up side, we did find a recycling center and were able to get rid of some of the things we’d been carrying around with us.

Mud Island is actually a peninsula and includes a very large greenway park.  The MRT (bike route) runs parallel to it and there were lots of people out walking and biking.  In fact we counted 20 bike riders in less than one hour, more than we’ve seen during the entire trip. 

I could hear purple martins calling overhead and was sorry that there were no purple martin houses of any kind on this parkland.  It is ideal habitat. 

After walking up and down the parkway in the hot sunshine, we were ready to find a cool place to have lunch.  Neither one of us had ever been to Beale St. so that’s where we went next.  The first place we saw was B.B. King’s Club and since he’s one of our favorite musicians, that’s the place we chose. Mike ordered ribs – what else - and I got a pulled pork sandwich.  The walls of the darkened club (not smoky – thankfully) were covered with framed and autographed guitars, as well as photos and other memorabilia.  Best yet,  a group got up on stage while we were still eating and proceeded to sing and play the blues, while the audience clapped their hands and shimmied in their seats. 

The temperature by this time had reached the high 80s and it was uncomfortable to be without shade, so we finished walking up Beale St. and headed to the Peabody Hotel, an institution in this town and one that came up with a clever PR scheme 75 years ago.  Five mallard ducks come down on an elevator every morning with their red coated/gold epauletted handler and parade down the hallway until they reach a fountain in the main lobby.  Then they climb up and splash into the little pool where they spend the day paddling and eating. At 5 p.m. they hop out of the pool and reverse their route back upstairs.  People come especially to see this retinue.

Memphis has a wonderful old fashioned electric trolley system that runs up and down the Main St. and also makes a loop along the river frontage.  It’s used by tourists and residents alike.  We climbed aboard and sat on a too small wooden seat, with warm air pouring in the open window.  The front part of the car had benches that faced one another, as did the back end.  In the middle were the forward and backward facing seats.  You know people were smaller in the ‘olden’ days by the size of the seats. Mike’s right leg was partway off the seat and out into the narrow aisle, so he finally moved up to the front part of the car.

The car trundled down the street past well kept older buildings and others that have seen better times.  The woman conductor tooted the horn when we crossed intersections.  The return portion of the loop took us past the backs of some huge homes facing the river.  One doesn’t need to be a child to enjoy a trolley ride – though I did wish we had our grandkids with us.

One of the more striking buildings in town is a full size pyramid, made of dark glass or metal – we couldn’t tell which for sure.  It was originally built as a basketball stadium for the Memphis Grizzlies, but they have a new stadium now and someone told us the pyramid would become a headquarters for the Bass Pro Shops.  We looked at this massive structure with the hot sun bouncing off all sides and thought, WHY DON’T THEY  HAVE SOLAR PANELS ALL OVER IT????  That building could probably provide power for the entire downtown. A wasted opportunity, but one that might be remedied in the future as we move into a more sustainable/green energy world.  We can only hope.

For dinner that night we drove to Colliersville to make use of another Groupon at the Mexican restaurant, El Porton.  We were very happy with our meal, especially the ‘made at your table’ guacamole.  

Colliersville was advertised as a small town with a historic square that I wanted to see.  It has also expanded into a very prosperous looking suburb, with lots of the usual outlying shopping malls.  We found the square – a wooded island with masses of blooming azaleas – we have never seen anything like it, except on this trip.  It was after 6 p.m., which was a good thing, because all the shops were closed and all I could do was put my face to the windows and peer in.  An old train was parked on tracks on one side of the square and it was being used as a backdrop for wedding pictures as we walked by. 



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