Walking Off Our Biscuits and BBQ
After recuperating from our first day in the Home of the Blues, our second day in Memphis began with a much needed power walk through the beautiful Overton Park near our B&B. This 342 acre site has walking and biking trails, a band shell for live concerts, dog park and a golf course, and is adjacent to the Memphis Zoo. A great place to walk off about 1/10th of all those southern stick-to-your ribs calories we managed to ingest.
With our semi-aerobic exercise out of the way, we returned to the heart of the city just in time for another quick bite to eat. We had to keep our energy up for our jam-packed day! First stop was the Central BBQ, not as well known as some of the other rib joints in Memphis, but some locals claim this is the best BBQ around. After inhaling a jumbo-sized pulled pork sandwich smothered with creamy, crunchy, sweet slaw as our late afternoon “snack”, we absolutely agreed with the locals. it was awesome. Napkins anyone?
Next it was on to the National Civil Rights Museum, which pays tribute to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The exhibition hall is attached to the former Lorraine Motel, site of the 1968 assassination of MLK. The museum showcases the struggle for civil rights from the 17th century to the present. It is both a moving and disturbing collection of audio and visual historic facts and artifacts. The sounds of “slavery” filling the exhibit hall are overwhelmingly poignant.
The Lorraine motel, which is part of the museum, is a chilling reminder of the tragedy that occurred on April 4, 1968 on the 2nd floor balcony.
After touring the main building and exhibits we crossed the street to the museum annex that contained more historic exhibits about the ongoing fight for civil rights. The annex has recreated the room Ray checked into and the community bathroom he allegedly fired the shot from. Below is a photo showing Ray’s bathroom view of the Lorraine. Looking from the room window across the street to the balcony where MLK was gunned down was a very intense and terribly sad experience for both of us. It was impossible to comprehend the level of hate someone could have to intentionally carry out such a heinous crime. The wreath on the balcony marks the approximate place MLK was standing when he was assassinated outside of the room he shared with Dr. Ralph Abernathy.
After leaving the National Civil Rights Museum and taking a moment to collect our thoughts, we wandered over to the Blues Hall of Fame, which honors those who’ve performed, recorded, or documented blues. Little Walter’s harmonica, Johnny Winter’s guitar, and Koko Taylor’s $2,000 gold boots are all displayed here, along with other items that tell the story of blues musicians nationwide. Interactive screens and guitars, stage clothing, Grammy Awards, and platinum records from artists like Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, and Stevie Ray Vaughan are featured. The exhibit includes so many more one-of-a-kind artifacts, most of which were donated by the musicians families. The blues may have stemmed from sadness and struggle but this is a really cool, upbeat place. So, if you love the blues and all the musical giants who made it great, you’ll love this gem!
As a child of the 50’s and 60’s, and an oldie but goodie herself, Rorie’s must-see list also included Sam Phillip’s Sun Studio, which opened in 1950 and is the birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll.
This genre of music was the offspring of the marriage between blues and country and was born at Sun Studio where Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Howlin’ Wolf, Roy Orbison and a host of other legends came to record and launch a musical revolution. In 1956 an impromptu jam session took place here which became known as the “Million Dollar Quartet”.
We loved the music memorabilia, classic jukebox, recording equipment and old photographs covering the walls. It brought back a lot of memories of a simpler time when you could actually understand the words to the music and even dance to it. This is a stop not to be missed.
After returning to our B&B (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/194998?s=22) for a little R&R, it was once again time to think about – you guessed it – eating. We decided to take a break from barbecue and followed our hostess’ suggestion to have dinner at The Beauty Shop Restaurant, a whimsical eatery in a former 60’s hair salon, complete with old-fashioned hair dryer chairs. And with a slogan of “Look Good. Eat Good.”, how could we possibly pass up this unique dining experience! Rumor has it Lisa Marie Presley came here to have her hair done back in the day.
One of the restaurant’s specialties is handmade milkshakes in eclectic flavors like Rosemary Basil, Nutella and Sherry Fig. After consuming what we would consider to be a relatively healthy dinner, we decided to save one of those milkshakes for another trip!
Remember sitting under these hot domes with a head full of soup can rollers waiting for your hair to dry so the hairdresser could tease and spray your “do” so it didn’t move for a week?
As our visit to Memphis and stay with Taryn at her B& B (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/194998?s=22) came to an end, Rorie was sure she couldn’t eat one more bite. Of course this was after polishing off an egg white and cheese sandwich to tide her over until her morning snack. Imagine our surprise when we went downstairs to say our goodbyes and discovered that Taryn had made us an incredible breakfast with the most amazing homemade biscuits, one glazed with caramel sauce and the other with red pepper jelly, crisp bacon, fresh fruit, and coffee with real cream and real sugar. Rorie managed to inhale it all and Bart, who never eats breakfast impressively cleaned his plate! The perfect end to a wonderful visit.
Up next: The Cotton District in Starkville, Mississippi…