EXPLORING A DIFFERENT SIDE OF MEMPHIS

If I say the words “Memphis, Tennessee”, what are the first things that come to mind? For many, we are sure Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley would top the list. For others, Memphis is definitely known as a great place to get incredible barbecue. Both of those are true and as we headed to Memphis, we wanted to see some of the best-known sites, while experiencing some of the lesser known must-see sites. All of this is from a local’s point of view. The only problem was figuring out where we would stay. This can be one of the most important decisions you can make when selecting a campground close to a major city.

 

Picking the Right Campground – Home Base

 

We knew we were going to be spending 4-5 days in the Memphis area and picking a solid campground would be key. Our “homebase campground” is a huge factor in the overall enjoyment when visiting cities. This time we chose the Memphis Jelly Stone Campground, which just happened to be located in the state of Mississippi, go figure.

 

 

That’s because the Mississippi state line is just outside the city limits of Memphis. We knew with our frequent daily excursions, having a kid friendly campground would be the key to keeping the entire family happy. We learned a long time ago that just piling the kids up in the car and touring sites without factoring in plenty of fun time is a recipe for disaster. That’s especially true if we planned to hit any sensitive museums. Once we chose the Memphis Jelly Stone, we showed the kids all the things to do at the campground and they were 100% on board. Being that it was July, we knew it was going to be hot.

 

Tetherball Time!!

 

Water Slides!!!

 

This Jelly Stone had a nice pool, water slides, gaga ball, tether ball and even a basketball court.

 

 

Not to leave out Ebony, it had multiple “off leash” dog parks, one even lakeside! So with everyone happy with our homebase, it was time to venture out and explore Memphis.

 

The National Civil Rights Museum

 

With this year marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, it was very important for us to take time to visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

 

 

For those who don’t know, this museum is actually formally known as the Lorraine Motel, and it became a national site to remember and preserve the last days in the life of Martin Luther King. We always make it a point to try to visit national historic sites, museums, and landmarks wherever we travel. But this site in particular with the 50th anniversary year was going to be a special visit, and it did not disappoint. My advice to you would be to plan at least a two-day visit at this museum. There’s so much to see and to absorb.

 

 

We have made it a point as we homeschool our boys to expose them to as much American history as possible, and that includes African-American history. Sometimes easy to separate, but it really should not be. This museum did a phenomenal job of covering not only the impact that Martin Luther King Jr. made on this country, but the key moments and facts of the civil rights struggle from generations ago to today.

 

 

I would say the most striking moment from our entire visit at the museum was as we passed from exhibit to exhibit and our boys said more than once, “Mom! Dad! We’ve been there.” Whether it was the replica of the Edmund Pettis Bridge from Selma, or the market lunch counter from the Greensboro, North Carolina lunch counter sit-ins.

 

 

We have taken our boys to these locations, and it’s not always easy sometimes, they’re scared. Sometimes they’re confused struggling with the question of why people would treat us like that. But our resolute determination is to expose them to things that are in their best interest and to hear them say to us that they remember visiting many of those places are priceless moments and experiences while RVing.

 

A Pyramid in Memphis?  – Bass Pro Shop

 

On a lighter note, we heard we just had to go check out the Bass Pro Shop Pyramid. No, we didn’t do a lot of research, so we had no idea what to expect.  As we drove nearer, in the distance we could see this pyramid reach up into the skies.

 

 

I’m going to say that this place was pretty cool. You can take this unique elevator to the top observation deck. It changes colors every few minutes. There is a $10 fee per person to ride up.

 

Elevator to the Observation Deck

 

And the view from the observation deck on a clear day/evening was worth the fee (for at least one person). Inside there was an aquarium fish tank that even had live alligators! Also, if you needed anything, and I mean anything for your camping trip, they had it.

 

Justin Marvels at the Fish Tank

 

We didn’t have a chance to eat at the on-site restaurant (due to a long wait), but we heard good things about it.

 

Musical History in Memphis – Stax Records

 

We had planned to visit Graceland, but then decided to check out maybe a slightly lesser known, but important musical history site, Stax Records.

 

 

Second only to Motown, Stax Records place is cemented in American Soul music history. Artists such as the Staple Sisters, Dramatics, Isaac Hayes and Otis Redding launched their careers in the studios of Stax. Stax Records and Southern Soul music were one in the same.

 

 

 

Time to Eat – Memphis BBQ Anyone?

 

Memphis is known as a place to get top BBQ, but how in the world do you choose where to go?

 

So Many Wonderful BBQ Choices in Memphis

 

One of the things we have learned most in RV travel is to ask locals the best place to eat. Tia has a girlfriend that grew up in Memphis, and she said the well-known places are good, but if we didn’t mind going to a different part of town, we would find even better BBQ. So we did and went to Central BBQ.

