2021 Rhode Island Adventure

Rhode Island – WOW!!! When I started telling people I was going to Rhode Island for a week, some said, “WHY?” Others told me I was going to love it! Well……I DID love it!!! When I first thought about a possible trip to Rhode Island, I had a few ideas, but wasn’t sure exactly where I wanted to stay or what all I wanted to do until I started researching it.

I originally considered staying in Providence and exploring from there. I ended up deciding on Newport as my base location…..and, I am sooooo glad I did! Newport is such a sweet town with tons of great things to see and do.

I flew into Boston and drove to Newport – about an hour and a half – longer than I thought it would take, but I made it! I rented a Kia K5 – nice car!!! I ended up putting 572 miles on the rental car in the three days I was there (actually five – Monday was a travel day, I had Tuesday-Thursday to do stuff, and Friday was my return travel day).

I found a lovely Bed & Breakfast called the Artful Lodger on Spring Street in Newport – GREAT location – right downtown and close to just about everything. My host – Heidi – was a sweetheart – very friendly, fun, and helpful with recommendations and information.

My room was large, clean, beautifully decorated, and very comfortable…..and, it had a huge Jacuzzi, which I took full advantage of!!!

Breakfast was served in the Conservatory on the third floor – a beautiful, sunny room with views of the harbor and outdoor seating available if the weather permits – it was a tad chilly for that while I was there. Breakfast was DELICIOUS!!!

Two mornings I had the Azores Sweet Bread French Toast — once with sausage and once with bacon — YUM!!! So good!!! (that’s why I had it two days in a row) On the third day, I had eggs, bacon, and toast. The fourth morning, I had to leave for the airport before breakfast was served…..boo hoo!!!

Me and Heidi — the host of the Artful Lodger

I arrived my first day after dark and a stressful drive from Boston Logan Airport, so I just got settled in, watched some TV, and got an amazing night’s sleep – I slept like a baby every night. Then, my second day, I focused on finding my way around Newport and sight-seeing. I drove around…..not an easy task, at first – Newport is a maze of one-way streets that are very narrow, but I soon got the hang of it and was zipping around the town like an old pro!

Here are some of the sights from my puttering around in the morning:

I visited with the pastor of the United Baptist Church of Newport – the second oldest Baptist church in America. I met with him and took photos for an article I wanted to write for my church newsletter…..I did a separate post on the churches I visited for the article – scroll down after you’re done with this post to read it.

The Redwood Library and Athenaeum – a hybrid library, museum, rare book repository, and research center. First purpose-built library structure in America that has been in continuous use since opening in 1750. It is also the nation’s oldest Neo-classical building and a National Historic Landmark.

AND……it has a big rocking chair in the side yard…..a piece of art work, or so I was told! I REALLY wanted to get up in that chair……but……I was a good girl (but, only because it was so high and I am so short – hehehe)

This is the Newport Tower…….also known as the Old Stone Mill, is a round stone tower located in Touro Park in Newport, Rhode Island, the remains of a windmill built in the mid-17th century. But – several theories add to the mystery of the tower — including claims that it was built by Vikings or the Knights Templar, Freemasons, Native Americans, Chinese explorers, and Celts. Recent investigations conclude all materials are from the mid-17th century and the windmill story is most likely.

I did some walking around downtown – especially Thames Street – a lovely brick and cobblestone street full of wonderful shops and restaurants.

Then, in the afternoon, I took a three hour trolley tour all around the city that ended with a tour of one of the Gilded Age Mansions that Newport is famous for.

Our guide was awesome…..so fun and knowledgeable. He was from Brazil and was a real cutie-patooty!!!

During the mid-19th century, some of the wealthiest families in America came to Newport to build lavish mansions to be used as “summer cottages”. These mansions were summer homes to Vanderbilt’s, Astor’s, Carnegie’s, and many others….including one owned by Jacqueline Bouvier’s step father – Hammersmith Farms – the location of her wedding reception when she married John F. Kennedy. President Eisenhower also had his “summer white house” in Newport, as did John F. Kennedy. Some of the homes are still private homes, but some have been opened to the public for tours. Imagine……building something this massive and grand and only living in it a couple months out of the year!!!

This is the Breakers — a tour was included in our Trolley Tour. It was quite elaborate!

Eisenhower’s Summer White House is located at Fort Adams

Hammersmith Farms – home of Jackie Bouvier and location of her wedding reception when she married JFK

After the tour, I went to The Mooring for dinner……amazing!!!

I had the baked lobster stuffed with shrimp and scallops and a Limoncello cake for dessert!

I walked off my dinner with a stroll around Bannister’s Wharf

Wednesday was another amazing day!!! Started out with a delicious breakfast….then I went across the bridge to Jamestown to visit Beavertail Lighthouse…..then walked a ways on the Cliff Walk (it’s a 7 mile round trip walk, so definitely didn’t do the whole thing)…..then I went to St Mary’s Parish – the church JFK and Jackie were married in, but found they only do tours on Tuesday…….then I found the mansion that the 1960’s TV show Dark Shadows was filmed at – they used it for the exterior shots of Collinwood Mansion – it is a private residence and mostly obscured by heavy bushes, but I found a spot I could get my phone through for a picture!!!! I was careful not to trespass, but I GOT THE SHOT!!!

Beavertail Lighthouse is the site of America’s Third Oldest Lighthouse – established in 1749

The harbor leaving Jamestown…..and a huge, beautiful building on the corner just before I got back on the bridge.

This is the bridge to Jamestown from the Jamestown side……it was a stunning bridge! Obviously, I couldn’t get photos while I was on the bridge, but it really was an impressive drive.

The next few photos are from the Cliff Walk – a 7 mile round trip walk along the harbor with beautiful views. I only went a ways down – too far for me to do the whole round trip and I also had to get back to the wharf for a sail on a schooner I had booked and I still had a couple stops I wanted to make before then.

St. Mary’s Parish — church where John F. Kennedy and Jackie Bouvier were married on September 12, 1953. They have tours that take you through the church and the day of the wedding, but only on Tuesdays — I wish I had known that – I could have swapped my plans around so I could do the tour, but……that’s OK! Another time, maybe!

I was really excited when I found the mansion that was used for the exterior shots of Collinwood Mansion in the 1960’s TV show, Dark Shadows!!! I loved that show…..I rushed home from school to see it!!! This is the home of Barnabus Collins in the show. It is a private home that I was told recently sold for $29 million!!! Best photo I could get through the bushes and the hole in the chain link fence…..it’s a private residence marked “No Trespassing”!!!! I didn’t go on the property…..I was standing outside the bushes and fence…..but I got the shot!!! LOL

In the afternoon, I went sailing on the Madeleine Schooner – WOW – it was a gorgeous day for it! We set sail and spent an hour and a half on the water with the sails up! AMAZING!!! It was an all-girl crew with Captain Annie at the helm and two young ladies working the sails. Captain Annie is the first female captain for this schooner in its 30-some years in operation!

This looks old and impressive — it’s actually a replica that is only about 8 years old…..but, it sure is pretty!

House on an island…..it was built by the original owners, who abandoned it after a severe hurricane a long time ago – before they started naming hurricanes — sorry, can’t remember the specific details……then, it was purchased not too long ago by a guy who came along and asked the city how much they wanted for it – they were so happy that someone wanted it, they sold it to him for the back taxes – about $8000!!! It is a fully self-sufficient home powered by renewable energy.

Rose Hill Lighthouse under the bridge to Jamestown…….Rose Hill Lighthouse is now operated as a 6 room inn that you can stay at…..it is reported to be haunted….just might be my choice for lodging next time….although, I may have to split my time so I could stay at the Artful Lodger, again!

One of the passengers brought their dog – Olivia – a Jack Russell Terrier……here, Captain Annie is giving some love to Olivia! She was a sweetheart!!! She loved being on the boat and visiting with all the other passengers.

