Tag Archive: Memphis


Leaving Memphis

The day I left Memphis was W I N D Y ! My dogs trust me, people say to me how much my dogs love me. I don’t know what they are picking up, but they are my priority. I treat them better than I treat myself and why wouldn’t I? It’s my job to keep them safe and happy and that means not letting us flip over or get eaten by the weather goddess. I’d looked at the map the night before deciding to head to the lake camping just north in Tennessee. I could lake-hop my way to Nashville. First though I needed propane; that wasn’t as easy to find as I’d assumed and required some driving. That’s when I discovered how WINDY is was! As the attendant filled the tank with me and dogs standing about outside ….  he made sure we all exited the vehicle, he told me of last night’s damage in various parts of the city; vehicles including RVs, homes and other structures had been damaged or destroyed. It was so windy out there talking about dogs and wind I had to pick up Mason so he wouldn’t get blown away. Once back in the van I clicked my weather apps, yep D A N G E R O U S winds to the north, darn! I could make it, I reasoned, everything was fine last night. How windy was too windy? Would there be hail? The road I’d picked looked a bit desolate. You can see where this is going. I bailed and decided (wisely) to head for the next nearest campground; this time I picked a KOA back over the bridge on the Arkansas side. On the way I stopped at the Info Station, I was feeling disappointed about Tennessee. The “info” woman was super friendly, mapping a scenic cross-section of Arkansas just for me and of course she had to come see my dogs.  Dog viewing is a standard thing; anytime someone hears about my dogs, and I frequently mention them, that person often gets excited, their eyes pick up color and their faces start expressing joy; oh, they’d never seen a Lagotto in real life, could they meet one!  That is if they didn’t think I’d fabricated a name like Lagotto Romagnolo.  My dogs are friendly so it works out. I think they are all proud of themselves and enjoy showing off.

I pulled into the Memphis KOA mid morning, a line of big rigs following me. How can I describe the force on my vehicle? My van would jerk hard to one side with my hands vice gripped on the wheel, I’d bash it into place and then wham it’d go the other way, like a twisting bucking bronco determined to throw its rider to the ground, esp when you add the lifting sliding effect of movement forward with the wind tunnel underneath.  A passing truck is really insane, I’m gonna call it  an earthquake machine that is coming from the air rather than the ground, it would be fun if it was an amusement park. And it was wet too.

The staff at this KOA were super nice, one of them repaired my laptop as it was set to not accept WiFi, she somehow fixed that. I was assigned a crappy space behind the propane tank (as if I hadn’t just filled up elsewhere) with a big noisy outdoor fan attached to the back of a building as my only view. Since I had a camper-van KOA decided (and it’s all in their computer) that I should not be given a regular pull through space. I find this annoying except when it’s a better location and comes with a discount. Anyway they let me move to a better spot which I enjoyed as I had the camping area to myself while the rest of the park was jammed full of folks escaping the wrath of Mommy Nature. This was my first KOA that provided dinner; you call it in and they bring it to your site. It was pulled pork which I don’t eat but I did go to the cafe for breakfast; 2 over easy eggs, hash browns, toast and coffee for $4.80. The KOA also provides bus tours of many sorts around Memphis, didn’t ask but a great addition would be some doggy day care. I spent the day doing laundry and listening to the wind, by night-time it finally calmed.

Nope didn’t seem to take many photos. Just picture me slaving away in the wet wind hauling laundry and trying to put the quarters in the correct slot. Ha-ha!

Traveling alone is not as alone as you might think, at least not if you have adorable dogs with you and you can smile at people. I’m often amazed at the depth folks will share. I’ve started to think of my encounters as serial friendships, sure there are conversations that are polite greeting but more often about how others survive, what’s going on in their lives, why they are at this particular place at this particular time. I meet world travelers and those that are following the sun and good weather. Some are orphaned from a stick house by divorce, deaths, lack of a job, wanderlust, kids gone, retired, working mobile, lots of things bring them outside. Lots of folks have dogs too. On the road we have a temporary bond beyond the gulf of wealth and accommodation being closer to the elements, being able to leave at a moments notice and be somewhere completely different the next day.  That’s one of the things that draws me, being able take off and whatever transpired in that place gets left behind and replaced by an equally fascinating new day.

