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Monday, January 25, 2016

On the Elvis Trail: A Day Trip to Tupelo

It’s an easy, almost 4 hour flight on Southwest nonstop from LAX to Nashville. Baggage is waiting at the carousel and we actually got the minivan we reserved from Dollar Rent a Car. Tim says it’s one of the easiest travel days we’ve ever had.

He’s right.

It’s a pleasant, 3 hour or so drive from there to Memphis, the first leg of this trip. Downtown is easy to find, as is our hotel…the Springhill Suites…located in the heart of this city.

By the time we unpack, it’s a bit late for dinner as a Justin Timberlake concert has overwhelmed most of the restaurants in the area. We get some serviceable food at the snack bar of the Courtyard hotel next door.
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In the morning, it’s time for our first adventure. Among other things we want to accomplish during this trip, we want to take the Elvis Trail. Into the van and 100 miles later, we’re in the very pretty town of Tupelo, Mississippi.

First things first…we want to eat.

In downtown, we smell some good smoke and spy a handicapped parking spot in front of an open restaurant.

This building used to be Kermit’s Bakery and in its day, the Presley family would buy birthday cakes here for their not-yet-famous son. Today, it’s Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen.

We grab a table in the middle of the room and the cook comes over to tell us about his braised pork, persimmon burrito and explains that everything they serve comes from local farmers.

Looking at the menu, nothing inspires us as much as the special, so we order two burritos to split between the three of us.

It is very good, with the sweetness of the persimmon setting off the smoky flavor of the pork just so. The owner chats with us, asking us where we’re from. We see the bottles of Sriracha on the shelf and tell him that we live about a mile from that factory.

(Come along on our tour of the Sriracha factory here)

This leads to a chat about the factory’s recent problems with local residents complaining about the smell. Others in the restaurant come up and introduce themselves and start talking. Pretty soon, we’ve met just about everybody in the place.

Tupelo is a very friendly town.

Asked why we’re there, we tell them about the Elvis Trail theme. We’re told to check out the adjacent hardware store, where Gladys Presley bought her son his first guitar, and the Lyric theater around the corner where he played his first show.

Visiting the hardware store and taking a little tour around downtown gets us ready for our next stop, Elvis’ birthplace located in a park on the other side of town.

The chapel, visitor’s center, a church, and a large visitor’s center surround the tiny little house…maybe 500 square feet…that launched Elvis into our world.

We visit the trail markers…Elvis is on both the Country and Blues trails…and even see the outhouse where the future king had his throne.

It’s a neat stop to see where this history took place but I’ll also remember the friendly locals and good food in the pretty town of Elvis’ birth. We’ll also remember the cold that one of those locals passed onto us that would haunt us for the rest of this trip.

Our day trip to Tupelo over, we head back to Memphis to see what we can find there.

Copyright 2013 – Darryl Musick

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