Then, I had an early dinner at the Lobster Bar after I got off the Madeleine. I had the Lobster Roll with fries and it was incredible!!!

I wandered around Thames Street for some window shopping (and a little actual shopping)…..picked up a “Grandma’s Carrot Cake” cupcake at Cupcake Charlie’s and then settled in for the night and enjoyed my cupcake!!!

I originally planned to take the ferry over to Block Island, but people I talked to said it really wasn’t the right time of year for that and I found so many other wonderful things to do that I decided not to spend an entire day doing something like that. I was then planning to visit some of the other coastal towns near Newport. But, in my infinite wisdom, I decided I wanted to see Cape Cod!!!

I started out making a quick photo stop at the harbor in Newport and then went to Providence, before heading to Cape Cod — I had to visit the First American Baptist Church in America — again, that is included in the blog post you’ll find after this one. What little I saw of Providence, I was so glad I chose Newport as my base…. Providence was just a big city. I’m glad I went to the church, but other than that, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed being there any more than I was.

French General Rochambeau who joined forces with General Washington on the Hudson River and on to a successful march on Yorktown.

This plaque says “I Welcome the new of your arrival. A new mark of friendship. From his most Christian Majest, George Washington.” I thought that was cool!

The First American Baptist Church in America – Providence, RI

And, off to Cape Cod I went……in hindsight, I wish I had taken the day to visit the other RI coastal towns, but it was a nice drive. But, I spent most of the day in the car on highways and saw very little coastal views. It was taking so long that I decided not to go all the way up to Provincetown (the tip of Cape Cod) and stopped in Chatham, explored the town a little, stopped at the Chatham Lighthouse, and headed back. Chatham was a lovely town with some quaint shops.

I guess I was a tad disappointed cause I expected it to be like the Outer Banks in NC — all coastal roads with water and stunning views on each side……it wasn’t…..maybe if I had gone further up, it would have been, but it was getting late and I was looking at about two and a half hours back from where I was…..and Provincetown was at least another hour or so up…….it made for a very long day. But, it wasn’t a total loss – I did enjoy the drive and my stop in Chatham…..AND…..I did get to scratch off the landmark “Cape Cod National Seashore” on my chart!!! 🙂

When I got back to Rhode Island, I decided I was going to go to at least one coastal town, after all…..I decided to go to Westerly for dinner and hoped to see a nice sunset while eating. Traffic made me miss the sunset, but I did have a wonderful dinner at the Olympia Tea Room right on the water and got to see a bit of Westerly!

I had the pork chop with a loganberry demi glaze, mashed potatoes and broccoli…..sp good!!!!

I got back to the Artful Lodger about 9:00, packed up my things, and went to bed so that I could get up and head to the airport in the morning. It was a wonderful adventure…….I hope to return, someday, and do the things I didn’t get to and maybe re-do some things I really enjoyed!!!

2021 Rhode Island Adventure – First American Baptist Churches

I recently spent a week in Rhode Island and visited a piece of American Baptist history. I had heard the stories about Roger Williams and John Clarke – pioneers in the American Baptist denomination and champions of religious freedom – in Providence and Newport, RI and was thrilled to discover their churches are still alive and being used for Baptist worship. So, I had to go see them. I am a member of the Albion First Baptist Church and found their stories fascinating. Following is information I gathered for an article for our church newsletter….plus a bit more and all the photos I took along the way.

Let’s talk about Roger Williams, first, since he was the founder of the First American Baptist Church in America! Williams, an ordained minister, was a Puritan who fled England in the 1630’s to separate from the religious repression that the Church of England represented. The movement to leave the Church of England included many other Puritans who worked to establish the colony of Massachusetts Bay in 1630. Williams, however, made his pilgrimage in 1631 with different ideas for the colony than the others. They worked to create a Purified Church of England and Williams wanted a total separation from the Church of England with a new church, new theologies, and the freedom to worship as they pleased without persecution.

His descent caused much controversy. Among other things, he believed that the Native American people were the sole owners of the American land and should be justly compensated for it. He also strongly believed in the separation of church and state – maintaining that only God could judge man’s conscience. He was tried, convicted, and banished from Massachusetts for his beliefs.

Williams gathered others who agreed with him and purchased land from the Narragansett people, which he named “Providence”, in what became the colony of Rhode Island. In 1638, he formed the first Baptist congregation in the new world with religious freedom, sole liberty, and total separation of church and state. Williams resigned from the congregation he built in the summer of 1639, but his congregation lived on and evolved over the years. Williams died in 1683 – his remains are interred in Prospect Terrace – a hill overlooking downtown Providence.

In the beginning, Williams and his congregation met in his and other homes until the first meeting house was built in 1700. The current structure was built in 1774-75 and still stands at 74 N. Main Street in Providence – it was the first Baptist church to have a steeple and a bell. The current pastor is Rev. Jamie P. Washam. She became the 37th settled minister of the First Baptist Church of Providence in 2015.

Unfortunately, the church is currently undergoing extensive repairs and restorations – they are currently holding services outside, so I was unable to go inside. Perhaps I will on another trip.

Photo of the current First American Baptist Church of Providence, located at 74 N. Main St, Providence – taken from the back.

Other photos from different angles:

Another pioneer in the history of the American Baptist Church is John Clarke. Clarke arrived from England in 1637 and settled on Aquidneck Island – later known as Rhode Island after he, too, was exiled from Massachusetts for his disagreements with Puritan leadership. In 1638, he founded a Baptist congregation in Portsmouth based on similar beliefs of Roger Williams with religious freedom at the forefront. In 1644, Clarke purchased land from the American Native people, founded Newport, and built a meeting house. This was the first meeting house of any denomination in the colony. Clarke was  instrumental in securing the Royal Charter of 1663 from King Charles II. The charter established Rhode Island as a colony with guaranteed religious freedom without persecution or punishment for religious views. Clarke died in 1676 and is buried in Newport.

While Clarke was in England working on the charter, a group from his congregation broke off and formed the Second Baptist Church of Newport. Then, during WWII, the military used Clarke’s church, so they met for worship with the Second Baptist Church until they could return. After the war, the two churches agreed to reunite and move back to Clarke’s church – the church was renamed “United Baptist Church of Newport” to honor the union and continues to use that name to this day.

The original meeting house was used until 1708 when a new meeting house was constructed. The current building, located at 30 Spring Street in Newport, was constructed in 1846.

The current minister at United Baptist Church of Newport is Pastor David Dewberry – he has been with the church since 2018. I met with and had a wonderful conversation with Pastor Dewberry, who allowed me to go inside. The church took my breath away – just lovely, with a beautiful balcony surrounding the sanctuary and boxed in pews with the original doors remaining!

There is a lot more to Roger Williams’ and John Clarke’s fascinating lives than I can possibly go into in this space. If you’d like more information, the reference sources I used were Baptist Ways – A History by Bill J. Leonard, Wikipedia, and the websites of both churches:

First American Baptist Church of Providence

United Baptist Church of Newport

While in Providence and Newport, I also visited the final resting places of both Roger Williams and John Clarke.

Roger Williams remains are interred in this monument. It was an interesting story about his remains. Apparently, he was originally buried at his home in an unmarked grave in 1683 – the importance of his work unrecognized….the first of three burials for Williams. In 1860, in an attempt to honor him, his remains were moved to a family crypt in the Old North Burial Ground. A committee was formed to create a memorial to Williams and they selected Prospect Terrace as a suitable final resting place. However, funds were meager, the Civil War intervened, and no action was taken. Then, to mark the 300th anniversary of the founding of Providence in 1936, a new committee raised funds and interred the remains under a statue of Williams, dedicated in 1939, at Prospect Terrace.

But…..some reports I read claim there is more to the story. Legend has it that his home was sold and demolished, leaving his remains behind in a vacant lot – unmarked. They were discovered accidentally at the base of an apple tree when someone was digging on the lot. Apparently, there was not much remaining and the apple tree root had grown into the casket – causing the story about the “man who was partially eaten by an apple tree root”. What was found was cremated and moved to the family crypt until the later efforts to create a memorial in 1936.