 

There is always something to do, at least there is for me.  Never have time to watch TV and rarely time for a book, much of this is because I travel with 3 dogs and am considering doing so with all 4. I walk them many times a day, they eat twice a day and I take them to dog parks, regular parks, schools, grassy fields, places to swim, we walk together in town centers and tourist areas where they are frequently so warmly welcomed. I keep a fairly clean RV, so there is an order to how the dogs and I proceed to keep it that way. When I eat dinner if there is an outside bench and table I’ll use that otherwise I’ll take out my camp chair and table, the dogs like to be nearby although little Mason frequently watches from the comfort of the bed esp if it’s cold out and looks out from the open back door to keep his eye on us.  I enjoy just looking, watching and listening . . . the sun coming up or going down, birds of all sorts and other wildlife, trees, flowers, grasses, clouds, rain, trains, what other people are doing, how things looks, little cities and towns, open fields, cluttered building, paths that lead off somewhere, the way the weather changes and how the light is different wherever I go, seeing the highway at a distance with all those huge trucks moving about, piles of debris that collect and no one seems to care. It’s not boring, there are sometimes stars or rainbows, sunclouds, rivers, lakes, desert and bugs, mountains, the sounds made from the soil, a wire overhead or within a tiny creek . . . .   … . these things are precious; our home, how will we treat it.

Scorpions – Wind Of Change

 

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Glorious Spring

The night I spent at T.O. Fuller State Park in Memphis was hot, in the 80’s and muggy.  The Park was sparsely inhabited (by humans.) There were a few such as the camp host, a sparse scattering of other campers and a lonely young ranger who gave me a tour of the sparkling new environmentally constructed 1 million dollar nature interpretative center! The old golf course had been restored to a wildlife area including habitats of floodplain wetlands, wildflower valleys, native grassy meadows, and upland ponds. The Mississippi Flyway brings over 100 different species of birds to the area in spring and fall. The day I was there butterflies wafted in the air amid the moaning of wind, then they’d suddenly zoom off like streakers, black, blue, yellow. The nearby condos were slated to be soon restored into wetlands and a fishing lake. The heavy beat of nature echoing the heart of Memphis was quick and sharp to my anxiety over the power that the coming storm might bring. I’d checked and rechecked the weather apps on my phone; Memphis would be okay, Memphis would not be okay. Danger, destructive, us little campers in our RVs, if it happened, we made no difference.

 

The camp host, I thought classically withered, rustic; younger than me but seemed older, had lived in the park 25 years. I liked him and once he moved past his hesitation of yet another clueless camper he began sharing the wisdom of the forest. He showed me the wild pepper and wild onions, the rare wild cherry tree outside the back window on my mothorhome where I camped. He said the space I choose used to be where he lived and every night a wild coyote would lay under his window and depart in early morning.  I wanted to be in his world for just a little bit so went off to get Chester’s Chicken at the Truck Stop and just like he told me, it was good, I bought potato wedges but I forgot to get the jalapenos…  he’d explained how those could be spread over the chicken and the extra used over a few fried eggs in the morning.  I filled the gas tank at $1.99 for regular when I  returned he told me that due to the geography of the mountain the damaging winds would tend to be over our heads — heat like this and a storm could mean large destructive hail or very damaging winds. If that happened we would all run (all of us, all the dogs and all the campers) to the bathrooms. The bathhouses were built to be storm shelters and the one at this park was newly renovated. Now it made sense the large solid entrance ways of the Texas rest stop bathrooms, they were shelters too.

It was so hot that night I barely slept. The side windows were open but I’d closed the overhead vent and shut off the air conditioning. I peeped out the window at the trees swaying listening to the terrible howling of the sky; what battle was ensuing up there? My RV rocked, the rain fell only a little, mostly it was simply hot. I was impressed, it was obvious there was a fierce storm above and I later learned that those damaging winds had attacked other parts of the town. As the camp host had said, even though I practiced in my head getting all the dogs leashed in frantic wind and blistering hail, searching for my shoes, keys and coat. . . .   I practiced running and gripping little Mason tight but the violence of the storm didn’t come down into our cove. Instead I was in a pool of sweat wishing the rain could come inside the van and cool me off, maybe I should open the vent, but I didn’t dare. It was all fortunate, especially as two late campers had arrived with pop-up campers, I did notice they both parked very close to the bathhouse. Spring, this was Spring. A Spring that was wild, terrible and beautiful.

