As our recent custom dictates, we manage to avoid visiting Graceland, the biggest attraction of Memphis. But this time it actually makes sense. After all Memphis without Elvis would still be a great place, but Elvis without Memphis would not exist. The blues city is still alive, even if it's an existence on life support. The main drag - Beale St. - is full of clubs and neons. And they get extra points for keeping the neons lit, even if some of the clubs are not open. But it's not too difficult to find life music and we are talking the worst possible time: Sunday at the end of the New Year's weekend.
We travel along Natchez Trace Parkway built roughly along the old trail used by boatmen to return home after floating down Mississippi river. It's a strange road maintained by National Park Service. Driving it is like driving through 400 miles of park. You are easily fooled thinking you are in the middle of nowhere, but most of the time you are in the narrow green strip of trees isolating the parkway from farmland and subdivisions. Better this than nothing.
Chattanooga is a cool city. Too bad we can never go back. The city was allegedly the dirtiest in America in the seventies, but it cleaned up nicely. There is a new waterfront complete with two wading fountains, pedestrian bridge, art district peppered with outdoor sculptures. They also have mountain park overlooking the city and many other attractions, which we didn't have time to sample, like underground waterfalls in a cavern, inclined railway and mountain bike path.