John Clarke is buried in the John Clarke Cemetery – his stone is the center one. The cemetery was fenced off and closed, so zooming in from the fence was the best I could do for a photo.

There was a large stone in front of the cemetery entrance with this plaque honoring John Clarke.

I was also very excited to see the oldest Jewish synagogue in the United States,  established in 1763 – another shining example of new found religious freedom in the new world – located not far from the United Baptist Church in Newport.

Right next door to the Touro Synagogue is the Seventh Day Baptist Meeting House – established in 1730 and formed by a group within the First Baptist Church who believed that the Ten Commandments should be obeyed literally with the Sabbath observed on Saturday – the seventh day of the week.

And the final building in the area – across the street from the Synagogue is the Levi Gale House – Jewish Community Center. This structure was moved in late 1925 from its original location for use as a community center for the Touro Synagogue.

Unfortunately, I was not able to go inside any of these three sites.

So much history related to the freedom of religious beliefs in a variety of ways in one small state. It was so exciting to be able to see it all and learn their amazing and courageous stories.

More on my Rhode Island Adventure in the next post I’ll write.

October Daily Photos # 2

Well, hello, there…….I got a bit behind on posting these because I was in Rhode Island this past week! I’ll be doing the post(s) for that adventure in the next couple of days, but for now…..I’ll play catch-up with the October Daily Photos – including the ones I used for daily topics while in Rhode Island!

I STOOD HERE…..

I DO THIS ON SUNDAY’S…..

I WROTE THIS…..

I LIKE TO DRINK…..

I LOVE THIS VIEW…..

(taken in Kauai in 2020)

I ONCE…..

….was in the right place at the right time to get this great photo of my brother and sister-in-law

looking over the Badlands in SD

I NEVER……

….had this nail polish color, before!

ON WEEKENDS I…..

(I missed this one…..and, besides, I’m retired……weekends are just another day for me…..hehehe)

I SAW…….

…..this on my way to church!

I DON’T LIKE TO…..

….leave my baby girl when I travel!

I WENT TO….

….see The Newport Tower!

Also known as the Old Stone Mill, is a round stone tower located in Touro Park in Newport, Rhode Island, the remains of a windmill built in the mid-17th century.

I SAT HERE……

….while sailing on the Schooner Madeleine in Newport, RI

I READ THIS……

I DID THIS GOOD THING……

…..picked up the Princess Megan on the way home from the airport!

Ta Ta For Now……..

2021 Canandaigua Wine Tour

I took a day trip with the Busy Buddies – a travel group I belong to. We took a bus to Canandaigua Lake in the Finger Lakes, visited two wineries, and took a riverboat cruise on the lake. It was a perfect day for it and we all had a great time! There were 43 of us on the tour.

Busy Buddies is a local group of mostly retired people (but, I don’t think that’s a requirement) who enjoy adventures, such as day trips, local theaters / dinner trips, and longer trips – some 2-3 days, some longer. Local travel agent, Mitzy Peglow, owner of Orleans Travel, does an awesome job of putting together fun and excited events and trips for us. Dues are $5 per year and if you come to the monthly meetings, lunch is $15. Cost of the trips vary, depending on what the trip is and the costs associated with putting it together. You can sign up for the ones that interest you and fit in your budget and skip the ones that don’t. It is a great group and I have enjoyed several trips with them……including this one!

My partner in crime for the day…….

Heron Hill Winery – 5323 Seneca Point Rd, Canadaigua, NY

We tasted 5 different wines in their lovely tasting room

The Canandaigua Lady – Canandaigua Lake

We had a nice boxed lunch – I had the roast beef wrap

I was sitting near the railing and looked over to find this big guy weaving away next to me…..I moved!!! LOL

Casa Largo Vineyards – 2287 Turk Hill Rd, Fairport, NY

We had our tastings outside – it was a lovely day – they offered us 4 different wines to taste

Another wonderful adventure!!!

October Daily Photos – # 1

Hello, October! My birthday month……and the most beautiful month of the year!

Here is the October Photo A Day List:

And here is the first group of my take on each topic, so far……

I AM…..

……sitting on the porch swing of the home Elvis Presley was born in!

I LOVE…..

…when my suitcase and I get home after an adventure!

I MADE THIS…..

I WORK HERE……

…..my office at our church!

I LOVE THIS COLOR…..

I WALKED HERE……

I HELD THIS…..

I LIKE TO…..

…..mow my lawn!

See ya next time!!!

2021 Memphis Adventure – Monkees

This is my fourth and final Memphis Adventure Blog Post. If you’re seeing this one first, you can continue to read it and scroll through the other three in reverse order: The others focus on Walking in Memphis, Graceland, and Tupelo. Enjoy!

One of the major highlights of my time in Memphis was getting to see the Monkees in concert. Graceland’s Soundstage has live shows on Friday nights with some big name entertainment (upcoming shows include Elvis Costello, The Marshall Tucker Band, Dwight Yoakam, Josh Turner, and the Beach Boys – to name a few). The last night on my trip I had the biggest thrill! I loved the Monkees growing up – watched their TV show, had all their records, loved their music, and dreamed about dating Davy Jones…or any Monkee, for that matter! LOL

Davy Jones and Peter Tork both passed away some time ago. So, the remaining Monkees are Mickey Dolenz and Mike Nesmith. This concert is part of their “Farewell Tour”.

I got all dressed up for my teen heart-throbs! They had strict Covid precautions in place – masks were required at all times inside the venue (unless actively eating or drinking) and you also had to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test within 72 hours. I happily showed my vaccination card and wore my mask. I didn’t see or hear of any issues with people getting stinky about it — they shouldn’t have been surprised, ticket holders got an email a few weeks before informing us of the requirements.

I took the shuttle over to the venue and went through the check-in process. Then we all waited in the lounge for the doors to open. I wasn’t going to have anything to drink or eat while I waited – just wait with excited anticipation! But, they had popcorn popping and the smell of it drove me absolutely bananas!!! LOL So, I got a box of popcorn and snacked while I waited.

Then, the doors opened……..the Soundstage is a nice sized venue — not huge, but not tiny or intimate – just right! I found my seat and was happy with it – I knew it was a good seat, but sometimes you can’t really tell from the seating charts. There was a couple in front of me and the guy was a perfect “barn door”, but the way the seats were positioned I could see perfectly between them – and he behaved and stayed on his side of the space so I didn’t miss a beat!

In my seat —- Row “F”, seat 105!!! AWESOME!!! You can get a feel for the venue looking over my shoulder!

Then, in just under an hour, the show began……..and the crowd went wild!!!

They sang all the old familiar favorites and some others that they recorded in later years and several that Mike Nesmith wrote that were recorded by other artists.

They sounded GREAT!!!

The audience loved them — and sang along —– and showed their appreciation!

Mickey was full of energy – just like I remember him!

Mike was the comic relief – always the funny one! (I missed his knit cap, though….)

Yeah – they are older,…..so am I…….they still put on an awesome show!!! I loved every minute of it!!!

Some of their songs were written by Peter Tork and when they sang them, they pointed to the sky paying respect to their lost friend and band mate.

“Last Train To Clarksville”

“Pleasant Valley Sunday”

“A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You”

“Mary, Mary”

“Me and Magdelena”

And, on and on and on……..One wonderful hit after another!

When they did “Daydream Believer” – Davy’s most famous recording – there wasn’t a dry eye in the house and the cell phone lights lit up the arena with swaying beams!!!

The finale was “I’m A Believer” and it brought the house down!!!

I screamed and sang and didn’t have much of a voice when it was all over!

And I got the T-Shirt to prove it!!! hehehehe

The back of the shirt shows all the dates and locations of the rest of the tour……maybe I’ll see if they are coming close enough to see them again!!!

