Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Walking in Memphis but no Beale Street Blues

 From Lake Catherine State Park in Hot Springs, we drove east to West Memphis, Arkansas and the Tom Sawyer RV Park. What an interesting place! You go down a country road along the Mississippi Dike and then turn left onto a private road that crosses the dike and meanders along the river. We were warned online that this park sometimes closes due to flooding. Well, I guess so! It must be totally underwater at times. The campsite is at water level at this time and a sign on the two-story laundry/bathroom shows the height of one flood (see photo below). 

As you can see, we are right along the Mississippi and it was a lovely day and probably close to 70 degrees. We enjoyed dinner outside at our picnic table that night - it hasn't happened often..

We settled into our campsite right along the river edge and detached our trailer. We wanted to spend the afternoon across the river in Memphis. Our first stop was the Visitor's Center, open for a change with maps and the usual brochures. It's located right on the river near a park with playgrounds and bike/walking paths. It was easy to find a public parking lot near Beale St. which is partially blocked off from traffic. There was a pretty good crowd for a Sunday afternoon but there were signs that it would be ramping up in the evening. We loved people watching as it was a very diverse crowd - definitely more integrated than anyplace we've seen since Chula Vista and New Orleans. A few street musicians were tuning up but there were lots of venues for live music later. We had already consumed a good lunch and had a dinner planned back at our trailer, so couldn't enjoy the BBQ, although it smelled great. We had been eating out it seemed almost every day recently so wanted to cut back.

Busy Beale Street, Memphis

Later we drove around the downtown area, enjoying the 19th Century Victorian Village, although there were very few houses, they were quite nice. Several have been made into museums but as often true, they were closed. By the way, the mask etiquette here was about 50/50, although the stores/restaurants asked patrons to put them on. 

The Mallory-Neely House features stained glass windows and 19th Century furniture.

What a great treat it was to have dinner outside at our picnic table and watch the barges go mostly upstream and slow against the strong current. We were also able to do a load of laundry. Although there was only cold water and we had to run the dryer twice - the washer/dryers were free - a first on our trip (except of course, at friends' homes). The next morning we enjoyed a good sunrise before tackling the morning chores getting the trailer ready and hitching it up. We are off next to the Jesse Owens Park and Museum in Oakville, Alabama. 

A barge goes up river in front of our RV

That high watermark means that the entire 
campground was underwater in 2011.

The bridge over the Mississippi from Arkansas to

The waterfront park on the Memphis side

The start of the historic Beale Street in Memphis

This fashionable young lady was 
dressed with a look for the Memphis
heyday - poodle skirt, white socks and
shoes and a big bow. She loved having
her picture taken.

Historic A. Schwab Store

These signs taught us a lot of history - this one
was very surprising - the role of the Chinese
immigrants on Beale Street and Memphis in
 general. Another detailed the contributions that
Danny Thomas made in establishing the St. Jude
Hospital and Research Center in downtown

Colorful murals are now common in many towns
we have visited and add so much.

BB King and so many other great
musicians have played and 
recorded here. The notes on the
sidewalks name each one.

The Woodruff Fontaine House Museum features
fashion and textiles from the Victorian Era to the

The sun lit up the far shore at sunrise

Dawn over the Mississippi. We never did learn the reason for the platforms in the trees. There were no ladders leading up. Could they be refuges during the flooding?

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