As the unofficial start of summer approached, Ashley and I, took my sister and her boyfriend on a holiday weekend trip to Memphis, TN. It was the first time either of them had been on a cross country trip with Ashley and me. We left Grand Prairie early Saturday during some, less than ideal weather. As we headed east the weather quickly cleared. Two thirds of the way there we had to make an unplanned stop in Hazen, Arkansas. I’ve been to bleak places before but Hazen might take the cake. I also don’t know if the airport should be considered a paved runway or a grass runway. It was a mixture of both really. Full on 100LL we pushed on into Memphis airspace. Now east of the Mississippi we landed at Millington Regional to pick up our Avis chariot; which, I might add, was quite a nice SUV. I then flew to Charles Baker Muni. to store the plane overnight while the ladies retrieved me in the car.

Our first night we had been told to avoid downtown (due to the horrendous crowds brought about by playoff basketball). Normally we would have loved to partake in the festivities but parking a rental in downtown Memphis didn’t seem appealing. Luckily enough we found a great local restaurant out of town called The Elegant Farmer. I recommend it to anyone. They serve great wholesome, organic, local food. They also have excellent desserts and an outside patio shrouded by fragrant gardens.

The next day we headed toward downtown early. Found a parking spot right outside the Peabody hotel. The Peabody could be the most famous hotel in Memphis, being its only “true” historic building. Among other notable things, the Peabody is known for the “Duck March.” In the 1930’s two drunk guys thought it would be funny to put live duck decoys into the hotel fountain. The ducks turned into an attraction and “in 1940, Bellman Edward Pembroke, a former circus animal trainer, offered to help with delivering the ducks to the fountain each day and taught them the now-famous Peabody Duck March. Mr. Pembroke became the Peabody Duckmaster, serving in that capacity for 50 years until his retirement in 1991 {source}.”  The ducks are kept in a penthouse on the roof and brought down the elevator each day at 11 & 5. They then “march” from the elevator into the fountain on a red carpet. Entertainment at its finest.

After having our minds blown by marching ducks, we headed to explore the rest of downtown Memphis. We hit up the Fedex Fourm, the Hard Rock Cafe (to see the second largest collection of Elvis memorabilia), the roof of the Peabody, and a few other miscellaneous sights.

We ended the day taking a tour of the Gibson guitar factory. Gibson has three factories where all their guitars are hand built. They have the original Nashville factory where the solid bodies are built, they have a Bozeman, Montana factory where they build the acoustics, and the Memphis factory where the semi-solid bodies and hollow bodies are built. Gibson guitars are known the world over as the premium electric guitar, it was neat to see, in person, how they’re built. Non-musicians will love this all the same. Ashley, who knows very little about guitars, found it well worth the $10 admission.

That afternoon we went and crashed my Uncle & Aunt’s (whom with we were staying with) church choir party. Margarita’s, a warm pool, beautiful lake views, and good company kept us entertained the rest of the evening. [Thanks again John & Vicki for your generous hospitality last weekend!]

Monday morning it was time to head home. Ashley flew us most of the way home, even dipping below the clouds over Lake Ouachita to give her passengers an excellent scenic flight through the Ozark Mountains.

After dropping my sister and her plus one back in Flower Mound, Ash and me headed back to Houston. Ashley and I pulled up to the hanger, cleaned the plane, and just like that, our weekend came to a close. Fade to black.

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