The evening ended with the shuttle back to the Guest House……full of rowdy ladies singing and hooping and hollering and rocking the bus…….the driver turned on Elvis and cranked up the volume — we had a BLAST with that!!!

It was a bit of a let down to return to my room to pack my bags so I could catch my plane home the next morning!

And…..the trip was done…..and I really didn’t want this one to end……but, it did and I can honestly say it will be one of my most memorable trips! I’d do it all again in a heartbeat!!!

Hope you enjoyed tagging along with my adventure…….that’s all for now…..until the next adventure…….but, I’m not telling when or what I have plans in the works for! hehehe

I’ll leave you with the music video of “Daydream Believer” — a song that brings me to tears and slings me back to my teen years instantly whenever I hear it!

2021 Memphis Adventure – Tupelo

Let’s continue on with more from my Memphis Adventure. This will be the third post — if you haven’t seen the other two: Graceland and Walking in Memphis, scroll down after you finish this one and catch up.

On Friday, I took the Day Trip to Tupelo offered by Graceland. It is a bus tour that goes down to Tupelo, Mississippi every Friday so Elvis fans can see where he was born and lived as a child. It was a very nice tour. There were five of us on the bus that day…..the guide said that sometimes they go with a full bus and sometimes they go with only one or two. I like that it was a small group.The bus left the Guest House at Graceland at 8:30 am and took an hour and a half to get to Tupelo. It was a beautiful day for it, too!

Big bus for just seven people – 5 passengers, 1 guide, and 1 driver

The ride down went by quickly as we watched a video of “hidden secrets” at Graceland and then an Elvis concert — I think it was the one he did in Hawaii — if memory serves!

Our first stop was at the Tupelo Welcome Center for information and a rest stop.

We then went to the Tupelo Hardware Store where Gladys bought Elvis his first guitar. The store is still in operation and owned by the same family – it has been handed down through the generations.

This nice gentleman told us all about the day Elvis was there…….he had saved up his money and went there to buy a bike for his 11th birthday. He soon found out he didn’t have enough money for the bike he wanted. He then set his sights on a bb-gun rifle and wanted that, but his Mom said no!

The “X” marks the spot that Elvis stood that day.

The story goes on to say that Gladys apparently rarely ever said “no” to Elvis, so he proceeded to “pitch a fit”. The store clerk at the time, took a wooden crate and stood it up behind the counter — just like the one there behind the counter in this photo. He brought Elvis around and sat him down on the crate. There was a guitar on display on the shelves behind the counter and the clerk gave one to Elvis to distract him from his little hissy fit. Elvis began to strum on the strings — of course, not really playing it, just pretending. His mother watched and finally said something like “you really like that, don’t you?” and Elvis smiled and said he did like it. So, Gladys told him that if he promised to go see the reverend at their church to take lessons, she would help him pay for the guitar. And….the rest, as they say…..was history!!!

The store still sells guitars to this day……

Then, we went to the fairgrounds where Elvis returned to his home town in 1957 to perform for a photo op with a statue. Elvis donated the proceeds from this concert for the purpose of purchasing the home he was born in and the surrounding property to make a park for fans to visit his birthplace.

From there, we got a city tour — we drove by the library where he loved to spend time reading, his elementary school and his middle school…..at both Elvis was bullied and picked on for being “different”. Elvis didn’t take the bullying lying down…..he gave as good as he got and fought back…..which ended up with him taking notes home about his behavior a few times. We saw other points of interest in Tupelo.

Our last stop of the day was the house that Elvis’s father built for his family. Elvis was born in the little house. Vernon and Gladys were not aware that they were going to have twins. When the first baby – Jesse Garon – was still born, they were devastated! And, then the surprise came 35 minutes later when Elvis made his presence known.

We enjoyed a boxed picnic lunch and then got to wander around the property and tour the buildings.

After Gladys became pregnant, Vernon Presley borrowed $180 for supplies to build a home for them. The home is pictured here – a two room shot-gun style house built by Vernon and his brother. As stated earlier, Elvis was born in this house on January 8, 1935. The house had no indoor plumbing or electricity and was insulated with newspapers. Unfortunately, the home was repossessed in 1939 for non-payment of the $180 that was originally borrowed. When Elvis was 3 years old, Vernon spent some time in prison because he sold a pig for $4 to his landlord that loaned him the $180 for his home, but decided that wasn’t enough, so he altered the check to $40. While he was away, Gladys and Elvis went to live with relatives and by the time Vernon was released, they had lost the home – never to return. They moved several times around Tupelo before they moved to Memphis when Elvis was 13.

The home is in the exact location it was when built and has been restored to it’s original appearance. Vernon helped pick out furnishings that resembled those they had in the home at the time they lived there.

The front room had a bed and a sitting area with a wood burning fireplace.

The back room was the kitchen.

Around the home are stepping stones with a major event in each of the thirteen years Elvis lived in Tupelo – here are just a few:

Originally, the property only had the home. Later, the Assembly of God Church that the Presley’s attended was moved to the property and restored to look like a church of the early 1940s. The property also now has a museum and gift shop, a chapel, a fountain, and statues……..and an outhouse!

We were given a time to be at the church. When we arrived, we had the option to get our photo taken at the prayer bench and then were asked to take a seat in the pews. After a brief history review of Elvis’ time at the church and how/when the church was moved to it’s current location, the screens came down and we were in a “surround” showing of a reenactment of what a church service that Elvis attended there would be like — it was really very cool!!! We were not allowed to photograph or video the show, though.

It was the pastor of this church that taught Elvis how to play the guitar – only three cords, but enough to light a musical fire within him. The pastor also encouraged Elvis to sing in the choir and the quartet. Elvis’ teachers at school also encouraged him to sing to overcome his shyness.

This was recreated from a photograph taken while Elvis attended this church…..it shows the attendance “that day” to be 66 and the offering collected was Five Dollars and Thirty One Cents ($5.31)!

Also on the property was this car – a replica of the one that the Presley’s drove when they moved from Tupelo to Memphis in 1948.

Remember from the post about Graceland…….this is the actual steamer trunk that held everything the family owned when they moved.

Statue of Elvis at 13

There was another statue on the property….it is located up on top of a big hill that overlooks the house and church buildings. It is called “Becoming” and it depicts Elvis at 11 sitting on the crate in the hardware store holding his first guitar and the entertainer Elvis behind him – together, they represent where he began and what he became. There were so very many steps to get up to the top of the hill that I didn’t dare try to climb them with my bad knee…….I was disappointed I didn’t get to see it in person, but I did find these photos of it on the internet…….very impressive and emotional!

That’s Tupelo, Mississippi……..one more post to come — in that one I’ll share photos I took at the Monkees Farewell Tour Concert at the Soundstage at Graceland.

2021 Memphis Adventure – Graceland

When I first heard of Elvis’ death on August 8, 1977, I was devastated! I grew up loving Elvis – his music, his movies, his gorgeous blue eyes! I’d lay on the floor just inches away from the TV to watch his movies and that incredible ’68 Come Back Special. My Mom would yell at me to get back away from the TV because it would ruin my eyes or tell me about all the “radiation” it was giving off. Reluctantly, I’d scootch back just enough to make her happy.

I was just three years out of high school when he died and I promised myself that I would “cry on Elvis’ grave” before I die. That was the start of my “bucket list”…..although I didn’t call it that at the time – it was just my “Two things I absolutely MUST do before I die” list – the first was the “cry on Elvis’ grave” thing and the second was “see the Yankees play at Yankee Stadium”. I did manage to get to a Yankees game before they tore down the original Yankees Stadium – I was in NYC for a business trip and the Yanks were in town, so I stayed an extra day and rode the Yankee Clipper boat out to the stadium to see the game – it was May 16, 1998 and they won against the Minnesota Twins. But – it turned out I was a day short……the very next day, David Wells pitched a perfect no-hitter game and made history! But…..I got to cross that off my list about 20 years after the list was created.

