From Missouri, we traveled southeast into Tennessee until we got hungry. Dad had given us a Cracker Barrel gift card when we left, and we used it that night, in Dyersburg.
Ten pounds heavier, we slept in the Walmart parking lot across the street. It must have been the place to be that Monday night, as we fell asleep to revving engines and hollers of ‘woo-hoos!’
We had signed up for a 20 dollar monthly membership to Planet Fitness, and that’s the first place we headed in Memphis. The membership not only means cheap gym time, but invaluable hot showers. And in the Poplar Avenue branch that morning, no one was taking advantage of those showers but us.
We did work out too, and as we were leaving all clean, the woman at the front desk suggested that we check out Overton Park, a few blocks down. We did, and had a little picnic there and then cycled. The park envelops an art college and a museum and was full of really chilled out people with their dogs/children. And one chick with a giant lizard on a leash.
Late in the afternoon we drove Mud Island, full of posh private communities. As my friend Michael described it long ago when he lived in the city, a runner’s paradise, as there are long paths and sidewalks on the grassy banks of the Mississippi. But we were too tired to run. We lay down in the grass and split a beer.
Before it got dark, we parked up in the most gigantic Bass Pro Shop ever, where Edd had read it was ok to park overnight. We verified it with the manager. Apparently you can stay at any Bass Pro shop in the country.
This branch was also a hotel! Which meant we benefited too. First, there’s 24-hour security, and second, it is pretty much smack dab in the middle of the city. It was a 20 minute walk to Beale Street, but there was also a trolley stop next to the lot.
The next morning we cycled for 15 miles, from Overton Park to Shelby Farms, all along a path that links up to the Green Belt. From there, it was a straight shot to the farms. But when we arrived our buns were too sore to go on.
After another long shower at Planet Fitness we went to Silky O’Sullivans. The dinner looked cheap and they had duelling pianos. We only meant to stay there for a drink or two because honestly, two white dudes playing piano for a bunch of college students and tourists probably probably doesn’t make the typical Memphis experience. But we got drunk and had fun and stayed put.
The next morning we showered again at PF, stocked up on food at a Cost Saver’s, and headed out towards be the Natchez Trace Parkway. There was a free campground there we wanted to stay at for a few nights, before we met up with my friend Shannon in Nashville.
Driving out of Memphis and into the suburbs, I couldn’t help but notice the huge houses that line Poplar Street for miles and miles. What are ask these people funny here for a living? Even downtown, the architecture we had seen was stunning and I only hope Detroit’s Woodward Avenue will look like that again someday.
Besides beautiful brick buildings, Memphis has some really positive vibes and I’m really glad we swung through there.