Rockabilly Road Trip: Leftovers

Bits and bobs. Phew, that was a long, packed trip!
Touring the Carter house in Franklin, home of 1,000 Civil War bullets.

Earth mounds at the Kennesaw battlefield. “Wow, Steph. I didn’t know you were a Civil War buff!” The thing is, I’m not exactly. HOWEVER, like football, I grew up around a lot of enthusiasts–my uncle and cousin were Gettysburg reenactors. So before this trip I read Battle Cry for Freedom and we stopped at two battle sites.

Haunted hearse and chicken in Alabama.

Elvis’s birth home in Tupelo.

LOL, this hotel pool/DIY garden. Love it!

Rockabilly Road Trip: Birmingham

I love Alabama and can’t wait to visit again but I’ve gotta confess: Dean, Mum and Cliff did not care for ANY of it. Haha! I don’t know what other people look for when they visit a new place but I’m looking for rainbows, Satan and metal; all of which can be found in Beautiful Birmingham!
rainbow tunnelWhy every underpass in the world isn’t a cosmic LED rainbow is beyond me. Spectacular and lovely.rainbow tunnel
rainbow tunnel

storyteller fountainPeople like to correct you that this is the “Storyteller” Fountain, NOT the “Satanic” Fountain. But why can’t it be both?satanic fountain

slossThe Sloss Furnaces produced iron for almost 90 years and now it’s this fantastic museum you can explore. If we lived here, I’d totally sign up for blacksmithing class.

Rockabilly Road Trip: Oxford

Alternate title: I fucking love William Faulkner!

Growing up, I read very few books that weren’t horror, comics, or E.M. Forster (can’t explain how Forster snuck in…). Then in college, I got The Sound and the Fury as a required text and became instantly obsessed with William Faulkner. It was the most challenging novel I’d finished at the time and I can still remember feeling like I’d gained a brand new way of looking at literature/the world. Since then, other modernists have left me cold but my reading tastes have branched out considerably. Faulkner was kind of my gateway drug!

Anyway, as soon as I realized this road trip went near Oxford Mississippi, I made the executive decision to stop there. With only half a day, we dropped my in-laws off at a record shop and headed straight to Rowan Oak, Faulkner’s home. I can’t recommend a tour of the house and grounds highly enough– it’s the ultimate literary destination. Paintings, plaster cracks, a portable typewriter– all carefully preserved. Even Dean thought it was cool to see an outline of A Fable that Faulkner wrote directly on the walls of his study. I love imagining him drinking his cheap bourbon and scaring his daughter with ghost stories here. We’re also glad his wife had AC put in, supposedly the day after he died. Hahaa!
Here I am being a total ham and posing with my copy of Absalom! Absalom! which I re-read during the trip. The grounds at Rowan Oak are beautiful and serene.

Afterwards, we headed to Oxford Square which is lovely and kind of reminds me of an extra-southern Athens. Square Books has to be one of the best, most charming book stores in the country! I’m really sorry we didn’t have more time here. There are a few places we didn’t get to that we’ll have to see next time. :)
We didn’t have any whiskey or fine French wine bottles to leave so we tossed a couple pennies and hit the road again for Alabama. So long, Yoknapatawpha County!

Rockabilly Road Trip: Memphis Part II GRACELAND

Graceland, as it was last decorated by Elvis, is the mansion/compound of my dreams! The four of us had the pleasure of seeing it with a John Stamos narrated iPad tour. AMAZING. I loved every minute we were there. Man, how great would it be to play pool in that elaborately upholstered billiard room or get drunk at that clown figurine cocktail bar?! I’m glad we sprung for the platinum tour to see the King’s planes, complete with gold-plated seat belts. The whole property stands in sharp contrast to today’s expensive, boring minimalism. What a joy to see a maximalist home, full of color and cool shit!

Rockabilly Road Trip: Memphis Part I

Like Nashville, we had no idea what to expect in Memphis but we ended up loving it! You’d think I’d hate the crowds, litter and spilled booze permeating Beale Street but even that was fun: we drank beer on a patio with actual goats and window-shopped for fancy toilet seats painted with rock-and-roll scenes. I took so many photos, I haveta break this up into two posts. First chunk of pictures:arcadeBreakfast at The Arcade Restaurant. “Memphis Oldest Cafe, Since 1919,” or as Dean and I know it, the diner in Mystery Train. arcade

crystal shrine grottoThe Crystal Shrine Grotto. I cannot recommend Memphis’ Memorial Park Cemetery highly enough. The grotto is a rainbow quartz cave of wonder! The outside has fake trees and a dreamy, dyed pool. Bonus: Isaac Hayes’ grave is close by.

bealeBlues records sidewalk, awesome.

lorraine motelThe iconic Lorraine Motel, commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. as the Civil Rights Museum. Right in front is a woman camped out in protest of the museum.

