Welcome to the home of Jazz and Blues! This city has been on my list of places to visit for many years now so needless to say I am thrilled to finally make it to one of the major musical iconic cities in America.
But I am getting a head of myself let me back up…
I left from Newport News WAY before the sun was awake because I knew it was going to be about a 10-hour day of driving…or so I thought. Leaving the place, I have called home for the last three years I wanted to get some miles under me as fast as I could, but of course that became very dependent upon the other drivers on the road. Finally, after being on the road for five hours I had to just take a break. I just so happened to stumble upon one of Virginia’s National Natural landmarks just as I had gotten to a well needed stopping point. I found my way to the Natural Bridge! This Bridge was found by George Washington but it was Thomas Jefferson who purchased it back from England July 5th, 1774 and set it to be a natural landmark for America.
It felt so good to get out and stretch my legs a little! Though my legs were still screaming at me from the previous day’s workout going up and down hills and stairs, the tranquil sound of a babbling creek followed you along the path leading you right to the bridge. When you come down the hillside and make the corner to see the bridge towering over the valley you just walked into is an awe inspiring moment! To think that nature carved this bridge out from the sheer power of water and then later in years the assistance of mankind…you can’t help but stand there in complete admiration of what God is truly capable of and this is just a fraction of it.
Knowing I had to make it to Memphis before it got too late I turned around and got back to the car, gassed up and took off again. It didn’t take me long after that to reach the Tennessee boarder from the bridge after the road ways cleared up. However, it took me several hours to make any miles in Tennessee due to serious construction going up and down the mountains. I had to find it humorous that I have made a complete circle now. Six months ago when I left on my grand adventure I had left from Virginia and went into Tennessee to begin, now here I am again on my own adventure doing the same thing and taking the same roads again. You have to think about how funny it is when life works out like that sometimes.
Tennessee is like another North Carolina in my book, I love how diverse the scenery is in this state and just the sheer wide open space and the natural beauty this state has to offer doesn’t seem like it would get old if you were to live here.
The long days in the car are starting to get to me, the restlessness, while still being mobile and just the mental exhaustion that comes with going day in and day out, hundreds of miles down in a day and to be by yourself to boot? Needless to say it can get rather strange in the car to help pass time and serve for entertainment so I don’t get tired while driving, I wonder sometimes how people must think that I am crazy as they pass me by dancing away in my car.
Getting closer and closer to Memphis I was getting more and more stir crazy I wanted to get out of the car but I knew I had somewhere to be so I kept pushing on, then the traffic hit, then it began to pour with rain causing traffic (when it was moving) to go even slower! I thought my head was going to explode! Finally, I saw the sign…15 miles left to go! But I have noticed that when you are getting closer after a long day of traveling it is always the last 50 miles or so that take the longest to travel! Once I made it to my destination where I was going to crash for the night I couldn’t believe the sense of relief I felt knowing that I was now out of the rain and even more importantly I was out of the car!
What has been a true blessing about this trip is I haven’t really been many places I didn’t know someone and this trip to me has been about reconnecting with people who I haven’t seen in years, in Memphis I was reconnecting with the man who was responsible for the success of my Naval career. This is the man who didn’t know me or nearly anything about me and he put his name and neck on the line to give me a chance to do the job I was working so hard to obtain, this is the man who never placed me by rank but by skill level, this is the man who believed in me. I had two major people in my Naval career who changed the game for me, the men who helped teach me how to do my job and mentored me throughout my career; Senior Chief Mass Communications Specialist Jeff Pierce and Commander Steven Curry, both of whom I have been able to see while I have been on this grand adventure.
CDR Curry and I spent the evening catching up on our adventures we had gone through in the last three or so years. When the clocked ticked into the AM it was time to hit the hay, after a long day of driving and more to come with morning’s light it was past time to pass out.
When I woke and hit the road I barely could contain my excitement to explore around the home of Jazz and Blues. I am a musically obsessed individual and I couldn’t believe that I was standing in the same place as some of the biggest names in history played on stage for the first time. Walking down Beale Street was like walking down memory lane, the way this city has built upon history to honor how this city got its name.
I was shocked to see how friendly the people are here! Everyone wants to know where you are coming from and where you are going always interested in the “Traveling man” aspect that this city knows so well from artists just passing through or coming from far off distant place to come try and make it in the big city.
There was music on every street corner and in every shop. I found a real treasure, as I was walking around I found a record store, which has been owned and operated for generations. When I walked in there was three people working, two older gentlemen and a younger woman. One of the older men was wearing a shirt saying “support local music – living on in records” the second gentleman sat on a stool in the middle of the sales floor. He asked if there was anything he could help me find I replied “no thank you I am just looking around” he smiled politely and replied “okay” he paused for a moment and then got a second wind and started to tell me a story about what the city was like the day after Dr. Martin Luther King died just a few blocks away at the Lorraine Motel! I leaned against the record racks and listened intently to every word he said throughout his story, it is amazing to have an experience such as this because you aren’t just reading about a historical moment from a book but you are able to experience it through the eyes of someone who lived it!
After I spent more time in Memphis then I should have I visited one last stop before heading out of town…Lorraine Motel. I don’t know if God was smiling upon my timing there or what stars aligned for me to have that moment…but there was a cloud the sun was just finishing to burn through to give me the most perfect sun beams above the motel sign on the only side of the sign that says MLK’s famous quote “I have a dream”.
Such inspirational words…You can fill in the blank with that statement in anything applicable in life. Think about it when you are wishing for something “I have a dream for a bigger home”, “…better job”. Or it can be words to live by “I have a dream too….” How amazing is life when you have a dream? Or even more amazing when you live that dream? That is what these famous men and women did in this magical musical city, they followed their dreams. Whether they achieved their dreams or not they still lived it, they fought for it, they tried! Something that I think many people do not do often these days, just like the cable commercial many people become settlers for what is most convenient or the path of least resistance. Which is a thought process that has never made sense to me. Why settle for a lesser life if it isn’t the life you want? Most people hesitate because they are afraid but can you imagine what this world would be like if everyone followed their dreams and didn’t let fear hold them back causing them to settle for a substandard or lesser life?
To “the show that never ends”! I hope everyone would let go of a single fearful thing in their lives and then begins to really live their lives!
Traveling Photographer Out!