Trips On A Tankful: Memphis

Tuesday, April 13th 2021, 5:00 pm

MEMPHIS, Tennessee -

On the banks of the Mississippi River, where the sound of delta blues still pierces the air and the smell of barbeque lingers along many street corners, sits a historic southern city full of American charm.

This is Memphis; just a hop, skip, and jump away from Oklahoma.

Memphis is a straight shot down I-40.

The drive includes several roadside attractions like Sequoyah's Cabin near Sallisaw where the Cherokee Stateman settled in present day Oklahoma from Tennessee.

But unlike Seqouyah's journey, we headed east to the Volunteer State until a unusual sight rose from the horizon.

"You get off the interstate and you see a big pyramid and you're like ‘what is a pyramid doing in Memphis?" said Courtney Goff with Cypress Lodge.

The Memphis Pyramid dominates the city's skyline.

Originally built as an arena that once housed the city's NBA team, it is now one of the world's largest, and most unique, Bass Pro Shops.

Inside, it is also an outdoor themed hotel called Big Cypress Lodge.

“The pyramid attracts thousands of visitors every year for other reasons as well.

Rising in the pyramid's center is the country's tallest free-standing elevator that is more than 300 feet tall,” Goff stated.

When you finally get to the top, you are welcomed by a restaurant and an observation deck with spectacular views of the city.

But to truly experience the action of Memphis, be sure to walk the streets below.

And the historic Beale Street is just a few blocks away.

Milton Howery III with Memphis Tourism said that historic street is home of the blues.

"Beale Street is home of the blues. It is three blocks of music and entertainment," said Howery III.

It was here in the early 20th century where W.C. Handy and B.B. King perfected their style of blues.

Today, that music still hums in clubs, bars, and shops.

The street also has a lot of options for food, something this city knows a lot about.

"Memphis barbeque is giving you barbeque that has that smokey flavor," Eric Vernon said.

Eric Vernon is a third generation pitmaster and owner of The BBQ Shop, which is one of over 100 barbeque restaurants spread throughout the city.

"The great thing about coming to Memphis is you might go to 5 BBQ restaurants. It might all have smoky flavor, but it is going to taste completely different," Vernon said.

Oklahoma’s Own Jonathan Cooper tried some ribs, beans, cole slaw and then spaghetti, which is a Memphis thing.

It is no surprise, but all of it, even the spaghetti, was delicious.

Someone else who was a fan of the food moved to town when he was just 13.

But over the next 30 years, he changed not only Memphis but the United States forever.

In the early 1950s, Elvis Aaron Presley picked up a guitar and started singing throughout town.

His fame quickly grew and the rest is history.

In 1957, Elvis bought the mansion that the world now knows it as Graceland.

"It is the White House of Rock and Roll we like to say,” said Angie Marchese the Vice President of Archives and Exhibitions.

The second most visited home in U.S., Graceland has welcomed more than 22 million visitors over the years.

Angie Marchese has been here for most of it.

"This truly is a time capsule. Unlike most museums that would have a couple of things that are authentic, everything that you're seeing is original,” Marchese explained.

The iPad guided tour gives you the history of most rooms in the house.

From the dining room to the state-of-the-art kitchen with one of the first microwaves, to the famous Jungle Room.

"He loved it because it reminded him of Hawaii," Marchese said about the Jungle Room.

The full tour takes you outside and even to his grave.

Marchese said people still connect to the property because Elvis transcends generations, and his impact on pop culture is still very much alive.

"They want to come and see this part of American history." Marchese explained.

It is a history that makes Memphis unique.

Whether you come for the music, the food, the King or, quite simply, all of it, this Tennessee town is a tankful away with a lot to offer.