Elvis long gone and we arrive at the home of the blues – Clarksdale Mississippi. We are there for two nights – first in the Shack-up Inn, second at the Ground Zero Blues Club.
Clarksdale is old, buildings deserted or fallen down, and parts of it resemble a bit of a shanty town. However, it has that old time character that comes with blues music. You can taste and hear it as you walk the deserted streets. I’d just be wary which one of those streets you are going to walk down.
Our first night was at the Shack-up Inn. This is situated a bit out of town (about four miles) at the Hopson Plantation which was the first cotton plantation in the area to be mechanised. Have a look at the website, then have a look at my photo gallery – this is a place with character.
Way down in Mississippi and we thought we’d give the local brew a go – Lazy Magnolia was founded in 2003 and is the local brewery for the Mississippians. We were in Clarkesdale for two nights (more on that later) so on the first went for the Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale at Rust restaurant (nice place with good food); and the second went for the Indian Summer.
Not sure if Elvis is still alive or not but he sure is in a lot of places. Memphis he obviously was, and Nashville there was Elvis stuff everywhere, and let’s not forget Tupelo, Mississippi.
Tupelo was where Elvis was born so we thought we better drop in and have a look at his little house. They say it takes a minute to look inside and there is a museum there but we didn’t check in to either. A few more Elvis souvenirs because you can never have enough and on the road again.
Take note that the official sign says that Elvis did die in 1977.
Taking a casual drive along Highway 64 from Lynchburg making our way to Florence, Alabama when all of a sudden the eyes open from their “I want a powernap” state as I spy a space rocket in the distance.
What is a space rocket doing in the middle of nowhere as we cross the border into Alabama from Tennessee. Well, the space rocket is at the visitor centre so I had to stop. Turns out Huntsville AL is known as “rocket city” because of the vital role it plays in space exploration – craft were built there, the research is conducted there, the Marshall Space Flight Centre is there, and the US Space and Rocket Centre is there (largest space museum).
The space rocket is one of the Saturn launchers used in the Apollo missions. Learn something new everyday – so if you are interested in rockets then maybe you will have to go to Huntsville. And my eyes stayed wide open until we reached Florence – lovely place too, but it was really only an overnighter so little to blog about except that everyone is so friendly and the Hampton Inn we stayed at was the best hotel on the trip so far.
Sounds a little like our trip – every day we make it – but this is a post about the best tourist thing we have done so far (although Caroline probably prefers the buying of cowboy boots in Nashville as pretty high up on the list – and pretty high up on the price list too but what the heck, you can’t get them in Australia and the dollar is pretty good).
About an hour or so South East of Nashville is a small town called Lynchburg. You may or may not have heard of it – but you would definitely have heard of its world famous product – Jack Daniels Tennessee Whisky.
Did I mention that there is music in Nashville. Bourbon Street New Orleans has its clubs and bars (although giving it a miss this trip), Memphis has its Beale Street (where we frequented mainly as it was where we stayed), and Nashville has it honky tonk bars (also just around the corner from where we stayed – funny about that).
Out of the three – Nashville wins hands down. It’s not seedy, locals go there, there are no cover charges, and drinks are priced as they should be ($4 for a stubby or cheaper). The street is wide and not blocked off and you can’t buy an alcoholic slurpee from a window in the street or as they called it in Memphis – a big-assed-beer.
Another must see is a visit to the Ryman Auditorium where the Grand Old Opry originated. It’s quite an interesting history built in 1892 by Captain Tom Ryman whose original intention was to run the preacher out of town because he was affecting his business of alcohol and gambling but instead listened to one his sermons that influenced him so greatly he built the preacher a tabernacle instead.
We did the backstage tour of the auditorium which is still used for performances and was voted as the best music venue in the world for accoustics. Really interesting history, particularly the part where they were going to pull it down but instead it was sold to Gaylord Industries who restored it for $10,000,000.
You can’t go to Nashville without a visit and it would be a great venue to see someone perform so if you do decide to visit, check online to see who and when (tickets sell-out almost as soon as they go on sale).
The guitar and clothes are Johnny Cash’s and June Carter’s – Caroline would not allow me to get on stage for a bit of Johnny Cash Karaoke.
In fact, there are several museums and not all of them are music related (well, I’m taking a punt on that because we didn’t look for those). But, without a doubt one of the highlights so far has been our visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Well, there isn’t actually too much more to Nashville than music. However, if you don’t like all types of music – country and western – then maybe this is not your place. But if you have the slightest liking, then again, another highly recommended location.
And not only is there music everywhere, even at the traffic lights where music is piped, we found another great BBQ place – Jack’s BBQ. The ribs are getting better. Jacks is on honky-tonk row and is one of those more traditional BBQ joints where you line up, order what you want, pay, grab your sauces then grab a seat. And cheap.
Our drive from Memphis to Nashville was to only take a few hours so we decided to take a detour to the Shiloh National Military Park on the way. The park commemorates the battle of Shiloh a critical and bloody Civil War battle on April 6-7, 1862.