We stayed in Southaven, Mississippi, just a few miles south of Graceland. Southaven wasn’t much to speak of, suburban sprawl and every chain business you could possibly need. Everything was fairly new, including most the roads, some of which led to housing developments that didn’t yet exist, but luckily we were just a short drive from Holly Springs National Forest, Wall doxie State Park and downtown Memphis.
National Civil Rights Museum
We spent our first weekend seeing the city. We walked around Beale Street a bit before going to the Civil Rights Museum for a few hours. The Museum was really busy and we were in line, before and after we got our tickets, for quite a while. We had apparently picked the 47th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King to come to his place of death, the Hotel Loraine, which the museum is built off of. Despite the crowds we were able to see most of the displays in good time. I could have stayed there another 3 hours, soaking it all in. The quality of the displays and the vast array of personal accounts and information make any one visit incomplete, but it will affect your perspective on our country’s history nevertheless. Of all the displays, one thing that wasn’t part of the museum impacted me greatly, there were 2 old couples who had lived in the area all their lives reminiscning to one another..”do you remember when that happened? I remember” about incidents like lynchings and the burning bus of the freedom riders. The fact that these things have even happened in the lifetime of people who are sill alive proves how recent it all is, and how far we really have to go. It was an awesome and moving experience.
We didn’t spend any evenings in downtown Memphis, aside from our first night in town when we found only one place open on a Sunday night with a veggie burger, The Crazy Kanuk. We can now say we’ve been to a Canadian themed restauraunt, something I never imagined would exist. The burger was excellent, the waitress was nice, the room with animal heads staring at us, less nice, but overall it was good.
We walked up and down Beale Street, visiting the Withers Collection Museum where we saw dozens of photos taken by a freelance photojournalist covering key events in the civil rights movement. Walked into one gift shop, but mostly just took it all in from outside. It reminded us a bit of a smaller, calmer, Bourbon Street in New Orleans, though who knows how crazy it gets on the weekend nights. There were street performers, cops patroling and people getting drunk, and this was just on a Saturday Afternoon in about 2 blocks that were closed off to cars.
Wall Doxie State Park, Mississippi
The next Saturday we decided to just stick with nature. We headed towards Holly Springs National Forest, not knowing much about it and finding it mostly occupied by houses when we arrived. We instead opted for Wall Doxie State Park which had a nice hike around a small lake. The hike was pretty easy but the forest was beautiful and there were the old familiar Cypress (swamp dwelling trees we’d come to love in the deep south) all around the lake. The only downside was finding a tick on my arm near the end of the hike, and later, one on my leg, another on Sherlock, and one more on Ross. We didn’t hike again…it’s going to be a ticky year in the South.
Holly Springs National Forest
After hiking at Wall Doxie, we decided to just drive through the national forest and see what’s there. We mostly came across houses, and even an cool old cemetery, which creepily enough, had a fresh grave in it. We decided to head back after not long, as we weren’t finding much, and take a shortcut down a dirt road back to the freeway. We started to see less houses and more hunters and fast driving teenagers disting up the road and appearing from around corners going 45, typical things you see on dirt roads in forests all around the US really. But then, something atypical, a couple of 12 week old puppies on the side of the road. We immediately pull over and look around for a driveway. There’s a road across the way so we put the pups in the back with Sherlock, who was not ammused, and drive down the road. It goes on for a ways before we see a driveway, which the house is another 1/4 mile down that. We start to realise there’s just no way these really young puppies ran off and just happened to be huddled together next to the road in the middle of nowhere. Someone had dumped them there. Both pups were ultra soft, floppy and uncoordinated, not old enough to run miles from home. They were hungry, skinny, flea covered, tick riddled and scared. We called the local animal shelter and every organization we could find online before we left the area but no one was open. We decided to take them home and sort it out on Monday.
The first thing we did when we got them home was give them flea medicine, then got to work on turning the back room/garage into a puppy safe area. We went to the store and bought puppy pads, food, worming medicine and treats. I haven’t had a puppy around for a very long time, and I had a yard, so I wasn’t totally aware what I was up against. Ross left for Seattle the next day and and I was on my own trying to find a place to take them. The mess they made was shocking to say the least. As they got more healthy, the mess got less terrifying, but it was a lot to handle with 3 pets of our own who were starting to feel neglected. First thing Monday I drove over to the local shelter, a no-kill shelter just a couple blocks away rom the RV park. Much to my confusion, they told me they couldn’t take them for several reasons, the main reason being I wasn’t local. They basically told me we should have called the police (really?!) and lef them there.. um, no. Then one of the women was rude enough to say “don’t dump them anywhere, we know where you’re staying” and was surprised when I was deeply insulted. “ahem, the people who pick up puppies off the side of the road are not typically the ones who dump them”…she was an ass and they weren’t the slightest bit helpful. I called a few more places for the second time, hearing back only from a couple emails saying they were full.
