In order to make our way to the West coast from New Orleans we could either go along the bottom of the states and then up the West coast, or we could go up the middle and then across. We chose the latter option as we'd get to see more of the States and it would avoid any back tracking as we are flying out of LA. We also decided to break up the 20 hour train journey to Chicago and stop off in Memphis which was roughly half way.
Memphis, 30th May - 1st June 2010
Oh my God it's sooooo hot here!As the Wicked Witch would say 'I'm melting, I'm melting!'
We were absolutely knackered when we got to Memphis and decided to book another night to chill out for a day. I know you're all going to moan when you read this, but seriously we'd only had 1 day chilling out in over a month, we'd now travelled half way round the North American continent and were blimin' knackered.
We got off the train real late and had to get a cab.Apparently even though the motel was only 5 miles away it was located in a different state which meant a 10 minute ride over a bridge cost $35! Seriously! And if that wasn't enough to make things that little more interesting it also turned out to be located in the middle of a trucker's stop, completely cut off from civilisation by being positioned right in the middle of 3 motorways. Extra night vetoed, moving straight onto Chicago!
As we were stranded we tried to make the best of it and decided to have a popcorn & movie night. Unfortunately there was no wine anywhere as truckers don't drink wine, so we opted for a Dr Pepper each and Sleepless in Seattle.
On our second day we went to Graceland and Beale Street. We managed to talk the tour guide into dropping us off at the train station whilst she went and picked everyone else up so we could drop off our baggage and not have to pay for another taxi - excellent. :) We said goodbye to the truckers stop motel with a tear in our eye - not, and headed for the King's abode.
Graceland was brilliant. We had lunch in Rockabilly Diner where Elvis use to eat his infamous Peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I was recently introduced a peanut butter and jam (sorry, jelly) sandwich, which was weird enough, so thought I'd best steer clear of one with a banana! Sorry to any peanut butter and banana fans out there.
Inside the Mansion we saw all of the downstairs rooms including the Jungle Room, Elvis' bar and TV room with mirrored ceilings. We lost the tour group at this point as we stood there for ages trying to get a decent pic of us in Elvis' mirrored ceiling - whoops. ;)
We also saw his 2 aeroplanes and the most ridiculous collection of cars I've ever seen. Awesome. We were then ready to leave and head to Beale Street but the bus had different ideas. After 35 minute journey, travelling 10 mph when on a flat and not even 3 mph uphill, along with breaking down twice, constantly having to turn the AC off to give it enough power to move off from the traffic lights, we finally decided to concede and get off the bus.
I don't know if we're both becoming a bit blazay already but having seen Bourbon Street in New Orleans a few days earlier, Beale Street was bit of a letdown. In all honesty, along with this being the hottest place I've ever been, it had a real bad undertone to it although neither of us could put our finger on it, but something wasn't right. So we both had a drink to cool down, ate dinner and then headed straight for the station.
Whilst on an overnight train to Chicago I was woken up about 4.30am by the biggest electrical storm I've ever seen. They're different to a thunder and lightening storm as they are caused by the heat so there's no thunder and they tend to be isolated to a huge cloud, rather than across the whole sky.
It was pitch black outside, but we were in a cloud and every time the lightening struck it lit up the whole cloud around us. It was also raining so hard that there was water pouring through the walkways between carriages and there was a mini river flowing down the stairs.
Chicago aka bored, bored, bored, 2nd - 4th June 2010
We arrived in Chicago, thought it was s**t, traipsed around the whole city for International stamps, ate 3 desserts for dinner, tried to find the mystical beach down by Lake Michigan and then left.
Good points - wine & desserts
Bad points - everything else
So far we've had a pretty boring week, but we've now got a 2 day train journey through the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada to look forward to, along with the whole of the west coast from next week :)