The thing about ditching your kids for a two-week, six-city trip to The States is, you have to make the most of every single moment. So with that in mind, I planned our itinerary to within an inch of it’s life. What’s that? You need a moment to scratch yourself? Sorry, that’ll have to wait until 3.17pm. Next Tuesday.
The the plan for Memphis was: Sun Studio, Beale Street, ribs, Graceland, Stax Studio, National Civil Rights Museum, Blues, more ribs, then early start on day three to continue the roadside itinerary of kitsch from Memphis to Nashville.
Which all went to plan until we turned up to the National Civil Rights Museum to find that it had been completely shut down for the afternoon to do security checks for the arrival of former Vice President Joe Biden, who was to receive a Freedom Award from the museum that evening.
He was being honoured alongside the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who actually stalked us a bit while we were in Memphis. He was on our flight there and we saw him again at the Blue City Cafe late on our second nigh there. Evidently, he popped in for some late-night ribs after receiving an award for his decades of contribution to civil rights. We popped in for some late-night ribs after drinking and listening to music on Beale Street all night. It wasn’t even Hoff’s first ribs of the evening.
Anyway, the point is, the random museum shut down completely threw our plans out the window. I had to be flexible. Pfft. We ended up having some enforced down time (my least favourite kind) and we had to see the museum the following morning. This effectively wiped out our ability to make any stops on the way from Memphis to Nashville as we were on a schedule to do a Nashville tour in the early afternoon.
And I had a cracker itinerary cooked up too. We were going to veer off the interstate to the city of Nutbush, or more specifically, the city limits of Nutbush, and I was absolutely going to make Hoff do the dance with me in front of the sign. If the National Civil Rights Museum hadn’t given Mr Biden and Rev Jackson awards for civil rights that evening, then I reckon Hoff would’ve given them an award for getting him out of that little exercise.
All that said, though, the National Civil Rights Museum was absolutely worthy of a complete schedule overhaul. Based at the old Lorraine Motel, where Dr Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in 1968, the museum uses the activist’s life and work as a starting point to detail the civil rights movement from the first slaves until today. It is stirring, poignant and at times upsetting, but a timely reminder of the movement’s history and the work still to be done.
So after our much-anticipated visit, we grabbed a coffee, waved goodbye to our new mate the Rev and headed east towards Nashville. The Nutbush will have to wait until we get there.