Day 11: Memphis, hot dog!
I was just wrapping up a jog (walk) through town, and headed back to my hotel, when a rather rotund man on a golf cart came whizzing up the alley beside me.
"Hey!" he said "You would not believe this, but ah have been looking for this thang since the Beale St. Music Fest ended." He slapped the side of the golf cart. "Found it in an alley, just now. Hot Dog!" And away he whizzed, throwing a "Have a good un!" over his shoulder. I had seen a sign earlier, and I knew that festival had ended a week ago. Welcome to Memphis.
People often ask me why I love this town so much, and I always try to explain it like this- I love it for what it is, and for what it isn't. It's gritty, it's authentic, and it's packed full of some of the best music, tastiest food, and friendliest people you'll ever come across. But it's not desperate. It's not going to beg you to visit, and it's not going to hump your leg while you're there. I quite like that about a city.
The train rolled into the station at 6am, and as my phone declared my hotel to only be .8 miles away, I decided to hoof it. Well, that was a mistake.
I was about halfway into my isolated, whimper-filled walk when I came to an intersection, and froze. Every option looked menacing. There was no safe lane to take. But I forced myself to continue, past boarded up buildings and alleyways so lonely I was sure no one would hear me if I screamed. Wheeling my suitcase right down the middle of the street, I wondered if this is how it would end for me. I had mace and a knife at the ready, but you know what they say about taking a knife to a gunfight. I was almost at the point of calling my Mother back in North Carolina and asking her to come get me, when a cop car pulled up to the curb about a block away. It idled there, and I breathed for the first time in what felt like fifteen minutes. Memphis has a crime problem, but at least it's well aware of it. Policeman and I had a nice chat, and though it took a few more blocks for my walk to really improve, at least I knew someone was around to have my back. Note to self- when it's time to leave, pony up for a cab.
Once I made it to civilization, I grabbed a Starbucks, and headed for my digs at the Madison Hotel. They greeted me warmly there, and said my room would be ready by 10. Dig that! So I hung out on the rooftop terrace for awhile, and then headed over to the Blue Plate for breakfast, where they do it right. I mean, why doesn't every restaurant serve biscuits and gravy as a warm up to your meal?
My room was ready by the time I returned, and I napped for 2 hours, took a jog(walk), ate the rest of my breakfast for lunch, explored for a few more hours, and then in the evening I headed over to Beale St for a couple of beers, some Blues, and to breathe in the Bbq drenched air. I find I preferred that aroma to the one that lingered around New Orleans Bourbon St, which can be best likened to the bottom of a port-o-john after baking in the hot sun for a week.
It's easy to make friends on Beale St, and once there you soon find yourself enveloped in the warmth of the people and the excellent music all around, so I consider it quite an accomplishment that I was back in my room by 11pm. There's still more Memphis to enjoy, and I'm not going to do it with a fuzzy head. Day 11, down like a good jam session.