Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Five Favorites: v. 1

Since I have been remiss in blogging about my recent trip to Memphis, as The Boyfriend keeps reminding me, I decided to link up with Moxie Wife at Five Favorites to cover the highlights.

It was really more of a trip to Louisville, Nashville (okay, not really a trip to Nashville, but at least a much-required stop at Loveless Cafe), and Memphis - and there is nothing better in the middle of gloomy March than to go south and see green grass and sun. It was much needed balm for my soul after this winter. 

Yes, I am ignoring that the forecast later in the week is calling for more snow.


Whiskey tastings in Louisville, Kentucky make everything better.

When we spent the day in Louisville, one of the highlights was the Evan Williams "Experience" - part of Kentucky's famed Bourbon Trail. It's not a mere presentation. With historic reconstructions of old buildings on the wharf and videos projected around you, the tour attempts to immerse the visitor in 18th century Louisville. Combine that with a sassy tour guide and tastings at the end, and it was a very fun experience. Unfortunately, Evan Williams whiskey isn't sold in Ohio, so I foresee a trip across the river in my future.

Here is the fun replica bar where we had the tasting. Each tasting area was decked out like a bar from a different time period. We ended up at a kitschy, Mad Men era place.



Yes, it's stereotypical, but Beale Street and Graceland were a must.

We did the obligatory drinks and music at Beale Street, but I must admit, the music scene wasn't as nice as Nashville. I had expected more blues and great guitar players. Instead, there were the usual cover bands and some hilarious impersonators. We had fun, but Beale Street felt like a night out in college.

Graceland was a hot mess. The house is so tacky - don't blame it on the times, I'm blaming that Jungle Room on the drugs - but I am glad I went, just to say I experienced it. It was crazy to see some people shedding a tear and leaving flowers on his grave still.


The food in Memphis was fantastic!

Soul Fish Cafe was one of the highlights. I don't usually like catfish, but theirs was piping hot and wonderfully crispy. Hush puppies were light and airy, and the Cajun cooked cabbage was delicious and indescribable.

Like all my trips to the South, I drank sweet tea by the gallon, ate my weight in biscuits, and compared collards to my great aunt's.  Oh, and fry pies. Cherry fry pies. I was in heaven.


Now I can say I've been to Arkansas - and Mississippi.

I hadn't realized, until I arrived there, just how close Memphis was to Arkansas and Mississippi. I haven't traveled all that much to the west, so The Boyfriend and I decided to hop over the river to check out West Memphis, Arkansas. It was right across the river from a huge city, practically a suburb, so there had to be something to do, right?


We did a lovely dive-by tour of the Walmart and gun shops of West Memphis and then decided to check out the casinos we'd seen advertised. West Memphis was real depressing; but, I now can say I've been to Arkansas!

We settled on the casino, as I've never been to one, and The Boyfriend decided I absolutely must fix that. We kept seeing signs for Tunica, and knew there were casinos there advertising some low tables. What we didn't realize, until we arrived, was how big Tunica actually was.

Tunica is this tiny little Mississipi town where they decided to build some casinos, about twenty minutes south of Memphis. It is flat - you see all the cotton fields, and the terrain is otherworldly, with its swamps and haze. And then, in the middle on this tiny town that was so, so poor, they've put up a ton of casinos on the river, and the town is now booming. I found the history of it all so much more fascinating that my attempts to learn craps and roulette. If I could, I'd go back and stay there, giving myself time to explore the town and its history, to walk along the river, and check out the blues.

Later, we learned it was the second largest gambling destination in America. That's crazy, as the town had an open sewer until the 1990s. That was a sobering reminder of just how lucky I really am.


How could I not mention the mighty Mississippi?

We made the discovery on Monday of our trip that almost everything in Memphis is closed on Mondays. Museums, shops, restaurants - all closed. So that left us at loose ends, as many of the things we planned to see weren't open.

We ended up walking along the Mississipi, enjoying the sun, and the peaceful feeling of watching the boats go by. It's amazing how large the river is, and how it has inspired so many. One of the best parts of my trip.

Linking this post up with others doing Five Favorites with Moxie Wife.

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