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Day Eight - Sunday 2nd April, 2006

We left Eileen and Phil early and headed for Memphis.  Phil had given us directions to by pass the worst of the traffic and we were soon on I55 heading almost directly south.

Just after half way to Memphis we crossed the border into Arkansas - another state to cross off the list of states we have visited.

Then we reached our good friend I40 at West Memphis and we turned east and crossed the Mississippi River and into the city of Memphis, Tennessee. 

Just over the river is a Visitor's Centre so we checked that out and then went to our hotel - took a bit of finding but we got there. 

We were tired and had an early dinner - this time at a Crackerbarrel.

We were keen for some TV watching as our favourite show The West Wing was on and the series was coming to a dramatic end.

Problem was the weather turned bad.  Never seen such a black sky and the local TV channel was showing nothing but weather warnings - tornado warnings.  problem was the announcer was referring to counties and we had no idea what county we were in. 

From around 7pm to after midnight the weather warnings continued and no sign of The West Wing.

Around 9pm a siren started from somewhere nearby.  Sounded serious but nobody else seemed to be that concerned.

The siren kept going for around an hour and the weather warning continued.  Rayls headed the warnings and put items in the bathroom but Gary was quite fascinated and stood by the window, watching the sky and amazing lightning.  Standing by the window is a big no no in tornados. 

The tornados missed Memphis but we heard that 30 died not 25 miles away.

A new experience for us and no West Wing.

Day Nine - Monday 3rd April, 2006

Today was a fine and pleasant day, no sign of the wild weather from last night.

We started early and were ready when the gates opened at Gracelands.  You actually start out at an area across the road from Gracelands where you pay and line up to wait for a bus.  They stagger the bus times so as not to have too many people at the mansion at one time.

We were in the third bus across.  Gracelands, although nice, is not the super impressive place you perhaps imagine.

Inside, it was very 60's - very bold and impressive looking.  Not our cup of tea but interesting to see.  You wear these headphones and there is a voice that talks you through the whole thing.

Outside we saw Elvis's grave and after a couple of hours we were back in the bus and heading back to the booking area.  Here we checked out a couple of Elvis's planes.

Then it was some souvenir shopping before we were on our way down Elvis Presley Boulevard and into downtown Memphis.

We passed the Sun Studios and then on to Beale Street.  Beale Street is a street in downtown Memphis, which runs from the Mississippi River to East Street, a distance of approximately 1.8 miles. It is a significant location in African-American history and the history of the blues.  

We wandered down the street and then onto the Gibson Guitar factory where we bought some souvenirs for our son Ryan.

Then it was onto the Lorraine hotel the site of the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968.  This has now become the National Civil Rights Museum.

We had intended to stay in Memphis for the night but as it was only mid afternoon we hit the I40 and headed for Nashville, 210 miles away.

Country music is not our scene but we put the GPS on the Grand Ole Opry and when we got there we realised it was a much newer version.  Still very impressive.

Not much in Nashville for us city folk so after an hour stop we decided to push on.  Silly we know but we were young and foolish.

So we were once again on the I40 and in failing light made a rather dangerous journey to Cookeville where we stayed the night.