Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Stay in Arkansas with Side Trip back into Memphis

We had planned to stay at a state park in Arkansas, not far from the Tennessee border. We set the GPS and followed her directions. As we came off the 40 and started driving it seemed it was taking longer than I thought it had shown on google maps. Well, there turned out to be a reason for that. Gracie had directed us to an entirely different state park, Lake Poinsett State Park, in Harrisburg, Arkansas.It is a smaller park and it looked nice with very few people. Besides it was late in the day and we didn't want to do any further driving.

The sites are close together but since there wasn't anyone around us it was fine and actually very peaceful. We didn't originally plan to be driving west during the normally hot weather of August but we are. It is in the 90's and looks like it will be that way most of the way back to Calif. The air conditioner will be getting a lot more use than we have ever used in the past.  It was nice in the later afternoon sitting out in the shade with a nice cold drink and my kindle.
We are only about an hour from Memphis and so decided to drive there to go to Graceland, Graceland, Memphis Tennessee(always makes me think of the Paul Simon song). We arrived at Graceland and it was mobbed. Lots of cars in the large parking lot, lots of people in line for tickets and even more people in line for the shuttle. Yikes, as Joe said it looks like a busy day at Disneyland. The thought of being hurdled like cattle through Elvis's house didn't really appeal to either of us and so below is the only picture I took before we left.

We decided to check out Sun Records and we were glad we did. Sun Records is an independent record label that opened in 1952. The owner, Sam Philips, and his wife and one other person took the gutted building and created a place where up and coming artists could record their music.

The first music recorded there, according to the enthusiastic tour guide, was mostly Blues and R&B, with artists like Howlin' Wolf, BB King and James Cotton.
However, Sun Record's claim to fame is that it was the birthplace of Rock and Roll. We hear about the story of a young man who kept bugging Sam Philips to let him record. At first Sam didn't think he was that good. Then one day, this young ma and a few other musicians were recording a song Sam thought he might be right for him. It wasn't working and it was late at night when he started fooling around when Sam was in the other room. He started wigging his hips and tapping his foot and he  started playing a blue tune, That's Alright,they hadn't played before. Sam ran in and said something like that is more like it. You have something there. Yes, this was Elvis Presley and you know the rest of his story. Other great rock and rollers, like Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison also recorded here. In the later days after a move to a larger location and a period of around 20 years of being closed, it was reopened and artists such as U2 recorded some of their songs. Bono and his group recorded some of the songs from Rattle and Hum, one of my favorite albums,

 Our guide told an interesting story of some guys in prison who started a group, which they of course mamed the Prisonaires. They were an African American doo wop group who had a hit called Walking in the Rain. They became so popular they were allowed out on day passes to play throughout Tennessee and even played for the governor a number of times.

 There  were lots of instruments used by some of the many recording artists and even a radio station.

It was a very intereting tour and we glad we decided on it. Beale Street is a popular street with lots of restaurants and bars, but we decided to head to a restaurant, called appropriately South of Beale, which it is. It was another good restaurant. We planned on just having appetizers. We first ordered chicken and waffle sliders and ruben fries. I always wanted to try chicken and waffles and with the side of maple syrup they are really very good. We were going to try some other dishes, such as fried green tomatoes but were already full.

We had a nice time in the short time we were in this area. Unfortunately we have another encounter with mosquitos. Not at our campsite but we took a short walk on a trail near the lake and I got more bites than I can ever remember having before. More than when we had them in our MH in Michigan.
Anyway, we are only driving a few hours to another spot in Arkansas, near Little Rock. Stay tuned.

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