the king's birthplace, reflection, the blue canoe - New Orleans to Nashville - CycleBlaze

October 18, 2021

the king's birthplace, reflection, the blue canoe

Day Ten: rest day - tooling around Tupelo

My original plan was to make it to Cape Girardeau, then have Kevin pick me up. It’s only a two-hour drive for him and he could do it after work. However, Cape Girardeau is seeming a bit ambitious at this point. I really don’t want to have to pack in a bunch of mileage every day between now and then - this is a vacation and if I have to meet a quota of miles every day it’ll end up no longer being fun. So, I started looking at other options. The most attractive of my choices is to finish in Nashville instead of Cape Girardeau, then rent a car and drive back to St. Louis where my car is. 

However, weirdly, just like it was in Iowa, you can’t rent a car to go just one way. I tried ten different rental car agencies, and none of them had a one-way rental available. After that, I started looking at airfare. At almost $400, it was pretty expensive for the short hop from Nashville to St. Louis, but at least it’s an option. I also considered inviting Kevin and Pamela to Nashville next Saturday, putting them up in a hotel, then traveling back on Sunday. That would split the 10-hour drive into five hours each day, and I could take them out for a night on the town to recompense them for their time and trouble. 

Before booking a flight or reserving a hotel for Kevin and Pamela, though, I thought I’d give the moving companies a call on the off chance that one of them might have a cargo van or pickup truck. I had tried that as well when I wanted to go from Iowa City to New Orleans and had no luck, so I couldn't expect anything different here. Knowing it was a long shot I wasn’t surprised to find U-Haul and several others had nothing, but I dutifully slogged down my list. After a number of strikeouts, I was happily surprised when Penske said they had a cargo van. Not only was a van available, it was only going to cost $150, tax and everything. That’s cheaper than a rental car, and it put my mind at ease about not putting Kevin through so much trouble.

Now that I have that behind me, it’s time to explore Tupelo. I walked to D’ Cracked Egg where I had some waffles, eggs, hash browns, and two glasses of orange juice. 

I don’t have my Apple watch today because the charger isn’t working, which is something I need to address while I'm running around town. 

As an aside, Heather bought me the watch because I’m so old. She doesn’t word it like that, and instead says that it’s a good idea because it has "fall detection capability." If I crash, the accelerometer on the watch knows I’ve fallen and gives me two options:  (a) SOS, (b) I’m OK.  If I press SOS it calls 911 and I can talk to them. If I don’t respond after about a minute (I’m unconscious in a ditch on the side of the road being eaten by alligators) then it automatically alerts 911. It also lets my emergency contacts know that my watch detected a hard fall and dialed emergency services. Paramedics will know where I am because the watch has GPS. 

It’s 11:45 and my next stop:  Elvis’ birthplace.  I called an Uber and got James, a guy I’d guess is probably about my age but looks about 80. His first words as I got into the back seat, even before “Are you Mark?” or “Good morning,” were “You ain’t gotta wear that thing (my mask) if you don’t wanter.”  I thought it was interesting since on the Uber app it says that I’m required to wear one, and he is as well. When I said “I think I’ll keep it on,” he pulled his mask off his chin and covered his mouth with it.

At Elvis’ birthplace there were three main attractions:  the museum, the church, and the house where he was born. I could pay for one or all, and opted for the whole hog (a term I think The King would approve of) at a cost of $15.00 for all three. I spent about half an hour wandering through the museum which isn't much larger than the house he grew up in. The gift shop, on the other hand, is about ten times larger than the museum, and I spent a few minutes perusing potential purchases. There was a cookbook entitled From Elvis’ Kitchen to Yours, which includes hydrogenated vegetable oil as an ingredient. It has a forlorn-looking Elvis on the cover, and I imagine him thinking, “But WHY can’t I have another pork chop??” or something similar. There were also a number of shot glasses, key rings, frisbees... all of the usual items I need to carry with me on a bike trip. The bathroom has a TV just to make sure you didn’t miss anything while emptying your bladder.

Heart 1 Comment 0

His childhood church was the next stop, labeled as an “immersive experience.” The docent told us how the church had been moved from its original location to here, after which a few changes were made (translation:  the tar paper on the walls was replaced with something more appropriate, they put in heating/air conditioning, it was made safe enough to ensure no lawsuits would be filed, etc). One other alteration which I don’t suspect was present when Elvis attended was the 20-foot projection screens that came down on three sides. This enabled the “immersive” part of the tour. In an abbreviated 10-15 minutes, we experienced what a 2-3 hour worship service was like during the time Elvis attended. I think it would’ve been more interesting had I not grown up in the South where, on occasion, I experienced services almost exactly like that.

Afterwards, I was able to have my picture taken at the same pulpit where Elvis himself stood.

Heart 2 Comment 0
Heart 1 Comment 0

Just outside the church was an outhouse. I was disappointed to find that I couldn’t put my butt on the same piece of wood where Elvis sat to poop. 

The chapel, next to the outhouse, looked like a generic church, except smaller and with bible-sized stained glass windows along one wall. 