Over the past 44 years, a lot of items were added to the list and crossed off the list – it has evolved into an official “Bucket List” and it is ever growing and ever changing. But, that very first item has remained on it….just waiting for me to accomplish it…..and, now, 44 years later……I have finally crossed it off the list!!! Yes, folks…..Kim has cried on Elvis’ grave!!!

My entire trip to Memphis was amazing – one that will stand out as an emotionally charged, fun, and exciting memory. But, the time I spent in Graceland was by far the highlight and something that meant more to me than I can possibly ever express. Here is my unforgettable experience in photos:

I stayed at the Guest House at Graceland – the original plan was to just go down, stay at Graceland and tour the mansion and come home. But, as I browsed the Graceland website, I discovered that they have live shows on Friday nights and that the Monkees were going to be performing the week I was planning to go – OMG – another band I absolutely adored growing up! I also found out they did day trips to Tupelo to see Elvis’ birthplace every Friday. So…..the trip got extended and I decided to also add some time in Memphis while I was there. All of which were amazing and if I had stuck to the original plan, it would have been fabulous, but I’d have missed out on so much more amazing-ness!!!! LOL

I was picked up at the airport by the Guest House shuttle with Elvis on the side and his music playing loud and proud all the way to the hotel!

I arrived too early to check in, so I stowed my bag at the concierge desk and took the shuttle across to Graceland ticket center and entertainment complex. There was a Graceland employee offering to take people’s photos in front of the Welcome to Graceland sign…..so, I struck a pose announcing I finally made it to Graceland!!!

I wanted to get lunch at Gladys’ Diner in the complex, but that restaurant was closed for the season – the only one open at the time I was there was Vernon’s Smokehouse, so I gave it a try! I had a delicious meal of meatloaf, sweet potatoes, corn bread, hush puppies, and sweet tea.

Other restaurants in the complex were Minnie Mae’s Sweet Shop, where I stopped in on another day to get a root beer float and Shake Rattle & Go – I didn’t get a chance to actually eat there, but I took this photo cause it looked so cool.

I wandered around a bit, checked out some of the gift shops, and took the shuttle back to the Guest House to see if my room was ready. It was……

The Guest House is a large luxury hotel — very nice!!! It is designed to be inviting and comfortable – it has a big front porch with chairs and gardens. The courtyard in the back has the same large porch with chairs and a pool. Lots of great places to sit outside and enjoy the the fresh air.

Here I am pool side after dinner that first night.

The lobby was equally inviting and comfortable and very attractive.

There was some form of entertainment in the lobby of the hotel every evening.

Their Covid policies were really good — they made everyone feel very comfortable being there. When I first arrived, it didn’t seem like it was fully booked, but as we got into mid-end of the week, it started picking up quite a bit. But, they still enforced mask wearing indoors and encouraged social distancing.

My room was large and very nice! I had a king size bed that was so comfortable – the mattress and pillows were heavenly – I slept like a baby while I was there!

The shower was amazing…..it had a rain shower head coming down from the ceiling and another shower head directing water from the wall….loved it!!!

On my first night, I was tired and didn’t want to venture out too far for dinner, so I ate at EP’s Bar & Grill just off the lobby of the hotel. I had an amazing sirloin steak – done PERFECTLY – with demi-glaze, rice pilaf, and broccoli.

I also had the Priscilla Royale, which was Prosecco and Grenadine with an orange wedge. The drink was good, but I’m not much of a drinker anymore and was pretty full from dinner, so I drank about 1/2 of it. The waitress bartender and hostess all stopped when they passed my table asking if I was OK and if I liked the drink – I assured them I did and that it was good! Then, just as I got up to leave, the bartender came by with a cup with some orange juice in it and said, “no – you can’t leave yet – I’m going to make it taste even better” and topped off the glass with the OJ – of course, I had to sit back down and try it – it would have been rude to just leave after she went to the trouble….OMG – it was good before, but amazing after – that’s how that drink should always be made! I finished it! LOL

Everyone at the Guest House and Graceland were so nice, helpful, friendly, and eager to make my stay a perfect experience! I can’t say enough about how wonderful everything was.

The next day – Tuesday – I had my ticket to tour Graceland. I purchased the Ultimate VIP Tour……if you’re going to Graceland, you really need to spend the extra money and get the best ticket. It made no sense to me to go all that way and just get a ticket that only allows a self guided tour of the mansion – or even the intermediate tour packages. The Ultimate VIP Tour includes an expert guide and lots of other parts of the property that is not included in the mansion tour. It included access to both the airplanes, the building with all his vehicles, several themed museums……AND……a stop in a room that has personal items that no other tour package has access to! It is well worth the price!

Here are some of the photos I took during my Graceland Tour.

I had some time between when I checked in and got my tour ID and the time I was scheduled for the mansion part of the tour. So, I decided to go check out the airplanes first.

The first was the smaller of the two planes – you could just go up the steps and look in. the second is the larger plane – the Lisa Marie – and you could walk through it.

Then it was time for my group to go through the mansion — they only let people go through in small groups to ensure social distancing and the Ultimate VIP groups were even smaller so the guide could have more personalized discussions as we went through – I think there were about 9 or 10 in our group. We all got a small device that we connected to ear phones so the guide could talk in a normal voice and we could all hear her no matter how far we stood away from her – it was nice – they just hung around our necks and we hardly knew they were there – the self guided groups had big iPads they had to carry to hear the pre-recorded messages at each display.

The mansion was across the street from the ticket and entertainment complex, so we were shuttled over for the tour.

This is the living room and through the doors beyond this room is the music room. The super long couch and coffee table were custom made for this room. Elvis felt comfortable there and could be found sitting with his feet up on the coffee table playing the guitar when he had guests. Later, I’ll point out a photo of a red couch — when Linda Thompson was Elvis’ girlfriend, she redecorated Graceland and this room was changed to have a red carpet, the red couch you’ll see later, and other red furnishings. When Lisa Marie and Priscilla were setting up the mansion for tours after his death, they thought the red was a bit much and put it all back to the way it was before that redecoration —- definitely glad they did – this looks so much more welcoming and comfortable. They put that red couch on display in another area.

The peacock stained glass windows were a favorite of Elvis’ because he read that they represented beauty, dignity, and immortality. The mirrors were put on the walls to make the room look larger and to magnify the beauty of the peacocks.

Beyond the living room is Elvis’ mother, Gladys’ bedroom and en-suite – kept just as she had it in the colors she chose for it.

No one is allowed upstairs! Ever! Even when Elvis was alive, no one went upstairs unless they were personally invited by him. The family decided that since he is not there to invite someone up there, that they would respect his wishes and not permit anyone to go up – including the guides and staff of Graceland.

Look above the railing on the right hand side of the photo – Elvis put in a privacy panel so that anyone who might look up the stairs could not see into his personal space. The privacy panel has a small “window” that Elvis could look through at the mirrors going up the stairs and see who was in the foyer and living room below (the living room is directly across the hall to the right of these stairs.

In the painting going up the stairs is of Elvis in his natural hair color, which was a sandy blonde.

The dining room – Elvis sat at the head of the table (furthest from the door) and had a button under the table that he could summon the staff – he didn’t like it if he had to yell for someone – he thought it was bad manners.

The kitchen – very 1960’s style and colors.

The next few photos are of what is known as the Jungle Room – it was Elvis’ den. The story is that his father Vernon came home one day and told Elvis about the ugliest furniture he ever saw….well, Elvis had to go look at it and fell in love with it, so he bought it…..Vernon still thought it was ugly! The room has green carpet on the floor and ceiling and a waterfall on the wall to the far left – it is not in operation, at this time.

If I remember right, I think this was a TV room…..Elvis loved watching TV and had at least one in every room in the house – some rooms had more than one, but this one had several that he could watch on different channels at the same time! Again – mirrors everywhere to make the rooms appear bigger.

The pool room – that is fabric pleated on the walls and ceiling and the same fabric is on some of the furnishings.

