We are again under way on the Mississippi, after a nice two week stay in Memphis. We'd only paid for half a month, which brought us to this morning. The river level dropped nearly six feet in that time, and we had just six inches under our keel in the slip last night. We saw one eight foot spot on our way out of the harbor this morning.
Beale at twilight.
It's been rather cold since my last post, with really only a couple of moderately pleasant evenings. We used one of those to stroll historic Beale Street, after which we had a nice dinner at the Peabody Hotel. We started our evening there, watching the famous Peabody Ducks march out of the lobby fountain and into the elevator for the nightly trip to their quarters on the roof.
The grande dame of Memphis, the Peabody. The ducks are about to leave the fountain.
Beale Street is perhaps the singular focus of Memphis tourism. As such, it has become something of a caricature of itself, much like Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Duval Street in Key West, 7th Avenue in Ybor City, or any of a dozen similar historic streets around the country. It's no longer so much an authentic experience as one carefully crafted to separate tourists from their money.
We stopped at the second floor patio of one of the numerous clubs and had a beer, well before the evening crowds started to thicken. That was enough for us to experience the flavor of it, and we were content then to retreat to the Peabody for a more elegant experience.
We did eat out almost every night. On the very coldest nights we ate at home, and on the warmest we rode the scooters across the bridge to downtown, where we tried to sample the best the city has to offer. On several nights we split the difference, going only as far as the little Harbor Town retail area on Mud Island. Fortunately, this sports some of the best restaurants in Memphis.
For Thanksgiving we had a decent buffet meal offered at the River Inn hotel on the island, in their riverside banquet room. The room itself was charmless, other than the river view, but we had all the traditional flavors and went home satisfied. It was otherwise a quiet day at home.
On Friday we visited the National Civil Right Museum. It was crowded on account of the holiday weekend, and ultimately we had to forgo seeing inside Dr. King's room, featured prominently at the end of the galleries. We did, of course, see the balcony upon which he was shot, as well as the building across Mulberry Street whence the bullet likely came. The rest of the museum, however, was powerfully moving. I have not been so emotional in a museum since visiting the Holocaust Museum in DC.
The Lorraine Motel, part of the National Civil Rights Museum. The balcony where Martin Luther King was gunned down is center frame.
On the project front, with the new improved radar/plotter display working now on the flybridge and with much nicer charts, I pulled the trigger on ordering a second unit, for the pilothouse. I thought it would be pretty much a straightforward swap for the older generation unit that was in there, after moving one option circuit board between them, but it turned into a three-day project. There's enough geek detail there to warrant a separate post, so I will not bore you with it here.
Concerned with falling water levels and the possibility we might need to bail out in a hurry, we went over to the fuel dock on Monday to pump out. For fifteen minutes we struggled to get the pumpout to work; with our tank so far below the water line, many older pumps struggle. In this case, their hose had a straight connector on the end, and so between the fittings and the stiff hosing rising straight up, the pump needed to pull an additional two feet of vacuum, and it just could not do it.
With our tank nearly full and the next pumpout a full 200 miles downriver, we were beginning to think we'd have to shove off right then and there. Fortunately, when I inquired, it turns out they had a right-angle adapter lying around. Thus able to take the last two feet of lift out of the equation, we had no trouble pumping out. Lesson learned -- I will be buying a right-angle adapter of our own to keep aboard.
As I am wrapping up typing, we are crossing river mile 710, leaving us just a little over 600 miles to New Orleans. With over three knots behind us now, we could easily travel that distance in a little over a week. We have three weeks until our friends fly out from California to spend some time with us there, so instead we'll be doing short days and stretching out our time on the river as much as possible.
Tonight I imagine we'll be anchored somewhere near Tunica, Mississippi, where we should at least have decent cell coverage, if we can find a place to drop the hook. With three knots of current and no slack side channels, we'll be testing our river skills. At least the river is forecast to remain at about this same level for the next few days.
Beale Street Landing, as seen from Mud Island. The dock has been removed.
Update: We are anchored near Tunica, at the Arkansas/Mississippi line, and within sight of the Gold Strike Casino (map). Two miles downriver I can see the American Queen paddlewheel river cruise ship docked at the Tunica tourist dock (too distant for a photo). This ship, and the similar Queen of the Mississippi, call at Memphis, and we did a little do-si-do with the latter when we arrived at Mud Island. Since then, they took away the cruise ship dock, I assume due to low water. Perhaps that's why American Queen has stopped here instead.