Tuesday, 6 May 2008

30/04/2008 - 12/05/2008 - St Louis(MO) / Memphis(TN)

30/04/2008 - We booked Stubbie in for a few minor warranty fixes in the city of Terre Haute. Whilst Stubbie was in getting fixed we thought that we would go the movies - wrong they don't have the first session until 4:30pm. We needed to spend an extra night here as they still had some minor fixes to complete. Everything was fixed except the fact that the TV and Radio turn on whenever they want - seems Thomas (the name the Eames's gave our friendly ghost at Canyon House) has followed us here.

04/05/02008 - Today we headed for the Gateway Arch one of the icons of St Louis. The Arch is an interesting bit of engineering. A steel arch that stands 630' high with a trolley arrangement built into the centre of it that takes you to the viewing platform at the top - in what they call Trams. The trolley was basically a set of small drums which people were stuff into and each drum is attached to the pulley system. (It was like stuffing 5 people into a 88 gallon drum.) After the Arch and some lunch we went for the obligatory ride down the Mississippi which was bit like going up the dirty Brisbane river - now we know why they call it the Big Muddy.

05/05/2008 - We woke up this morning and decided to catch the local buses to the zoo. Well that was an experience, even though Dave is know getting used to travelling in public transport - I don't think he has done this since his Uni days. We were the only non African-Americans on the bus and on the streets. We had asked the driver were we needed to get off to catch the next bus and she told us that she would announce it for us. Well she did announce the stop for us - so off we got and headed to catch what we thought was the connecting bus (wrong) - unfortunately for us we were headed to a bus going in the wrong direction. The bus driver saw that we were headed in the wrong direction so she stopped the bus and yelled out to us were to go to catch the correct bus - we were very grateful. The zoo had Australia's national emblem. One emu plus a few Kangaroos. The zoo was very large with some animals that we had both never seen, it was well set out and we had a great morning just wandering around and it was free.

After the Zoo we headed off to find Blueberry Hill. Dave managed to find his thrill at Blueberry Hill. (Made famous because of the burgers.) An interesting bit of information at the the cafe was that Abbott and Costello did not make it big until they did the skit on "Who's on first." (If you have never head this then download it off the net - it is a priceless piece of history.) Blueberry Hill is a large Pub/Restaurant were apparently Chuck Berry still visits about once a month to sing.

Dave is really taking to retirement - After we left St Louis Dave said that we should try and slow down a bit - that we did St Louis a bit too quick.

06/05/2008 - We have certainly been improving with the packing up to hit the road. Today we were so proud all cupboards inside and outside had been shut properly, so took off with smiles on our face only to notice that after travelling a few hundred metres that we had left the front door open. We went to visit the Meramac Caves just outside St Louis. These Caves are the caves that the infamous Jesse James and his brother Frank used as one of their hideouts. This was something that Dave and I wanted to see because it was so close, but we didn't expect to enjoy it as much as what we did. Some of the formations inside the caves were just spectacular - however I still get confused on which is a Stalagmite and a Stalactite, I think I've got it now though Stalactite has a 'c' in it - so it comes down from the 'c'eiling.

08/05/2008 - We arrived at our RV park "Graceland/Memphis RV Park" to find out that we are virtually across the road to Graceland - another great bonus.

The King is not dead he is everywhere.... In Memphis they have one radio station that is dedicated to Elvis, they only play Elvis music all day.