Vernon’s office and where Elvis filmed a press conference where he was asked about the girl he met in Germany (Priscilla).

When Vernon, Gladys, and Elvis left Tupelo to move to Memphis when he was 13, they packed all of their belongings in this steamer chest – everything they owned fit inside it. He kept it to remind him of where he came from.

A hymnal from 1869 that originally belonged to a distant relative that Elvis used.

this is the red couch I told you about earlier in this post – it was in the living room when Linda Thompson redecorated the mansion.

Elvis and Priscilla’s wedding clothes

The only portrait Elvis ever commissioned to be done…..he hung it here and it has never been moved.

The pool and beyond it is the first glimpse of the Meditation Garden

The last room Elvis was in the evening prior to his death — he returned home after a dentist appointment — this room is adjacent to an indoor racquetball court where he played that night with friends and also played that piano and sang gospel songs and “Blues Eyes Crying in the Rain” for friends. He went to bed earlier than usual because of tooth pain from his earlier dentist appointment and was found unresponsive on the floor hours later and pronounced dead……August 16, 1977.

And……here’s where my promise to my 21 year old self was fulfilled……the Meditation Garden at Graceland where Elvis, his mother Gladys, his father Vernon, his grandmother Minnie Mae, and his grandson – Lisa Marie’s son Benjamin are all buried and there is also a memorial marker for his still born twin, Jesse Garon.

Elvis loved horses and they still maintain horses on the property now!

After we finished touring the mansion, we took photos in front of the house……

And, then went to areas not accessible to other groups……

This is one of Elvis’ personal guitars……we were allowed to touch it (with white cotton gloves) and have our photo taken with it.

Then, we were shown other personal items that we could photograph, but not touch…..

Elvis had a suitcase phone!!! There it is at the top of this photo along with his handwritten instructions for how to use it.

Rings, glasses, wallet, his Memphis police badge (he was an actual police officer and had authority to arrest people, but never did – he did, however, routinely pull people over for speeding or other traffic violations to give them a lecture and an autographed photo – hehehe), and a collection of Kahlil Gibran books (his favorite author – mine, too, at that time).

The wall paper in that room was loaded with amazing photos – like this one of ’68 come back black leather Elvis!!! hubba hubba!!!

Next up was a museum full of his vehicles and vehicles from his movies…….

And then on to the Elvis The Entertainer Museum…….

Elvis threw this cape into the audience at a concert in Hawaii……the man who caught it kept it till he died and left instructions in his will that it be returned to Graceland.

Our U-VIP tickets also included a meal voucher at Vernon’s Smokehouse…….I had the beef brisket, corn, beans, corn bread, banana pudding, and sweet tea!!!

After our tour was over, I walked back across the street to the front entrance of Graceland — those famous gates……I signed my name on one of the bricks and took a few selfies with the gates.

And…finally….adjacent to the Guest House is a trail that takes you to the Chapel In The Woods where they allow weddings and other events……I wandered down the trail to see what it looked like.

The door was locked, but I took this photo through the window:

That’s all from Graceland and the Guest House…….an emotional and thrilling day!!! I hope to get to go, again…..I am sure I missed something!!! LOL

Watch for the next post that will focus on the day trip to Tupelo to visit Elvis’ birthplace!

2021 Walking In Memphis Adventure

I had the most amazing adventure this past week. This will be the first of several posts I will write telling you all about it through photos and stories. Of course, if you found my blog after I finish all the posts for this trip, it will actually be the LAST one you scroll through, but you get the idea….I’m starting here and will add posts that will be specific to various parts of the trip.

To summarize……I spent a week (Monday – Saturday – 9/27 – 10/2) in Memphis. I stayed at the Guest House at Graceland – the wonderful hotel that is located on Graceland property. Throughout the week, I toured Graceland and the complex of things to do and see as part of the whole Graceland Experience, I took a Memphis City Tour, spent an “on my own” day walking around downtown Memphis, took a day trip via bus to Tupelo, Mississippi, and saw the Monkees in concert! It was one of the most amazing weeks I’ve had on an adventure…..of course, I don’t really have “favorites” when looking back at my adventures…they are all awesome in their own way, but some do stick out as more memorable than some of the others and I am absolutely sure this will be one of those.

So, this post will focus on Memphis…..I titled this post “Walking In Memphis” because of the song!

My plan for this trip was to do “all things Elvis”, which is why I stayed at Graceland. I wasn’t sure what else I would do. But, because of some of my core plans, I had a couple extra days to fill, so I searched for other tours and points of interest I may be interested in. I found out there is so much to see and do in Memphis!

First…..when I arrived I fell in love with the Memphis International Airport logo…….a plane at the end of a musical note! So cool…..really sets up your expectations about Memphis in general…..the birthplace of Rock and Soul music.

I got my bag and called the hotel for the shuttle…..imagine the smile on my face when it pulled up to pick me up and there was Elvis on the side of the bus waiting to welcome me aboard! More about Elvis and Graceland, later in another post.

On Wednesday, I took a bus tour with Memphis Best Tours. It included a City Tour and offered add ons of Sun Studios and a River Boat Cruise…..both of which I added on. It was a great tour!

The first thing I want to say about Memphis is that the entire city smells like BBQ!!! Wherever you are in Memphis, you can smell a big ole pig roasting nice and slow over a pit…..and that is definitely NOT a bad thing!!! The aroma kept me hungry the whole time I was there — I could have just ate and get a whiff of that heavenly smell and I wanted to scootch up to another plate full and chow down! I can honestly say I ate “like a pig” while I was there……I was scared to death of getting on the scales when I got home…..luckily, I walked so much that I was exactly the same as the morning I left! WHEW!!!

Our first stop on the tour was the Memphis Welcome Center for photo ops with statues of two of the Memphis greats – Elvis and BB King:

When we got back on the bus, Sam – our tour guide – asked us if we thought the Elvis statue looked like Elvis. We said, yes! But, then he told us that most ladies tell him that the Elvis statue really DOESN’T look like him….in the face! Hahaha – I went back and looked at my photo and thought, “I’ll be darned – it really doesn’t look like him….but, then I didn’t notice, cause I guess I didn’t actually look at his FACE!” hahahaha Then, Sam told us about a private tour he recently gave to a group of ladies and they wanted a group photo, but asked if he would take it with them gathered around BEHIND the statue – when he asked why, they said that it only looks like Elvis from the back side!!! LOL But…. I had my photo taken in front of it:

From there, we drove by several beautiful mansions built in the 1800’s…..I won’t try to make you believe I remember what each house represents – some important rich person in the history of Memphis, but I can tell you that they were all quite handsome buildings! Here are just a few of them.

The tour usually includes time to go inside and tour the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, but, of course, Covid restrictions prevents any public tours or visitors to the hospital. It was disappointing, but totally understandable……protecting the vulnerable children from this horrible virus is of utmost importance. We will survive it being dropped from the tour. We did, however, drive by it and our guide pulled over to give us the whole “tour speech”. What an impressive and huge place that is! Danny Thomas….and, now, Marlo Thomas…..have so much to be proud of. I hope that someday, I will have another opportunity to get to see more of it.

