Friday, September 28, 2012

Memphis, Tennesse to Nashville, Tennessee (September 28, 2012)

We departed the Memphis KOA in Marion, Arkansas shortly after 9AM. We wanted to make sure we missed the Memphis rush hour, although, we were going against the incoming traffic. That worked out fine. We picked up I-40 East just a few miles south of the RV park and continued through the city heading to our next destination, Nashville, Tennessee.

The 4 hour, 240 mile haul was quite easy. We ran into a lot of traffic around Nashville, but nothing too bad. We like these kind of trips.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Memphis, Tennessee (September 23-28, 2012)

We arrived at he Memphis KOA RV park after a two hour drive down I-55. Although we are visiting Memphis , TN, the RV park is located in West Memphis, AR.  This will give us state # 47 of the Lower 48. Almost there.

We were running low on supplies and the truck needed some routine maintenance so we spent the better part of the next day stocking up and making sure the truck stayed our reliable work horse. The afternoon was cool so we made a camp fire, roasted hot dogs and stayed outdoors until nightfall. All that fresh air and playing with the furkids made us all nice and sleepy.

The next morning we, for some reason, slept in. Maybe it was the coolness in the RV. We all were huddled together in the bed when we realized it was after 9 AM. We have never done that before. Since we did not turn the furnace on, the temperature inside was a frosty 62°F. It was definitely a two dog night.

It was well after noontime, when all of our routines were completed, before we headed into town to famous Beale St. This was one of the major points we wanted to visit and have a few beers, listen to some Blues and, generally, enjoy ourselves, which we did.

Beale St. remind us of the French Quarter in New Orleans, just smaller. It had the same aurora to it. As we enjoyed the French Quarter, we also enjoyed Beale St.

We had gotten our fill of Blues for the day so we walked around the surrounding area only to find we were too tired. Anyway, it was getting late and we needed to head back to the RV and take care of the boys.

On our walk we had seen a sign for Charlie Vergos' The Rendevous BBQ restaurant. We had heard high acclaims about this place stating it is some of the best Memphis-style BBQ in the country. It was only two block's from where we were parked so we turned in that direction. Smelling the smoking BBQ long before we arrived, our mouth's were watering once we reached the front door. We both ordered the small ribs to go. We were not disappointed once we dug into our meals.

The next day we had decided to take a tour on a classic side-wheeler riverboat. Parking for the tour was a short distance away, but there was a shuttle van in the lot to take us to the ticket office and boat. We booked passage on the Island Queen for its 12 o'clock tour. It was announced to us, by the tour guide, that the river was at one of its lowest levels in many years. This was evidenced by the long, descending walk to the boat. The tour lasted almost 2 hours and we found it to be very enjoyable and relaxing.

Afterwards we drove around the downtown part of the city and then parked near Beale St. again. We spent a hour or so sitting in BB King's Blues club sipping on a beer and listening to a Blues group.

At 4:30 PM, we departed for the Peabody Hotel. We were told there was a show in the lobby each day at 5:00 PM that we should not miss. We found it to be intriguing so we decided to go. It took less than 10 minutes to walk there and as we entered the extravagant and opulent lobby, we noticed a sign at the entrance displaying details of the event, so we made our way to the lobby fountain.

It seems each day at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., a group of ducks are marched through the lobby and into one of the hotel's elevators. This has been a daily ritual since the 1930s.  Read their story here: Peabody Ducks. Here is a short You Tube video showing the complete event: Marching Ducks.

We, thoroughly enjoyed this and it topped off our second day in Memphis. Now back to the RV and some play time with the kids.

The Memphis Pyramid

The National Civil Rights Museum

"The Room"

Our last full day in Memphis was spent close to home. The two days of walking had taken its toll so we decided to take it easy and get things ready for our departure the next morning. This stop was all about the Blues. Next stop will be all about Country and Western music.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

St. Louis, Missouri to Memphis, Tennesse (September 21-23, 2012)

Again, I did not do my homework. I failed to book the Memphis RV park far enough in advance. We could not get into the park until Sunday afternoon. I guess we could have stayed in St. Louis several days longer, but we were not impressed so we headed down the road. We found an RV park in Sikeston, MO and spent Saturday there doing nothing much at all. On Sunday morning we finished this leg as we arrived at the Memphis KOA and got ready to get our "Blues" on.

Friday, September 21, 2012

St. Louis, Missouri (September 19-21, 2012)

 We came to St. Louis for one thing and that was to visit the Gateway Arch. We had planned to walk the grounds of the park and take the elevator to the top. Plans did not happen.

We departed the RV park after the rush hour traffic dispersed and made our way across the Mississippi into the city. Traffic was still very heavy. We found driving precarious. Folks were rather rude. Regardless, we weaved our way to the entrance of the park only to find a traffic jam waiting to get in. There must have been a half dozen tour buses sitting in a line to get through the gates. I guess I did not do my homework on this National Park for one has to buy tickets before hand. So much for this folly.

We decided to drive down the Mississippi on the Missouri side for a while. There were some interesting places, but not any we wanted to stop at. Dejected we made our way back to the RV park. There may have been some places worthy to visit, but the traffic was too heavy everywhere and to us, it was just another "big city."

Since we only had scheduled one day we decided to go out early the next morning to a park on the Illinois side of the river, just across from the Arch, and take a few photos. This turned out great for it was cool and the kids loved getting out with us. We spent more time than we had expected and got a late start to our next destination, Memphis, Tennessee.