09/05/2008 - So today we headed over to Graceland. We had a truly wonderful time - it was amazing to see just how 'The King' lived - we were disappointed that you didn't get to go upstairs to see the upstairs living areas. (They are always off limits to the public.) After we finished the tour of the house we went to what is called the Meditation Gardens, this is where Elvis, his mother and father, his paternal Grandmother (who outlived them all), and a memorial to his twin brother Jesse (who was still born) are all buried. Well it was amazing to see the emotions of so many people come out here -I had a lump in my throat standing in front of Elvis's grave and reading the inscription. Across from Graceland they have several museums of Elvis memorabilia (including two of his airplanes). We spent several hours watching old footage and reading the history of the era.
10/05/2008 - As we still have a few things to see in Memphis we decided to have a Rest Day. So I went up the office to check in for another two nights. Well the office advised me that there are strong storm warnings about with the possibility of Tornadoes, she then went into detail about the Alarm that goes off for the Tornadoes and where we are to go. No wonder everyone else is leaving the park, but hey not Dave and I we've just booked in for two more nights. So needless to say we are keeping an eye on the weather. We know understand while most other travellers are heading North not South. Nothing like travelling in what they call Tornado Alley.

So tonight we headed over to the Rock 'n Roll Cafe for a drink and some entertainment (an Elvis Impersonator). Well I was disappointed when we walked in and sat down I asked for a glass of chardonnay - guess what no wine only beer and Smirnoff Ice - Watermelon - so I did what anyone would do and ordered the Smirnoff, whilst Dave sat there and ordered Bud's - not happy Jan, it was just sooo sweet. The passion that the Americans have for their country is just unbelievable. The show stopped for a while as the impersonator welcomed back a soldier from his service in Iraq so of course everyone in the crowd gets up for a standing ovation that lasts for about 5 minutes, he then goes on to thank all the Vets etc which the crowd then applaud and cheer loudly. At the end of the show when he is singing his last song the American Flag drops down in the background - well the crowd erupts with another standing ovation. The singer did some really good impersonations and then some not so good impersonations, sometimes he looked more like Neil Diamond, but his enthusiasm and passion for Elvis Presley was unbelievable. In the crowd was the wife of Elvis's cousin who had lived in Gracelands for 4 years. We had an enjoyable night (whilst keeping an eye on the weather) and met a lovely Irish Couple who are travelling in celebration of their 25th wedding anniversary.

11/05/2008 - Well as you can probably tell we survived the night, sadly Tornadoes and severe storms did hit around us and about 21 people were killed. We got lots of wind, lightening and rain but no damage.

We started today's travels with a stop at Sun Studios the place were Elvis Presley recorded his first song. Elvis lied to get into the Studio to record his first single. He told the secretary Marion Keisker that it was his mother's birthday and that he really wanted to give her a record of him singing for her birthday - it wasn't even close to his mother's birthday. We listened to his first recording and it was very ordinary. Needless to say this didn't start his career it was another year until his career got started.

Sun Studios was also where other greats like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and that era also recorded most of there records. We were able to stand in the actual recording studio that all these great artists made allot of the greatest hits. (The recording studio has not changed except for the electronics and it still functions as a live recording studio today.)
After Sun Studios we headed into Beale St (the place known for the Blues/ Jazz clubs). We went into BB Kings where we listened to a Blues Band play for about an hour, the lead guitarist was 87 and he was about to play for 5 hours. We have been use to seeing Australian Yellow Tail wine at nearly all the clubs / restaurants we have been to, but at BB Kings they have Alice White Wines (more Australian wine) - have a look at the photo.

After BB Kings we went to the Civil Rights Museum and visited the motel site that Martin Luther King was assassinated. (The Civil rights era was a very sad era in US history.)

12/05/2008 - Today we packed up and headed off to Nashville. Whilst we were glad to have stopped at Memphis and to see the sights, Memphis is not a city that we would go back to. Memphis seems really run down and this is one place that we didn't feel very safe.

For any of those competitive people out there, it's been two weeks since Dave and I started our bet on weight loss. The first week it was close but I managed to get Dave by .23%. Week two was a bit easier. I decided that last week was too close - so when I went and did the grocery shopping, I bought a few treats for Dave - he has no will power when it comes to chocolate. So on Friday when we weighed in I was a clear 1.8% in front. Now I'm not saying that we are losing much weight, but a least we are heading in the right direction - so it's 2 Nil.... and Dave is not a good loser. (Ross that means there has been no Apple Crisp).

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