Statue of St. Jude

We drove by the Pyramid — more on that later when I get to the things I did on my “on my own” day. And, we also saw the big bridge that goes across the Mississippi between Memphis and Arkansas. Some say it looks like a big “M” for Mississippi or for Memphis (since the arches are on the Tennessee side). But, our guide said it actually was supposed to have two more arches that were never completed on the Arkansas side, so the “M” was not originally intentional. He also told us a story of when Mel Tillis was playing a concert at the Pyramid arena and went outside for a smoke break. He looked out over the river and gazed at the bridge and told the people with him that it reminds him of his good friend, Dolly Parton!!! LOL Apparently, it was a true story because Dolly was on a late night talk show after that and the host (forget which one) asked her about it and she confirmed that yes, she heard that her friend Mel did say that, but she didn’t know why!!! hahaha

After a few more drive by sights, we stopped at the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis. This is a world renowned luxury hotel — huge and simply gorgeous!!! But, the reason we stopped there was to see the Peabody Ducks!!! Basically, the story goes that in 1932 the general manager of the Peabody and one of his hunting buddies returned from a hunting trip and thought it would be funny to put their live duck decoys in the fountain in the lobby. It was supposed to be a prank, but the ducks became so popular with guests that they were replaced with five mallard ducks. In 1940, a bellman named Edward Pembroke offered to help train the ducks to march. He became the official Peabody Duckmaster until he retired in 1991. And, the tradition still goes on. Every day at 11:00 am, a red carpet is rolled out from the golden elevator to the fountain, an announcement is made introducing the ducks, the elevator door opens, and the ducks march down the red carpet and into the fountain where they swim all day until 5:00 pm when they march back to the elevator on the red carpet and are taken up the elevator back to their home on the roof of the hotel.

The Peabody ducks live in their Royal Duck Palace on the hotel’s rooftop. The $200,000 house is made of marble and glass and features a duck fountain. The palace is a replica of the hotel where the ducks can nest. It comes complete with a grassy front yard. Guests can go to the top of the Peabody to take in the views of the city and see the Royal Duck Palace – I didn’t do that, but wish I had…..next time I’m in Memphis, I definitely will. Here are some photos I took of the March of the Peabody Ducks……it was so much fun to watch!!!

A little blurry, but there they are exiting the elevator with their Duckmaster all decked out in a red bellman’s coat and cane.

After we were done at the Peabody, we were on our own for lunch. Our guide gave us a few suggestions that we could get served quickly, depending on what we had scheduled for the rest of the tour – some of us had to be back at the bus by 12:20 to make it to Sun Studios by 12:30, some didn’t have to be back to the bus till later to get to the Riverboat Cruise or be dropped off at hotels, if they weren’t doing either. So, I took advantage of one of his recommendations that was just up the street from where we were and had to be back to. I had my lunch at Huey’s……it is a family owned restaurant that is famous for southern comfort food. I had the shrimp po’boy with onion straws and sweet tea…..and it was amazingly delicious!!!

I made it back to the bus in time to move on to Sun Studios……WOW — what a wonderful tour that was!!! I am so glad I added it on to this tour. If ever in Memphis, that is one place (among many I’ll be telling you about) that you definitely want to be sure not to miss out on!!!

Sun Studios is the recording studio owned by Sam Phillips. Many of the original Rock and Roll and Soul greats recorded their records there……including, of course, Elvis Presley…….and, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many, many more!!! To think we were standing in the very spot where so many legendary musicians stood gave me goose bumps and brought me to tears! It started out as the Memphis Recording Service – they allowed unknown artists to come in and record a record and it would be cut and ready for them to take home with them. At that time, it was not a formal recording label, so they couldn’t actually sell any of the records – it was a service for starting artists to get their talent on vinyl. Sam Phillips soon realized he should become a record label, which was when he turned Memphis Recording Service into Sun Studios……and, the rest is history!

The tour started upstairs in what was a boarding house back in the day – it is now a wonderful museum with displays of most of the pioneers of Rock and Soul. The guide told us stories and played snippets of music that was recorded right there. Then, we went downstairs into the studio, which is still exactly as it was when history was being made and has some of the same equipment and instruments available to view. There is also a gift shop in what used to be a restaurant next door.

The studio is still used by some artists – some very well known. But, the main studio has moved to another location and is the primary location for recordings, today. Here are some photos of the original Sun Studios:

Sam Phillips

The piano and spot where this fabulous quartet – the Million Dollar Quarter – got together by chance (Carl Perkins was just finishing a recording session when the others happened to stop in for one reason or another) and hung out for a few hours for an impromptu jam session on December 4, 1956……Elvis Presley (who had already left Sun for RCA at that time), Jerry Lee Lewis (who at the time was an unknown session musician), Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash. Sam Phillips recognized what was happening, called some local reporters and photographers, turned on the recording equipment – without the guys knowing they were being recorded, and it became a major event in American music history!

We weren’t allowed to touch anything…..except this microphone!!! It is the original microphone used by all the greats – they held it and sang into it!!! Sam Phillips left it in the original studio under the condition that it NOT be put behind glass and that it be out where people could take photos with it and touch it and feel the history it represents……so, I did just that!!!

After we left Sun Studios, some of us got on a Riverboat for an hour and a half cruise down the Mississippi River into Arkansas and back. It was a very nice cruise — not a lot of photos, cause there wasn’t a lot to look at on the banks of the river, but the captain did an amazing job of giving us a great history lesson and it was a gorgeous day to be out on the river.

We got dropped off back at our various hotels about 4:30 or so…..dinner time! So, I decided to take advantage of a tip I got first from a friend who told me Marlowe’s had great BBQ and then from our guide from earlier who was giving out suggestions for dinner. He said they had good BBQ, but also said that if we were staying at a hotel within a 1 mile radius of the restaurant (which The Guest House is included), that they would come to the hotel and pick us up in a pink Cadillac limousine for FREE!!! OK — I couldn’t pass that up!!! So, Marlowe’s for dinner…….I called and arranged a pick up time. The ride was super fun……and the dinner was AWESOME!!! I’ll tell you what I had when I get to the photo of my dinner!

My ride……

Not sure, but I think this is their food truck for events…..

They had an Elvis favorite – Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich as an appetizer….I thought – that’s cool and assumed it’d be bite-sized pieces (appetizer, right?) so I ordered it cause, well – it’s yet another “Elvis” experience…..but – they brought it out and it was TWO FULL sandwiches – with bacon on the side!!! WHAT??? I didn’t want to spoil my dinner, so I ate a couple bites just to say I ate Elvis’s favorite sandwich while I was in Memphis – can’t NOT, right? – and left the rest!!!

Then – for the main course – I had 1/2 rack of the most awesome ribs I’ve ever had with beans, slaw, a roll, and sweet tea…..I cleaned every hint of meat and sauce off those bones!!!!! It was soooooo good!!!

I got back to my room with a super full belly and an exhausted body…….I watched some TV to unwind and went to bed so I could rest up for the next day!

On Thursday, I took a taxi cab to downtown to “wander around” and see what I could find to do……I had a rough plan, but it was a totally unstructured day. Of course, the only day I was going to literally be walking around downtown Memphis, it decided to rain!!! I had checked the weather before I left Albion and it showed the forecast to be sunny and hot every day I was going to be there…..so, like an idiot, I didn’t pack an umbrella! I ALWAYS pack an umbrella, cause you never know what the weather is going to do……but, this time I didn’t……and I ended up having to buy one in the hotel gift shop! I got my umbrella, got the taxi, and off I went! I had been told to NOT go off on my own in Memphis……but, do I ever listen to good advice? Hahaha……actually, to be fair to myself, I wasn’t going to do that – I heard it wasn’t a good idea, so it was not in my plans. But, I talked to the shuttle drivers, the tour guide the day before, and the information desk at the hotel — they all told me I would be safe – to just be careful and stay in the main areas of town. They all also said that between being off season and Covid impacts, the city was fairly quiet and slow right now – no huge crowds – and I saw that on the tour the day before — everything looked very safe and comfortable. So, I went.

I had the taxi drop me off at the Civil Rights Museum – the museum is located at the Lorraine Motel – the site where Martin Luther King was shot. This museum is so incredible…..it not only marks the spot and details of that horrible day in our history, but it also serves as a museum of the history of the civil rights movement from slavery in America through to MLK becoming a leader in the movement and a voice of peaceful change and beyond his assassination. Very emotional……very somber……interesting and educational. An absolute MUST SEE when in Memphis.

Room 306 in the Lorraine Motel – a suite where King and his entourage stayed often when in Memphis – restored to look exactly as it did on April 4, 1968.

On April 3, 1968, King addressed a rally at a Memphis church in support of sanitation workers on strike – he gave his “I’ve been to the mountain top” speech and those who heard the speech said he clearly predicted his own death.