The St. Louis Gateway Arch.
This was interesting.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Louisville, Kentucky (September 17-19, 2012)

We departed Indianapolis late since we had a bit over a two hour drive. Arriving at the Louisville Metro KOA we set up and did some quick grocery shopping. The rest of the afternoon was relaxing. We had only one place we wanted to visit in Louisville, Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby. I am sure there are many more places to explore here, but our schedule said only one day, so we choose the race track.

The next morning we drove but a short distance to the track and parked. It was an overcast and some what blustery morning, but we preferred that to a hot and sunny day. We signed up for the Behind the Scenes Walking Tour and were met by a tour group arriving from town in a Mint Julep Tours mini-bus.

Our tour guide, Ken, was a retired employee of Churchill Downs and his knowledge of the track was outstanding. He imparted many personal experiences and we all found him to be quite the character. He took us to many of the places where, normally, tourists are not allowed. The background history of each area was, at times, amazing. Our tour lasted close to an hour and when we were finished, we agreed we would never watch another Kentucky Derby the same again. Great tour.

From there we entered the museum and spent several hours carousing the exhibits. We thoroughly enjoyed this destination and departed the Downs with a greater understanding of "The Race". Now, back to the RV for some Mint Juleps.

Ken, our tour guide.

The famous twin spires.

The finish line where all want to cross first.

The "Garland of Roses".

Kentucky Derby Trophy, first jewel of the triple crown.

The Preakness Stakes Trophy , the second jewel of the triple crown.

The Belmont Stakes Trophy, the third and final jewel of the triple crown.

Winning Jockey's colors.

We stopped several places after leaving the Downs to partake in a Mint Julep, but to our surprise they did not serve them. One bartender said they served them only during the Derby week. Strange. A Mint Julep is nothing but Bourbon, sugar, water, and mint?????  Not that hard to make in the off season.  Oh well. We stopped at a grocery store and picked up some mint, went back to our RV, then made our own. Just as good and a lot less expensive.

A Berry Oaks Mint Julep.

Tomorrow we get back on the road and motor our way to St. Louis. We will be staying in an RV park across the river in Illinois so we can chalk up that state. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Indianapolis, Indiana (September 14-17, 2012)

With the end of our journey a month away, we made the decision back in Wisconsin to pick one place in every state we had not yet visited and spend several days exploring it. With only four more states we picked Indianapolis, Indiana as our first stop. Joyce and I are both motor-heads and we had been wanting to visit the Indianapolis Speedway for a very long time. This was our chance. We allocated two full days to tour the city and see its sights.

On our first day we drove around the city and outlying neighborhoods. Like most other big cities it had its good and not-so-good places. The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art was one of our stopping points, but, alas, it being a Saturday there were a half dozen tour buses in the lot and a long line waiting to get in. Nope, another time, maybe. Off to the Indianapolis Zoo.

We arrived at the zoo parking area and immediately realized this was not going to be a fun experience. Like the previous museum, the zoo was packed with people. The line at the ticket booth was going to be a 20 minute wait for the nearly $30 per ticket price tag. Again, nope. We were not aware that Indianapolis was such a coveted tourist destination, but, obviously, it is. Since the zoo was in the White River State Park and we had already paid for parking we decided to walk along the river and just enjoy the day and then back to the RV to spend the rest of the afternoon with the furkids.

Looking through"the things to do in Indianapolis", we discovered their foodie tours so we booked one for that evening. This one was the Mass. Ave. (walking) Food Tour. It was a 3.5 hour walking tour in a very popular area of the city. The tour wound around the district for a mile and a half with stops at five different establishments serving everything from German food, local food, sweets, and even a beer tasting. It was an awesome time and at the end of the tour we even meet another Doodle. Made the day.

Famous Pork Loin Sandwich

Beer tasting time.

Awesome sweets for an awesome evening.

Loved this Doodle.

We arrived back at the RV just before sunset and spent the rest of the afternoon sitting outside in the cool evening weather. Although, we weren't able to do some of the things we had planned on, the day was very good. Tomorrow, the "Speedway."

The morning was cool when we departed for the Indianapolis Speedway. Jacket weather, actually. Could not have asked for a more beautiful morning to tour one of our most "wanted-to-visit" destination.

It was about a 30 minute drive from our RV park to the Speedway and, it being an early Sunday morning, the traffic was light. We had booked a 10:00 AM tour of the track and we arrived well in advance of that. We walked around the grounds for a bit taking pictures and gazing at this most incredible piece of real estate. It was not hard to believe that this place hosts the highest-capacity sports venue in the world with a total capacity of over 400,000 thousand attendees. Many times it has reached that capacity.

The Speedway Hall of Fame and Museum

The Brickyard
We started out in their tour bus and entered the track with the tour guide giving us a very thorough history of the arena.We drove slowly around the track while he explained various features and uses of the facility. Quite interesting was the fact that when the original bricks were paved over they left 36 inches (one yard) of bricks exposed at the start/finish line to retain the name of "The Brickyard" (now yard of bricks). All-in-all it was a great tour and well worth the time and expense.

                                                        The Panasonic Pagoda

The Pylon

The "Yard of Bricks."

After the tour we entered the Speedway Hall of Fame. This was an amazing collection of race cars and other memorabilia. We spent several hours gazing at both historic cars  to the cars of today. It is hard to comprehend that drivers of these older cars actually raced them with such little protection, and survived.


The Trophy.

Excellent morning as was the previous day. Even though we did not get to visit some of the place we had wanted to, all-in-all, this stop was one of the better ones in a long time. Now, back to the RV and our kids to prepare for our next destination, Louisville, Kentucky.