A Day in Memphis, TN

We had less than 48 hours in Memphis, TN.  But we made the most of what we had.

First priority:  After a couple of weeks without a real, honest-to-goodness shower we decided it was time.   We busted out the solar shower.  It may not be a full shower in the traditional sense, but when you’re desperate to get the sweat smell off and have clean hair, it feels nothing short of amazing.  I hate hyperbole.  I’m using the word “amazing”.  I mean it.


This is an off-shoot of the Mississippi River after a decent sized thunderstorm.  While the river has a massive, fast current, this part was like glass.

I had two big reasons for insisting we stop in Memphis.  Elvis.  I am a big fan.  His music endures.  The other I discovered as I was looking for things to do in the city.  There is a real, documented stop on the Underground Railroad in the city.  It’s a rare, special place.


The kids make museums challenging.  It was particularly hard to explain why we were in someone else’s home and we couldn’t touch anything.  Sometimes we adults are kind of weird when you think about it.  We came up with a compromise.  I got to see the Jungle Room.  They hung out with Scott looking at the swingset and watching the guy clean the windows.

Jack also liked the music.  His little hips just start moving on their own when he hears music.

Four tips to seeing Graceland with little people:

  • Go fast – this isn’t the time to go deep on the details
  • Send the adult who is least interested in everything outside with the kids to watch the yard work
  • Play Elvis music before you go
  • Get the tickets to see the planes – the kids loved the planes

Lisa Marie’s playground was of extreme interest to our group.  It too is a Do Not Touch situation.

Most exciting part of the visit for the kids – watching the window cleaner and his cool machine.

“No, you can’t go in the pool.”

On the airplanes.  A golden sink?  Who knew….

Famous Beale Street, Downtown Memphis.  We ate at the Hard Rock Cafe.  Go ahead.  Judge.  I know I know… surrounded by the legitimate coolness of old school rock and roll history and we sold out.  But those french fries are gravitational when you’re hungry.  What can I say?!  I caved the crowd.  We did walk the length of the street though. I suspect it has an entirely different feel at 2 am on any given Friday night than what we saw.

Slave Haven

In a surprise twist, my absolute favorite part of the day was a much-too-short visit to an actual stop on the Underground Railroad.  If you are in the Memphis area, I can’t recommend this place enough.  With Jack asleep in the car, Evie not wanting to move and Scott working on his phone, I asked Scott and Evie for 5 minutes.  They agreed.  I explained the situation to the museum host and she agreed to show me the 2 most important parts of the home, the entrance hallway and the cellar.

About 15 minutes into my ‘5 minutes’ I got a text from Scott, “Are you ok?!”).  I just couldn’t leave.  It’s an incredible place.

I know I need to know more about slavery and race relations in the U.S.  How do I know this?  Because I was under the impression that racism was a gross, horrible part of our past.  Not true.  It’s back now (and never really went away, it just hid for awhile).  I think everyone needs to learn more, listen more… have patience and believe other people’s stories.  Seeing the advertisements for slave auctions, hearing the stories about what happened to them on the trips from Africa to the U.S. and seeing the black crawl space under the house that they used to get one step closer to safety… Powerful.  I will go back.  The whole family will go in with me next time.

No pictures are allowed inside the house – which is why I don’t have any to show.

Traci’s Picks:

  • We drink lemon infused water almost every morning.  It’s an ancient ayurvedic ritual that I love.  I don’t like getting sticky lemon hands though (because it takes a lot of water to wash it off and when we’re boondocking, that’s a consideration).  So made sure we had this tool with us.  I love it.
  • It should come as no surprise that I’m a bit of a fruit loop when it comes to anything the kids put in their bodies.  They use this Flouride-free toothpaste from Honest.  I’ve tried others but they always come back to this stuff.
  • Here are our leveling blocks.  We didn’t use them much (more often than not opting to just deal with a little bit of tilt).  But when we did use them and they were absolutely necessary, we loved them.  They’re light.  Easy to move around.  We never had any trouble.  Bonus – the kids could use them for sand toys.

If you’re into Pinterest, here are some pins from this post:

It takes both rain and sunshine

It takes both rain and sunshine (1)

It takes both rain and sunshine (2)

It takes both rain and sunshine (3)