Daily Archives: October 6, 2017

Chattanooga Mile 2779.4

rovide by the We got up in Memphis without rain, the first-day since Flagstaff that it wasn’t raining or threatening rain; it is 80° and glorious. We took a walk along the River at a new park with various exercise apparati provided by the Memphis Grizzlies and overlooked by new condos. It got me thinking about the NBA and how they, as a predominantly Black League, work very hard to be part of their local community.  It also got me thinking about man’s changing relationship with Nature. Ten thousand years ago until sometime after the turn of the 19th century, everything outside of the biggest cities was what we now call Nature and it was less something to be enjoyed than overcome. I remember reading that, when the Spanish explorers first saw the Grand Canyon, they wrote that it was an ugly gash in the land, the ugliest place they had ever seen. Even a hundred years ago, a riverfront or harborfront was for docks, not homes. Now the riverfront is for us enjoy, to watch birds, the flowing water, and the ever-changing sky. 

After our walk, we went to the Central Barbecue for Ribs before we hit the road. The first time we had been at Central Barbecue was in the spring of 2008 and it was in a converted gas station and we overlooked the street – in both meanings of the word overlook – while we ate the best barbecue we had ever had. Now barbecue is a bigger deal with barbecue joints everywhere, and Central barbecue has prospered; it now has three locations and a nice covered outside eating place. I’m pleased to say that we still think it is still great. Then it is time to gas up and hit the road. We start on freeways but get off as soon as possible, driving mostly on four-lane back roads called Parkways through small towns where the speed limit drops from 65 to 40. BTW, almost all the pictures taken on the road were taken by Michele.

We are deep in y’all country and honey country, as in “Y’all want honey with those biscuits, Honey?”, and deep in The Bible Belt with large churches – seemingly – every couple hundred feet. A couple of days ago, Richard Taylor asked me to listen to AM radio as we drove, hoping, I think, that I would gain some knowledge, particularly on why these people voted for Trump, that I could pass on. I tried Richard but everything that is not country rock is somebody pitching Jesus. I didn’t hear much fire and brimstone talk, just Feeling down and despondent? Jesus understands, he was a man, too. The countryside is beautiful, in a pastoral way and as we drive through the Smoky Mountains, we pass some great road cuts with the sedimentary layers on full display.  llAfter 326.1 easy miles, we arrive in Chattanooga and have a nice, late dinner at The Flying Squirrel. 

Memphis Mile 2,444.9

Our plan had been to drive to Bentonville early on Tuesday and visit the Crystal Bridges Museum – the Museum of American Art that was founded by Alice Walton, paid for by hundreds of millions Walmart customers, and designed by Moshe Safdie – but it was closed on Tuesdays. When every day is spent driving to somewhere else, a closed museum throws us off our schedule. We worked around it by going to Crystal Bridges in the morning on Wednesday and early evening – well, not so early, it turned out – then driving to Memphis well into the dark. Memphis was a 346.1-mile drive, much of it in rain, and we arrived beat. 

Crystal Bridges was a revelation, it is a great building, certainly one of the best museums I have ever been to, in a setting that is even better. It is all about American Art  – duh! – displayed chronologically, and it gives the visitor a great overview. The pre-2000 art in the permanent collection did seem slightly second-rate – although there was a stellar Audobon turkey that I fell in love with – and I think that is because by the time Alice Walton started collecting American art, the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art had been collecting American art for 100 years, and the Smithsonian for 120 years, not to mention the Art Institute of Chicago or LACMA or a dozen other museums that had been sucking up all the greatest stuff. They do, however, have gobs of money and great ambition so the temporary shows and the new acquisitions should be terrific. 

There were two shows, or exhibitions if you prefer,  Stuart Davis – which we would have liked to see but didn’t because of time constraints – and Chihuly, who has reached one name status, displayed in the woods. It was raining off and on while we were at Crystal Bridges, with a light and drizzle in between, and we timed our Chihuly viewing between major rains. Walking through the Ozark woods viewing Chihuly in a drizzle was close to magical. 

We had a late lunch in the museum dining room, under a super hanging heart by Jeff Koons and then hit the road. 

  As we got closer to Memphis, the rain got lighter and then we were out of the rain, running on dry roads all the way. 

We crossed the Father of Waters, running unvexed to the sea, to quote President Lincoln, and were in both Memphis and Tennessee. We ended a long day at Beal Street listening to a mediocre cover band playing, among other things, Elvis Presley, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, and Tom Petty.