A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Relaxing a bit?????

I guess Green Turtle Bay is named that because there are a lot of turtles here.
They come out at night to be fed, which is kind of cute.

Dennis and Kathy arrived on monday and we had a quiet day so we could head down to Memphis in their rental car on tuesday. We got away at 8.00am and drove the 3 1/2 hours to Gracelands to see Elvis' "house". Carolyn had a real good time but (sorry Elvis fans) I found the whole experience morbid and rather tacky.
We then ate at a recommended restaurant and I have commented to a follower on the experience in a previous post, but I'll put it in again:
"Had the ribs at Blues City Cafe and they WERE excellent. Our NZ friends were a little taken aback by the style of presentation, which you can clearly see from where you are seated, until I explained the chef (cook?) had been specially trained to dispense fries by the handful then pick up the ones that missed and return them to your plate from the bench". It was good food, though.
By the time we returned to GTB it was late evening and we were quite weary, and the next day we relaxed in preparaton for a trip to Nashville on Thursday - although we did take the opportunity to add two more batteries into the house system. Thursday we were off to Nashville and also intended to head down to the Shiloh battlefield near Pickwick Lake on the Tennessee/Mississippi border, staying overnight at Savannah, TN. Just north on Nashville was a sign for "Fontanel Mansion". Kathy knew about it, so we went to take a look. Turns out it was Barbara Mandrell's former home and is the biggest log cabin in the world at 27000 square feet. You can do tours through it, but after the Gracelands experience, I was not keen to do another tour through a celebrity's house (although at least she is still alive!). However Kathy had already bought the tickets, so off we went. The tour couldn't have been more different from the one in Memphis. For a start there was only us and the tour guide, so it was very personal. Secondly the house was a living house, not a tomb, and they still hold all sorts of functions, weddings etc in it. You were allowed to touch, pick up, handle and play with anything on display. This included any of the multitude of guitars spread around the house, including Buck Owen's own, and I picked one that had been signed by all of the members of the Eagles. Of course I had to play "Hotel California" on it, to which the guide sang (with a very nice voice, I might add). Dennis and I even played a game of pool in the pool room (in Gracelands it was "touch anything - you die!!!") Go to http://www.fontanelmansion.com/mansion.php and check it out. If you're into music or very posh houses, then its well worth a visit.
We visited Broadway in Nashville where we had lunch, then a quick look at the Country Hall of Fame, but couldn't tour as we had to visit the Grand Old Opry before heading south. Kathy and Dennis did the backstage tour, but we had been to a show (many years ago) so didn't bother. We got away at 5.00pm and made Savannah at 8.00pm.
Over the weekend there was a live firing demonstration of the cannons at Shiloh, which is why we wanted to go there. These began at 11.30am on the Saturday so first we drove over the dam and had a look around Pickwick Lake, where I spent a few days boat hunting last year, before heading up to the battlefield. It was a lot bigger than we had imagined, but I guess when you have 105000 guys fighting each other for 2 days, they need a bit of space. One thing that seems to get screwed up often is the number of men killed there which is often reported as "over 23000". That, in fact, is the number of total casualties and the correct figures are 3482 killed, 16,420 wounded and 3844 missing (??!!??), a total of 23746. The live firing was awesome and LOUD, even though they were using only a quarter of the charge that would have been fired back then.

Afterwards we had lunch in a cute wee town named Adamsville where they had smoked cabbage on the menu. Tasted just like Hangi cabbage, so I got some to take out. On the way back we diverted through the Land between the lakes National Park and went into the enclosure where the Elk and Bison were. The Elk played the game and came out to pose (particularly this guy, who put on  real show for us), but not a Bison in sight. We know they were there because there were signs of them all over the road, and other Loopers had said that was all they saw when they visited (no Elk for them), but their poo was all we got to see. The other Loopers reckoned they were pretty scruffy and smelly anyway.

When we got back on Saturday night, most the Loopers were gone and the transient slips were near empty. There was a lock closure for repairs on the Mississippi last week (Lock 27) and all the Loopers upstream have been held up waiting for it to re-open and the backlog of tows to clear. We took a trip to the liquor store in Paducah 20 miles north, as GTB is in a dry county as is the rest of the state to the south between here and the Tennessee border.
The next day the rest of the Loopers left, so we went for a tutu into Kentucky Lake to Pisgah Bay about 6 miles downstream, and there they all were! (a bunch of them, anyway). We returned to the solitude of the empty GTB docks that evening.
So here we are back with the turtles. Dennis and Kathy left yesterday for Chicago and Route 66 and we have decided to stay on a week while the sale of Carolyn's Kindy goes through settlement. Right here is the best WiFi we have had to date so we can keep in touch with proceedings until it's all over on friday. The vanguard of the next bunch of Loopers began arriving last night and more are expected today.
We might spend a few days relaxing a bit.

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