The Memphis road trip – Part 1

Muscle Shoals Studio
Muscle Shoals Studio

Nothing like a long road trip to make a lad appreciate his home. Sweet home. Here’s the first of a two-part series on my excellent travel adventure from Florida, through Mississippi and on to Alabama, the “Heart of Dixie”, and back…

Sister Carol called me a few weeks ago and informed me that she and Bruce were contemplating a holiday excursion somewhere south of Michigan (that must have been an easy decision – pretty much everything is south of Michigan) and asked whether I would like to tag along.

Coincidentally, way back in June I had given up on a road trip to any particular destination this year since I couldn’t come up with an itinerary that didn’t first and foremost require an enormous amount of flat out driving. For example, motoring from Jacksonville west to Tallahassee on I-10 is like watching the same 30-second commercial from a personal injury attorney 500 times in a row. With about the same entertainment value.

But, aha: by further coincidence, I had been considering a visit to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, but decided not to go for the reason noted above. Long story short, I eventually agreed to accompany them or, more specifically, meet them at a hotel in Memphis, which would allow me to kill several trips with one drive, so to speak.

I will embark on the first leg of my journey at first light on Friday morning via mostly “blue highways” (non-interstate), thus reaching Montgomery, Alabama, by around mid-afternoon, and then on to Birmingham to spend the night. This is assuming I get a reasonable amount of competent assistance from my brand new Jeep GPS lady, with whom I have yet to develop a rapport (this poor girl was not even given a name by her creators, which may be at least one of the reasons she tends to be a bit cranky from time to time). For example, Siri (you know, the one in your iPhone) may not have always been pleased when I didn’t follow her instructions to the letter, but at least she never gave me any lip about it. Every time this new one states that she is “recalculating route” in that tone of hers I can picture her rolling her eyes. When she says” Now, make a left turn!” all that’s missing from that statement is the word “dammit.” Therefore, I have dubbed her “Sirius,” since that’s where she comes from (those people who do the satellite radio) and because she has no sense of humor whatsoever. At this point, I’m not convinced she even likes to travel, which, if true, would be unfortunate, given her lot in life.

On this first leg I am looking forward to visiting what appears to be a seemingly modest (based on my Googling, anyway) museum for Hank Williams. I figure I’ll view some of his personal belongings, lots of black and white photos, have lunch nearby and then head to Birmingham to bed down for the night. By the way, I am especially looking forward to this trek as I have never spent any time checking out the grand State of Alabama – that I can remember, anyway.

But, wait! No! I do remember something in the long, long past related to Alabama (you knew I would). When I was in high school Dad took the family on a summer vacation which included driving all the way from Michigan to someplace on the west coast of Florida. We stayed at some little motel there that had linoleum floors in the rooms, old-timey spring mattresses on the beds and a swimming pool. Dad always sought out those motels with swimming pools. We all know how he loved swimming pools. We were visiting a family friend whose recently built house had those new-fangled terrazzo floors so popular in Florida at the time. My Dad (the engineer/builder) loved those terrazzo floors too. Knowing my dad, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that we made that trip just so he could check out those floors. Maybe he was thinking he could replicate them in Michigan: maybe?

In the meantime, though, I had come down with a terrible cold – dang, just as I met this beautiful young girl who was staying at the same motel. She was my age and she and her family were vacationers from, you guessed it, Alabama, the “Heart of Dixie,” as it is known. Her name was Beth. The reason for my assuredness is because she gave me a photo with her name printed on the back. Still have it to this day for some reason.

After that we were pen pals for awhile. I remember at some point she wrote that her dad bought her a Ford Thunderbird for her birthday. Hmmm. I was concerned that I might get a terrazzo floor in my bedroom for my birthday.

I could put her picture here but if she saw it she would probably sue me.

Anyway, after my overnight stop in Birmingham, I’ll head up to Muscle Shoals to tour and touch the Jackson highway recording studio, easily one of the most famous in the world (Google it…save me a lot of typing and stuff). Then on to Memphis where I have challenged Bruce and Carol to keep me entertained for the next three days (Beale Street, BBQ, Graceland, BBQ, etc.). They are going to stay for four days, but I’m heading out after three. After that: more blue highways to Pensacola for the aviation museum and then back east on the ol’ I-10.

I’ll keep you posted next week.

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