On our way home from Nashville, we continued down Interstate 40 through Memphis. With only a couple of hours for the home of the blues and birthplace of rock and roll, we made a few quick stops. Our first stop was at the Memphis Tennessee Temple. From there we went and saw some of the must-sees when in Memphis like the home of Elvis, Beale Street and some ducks that are treated like royalty.
We didn’t have much time or the funding to take a tour of Elvis Presley’s estate Graceland, but we did stop by and pay our respects by signing the wall in front of the grounds. It is just as I remembered it from when I stopped by as a kid with the Texas Boys Choir while on tour. We did the same thing, got out and took pictures and wrote our names on the wall. Maybe someday I’ll have the money and time to take a real tour of the King’s home.
We were in Memphis just a few days before the big flood hit and the evidence of the impending flood was prevalent. We especially saw it as we walked across to Mud Island, a park in the Mississippi River that tells the river’s story through a 5-block-long scale model of the lower part of the river. It is a fun thing to visit and take a stroll down if you have the time. We were disappointed though because the water flowing through the replica was not mirroring the current state of the river with higher than usual flow.
The Peabody Hotel Ducks
Our next stop was the most anticipated of our Memphis sites. When I visited Memphis with the boys choir many years ago some of the group including my mom visited the Peabody Hotel and saw something you won’t see anywhere else in the world, the duck march. Ever since, I’ve told myself that when I’m back in Memphis I want to see the ducks of the Peabody. It was a fun spectacle, if you like ducks that is. Every hotel tries to set itself apart and the ducks do just that for the Peabody.
In 1932, the owner of the hotel put the ducks in the fountain over night as a practical joke when he had had a little too much to drink. Expecting them to have left before the next morning, he was surprised to find them enjoying the fountain and guests enjoying watching the ducks the next day. It has been a tradition ever since. Eventually, the hotel decided to make it more of a production, so a bellman and renowned animal trainer came up with the march that has been in play since.
Every day at 11 a.m. the ducks are led from their penthouse on the roof down the elevator and across the red carpet to the fountain in the center of the lobby where they spend their day. At five the ducks march back across the red carpet to the elevator and back up to their home on the roof. They are led and cared for by the Duck Master, a job that I think I would love having.
It is a fun little thing to see and do and it takes place in a beautiful hotel lobby. There’s even a bar next to the fountain if you want to get a drink while you watch.
Not far from the hotel is the home of the blues and birthplace of rock and roll, Beale Street. This would be equivalent to the French Quarter of New Orleans or Music Row in downtown Nashville with tons of clubs, live music venues with a fun and little bit wild atmosphere. It is a walking street with street performers and home to places that music greats like B.B. King and Louis Armstrong played in. Elvis was inspired by what he saw and heard there. It’s one of those places that has shaped and influenced modern music and society more than people would imagine.
Overall, downtown Memphis has a fun atmosphere that seems like it would be alive night and day, all week long. Maybe another visit will let me see and experience a little more than just a quick stop while passing through. If you live in Memphis these would be great everyday adventures that could take only an hour or so.
Remember, adventure is out there, so go have one!