An American AdventureAway We Go Logo


Elvis and BBQ in Memphis, Tennessee

February 6, 2006

We arrived here at Meeman-Shelby State Park just west of Memphis, Tennessee under wet conditions. Nothing like what we Floridians are used to, but just a light drizzle. The temperature was cold, but bearable.

The Meeman-Shelby State Park is also located right on the Mississippi River and so far away from civilization, we didn't have cell phone or internet service. From the campsite to the river is only about a mile through the woods. After arriving and setting up camp, we drove around the park and down to the river. It was smaller than I expected. I guess it's wider farther south.

On Saturday, we went into Memphis. Our first stop was Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley. I'm not an Elvis follower, but you can't go to Memphis without a visit to Graceland right? It was an expensive tour at $82 for the four of us, but we upgraded to include Elvis' Auto Museum and two jet airplanes. I was more interested in Elvis' cars than Graceland itself.

Anyhow, we both thought the tour was very well done. Instead of having a person guide the group through and try to explain everything, each person is given an IPod type of player. This allows everyone to pause and continue, moving at their own pace, allowing the audio to match what they are able to view. A lot of the displays also have numerical references a visitor can play on their audio player for additional commentary. The audio contains messages from a narrator, Lisa Marie Presley, and Elvis himself along with some background music.

The decor of the room's were VERY 1960's and 70's! A lot of shag carpeting and fur. All the furnishings are still the same as when Elvis still lived there. They only allowed us the view the downstairs because Elvis didn't allow many of his guests to go upstairs. So it remains closed off to the public to this day. Of his relatives, his aunt was the last to actually live there until the early 1980's.

After touring the house, we went back across the street to the museums. Among Elvis' cars in the museum were a couple of Cadillac's, a Ferrari, two Stutz Bearcat's, a Mercedes, a Rolls-Royce, and a handful of Motorcycles. Elvis owned many more cars and bikes during his time, but most are in the hands of private collectors.

After the auto museum, we went to the "Elvis Airport" display next that had his two personal jet airplanes. I forget what they were exactly. The first was a smaller jet built in the 1950's that carried about 8 people. The other was a larger 4 engine jetliner built in the 1960's that probably would have carried over 100 passengers. It's current configuration had couches, loungers, and a separate bedroom.

Ok, now that the Elvis tour was over it was time to check out the Travel Channels best rated BBQ in the country. Memphis style BBQ is a dry rubbed seasoned smoked pork rib. The Travel Channel recommended three restaurants in Memphis; Venoy's Rendezvous BBQ, Corkey's BBQ Ribs, and Jim Nelley's Interstate BBQ. Well we headed downtown to Rendezvous. Finding it was a little tough. We had the address but didn't realize that the entrance was in an alley that led to the restaurant below street level.

The ribs were pretty good, but the portions were smaller than most places. Other BBQ places have full-rack or half-rack sizes. They listed large or small rib sizes and I just assumed that meant full or half. Well as it turns out, Adam ordered the small size which was about the same as the half-rack. I ordered the large size but it was only 3 bones more. Not quite a full-rack. And the sides of slaw and BBQ beans were also good, but gone in just three bites. Overall, I thought it was just OK. Great taste, it's just that the price didn't match the portion size. We'll have to try out the other two restaurants next time.

Sunday was REALLY cold! I think the high for the day was only about 45 degrees. We tried hitting the bike trail but didn't get too far before turning around. When we got back, the boys stayed in the RV and played while Cricket and I took Jake on a two mile hiking trail.

By the time we got returned, the Super Bowl was about to begin. I hadn't watched a football game all season, but this was the Super Bowl with the Super Bowl commercials. So I claimed the front TV while Cricket and the boys played Monopoly in the bedroom. I also spent the time tweaking my photos in PhotoShop getting them ready for an online gallery to go with this website.

Today is a driving day. We had planned on going to Arkansas after Tennessee, but with the cold front coming through we decided to head south down into Mississippi. So my next update will be from hopefully a little warmer climate.

See you again real soon.