From Fort Smith we headed on to Little Rock Arkansas, in brilliant sunshine the entire way. It was a cute little city to wander around and make the most of the afternoon sun, with their annual gay pride festival on down by the water.
Our next stop was one of my favourite, Memphis. For some reason, it reminded me of home which at this stage is a really nice thing. It was relaxed, lots of open space even right in the middle of the city with the Mississippi river running through it. I had wanted to go on one of those old time paddle boats on the river but I arrived just a little bit too late. Not all was lost as I spent the afternoon walking the streets, eating BBQ and reading about the amazing history of this part of the country.
The most significant of which being the place where Martin Luther King was shot and killed. Standing outside the Lorraine Hotel where this tragic event took place, I was really bothered by one simple fact. It was a mere 50 years ago since it occurred. That really blew me away. It drove home how recent such racial divide impacted this country and how far they still have to go to heal those wounds and achieve equality.
After that sobering history lesson I cheered myself up with a lovely tradition that occurs at the Peabody Hotel. A grand building it is the pride of the city and one of the most visited attractions for one single reason. Ducks! The story goes that long ago, the manager of the hotel, after a long night on the local whiskey thought it would be funny to put some ducks in the fountain in the middle of the lobby.
This prank back fired though with the staff and guests being so taken by them, they demanded they stay. Not long after, a former circus ring master came to work at the hotel and trained the ducks to parade from the fountain, down a red carpet and into the lift where they would retire for the night. This tradition is now over 70 years old and every day at 5pm a crowd gathers to watch the event, with donations being given to the local children`s hospital.
Nashville was next on the list after a rather uninspiring ride. It is one of the most expensive places we have been on the entire trip. After my disappointing BBQ experience in Memphis I decided to give it another try in a local suburban joint and this time was rewarded with a smoky chicken and amazing green beans.
I was meant to visit some friends the following day but some unforeseen circumstances changed those plans and I stayed in Nashville another night. With time to kill, Yogi and I cruised the streets of downtown and made ourselves at home in the heart of the city. It is a wonderful mix of the old and the new with the historic building bars and venues surrounded by towering glass sky scrapers.
Downtown Nashville, or Nashvegas as it is also know it full of character and country charm. Boot stores occupy every other store front with the remaining spaces exclusively taken up by bars and live music venues. All afternoon and into the night no matter where I went there was live music and singers. It makes for a great atmosphere. I perched high above the street at one of the many rooftop bars and people watched over a glass of Tennessee whiskey.
Chatting with locals and then later a group of Aussies on holidays it turned out to be a great night, one of the few times I have stayed out with Yogi after dark. It had been warm in the midday sun when we rode into the city, the ride home that night, although short was absolutely freezing! There is no doubt winter is on it`s way.
Riding towards Kentucky to see an old friend just outside of Louisville was cold but spectacular with the colours of Autumn surrounding the hills we were riding through. For the remainder of the week Yogi and I have been looked after incredibly well by Felicia and her husband Bob. Felicia and I many years ago when she was studying in Sydney and although we haven`t seen each other for over 12 years it has been like we caught up only weeks ago.
We have had so much fun being tourists with a great day yesterday starting with a beautiful drive into the country to find the Markers Mark factory. Through rolling hills, country estates and little farms lined with towering trees it was gorgeous. It also happened to be raining and being inside a car, dry and with the heater on was such a treat. I really do appreciate the little things now 🙂
The Makers Mark tour was fun, complete with a tasting of some of their products at 10.30am, and at the end I was able to dip a bottle to seal it in their famous red wax. No trip to Kentucky would be complete without paying homage to the my pal Colonel Sanders. He is buried in one of the most amazing cemeteries in Louisville, along with Mohammad Ali.
To honour his memory I felt I should eat some fried chicken with greens and mashed potatoes. It was the right thing to do 🙂 After stuffing ourselves way too full we came home to relax and had a lovely night in. Today is a big day with Bob participating in a car race a couple of hours away so we are off to that now.
I can`t believe this is the second last week of my ride around the world. Tomorrow we set off into the mountains of Virginia heading for Washington DC and on Tuesday afternoon we will roll into NYC, the finish line.
I am beyond excited and think it will be tough to sleep the next few nights knowing how close I am. What a ride this has been. So wish us good luck for the last week on the road and you will be hearing from me all the way from New York City next week.
Love Kylie and Yogi xx