The final attraction, the house in which he was born, didn’t take very long because it’s only 300 square feet. There’s only so much time you can spend looking at a couple of rooms. The original cost of the 1935 house was $180, and some of the original furnishings were there. 

Heart 1 Comment 0
Heart 1 Comment 0
Heart 0 Comment 0
Heart 0 Comment 0
Heart 0 Comment 0
Heart 1 Comment 0

My last stop was up a hill to an amphitheater with a couple of statues of Elvis, one as a child and one as an adult. The two are considered one piece of art, entitled "Becoming," and I gotta say…  it’s just a bit creepy. 

Look at it yourself and see what you think.

Heart 1 Comment 0

When I finished my tour I called up an Uber but apparently there’s a dearth of them in Tupelo because the app said it’ll be 20 minutes before one arrives, so I wandered over to the Reflection Pond.  The sign notes, “This peaceful garden offers a time to reflect upon Elvis’ boyhood, the early years of the journey that made him into the amazing man he became.” It’s a perfect day for reflection... sunny, 70 degrees, birds chirping in the trees, and a reflection pond in front of me… He was indeed a great entertainer, but when I think of the “amazing man he became'' I keep going to an image of him dying from a heart attack at the age of 42 (forty two!) after falling off the toilet and laying in a pool of vomit as a result of all of his medical issues, including obesity, drug addiction, depression, insomnia, hypertension, glaucoma, liver damage, rheumatoid arthritis, and constipation. 

It’s odd that none of that was mentioned at any of the museum attractions today.

Heart 1 Comment 0

The Uber driver, Bobby, arrived (masked, no less!) and took me to WalMart.  Once I found out he's a native Tupeloan (a fine word if there ever was), I asked “If you had one night left in Tupelo, and could only eat one meal, where would you go?” I ask about restaurants, museums, and other activities when I'm in a  cab or Uber/Lyft, and I almost always get excellent recommendations. Bobby thought about it a minute and proffered a couple of suggestions:  The Blue Canoe or The Neon Pig. 

At WalMart I bought a new watch charger and called another Uber. The app said “Larry is new at Uber so make sure you tell him what a great job he’s doing!” It also said he would be there in 7 minutes, but after waiting for 10 minutes I took another look at the app and was really confused when it asked how my ride was going. It was a hard question to answer since I was still standing outside the WalMart. I texted him: “It looks like you’re on your way to Church Street???” (my destination) and got the reply “Oops. I thought you were at the other WalMart.” He turned around and eventually picked me up, and I saw yet another person who wears his mask on his chin. 

I complimented him on his truck, which was massive, but mentioned nothing about compensatory mechanisms. He said he bought it slightly used (a 2019) and shortly afterwards the pandemic created a massive need for used cars. The dealer called him up and offered to buy it back for the same price plus another $4,000.00. Even so, he declined.  We chatted some more, and he told me how his wife doesn’t want him to Uber because it’s not safe. He told me he’s not really worried “because, of course, I got my concealed permit and I’m always packing.” (here he patted the console)  Well, I certainly felt a lot safer. 

Back at the house I packed up the tent and readied for tomorrow, then debated:  eat in or go out. It’s really easy to just stay in but I am in a town I’ve never been in before and have always liked exploring, especially finding new places to eat. 

Between the two places Bobby recommended I decided on The Blue Canoe because the Neon Pig seemed a bit heavy on the meats.  Who would’ve expected that? For a change of pace, I took a Lyft instead of an Uber and the first words out of my driver’s mouth were “I’m vaccinated, so it’s up to you if you want to wear a mask.” I told him what I do for a living and said I’d feel more comfortable wearing one, but did appreciate the fact that he’s vaccinated. From what I’ve seen, admitting you’re vaccinated around here seems risky. Fortunately for him, I’m not packing.

The Blue Canoe was brimming with people. There wasn’t any place to sit, and considering the fact that out of the 50+ people in the place I was literally the only one masked, I decided to get my meal to go. When my turn finally came up I was told that the place is so busy that the kitchen isn’t doing take out orders.  I mentally shrugged and after about five minutes was seated at a table by myself. Everything on the menu looked good, and I ultimately decided on the shrimp tacos and the Mexican corn for my entree, and the chocolate-covered cheesecake for dessert. The tacos and corn were simply remarkable, and absolutely worth the drive here and the wait after my arrival. The dessert was okay, but not great. 

I paid and went outside where I ordered a Lyft, but after ten minutes of waiting for a driver to accept, my request was cancelled. At that point I ordered both a Lyft and an Uber, then called my sister to chat while I waited. The Lyft got cancelled again after another ten minutes, but an Uber driver accepted. After a 17-minute wait, Desmond picked me up. He was the first driver who wore his mask appropriately and didn’t tell me I didn’t have to wear one. 

Back at the house I washed and dried my clothes, talked to Heather for almost an hour, organized my gear, showered, shaved, and tried to find lodging in Nashville. Apparently, there’s some kind of event going on because hotels are ridiculously expensive, if you can find one. I read in bed and fell asleep at some point, but have no idea what time that was. 

0 miles, 0 everything

Rate this entry's writing Heart 4
Comment on this entry Comment 0