 

 

I was worried since Tia has become a vegan that she wouldn’t be able to eat, but she loved the BBQ portabella mushroom sandwich. The kids loved the homemade mac and cheese. I wanted to taste a few items.

 

 

So I started with the jerk and dry rubbed wings and ended with the slab of baby back ribs. This place didn’t disappoint!

 

We Will Return…

 

Memphis is a fun history filled place to visit. You may be drawn there to visit because of Graceland, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but Memphis has so much more to offer. I know we only scratched the surface of things to do and see in Memphis.

 

 

So if or should I say, when you go, plan wisely, eat local recommendations and take in a few of the sites we visited. The history will draw you in and the food and music will keep you going back.

 

 

Keith Sims

Soulful RV Family

THE STAYING POWER OF OLDER RVS

I can still remember the excitement I felt riding in the back of our gold station wagon (with a 455-cubic engine!) that pulled my family’s 1970 Starcraft travel trailer. It was an older RV but my siblings and I didn’t care. We were off for a weekend of adventure that meant time to roam the woods, explore caves, and roast marshmallows around a campfire. My childhood was filled with road trips and weekends at campgrounds that remain some of my fondest memories. The love of the road is a gene I inherited from my parents.

Like the one belonging to my parents, our own first RV, a 1996 Jayco folding camping trailer, was over a decade old. We had a small budget but big plans to give our kids oodles of childhood memories. Although that RV was 13 years old when we bought it, it gave us years of fun as we camped on the shores of the Pacific Ocean or under a canopy of Redwoods. It required very little aside from general maintenance and was in exceptional shape for its age.

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TOP 20 RVER MEMORIES OF 2017

Our 20th Anniversary celebration continues! Written by Go RVing fans, check out our top 20 RVer memories of 2017.

Have any additional memories? Share them with us by leaving a comment below!

HOLIDAY GIFTS TO MAKE FOR CAMPING FRIENDS

Every year I try and hand make gifts for the special people in my life. There is such a temptation to just log on and “swipe” a gift to the friends and family on your list but I feel that the old fashioned sentiment of offering good cheer is lost in that transaction. This year I went old school with my Girl Camping friends and made each a bucket of fire starters. After all, sitting around the campfire with these women is just about my favorite thing. Here are a few of my offerings.

 The dried leaf and flower bouquets.

You will need: Branches with dried leaves on them or dried flowers, melted wax, parchment or brown paper for wrapping the bouquet and string to tie it.

The basis for most fire starters is wax and that’s what I am using. I started by gathering all the old candle stubs, birthday candles and flea market and garage sale wax finds I could get my hands on and placed them all in an aluminum disposable pan. I placed it in a 300 degree oven at home and melted the wax. Don’t go too high with the temperature and get it out as soon as it is melted.

I gathered fallen branches that had lots of dried leaves on them. I added to this a good pile of dried roses that I had saved over the course of the year. When I see that a bouquet of roses is about to droop I tie them up and hang them upside down to dry.

I dipped each branch of leaves in the wax and placed them on a sheet of waxed paper to solidify. I did the same with the roses. I then wrapped them in parchment paper and tied them up as pretty bouquets. The whole spray can be paced in the fire to help get it started.

Brown Paper Wreath

You will need: A roll of brown craft paper that is about 18 inches wide, petroleum jelly, a spoon, twine and a sprig of greenery to embellish.

I thought a Christmas wreath would make a nice addition to the bucket for a seasonal gift. I bought brown craft paper on a roll and cut the pieces at about 30 inches each. The paper is about 18 inches wide. I then used the back of a spoon to add a line of petroleum jelly to one edge of the paper.

After applying the petroleum jelly,  roll the paper lengthwise and then twist it. I tied three twisted pieces together and tightly braided them. I connected the ends to form a circle and added a sprig of green and some rose hips from my rose bushes. You can toss the whole wreath in the fire and it will burn for quite a while thanks to the petroleum jelly.

Waxed Fall Leaves

You will need: Large pretty fall leaves that are dry, melted wax, brown waxed sandwich bags, scissors, and straight dry sticks to close package.

On my last campout of the season I walked around the campground gathering the big pretty fall leaves. I individually dipped each one in wax and placed them on brown paper to dry. I gathered them in piles of seven or eight and put them in brown waxed paper lunch bags that I found in the supermarket. To add more burning power I folded over the top and made two cuts. I secured the bag with a straight dried stick that I cut to size and dipped in the wax.

Pinecone Boats

You will need:

Cardboard food boats, dry pinecones, melted wax, crinkle cut paper or torn newspaper for the bottom of the boat, waxed paper and string to tie it up.

On the same campout I was lucky enough to be in an area heavily wooded with evergreens. I grabbed a bag and picked up all the pinecones with branches still attached to them. I dipped them at the campground after heating up the wax on the edge of the fire pit. You can reheat the wax over and over. I found cute cardboard boats meant for cakes or cookies and I added a heaping tablespoon of the melted wax and crinkled paper to the bottom of the boat.