 

We all made it through the night.

T.O. Fuller State Park was the first state park open for African Americans east of the Mississippi River. A Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp in the area initiated construction of the park facilities in 1938. It was designated Shelby County Negro State Park in 1938 and was later changed to T.O. Fuller State Park in 1942 in honor of Dr. Thomas O. Fuller, a prominent African-American educator, pastor, politician, civic leader and author, who spent his life empowering and educating African Americans. Dr. Fuller served as principal of the Howe Institute, a precursor to Lemoyne-Owen College, for 27 years.

The park is a place that protects and showcases unique natural habitat while offering a wide range of outdoor recreational assets – including a new Interpretive Nature and Education Center, hiking trails, playgrounds, an Olympic-size pool and splash pad, ball fields, basketball and tennis courts, and terrific gathering spaces for families, churches, organizations and groups.
……   http://tnstateparks.com/parks/about/t-o-fuller

 

 

Dixon Gallery & Gardens   Memphis, TN
Go see this place in person my photos cannot and do not show what a glorious fantasy it is. Especially loved all the Tulips, the Summer Snowflake, the Redbud trees, Virginia Bluebells and more amid an English Countryside with fountains, statues, alcoves, butterflies and birds, stunning architectures so like a dream.  Regrettably most of the art museum was closed the day I visited and the cafe ran out of primary ingredients for the sandwiches.

 

A Brief Tour of Memphis

Tom Sawyer RV Park on the Mississippi River.  The park is large, this is just a piece of it, I’m parked out there with the big guys.

New Friends! They have a 2001 Great West on the same Dodge 3500 van.  I also spotted another same-vintage Dodge Leisure Travel and a Roadtrek in the campground. A potentially damaging storm is on the way so we are all deciding what to do and which way to go. The storm is predicted to hit Little Rock the hardest. My new friends decided to alter their plans about staying there the next night and instead head a little north.  This campground could become very muddy and mucky as it’s surrounded by the river.  Very much enjoyed the campground, it’s quiet with lots of walking and river vistas, I asked for the most scenic spot they had left and was given a space way out on the spit. I arrived early, before noon without a reservation, they were soon completely filled. I think it was fairly hot.

Memphis Riverfront:  Beautiful views, sculptures,  city and river overviews, great walking with the dogs.

Met another traveler here with a 1997 LTV! Almost twins 🙂

Driving Around… lots to see. Memphis is a huge city with lots of differing districts. Birthplace of the blues, soul and rock n’roll.

Beale Street Entertainment District… so quiet in the early morning!

Yep, Elvis is afoot!

ELVIS LIVES! Tours can be costly with parking an additional $10. Was not thrilled to find no shade or air-conditioned kennels in the paid parking area. I elected not to do the tour mostly as I felt it was too hot and humid to leave the dogs.  It would be probably be fun esp since I was there; however the cheap tour likley not so much, you’d probably want to do the Elvis Entourage VIP + Airplane Tour, but that’s nearly $100; maybe you could do the Elvis Experience Tour for $62 they sure have a slew of choices.  The generator on my rig is not working, but even so the lack of  shade was a deterrent….  there were a few spots with shade but they were filled.  The day was unseasonably hot. Walked all around the outer buildings, gift shops, soda fountains, candy store, etc.

 

Lots of people love this place. Just be prepared with plenty of cash.

I spent 2 nights in Memphis, nowhere near enough time to take in the music and art scene. Wound up crossing all over town taking care of errands, seeing a few museums and taking care of some simple repairs. Second night I spent at the State Park on storm watch! As the humidity and temperature increased so did my worry!

A pretty little lake park. almost no one was here. Hot storm slowly moving in.