A day at the Zoo

The change of plans the previous day, meant that we had a whole day to spend in Memphis. The evening before we had looked at attractions  on the internet, and had decided that our primary goal of the day, should be the Memphis Zoo, that are considered to be the best in USA (at least by the locals).

We left the hotel rather late, around 8.30 am, but still to early to go direcly to the zoo, so we started our day with a visist at Lorraine Motel on Mulberry Street in central Memphis. This is where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed on April 4th 1968 while standing on the balcony. Today there is a Civil Rights Museum at the site, but it hasn't opened yet, so we just looked at the motel from the outside, and read the posters. I could tell a long story about the murder and the conspiracy theories, that was caused by it, but I will spare you that :-)

After the visit at the motel, we headed for the zoo. Going there we drove through famous Beale Street, known for it's bars and music establishments. Jazz and not least blues thrives in Beale Street and several songs are written about the street like C. W. Handy's Beale Street Blues, Cab Calloway's Beale Street Mama, and the Joni Mitchell song Furry sings the blues. The street is one of the few places in USA, where you can drink alcohol from open containers in public along with Bourbon Street in New Orleans and a few other places. A this time (9.15 am) the street was almost deserted though, so we continued to the zoo.

When we got to the zoo it had just opened, but already a lot of people were there. When we left the car, the temperature was a comfortable 77, but that would change later. We paid the entrance fee, and entered the zoo. It's almost three times the area of Copenhagen Zoo, but with around the same number of animals and species. In Memphis there is a small aquarium though, which is something Tim values as he has a thing for aquariums. This one didn't live up to his expectations though, but we made up to that later. The first place we headeed for was Cat Country which is right inside the entrance. Here we saw lions, tigers, leopards, panthers, cougars, jaguars, cheetahs, ocelots and other members of the cat family.

Besides Cat Country the Zoo is divided into geographical areas like The North West Passage, The African Savannah, China, Indonesia, Arctic and more, and we visited them all. At this time the temperature had increased to 86, but what was worse, was the humidity, which at that time had passed 90 %, which was more than we had expericened down in the Louisiana swamps. We got a little cooler by looking at the polar bears in in their cool pool, and the otters and the penguins in their respective pools. "It's always time for anothner penguin", as Tim put it.  But even polar bears and penguins couldnt remove the feeling of being sweaty and sticky, but we continued our tour anyway. Among the most interesting animals, were the Komodo Dragons even though they seemed almost lethargic even though they were just relaxing. Also the Giant Pandas on loan from China were interesting. They were also quite relaxed! One of them was sitting up, slowly picking his nose with a piece of bamboo, while the other one was taking a nap. When we had walked the whole path through the zoo and returned to the entrance, both our shirts and shorts could be wringed.

A great and deep felt "thank you very much" to the inventor of air conditioning for cars. When we got to the car after our three mile and a little over four hours long walk around the garden (we took or time to look at the animals), the cabin was overheated. The indoor thermometer showed 122 degrees, but as soon as we got the engine running, the temperature started to go down. Our next goals was the Mississippi River, but because of road work it was difficult to find a parking space, so we just looked at the river from the car. We would see more of it the next couple of days anyway. On our way to the river, we passed a glass pyramid! Later at the hotel we checked it on the internet and discovered that it used to be the Memphis Pyramid Arena (seating 20.000 pepole), now being rebuild to a megastore with shops, restaurants, hotel and more. The Memphis Arena Pyramid (320 feet tall) is the sixth largest pyramid shaped construction in the world after four of the original Egyptian pyramids and The Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas.

From the river we headed for an old indian village, Chuculissa Indian Village near the Mississippi. Along the way we drove a stretch on Elvis Presley Boulevard, passing Graceland, but we had already decided not to visit. I've been there, and Tim is not that big an Elvis fan (neither am I by the way). Look at Musikoplevelser (My Music page), if you want to know what I listen to. Right now it is the Czech country group The Country Sisters, but it changes a lot from time to time :-). The next update will probably be on something rather different. The text on the page is in Danish but the music is great all the same). We drove around in a wooded area for a long time, while we tried to locate the village (and the museum located the same place), and even if we used out GPS it only guided us to an RV Park. A few times we thought we were there, but the then road leading in the right direction was blocked by a beam. Finally we gave up and returned to the hotel. We never found the village, but enjoyed some of the suburbs of Memphis both in Tennessee and Mississippi. The internet is your friend of course, and back in our room, we discovered that the archaeological site and the museum was open all days, except Mondays - and this was of course a Monday. So the blocked roads were actually the right ones anyway.

After having relaxed in the room for about an hour, we went out to have something to eat. Denny's and Applebeeĝ's were out of the question so we located a Texas Road House in nearby Horn Lake, 2.5 miles from the hotel. The food was great, and we decided to come back to this chain at some point, but it must be on our next trip to the United Stated, because we didn't manage this time.

- Return to Big City Tour -
Return to travel stories -