I placed all the dipped pinecones on top of the paper and wrapped the whole thing in waxed kitchen paper and tied them with twine. You can toss the whole boat in the fire.

Cardboard Roll and Lint Poppers

You need: cardboard rolls from toilet paper or paper towels, scissors, lint from the dryer, tea light candles, parchment paper, melted wax.

This is a little “twist” on the classic Christmas poppers. I cut paper towel and toilet paper rolls into small (about 3”) circles and lined them up on a piece of waxed paper. I added a small amount of lint to the bottom of each and then placed the wax from a tea light candle the metal and wick removed on top of the lint. I topped it off with more lint and then rolled it around in the melted wax.

I precut the parchment paper about 7 inches wide and rolled up the dipped cardboard and lint while it was still very hot. I twisted the ends in opposite directions and held it for a moment to set. The oozing wax held the ends closed so no string ties were necessary.

Do you use firestarters?

 

 

 

20 TIPS FOR NEW RVERS FROM 20 YEARS OF GO RVING

Our 20th Anniversary celebration continues! Written by Go RVing fans, check out our top 20 tips for first time RVers.

Have any additional tips? Leave a comment below!

RV on the road

 

  1. “Whatever you can afford, doesn’t matter if you’re towing a pop up tent camper or driving a diesel motorhome or anything in between. Load up your family, or your friends and head out. Nothing is like RVing with friends or family and enjoying the amazing things this beautiful country has to offer with your home with you.” – Dave R.
  2. “The first time, go within 45 miles of home and preferably near a store. Keep a list of items you run out of so that you will be well stocked for the next trip.” –Christine K.
  3. “Just go! Don’t be one of those people who lets their trailer sit on the side of their house…that’s just sad.” – Valerie H.
  4. “Remember, it’s the journey, not the destination, that counts. Stop and smell the roses– they are NOT on the Interstates.” – Rhonda K.
  5. “Get a system in place. Everyone has a job, from chocking wheels to opening cabinets to making sure nothing will fall out. We also use walkie talkies for communication upon arrival.” – Jennifer E.
  6. “Stay flexible. Don’t lock yourself into a schedule if possible. Stop if something unplanned interests you. You never know when you will be back that way and returning later will always be more expensive than stopping now.” –William T.
  7. “Don’t be afraid to ask fellow RVers questions. Most are very helpful and happy to share their experiences!” – Crystal L.
  8. “Keep the RV dealer’s number handy! On your first trip go somewhere with full hook ups. Our first RV trip we had no idea what we were doing.” – Chris C.
  9. “Drive slow, always check your tire pressure, and top off the propane!” – ScenicRouteTravelers 
  10. “Always remember that in a trailer the black battery cable is the hot lead, which goes against everything we grew up knowing about car batteries…black was always ground!” – David T.
  11. “Make sure you are handy and remember to have money saved for regular maintenance and unexpected repairs.” – Joe D.
  12. “Make yourself a checklist for setting up and breaking down.” – Jeannette S.
  13. “Take a spare long sleeve shirt, short sleeve, summer/winter pjs, a raincoat and a jacket. Leave them in the RV. You will never be able to predict the weather on an outing, so always be ready to be dressed right. Leave them in the RV all year ‘round.” – Karen C.
  14. “Get a camping diary. They usually have a “form” to fill out about the campground and a space to write notes, likes and dislikes, spots to try for next time, etc. Very useful for planning to come back to the same place.” – Jeff G.
  15. “Renting before you buy is a great idea. If you buy, do all you can to buy new/next to new from a dealership.” – Cynthia Z.
  16. “Take extra time flushing your grey and black water tanks. 10 more minutes spent is hours and $$ saved later. The most glamorous part of RVing!!” – Jeff G.
  17. “Practice driving with the RV. When you first get it, take the RV to an empty parking lot. Practice making turns and backing up. Take some cones (like the ones they use for soccer practice) and set them up as if it was a curb at an intersection. Be sure you can make left and right turns around the cones without hitting them. Also set them up and learn to back up without hitting the cones.” – Chuck R.
  18. “Plug in and set up before you Go RVing and learn about everything then 😉” – Liz S.
  19. “Kitchen appliances! If you’re camping at Thanksgiving time and don’t want to be a slave to the camper kitchen, buy a turkey breast and bring a crockpot! Then, you have time to go look at fall foliage while your juicy, tender turkey is cooking! Also, bring a waffle iron! It cooks in minutes and there are other things you can make in it on the go like an omelette or waffle iron cinnamon rolls!” – Kristi P.
  20. “Take your time, and slow down. Unlocking the joy of RVing can cause you to try to do too much too fast. You never know when the force will grab you.” – Soulful RV Family