What a stellar day three. Today was the day the trip really felt like it took flight, and I really made an effort to stretch is as long as I could.
I got an early start and headed West along the Bluegrass Parkway. Had the radio tuned to Lexington's 92.1 and Steppenwolf's Born To Be Wild came on. I knew it was going to be a great day. The real Mars Bonfire would've been proud.
Just like old girlfriend Jennifer said all those years ago, the Bluegrass Parkway was gorgeous. It did not disappoint.
I exited at Bardstown and took some back roads through some amazing country that brought me past Abraham Lincoln's birthplace. Pretty place.
Continued on to Memphis and carefully planned my itinerary along the way. First stop was Sun Records, where I did something I rarely do -- I did the shameless tourist thing and bought a bunch of stickers and a t-shirt. What the hell, I had to. It's Sun Records man. It's Rock 'n' Roll! I also took their rate sheet in case I ever want to record there.
Interesting thing about Memphis: I pulled into the city at rush hour, and never had to tap the brakes until I came to a stoplight downtown. Maybe I was just lucky, but it seemed deserted. I don't know what it means, and I didn't think about it too much. I think it was part of its character. The place has a gritty feel to it that I loved. It just feels cool.
Next stop was barbecue. For years I've wanted to hit 2 specific barbecue joints in Memphis: Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous, and Jim Neely's Interstate Barbecue.
Ugh! After 35 minutes of trying to find a parking space, I found out the Rendezvous was closed Sundays and Mondays! It looked like such a cool joint too, tucked in a hard to find alley.
I walked over to Beale Street, saw it was a tourist trap, and got back in the car. I called the Interstate and they were open, so that was my next stop. The drive took me through some bombed-out parts of town that only added to the sense of adventure.
Suddenly, there it was. I went inside, was asked "Dining inside or taking out, sir?" and sat down in a cushy booth and ordered the two-way special. Oh my god. I've never had barbecue this good. Chopped shoulder, pork ribs, beans, and barbecue spaghetti. Amazing.
The barbecued spaghetti takes you back to the warm and fuzzy feelings of childhood. It was a strangely addictive treat.
Now that I'd finally had Memphis barbecue, I was ready to see Graceland. I headed over there as darkness was falling, and it was the perfect way to see it: all lit up and silent amid the dark blue twilight. It really is a beautiful, stately home. His huge jet is parked directly across the street, which is kind of amusing to see.
(Sadly, I shot everything in video and am still having troubles pulling it into Blogger, so I don't even have a still frame to show, but I was definitely there.)
All in all, I'm glad I stopped by Graceland but I did find it a little sad. For example, Elvis Presley Boulevard is a busy, neon-infested thoroughfare, more like somewhere you'd go to get cheap gas.
Which is what I did, as soon as I got my next idea.
It was a full moon. I was just miles from the Mississippi delta. I decided I needed to go to the Crossroads.
The Crossroads is where blues legend Robert Johnson is rumored to have sold his soul to the devil in return for fame and fortune. The spot is thought to be at the inersection of highways 61 and 49 in Clarksdale, MS.
The drive to Clarksdale was straight as a gun barrel and darker than dark. It even felt like the blues -- like a hard place. Then the big orange moon came up and made it even more surreal. I lost cell service after a while and really felt like I was out on the edge.
Whether it is true or not that Johnson sold his soul to the devil at the Crossroads, who really knows. Blues legends Son House and Willie Brown say that Johnson couldn't play a lick until he went off to Arkansas and upon returning, miraculously, he played to perfection, never needed to practice, and could play any song as if he was a juke box.
Clarksdale is also where John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, and Muddy Waters made their own legends. Standing there at the Crossroads with the full moon overhead had to be one of the coolest things I've ever done.
I'm on my way to Arkansas today. But I'm only looking for quartz crystals and hot springs.