Monday, January 17, 2011

Mmmm...Memphis

No, this post is not about food--although it could be.  For the record, Memphis dry rub barbeque is the real deal, and Jon and I are enjoying sampling and re-sampling in order to determine our favorite.  I'll be forever loyal to KC, of course, currently possessing a bottle each of Gates and Arthur Bryant's sauce in the pantry, but Memphis knows what it's doing.  I can smell the spices now...  But I digress.

No, this post is all about what our new city has to offer, and is brought to you by the letter "M."  It's been over three months since we arrived in Tennessee, and we've been working on a balance between taking advantage of all that urban living has to offer and taking a break.  Our last months in the Northwest were a whirlwind, so we were definitely ready to slow down a bit.

Not that we haven't been busy.  Work demands most of our time and energy (a topic I'll happily stay away from), so much of the area is yet undiscovered.  Our list of travel destinations continues to grow, and we're anxious for visitors to take to all of the traditional tourist locations.  But we have had some fun experiences so far...and coincidentally, many of them start with the letter "M."

Music in Memphis is a given.  While we haven't really sought out any blues clubs or juke joints yet, we've stumbled upon some pretty incredible music right outside our door.  We were fortunate enough to catch the final couple of weeks of the Alley Jams concert series, free concerts located at various alleys all along the street we happen to live on.  In fact, the final concert was right next to our building; we could see the band setting up from our window.

Our building is the one directly behind the band, Party Planet (led by the former lead singer of Kool and the Gang)

Mud in Memphis was slightly unexpected.  By chance, we saw an advertisement in one of the local papers for a mud run, something I'd never realized I always wanted to do.  In addition to a giant mud pit at the end of the five-kilometer race, there were various obstacles throughout the course, such as a climbing wall, inflatable slide, and haybale hazards.  The fact that the race occurred on a 90-degree day immediately following a beer fest only added to the authenticity.  There was an incredible turn-out, and it was all for a good cause.


Musicals in Memphis are staged just down the street at the beautiful Orpheum Theater.  The 2010-2011 Broadway season opened in October with Wicked.  Since I'd never seen this show and had heard such wonderful things about it, we went on opening week.  Being able to walk to the theater on a weeknight was really nice, and even though we were definitely in the nosebleed section, we were treated to an incredible production.  I just noticed last week that Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance is coming to town in February.  While not a musical, it's definitely a show that I cannot wait to see.


The Orpheum is designated by the red sign and can be seen from the roof of our building

Marathons in Memphis are apparently very difficult to participate in.  This summer, out of curiosity, I discovered that the St. Jude Memphis Marathon--and Half-Marathon, which is what I was interested in--takes place in early December.  But by the time we got to Memphis and decided that yes, we did want to run, the race was sold out.  (It was actually for the better, as what would have been our training period was quite stressful.)  So, instead, on the morning of the race, we rolled out of bed just in time to make it to the starting line.  We got to see the elite runners take off and were treated to an Elvis impersonator along Beale Street.  After breakfast, we headed back out for the finish at the minor league baseball stadium.  There's nothing quite like the feeling of accomplishment after running 26.2 or 13.1 miles...but wearing sweatpants and drinking coffee spiked with Bailey's while watching other people do so isn't too shabby.


Memphis Tigers basketball in Memphis is a bit of an alliterative stretch, but I feel I have to include our recent trip to a game on this list.  "Santa" gave Jon tickets to last Saturday's game.  Like all University of Memphis home games, this one was located in the Fed Ex Forum, home of the Memphis Grizzlies NBA team.  Even though we had no allegiance to either team, it was still a lot of fun.  The game turned into a bit of a nailbiter at the end (although I don't think it was supposed to be that close), which made it exciting.  Plus, it was extremely affordable (not to give away all of Santa's secrets), so I hope we get to go again.


We know that there is much more to Memphis yet to explore, and we're excited to do just that.  We recognize that we're not Southerners (or Mid-Southerners) and never will be, so we're treating this experience as a two-year vacation being funded by full-time jobs.  We'd love for you to join us on an upcoming adventure...

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