For our second day in Memphis we were committed to getting in a good bike ride, one with moderate distance on a safe route, giving us another type of look at the city. With a little bit of research on the web we found a greenway, the Shelby Farms Greenline that we could ride to from the house. A round trip would total about 34 miles, just the distance we wanted to accomplish that day.
We started out on city streets and after a mile or two entered Overton Park, crossing it from the bottom left hand corner to the top right hand quarter and after a missed turn or two, exited onto, The Hampline, a 1.7-mile long stretch that connects Overton Park to the western end of the Shelby Farms Greenline, going through the heart of Binghampton and the Broad Avenue Arts District, an eclectic area that is home to 70 unique local businesses, including boutique shops, art galleries, artist studios, services, restaurants and bars.
Weather wise it was a very nice day to be out, not too warm, clear blue skies, and no wind to speak of. We reached the trailhead for the Greenline and rode it to the end, stopping almost at the end to share a Starbuck’s Frappuccino and scone, then turned around repeating the route back to the house.
We cleaned up and after polishing off our left over pizza, took off for a Macy’s not far away to shop for a pair of shoes for me, as I’d forgotten to bring some to wear to the wedding. Fortunately they had a reasonably priced model of a Bass loafer that would match my outfit and having completed the purchase, we drove back towards downtown Memphis.
Joanna suggested we stop for an early dinner at Central BBQ as it was close to the route we were taking and is one of the higher rated que joints in Memphis. We ordered a ½ and ½ combo rib plate (1/2 beef and ½ pork) with pulled chicken and beef brisket, along with a side of mac and chees and slaw, along with two beers from a local brewery Wiseacre, the Gotta Get Up to Get Down (a coffee milk stout) and the Tiny Bomb (an American Pilsner). All of it was delicious, the meats perfectly cooked, moist with a bit of smoke flavor, the ribs lean and tender.
Full and happy we continued on Central into Downtown, our destination the Flying Saucer location a block or so off Beale Street. We parked on the street and entered to sit at the bar and spent an hour or so drinking a couple of beers and engaging in an interesting conversation with a young man who has lived in Memphis for five years or so and has enjoyed his time there. We closed our tab and returned to the house to relax, a nice break after a couple of days and nights of activity.
The next day, Wednesday and our last in Memphis would be a full one. Our first stop was at the Gibson Guitar Factory, one of three that the company uses to produce their full line of stringed instruments. One is in Bozeman, Montana and builds just the acoustic models; the other is in Nashville and is responsible for all of the solid body electrics. Memphis makes all of the hollow body electrics and is the only one of the three where you can take a tour.
We’d purchased our tickets on line, $21.50 for the two of us and arrived downtown a few minutes before the start of the tour, parking in a structure just down the street. We entered the lobby and spent a few moments admiring the guitars for sale in the gift shop, then donned safety glasses and began the nearly one hour tour that took us through each part of the manufacturing process.
This was a fascinating tour, stopping at each station to watch the steps being taken to build an individual piece, a process that takes on average 5-6 weeks. Once an person becomes adept at their chosen specialty they will perform that specific task for the rest of their career; they don’t switch around. We were curious about this, wondering if someone might not get bored with the repetition, or lack of ability to learn new tasks.
Our next to the last stop was the painting station, where every guitar is hand painted, making each a unique work of art.
Finally the electronics are installed (this is the one area where workers do rotate, so that an absence doesn’t hinder the production process) and each unit receives a thorough testing by an employee who certified as a professional quality musician.
Finished with the tour we stepped across the street to a Starbuck’s to get a coffee and snack, then walked back up Beale to South Main Street, made a right and walked north heading for the bridge that would take us over to Mud Island.
Along the way we popped into Aldo’s Pizza Pies for the Grab and Go special, a slice and large drink for $5. A large portion, it was just the right amount of food for us to split.
We continued walking and then turned left onto Adams, which led us to the walkway to what is not actually an island, but instead a small peninsula surrounded by the Mississippi River to the west and the Wolf River Harbor to the east.
A result of the Wolf River being diverted into the Mississippi River in 1960, it opened to the public in 1982.
A fascinating attraction is the Mississippi River Park that includes, along with a number of recreational activities, a hydraulic scale model of the lower Mississippi River from Cairo, Illinois to New Orleans. Major cities and small towns located on the river are marked in the scale model, and markers explain history and facts about the river.
We walked almost the entire length of the exhibit, allowing one to sense the how truly long this body of water is and how it defines much of what it passes through. What I liked most was how it helped me to understand the role that all of the Mississippi’s tributaries (Big Black River in Mississippi, Red River in Louisiana, White and Arkansas Rivers in Arkansas, Ohio River in Illinois and Kentucky, Big Muddy and Kaskaskia Rivers in Illinois, and the Missouri River in Missouri) play in shaping this largest drainage basin in the United States and fourth longest river in the world at 3,710 miles (#1 the Nile, #2 the Amazon, and #3 the Yangtze River).
As we walked back over the bridge to South Main Street, we made way for Beale. I’ll report on our findings there and the rest of our adventures in Memphis in the next post.
Shelby Farms Greenline: https://www.railstotrails.org/trailblog/2016/may/16/tennessees-shelby-farms-greenline/
Overton Park: http://www.overtonpark.org/
The Hampline: https://www.bldgmemphis.org/the-hampline
Broad Avenue: https://www.broadavearts.com/
Central BBQ: https://cbqmemphis.com/
Wiseacre Brewing: https://wiseacrebrew.com/
Gibson Guitar Factory: http://www.gibson.com/Gibson/Gibson-Tours.aspx
Mud Island: http://www.mudisland.com/