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August 27, 2018
Memphis, Tennessee: Bicycling to Arkansas


Today our port was Memphis, home of Elvis Presley and Graceland, where we would be for our longest stop so far. Today was also a transition day, where 100 guests would depart the cruise and 100 more would join. (The other 300 of us are cruising all the way to Red Wing.)

Gail is not an Elvis fan, and there was nothing she wanted to see there. Then she found out about Big River Crossing, a rail/bicycle/pedestrian bridge that could take us across the Mississippi River to Arkansas. We have never been to Arkansas, and we are not porting there on this cruise.

So at 7:30 in the morning, we checked out two bicycles and hit the road early. (It would later reach 93° with humidity that would make it feel like 103°.)

Due to a low water level on the river, our boat had to dock further upstream than originally intended. So our ride to the bridge was six miles each way. The route was a combination of a river walking path and busy streets.

    


Some of the houses we passed

    
We stopped at the “Welcome Center” to get our photos taken with Elvis and B.B. King


Our destination: the Big River Crossing

The Big River Crossing is the longest public pedestrian/bike bridge across the Mississippi River, spanning 4,973 feet or nearly a mile in length. We crossed over to West Memphis, Arkansas and rode to the riverbank on the other side.

    
Bicycling the Great River Crossing


The Tennessee-Arkansas state line!


On the Arkansas riverbank

    
Here’s that Arkansas riverbank, viewed from back from the Tennessee side

On the way back, we stopped at the Bass Pro Shop Pyramid. This 321-foot tall pyramid (about 32 stories) was originally built as a sports arena. (“Memphis” was named after the city in Egypt.) Once the NBA Grizzlies moved, Bass Pro shops leased it. It is now a store, archery range, shooting range, laser arcade, hotel and restaurant.

    
The Bass Pro Shop Pyramid

    
The inside of this store is unbelievable. It’s like entering a Disneyland attraction.


You can take an elevator ride to the top of the pyramid, but it costs $10, so we passed

By the time we returned to the boat it was 12:30 pm. We had lunch and set out again on American Queen’s hop-on hop-off bus. Gail was so exhausted that we only hopped off for one stop on Beale Street, home of rock and roll music.


The Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968

    
Beale Street


The souvenir shops on Beale Street are exactly what you would expect

Gail was proud of herself for bicycling almost 15 miles in 93° humid heat. Everyone we have met in the south has been warm and friendly. And tonight, we will have the opportunity to meet some new fellow cruisers.


Gail, after the Big River Crossing, gives herself an “Attagirl!”

 

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