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04/08/2004 @ 03:21 PM: March 14th through the 18th I took a trip down south--to Memphis. This is the itinerary summary post I've been planning since before I got back; there hasn't been a lot of time to write!

Let me first start off by saying there is no way--anywhere in this post--I am going to quote any song with the title "Walkin' In Memphis." I got plenty of that from people before and after my trip.

It was sometime in January or February that I really started to feel the itch of winter. Cabin fever was setting in strong, and the routine of school, students, studio, film work, and very little free time was bogging me down. My curiosity about the south has been heightened in recent times, probably because of all the studying Iíve been doing in various political science classes. Then, late one night, up and not sleeping when I needed to be, I saw a History Channel special on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I jumped on the internet to look up some more information and came across a link to the National Civil Rights Museum. The museum was built out of the former Lorraine Motel, where King was assassinated on April 4th, 1968. Out loud I declared: "Thatís where Iím going on my trip."

I left in the early afternoon on Sunday the 14th after a hectic morning of tying up loose ends. My first stop was Chicago, home of good friends Eric and Danielle. I got in around 9:00 PM and was really just expecting to chat with Eric and Dani, hang out, and go to sleep. No. They had dinner ready and deemed it necessary to go hang out--at a bar. We did, I got pretty buzzed, and it was a good time. Good friendsÖ and an amusing couple whose lives together I've since decided would act as an excellent premise for a television show.

I left Chicago a couple hours later than planned Monday on account of Eric and me hanging out some more. Memphis was my next destination, hotel reservation waiting. It was eight hours of driving with few stops. (Side note: I'm pretty fed up with Burnsville Volkswagen for--twice--failing to fix the cruise control on my car, that without being provoked will kick off only a few miles after being set, then canít be reset until the car has been stopped and started again.) I got in to Memphis around 9:00 PM, checked into my shitty hotel, explored the neighborhood a bit, hoped I wasnít going to get shot or ripped off, and got dinner. What's amazing (to me) when I go on trips is that I always go to bed really early--10:30 PM in this case. I guess the lack of distractions and work helps me chill out a lot more.

Tuesday morning consisted of pushups and crunches, coffee, breakfast, Dawsonís Creek (terrible show), and an 11:30 AM tour of Sun Studio, the very studio where rock n' roll got its start. My trip could have ended right there, and I would have been just fine; there was enough zen in that place to keep me lit up all the way home. Unlike many historical locations, Sun is nearly identical to how it was in the 1950s, except for the control room being modernized. Since the 1980s it has again been a functioning studio, and, yes, I sure as hell am going to go down there and record as soon as possible. The rest of Tuesday was spent driving through Memphis, taking in a couple other tourist-type places (Graceland being one of them--my second and last time there). Iíd hoped to take in some music in the evening down on Beale Street, but by 10:00 PM I was too damn tired.

Wednesday morning I visited the National Civil Rights Museum. It was moderately disappointing, mostly due to its slightly run-down condition and lack of authentic paraphernalia. (The museum was made up of wordy exhibits and recreations of various civil rights items like the bus that Rosa Parks rode on and segregation signs--still educational, however.) The rest of the day was a two-part plan: Drive to St. Louis to visit friends Emmy and Ben and spend the night in Kansas City, both four-hour jaunts, respectively. St. Louis is a very cool city, though I had little time to actually take much of it in. Still, catching up with an old good friend, Emmy, and her husband was a great thing to be able to do. We had dinner, and I again left a couple hours later than planned on account of just enjoying the time with friends. I spent the night in Kansas City at a significantly nicer hotel. Too bad I arrived late and left early; I actually wanted to spend time at this one.

The drive home from Kansas City on ThursdayÖ two words: *Iowa* and *boring*. At least I didnít get any speeding tickets. (Again I curse Burnsville Volkswagen for not fixing my cruise control.)

One of the major highlights of the trip for me was the freedom of being on the road. I drove nearly 2,200 miles in five days. Nowadays I take in a lot more culture than I did when I was a teenager (AT teen years = more concerned about how long my hair could grow), which was the last time I was in several of these cities. I also delved deep into my CD collection and spent countless hours brainstorming everything from music ideas to political ideas to reflections on nostalgia. I love road tripping for the hell of it, and I love the breath of perspective it can offer.


thumbnail 001thumbnail 002thumbnail 003thumbnail 004Photo Chronology: 1996 to Today
thumbnail 005thumbnail 006thumbnail 007thumbnail 008Please feel free to peruse these memories from the AT photo archives.

Andrew Thomas