The evening of April 4, 1968, King stepped out onto this balcony and was fatally shot by James Earl Ray using a high powered rifle from the bathroom window of his room at the boarding house across the street. I believe the small window above the white doors is the window in the next photo.

The bathroom window in the boarding house where they believe James Earl Ray stood when he shot Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968.

The view from a window next to the bathroom where James Earl Ray stood looking across the street to the balcony where Martin Luther King stood when he was shot.

After I finished the Civil Right Museum tour, I asked the gentleman at the entrance which way should I head to walk to the Rock and Soul Museum. He said…..oh, don’t walk it….it’s pretty far! I said, but I thought it was like a block and a half……he responded that it was more like two blocks, but it is raining…..I said I have an umbrella —- I thought, two blocks with an umbrella isn’t a big deal – it wasn’t going to be the last I’d be out in the rain for the day! So, he said “OK, be careful” and pointed in the direction I needed to go and said to just go straight down that way. So, I started walking……after about three blocks, it didn’t look like I was headed to anything remotely like where I wanted to be and it wasn’t a very pleasant part of town. So, I took out my phone and opened my maps app and plugged in the Rock and Soul Museum address……it said I was still a ways away, but I was committed, now, so on I walked — down a few more blocks that way, turned and a couple blocks that way, and turned again and there it was another block down!!! I was pretty wet and winded when I got to the Rock and Soul Museum and went inside and sat down……I told the guy at the desk that I needed to sit a minute cause I just walked from the Civil Rights Museum! He looked at me wide-eyed and said, “that’s quite a walk”! I told him I was told it was two blocks – he shook his head…..and, I joked that if that was two blocks, than I must be 9 feet tall, instead of 5 feet! LOL Anyway — I got there — it was probably a better idea to take the trolley, but it didn’t seem like a problem based on what I was told…..but, you know what they say about hindsight…….and, all those who told me it wasn’t safe downtown were giving me little “I told you so’s” in my head!!! LOL But…..it all worked out!

So….the Rock and Soul Museum is another amazing museum — a MUST SEE!!! It was crammed full of the history of Rock and Soul music! I got a audio thing that let me plug in a number for whatever exhibit I wanted to learn more about and I got a detailed story and clip of music. There were also several vintage jukeboxes throughout that represented various decades that you could plug in numbers and sit to listen to all the songs you wanted to! It was amazing!!!

Just one of several vintage jukeboxes with songs from each decade

Instruments and exhibits from all the greats…..and opportunities to listen to their music

And lots of costumes actually worn by various legends…..like this one from Sam The Sham – that’s his motorcycle, too! I was excited to see this exhibit — I loved Sam The Sham and the Pharohs!!! Wooly Bully…..Little Red Riding Hood…..and more!!!

After I got done with this museum, I walked another block to Beale Street and wandered around there for a while…..it was pretty quiet for a Thursday afternoon, but it was a rainy day!

Corner of BB King Blvd and Beale Street

Like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, all along Beale Street are these brass music notes embedded in the cement with the names of all the legendary musicians that got their start in Memphis.

And, I stopped for lunch at BB King’s Blues Club……highly recommended!!!

I called a few days before I left on the trip to ask if they required reservations and if they were open for late lunch / early dinner. The guy that answered was super nice with a strong southern accent……he said they always take walk-ins and yes they were open for lunch. I told him I was wondering because the website was a bit confusing and I hoped I wouldn’t need a reservation because I wasn’t exactly sure when I wanted to go. He was so cute — he responded with “well, I recommend you come when you’re hungry and I recommend the ribs”!!! LOL

Legend has it that the reason BB King names all his guitars “Lucille” was because of a brawl he witnessed in 1949 in a downtown Arkansas bar. As he performed apparently two men began fighting over a woman named “Lucille” causing a burning barrel to be knocked over and setting the bar ablaze. He left the bar, but realized he left his $30 Gibson guitar inside, so he went back in to retrieve it. He not only decided to name THAT guitar Lucille, he gave all his guitars from that point forward the name.

I had the fried dill pickles, the rib sandwich which was meat stripped from slow cooked ribs and topped with slaw, seasoned fries, sweet onion hush puppies, and sweet tea. It was amazing!!! Sooooo good!!! I think Marlowe’s ribs were just a tad better, but the ribs in both places were the best I’ve ever had and it would be hard for me to prove my theory that one “might” be just a bit better!

Then, I went to a few gift shops to just look around and went to the trolley station. I was told that the Bass Pro Shop Pyramid was something I shouldn’t miss out on seeing. My first thought was – WHY??? I wasn’t interested in anything a Bass Pro Shop had to offer. But – multiple people told me to go see it, so I did! It was on the River Front, so I had to take the trolley — it is a wonderful public transportation around downtown with three routes and only $1 per ride or you can get a day pass for $2! Can’t beat that! And, it gave me yet another Memphis experience!

This was taken from the Riverboat Cruise from the day before……

Apparently, this was built in 1991 as a huge 20,142 seat arena – it is 321 feet tall (about 32 stories) and has base sides of 591 feet. It is the 10th tallest pyramid in the world!!! It was originally used as a sports and entertainment venue, but hadn’t been regularly used since 2004. In 2015, the Pyramid re-opened as a Bass Pro Shops “megastore”, which includes shopping, a hotel, restaurants, a bowling alley, and an archery range, with an outdoor observation deck adjacent to its apex. The hotel – Big Cyprus Lodge – boasts an indoor camping experience like being in a swamp. The decor of the entire pyramid is very swamp-like and even has live alligators swimming under the walkways. It’s all pretty incredible!

I asked how to get to the observation deck and I was directed to the elevator — he said “if you miss it, you’re probably blind because it is the tallest free standing elevator in the world!!! I got on the elevator – that you could see out of to overlook all the cabins and camping areas of the lodge on the way up – and walked out onto the observation deck. The views of Memphis and the Mississippi River from up there were amazing……too bad it was raining and cloudy – it could have been even more incredible!!!

I called for the taxi to come back to get me from the Bass Pro Shop and take me back to the Guest House to end my day in downtown.

I absolutely LOVED downtown Memphis and am sooooo glad I took the tour and then did an “on my own” deeper dive into a few points of interest. It was an amazing two days. And, it was perfectly safe…..well, other than that one not so wise decision of walking from the Civil Rights Museum instead of taking the trolley, but even that worked out just fine. If I hadn’t gone, I might have missed out on some incredible experiences.

That’s all you get, for now……I know this was a LOT — but, it was only two days of my week in Memphis!!! No way I could have done it all in one post — probably should have broke this one up into more than one, but wanted to keep the “Memphis” parts in one place. I’ll probably do three more posts – one of Graceland and one of Tupelo and one of the Monkees concert……don’t hold me to that, though – I may decide to consolidate or break them down into more……we’ll see how they go when I get to them!

Keep an eye out for “The REST of the Story”…….hahaha!!!

September Daily Photos – Week Four

Goodbye September……..here are the last of the September Daily Photos….it will soon be apparent that I spent the last week in Memphis, TN:

PORTRAIT

On the wall in my hotel room at the Guest House at Graceland

LANDSCAPE

The Meditation Garden at Graceland….where Elvis, his parents, and other relatives are laid to rest.

ON MY DESK

Well, not “my” desk…..

This desk belonged to Marion Keisker, Sam Phillips’ assistant, who was responsible for the first recording of Elvis at Sun Studios on July 18, 1953.

ACHIEVEMENT

December 4, 1956 marked an important event in music history when a chance gathering of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis resulted in a several hour impromptu jam session around this very piano in Sun Studios in Memphis, TN…..it became known as the Million Dollar Quartet.Sam Phillips recognized the significance of what was happening and turned on the recording equipment.

Lots of photos and stories from my trip to Memphis will post over the next couple of days……keep an eye out! It was an absolutely amazing adventure!!!