Birmingham to MemphisJune 12, 2017 in the United States
We breakfasted with our friends Malcolm and Huj and said a temporary farewell to Malcolm because we are staying next weekend with him in Alpharetta near Atlanta, but unfortunately Huj leaves for the UK on Thursday to attend a funeral. Driving out of Birmingham was a doddle and the newly completed interstate was a dream to drive on: great surface, little traffic and lovely, green, rolling, forested countryside. During a three and a half hour drive though, the qualities of even such a nice interstate start to pall and the standards dropped when we entered Mississippi.
We came off at a town called Jasper (the second we have visited in the Americas, the first being in the Canadian Rockies). This was to give us a break from tedium but also to see real life around here and to visit a local wonder, the largest natural stone bridge east of The Rockies. Alabama is one of the poorest areas in America, Mississippi being the poorest, and this drive took us on well maintained roads through mile after mile of largely forested countryside with tiny houses dotted along the way and a few permanent trailer parks. Not much in the way of towns as we know them, it being mainly ribbon development along the roads, but sadly many decaying commercial properties. The most prosperous looking buildings were the churches and we passed an astonishing number of them. We are in the bible belt and a very large proportion of the population are churchgoers.
Natural Bridge Park was hard to find, privately owned, cost $2 each to get in and was quaintly interesting. The bridge was soon reached and as we stood underneath it was obvious it must have been formed by water, but we had no idea how.
Back on the road we headed for the interstate as it was slow on ordinary roads. Coming off again we found a burger chain I didn't know, Hardees. Avoiding Burger King (I think they are too soggy), we were very pleased with what we ate, although we had to scour the menu closely to find small burgers.
The sprawling outskirts of Memphis arrived eventually although we did not know we had passed into Tennessee, and the Maddison Hotel was easily reached once we got away from the traffic. It was maybe 33C and very humid, so we kept to our room for a while before visiting the rooftop bar, a roasting space even with awnings, but with spectacular views of the Mississippi River and countryside all around. After a drink and a chat with some British tourists, we went back downstairs until sunset when again went for a drink in a slightly reduced temperature and watched the most beautiful sunset overlooking the river.Read more