sun studioMum & Dean napped at the AirBNB while Cliff and I went on a tour of Sun Studio. It was as charming as it was informative and, not gonna lie, the studio did feel a bit magical.

billy bass adoption centerOk, this is a chain but it is still delightful. So many Billy Bass!

staxThe Stax Museum!staxAll the memorabilia was cool but nothing was cooler than Isaac Hayes’ custom, gold-trimmed Cadillac, spinning in a frankly glorious display. stax


jerry's sno conesThese were the greatest sno cones of my life and I swear they possess restorative properties! They sure hit the spot on this particularly muggy afternoon. jerry's sno cones

Rockabilly Road Trip: Billy Tripp’s Mindfield

An hour or so outside of Memphis, we stopped in Brownsville to see the Mindfield. Photos can’t quite capture the scope of this thing– it’s a giant, fantastic bricolage of metal. The highest points are over 100 feet tall and there are hundreds of details nestled into every possible nook. Billy Tripp started working on it in 1989 and apparently plans to continue until his death when it will become his grave. Places like this give me life!

Rockabilly Road Trip: Jackson

We raced outta Nashville toward Jackson Tennessee to get to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame an hour before it closed. Rockabilly may not be my thing but meeting Henry Harrison was one of the trip highlights. What a charmer! He grew up in Johnny Cash’s neighborhood in Arkansas then Elvis Presley’s neighborhood in Memphis. The stories and his continued fandom made me really happy.

We all loved Rusty’s TV & Movie Car Museum. I am clearly about to pee my pants here cuz I’m so psyched to see Brian’s Eclipse. Someone gimme a Corona!
Mum & Cliff walked right up and knocked on the door of Carl Perkins former house. No answer but I guess they’ve got a guitar-shaped pool? We stopped by the graves so they could pay respects before hitting the road again.

Oh! No photos but this is also the town with Casey Jones Village where we played the worst round of mini golf. Haha. The course was roughed up and filled with debris but I laugh-cried when Cliff stepped in some muck and said, “I’ve just got a wonky footfull!” Haha, wonky footfull!

Rockabilly Road Trip: Nashville

When Mum visited the states for the first time, she came with her rock-n-roll friends to see Nashville and Memphis. Over 20 years later, she made her second trip to the US to see Nashville and Memphis again. Hahaaa! Dean and I drove in with no concept of how big Nashville was or if there was anything beyond the Broadway bars (which are overwhelmingly sloshed with expensive drinks and cowboys covering Green Day)… but we saw lotsa cool stuff sticking to the touristy spots:
This public library is top-notch. A beautiful building and courtyard and sweet staff! I went back to Nashville with Lane and Erin a few months later and stopped in again. Love it!
Dogs of the Nashville Flea Market: Sweet Pea in the tub, Dolly the poofy pup, Madden by the clothing rack. Don’t ask me to remember your name but I will remember your dog’s.
In terms of deals, I’d say the prices are a little higher at Nashville’s Flea than, say, Chattanooga or Athens but the selection is incredible. There was a rainbow sea of Pyrex and Fire King dishes, plenty of boxes of 45s for Cliff to paw through, and I developed this fantasy of buying a ton of Pachinko machines to cover our hall walls at home… mmmm Pachinko.

The Ryman Auditorium!
Prince died the day we got to town and I thought it was incredibly sweet that this 90s country cover band played a cover of “Purple Rain.” Also, Tootsie’s orchid-purple walls are lovely.
Hatch Show Print

The mister and I chased down the last light of sunset on the way to Mas Tacos. It was worth it.

Rockabilly Road Trip: Chattanooga

Rolled over the state line into Chattanooga– where Dean and I had just been a few months earlier for our anniversary. Clearly, we can’t get enough. This time, we had a lotta fun shopping at East Town Antiques. It was the start of Cliff’s tireless quest for rock-n-roll 45s (he ended up with over 50). Other things:
The walls at Aretha Frankenstein’s! Trip secret: we didn’t eat at too many cool spots; almost every breakfast on this trip was Waffle House. Don’t ask me why but Mum and Cliff are Waffle House’s #1 fans.

Back to the Choo Choo!

Ping pong at Clyde’s aka Murder Ball if I’ve had a few drinks. I think this was also the point where we found out Mum and Cliff have actually partied to the point where they’ve drunk out of shoes. Haha, wut!

Rockabilly Road Trip: Helen

Holy Helen! It’s been over a year since we took my British in-laws on a road trip through the south but better late than never to reminisce. I am completely smitten with the town of Helen. It’s got North Georgia’s natural beauty with the mountains and Chattahoochee River; then it’s got the kitsch factor of resembling a Bavarian Alpine town. If you’ve ever wanted to see a main street of Swiss chalets AND college football flags or, say, a Wendy’s with the gabled roof suited for a rustic Mittelgebirge, look no further. Helen’s got it all– even Alpine Mini Golf.

I am 100% serious going to do this with our AC box.