Tennessee ~ Day One

We crossed over the Mississippi into Memphis, Tennessee.   This is the part of the trip where the best laid plans were sunk.
I am a big music fan and I loved the idea of exploring the birth place of the Blues.  I wanted to be in the heart of Memphis near Beale St.  We cut cost on these big trips by staying in Embassy Suites or Homewood Suites that have a bedroom with two beds and then a pull out sofa.  Max and I take the sofa so we can send the kids to bed and have just a few minutes of kid free time to regain our sanity.  However, this leaves us without the most restful night of sleep and usually a sore rib or two from the springs poking out of the sofa bed.
I also wanted to stay near the Mississippi River, which meant both of our regular options were out.  I got a wild hair that I really, really wanted to stay at the Madison Hotel because it was right on the banks of the Mississippi, across the river from the Mud Island Museum I wanted to go visit, and walking distance to Beale St.  Well, there is pretty much no changing my mind once I get set on it.
This was going to be a huge splurge!  But Max saw the dazzle in my eyes and knew the ship had already set off down the Mississippi.  I was so excited to have a fancy room all to ourselves with a real bed and sit at the roof top bar having a cocktail as the sun set on the Mississippi.  Oh boy did I build this day up in my head. 
 In my perfectly timed plan, we would have arrived at our hotel to check in and walk down to the Mud Island Museum to see an exact replica of the Mississippi flowing from the Ohio River down to the Gulf of Mexico.  After exploring we would walk back in time to watch the sunset.  Well, our fun little detour of the Arkansas Capital building put our arrival off by just enough that we missed the last tram over the Mississippi to the museum.  They were locking up just as we reached the doors.  Rats!  Instead we took a leisurely stroll along the Mississippi and learned about the Sultana Disaster.  
I was feeling rather cranky that my plan was sunk.  However, it is always good to gain a little perspective.  As we read about the worst maritime disaster in America's history I realized it is all just part of the adventure of these trips and hey things could be worse-much worse.  I had always thought the Titanic was the worst maritime disaster.  However, the Sultana disaster occurred the day after President Lincoln was assassinated and therefore has always been overshadowed by that event.  In fact, I don't ever recall even learning about it.  The Sultana, a Mississippi River steamboat had the capacity for 374 passengers yet set out with 2,427 just released Union prisoners of war, crew and passengers aboard.  A boiler exploded and set the ship on fire seven miles away from Memphis.  It is estimated 1,800 people died compared to the 1,503 people that perished in the Titanic.  After reading about the Sultana we gazed at the Mississippi imagining all her banks had seen over time.
With the warm glow of the sun sinking, it was time to head to the roof top bar for some wine and gear up for a fun night on Beale St.
 This was the only part of the evening that worked out, and it was truly excellent.
 We had a lovely spot to watch the sunlight fade into the Mississippi and we ended up with half our drinks free.
 After our beautiful and relaxing time watching the sunset, it was time to head to Beale St, where the Blues began.
Of course we had to embarrass the kids and play Marc Cohn's Walking In Memphis as we strolled down to Beale St.  I thought Hailey might disown us! :)  Beale St. was so full of life and energy.  It was cool to hear Blues bands up and down the street.  We stopped to listen to a few but our stomachs were making noise.
 The kids remarked that it was like a nicer French Quarter. :)
Along Beale St. is the Hard Rock Cafe.  I thought it would be the perfect place for dinner.  Wrong!
As we walked in the music was blaring and I mean blaring!  So loud we had to shout at the waitress to tell her party of 6.  She only had immediate seating right in the front of the band.  We figured they would end soon or have to turn it down because everyone was wincing.  They must be working on the sound system.  They were not.  After a song I realized we would all have permanent hearing loss if we stayed there so I told the waitress we had to move or leave.  So she put us upstairs at the back.
It was a fraction better but what was worse was our waitress.  She was overworked and probably deaf but was trying her hardest.  We sat and sat and sat until it felt like our ears were bleeding and our stomachs were eating themselves.  We were just about to leave without our food and just walk out.  The kids were seriously unhappy.
So I cornered our waitress as she came out of the kitchen and said we needed it to go immediately.  She was kind enough to box it all up and we got out of there as fast as we could.  The kids were willing to walk a mile home with grumbling bellies just to get out of the Hard Rock Cafe!  We got back to our hotel to finally eat a lukewarm dinner around 9 at night. 
 I couldn't wait to sleep in that giant King size bed and get a fresh start tomorrow.
That morning we set out for Tennessee from Fort Smith, Arkansas the kids woke up to find their annual Halloween treat... Skelly Jammies!  This year they have a Day of the Dead twist.
After we got the kids tucked in and went over and over that the little ones had to wake up Hailey if they needed to come to our room because we didn't want them wandering the halls trying to find our room and possibly knocking on other people's doors.  We gave kisses and went to our room.  Max opened the bedside table looking for the music system clicker to find an opened package of yogurt pretzels scattered all over the drawer and some other items not appropriate to mention on a family blog.  We were a bit disgusted but figured housekeeping forgot to open the drawer.  No big deal, close the drawer and got to bed.  That was until we pulled back the sheets to find crumbled up yogurt pretzels and other evidence that the sheets had never been changed.  DISGUSTING!  Of course management came up to confiscate the bedside table items and apologized over and over and moved us "to a suite with a view."  That might be nice for someone else but now we were not near our kids and they were all asleep and had no idea where we were.  We had to repack all of our things at 10 o'clock at night and obviously the view at dark does not really matter.  We had to go wake Hailey but she was only partially cognizant of what we were saying.  Sure enough Hank had a bad dream and did not get Hailey to take him and I heard knocking around 1am.  We found him down the hall knocking on our old room's door.  Kaitlin was escorted by Hailey next around 4 am.  Now we had two kids in our king size bed that hopefully had clean sheets and a very cranky teenager.  So much for my fantasies of staying in an upscale hotel.  Take me to the clean Embassy Suites any night.  We were certainly ready to put this day to bed.

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