After a day or so, I already had some good photos so I decided that craigslist might have to be the place, as much as I didn’t like the idea. I posted that they could only go to a home that I could inspect, as creepy as it sounded for me to want to look at their home, I needed to know where they were going and the kind of people who would have them.
After hours with no calls at all about them, I’m at the feed store buying hookworm medicine and considering booster shots (the vet quoted me as needing to spend $120 each to get them their shots – not including spay) when I learn that the feed store shots are not recognized by vets, so, they’re pointless really. I walk back to the truck, worrying that we may have to fork over hundreds on these puppies, and potentially be stuck with them for a long while in a very small space (not the worst thing ever but not what we intended when we picked them up), when I get a call. It’s a woman in Tennessee who recently lost a pregnant dog and her one puppy due to compliations. Their remaining dog was getting really depressed and lonely so her and her husband wanted both pups and were happy to take them to the vet and get them sorted out. We arranged for me to show up at their house after she got off work, so I went home and prepared them for their new home!
When I arrived I knew it was a good place for them. A quiet suburban neighbourhood and a big house with a huge back yard. They had a teenage daughter who was happy to play with them and take them for walks, and they had a big brother, a pug mix. They were pretty terrified after having just got to know me and having a rough time before that. It took them a few days before they’d stop lunging away when I tried to pet them, made loud noises or moved too quickly. They were really sweet though when they weren’t afraid. The bigger one, with the white on her nose got especialyl attached to me. She’d follow me anywhere, and her sister would follow her, so walks went well. At the new owner’s home, she kept trying to hide behind me and get me to save her, despite her much braver sister already playing in the back yard. It was hard to leave her. My mom had pointed out that she looked a bit like my last dog of 13 years who passed away in 2012. That didn’t make leaving her any easier, but I knew they’d be happier with a home. They are both bound to be enormous dogs by the size of their feet and they needed an enormous yard.
We were planning to skip Graceland after seeing some of the package prices but when Ross’s boss found out and insisted that we go, we didn’t really have any good excuses not te. We did the mansion tour, which turned out to be quite a bit cheaper than the packages, we didn’t need to see his jets, we were pretty surprised overall to find out what a humble and seemingly down to earth guy Elvis remained throughout his life. His “mansion” wasn’t even all that big and his property was pretty small, especially if you’ve seen places like Hearst Castle or Biltmore Estate. He actually donated a lot of his money and kept things pretty real. Although I never cared for his music, it was interesting to find our more about him. His collection of awards and gold and platinum records that took up nearly two buildings were a shock though. I mean, he died before I was born but I never knew he was really that famous. He even lived on a road named after himself and was basically treated as a living legend. Even his wife is quoted as saying after his death “how ever will the world go on without Elvis Priestly”. His interior design taste and fashion sense are pretty intersting as well.
Shelby Farms is a huge recreation area on the east side of Memphis that took us about 40 minutes to drive to every time we went, through terrible traffic, but was so worth it. They have 4500 acres of trails and open space and 100 of those acres is Shelby Farms dog park! That is possibly the biggest dog park in the country (my claim, not fact), and it features several large ponds, some with docks your dog can jump off, obstacles and miles of trails. Sherlock enjoyed running through the tall grassy fields, meeting dogs 20 times her size and drinking questionable pond water.
Imagine Vegan Cafe
This might be our new favorite vegan restaurant in the South. They have the most amazing menu, including things like “fried chick’n and waffles”, a southern dish we never thought we’d see made vegan. Their deserts are amazing too and we went back time and time again til we left, we still joke “hey, let’s go to imagine cafe!” then we pout a little because we’re like 1000 miles away now. Sad times when you have to leave good food behind.
Southaven RV Park, Missippi
The RV Park was pretty nice, though the pool wasn’t open and we continuoulsly had storm warnings of the “tornadic” nature coming our way. The spots were rather short, although brand new, so I’m not sure what the excuse was there. We couldn’t even fit the truck in the space and had to park it nearby. All our neighbours were really friendly though, and one couple brought me dinner while Ross was out of town. Of course it had meat in it so I couldn’t eat it, but we had a good conversation anyway and I thanked them for thinking of me. The RV park had ok internet, a pretty huge dog park and the people in the office were friendly.
Overall we had a good stay in the Memphis area but the constant borage of bad weather overhead and neaby just became too stressful. Even a bout of large hail could destroy our trailer, let alone a tornado, we had to pack our backpack and parepare the animals twice for potential tornado warnings. Two times too many and more storms on the way. We made our run to New Mexico with a few days to spare on our month long rent.