Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Favorite Destination: Memphis, Tennessee

As people were cleaning up and rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of the terrifying tornadoes that crippled several towns around southeastern Tennessee (Chattanooga and surrounding areas)  on Apr 27th, another natural disaster was unfolding in western Tennessee - Memphis, one of our favorite destinations! Our area had no power and cable for 8 days (thank God for generators!), so we were in the dark, literally.

Apparently, melting snow and heavy rains in March and April had the Mississippi River rising to a level not seen since 1937. On May 10th, the Mississippi River crested in Memphis at 47.8 feet, inundating much of the low lying areas.
The Mississippi River winds through 10 states
Luckily, iconic sites such as Graceland and Beale Street in the Memphis downtown were not affected by the flood. The Mud Island River Park, which is situated next to the mighty Mississippi River, was completely submerged.

One look at the Mississippi River and you will understand why most cruisers try to avoid it. Not only is the swift current daunting, the traffic is heavy with commercial barges. Their captains' Southern speak is equally daunting. And baffling.
The mighty Mississippi River at Memphis on a normal August day
A marina at Mud Island
Click on the map to see a bigger picture of the Mississippi River System
Mai Thai is on the Tennessee River, miles upstream from the Mississippi River, so we are safe from the flood. When we cruised up the inland waterway in 2006, we had come in from Gulf of Mexico at Mobile, Alabama, then navigated via the Tennessee-Tombigbee (Tenn-Tom) Waterway. That year, Mai Thai was docked at Midway Marina on the Tenn-Tom Waterway. The marina is a mere 2 hours from Memphis, so we used to visit the city often. We loved the music scene (jazz and blues) and enjoyed the marvelous Memphis style BBQ ribs (dry-rubbed, and Blues City Cafe and Rendezvous are favorites).

Other than Beale Street, our other favorite place is the the 52-acres Mud Island River Park, which, ironically, is dedicated to life on the Mississippi River. The park has an amphitheater, a museum and a River Walk, which is a 5-block long replica of the lower Mississippi River. The park is an excellent place to spend a hot summer day with the family.
Monorails take visitors to Mud Island River Park
The Mississippi River, as seen from the park
The Upper Mississippi River, originating in Minnesota
River Walk - the 5 block replica of the Lower Mississippi River
that winds through farmlands and cities,
and empties into the Gulf of Mexico at New Orleans, Louisiana
As the water recedes, clean up has begun. As a matter of fact, Mud Island River Park reopened yesterday. If you are in the Memphis area, stop by and learn more about the Mississippi River.

Here are some links (videos, pictures) to stories about the great flood of 2011.
Great Flood of 2011
Videos and stories from ABC News
Video of Memphis - Mud Island River Park, Beale Street and Graceland
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  1. Hi You make it easy to understand what is going on in the midwest area. That is a long time having no power for more than a week. The generator could power up your entire house or just 1 or 2 rooms?

    Regards, Sue

  2. Sue, thanks for stopping by.

    A typical house is powered with 200 amps. Our "house," a 37 foot boat, is equipped with a 6 kilowatt generator. If you divide 6000 watts by 120 volts, you get 50 amps, so one quarter power of a typical house. Does that make sense?
    It is enough to run the fridge, stove, coffee maker, hot water and A/C, although sometimes, not ALL at the SAME time.


  3. Thanks for sharing this! While looking for some home builders in Tennessee, I have been looking for places to go in Tennessee. I'm moving to Johnson City for work and I want to take my friends and family to some places when they visit.

    1. Glad you found the post helpful. TN is beautiful with lots of hiking trails all over the state. Chattanooga, Memphis and Nashville are all great places to visit!